Harry Potter and the Finals Week from Hell

It’s Saturday. You’re curled up on the couch at home on Thanksgiving break, slowly waning your way off of Thursday’s food coma, when you realize that you have about 2 papers, 3 tests, and a presentation as soon as you get back:

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Let’s face it: finals week is supposed to be hell—the name says it all. So while it’s all fine and dandy when one of your professors makes a major assignment due the week before to lessen the load of finals week, it’s not so effective when all of your other professors adopt the same idea. You start hyperventilating as a wave of panic comes about you, reaching for the nearest paper bag you can find. It’s a scene of total chaos; your mom comes into the room and is all:

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And you realize you’re acting completely ridiculous. “Okay,” you tell yourself, “calm down. This shouldn’t be too bad, right? I got this. I got this. I’ve done this before. It’s just a test. ”

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You then try to sit yourself down and figure out a study preparation schedule. You pine through your planner, text everyone you know, scour the archives of your email inbox, and slop together a plan. But there’s always that sliver of cognitive dissonance…

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Trying to ignore those qualms, you instead take another deep breath and exhale. Silence is a virtue for you, and it’s imperative for your plan to go swimmingly. You need to concentrate. You decide that this is essentially what it’s going to come down to:

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The week progresses a little, and you’ve settled into a study groove. But then you take a glance around the atrium of Farrell and, all of a sudden, see a significant vacancy. You check your watch and see that it’s 5 minutes shy of 3 AM. Your loyal study buddy is dead from exhaustion, so she leaves. You look longingly at your friend, identifying with her on so many levels and reminding yourself:

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You decide you really can’t keep your eyes open any longer, drop everything, and decide to go home. You’re so delirious; it’s a fumbling struggle to unlock your door.

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*BEEEEEEEEEEP.*

Your alarm is even more painful at a mere 3 hours of sleep, but you pull yourself out of bed as best as you can, begrudgingly toss some clothes on, and plop into the Starbucks line to get an espresso to hopefully take the edge off. However, you’ve consumed so much of it at this point that it goes down more like that time you took your first shot of alcohol or when your mom forced cherry cough syrup upon you as a child instead of being a beautiful, warm, mocha-java embrace:

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While you wait for coffee to kick in, you sit in the library, hoping to be motivated but instead are playing face hockey with your Thinkpad keys like:

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Finally, your study group arrives at your table to help keep you awake. Unanimously, you all find that each of you has a few questions that need to be answered by the professor A.S.A.P. You go to your e-mail to draft up the list when you see an e-mail from said professor notifying the class of a minor change to the study material. Reading further, you see words like, “cumulative,” and “specific details” jumbling together at the forefront of your brain and all you want to do is reply:

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Suddenly, opportunity knocks in the form of a beautiful study guide that sits in the third row back. Said classmate sees you and your crew internally (and, let’s be real, externally) freaking out about this news, when he says, “Hey! I have a bomb-ass study guide I can send to you that would be really helpful!” You can’t help yourself but grovel, like:

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Despite this overwhelming joy, you have an itch you can’t quite scratch. You decide it’s definitely, 100% due to pure, raw hangriness. When you finally find the chance to catch a meal, brief as it is, you overhear people in the grill line at the New Pit bragging about their breeze of a week. You’re like:

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When you really just wanna turn around and:

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Rolling your eyes, you return to your “quiet” corner in the New Pit. As you try to juggle chewing food while scrolling through your notes for a last minute review, you suddenly hear the music switch abruptly from the soft, melodic croons of Sam Smith to “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears. You’re about to lose it, to a point where you’re about to explode like:

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Britney’s great, but there’s a time and place for it, dammit! You check your phone to see you have approximately 7 minutes to sprint over to the Mag quad to take your first (early-assigned) exam. All the while, you picture your professors huddling together around a circle being all:

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(Uh, you guys. We aren’t imagining anything.)

~1 hour later~

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And it was one of those tests that you have absolutely no idea if it was a total success or a complete wipeout. (Definitely something your father is gonna have to hear about later.) Your friend asks you if you’re okay and the only way you can explicate yourself is:

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You look towards the library, think better of it than to drop yourself into a cesspool of stress, and meander all the way back to Farrell. Still looking for a change of pace, you hike the stairs to the second, “quiet” floor. “Ah,” you say to yourself, “this is perfect. I have a pretty view of campus for inspiration but it’s less social than the atrium.” WRONG.

