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Week 33: Asian American Hate Crimes

Up until the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, the predominant stereotype surrounding Asian Americans was that of the model minority. This narrative emerged after World War II as the economic success of many Asian Americans led them to be viewed as the “ideal immigrant of color”. This being said, there is a long history in the United States of exclusionary white-only immigration policies as racist stereotypes of Asians as unclean and uncivilized were promulgated. These xenophobic ideas have had both legislative and cultural consequences throughout history and have been exacerbated in the past year due to Coronavirus.

In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion act became the first and only piece of major legislation to suspend immigration explicitly on the basis of ethnicity, baning both skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers from entering the country. Amendments to the act went further to prevent Chinese immigrants who had left the country from returning. According to U.S. Census data, in 1880 there were 105,465 Chinese people living in the U.S.; by 1920, that number had dropped to 61,649. Following the removal of the Chinese exclusion act, the Angel Island Immigration Station was established in San Francisco Bay, a facility in which Chinese immigrants would be detained for up to several years while the government decided on whether or not to admit them. 

The U.S. government’s history with anti-Asian policies is not just limited to Chinese people. As the Chinese Exclusion Act cut off North American employers’ access to cheap labor, they turned to India. Offering wages of $2 a day for strong men, huge numbers of Indian Men entered the American workforce. Although they are now subjected to the model minority stereotype, this was not always the case. When they first started immigrating into the United States, white nationalists warned of the so-called “tide of turbans.” Indian immigrants were not able to get citizenship, as decided in a Supreme Court case in 1923, when the citizenship of a WWI vet Bhagat Singh Thind was revoked because, as one lawyer argued, he would not be considered white by “the common man.” Attitudes towards Indian Americans began to change during the Second World War when certain discriminatory policies against people from Asian countries were removed to counter Axis propaganda, which was targeted at the United State’s deep history of racism. In 1943, naturalization rights were granted to Chinese immigrants, and in 1946 they were extended to include immigrants from India and the Philippines. Japanese Americans were the exception to these rollbacks; they were treated with suspicion after the attack on Pearl Harbor and were eventually detained in internment camps. 

Racism against Asian Americans is also pervasive in American culture. From yellow faced and stereotyped Asian characters in Hollywood to the appropriation of traditional clothing for fashion trends, xenophobia is rife in the communities we live in. This racism is not often recognized in the same regard as discrimination against other racial groups. This is due in large part to the model minority myth: a stereotype of rigid, two-parented, and educationally driven Asian-American families that were able to overcome racism through their own hard work. First perpetuated widely after the Japanese internment camps in WWII, the model minority myth has been used as a tactic to both shame other racial groups for not attaining that ideal and to minimize the role of systemic racism in these inequities, while also pitting minority groups against each other. This ideal also groups together an estimated 22.6 million people under one assumption of supposed beliefs, family structure, and income. Although Asian Americans are on average more likely to fall above the average income, there are vast disparities between these groups; in 2017, groups such as Hmong, Bhutanese, and Burmese fell far below the average poverty line. It also serves to create generalizations about the beliefs and religious affiliations of Asian Americans, who represent hundreds of different ethnic groups and practice hundreds of religions.

Despite the model minority stereotype, Asian Americans have seen an explosion in hate crimes and targeted attacks since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Within two weeks of its launch last March, the Stop AAPI Hate Tracker had received over 700 reports. By February of this year, that number had risen to 3,795 reports, with incidents including being spit on at the grocery store, screamed at while jogging, and being called slurs while waiting in line. There were also many attacks which included physical violence. One such attack occurred last February when a 16-year-old in Los Angeles was beaten by a classmate who blamed the boy for the first COVID positive in the city. These sentiments were encouraged by our former president’s remarks about the origins of this virus; repeatedly deeming it the “Kung Flu” or “Chinavirus”, and blaming its spread on the Chinese government.

As a result of this and other racist rhetoric regarding the origins of the pandemic, many Asian-American communities – even those that are not Chinese – have been lumped together in recent xenophobic attacks. An Asian-run preschool in California was smeared with feces on the Lunar New Year. This past July, two men set an 89-year-old woman on fire near her home in New York City. 

Last week, we saw yet another xenophobic attack in Georgia, where 8 people were shot: Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ai Yue, Delaina Ashley Yuan, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng (6 of them Asian women). Although the shooter claims he was “not racially motivated” and was  instead driven by a “sexual addiction,” his explanation for firing on 3 Atlanta spas and the Asian woman who worked there was that there was “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” This justification speaks to a larger culture of fetishization and stereotyping of Asian women, particularly those who are Korean. This attack serves to demonstrate the ways in which sexism and xenophobia can intersect.

Rather than glossing over the racist motives of the shooter by stating he had “a really bad day,” or failing to charge men who lit an 89-year-old woman on fire with a hate crime, our government needs to do a better job of protecting Asian Americans. Government officials need to ensure that perpetrators are being held accountable for their actions, whether in civil life or in the courtroom.

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 32: Voting Rights in the Wake of the 2020 Election

The issue of voting rights was easily one of the most important and publicized aspects of the 2020 election, with politicians arguing ardently in support of or against provisions expanding mail-in voting and laws that add additional barriers (voter ID laws, signature check, etc).

There were stories of success, such as that of Stacey Abrams, whose work expanding voter access and engaging communities in Georgia was instrumental in the state’s shift to blue.

Across the country, however, cries of voter fraud and calls for election integrity provided a basis for a systemic push to deny the right to vote. One study found only 27% of Republicans believe the election was legitimate despite an overwhelming lack of evidence both from governmental and independent research agencies. 

Under the guise of addressing electoral fraud, Republicans have focused their efforts on pushing back mail-in voting (which was overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats).

Many republican officials have perpetuated messaging about the insecurity of mail-in ballots, but South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham gets to the heart of the sentiment in a conversation with Fox News: “If we don’t do something about voting by mail, we are going to lose the ability to elect a Republican in this country.”

This is problematic to the nature of our democracy as a whole. When politicians are working to restrict voting access in order to get elected and stifling the voices of their constituents, it opens the door for further corruption and degradation of our representative system.  

Within Pennsylvania, conservatives in the legislature waged legal battles up to election day to preserve restrictive laws and work against vote-by-mail expansions.

As of February, 43 states “have introduced, prefiled, or carried” over 253 bills restricting voting access (Brennan Center for Justice). These bills aim to tighten restrictions on mail in ballots, implement stricter Voter I.D./signature check policies, make it more difficult to register to vote, and make it easier to purge voter rolls.

In total, there are 8 current bills with restrictive provisions making their way through the Pennsylvania state house, most of which center on mail-in voting (3 attempt to do away with “no-excuse” absentee ballots entirely).

On a national level, the Supreme Court heard arguments last week on the constitutionality of two Arizona laws, one which made it harder for Navajo Nation voters and another which required absentee ballots to be collected only by the voter’s relative or caregiver.

Given the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, it is very possible that the court will rule these laws as constitutional.

While there is a push for more restrictive voting laws in many statehouses, there is also a fight for expansion in others, with a different set of 43 states proposing or implementing 704 bills that will act to expand voting access.

In Pennsylvania, there are 9 bills that act to make voting more accessible by expanding early voting times and locations, allowing election day registration, and automatic voter registration.

On a national level, President Biden has taken action by signing an executive order this past Sunday which directs federal agencies to work on policies that “promote voter registration and participation.” This comes as the House passes H.R. 1 (For the People Act), a bill that builds on the protections of the Voting Rights Act and the work of John Lewis in his proposed Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Among other things, the bill would allow for same-day registration and nationwide expansion of early voting (allows lower-income workers with generally less flexible schedules to vote) and push back against aggressive voter roll purging and gerrymandering (especially in communities of color).

The act would also include provisions to regulate campaign finance by creating “a small donor system of public financing for congressional and presidential elections,” making space for candidates to better represent the views of their constituents rather than their financers (Brennan Center for Justice). 

However, the For the People Act still needs to pass in the Senate, which is unlikely with the filibuster still in place. This bill has mounted increasing pressure on Democrats within the Senate to consider the merits of doing away with the filibuster, and it is possible that it will be abolished in order to pass H.R. 1. 

Regardless, voting rights are still a battleground issue, and it is vital that we continue to stay engaged. Whether through pushing for less restrictive laws, ensuring fair maps, or working outside the governmental confines to empower and educate voters, the work done now is critical to guaranteeing access to the ballot box, regardless of assumed political affiliation.

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 31: Farmer Protests in India

On August 9, 2020, one of the largest protests in world history began in New Delhi, India. Tens of thousands of farmers took the streets, forming blockades to five major highways leading into the capital and setting up camps outside the city limits to protest new agricultural regulations. To show their solidarity, over 250 million Indian citizens participated in a 24-hour strike.

Over half of India’s population works in agriculture, and due to a combination of factors including colonial-induced famines, oppressive government policy, and climate change, they have been struggling for decades.

Unlike in the United States, where huge industrial farms are the norm, India’s farming infrastructure is made up of many small, individually owned plots, so that each farmer works a few acres of land. While this system has some advantages, the competitive nature of the marketplace gives farmers less control over their prices.

In an industry where prices are already volatile, farmers faced additional pressure this year because of the pandemic and a recent locust plague (crop-destroying insects). All of these difficulties were exacerbated with the passing of new legislation this past summer that removed price protections for farmers. 

Previously, the government guaranteed farmers a minimum price for essential crops, ensuring some profits even with fluctuating prices. Although government subsidies have been vital in providing financial stability for farmers, Prime Minister Modi now wants to remove them in order to reduce government involvement in agriculture and create a freer market.

In this new system, private investment is encouraged and farmers can trade directly with customers, which has the potential to be more profitable than the current system. However, farmers, who continue to struggle despite government support are afraid that large corporations will drive down prices and strip them of income stability previously provided by the government.

Farmers, who make up 58% of India’s 1.3 billion residents, are a powerful political force in the world’s most populous democracy, and their support is important if Modi wants to get re-elected.

For this reason, the government has been negotiating with farmer unions since the protests started trying to reach a compromise. Currently, negotiations are at a standstill as the government refuses the demands of farmers to repeal the new laws. While these discussions have been taking place, the government has also taken direct action to suppress the protests.

Modi, who came into power as Prime Minister in 2014, has had a disturbing trend of manipulating the press and influencing the courts. In response to the protests, the government has intermittently blocked access to water, electricity, and internet for people in protest camps. They have also restricted journalists from accessing protesters, thereby obstructing media coverage. In states with leaders that support Modi, individuals could be at risk to face repercussions for social media posts or protesting.

For example, in Uttarakhand, the police chief made a statement saying that social media posts with anti-nationalist sentiments could lead those applying for passports to be denied. 

Like we saw in the 2020 US election, Twitter has been navigating these political conflicts with difficulty. The Indian government has been strongly requesting that Twitter suspend the accounts of individuals and organizations posting anti-government content. While at first they refused, an order by the government that threatened local employees of Twitter to possible imprisonment forced the company to relent and temporarily ban over 500 accounts. However, they refused to ban any accounts that were run by organizations, activists, or politicians as orders to block those accounts were not legal under Indian law. 

Along with increasing control over the free press and monitoring social media, there have also been several violent outbreaks between police and protesters.

As the caravan of protesters approached Delhi last year, police forces used tear gas and violent crackdowns to keep them out of the city. Although the encampments remain largely peaceful, tensions continue to run high. 

The protesters have come ready for a long fight, and they are set on reversing the government policy that is putting them further at risk. Although the realities of climate change are going to make farming difficult no matter what the government does, it is still their responsibility, both in India and elsewhere, to provide as much stability and support for farmers as possible.

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 30: The Texas Power Grid

This past week, national attention has shifted to the state of Texas, which has been suffering from a deadly mismanagement of winter storms. The crisis began on February 10th and has continued throughout the month. While the extremely cold temperatures experienced this month are uncommon in Texas, what has been more shocking is the dismal government response and the underlying concerns that have allowed the situation to escalate.

Power outages, burst pipes, and water filtration plants shutting down have resulted in a dangerous and exceedingly dire situation for Texans. So far, 58 people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning (from running car engines or generators inside), house fires, hypothermia, and drowning. Burst pipes have resulted in flooding and many families don’t have running water. Additionally, because water filtration plants have had to close temporarily, families are being instructed to boil their drinking water. Finally, as a result of unsafe road conditions and other storm related complications, grocery stores are low on food supplies and many people are having difficulty finding basic necessities. 

In a letter to the governor of Texas, people were demanding accountability. “In light of energy suppliers’ failure to adequately respond to extreme weather conditions last week, which caused rolling blackouts and widespread power outages all over central and south Texas, we must demand an explanation.” Here is the thing though — this letter was written 10 years ago.

The crisis unfolding in Texas right now is not the first of its kind; similar winter storms hit Texas in 1989 and 2011, and it seems as though the state was equally unprepared in all cases.

So why was Texas so unprepared? The burden falls mostly on the deregulated nature of the state’s energy grid. The U.S. has three grids: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and Texas. In order to avoid federal regulations, Texas has an isolated power grid which is primarily controlled by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Although we have the technology to winterize utility related infrastructure (such as natural gas power plants, wind turbines, and coal plants), Texas left the decision up to the power companies on whether they wanted to undertake the costly upgrade. Predictably, most companies did not. When temperatures dropped, many plants were unable to continue running – wind turbines iced over, gas wells froze, and instrumentation became too cold to continue operating safely. 

Additionally, the dwindling power supply was exacerbated by the increased demand for electricity as people tried to keep warm. The isolated power grid made it so they were unable to siphon off power from neighboring states in order to alleviate the demand. 

In order to avoid a catastrophic statewide blackout which would leave 29 million Texans without power, ERCOT made the decision to implement “rolling blackouts” to reduce energy demands. These controlled blackouts are supposed to cycle through different neighborhoods so that no one area is left without power for too long. Unfortunately, for seemingly unclear reasons, those who lost power have not gotten it back. One hypothesis is that companies are afraid that the process required to rotate the blackouts would risk an even bigger failure. 

Predictably, these power outages are disproportionately affecting Black and Latinx communities in east Texas while downtown commercial buildings continue to light up the sky. While this is partially because of the critical infrastructure present in the city including hospitals, COVID-19 response centers, and government buildings, the inequality is stark. Black and Latinx people, who are already twice as likely as white people to live under the poverty line in Texas, have been hit particularly hard by the storm and subsequent blackouts. People living in poverty tend to have homes with insufficient insulation, and some have no shelter at all. 

Furthermore, the freezing temperatures and unsafe road conditions made it difficult for Texas residents to get vaccinated. Many shipments have been delayed and vaccination centers have temporarily shut down. As the government tries to get the situation under control, it is falling behind in vaccine distribution. 

Many government officials, including the Governor, have attempted to blame Texas’ renewable energy infrastructure for the power failures. While the state is leading the U.S. in wind and solar energy production, it only gets 20% of its energy from renewable sources. Additionally, while windmills froze, traditional sources of power were also rendered ineffective by the freezing temperatures. Some conservatives have already begun to use the blackouts as a means to roll back progress towards green energy, yet most evidence supports the conclusion that renewable power is not to blame. 

So, what can Texas learn from this disaster? How can this be prevented from happening again? It is clear that sufficient measures were not taken after the last time this happened, and the escalating consequences of climate change will likely result in similar storms occurring with more frequency and severity in the future in the future. An obvious solution is mandating the winterization of generators so that they can continue to produce electricity in similar conditions. Windmills and power plants have the capacity to work consistently at colder temperatures, but they require an investment. Perhaps it is time to connect Texas to the rest of the country and provide it with the resiliency needed to face future crises.

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 29: Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams has been at the forefront of public attention and praise for her work during the 2020 campaign to combat voter suppression, and many argue that her grassroots organizing in Georgia secured Biden’s presidency and the Democratic control of the Senate. However, Abrams’ work extends far beyond this election; she is also a small business owner, celebrated author (even writing romance novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery), and fighter of voter suppression and systemic inequality in Georgia for decades. 

