Claire Shaw

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OP-ED: Generation Y not?

Generation Y, also referred to as the Millennial generation, is different from any other generation that has ever been. This generation has new technological advancements that our parents would not have dreamed of as children, and the world we live in now is different even from when we were children.

Although this generation has its flaws, I have heard some very negative things about us that are very skewed and incorrect. Things such as: we are lazy, we always have our noses in technology, we do not have goals, etc. These assertions are not true, and I have developed a list of reasons why Generation Y is actually a lot better than how we are commonly portrayed:

  1. We promote acceptance.

Millennials are the most accepting and tolerant generation that has ever been. Our generation is more open-minded and less likely to discriminate against others. Many Millennials advocate for gay rights, less racial discrimination and feminism. We widely accept people of any sexuality, background and ethnicity. Our generation self-identifies as more tolerant of different opinions, ideas and cultures.

  1. We have technology.

There is a ton of negativity about this generation and technology. People say Millennials survive on technology and that it ruins our brains by making life easier. Actually though, technology allows our brain to switch between multiple things more quickly and to finish tasks faster. Technology has allowed us to grow and learn more easily and keeps us connected to not only close friends and family, but the rest of the world. Technology is a gateway to knowledge and should not be looked down upon.

UNC Charlotte students harness technology for education. Photo by Ashley Foster.
UNC Charlotte students harness technology for education. Photo by Ashley Foster
  1. We are intelligent.

Especially due to technological advancements for Generation Y, we are much more intelligent than other generations have been. We have unlimited access to information and news at almost all times of the day. Because of this, our generation is more prone to go to college and seek higher goals than past generations have been. 

  1. We actually have more priorities.

Generations in the past had two priorities: getting married and getting paid. Millennials have less focus on finding their perfect romantic relationship and instead, focus on personal goals. We want to achieve things in the world that older generations would have never thought of. We have goals to travel, to find the right career and to help make the world a more peaceful place.

  1. We have a more feminist society.

A lot of people are scared of being called a “feminist,” but feminism is the belief that both genders are equal. This generation is a lot more in tune with women’s rights and acceptance of both genders as equals. Also, Millennials know that feminism does not mean that women get to rule everything, but rather that women can be treated as equals. Gender roles are less pronounced in Generation Y, and the relationships between genders are more equal.

  1. We are extremely environmentally aware.

Generation Y is one of the first generations to care about the environment and the Earth. We recycle more than ever, and we promote environmental friendly procedures. We are aware of how our actions affect both ourselves and future generations, and Millennials work to make the earth  a cleaner and safer place to live.

Millennials, overall, are not bad people. We have our flaws, as does everyone, but we are a more accepting and advanced generation than those of the past. We promote peace and love in our society, and we are more informed about everything going on around us. Our technology has made us become more intelligent and develop important priorities in life. Generation Y is very complex and has made some mistakes, but we manage to overcome them no matter what.

OP-ED: Kanye West for President?

The 2015 Video Music Awards (VMAs) aired on Aug 30. One of the most memorable parts, for me at least, was Kanye West’s dramatic speech and acceptance of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

MTV asked Taylor Swift to be the presenter for West’s award, which is a lot of drama in itself due to the fact West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech back in 2009. It is no surprise though, considering they just wanted the ratings such a presentation would bring. Swift did a mature job being respectful and even mentioned the 2009 award show in a tasteful and forgiving way.

When West went up on stage to accept his award from Swift, his speech was a lot different than what most people would have imagined. He spent around eight minutes dramatically tying together confusing half-thoughts that ended in him announcing he will be running for president in 2020.

He began his speech with what I believed to be an apology to Swift, but he never quite got there. He discussed what happened at the 2009 VMAs briefly, but placed most of the blame onto award shows. He stated that award shows pit artists against each other when, really, no one is better than anyone else.

Although it is unfair to make artists feel as if their number one single is not good enough because they did not win an award, West cannot place the blame of the 2009 incident that he caused, on the VMAs. He made the choice to mess up Swift’s speech and rudely interrupt her to tell everyone she should not have won the award.

“I’ve been conflicted bro. I just wanted people to like me more,” was one particular quote that stuck with me after the acceptance speech. If West wanted people to like him more, maybe he needs to be more mature in regards to his actions.