Abrams was raised in a home centered on public service; her parents brought her along to volunteer in soup kitchens and homeless shelters. At 17, she was promoted from a congressional campaign typist to a speech writer and graduated as valedictorian of her high school. Then, in college, she organized voting registration drives and protests. She was also an outspoken critic of Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson (the first black man to lead a major Southern city), explaining that despite his trailblazing victory, he was not doing enough for the city. Mounting pressure led Maynard to create an Office of Youth Services, in which Abrams served as a research assistant and was the only undergrad hired. 

In 2006, Abrams was elected to the state legislature and became the first Black woman Democratic Party leader in 2011. In her time as a state legislator, she worked across party lines to preserve reproductive rights, improve transportation, reform criminal justice, and protect medicaid and education from recession era budget cuts. She notably partnered with Republican Governor Deal to protect Georgia’s HOPE college scholarship from being cut.

In addition to her roles as a government official, Abrams has achieved major success through her numerous non-profit organizations, with her work resulting in approximately 800,000 voter registrations. In 2014 she founded the New Georgia Project, which works to help register the growing population of POC in Georgia; as of 2019 they had registered nearly half a million voters.

In 2018, she ran for governor against Secretary of State Brian Kemp as the first Black woman ever to represent a major party in a gubernatorial race. Kemp’s position as Georgia Secretary of State (which he refused to step down from, as is the norm) gave him the power to purge almost 700,000 voters and close 200 polling places in predominantly poor and minority neighborhoods. 

After her loss by under 2%, Abrams vowed to continue the work she promised to undertake as governor, whether in office or out. Abrams founded Fair Fight Action, an organization which works to combat voter suppression and promote candidates that support voting rights. It has led a lawsuit that resulted in the reinstatement of 22,000 Georgian voters last year, by challenging exact signature match laws and the purging of voter rolls and by advocating for statewide consistency in counting and processing. Abrams also founded Fair Count in 2019, an organization which worked in Georgia to ensure fair representation on the 2020 census. Additionally, Abrams established the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP), which works within a network of organizations to foster economic growth and power in marginalized Southern communities.

In addition to the concrete effect it had on the lives of Georgians, Abrams’ work helped draw national attention to the state’s shifting demographics. Abrams’ efforts to turn out Black voters (which overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates) highlighted Georgia’s growing importance as a swing state, allowing major candidates like President Biden to campaign and win in a state that has not elected a Democratic president in three decades. The network of grassroots organizations Abrams founded and grew within Georgia were vital in campaigning, educating, and registering voters for both the Senate and Presidential elections.

In a state that has had a strong history of racist voter disenfranchisement, the work Abrams has done is remarkable. Not only did she play a huge role in this last election, but over the past twenty years she has helped secure the rights of countless Georgians. Her approach includes not only politics, but also non-profits and economic programs which are helping to build a more equitable foundation for our country. 

For more on Abrams’ work and the history of voting rights, watch her documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy on Amazon Prime (or stream from one of the non-official sources on Youtube – we won’t judge.)

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 27: Biden’s Executive Order for LGBTQ+ Protection

President Biden started his presidency purposefully, with 17 executive orders signed on the first day. During the long campaign for presidency, Biden made many promises for change to which we must now hold him accountable. Among those 17 executive orders was an order that “Prevent[s] and Combat[s] Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” We will discuss President Biden’s history concerning the LGBTQ+ community, the promises he made during his campaign, and what this executive order means for the United States. 

When Biden was first elected as a senator in 1979, he was not a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. In the 90s he voted in favor of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a policy that kicked 14,500 people out of the military because of their sexuality. He also voted in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which would legally define marriage to be only between a man and a woman, among other homophobic and transphobic policies. When Biden became vice president, neither he nor President Obama openly supported LGBTQ+ rights, including legalizing same sex marriage. It wasn’t until an interview in 2012 that Biden publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage (Obama followed a few days later). 

Vice President Harris has a more positive track record of supporting gay rights. As attorney general, she refused to defend California’s ban on same sex marriage and then officiated the first same-sex wedding after the ban was struck down by the Supreme Court. Her history relating to trans rights is more complicated and disputed. She has, however, affirmed that she has always worked for policy that supported trans people behind the scenes, even when she was not able to openly support it. 

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has always strongly supported LGBTQ+ rights. She spoke out against school bullying and discrimination even before Joe publicly supported gay rights and has continued to be a proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

Regardless of his initial position, for the past eight years, President Biden has been a firm supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. At one point, as the highest ranking democrat to support LGBTQ+ rights, his position helped shift the party’s stance on the issue. President Biden is the first president in United States history to enter the White House as a supporter of gay rights, and his diverse cabinet and executive action show he is dedicated to furthering equality. 

Additionally, President Biden has pledged to sign the Equality Act into law within the first 100 days of being in office, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing anti-discrimaintion framework in the Civil Rights Act. While many activists have praised President Biden’s actions so far, many fear the conservatively dominated Supreme Court will slow down, if not stop progress.

The Biden administration’s open support of the queer community, in addition to their policies, is incredibly important and meaningful. As violence against LGBTQ+ people increased during Trump’s occupancy, the steps President Biden has taken to affirm the government’s support of LGBTQ+ rights are helping to usher in a new era of acceptance and hope. 

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 26: Moving Forward: How to Address Homelessness in Philly

Over the past two weeks we’ve written about the structures of homelessness in Philadelphia — what they are, who they affect, and what government policies and social pressures have brought us to this point. Today, we look at the ways in which we can address the homelessness epidemic, looking at prevention, rehousing, and rehabilitation.

Homelessness prevention programs focus on providing resources to individuals who are imminently at risk of losing their homes. In June of last year, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had plans to cut our budget for  housing initiatives that help provide low-income housing, subsidize first-time home buyers, and help prevent eviction. However, thanks to local and nationwide protests calling for the relocation of police budget funds and increased social services, the city decided to restore many of the funds. 

The Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project, a program which provides legal representation to tenants at risk of eviction, was able to fend off a planned 75% cut to its $2.1 million dollar budget. Additionally, the Housing Trust Fund (HTF), which provides rent and mortgage assistance and helps create low-income housing for people with special needs had its $20 million dollar funding restored. Despite this victory, the fund was still only able to help 4,000 of the 13,000 applicants before it ran out of money. 

Aside from organizations that directly help individuals and families, other solutions include zoning laws, preserving low-income housing units, and making more land available for residential development. While Philadelphia has a zoning plan that enables developers to build on an additional parcel of land if they include low-income housing or donate to HTF, most opt to contribute to the fund instead of building housing units (which would be much more impactful). Therefore, many advocates argue that the policy needs to more heavily encourage the first option. 

Additionally, the low-income housing units that are in existence have to be preserved, not only from disrepair but also from being raised to market price (many of the city’s units have subsidies that will expire soon). Finally, land that is currently vacant should be turned into productive infrastructure, including low-income housing. The Land Bank, an organization created with the intention of repurposing vacant land has disappointed many of the non-profit organizations who pushed for its creation in order to build affordable housing on the land because of its slow progress. 

Along with homelessness prevention, the city and nonprofits in our area also have several programs with the goal of rehousing and helping those already impacted by homelessness. One example is the city’s Rapid Re-housing program, which aims to help support homeless families transition quickly from shelters into permanent housing. Where traditional programs have various prerequisites before families are able to move into permanent housing, Rapid Re-housing immediately gives families a home and the necessary financing for rent, security deposits, and utilities for up to a year.  Any family receiving more than 1 month’s assistance must agree to meet with a Homeless Stabilizing Specialist who will refer them to programs that fit each family’s needs. 

This is supposed to help reduce average periods of homelessness, increase the turnover of shelter beds (so more people can be helped in shelters), and has been shown to decrease the likelihood of returns into homelessness. Additionally, the program does not take into consideration previous criminal records, mental health, substance abuse, or employment history. This is significant because homelessness often exacerbates these problems, so by allowing people to first be housed, they are then better able to address these issues.

In addition to city-run programs, there are also numerous non-profit organizations working to help people off the streets and into stable housing. Some organizations, such as Project HOME, provide a variety of services and housing options, with ‘Safe Haven’ rehabilitation and psychiatric care options, permanent housing for those who are able to live independently, educational opportunities and job opportunities.

Other groups, such as the Bethesda Project, provide meals and emergency shelter (they also have a ‘Safe Haven’ rehabilitation facility and permanent housing). Other groups working in the city include Habitat for Humanity, Forget Me Knot, Philabundance, Women Against Abuse, SELF, and Potter’s House Mission. 

The burdens of the global pandemic have exacerbated the challenges that push individuals and families into homelessness. While we talked about some of the ways in which the city can work to alleviate homelessness, the root causes of the problem must also be addressed. The systemic racism that leads to disproportionately high rates of incarceration, unemployment, and poverty in Hispanic and Black communities can’t be ignored when developing policy.

As individuals we can help by using our voice and our vote to support candidates who are committed to addressing homelessness. We can donate to nonprofits fighting to end homelessness (asking friends and family to make donations instead of buying you a present is a great way to contribute). For a more comprehensive list of individual actions, here is the website from last week. 

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Popular Sports

Staying Motivated Amid Uncertainty: The Winter Track Team’s Unique Training Approach

Photo by Ada Yeomans

As COVID-19 cases rose and GFS transitioned to remote school, many winter sports teams were forced to switch to all-virtual, individualized training. However, the winter track team took on a different training approach to preserve a sense of community: Head coach Conrad Haber designed a hybrid winter training program to allow for a balance of both safe, in-person practices and structured virtual practices. 

The Wissahickon has been affectionately dubbed the “GFS COVID-19 Training Base,” since most of the team practices there each week. Haber thinks it is important for people on the team to meet up because “the track team is like a giant family and it sucks to be separated from your family for a long time.” These informal practices allow for the team to support and encourage each other. Haber also acknowledges how important athletics are in contributing to a sense of normalcy. Simon Donovan ‘23 agrees: he appreciates how these informal in-person practices allow his teammates “to all push each other to do our best and strive for better.”

When kids do decide to train together, all COVID-19 mitigation protocols are followed. 

The team is doing its best to stay motivated even amid all the uncertainty. Simon is working on keeping the team morale up with consistent training and a positive mindset. Haber is trying to be there for the team when they need it, but says “the motivation has less to do with me and more to do with the team itself.”

Even the team’s virtual training goes a step further than other sports teams. The team uses an online training portal that delivers individualized workouts to each runner, with the expectation that they train either alone or with a group 5-6 days a week. Even when the team is training at home, Haber says, “some are training with their parents/siblings, some are meeting up in the morning in small groups to train with teammates who are their neighbors” to maintain that sense of community.  

The team is also focusing on competitive goals for the future, including developing high-level racing skills and qualifying for high-caliber competitions, such as the Penn Relays and the PAISAA championships. 

When they can compete again, the Germantown Friends track team will be ready. 

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 25: The Structures of Homelessness in Philly

With the winter in full swing, the city’s frigid temperatures can be a health hazard due to the risk of hypothermia. It is during months of extreme weather such as these that shelters and housing infrastructure become even more vital for a community’s homeless population. However, even in austere conditions, many individuals choose to stay out of shelters for various reasons. One reason many people stay on the streets is due to underlying mental health issues that make them nervous to be around strangers or in crowds, unfamiliar environments, or anything else relating to shelters. Additionally, most shelters are dirty, crowded, and unsafe with perceived high levels of drug use and theft, among other dangers. 

Despite all of these factors, beds at shelters are in high demand, and it is a daily struggle for people to acquire a spot. For many locations, people have to arrive hours before the line officially opens, a process that makes it difficult to have or look for a job. 

Some shelters are better organized, such as the LGBTQ Home for Hope in Philadelphia, which serves its 37 residents in a more stable way, providing an environment that is described more as a “college dorm” than a shelter. Residents are expected to have a job and do chores around the house, and in return are provided with a stable place to live, bedrooms with only one roommate, and professional help to get back on their feet. Because the shelter is designed specifically with LGBTQ people in mind, their programs are prepared for the unique traumas experienced by them, in addition to the challenges of homelessness and poverty. Home for Hope has an operating cost of $10,000 a month and employs seven full time staff, making it perhaps not the most scalable option for the almost 1,000 unsheltered homeless individuals in Philadelphia alone. 

For the roughly 8,000 children in Philadelphia experiencing homelessness, and 2.5 million homeless children in the United States as a whole, this pandemic has been just one more brutal obstacle in their path to receive an education. While the city has a system in place to provide every child a chrome book for the duration of the school closure, there are many challenges they still face. For example, despite the efforts of many shelters to update their WiFi connections, the large number of students that are now attending online classes means that the connections are often unstable. Additionally, the communal living in shelters makes it difficult for students to find quiet work spaces while following safety guidelines. 

Homeless adults are facing their own set of issues. Although the unemployment rate has improved since April (14.7%), the average unemployment rate in December 2020 stood at 6.7%, with 9.9% for Black people, 9.3% for Latino people, and 6.0% for white people. In March and April, almost 101,200 Phildelphians lost their jobs, with the majority of job losses being in the hospitality and entertainment industries. This hit lower income people the hardest, with half of those in low income households experiencing job loss due to the pandemic. In addition to the decrease in job availability, many homeless adults are tasked with overseeing their children during online school, as many shelters don’t allow parents to leave their children unattended. Where before there were options for school and low-cost childcare, closures due to the pandemic have made both options unavailable to many. Not to mention, homeless parents and caregivers are more likely to have low-wage jobs that lack the flexibility to work remotely, leaving them forced to choose between preserving their children’s education and earning money to provide for their family and find a home. 

Another aspect of Philadelphia’s homelessness crisis is the three camps which sprung up over the summer this year. These camps, made up of people facing eviction and rising housing prices and others protesting systemic racism and the housing crisis, were asked to officially clear out by the city in early September. While these camps started as a form of protest, for many members they offered an increased sense of safety and access to resources, particularly to those who were blacklisted from shelters. Others might not feel comfortable in the shelter environment for many of the reasons explained earlier. Complaints of altercations between camp members and surrounding neighbors, particularly in the camp along Benjamin Parkway (which once held 150 people), led the city to attempt to clear the camps and divert its members into the shelter system (with special attention towards vulnerable populations). After a long series of negotiations surrounding the three encampments, the sites are now mostly vacant. In exchange for vacating, the city has promised camp organizers 50 houses within the next 6 months and two small-house villages by June. In the course of these discussions, city officials and camp members engaged in conversations around housing, systemic racism, and economic inequality, and ultimately reached an outcome historically significant in its success. As we continue to move through these cold months, please take a moment to find ways to help people experiencing homelessness, whether it’s donating to a shelter, participating in a food-drive, or even just a kind gesture to a stranger on the street. Here are some specific ways to help.

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 24: Homelessness in Philadelphia: How We Got Here

With the holidays coming up and the temperatures dropping, many of us are looking forward to spending the next few weeks inside with family and food. However, this week we want to focus on a group of people who might not be able to have that experience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness has skyrocketed in Philadelphia, leaving many people on the streets to form new camps and fill up already overcrowded shelters. As winter weather approaches, there is one overarching question: How did we get here?

Homelessness in Philadelphia was a problem well before the pandemic. With the convergence of an affordable housing crisis and opioid epidemic, the city’s homeless population was left without access to safe housing and the ability to get back on their feet. In Philadelphia, America’s 4th most segregated city, policies like redlining and property deeds have set the stage for systemic housing inequalities.

In the early 1900s, as many Black southerners facing segregation and racial violence fled north, they unfortunately found similar attitudes in the cities they moved into. Philadelphia was no exception. Developers and landlords, in order to maintain the values of their properties, began including discriminatory language in their deeds and leases, pushing non-white people into specific neighborhoods. These issues were exacerbated by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1933, after President Roosevelt’s New Deal was instated with the goal of revitalizing the housing economy after the great depression. The HOLC, which helped refinance mortgages, drew lines around which neighborhoods were deemed “good enough” for federal finances. Implementation of these racially motivated maps, otherwise known as redlining, blocked off neighborhoods, primarily those with significant non-white populations, from mortgage opportunities. The FHA, which insured loans and worked with property developers to help stimulate growth, also refused to insure loans to non-white people in white designated neighborhoods. They also implemented unofficial policies creating a “white line” in the suburbs by providing funding for developments only to those who promised not to sell to African Americans. Additionally, the FHA instructed the building and placement of physical barriers such as railroads between segregated neighborhoods so as to insure “the prevention of the infiltration of … lower class occupancy and inharmonious racial groups.” Only after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 did discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, mortgages, and housing assistance become illegal. The implications of the discriminatory practices by the HOLC and FHA are broad as housing impacts access to education, jobs, social services, and food. 

In addition to a lack of affordable housing, there is another major root of homelessness. Philadelphia is the epicenter of the nation’s opioid epidemic, with more than 1,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2018, the highest overdose rate of the country’s 10 biggest cities. In February, before the pandemic, there were an estimated 5,700 homeless people, with about 1,000 living in the streets. People living on the streets were concentrated into two major neighborhoods: Kensington (where the major drug market is) and Center City (where they can beg, access social services, and have an increased sense of safety due to police patrolling). Since 2015, when the 3rd wave of the opioid epidemic hit the city, the amount of people sleeping on the streets of Center City increased 57% to about 500 people per night, with the number of panhandlers increasing 116%. Until early last year there was not a single day in which an overdose didn’t bring the Kensington – Center City rail line to a standstill. According to the chief of SEPTA Transit police, “In 2018, transit police delivered 390 doses of Narcan to overdosing people,” which averages out to over one overdose for each day of the year. Among the homeless population in Philadelphia, overdose was the main cause of death in 2018 (59%).

With the isolation, grief, frustration, and financial stress that has fallen upon many as a result of the pandemic, many addicts have relapsed in order to cope. Although there are not official numbers yet about opioid usage in the pandemic, experts at the FDA and AMA are seeing trends of increasing usage, overdoses, and relapses. A test of 500,000 lab urine samples from mid-March through May found a 32% increase of non-prescribed fentanyl, 20% increase of meth, and 10% increase for cocaine. In Philadelphia this June , the number of fatal overdoses remained about the same, but the demographics shifted — from majority white to majority black.

 All of these factors are important when considering the affordable housing crisis in Philadelphia. From 2000 to 2014, the amount of low-cost housing available in lower income gentrified neighborhoods decreased at 5 times the rate of non gentrified neighborhoods. This is problematic, especially as in 2016, the city’s average income was not rising. Gentrification is defined for these purposes as an influx of college educated students and homes above the median city value in a neighborhood. This influx drives a rise in housing prices, which pushes many low income residents, particularly those of color, out of their homes and into neighborhoods with poorer conditions and fewer affordable housing options. Although studies have found that the city is overall becoming less white, the sizes of white majority areas are increasing. Even for those who are able to find other homes, the quality of their living space is often lesser, with 121,000 families in Philadelphia living in homes deemed “inadequate” by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of February (before the pandemic put additional strain on household finance), there were more than 59,000 names on the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s waiting list for affordable housing.

Now, with the devastating impacts of the pandemic on the economy, many people have lost their sources of income. Although Philadelphia has implemented measures to help prevent evictions and utility shutoffs, there are still many people being put out of their homes. This, like many other aspects of the pandemic, has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. 48% of Black adults and 44% of Hispanic adults have reported being unable to pay their monthly bills, compared with 26% of white adults. In April, 61% of Hispanic Americans and 44% Black Americans reported that they or a member of their household had lost a job or wages due to the pandemic, compared to 38% of white adults. With these economic disparities in place, it is not difficult to understand why there are racial disparities in the homeless population. Even in 2019, before COVID-19, nearly every minority group besides Asians were more likely to be homeless than white people.

With the rise in drug relapses, shortages in affordable housing, and economic blight brought about by the pandemic, it is not difficult to see why many people who are struggling financially may not be able to afford a home. However, this does not mean that they should have to resort to homelessness, nor that we as citizens are absolved of taking action. As a city and a community, we need to step up and insure effective and thoughtful solutions to our housing crisis, so that everyone is able to have a home this holiday season and in the future.

One quick way to help: Project HOME has a line of holiday gifts created by homeless people in Philadelphia, providing them jobs and a source of income — and the candles smell amazing! 

Here is a list of some other ways to contribute.

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Features

Have Yourself a Merry Little Zoom Call … and Other Socially-Distanced Activities to Enjoy Over the Holidays

Photo by Mark Skrobola

Despite frost in the air and streets lined with lights, rising COVID-19 cases have made it very difficult for families to gather together as they normally do this time of year.  Usually, in my family, our Thanksgiving dinner includes over 75 people. This year, we decided to find a new way to uphold our traditions and make the best out of our situation. My family held a Zoom call to express our thanks. As we all went “around,” each neon green highlighted box expressed gratefulness for the little things that we often take for granted, such as health, family, and the ability to see everyone together during these difficult times. 

As the December holidays arrive, our virtual world expertise will make it easier for us to come together and celebrate. So, here are some activity suggestions for you and your family to keep the season digitally jolly! 

  1. A family Zoom game night. Try Family Feud or a Kahoot with questions about your family for some trivia fun!
  2. Watch a holiday movie or your favorite show. There are so many ways to watch with your extended family, such as Disney+, GroupWatch, Netflix Party, or Hulu’s Watch Party.
  3. A phone call to your relatives (you can’t go wrong with this classic gesture!). This is the easiest way to check up on your extended family and tell them how much you love them. 
  4. A Zoom Christmas cookie baking party. (Santa decorated cookies would obviously have masks!)
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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 23: Inequities of the Pandemic for People with Disabilities:

This past Thursday, December 3rd, was International Day for People with Disabilities. First introduced in 1992 by the UN General Assembly, the day aims to recognize and further promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities on an international level by increasing the awareness of their situations in political, social, economic, and cultural life. This day is particularly important this year as COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. 

In this pandemic, we have all seen how vital it is to have accurate information, yet for people with hearing, visual, or mental impairments, gathering useful information in the chaotic news cycle is exponentially harder, often leaving them vulnerable and unprepared. 

Once informed about important health measures such as frequent handwashing, mask wearing, and social distancing, certain disabilities can make it more difficult to follow them. While masks are inconvenient for most, they make it especially difficult for people with hearing impairments to understand and communicate with others if they rely on lip reading. 

Caregivers or aids are also often unable to follow social distancing in the same way others are, putting the people they care for at an increased risk. Coronavirus can be more severe for people with certain underlying health conditions, and adults with disabilities are on average three times more likely than nondisabled adults to have heart disease, a stroke, diabetes, or cancer. 

People with disabilities also make up large percentages of several groups more heavily impacted by the pandemic, such as those in the prison system (32% of federal prison inmates and 40% of jail inmates have at least one disability), people living below the poverty line (26.9% of people with disabilities compared to 12.2% of nondisabled people), and other high risk groups. 

Switching to remote learning has been difficult for all of us, but the transition is particularly challenging for students with disabilities and special ed teachers. Many remote learning technologies and software are not conducive to certain disabilities (for example, not all video software includes closed captioning). Additionally, some special ed teachers are unable to effectively teach their students remotely, leaving many students without an education during the pandemic.

When it comes to receiving care for COVID-19, people with disabilities have had inequitable access. Despite the Department of Health saying doctors may not use ability as a means to decide who gets a ventilator, many state governments have discriminated based on the misconception that people with disabilities do not have the same quality of life. For example, Alabama decided that hospitals should not give mechanical ventilators to people with severe disabilities. This law and some others have since been challenged and removed, but there are still many other barriers to overcome. 

 One important way in which these inequalities can be addressed is through more representation in politics and the medical field. 1 in 10 officials elected to office in the United States report having a disability, which is significantly lower than the 1 in 4 national average for adults. Additionally, only 2 percent of practicing physicians have a disability, a severe underrepresentation that leads to bias and misinformation within the medical community. This, combined with the stigma around disabilities, means that policy and emergency responses often do not adequately protect people with disabilities.

Another major step that needs to be taken in order to address the challenges specifically faced by people with disabilities is to gather disability disaggregated data. There is currently no infrastructure in place to gather data about COVID-19 testing, infection, mortality, or outcome that is separated by disability status in the United States. This means that we can’t generate solutions to many problems that may exist because we have no way of knowing about them. 

Additionally, this lack of data makes it difficult to equitably distribute resources and direct policies (data separated by age, race, geographic location, and pre existing conditions have been critical for both of these). This is not a problem only of this pandemic; there has been a historic lack of disability data collected in public health and medical surveillance, making it more difficult for people to access equitable medical services. 

However, there is a silver lining: the exacerbated inequalities faced by people with disabilities during this pandemic have prompted more awareness and conversations about disability and inclusion. We have the opportunity to rebuild in a way that is more inclusive and equitable than ever before, but it will require conversations around ability and privilege in our communities, as well as increased representation of people with disabilities in positions of power. As individuals, we must think critically about how we view disability, and, as a community, we must work to ensure dignity and access for people with disabilities. 

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Diversity Dialogue Day: Meaningful or Performative?

Diversity Dialogue Day on October 22, 2020, was a day the entire Upper School dedicated to meaningful dialogue, inspiring speakers, and interesting workshops. Diversity Dialogue Day has existed for Upper School students in some form for about 20 years, but in recent years, it had become an optional day of diversity training. This year Diversity Dialogue Day was mandatory for all high school students. 

This came in response to a tumultuous year in terms of racial injustice issues in the United States. Coming off a summer that sparked activism, energy, and emotion, the school felt it necessary to put some new plans in place to show that the administration is “committed to making GFS safer and stronger with bold, swift, and direct action,” as Dana Weeks wrote. The school also felt it important to provide opportunities to educate students and faculty and mend the possible gaps in their knowledge, making them more informed and aware members of the community. 

Students spent a few weeks preparing for Diversity Dialogue Day in advisory; we thought about what was at the forefront of our minds at the moment and what important topics should be the focus of this day. For example, my advisory discussed how students and faculty must first be educated and informed about the topics that were the focus of the event in order to have a meaningful dialogue about them. 

On the day itself, we spent the morning listening to a student and expert panel followed by the keynote speaker, Keir Bradford-Grey, who is the Chief Defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. We then spent the afternoon either leading or participating in two different one-hour workshops. There were 26 workshops offered this year, and 20 of them were student-led. There were courses on surviving predominantly white institutions, mass incarceration, LGBTQIA+ misrepresentation in the media, and a whole host of other hot topics. 

I spoke to four students who participated in or led workshops in order to better understand their opinions on Diversity Dialogue Day. Despite the mostly positive feedback, there has been some conversation about whether this day was actually meaningful or if it was a way for the school to save face. 

On an individual level, students tended to get out what they put into it. Students who were engaged and participated thought it was an important, enlightening, and meaningful experience. Inevitably, there were also students who would rather be doing anything else than listening to lectures and participating in dialogues about sensitive topics. 

Annie Mclaughlin ‘22 explained, “It was challenging to have a meaningful dialogue with students who weren’t engaged or interested.” 

Unfortunately, this is to be expected at any mandatory school event and is nearly impossible to prevent. 

Looking at the event as a whole, the consensus from the students was that Diversity Dialogue Day was a step in the right direction, but it was by no means enough. Each student I spoke with echoed the same message. 

Ethan Jih-Cook ‘23 said, “This day was a good starting point, but it needs to be backed up by more time dedicated to this work.” 

India Valdivia ‘21 put it as, “It was a start, but it shouldn’t be praised.” 

Mike Whaley ‘23 said it was “a good building block.” 

Annie explained, “This day was necessary, but it should not be a one-time thing.”

Despite the mostly positive feedback that this is a step in the right direction, there are a faction of students who question if this day was merely performative on the part of the administration, if it was just to show they are doing something to educate and talk about racial injustice after receiving criticism from students and alumni over the summer. 

Mike, who agreed Diversity Dialogue Day was beneficial and extremely necessary, said the changes to the event this year was “a case of GFS getting pushback and responding with performative activism to show they are doing something.” He also pointed out, “It was, politically speaking, necessary, meaning if the administration hadn’t done something, they would have received major criticism.” 

However, it is important to keep in mind no one disputed that the day was effective in educating the student body and providing space for meaningful dialogue, therefore, achieving the immediate goal of Diversity Dialogue day. 

Andrew Lee, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and an organizer of the event, described the day as “a smashing success.” Lee was very happy with the feedback he received about Diversity Dialogue Day, and he said it was a very positive thing that the community is unified in making progress. He also explained that there will always be things to improve and he is committed to having more days like this in the future. 

Lee also made sure to highlight that making change is a whole school effort which takes time and intentionality in order to take the right steps. In closing, he stated, “It takes a long time to change institutions for the better.” Therefore, he encourages students to continue having dialogues with their classmates, families, and teachers, and to continue petitioning and sharing ideas to make a difference in our community. 

While this event quite possibly served the purpose of the administration showing they are doing something in response to recent events, it is still a step in the right direction as long as we continue this work. However, the students seem more concerned about what the next steps are, rather than the success of one event. It cannot be a “one and done” type of thing. The question now is, what are the next steps the school is going to take to address these issues of racial injustice that are so prominent in the United States today? Are they going to continue this hard work towards a safer, more equitable, and inclusive society? Because, as we all know, this day alone was nowhere near enough to get us to where we need to be.

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Sports

COVID-19’s Effect on Fall Sports

Photo by Laxmi McCulloch

Sports this fall season have been far from usual. Because of the collective decision of the Friends School League (FSL), all competition for the foreseeable future is postponed. For the boys’ soccer team, this has drastically changed the daily practices.

“The absence of games has caused some of the intensity and focus that the program usually strives for to be relaxed a little,” says team captain and senior Lucas Johnston-Peck.

While typically varsity and junior varsity practice separately, this year everyone is combined on the same team. “This year the captaincy means taking responsibility for more kids than normal,” says Lucas. “We are trying to emphasize the importance of hard work on the field and off it.”

In addition to goal setting and skill improvement, captains also get to bond with their teammates. With a combined team, these captains now have a unique opportunity to get to know the underclassmen. “While there’s a lot of new faces,” says Lucas, “it’s a fun job getting to know the people who are going to carry the program forward in the coming years.”

Girls’ soccer coach and GFS alumnus Manolo Sanchez is also keeping a positive attitude. He explained the implications of the current practice schedule on the team: “It has allowed us to be more focused and concentrated on other things that we are trying to accomplish,” he said. “Things such as team culture, skill development, etc.”

Empowered by his positivity, the players match Sanchez’s spirit. As he points out, “[The athletes] are just so grateful to be around each other in person, so their energy and enthusiasm has been great.” 

Girls’ soccer team captain, Ella Shay ‘23, explained that team bonding is a bit more difficult this year. With this year’s lack of competition, Ella says, “We don’t have that one shared goal that we have during a regular season.” However, she’s still excited. “We can have fun with each other without the pressure.”

In the more relaxed environment, captains have dedicated themselves to continuing the cherished bonded team culture. Junior Joanna Lin, girls’ tennis team captain, shares her experience, saying, “Team chants, huddles, and other celebratory behaviors were characteristic in our other regular seasons.” Joanna is determined to keep the closeness between athletes while socially distant. She explains, “As a captain, I feel it is one of my responsibilities to help bridge my teammates together towards more of a unified team.”