West did have some really important and influential points, but it was hard to understand most of them because his speech was so randomly assembled. One particular point was the way that the music industry puts artists against each other, especially women and how it is shockingly unfair. They make the artists feel insecure and inferior to others because of the competition with one another. West was very right in this assertion, he just never got his point across in a logical fashion.

Another point West made multiple times was, “Listen to the kids!” I actually agree with West that older generations need to listen to our generation more. Our generation is one of the most accepting and kind generations. We have our flaws, as every generation does, but we promote a lot of peace and love in our beliefs.

West’s speech could have been amazing and influential, but it went downhill fast. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed for him while watching him ramble on about things. It was honestly very difficult to watch.

West closed out his speech with a big finale and announcement. He stated that he is going to run for president in 2020. There is a lot of speculation on whether or not he was serious, but I strongly hope he is not. West made some valid points, though confusingly, throughout his speech. He is not the person I want in my generation to represent us, as a social media figure and especially as our president.

OP-ED: Testing products on animals is cruel and unnecessary

Have you ever paid attention to the symbols and small print on the back of your shampoo bottles, make up products and medicine containers? I’m sure many people have not, but that small print contains a lot of important information, often including whether the product was tested on animals.

I know it might be extremely difficult to find products that have not been tested on animals, but it’s not impossible. For as long as I can remember, I have only purchased shampoo that clearly states, “Not tested on animals” on the back.

People generally view animals as unimportant when compared to humans due to their lack of intellectual development. They think animals don’t having feelings or don’t feel pain, but animals do have nerve cells.

Animals are just as prone to feel pain as humans. If it is not accepted to test dangerous products on human beings, it should not be accepted to torture monkeys, rabbits and all of the other animals used in research labs.

Humans have a long history of using animals to test potentially dangerous products or situations, including sending them into space. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
Humans have a long history of using animals to test potentially dangerous products or situations, including sending them into space. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Also, scientists have proven multiple times that apes, chimpanzees and more have complex cognitive abilities. Some monkeys are even shown to have comparative intelligence to young human children. They can learn sign language to communicate with us, and they have even intermingled with humans by living in human households.

In my opinion, torturing a monkey is like torturing a four-year-old kid. Human brains might be more complex, but it is our job to protect other animals from unnecessary abuse. We should not use our strength against animals, but rather help them.

Animal testing isn’t necessary for product development because there are numerous humane options.

One such option is stem cell testing. For instance, using mice cells to gauge the toxicity of certain products. Also, using cells grown in a lab can just as effective as using a living, breathing animal for testing skin corrosion.

Even human cells can be used for the skin corrosion testing, completely avoiding any animal involvement. Human skin leftover from surgeries or that has been donated willingly can be used to measure the different rates that chemicals penetrate the skin.

In classrooms, instead of dissecting frogs, rabbits and cats, we can use models of the animals. These would be just as relevant to high school and college students.

Animal testing occurs rampantly in our modern world, and many people don’t even realize it. We teach that animals are not as important as humans, but that is not true at all.

If someone wanted to take your dog to test some chemical cleaning solutions to see if they burn your pet’s skin off, would you let them?

Stopping animal testing completely at this point might be an unrealistic goal, but I strongly believe that we can limit it tremendously. Next time you buy your eyeliner, deodorant or shampoo, think about checking the back for the words “Not tested on animals.” One person alone can’t change much, but they can definitely help.

OP-ED: Black Friday on Thanksgiving shifts focus from the true meaning of the holiday

People look forward to Black Friday every year. It’s a day where people chase enticing deals and get their holiday shopping done.

The appeal of Black Friday makes sense, but the day has continuously moved closer and closer to Thanksgiving Day. This year, many stores are opening around 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, if not earlier.

To a lot of people, this is no big deal. It’s after many people’s Thanksgiving meal, and it is fun for some people to go out and shop with their family after they have eaten.

Thanksgiving should not be about shopping though; it should be about what you are already thankful for.

Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

The entire meaning of Thanksgiving is to spend time with your family, celebrate and give thanks for the things that you have in life. Shopping on Thanksgiving ruins the entire idea behind the holiday.

The Pilgrims began the holiday as a way to show for a successful harvest season back in 1621. They were thankful for the meager supplies they had in their time of need, both what they had grown and what the Native Americans in the area had given them. The holiday should stay in line with its simple beginnings, rather than being spent finding the best deal on a TV.