Similarly, girls’ field hockey team captain, senior Naiya Mainigi, believes, “Every year it is the captains’ job to encourage, cheer, and bring the enthusiasm.” This year, without the motivation of upcoming games, Naiya says they are “working much harder to create a fun environment where people are still excited for practice.” 

The coronavirus could have hindered team unity, but leaders like Lucas, Sanchez, Ella, Joanna, and Naiya made sure this was not the case. They led with enthusiasm, creating consistency amidst a new school year with very little set in stone.

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 22: The History of Indigenous People of Philadelphia

It is Thanksgiving week and November is Native American Heritage Month, so we wanted to bring a focus to the indigenous people in and around our community this week within our work. As you may know, we stand on the land of the Lenni-Lenape tribe; we hope to amplify their voices in sharing the history, their struggles, where they are today, and what we can do as individuals and as a community to help them and undo the damage of the past. 

Who are the Lenape Tribe:

The Lenni-Lenape (translates to “original people”) are one of the oldest nations in the Northeast, having spawned many of the other tribes in the northeast seaboard. They were known to be both warriors and mediators, keeping peace and managing disputes between neighboring tribes. While many of the Lenape people adopted Christianity, they continued to preserve their culture and the legacy of their ancestors. The Lenape tribe originates from the Lenape and Nanticoke peoples, and their homeland includes New Jersey, northern Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, and southeastern New York.

Lenape and the Quaker settlers:

The Lenape Tribe’s first contact with outsiders was in 1638 with the arrival of Dutch and Swedish colonizers who set up transactions between the two peoples. While the first European settlers arrived in 1677, it wasn’t until 1682 that William Penn showed up to claim the land guaranteed to the Quakers. Penn, a devout Quaker, maintained the values of peace and friendship through the Shackamaxon Agreement that bought out indigenous lands but designated certain villages and locations that could not be sold away from the Lenape people. It wasn’t until his death and the ascendance of his son, Thomas Penn, that the Lenape were tricked into selling close to a million acres of their land. In 1763, a mob of frontiersmen originating from central Pennsylvania attacked the Conestoga people near Lancaster. The Quaker government condemned the attackers and moved the Moravian Lenape (Christian Lenape people residing near Philadelphia) inside the city to protect them from the mob. When the mob continued to grow, the Quakers took up arms to protect the Lenape people within the city. Despite this solidarity, in the following centuries the Lenape people experienced much hardship; their lands were stolen away and their population was decimated by disease. While most Lenape resorted to migrating west, many remained in Philadelphia.

Relations with the U.S. government:

Following the Declaration of Independence, the first treaty signed by the U.S. government was with the Lenape people in 1778 (Treaty of Fort Pitt). The treaty promised statehood in return for help in fighting against the British, a promise that, like many others, was not upheld. Antagonism between indigenous people and European settlers continued as tribal lands were infringed upon; many tribes’ members were murdered or taken from their homeland while those who remained lived in perpetual fear, trying to survive by assimilating into the dominant culture. 

While the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the Constitution in 1787, and the Bill of Rights ratified in 1791, it wasn’t until 1879 that the U.S. federal government recognized indigenous people to be protected by the law. Native Americans were not considered citizens until 1924 (less than 100 years ago). The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 expanded the rights of Native Americans to practice their religion, and under the protection of this law many native tribes were better able to advocate for themselves. 

Modern Day:

Today, according to Census data, 13,000 Philadelphians identify themselves as Native American. The Lenape tribe has a constitutional government which includes all three branches, while their community services are handled through a tribally controlled non-profit organization focused on improving the health, welfare, housing, human rights, economic security, and access to clean land and water for Native Americans living within the Delaware Valley. 

While using casino gaming for economic development has become a stereotype of indigenous tribes, the Lenape have a tribal law forbidding the ownership, operation, management, or sponsorship of any business that profits from vice (including the casino industry). While they avidly support their fellow tribes in determining their own policies and views of this issue, the Lenape government believes it is within the wishes of their creator, their elders, and their tribal leaders to find other means of financial development without perpetrating an industry they see as immoral. 

The United States has consistently worked throughout history to erase the heritage and existence of the indigenous people that were here before us. We have failed to adequately recognize the atrocities and injustices that were and continue to be perpetrated against Native Americans. In 1995, a statue of Tamanend, a Lenape leader, was erected to commemorate the legacy and history of the Lenape people. While it is a step in the right direction towards recognizing indigenous people, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of recognizing the bloody and uncomfortable history of the genocide of Native Americans. 

How to Help: We must continue to educate ourselves about the history and present situation of Indigenous tribes. Additionally, you can donate to organizations working to support Native American communities, such as the Native American Rights Fund or the Partnership With Native Americans organization, particularly during of COVID-19, as Native Americans have been disproportionately impacted. Finally, you can stay informed about current issues concerning Native American lands, as the government and large corporations often work to take advantage of these vulnerable lands (for example, the Dakota Access Pipeline), and join the fight in protecting these lands when given the opportunity.

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Practical Zillowing

Yesterday, I came across my dream home. I was browsing on Zillow through a slew of Washington Heights two bed, one bath, 500-to-700 square foot, 4th floor walkup apartments for rent in the $800 to $1500 price range, when I found the perfect fit. 

The guilty pleasure of scrolling through Zillow, a US based renter’s website, has occupied a large part of my free time this past summer. I have the routine down pat: I type Zillow into the search engine, click through to “rent NYC,” and set my preferences.

My most recent find had two cramped bedrooms (one for a roommate because I have a 30 Rock-based fear of living alone and choking on ramen), and had something resembling a strip of exposed brick, but upon further inspection, appeared to be a wall sticker. It was moderately priced, not too far from a subway stop, and felt perfect. 

Except it wasn’t. 

It wasn’t the type of place where one dreams of living in New York City. It didn’t look like Carrie Bradshaw’s Upper East Side townhome with a walk-in closet, or the Eat, Pray, Love firehouse. 

Even though this exercise in apartment hunting is purely for my own enjoyment—I don’t have any plans of moving to the city anytime soon, nor could I afford it—I always set filters before exploring my options. The alternative of unchecked boxes is too overwhelming, like going to a breakfast buffet instead of a bagel place, or listening to an artist’s discography instead of a singular album. What I’m left with when I filter aren’t dream homes, but realistic ones, and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’d like to keep it that way. 

When I’m on Zillow, I’m in perpetual motion: modifying my searches, inspecting layouts, and crossing out possibilities. In doing this, I force myself to consider where I will be in five, ten, or fifteen years. Will I have a lucrative job? Will I be married? Will I know how to cook anything other than ramen? Attempting answers is daunting, yet deeply satisfying. 

I look through Zillow for the express purpose of “manifesting” my future life, whatever that may be. Or, alternatively, for the express purpose of figuring out what I want to manifest in the first place. 

I’ve started blaming this neurosis on what I like to call the “Covid and Gen-Z Mentality of Restlessness,” which is to say that I hope I’m not completely alone in thinking this way. I’ve had conversations with friends and seen numerous tweets and TikToks revolving around the activity of “manifesting,” which according to Oprah Magazine, means “bringing something tangible into your life through attraction and belief, i.e. if you think it, it will come.” In our ongoing period of social isolation, this pastime appears to be one of the only things keeping my generation sane.

It is precisely this freedom of manifesting that has made me reconsider my options and set fewer prerequisites. If I look at an unfiltered list of Zillow apartments, I recognize their existence at the present moment; I don’t need to verify their future affordability to enjoy their presence on my computer screen. At a moment when the world is placing so many constraints on my generation, it is an act of resistance to insist on dreaming and imagining alternative futures, perhaps especially those that seem the least practical and most impossible to attain. 

For the time being, I’ve decided to try and focus on the impractical and lavish margins of Zillow before I deem it unacceptable or naive to do so. This is the side where I splurge (in my daydreams and search box) on the French doors, original wood floors, and a whole damn wall of exposed brick. I shrug off my neuroses, arriving at a landscape of unlimited beds, baths, backyards, and square footage.

**Image Credit: Zillow homepage

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Columns Intersectional Equity

Week 21: Racial Inequity in Healthcare

This week we are talking about racism and discrimination within the healthcare system, with a particular focus on how it impacts Black people. The intersections of racial inequality and its effects are evident when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic — one in four coronavirus deaths in the United States are Black Americans, who have a death rate that is 2.4 times greater than that of white Americans. The complex, vast, and numerous systems of inequality in U.S. healthcare demonstrate the tangible impacts of discrimination within our society.

Much of the inequity seen within the medical system can be directly traced to other systems of discrimination. In terms of health and well-being, factors such as residential segregation have led Black Americans on average to live in places with higher levels of air pollution and more limited accessibility to healthy foods (‘food deserts’), leading to higher rates of conditions such as asthma and obesity. Additionally, it has been scientifically proven that the daily discrimination faced by people of color has quantifiable health detrements. In terms of coronavirus, both obesity and asthma put patients at an increased risk of mortality. 

In addition to all of these external factors, the healthcare industry itself has had a long history of perpetuating racism. From its inception, the medical community within the U.S. has exploited, violated, and abused Black bodies for scientific gain. James Sims, deemed the “father of modern gynaecology”, tested and perfected surgeries on female slaves without anesthesia or their consent. Medical students in Virginia dug up Black bodies to be used as cadavers, and disposed of the bodies in the city’s sewers. In 1932, 600 Black men were unknowingly injected with Syphilis (a disease which had no cure at the time), and left under study for 40 years in order to determine the disease’s impacts on the human body. 28 died of syphilis, and 100 others from related complications.

Our current healthcare industry continues the history of racism, both in access to care and the quality of care received. 14% of Black adults are uninsured (in comparison with 9% of white adults), and are also less likely to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. Black people are more likely to be covered by Medicaid, which places them at a disadvantage to people on private insurance. Because doctors are paid more to see patients with private insurance, patients on Medicaid face longer wait times and fewer options in physicians; a 2015 survey found only 68% of family practice physicians accepted new Medicaid patients, compared with 91% of those with private insurance. Additionally, factors such as clinic location, staffing, and funding within black communities can impact access to timely and quality care. Especially when it comes to professional plastic surgery a lot of care is required after the procedure.

One major step the federal government can take is to provide health insurance when states do not. The disproportionate number of uninsured minorities means that from the start there is unequal access to healthcare (a problem only made worse by the increased unemployment taking away people’s company sponsored insurance). The 15 states that opted out of increasing Medicaid eligibility have 46% of the country’s Black working-age adult population, leaving them tremendously vulnerable. By federalizing Medicaid, the government can greatly reduce the racial health-insurance gap. Additionally, the government should  increase the amount Medicaid pays doctors so that they are received equally by doctors compared to people on medicare or private insurance. 

Although physicians have taken an oath to provide equal care to all, in practice, racial bias has a significant impact on how doctors assess their patients, whether intentional or not. This is particularly evident in pain analysis, which is entirely up to the physician’s discretion. Here, notions of Black patients being more able to tolerate pain are evident, with Black children experiencing acute appendicitis and being in severe pain being ⅕ as likely as white children to receive opioids. Problematic views on Black people are pervasive, impacting anything from cancer analysis to how pregnancy is handled. Properly diagnosing and treating conditions and complications, particularly in vulnerable populations such pregnant women, is extremely difficult if doctors do not believe their patients. As a result, Black babies are more than 230% more likely to die than white babies, with Black mothers also being 4 to 5 times more likely to die than white women. With inaccurate and improper handling of diagnosis and the underlying factors that put Black people at increased risk, it becomes clear to see how many gaping racial disparities, like those in infant and maternal mortality, are possible.

In order to reduce racial disparities, hospitals must acknowledge that a community’s health is influenced by certain social factors (for example the higher rates of asthma within Black communities). By addressing these social factors rather than just reacting to their negative health impacts, hospitals can reduce readmissions, ER visits, missed school days/work days, and save money in the long run. Additionally, hospitals need to have more diversity in their physician and nursing staff. An experiment showed that increasing the involvement of Black doctors could reduce the gap in mortality rate due to cardiovascular complications between Black and white men by 19%, yet only 5% of physicians are Black (Latinxs and Indigenous people are also underrepresented), a gap that can be largely explained by the economic and social barriers that impede minority students form pursuing a medical degree. Finally, the curriculum taught in medical schools must acknowledge the bias and historical racism in the medical system. 

From text books that mostly use white skin tones to students who hold false beliefs about race-based physiological differences, there is clearly a gap that needs to be addressed in medical education. In light of the pandemic and calls to racial justice, many medical institutions have started to take steps towards establishing racial equity, but there is much more work to be done. 

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Week 20: Campaign Financing/Advertising

With the 2020 election wrapping up, we thought it would be important to talk about campaign financing, what it is, who it affects, and why we need to change the system. 

Here is a great introductory video in which congresswoman Cortez explains the dangers of dark money.

How does money get spent during campaigns?

Money is spent in two general avenues: publicity and overhead expenses. Politics is a popularity contest — so advertising such as lawn signs, billboards, leaflets, direct mailings, and social media and tv ads are all very important to get a candidate’s image and message out to the public. Money is also spent on operations such as plane tickets, hotel rooms, staff, event catering, and other campaign trail expenses. 

What effect does money have on campaigns?

The amount of money a candidate raises is directly proportional to their chance of winning. For example, in the 2018 general elections, 89% of candidates elected to the House spent more money on their campaigns than their opponents (83% in Senate). For that reason, it is very important for candidates to raise money, so large corporate and individual donors can influence policy by ensuring that the candidates they support financially implement their visions if elected. 

How do candidates get money?

Candidates and political organizations can get donations from individuals, private groups, or the government. There is a complex web of regulations that vary depending on who is giving money, how much they are donating, and to whom they are donating it (candidate or party). These regulations include donation limits, spending caps, and requirements for candidates to release certain information (such as donor names, amounts, and spending). This being said, most regulations have legal loopholes and insufficient enforcement.

Citizens United (2010), Super PACS, and Dark Money 

In the 2010 SCOTUS case Citizens United V. Federal Elections Committee, the court ruled that restricting corporate funding on election activities was a violation of the first amendment.

This decision allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of “soft money” on election funding so long as they are not directly coordinating with the candidate. This allowed for the creation of a ‘Super PAC,’ a sub-group of political action committees that can raise and donate unlimited amounts of money from corporations and individuals. 

From 2010 to 2018, Super PACs have spent more than 2.9 billion dollars on federal elections, advertising, and other materials that directly support or attack candidates. Where traditional political action committees are only able to contribute $5,000 to each candidate per year and election, the lack of limitation on super PACs allow corporations and individuals to influence elections without bounds. Although they must disclose their donors, Super PACs still allow for over a billion dollars without traceable sources (dark money) to enter the election cycles through shell corporations or other anonymous donor groups. This is particularly relevant in this election cycle, as “more than $116 million in political spending and 2020 contributions can be traced back to ‘dark money’ groups aligned with Democratic or Republican party leadership.”

Some problems with our current system:

Candidates’ chances of winning are largely reliant on their campaign spending, which makes it much more difficult for grassroots candidates (people that don’t take corporate or pac money) to succeed. This means that without change, the wealthy well connected members of society will continue to hold office, denying low-income communities true representation within our government and perpetuating a system that won’t prioritize their needs. This is closely tied to the second issue, which is that politicians can be controlled or at least highly influenced by corporations and individuals behind the scenes, meaning that the decisions being made about our laws, rights, and day to day lives are not being made by those we elect to office, rather the people who have enough money to be heard. Although there is a committee which is supposed to regulate campaign financing, it has been inefficient due to a lack of bi-partisan cooperation, allowing dark money spending to proliferate. 

What can we do about it?

While there is a desire to increase regulations and enact reform, a catch-22 exists where those elected to office can’t push for that reform because it would go against the interests of their sponsors. That being said, there is hope through organizations such as Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats that are working to help large numbers of candidates get elected who pledge to not take any PAC money or corporate sponsorship. Through organizations like these candidates such as the women who make up “The Squad” can be elected to government positions in order to truly represent and fight for their communities. 

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Can’t Vote? Phone Bank!

Photo Credit: Shawn Harquail

Theoretically, phone banking seems simple and straightforward: you call up prospective voters, tell them how important it is to vote, and convince them that they should cast their ballot for a particular candidate. How hard could it be? 

I had this exact thought process when my parents suggested I help out at a phone bank. Little did I know, there’s so much more to it.

There is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that you helped at least a few people come out to vote. In a world where we as teenagers often feel helpless, particularly in politics, phone banking is an amazing way to make a difference. 

At times, I have found phone banking to be pretty ego damaging. Many people simply do not want to talk to you and hang up on you quickly, some do not agree with you, and a couple are openly rude, but the few that respond well make it worthwhile. 

The position of teenagers in politics is unique; we are old enough to have developed opinions of our own, yet people rarely listen to us. Phone banking may not be the most radical or exciting way to make your voice heard, but it does create an impact. 

My dad took me phone banking for the first time before the presidential election in 2016. I distinctly remember dialing number after number and talking to these strangers, trying to make sure each of them was registered to vote. I quickly became discouraged and tired of being hung up on, but then I talked to one woman who didn’t know where her polling place was, and I was able to provide her with a website. This may seem like a small victory, but the feeling of accomplishment after I had helped this one person vote was incredible. 

I think that our generation is going to (and already is) making huge changes in this world, and this is just another way we can all contribute in a small way to better help our city, our country, and our world. 

So if you are a teenager who can’t vote yet, but is interested in politics and wants to make a difference in the crazy world we live in, volunteer at a phone bank! 

Right now, the phone banks are all virtual and they happen very frequently. It is very easy to participate — you can sign up through the PA Democratic Party or Back to Blue

I couldn’t find any Republican phone banks, but here’s a link to volunteer for the Philadelphia Republican party. 

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Talk, Donate, and Act: Five Student-Led Initiatives Fighting Racial Inequality

Photo of the June 3rd protests by Jay Nasser ‘21

History teacher Ted Oxholm announced today in an assembly that the Upper School History department is preparing a new, mandatory African American studies course that will make its debut in the fall of 2021. 

The news comes as a result of the GFS Commitment to Anti Racism Petition created by eight juniors and seniors: Dhmyni Samuels ‘21, Ryan Lewis ‘21, India Valdivia ‘21, Evan Weiss ‘21, Sophie Borgenicht ‘20, Tsega Afessa ‘20, Jillian Yum ‘20, and Gabby Schwartz ‘20. By Friday morning, the petition garnered 664 alumni, teacher, student, and parent signatures, along with 237 anonymous comments expressing support and encouragement of the students’ initiative. 

“Nothing opens doors and minds like a great education,” reads one note. “It’s how we are able to step through and move forward together as individuals to form a healthier society.”

The petition organizers responded to today’s news of curricular changes with gratitude and a call to further action. 

“We feel encouraged by this [step], but also know that a lot more action needs to be taken and our fight is not over. We hope the school takes initiative on its own in the future,” say the petition initiators. In addition to the call for educational changes, many other GFS Upper Schoolers and student organizations have reached out this past week to express solidarity and provide resources for contributing in the fight against systemic racism, and toward a more actively anti-racist school community. 

Below, Earthquake has highlighted five student-led initiatives that continue to serve as spaces for conversation, donation opportunities, and courses of action for all friends of GFS.

Talk: 

BSU Open Meetings

Though the school year is nearly over, Earthquake recognizes the achievements of the Black Student Union in creating a thoughtful, welcoming space for all members of the community to converse about ongoing police brutality in light of the death of George Floyd. On Friday afternoon, this week and last, students and teachers gathered on Google Meet to hear prolific poems, personal testimonies, and messages of solidarity. 

Donate:

  1. Watch “Grease”

Poster by Ana Branas ‘20

Tune in to the virtual, annual, (automatic, systematic, and hydromatic) senior musical, “Grease,” tonight at 8:45 pm. In lieu of selling tickets, the cast encourages anyone watching to make a contribution to an organization of their choice in support of and in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Click the link in your student email to watch the performance.

Check out this statement from the senior class:

“We, the Cast/Creative Team of the musical, think that it would be foolish to continue the show as planned without acknowledging the injustices coming to light in our society right now. In an act of solidarity, we would like to offer a link to many resources where you can learn, take action, and/or make donations. Though completely optional, it would mean a lot to this group if you could take action and/or donate on our behalf, especially if you plan on attending the premiere.” 

  1. Student Club Matching Event

The Education Justice, Human Rights, South Asian Student Alliance, and Lobbying clubs report that they are teaming up to match your donations to the American Civil Liberties Union and Black Lives Matter Philly.

“These organizations are taking action to unravel the injustices of our legal system and promote civil equality both nationally and locally. It’s up to you what organization you choose, but send proof of your donation to Coby Keren (ckeren20@germantownfriends.org),” says an email from the Education Justice and Human Rights clubs. 

They will be matching up to $1180 in donations. 

Act:

  1. Email Script to Elected Officials

Take a look at this statement from four underclassmen — Clare Meyer ‘22, Martina Kiewek ‘22, Allyson Katz ‘22, and Sam Zimmer ‘23:

“We put together an email script outlining specific reforms that need to be undertaken by the Philadelphia Police Department in order to ensure police accountability and end policies that allow officers to act on discriminatory biases (such as Stop and Frisk). 

This will take a literal minute – all you have to do is copy and paste the script, write in your name, and send it out to the official of your choice, with cmeyer22@germantownfriends.org in the bcc. It’s that easy. 

On the top script, we listed the emails of city officials we thought it made sense to send to — Mayor Kenney, Police Commissioner Outlaw, and City Council President Clarke. We also compiled a list of city council reps by district, so you can easily find the contact info for your rep.

Now is the time to put pressure on officials to act. Stand up and stand with the black community in pushing for reforms that will protect the life and dignity of black Philadelphians.”

  1. Resources for Support and Education

Here is a list of resources compiled by the GFS Assembly Committee:

Support Black-Owned Businesses & Civic Organizations

Anti-Racism Action Resources

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Nine Semi-Productive Things to Do Instead of Wasting Your Time

Photo by Laxmi McCulloch

As someone who is prone to overthinking and stress, it’s no surprise that quarantine gives me an adequate amount of anxiety. At first, I spent my quarantine lying in bed and enjoying the fact that I had nothing to do. But for me, like for most people, not having anything to do got old pretty quickly. So, I decided to develop ways to cope with the monotony of everyday life. Here are my top nine recommended activities  for when you get tired of binging Netflix shows.

  1. Spending time on Coursera

Coursera.com is a great way to start taking courses on specific or broad topics that you’re interested in.  I’ve been taking a course called “The Psychology of Popularity,” where I’ve been learning about how psychologists study popularity and cliques in teens and how it affects adult life.  You can take a course for credit (it costs money, and you get a completion certificate), but I’ve been taking classes for free. There’s a structured schedule for assignments and lessons, which is nice if, like me, you need more scheduled events during this up-in-the-air time.

  1. Watching improv

An old friend of mine, Julian Shapiro-Barnum, has been working on creating an improv show called “The Social Distance,” and it’s truly hilarious. It covers a wide range of topics from bleach, to puppets, to family dynamics. I’ve watched every episode, and it’s been totally worth it. 10/10 would recommend it if you’re in need of a good laugh. 

  1.  Museums, museums, museums!

I’ve never liked museums; I’ve always found them boring. But right now, they’re about the most interesting things I could possibly explore. The Philadelphia Museum of Artthe Eastern State Penitentiary, and other museums around the world have made their content completely virtual. It’s a great way to step out of your own world and experience the works of others.

  1.  Taking a dance class

For those in the GFS community, try joining the Drama Department’s Google Classroom with online resources about theatre and dance all across the country. For those not in the Classroom group, there are dozens of Philly-based and non-Philly based art and theatre companies that are going completely virtual. Koresh Dance Company has been having virtual dance lessons, which have been a great way to get some exercise amidst all this sitting around.

  1.  Writing the next great American novel

Well, no. Not really. But I have been spending a lot more time writing (e.g. this piece) and doing things I love that I normally wouldn’t have time for. Maybe for you that means finally sitting down and writing that story you’ve been dreaming up or the song you hear in your head before you go to sleep. Whatever it is, there is no better time than now to start.

  1.  Reading

Lately, I’ve had a lot more time to read, and read a lot. I’ve been keeping a reading list. Here’s some recommended books for those who haven’t gotten into it just yet: 

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney.
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • Educated by Tara Westberg
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. 
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Look up some great reads in your favorite genre and start reading! To make things even better, local bookstores like Uncle Bobbie’s and Headhouse Books are offering book deliveries. 

  1. Baking

Yeah, I know, everyone’s doing it, it’s so mainstream, basic, whatever you want to call it. But it’s a cliché for a reason: it’s actually pretty fun. Recently, my brother and I worked really hard to make an apple-peach pie using four different online recipes, and it actually was pretty successful. 

  1. Self care

Whatever this means to you. To me, it means making time for my skin care routine. It also means spending a lot of time looking up makeup tutorials to try to turn my less-than-basic skills into something actually visually pleasing to the eye. Take time to improve yourself, your mental health, your spiritual health, and your emotional health. To be able to relax and do things for myself, whether it’s trying out a new eyeliner look, or spending some time meditating with Headspace, has been a great way for me to make sure I stay sane.

  1. Making (and sharing) your own art

The Kimmel Center #ArtHappensAtHome campaign is a great way to get started! Lots of places are opening opportunities to people that will allow them to create and present their art to the world whether it’s a song, a skit, or a piece of visual art that you’ve made, quarantine inspired or not. I haven’t actually had a chance to participate in this, but I’ve been watching the submissions regularly and hope to see some familiar faces in upcoming weeks!

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There’s Always Room for One More Dish

Photo by Evan Weiss

Written in response to the New York Times writing prompt: “Is your family experiencing greater conflict during a time of self-quarantine?”

My mother stormed up to her room one night, almost in tears. My brother and I don’t help enough with the dishes, with the laundry, with anything, really. It’s totally our fault. No, honestly. I’m not trying to come off as sarcastic. We don’t do enough. But we do try.

My mother is not a nurse. She’s not a doctor or a grocery store employee or anything. But she runs a remote company. Not a company that has gone remote since this happened. It’s always been remote. So, virtually — no pun intended — nothing has changed for her. She wakes up, she goes on phone calls all day, she rarely eats, she rarely sleeps, and she works all day every day, which is nothing out of the ordinary for her. What is out of the ordinary, though, is her virtual life in addition to cooking and cleaning. So considerably, tensions have been high. 

The house is dirty — it’s always been messy, but it’s never been dirty. I can’t say I’ve been doing my best to fix it, but I sure can say that I am purely disgusted by it. I walked downstairs in between class A and class B. I’m not calling them class A and class B because they’re the “A and B carriers” or whatever. I have no idea what that means. I am calling them class A and class B because they could truly have been any class. Life is one meaningless blend of Zoom calls.  

So I walked downstairs in between class A and class B. That was when I saw the kitchen. Well, I saw what should have been the kitchen. Instead, I was confronted with a world of crusty cups, grimy bowls overflowing with cereal debris, and plates stacked up to what felt like the ceiling. I anticipated the freak-out my mother would have, about how we don’t help (because we don’t), and quickly, before anyone came down, I started rinsing the dishes. While carefully placing them into the dishwasher, I remembered what my grandmother always said: “There’s always room for one more dish.” I tried. And tried. 

I squeezed and stretched and pushed and placed and rearranged and removed until everything was in. That was where my area of expertise ended. I grabbed a small plastic-wrapped white pod and opened the door. “Max,” I groaned. “Please help.” 

“What? No. I’m playing.” NBA 2k18 is a more pressing issue to my brother than daily chores.

“Max.” He came over. “I don’t know how to put this pod in.” And so we tried. And then tried some more and prodded and finally, we flipped the right lever and found a hole in the compartment that had to be destined for pods. We pressed START and waited for the beep. Then I returned upstairs, feeling proud and accomplished. My brother remained downstairs to play the next round of his NBA 2K18 tournament.

My mother came down an hour later. I watched her descend onto the 1st floor. I couldn’t wait for her to see what we had done. I counted to 10 and then I heard a disgusted scream.

“Arghhhh! Why does it smell like bleach?”

I came running down as my brother explained meekly that he had noticed the smell for half an hour (the dishwasher’s exact allotted time) and failed to mention it.

“Sophie…,” my mom asked slowly. “Where did you get the pod you used?”

“Uh. The counter.”

 “Cool. Cool,” my mother said. “Now our dishes will be extra clean.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “you bleached them all.”

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On Balance: The Somersaults of Motherhood

Photo by Elena Eisenstadt

This piece was originally written as a personal essay for a Junior English class assignment. 

I fell off of a balance beam once. I was at my friend’s birthday party at a gymnastics gym. The whole 40-minute drive there, my mother was complaining about how far away it was and about the apparent lack of a real friendship with the birthday girl and that she would have to sit with all of these suburban moms while I swung about on poles (apparently, I would not be very good at this) and how this girl was definitely not even very good at gymnastics, but her awful mother would probably not shut up about the fact that she was competing in States next weekend (even though, in our age group, all you had to be able to do to qualify for States was a somersault) and that now, we would have to invite this girl to my birthday party and she would have to deal with the horrible mother again. 

The name of this horrible mother spoke volumes about her Kansas City, Kansas, upbringing: Sherri. She had side-swept bangs and a badly-bleached, feathery ’80s cut, though it wasn’t as unbelievably unattractive as her friend Shawn’s. That woman had the sex appeal of a plastic water bottle with the label peeled off. Sherri drove the same Honda Odyssey as each of her friends. She wasn’t an East Coast suburban mom; she didn’t wear designer clothes or drunkenly sob about her failing marriage every night. Oh no, Midwest suburban moms are a different breed. She wore Ross Dress for Less jeans and loved Kohl’s. These stores my mother could tolerate (she loved a good Marshall’s run), but as soon as one of the moms mentioned the dreadful, nauseating cesspool that is Walmart, my mother halted any communication and lost any semblance or trace of respect she might have had for the poor Walmart shopper who just wanted a good deal on her new linens.

Sherri was overweight, not enough for it to be out of the ordinary but enough for my mother to comment on it. She always had eyeliner on and you could always tell. Her watery blue eyes and thin lips asserted sheer dominance and maternal power that made you feel like she was about to invite your kid over for a playdate. 

My mother hated that look. 

That bragging tone they had about their children irked her, as did the way they smothered their daughters with cheap makeup and false narratives of inspiration, the encouragement of their daughters to eat less, and the batting down of any hint of intellectual curiosity. My mother was younger than them, more interesting, and better-looking—the trifecta of mom jealousy. She pitied the fact that these women’s lives revolved around their children. And the fact that these moms seemed to love that. My mother, with four kids, didn’t have the time to watch every single soccer game or go to every single school talent show. They saw that as a sign of parental failure. My mother saw it as having a life of her own: pieces of her identity that didn’t depend on her kids. 

Sometimes I searched for my parents in the audiences of my violin recitals or school holiday assemblies. I don’t know why I did that. I would start from the first row, carefully scanning each face. Then the second, then the third, and so on. The further back my eyes roamed, the more they strained. The light was dimmer at the back of the auditorium and my glasses were consistently an old prescription. I usually found them in the farthest back corner closest to the door or sometimes not at all. My dad was usually traveling for work and, well, I wasn’t the only kid at home. I understood. 

As Sherri, Shawn, my mother, Lori, Terri, Pam, and Lynn sat in the bleachers, they watched their kids roll around on the mats below, jump into the pit of foam cubes, attempt somersaults in the air on the trampolines, and teeter slowly along the length of the balance beam. My mother, sitting quietly at the edge of the bench, observed with bored, tired eyes. The moms were discussing which of the little boys in the class their daughters might marry. They laughed and giggled as they compared the swoop of the hair on one boy to the potential build of another (“Have you seen his father?”). They cooed and awed at the thought of babies from one combination or the other. 