Why can’t we wait until a holiday has passed before moving on to the next one? Can’t we hold out on our holiday shopping until the day after Thanksgiving?

Many people forget that when they go out shopping on Thanksgiving, many people have to be there to work. Retail sales associates, managers and so on are forced to be away from their families on a holiday because their job requires them come in on Thanksgiving to prepare for the early Black Friday shopping.

This sounds unfair, but the only way it will stop is if people stop supporting Black Friday intruding on Thanksgiving Day.

It might sound corny, but Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and connect with family. It should not be spent in the store, searching for gifts. Our holidays have different reasons for celebration, so let’s keep them separate.

OP-ED: Online tests cause disadvantages for students

Online tests are a developing practice at UNC Charlotte that erupted due to recent technological advancements and policies. Many classes utilize online tests instead of using class time to take paper tests.

Most students do not know the policies when taking an online test when it comes to using notes, taking the test with multiple people and so on. Also, technological difficulties can result in failing an exam, making online tests more risky for students.

According to the UNCC Code of Academic Integrity, cheating is defined as, “Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids or other devices in any academic exercise. This definition includes unauthorized communication of information during an academic exercise.”

Many students actually do not know if using notes on online tests or assignments is considered cheating, though. Some professors do not make it clear if online tests are meant to be taken as a real exam or rather an open-note exam.

Every professor needs to be straightforward when giving an exam online because students cannot be expected to understand the expectations of the exam without clear direction.

Students are taught to use their available resources, and they simply do not want to fail. If professors do not make their rules clear about online testing, students will continue to use outside resources to take exams.

The use of outside resources on tests leads to students not learning as much in their classes. There’s no need to study as much, so students don’t do it. After all, would you rather study for an in class math exam or a science exam that you can use your notes on?

Also, online exams are sometimes affected by technological difficulties. My computer crashed in the middle of a test before; luckily, I was able to remember what I had answered for most of the questions. Online tests are unfair due to these problems, though.

Some professors are unsympathetic towards Internet or technological problems when it comes to assignments and exams submitted online. Because of this, I think online tests should not be utilized as much. In class tests help you learn more of the information, and you won’t have to deal with technological difficulties during the actual exam.

OP-ED: Technological advancements in the classroom cause distractions for students

It is normal for students at UNC Charlotte to bring laptops, smartphones and other devices to their classes, but recently, various lecture halls and rooms at UNCC have become more technologically advanced. Computers are provided for every student at their desk, televisions/projectors circle the entire room and students are encouraged to use the technology they have available to them.

Technology provides endless information for us, so this may seem like a great idea. After all, the classroom is the place where we learn the most. The technology does provide information, but it also provides a distraction for students.

The classrooms at UNCC with the most technology are called Technology Enhanced Classrooms (TEC). They provide document cameras, projectors, laptops at each desk, televisions and more in the classroom for professors to use. This endless technology can give easy access to information, but also creates an environment that may be hard for students to learn in.

Classroom technology is not meant to be the teacher, but rather the actual professor who has become knowledgeable in the subject of the class. Technology might make fewer mistakes than a professor, but it gives students a reason to check their Facebook account or play solitaire instead of paying attention.

Laptops in the classroom can be an easy way for students to lose focus on learning. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
Laptops in the classroom can be an easy way for students to lose focus on learning. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

The Internet is a vast source of information, which I encourage professors to use. Of course, professors do not know everything, so having technology is a plus in the classroom. Using it too much, though, simply leads to distraction.

Technology can become increasingly distracting for students with disabilities that cause them to be more easily distracted. Thus, it is an unfair disadvantage for them to be in such a distracting environment.

I have taken both traditional classes and more technologically advanced classes, and I can honestly say that I learned the most in the traditional classrooms. I was able to focus more on the professor and taking notes, rather than be distracted by my email or Twitter account.

In the classes with the most technology, I observed students listening to music, doing other assignments and browsing their Twitter feed throughout the entire of class. I do not find them completely at fault, though – even I have done this. It is mostly because the distraction of technology provides an easy way out of listening to a “boring” lecture.

Without the technological distractions, students can focus on the professor and material for the class. I am a strong advocate for traditional classroom settings because even though I love technology, it leads to less studying and actual learning in classes.