My mother despised them, but she didn’t show it. She balanced hating the moms with not letting them know how she felt, like she was walking on the balance beam, heel-to-toe, heel-to-toe. As much as she hated that I was at this birthday party (clearly exhibited in the car ride there), she also didn’t want me to not be invited to birthday parties. She didn’t want to be made fun of by these moms, and she didn’t want her opinions of these women to affect my potential friendships with their daughters. 

Still, I knew she was waiting with resigned contempt for the end of the godforsaken party, the chance to finally leave. But first, we would have to eat cupcakes, sing Happy Birthday, and open presents (Sherri insisted that everyone watch the birthday girl carefully rip the wrapping paper off of each present). At my birthday party that year my mother didn’t even let me receive any presents.

Back on the gym floor, I could feel the eyes of the moms, of my mother, and of the one dad that sat in the corner. I was holding up the line for the balance beam. I’d been doing somersaults across the mats for the past 10 minutes and my neck hurt. I couldn’t do anything on the bar, and the last time I attempted to climb up the blocks to jump into the foam pit, I slipped and got a rug burn on my stomach, so my only option was the balance beam. The only problem was that I had absolutely no sense of balance and a small fear of heights. So it was taking me a minute to work up the courage to climb up onto the beam. 

Two girls were waiting behind me, staring as I struggled to bring my leg up and maintain the footing. I had forgotten that I didn’t actually like any of the girls here. Thinking about my mother was not helping. The smells of sweat, rubber, and chalk mingled with the distant aroma of overly oily pizza. My feet kept slipping on the cheap leather, leaving tracks not dissimilar to that of snail mucus. It stood out to me like an elephant in a cowfield. With the toes of one foot wrapped around the edge of the beam and my feeble arms pulling me up, I dragged my other leg onto the beam and I was finally on it. Now to stand up. This I did with less difficulty than the mount, but it lacked grace. I began the quivering, devastatingly slow death march to the other end of the beam. It seemed to stretch out longer with each step I took. There was no space between the heel of one foot and the toe of the other. My arms wobbled back and forth. My eyes never strayed from the beam. Just a few more steps. It was getting easier! 

Then, as I moved my left leg from behind my right, I remembered my mother. No amount of arm-wobbling could have saved me. I fell flat on my back. I heard the girls who had been waiting gasp. I got up. No need to make a scene. I glanced up at the bleachers where the parents sat. Nobody had seen it. I walked over toward the bathroom, avoiding all eye contact. I wondered if they would say anything. The more I thought about it, the hotter and redder my face became and the closer hot tears came to spilling out. Once in the small, poorly-cleaned bathroom (it smelled like Glade Hawaiian Breeze®️ air freshener), I drew deep, shuddering breaths. Looking in the mirror, I pressed cold fingers to my swollen eyes, wiped my snotty nose on the borrowed leotard, and smeared the excess snot on a paper towel hanging from the dispenser. I left the paper towel there. 

I went back into the gym and wandered around, somersaulting and cartwheeling whenever I felt someone’s glare land on me. Then it was time for pizza. I sat next to my friend, the birthday girl, the only kid in the room I even sort of liked. I watched her open every present with diligent care, oohing and ahhing at the E-Z Bake Oven, the Rainbow Loom, the Littlest PetShop sticker book. We ate cupcakes, and then it was time to leave. My mother had already grabbed my shoes and coat from the cubby; she was itching to get out of there. We were the first out of the building. 

I had been allowed to sit in the front seat for this trip, a momentous occasion in my mind, and as I strapped myself in and held the seat belt down so that it didn’t cut into my neck, I felt very Grown Up and Important. My mother started the car and pulled out of the spot. “I saw you fall off the balance beam,” she said softly. My feeling of Grown Upness disintegrated and the hot blush returned to my face. 

“I’m proud of you for trying to get on it and not giving up.”

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Seeing Screen to Screen: Quarantine Technology Reviewed for High Schoolers

Photo by Elena Eisenstadt

With social distancing guidelines extended indefinitely, we could all use some outlets to stay in touch. Chances are that that friend you miss or relative you haven’t spoken to in a while are isolated in their houses as well. If they’re not, go yell at them because they should be. Even though it is important to stay in isolation, it is easy to start missing social interaction. Fortunately, we have a vast network of media at our fingertips. Here are three great social distancing apps that will make you feel closer to one another during isolation.

Houseparty

Houseparty is basically summed up in the name: with this free app you can throw a party from the comfort of your own home with up to 8 other people. Once you open the app, you’re essentially going live. Your friends will get a notification and can join your “room” to start chatting. This allows people to jump in and out of conversations. You can invite friends into your room or lock it to have private conversations. Perhaps the app’s most unique features are the multiplayer games like Head’s Up, trivia, Pictionary, etc. Houseparty is so “big brother” that it was practically made for social distancing!

Netflix

Unsurprisingly, Netflix usage levels have spiked since the pandemic. What’s better than relaxing and watching your favorite tv shows or movies? Actually, there is something better: watching with friends. Netflix released a new Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch movies and TV shows together, albeit online. You can stream at the exact same time as other users and chat about it in real time. This is the perfect app for a social distance movie night, and you don’t have to share the popcorn. 

Zoom

You’re probably familiar with Zoom, an app with similar uses as Facetime, Skype, and Google Hangouts. What sets Zoom apart is the easy accessibility and pristine video quality. Zoom has become the most reliable outlet for businesses and schools to come together for video conferencing, but people have also used it to host book groups, church services, yoga sessions, and even cocktail parties. Though Zoom has enabled us to continue social and educational activities that we would normally do in person, it can sometimes be an invasion of personal space and definitely takes some getting used to. So make sure you don’t accidently carry your conference with you into the bathroom (yes, this really happens).

Categories
Arts Features

Art and Social Change

Photo Credit: Elena Eisenstadt

When shopping at Urban Outfitters, Uniqlo, or Pacsun, it’s rare to consider the meaning of the art on a piece of clothing. Art and Social Change, a J-Term course I took taught by Megan Culp and Robin Friedman, made me actually think about the designs on a T-shirt and the artists behind them. I enjoyed the freedom this class offered to be open and outspoken when discussing artists’ work and prominent pieces of art.

During the course, we explored multiple artists and their art, both abstract and realistic, which addressed social justice issues. Afterwards, we moved onto creating our own work about a cause we were passionate about. We started off with an activity called “Art Tasting,” where we were provided with a variety of different artists who either confront or have confronted social justice issues. These artists included Shepard Fairey, a street artist, graphic designer, and founder of the clothing brand OBEY; Ai Wei Wei, whose art of all different mediums challenges China’s government; and Picasso, whose “Guernica” speaks to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. 

After we researched selected artists, we discussed what we found interesting or confusing about them. Then we moved on to a study of an artist with a partner. One artist we studied was Keith Haring, whose iconic work spread awareness about AIDS and can be found on shirts in Urban Outfitters. We also learned about Banksy, an anonymous artist whose work speaks to a wide range of social justice issues, primarily ones that are often underrepresented by the media. Once we had an understanding of how art can shed light on social justice, we focused on creating our own pieces. We used a wide range of materials including watercolor, acrylics, ink, and magazine cutouts. We were encouraged to try different techniques, such as bookmaking, printing, or using Flashe (a matte, vinyl-based paint) or acrylic paint on posters.  This class taught me more than just how to make art; it made me think about why art is important. Through murals, museums, and even street art, we can spread awareness about issues in society to a wide range of people. Like protesting, art is a form of self-expression where people can creatively take part in fighting for social justice.

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Features

When in France…

Photo Credit: Laxmi McCulloch

Wandering through a French cathedral on your way to get a hot chocolate at an outdoor café with your best friends is the solution to all of life’s problems. I’m not religious, but I’ll admit there’s something special about Cathedrale St. Gatien in Tours, France. There’s something special about the whole city, actually, and the month I spent there was nothing short of spectacular.

While in Tours, I attended French language and culture classes at the Institut de Touraine from 9:00 A.M. to 12:20 P.M., Monday through Friday. Most of the other students at l’Institut are college or graduate students from places all over the world, including Turkey, Washington state, Alaska, Japan, Virginia Beach, Belgium, and South Korea. At fifteen years old, my friends and I were by far the youngest in our class, but it didn’t seem to really matter to our welcoming peers. They were all eager to give us advice about being a foreigner in France or share stories from their lives.

As soon as I got out of class, I would head to lunch with some friends. Most of the time this meant walking to a boulangerie for a sandwich and a tart, although I did enjoy the occasional crêpe. After about a week in Tours, I had developed a list of my favorite restaurants and cafés. While I frequently drew inspiration from this list to choose a lunch spot, I did my best to try new things as often as I could.

90% of my afternoons were spent in one of the following eight ways:

  1. Shopping (both on the main shopping street with all the big chain stores and in small boutiques I found down tiny cobblestone alleys)
  2. Visiting the Jardin Botanique de Tours (possibly my favorite place in the world)
  3. Playing Uno for hours in my favorite café
  4. Taking walks along the Loire river
  5. Doing homework in the sun on the steps of L’Hotel de Ville (city hall)
  6. Wandering around local chateaux and art museums
  7. Taking French cooking classes
  8. Drinking hot chocolate and people watching in the Place Plumereau (a quintessentially Tourangeau spot)

Sometime around 5:00 or 6:00 (depending on if I had the key to the apartment or not — there was only one key for me and my roommate to share, so we had to alternate days), I would go back home, finish my homework, talk to someone from home on the phone, or hang out with my host family. Then it was dinner and time for bed. 

There was the occasional night out, but as fifteen year olds, there weren’t many legal activities for me and my friends to partake in late at night in a college town. If we were out late, we were mostly likely wandering around the crowded streets lamenting the fact that one day soon we would have to go back home to our parents and strict curfews. 

I couldn’t be more serious in saying that my time in Tours changed my life. I learned to be more self-reliant, improved my time management skills, significantly reduced my stress levels, and had an experience that I’ll remember forever. In fact, I have an open invitation from my host family to stop by for dinner if I’m ever back in town. You better believe I’m going to take them up on that as soon as I get the chance. 

Categories
Features Food

Preserved

Photo Credit: Scott Foley

People either love or hate pickles; there’s no in between. No matter your feelings toward them, pickles seem to have always been around and we don’t often think about the process that it takes to make them. 

During the first rotation of January Term, one of the classes I took was called “Preserved,” taught by Caroline Santa and Sara Charme-Zane. The class was based on learning about food preservation and fermentation, processes that were developed to keep food edible for long periods of time. In this class, we made our own pickles, jam, sauerkraut, and kombucha. We also ate teas, cheeses, miso, dried fruit, and many other types of preserved food to examine the taste and smell of the items. With almost every experiment, we watched a video about the background of the food, the process of preservation, and the process of fermentation. After watching the videos, we journeyed to the Meetinghouse kitchen to start cooking. The experiments were a success; they tasted just like the store bought items, but the experience of making them ourselves made them so much more delicious. 

On our last day, we had a feast of everything we’d made along with other store bought items we tasted. This class exposed me to new ways to eat food and gave me useful skills. The lessons I learned will stick with me for a long time, as they have taught me that making food with my own hands gives it a special meaning. 

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Features Popular Sports

Going with the Mountain Elevation: How to Stay Calm and Cool on Four Scenic Bike Routes Just Outside the City

Photo Credit: Amar Mohamed

I first started mountain biking over two years ago when my dad’s friend, Mahesh, took me on my first ride on Thanksgiving day. And boy, am I thankful for that ride, because mountain biking has become an integral part of me. As we were riding through the trails, I was scared of all the obstacles including sharp rocks, slippery roots, and steep drops which could send me to the hospital if I negotiated them incorrectly. All I could think about was the worst case scenario, but halfway through the ride, I tried to find the flow of the trail. I adapted my riding to ride with the trail, instead of against it. In this way, mountain biking is almost meditative because the only thing a biker focuses on—in fact, the only thing a biker CAN focus on—is the trail, lest they make that trip to the hospital. All the worries of the “outside world” vanish when the tires meet the dirt. On the trail, it is just the rider, their bike, and the trail. I had clearly fallen in love with the sport.

I returned to school after Thanksgiving break, feeling special and unique for having tried a sport no one else had. I soon learned that I was wrong. Other riders have come out of the woodwork. Now, we have a small mountain biking community at GFS. We planned and went on rides on most weekends. I learned that even the head of the upper school, Matthew Young, is a rider! 

As much as my first trail experience was a wonderful introduction to mountain biking, there are a couple of tips and tricks I wish I had known when I started, and I would love to share with the GFS community.

Gear

Cadence Cyclery is a good place to rent a bike in Philly. Make use of your local bike shop by talking to the people who work there. They are invariably friendly and always willing to share information about local trails, gear you will need, etc. 

Make sure you wear good protective gear. I recommend a sturdy helmet and knee pads, elbow pads, full-fingered gloves, a water bottle that fits a bottle cage, and a bike rack for your car.

If you wish to buy a bike, start out with a beginner bike and work your way up to the best bikes. Doing this will allow you to determine if you like the sport enough to invest more of your money (or your parents’ money!). Mountain biking is not an inexpensive sport!

Locations: Easiest to most difficult

Belmont Plateau (Fairmount Park): This is a good place to start mountain biking in the city, as the trails are mostly hard-packed and flowy with minimal roots and rocks. It is a 9- to 10-mile loop with several places to exit the loop. Since there is not much change in elevation on this cross-country style trail, it is not too physically challenging. They have a pump track (a short loop consisting of humps and banked turns) and a jump line (a series of jumps) which is fun to do before or after a ride. Caution: The Belmont trail system is a bit confusing. I got lost on my first ride there. 

Wissahickon (Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill): The Wissahickon (or the Wiss) is a great cross country riding spot that has trails for both beginners and advanced riders. It features flowy sections, a 14-mile loop, rocky sections, and a few jumps here and there. There are plenty of unique and fun sections to be explored, so boredom is not a concern. It is very easy to ride certain portions of the loop by connecting them with Forbidden Drive, which is a gravel road. The trail system at the Wiss is well-marked and is fairly easy to navigate, but it is still useful to have a map. There is a fair amount of elevation change, making it physically challenging at certain points. I recommend you complete a difficult stretch and then reward yourself with a snack or a meal at the Valley Green Inn

Mt. Penn (Reading, PA): Mt. Penn is a trail system that is geared towards advanced mountain bikers. The trails are very rocky and have technical features and extended jump lines. This trail system requires you to pedal up relatively smooth access roads and trails to get to the top. From the top, the trails that bring you down vary in difficulty. If you like flowy trails and getting your tires off the ground, I recommend the A-line trail. Mt. Penn has a fair amount of elevation change, making it physically taxing. 

Spring Mountain (Montgomery County, PA): Some of you might know this place as a ski resort. But when it is not ski season, Spring Mountain becomes a destination for mountain biking. This place is not for the faint-hearted. It has obstacles and features, such as 6-foot drops and rock gardens, that are hard to navigate on two feet, let alone two wheels. But if you are an experienced rider, this place offers challenges that few other trails do. The runs are short here, but after multiple laps of 400ft of climbing,  you will want to go to Wawa, which is 4 miles away, to replenish your calories. 

Pure adrenaline, pure speed and pure feeling. These are the things I experience when I fly through the trails, seemingly at mach two. Mountain biking has changed me for the better…well, mostly. It has introduced me to a whole community of riders. A community that accepts me no matter how skilled or unskilled I am, no matter how expensive or inexpensive my bike is, and no matter the color of my skin. Everyone is equal. Actually, Fabio Wibmer is an exception. He is beyond human! You have to look him up.
Please enjoy this video I made of ride at the Wiss.

Categories
Features

2022 Vision: Prescription Change

Photo Credit: Scott Foley

The original article, 2022 Vision, will be published in the Earthquake College Issue, coming soon.

What makes the sophomore perspective on college unique is our lack of knowledge. Most of our knowledge of college is what seeps down from older siblings and upperclassmen, little of it based in fact. This deficiency adds a level of stress and panic to many minds in the 10th grade. 

Due to the COVID-19, this lack of knowledge is no longer confined to the sophomores, but has spread to all branches of the college process. No one can say what college applications will look like with a global pandemic blanketing all operations.

The arrival of the Coronavirus added a cruel reversal into the Class of ‘22’s year. After I wrote the original article discussing the sophomore perspective on college, each 10th grader met in small groups with their college counselors, beginning to grasp what the next few years might look like. Now, only a couple weeks later, even this slight sense of understanding has been torn away. The Coronavirus has flipped a lot of outlooks back to the stressed out mindset of the 1st semester. 

“I’m feeling worse,” says Finn Sher ‘22 with a chuckle. “The one reassuring thing is that everyone is going through it. I’m not the only one who will be saying they missed half of their sophomore year.” 

Another sense of comfort could come in the form of test-optional applications. This would eliminate one of the biggest stress factors in the whole college process. 

“I know a lot of schools went test optional for next year but I don’t know if that’s going to stay,” says Jane Markovitz. It seems unlikely that test-optional policies will remain for the Class of ‘22, but for the juniors, it is certainly a small silver lining in the massive storm cloud raining down on everything.

College applications will no doubt be affected by this pandemic, but more immediately is our junior year, which is really the first rung on the ladder up to college. September is still in a blurry zone. We have no way of knowing now if we’ll be back on Coulter Street by then. 

“If we don’t go back in the fall, it’ll just be really weird not having junior year—a year which is really crucial, where you can visit schools and start to figure out what you want to do,” says Finn. “It would be really hard having that be left out or modified in ways that no one in the past had to deal with.”

Although it feels as if a wrench was just thrown into our system, it is important to remember just how lucky we are. 

“We have the opportunity to continue school online, take tests, study, and continue to learn the curriculum,” explains Max Daniel ‘22. 

Regardless of how the coming months unfold, our entrance into the college process will most definitely be an adventure. Even with a pandemic clouding everyone’s minds, the Sophomore’s dive into the college process will be as exciting as ever. Finn says, “I’m not terrified, but I’m definitely interested to see what the next few years will hold.”

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Features

Lonely

Photo Credit: Maddy Dumont

Two months ago, I never would have imagined spending all day around the house. Although this is a chance to relax and spend time with family, it can be difficult for me to find enjoyment in staying home every day.

All my life, I’ve been told by my friends, “you’re so lucky to have no siblings” and “I wish I was an only child like you.” Although I understand where they are coming from, I truly believe that being an only child is over-glorified. Yes, sibling-less children get all the attention from their parents and might even be spoiled by them, but conversely, as the only child in the family, they lack the companionship of a sibling and are by themselves most of the time. 

Neil Bennett ‘22, a fellow only child, says, “people complain how much siblings are annoying, but I’d rather have someone to be annoyed at than have no one at all.” I live with just my mother and I have to admit that it can get pretty boring around the house, especially when she is working from home and I am learning online. When I’m not in class or spending time with my mother, I’m usually just hanging out by myself, occasionally calling my friends, working out, or watching reruns of old basketball games.

 I’m trying to keep busy, but I do feel a bit lonely sometimes, especially since we cannot go out and see our friends, and I don’t have anyone around my age that I can talk to on a daily basis. 

However, not everything is negative. With the tremendous amount of time that I have, I can pursue new interests and passions. I’ve started playing my guitar again, something that I always loved but didn’t have much time to do. I also have a lot of time to think, especially about the merit of family and friends.

In the end, however, I cannot complain. There are many people who have it much worse than me during this time, and I am grateful for what I have. My message is to cherish your friends and family — and your siblings, even if you might despise them sometimes — and to be appreciative because they are all that we have right now.

Categories
Features

Never-Ending Curiosities

Photo Credit: Grace Busser

With so much information in so many subjects being pushed my way in school, it is rare that I am curious about something. However, over this spring break, I felt the curiosity to learn more about something on my own for the first time in many years. Still, I didn’t just wake up one morning and shout, “I shall research philosophy,” and immediately get to work. For me it happened through watching silly videos of some of my old favorite YouTubers, Rhett and Link

Part of the original generation of YouTubers, Rhett and Link first gained fame for goofy parody songs and then for a morning show called Good Mythical Morning (GMM). In GMM they perform a variety of ridiculous stuff, from trying international foods to getting their chests waxed together. With 16.4 million subscribers and a YouTube career of more than 10 years, Rhett and Link have been best friends since childhood to grade school, college, their engineering jobs, and now their YouTube careers. 

In the middle of my spring break, I thought I’d watched almost every video on GMM. I knew them well, from their recurring bits to every type of food challenge they’d ever made. That was when I discovered a podcast episode called Our Lost Years. They reveal in it that for almost all of their lives they were Evangelical Christians and spent many years as practicing Christian Missionaries. Currently, however, they do not hold this same faith. 

Evangelical Christianity is defined as a person, church, or organization that is committed to the Christian Gospel message that Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity. People of this faith generally feel that they have a moral obligation to convince others to believe in order to “save” as many people as possible from their eternal destiny.

When Rhett and Link introduced this, I was shocked; with almost no knowledge whatsoever about Evangelical Christianity (or any type of Christianity for that matter), the YouTube stars that I had felt so akin to suddenly felt super foreign. Growing up in a secular Jewish household and never really talking with my friends about religion, I had no basis with which to compare their beliefs to mine. It seemed that they weren’t just part of a different religion, but a completely different lifestyle.

I was uncomfortable with not understanding another person because of my ignorance of religion. It would have been easy to put them in a box, to disregard them as foreign and move on with my life. But something about my love for these guys and a need for understanding made me want more information. 

It seems that the first step to acceptance is educating yourself on the topics at hand. After hours of scouring the internet for information, a long conversation with my dad, and listening to many other podcasts that Rhett and Link made concerning the topic, I felt I had reached some conclusion about what Evangelical Christians believe and how they exist in our world today. Their beliefs, while still different from my own, were no longer obscure ideas which I knew nothing about; in fact, Evangelicalism seemed to grapple with the question which humankind has faced since the dawn of time: “Why are we here?”

Discovering Rhett and Link’s story led me to learn about Christianity, but also got me interested in researching other religions, biological evolution, and the history of the world. It led me to understand that I may never realize how much of the world I don’t know anything about. I was able to push past the fear of the unfamiliar and widen my point of view because I already knew I loved Rhett and Link. I hope in the future to have an open mind no matter who it involves.

I share this not to brag about my natural intellectual curiosity and non-stop productivity (I’m writing this in pajamas after watching TikToks for 3 hours straight.) I’m not somebody who typically likes to read Wikipedia articles on my days off, and these days I have almost no tolerance for anything other than pillow cushions and chocolate covered pretzels. However, I do want to share my discovery of the never-ending curiosities of the world. At a time when there is so much sadness and our worlds are constrained to our houses, it’s nice to know that we can make them a little bigger through learning new things. 

Categories
Features

Call it Wonderful: New Yorker Stories

Photo Credit: Scott Foley

Wonderful Town, a collection of essays from The New Yorker magazine, assembled by the current editor David Remnick, was nothing short of wonderful. In Joe McGeary’s class, we traversed our way through various essays included in the collection. One of my favorites was called The Catbird Seat by James Thurber, which detailed a quiet guy named Martin who never drinks or smokes, and is simply a class act. Pushed to his limits, he plots the murder of his insufferable colleague. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the story: “The faults of the woman as a woman kept chattering on in his mind like an unruly witness. She had, for almost two years now, baited him. In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office, into which she romped now and then like a circus horse, she was constantly shouting these silly questions at him. ‘Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are you sitting in the catbird seat?’”

You can tell the writer was having fun when crafting the story because of the good feeling seeping through the murderous plot. 

One of my favorite things about short stories is that they are, well, short. There isn’t enough space for anything but the most essential details and descriptions, making them fun, poignant, and memorable; perfect for a J-Term class. 

Categories
Features Sports

Tigers Travel To Gator Country: GFS Basketball at the KSA Invitational

Photo Credit: GFSchool Twitter

A day after Christmas 2019, the GFS varsity basketball team set out on a five day trip to Orlando. In the days to come, the team would play three games in the KSA Invitational, and see if they could bring home the coveted trophy.

In the first game, the Tigers blew out the Priory School, a boarding school from California which previously held an 8-1 record, with a final score of 60-37. Leading the way were junior guard Ben Istvan with 17 points, and sophomore point guard Matt Johnson with 15 points.

They went on to play a tough Portsmouth, Ohio team the next day. With eight seconds left in the game, star forward Ben King ‘22 hit a shot which gave the Portsmouth team another chance to win, but the Tigers persisted. “Gotta get this board right,” King said. After achieving one more defensive stop, they knew they were making it through. “I was hype that we won,” said King, whose first GFS career game winning play had pushed the Tigers into the championship round. There, they would face a New Jersey high school, Bishop Eustace Prep, in a much anticipated final. 

All the hard work they put into the season came down to this one game. Bishop Eustace started the first quarter hot by hitting a couple threes, but some good team defense from the Tigers allowed them to stay in the game going into the second quarter.  After some forced turnovers by Eustace forward Amiri Atkins, Bishop Eustace was up 22-16 going into halftime. GFS attempted to get ahead by out-scoring the Crusaders 18-12 in the third quarter. With everything tied up going into the final quarter 34-34, it was set to be a nail biter. 

Unfortunately, the Tigers struggled offensively and ended the fourth quarter against Bishop Eustace 4-10. In the end, the Crusaders held the KSA Invitational trophy, while the Tigers fell just short. For the season overall, the team averaged 57.9 points per game, but were held to 38 points per game due to many live ball turnovers by Bishop Eustace. 

**MaxPreps.com and GFS Basketball twitter were both used for stats.

Categories
Features

Board Games and Bike Rides and Tigers, Oh My!

Photo by Hayden McCulloch

A month ago, as the academic schedule began to get hectic, I was hoping for a couple of days off: some time to relax, hang out with friends, and prepare for looming tests and deadlines.  If you had told me that only a few weeks later I would want nothing more than to be in school, I would never have believed you. 

After weeks of guessing whether school would be canceled or not, I was pleasantly surprised when it was announced that we would get three days off, a reaction that I’m sure was shared by many of my classmates. As days turned into weeks of quarantine, my attitude changed dramatically. A ski trip to Colorado that I had been looking forward to for months was canceled and I could no longer see my friends or even go out of the house. Playing sports seemed to be a rare occurrence and a canceled baseball season became increasingly probable. As boredom took hold, I quickly began to envy people with siblings.

At home, news about the virus plays constantly from every TV and radio in the house and every time I look at my phone there seems to be a new update. It can be tiresome and at times annoying, but it helps me to put the situation in perspective. I can see that while I might not be happy with the current circumstances, my family and I are healthy, so we have it far better than many do. This idea has helped me focus on some of the positive aspects of quarantine. Though we do get on each other’s nerves, the time off has allowed my family to spend time together, play board games, go on walks and bike rides, and have conversations we would not otherwise have time to engage in. It has also allowed me to get myself organized, go on runs, and watch a gun-toting Oklahoman with a mullet and two hundred tigers on Netflix. While I may miss the time I’ve spent with my family, I certainly won’t be disappointed when we return to our normal lives. 

Categories
Arts Features

Thursday

Art and writing by Sadie Hammarhead on her life while social distancing.

Categories
Features

Playwriting in Quarantine

In the wake of cancellations from the global COVID-19 crisis, I found myself stuck inside my house with more time than I knew what to do with. I quickly stumbled upon a national quarantine playwriting competition inspired by Paula Vogel’s “bake offs” where you write a play that must include a predetermined list of “ingredients,” such as an empty gas station or a bottle of shampoo. I had a blast writing and submitting to the competition, and then thought about how I could recreate it for my local community. I was able to team up with an organization I love called Philly Young Playwrights (PYP) to mount the “PYP Quarantine Challenge,” which solicited submissions from Philadelphia students, and culminated in a livestream of three winning plays performed by professional actors. I hope the competition provided a sense of community and motivation for artistic expression in such difficult times. When things get crazy in the world, I’m reminded of the importance of art.

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The Daily Bulletin

The Daily Bulletin

Read all your past, present, and future school reminders right here on EQ! This page is curated by GFS receptionist, Neeta McCulloch.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 6

Changes to the Schedule

Please note that starting today, US Assembly will take place from 12:00-12:25 p.m.

Special Announcements

US Day 6 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:25 p.m.Assembly: Homeroom Greatest Hits, Colloquia Edition (password: colloquia)
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

MS Day 6 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
palm tree.jpg

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 5

Changes to the Schedule

Please note that starting tomorrow, Friday, May 15, US Assembly will take place from 12:00-12:25 p.m.

Special Announcements

US Day 5 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:15 a.m.Meeting for Worship (optional)
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.Meeting for Worship (optional)
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

MS Day 5 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
change families.jpg

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 4

Special Announcements

US Day 4 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
Essentially English classes meet tonight at 7:00 p.m.

MS Day 4 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Meeting for Worship
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics

No school tomorrow!

getting delivery.jpg

Monday, May 11, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 3

Special Announcements

US Day 3 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor E/F Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE fitness/training

MS Day 3 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
2020 as a movie.jpg

Friday, May 8, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 2

Special Announcements

US Day 2 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:30 a.m.Assembly: Middle and Upper School WritersPassword: poetryAttendance is encouraged and expected.
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

MS Day 2 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:30 a.m.Assembly: Middle and Upper School WritersPassword: poetryAttendance is encouraged and expected.
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
fire extinguisher.jpg

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 1

Special Announcements

US Day 1 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:15 a.m.Meeting for Worship (optional)
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.Grade-level Meetings for Worship:(attendance requested and communally desired)9th Grade10th Grade11th Grade12th Grade
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

MS Day 1 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
murder hornets.jpg

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 8

Special Announcements

US Day 8 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
Essentially English classes meet tonight, 7:00 p.m.

MS Day 8 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Meeting for Worship
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics

No school tomorrow!

cleanup for zoom.jpg

Monday, May 4, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 7

Special Announcements

US Day 7 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor E/F Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

MS Day 7 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
April 20 New Yorker.jpg

“I’m not the one who threw out everything that didn’t spark joy, Robert. Enjoy spending the next few months rolling and unrolling your seven T-shirts.”

Friday, May 1, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 6

Special Announcements

US Day 6 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:30 a.m.Assembly: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:00 p.m.Social Justice Dialogue (optional)
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Student presentations on Menstrual Equity:

Survey

Video

MS Day 6 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
April 20 New Yorker.jpg

“I’m not the one who threw out everything that didn’t spark joy, Robert. Enjoy spending the next few months rolling and unrolling your seven T-shirts.”

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 5

Special Announcements

US Day 5 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.Meeting for Worship (optional)
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

MS Day 5 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
star trek time travel.jpg

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 4

Special Announcements

US Day 4 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
Essentially English classes meet tonight, 7:00-9:30 p.m.

MS Day 4 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Meeting for Worship
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
closet door art.jpg

Monday, April 27, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 3

Special Announcements

US Day 3 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor E/F Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE fitness/training

MS Day 3 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Athletics
philly social distancing.jpg

Friday, April 24, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 2

Special Announcements

US Day 2 Colloquia Schedule – Please note special Unity Day events.

8:30-9:15 a.m.Assembly on Critical Media Literacy During COVID-19 by André Lee (attendance is expected)
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.Social Justice Dialogue (attendance is welcome)
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:00 p.m.Worship Sharing (attendance is welcome – if you will miss a synchronous activity, please inform your teacher before 12:00 p.m.)
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Please take time to watch this presentation on Sports and Social Justice by Mike Whaley.