OP-ED: Nursing home care regularly appears inadequate

As of 2014, there are over 1.5 million elderly people in nursing home care in around 16,000 nursing homes in the United States. It is common in the United States for people to be sent to nursing homes as they become older and in need of more medically inclined attention. How good is the care in these nursing homes, though?

I have volunteered at and visited various nursing homes in the past, and I have developed a more negative outlook on the system itself. The treatment of the elderly is often unsatisfactory and disappointing to me.

Patients are regularly left alone for hours, bored and lonely, and I believe this can lead to depression. Although I know it is difficult for nurses to focus their attention on every patient at every moment, I do not think that leaving a patient alone for long periods of time, especially in certain conditions, is healthy.

I have worked closely with dementia patients this year, and I understand that it can be difficult to keep people in that condition entertained at all times. They forget things easily and sometimes are impossible to carry on a conversation with.

Loneliness is one of the biggest concerns for patients at nursing homes. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
Loneliness is one of the biggest concerns for patients at nursing homes. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

I have discovered, though, that even the most critical patients with dementia can be entertained by something. The hardest part is figuring out what that is. It is important that they get this kind of attention because even if they are “gone” in a way, they are still people who need personal care and interaction.

I do not think that the nurses and staff are to blame for this negligence. There are overwhelming numbers of patients in nursing homes and not enough staff to go around. It is the joint responsibility of the nurses, other staff in the homes and family of the patients to ensure that the appropriate attention is given to every patient.

In my time volunteering at and visiting nursing homes, I have noticed that the happiest people are the ones who are visited by family and friends – they love to receive visitors who will take an opportunity to spend time with them and talk. Even visitors they do not know are welcome to many of the people in the homes.

I find it extremely important for them to have these opportunities to see the outside world that they are often cut off from when staying in a nursing home. I encourage people to take the time to volunteer in a nursing home at some point because it is so meaningful to the patients.

Another problem that I find with nursing home care is the preparedness of the staff. Frequently, I have observed that staff members are not trained properly in taking care of patients. They take short cuts and perform basic care tasks insufficiently.

Again, I think this is due to the limited number of nurses in the nursing homes. Because there are so few taking care of so many, they become overwhelmed and attempt to work faster than possible to be careful and correct. Nursing homes should hire more people to allow better care for their patients.

Despite the fact that I find nursing homes disappointing and their systems to be inadequate at times, I realize that they are necessary in many cases. Families often do not have the time and resources to take care of their elderly relatives.

Still, though, I think the nursing home environment and care towards patients’ needs should be mended. It is important that more staff members are hired for more accuracy on duty and for family, friends and volunteers to visit the elderly patients in the nursing homes. It will make the patients’ day so much brighter to have someone to talk to and interact with.

OP-ED: Yik Yak showcases the issues with Internet anonymity

Yik Yak“Hey, did you Yak about that?” This is a common statement I have been hearing all around campus lately. Yik Yak is the emerging social phenomenon at UNC Charlotte this year. Basically, it is an anonymous version of Twitter.

Students – or anyone near a particular college campus – can post any “yaks” they want to the continuous feed. After something is posted, others can either “up” the post (meaning they liked what was written) or “down” the post.

The app is a great way for students to state opinions on campus life, various classes and even to vent about a failed relationship, but often, posts are distasteful and offensive. Because the posts are anonymous, many people post things that are rude, racist and sexist to the feed.

Anonymity makes some people do and say things they would not normally do and say. The Internet is not anonymous at all, though. Whenever someone posts something onto the Internet, their post is connected to a specific IP address. So when you think you are posting “anonymous” yaks, you should know they are not quite as anonymous as you would believe.

Also, people should be more considerate about other people’s feelings. I have seen some offensive posts about different racial groups, jokes about the way people dress and mean comments directly addressing particular people. It is not all right to make fun of other people – anonymous or not. I am pretty sure most people should have learned that as a little kid.

Everything you post online, even when deleted, will last forever, so we all need to be careful about what we say. Something you say jokingly could affect someone else in a completely different way. It is important to remember that fact when posting anything online, especially on social media.

Currently, there are multiple investigations at high school and college campuses across the country over threats posted on the app. This just shows how people misuse the app, with many students finding themselves in trouble over things they posted to Yik Yak.