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 1

Special Announcements

US/MS Day 1 Colloquia Schedule – please note this is a special schedule for today.

8:45-9:00 a.m.US Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:00-10:00 a.m.US Special Advisory Program with Dr. Lisa Damour; password: GFS-SCH
10:00-11:00 a.m.A Carrier
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.B Carrier
12:00 -12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.US Meeting for Worship (optional)
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.MS Special Advisory Program with Dr. Lisa Damour; password: GFS-SCH
2:30-3:30 p.m.US Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
excited to be at home.jpg

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 8

Special Announcements 

US Day 8 Colloquia Schedule 

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Reminders:

– Essentially English classes meet tonight, 7:00-9:30 p.m. 

– No school on Wednesday.

– Tuesday and Wednesday, at your convenience: callout on coronavirus and communal living in prisons and jails to Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, and Governor Tom Wolf asking them to release as many people as possible in state and local jails who are eligible for parole, have been convicted of non-violent misdemeanors, or are in pretrial detention. Additionally, we are asking for proper hygiene to be taken in prisons (as face masks are not necessary or provided in prisons without reported cases) and that information and online visitation be accessible to prisoners. Contact Allyson Katz, Martina Kiewek, Clare Meyer, or Sam Zimmer with questions.

You will be talking to a voicemail, and Governor Wolf uses an online form, so you don’t have to talk to a live person! Scripts are linked below at each person’s name.

DA Krasner

Governor Wolf 

Secretary Wetzel 

When you are done, please make sure to log your call using the linked call log.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 7

Special Announcements

US Day 7 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

The US Congress established Days of Remembrance as our nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. It coincides with Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah, the Jewish Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism, that begins at sundown on Monday, April 20 and ends at sundown Tuesday, April 21. There will be many different virtual celebrations, including the Main Line’s Yom HaShoah zoomservice that will begin at 7:00 p.m. and include Rebecca Erbelding, historian, curator, and archivist at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and author of Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe. More information and a list of remembrance events can be found on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website

Days of the Week 2.jpg

Friday, April 17, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 6

Special Announcements

US Day 6 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Reminder: MS and US students who have not already done so, please take a moment today to provide your continued feedback to our work in Colloquia though this Colloquia Feedback Survey – Round 2.

FYI: 4/17 is National Laxmi Day. Well, it’s L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, Laxmi Day! L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, Laxmi Day! Everything you could possibly want is gonna go your way: your favorite food, your favorite drink, your favorite games to play. And if they ask you why, this is what you say: It’s L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, L, Laxmi Day!  

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 5

Special Announcements

US Day 5 Colloquia Schedule

8:30-8:45 a.m.Meeting for Worship (optional) Please see John Ceccati’s email.
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.Meeting for Worship (optional) Please see John Ceccati’s email.
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Reminder: MS and US students who have not already done so, please take a moment today or tomorrow to provide your continued feedback to our work in Colloquia though this Colloquia Feedback Survey – Round 2.

plan for the day.jpg

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 4

Special Announcements

US Day 4 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Reminders:

– Wednesday evenings Essentially English classes will meet Tuesdays instead and they start tonight!

– No school on Wednesday.

zoom meeting schedule.jpg

Monday, April 13, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 3

Special Announcements

US Day 3 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor E/F Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE fitness/training

Reminder: Essentially English classes start today!

2020 so far.jpg

Friday, April 10, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 2

Special Announcements

US Day 2 Colloquia Schedule

8:30-9:30 a.m.Abigail R. Cohen ’91 Memorial Art Lecture 
Featuring Kristin Neville TaylorAttendance is expected for this important community event.
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
pac man grocery shopping.jpg

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 1

Special Announcements

US Day 1 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:15 a.m.Meeting for Worship (optional)
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.Meeting for Worship (optional)
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
zoom meetings.jpg

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 8

Special Announcements

US Day 8 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

Remember: No school on Wednesday!

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 7

Special Announcements

US Day 7 Colloquia Schedule

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.Colloquia Grading Protocol Google Meet
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
Brady Bunch.jpg

Alice, turn your video on. No, it’s the button on the bottom. Not that one, over to your left. Your LEFT. Jan, you’re on mute. UNMUTE YOURSELF! 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 6

Special Announcements

US Day 6 Colloquia Schedule

9:00-9:25 a.m.US Assembly (Mandatory)
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor C/D Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
April 3 New Yorker.jpg

“Day 6! I couldn’t decide between starting to write my novel or my screenplay, so instead I ate three boxes of mac and cheese and then lay on the floor panicking.”

 The New Yorker

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 5

Special Announcements

US Day 5 Colloquia Schedule

8:30-8:45 a.m.Meeting for Worship (optional) Please see John Ceccati’s emai.
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:00-12:15 p.m.Meeting for Worship (optional) Please see John Ceccati’s email.
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training
April 2 New Yorker.jpg

“Sorry I’m late, everyone. I have no excuse.”

 The New Yorker

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Day 4

Special Announcements 

US Day 4 Colloquia Schedule 

9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.E Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.F Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.G Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.H Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor G/H Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Athletics and PE Fitness/Training

“Should I sign my e-mails with ‘Be safe,’ ‘Be well,’ or ‘AAHHH!!!’?”

 The New Yorker

Colloquia (aka Remote Learning)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Day 3

Special Announcements 

US Day 3 Colloquia Schedule 

9:00-9:25 a.m.US Assembly: Friday, March 20 @ 9 am. (Mandatory)
9:30-9:45 a.m.Homeroom – attendance will be taken
9:45-10:45 a.m.A Carrier
10:45-11:45 a.m.B Carrier
11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.Lunch & Independent Work
12:30-1:30 p.m.C Carrier
1:30-2:30 p.m.D Carrier
2:30-3:30 p.m.Minor A/B Carrier
3:45-5:00 p.m.Available for personal training/PE fitness training

Menu

Lunch at home – are you sick of peanut butter sandwiches yet? It’s only the first week of social distancing!

Lunchtime Stewardship

Hey, throw a load of laundry in, won’t you? And don’t forget to switch it when the timer buzzes!

Athletics

BE SURE TO CHECK THE ATHLETICS PAGEFOR UPDATES TO THIS SCHEDULE 

Get it, Tigers! 

FYI: 3/20 is National Kick Butts Day. None of us are still smoking cigarettes, right? Let’s reclaim this and kick Novel Coronavirus’ butt by doing our part to #FlattenTheCurve.

Categories
Features Sports

Big Leagues Lecturer: Ryan Howard Speaks at GFS

The Germantown Friends School annual Mercer Tate lecture is an opportunity for GFS middle and upper schoolers hear from “prominent speakers from various fields of public service.” The lecture series was created in honor of Mercer Tate, GFS class of 1948. Tate himself was “a dedicated public servant devoted to the GFS community and to Philadelphia,” and all of the speakers emulate these values. 

Ryan Howard, a retired MLB player-turned-entrepreneur and his business partner, Wayne Kimmel, gave this year’s lecture. Introduced by the captains of the GFS softball and baseball teams and prompted by questions from Kimmel, Howard talked about how his childhood experiences led him to the big leagues.

Students were excited when they heard that Howard would be speaking at our assembly because he’s a big-time baseball star that many grew up watching play with the Phillies. Students didn’t know, however, about his entrepreneurship and public service. Howard chairs the SeventySix Capital’s Athlete Venture Group. He also works with The Big Piece Foundation, which he founded with his wife. 

Howard’s lecture left students wanting to learn even more about his public service endeavors, and inspired our community to reach for the “big leagues” on and off the field.

**Picture Credit: Scott Foley**

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Eastern State Penitentiary

The Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) has been a national historic landmark since 1965, but in recent years, the institution has been making a concerted effort to include issues in contemporary prisons as a part of their tours and guided programming. Their updated mission reflects this, stating, “Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.”

“ESP has always been built on educating; now we’re just doing it in different outreach ways,” says Eastern State education specialist Samantha Hunter. In addition to outreach, ESP has instituted numerous exhibits that discuss the current state of mass incarceration. In 2012, the historic site began displaying signs with current statistics. In 2014, the museum created “The Big Graph,” a 16-foot metal structure with three sides detailing information about mass incarceration rates. The purpose of this installation is to illustrate the staggering differences between the American prison system and other countries. In 2016, ESP opened its “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration” exhibit. According to Hunter, “the display puts a more human face on having roughly 2.2 million incarcerated people in the U.S. today.”

While ESP has long desired to focus on current criminal justice issues, the noteority and funding have only recently been available to explore these topics. ESP will soon be debuting a new project entitled “Hidden Lives,” in which two teaching artists will instruct inmates on how to make 30-second movies. The videos will then be displayed on ESP’s outer wall. The museum haalso continued its returning citizen tour guide project for the past three years. This program makes it possible for those with a criminal record to work at ESP. Hunter hopes that this encourages visitors to empathize with people who have been incarcerated.

Thus far, the reactions to these recently added programs have been overwhelmingly positive. When ESP first began talking about contemporary issues, “people were a little nervous” said Hunter, “but our attendance keeps growing and growing, so it seems to be that talking about the evolution of the criminal justice system is the right way forward for our historic site.”

Eastern State is striving to be part of the national conversation on the efficacy of the prison system, and whether its reform is necessary.

“Mass incarceration is real, and it’s not working,” Hunter said. The institution feels responsible for “interpret[ing] the legacy of American criminal justice reform,” because the issues the system currently struggle with are akin to the struggles when the penitentiary opened in 1829. The age-old questions of what to do with a person who commits a crime, and what to do when they reenter society, are still questions being debated today. Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledge that our current criminal justice system isn’t working. Hunter wants people to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. “We must think hard about how we heal from the damage that’s been done, and how we move forward.”

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Why They Didn’t Walk

The clock strikes ten. At the front of the room Biology teacher Gen Nelson is answering a question from the thermochemistry review packet. Behind her, students exchange furtive glances, waiting for someone to stand up, to leave class. Someone stands up and is quickly followed by a shuffling stream of students.

It’s March 14, and students across America are walking out of class to protest gun violence. For seventeen minutes students stand outside in silence to commemorate the seventeen lives lost in the Parkland shooting. The only break in the silence is a reading of the names of the Parkland victims..

The GFS walkout mirrored any other American high school in that some students (though at GFS it was many) walked out and some didn’t.

For some students walking out was a spur of the moment decision, but for others it was months in the planning. Junior Ivy Hunnicut, who walked out, says she “disagrees with how our government is dealing with school shootings,” and adds that “they’re not really changing anything, it’s just shooting after shooting.” Sophomore Jack Miller went into the day with a “fluid mindset,”  and eventually decided to walk out.

Students who walked out describe the moments before 10:00 as awkward, but the walkout itself as powerful. Students left their classes in silence to stand together in front of The Main Building. They describe the atmosphere as similar to a worship sharing, in a more positive sense Hunnicut described the experience as similar to a Meeting for Worship, since it was “a guided time to think about one thing that means a lot to people.”

The majority of students who walked ascribe their decision to the prevalence of gun violence, but the same cohesion of purpose does not exist among those who chose not to walkout. Some didn’t walk out because the seventeen minutes provided an opportunity to complete homework. One junior chose not to walk out because they felt “it was going to be a protest and that’s not my style, not my personality.”

Sophomore Elijah Lachman didn’t walk out because “kids these don’t understand the whole idea of the Constitution and gun rights,” he says, “just because a few kids want make bad decisions and shoot up schools [that doesn’t mean] they should change the rules.”

Students who did not walk out describe the atmosphere leading up to the protest as “weirdly tense” and “awkward.” The walkout was the main topic of conversation, with teachers making a point of connecting it to classroom discussion, and asking which students would be protesting.

The same  junior was in Biology when students, after motion to each other, walked out. He stayed behind on the pretense of asking his teacher a question. Afterward she led him to the Hargroves Center, where he sat with three other students: two freshmen and one junior. He made small talk with the other junior, surprised by the scarcity of students. He thought there would be at least ten students who would not walk out and says “I was protesting more than I wanted to… I wanted to stay neutral, but it made me feel like I was protesting the protest.”

Some of the students who didn’t walk out seem to believe that some of the students who walked out only did so due to student pressure. The same junior who didn’t walk out says he thinks some of his friends walked out because “knew everyone else was going to walk out.”

Sophomore Ana Branas agrees. “We go to a very liberal school and I think it would have been odd to stay behind because so many people were leaving. It would say something strong about your political beliefs.”

Student opinion is split on whether walkouts are an effective form of protest.

“I don’t think Congress even glances at these walkout. It’s like any other protest… it makes no impact,” says Lachman.

Branas disagrees. “[The walkouts] have the potential to change things. Even if it’s not going to immediately change the law, it’s bringing people together and bringing attention to [gun violence.]”

Miller says the problem doesn’t lie in the limitations of protest itself, but rather, the limitations of the March 14th protest. He says, “Only having 17 minutes [to walk out] felt like less of disruption than a programmed event.”

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Week 28: The Filibuster

In the wake of the election, there has been intense debate around whether or not to do away with the filibuster in the Senate. The filibuster is when a minority (41%) of senators block the vote on legislation. In order for a bill to get passed, it needs to have a simple majority’s support (51% of Senate). However, this approval happens only if a bill gets a vote, which requires a supermajority (60% of senate) to happen. Essentially, a bill can have enough support to get passed, but not enough support for voting to happen in the first place. Many people argue that this is the reason for the Senate’s gridlock and inaction on so much legislation. Here is a brief video that explains how the filibuster works. 

The filibuster is a major obstacle to achieving Biden’s agenda, as the Democratically controlled senate has a majority only with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Harris. The level of partisanship in the Senate means that it is unlikely that significant legislation will receive the 60% support needed to get a vote, therefore blocking progress. The simplest way to get rid of the filibuster would be to directly amend the text of Senate Rule 22, which requires 60 votes to end debate. The problem with this solution is that a supermajority would have to agree to hold a vote on changing Rule 22, which, with our current Senate configuration, is extremely unlikely. 

There is a more complicated but likely scenario for eliminating the filibuster which has colloquially become known as the “nuclear option.” It would allow the senate to override Rule 22 by changing the way it is interpreted rather than the law itself. This change would only require a simple majority’s support and is therefore within the capabilities of the Senate. 

It was first used in 2013 by Democrats to dictate that only a simple majority was needed to confirm Obama’s judge nominees for the D.C. circuit court (watch Harry Reid call for the nuclear option). In 2014, Democrats were able to confirm 89 nominees (twice the annual average). However, in 2017, GOP Senators used the precedent set by Democrats to help get Trump’s supreme court nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh (and later, Amy Coney Barrett), confirmed.

Getting rid of the filibuster would render the minority party practically powerless, discouraging bipartisan cooperation but also allowing more progress to be made. For these reasons, it is extremely controversial, with politicians radically switching their views with each power shift within the Senate. When Democrats were the minority, they nearly unanimously fought for the retention of the filibuster. Today, with the Democrats in slim control, the roles are reversed with conservatives fighting for the status quo. Implementing the nuclear option may be necessary right now if this administration wants to accomplish its goals, but at what cost for the future? 

Therefore, we must analyze whether we truly support getting rid of the filibuster because we believe the current ability of a minority to block progress is undemocratic, or if we only support the removal of the filibuster because it gives a certain party more power. If it is the latter, we must ask ourselves whether it is worth the future consequences should the Senate swing into another party’s control. While the filibuster has created a slow system in which progress is difficult, it also promotes a certain level of bipartisanship and cooperation that may be lost with its removal. 

There are positive and negative aspects to getting rid of the filibuster, and both action and inaction will have significant repercussions. However, with extreme partisanship polarizing our country, perhaps removing the filibuster is the only way to move forward in the short term, and we will, as a nation, need to address the larger ideological divide for a more productive and democratic future.