Yik Yak posts can be entertaining, and I think it is a great app. I have even downloaded it on my own phone, but mean posts are not funny. Some of the posts that I have personally viewed seriously shock me.

You may think your yak is hilarious and will get tons of up votes, but if your name appeared beside it, would think twice before posting it? If the answer to that question is no, then you should reevaluate what you are posting to Yik Yak.

OP-ED: Apple Watch offers pointless convenience

Recently Apple announced details about the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch that they plan to release sometime in early 2015.

The Apple Watch is the company’s first wearable gadget. It has a square screen that displays the time, updates from Facebook and Siri and more. The Apple Watch seems convenient, but the main purpose of the new addition to Apple’s products is to decrease the amount of times people take their phone out of their pocket.

I am completely for convenience, and I think the Apple Watch is a unique concept. The idea, though, that we are such a lazy society we cannot even pull our cellphone from our pocket without complaining is ridiculous.

The average iPhone weighs about one-fourth of a pound. To think that our society has become so inactive that we find it difficult to lift a cellphone from our pocket blows my mind.

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch at the company's media event on Sept. 9. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch at the company’s media event on Sept. 9. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus

When people wonder why obesity has become such an issue in first world countries, usually all the fingers point towards fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, but honestly it is due to the laziness of our time. If people cannot even take a phone out of their pocket, how can we expect them to exercise and stay fit? Laziness is the real issue in first world countries.

The watch will start at $350. To spend that much money on a watch that contains the same features as your cellphone seems insane to me, but I guarantee sales will skyrocket when it’s released. People will jump at the chance to have a more convenient way to be involved with their technology.

There are a ton of more important issues in the world that need to be fixed, though. People should donate their $350 to those causes instead of feeding their inability to do any type of work – if you even consider taking your phone out of your pocket work, because I certainly don’t.

I definitely think that the advancement of technology is essential and can make life more efficient. But people should not waste their money on little unnecessary comforts, when there are tons of people living off nothing everywhere.

People should spend their money more wisely. First world countries need to gain more of a perspective and learn to do things for themselves. Lifting one’s phone out of their pocket should not be as big of a problem as it is.

The Apple Watch is an interesting idea, but I think it is a bit of a waste of people’s time and money. There are better things we can spend our money on.

OP-ED: What counts as an emergency?

We’ve learned to call 911 in an emergency since kindergarten. It seems simple enough; plenty of people have called the number before and saved lives.

Often, though, it can be difficult to distinguish between what is an actual emergency and what is not. When is it appropriate to use this emergency number? The obvious answers would be during a robbery, when someone is attempting to harm you, when someone becomes significantly injured and so on. Sometimes, though, the answer to this question is surprisingly unclear.

The official webpage for 911 describes an emergency as “any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance.” The page says to call in the case of such an emergency.

This description seems valid, straightforward and similar to what we have learned growing up.

Recently, though, a mother in Florida was denied emergency help from 911 for something that sounds like a completely valid reason to call. The woman had accidentally locked her child and keys in the car. It was hot outside, and she panicked.

I was surprised to learn that what I would consider an emergency is not necessarily true to the call receivers at the 911 emergency center.

Everyone has heard the stories of children overheating because their parents left them locked in the car. These parents are often prosecuted and sent to prison. The idea that this Florida mother was denied help for something that not only could send her to jail, but also potentially kill her child, is insane.

I understand that some people call 911 too much and for the wrong reasons. I have heard multiple news stories of women calling the number to demand an immediate divorce, stoners calling 911 to say “Hey,” and people calling to complain about a restaurant’s bad service.

This is obviously not using the emergency service in a responsible way. People who are this clueless deserve to be reprimanded for being immature and thoughtless. But this does not mean that people who call in a real emergency should be denied service.

Also, when children or teenagers call 911 they are often denied help by operators who believe they are just playing a prank or confused. This is utterly ridiculous. The emergency center should always send help if there is any suspicion of an emergency.

No one, no matter how old, should be turned away when calling for help. The number is there for a reason; everyone should be able to benefit from it.

Calling 911 in an emergency is a wonderful system that has saved numerous lives in the United States, but it has many flaws also. It is appalling to think that anyone would be denied help in an emergency. It does happen though, and it needs to change.