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All of a sudden, a gaggle of giddy girls take over one of the long tables and use it as an opportunity to loudly exchange gossip and details of drama that happened two weeks ago. You want to be the sasshole that you are and make a total scene of taking out one of your earbuds, looking the girls dead in the eyes, and saying:

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While that idea seems totally brilliant, you realize it’s against your better judgment. You are v annoyed, but you keep on truckin’. That is, until you hear one of them proclaim that she’s still planning on ~le turning up~ for three nights. It’s a total waste of time to throw shade, you decide, so all you can do is think to yourself,

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~4 hours and a dinner of 1 granola bar and a cheesestick later~

“You know what? It’s freakin’ Thursday,” you tell yourself. You know you can’t budge from your spot unless it’s to sprint to the bathroom, but you look begrudgingly at your water bottle wishing you could just:

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However, you resist: You’re straddling the borderline in a few of your classes, and all you can hear echoing through your head is your mom, saying:

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~The next day~

Your group presents, another exam goes by, and you’re preparing for the final stretch. You check your planner to see what’s next and realize you have two major assignments left…but within rapid sequence of each other. Thankfully, your prof is offering a review session. As she goes over problems with the others who showed up, she can tell there’s still waves of mass confusion. When she suggests offering the exam at a different time, everyone is all:

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~2 days later~

It’s the final stretch. You’ve reminded yourself every day,

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With that mantra in mind, you stride as confidently as you can into your very last exam. 2.5 hours later, you leave the classroom resembling:

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But then, upon realizing you’re a hundo p donezo, all you want to do is streak the Quad, running around like a madman á la Macauly Culkin in Home Alone:

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You are on cloud 9 and need to get TF home ASAP, but first: food.

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After eating your feelings, you sprint back to your apartment. You hastily shove as many totally necessary winter clothes and unnecessary summer clothes you forgot to take home into your suitcase and overnight bags. You clear out your fridge, hoping you didn’t forget anything. The goal now, for you, is to get. your ass. home. because:

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For now, the semester is over. Let the Winter Break festivities commence!

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But Do You *Really* Love the South?

Welcome to the South.

Whether you’re from around here or not, you’ve likely Instagrammed the multicolor mosaic of autumn leaves, shouted the lyrics to “Wagon Wheel” at the top of your lungs, and fallen victim to fried chicken and waffles.

Living in the South sure has its benefits, and we love ‘em! We’re proud of where we come from and love sharing our signature hospitality and culture with you out-of-towners. That being said, we aren’t too fond of some of the negative stereotyping that comes with it.

Inspired by an article from the online magazine, Everyday Feminism, which details the harmful, ignorant things urban feminists say to rural folks and why they’re problematic, this slew of thoughts is an extension as it pertains to being from a smaller town in the Southeastern United States.

Generally speaking, the media tends to present us in a binary representation: the Southern belles, Luke Bryan-esque gentlemen, and cowboy-boot wearers of the world, or the down-home, uneducated, Confederate-flag-waving country bumpkins.

As you can probably figure out, that’s a little too simplistic.

Thus, it’s discomforting when upon meeting someone new, they act perplexed about things like a lack of an accent or, worse, our overall intelligence level, despite an accent.

“Among many others, ’Buckles, your accent doesn’t lend credit to your level of intelligence,’ is one of my personal favorite phrases I’ve encountered since entering [the Navy],” says Petty Officer Kristina Buckles, a 21-year-old from Johnson City, Tennessee.

Johnson City is a small town in the easternmost tip of Tennessee, and it has been home to Buckles for practically her entire life. In addition to giving new acquaintances a 10-minute spiel about the geography of her home state, such as the location of her hometown with respect to Nashville or Memphis, Buckles says that she’s also had to offer an explanation about her signature twang. She adds that people have even gone so far as to attribute it to a lack of a proper upbringing.

“One upper-level officer [in the Central Intelligence field of the Navy] said to me, ’Well, my parents loved me enough to beat the accent out of me, so you would do well to lose yours before applying for a job in a private sector of our field,’” she says.

Buckles prides herself on keeping up with the news and regularly educating herself on political, social, and economic issues while working towards a Masters in Computer Science and Cyber Security. She has, however, become irritated at the blatant discrimination she has received that has primarily stemmed from her Southern accent.

Wake Forest University senior, Ivory Shelton, who also hails from East Tennessee, agrees, saying that she’s even been asked to repeat words to others, to a point that it has even prevented effective conversations.

“One person I was speaking with interrupted me, asking me to say, ‘right’ again, with a grin on their face, and the original topic was completely forgotten,” she says.

Enter the act of linguistic profiling. According to Dr. John Bauch, author of Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas, “Linguistic profiling can have devastating consequences for those U.S. residents who are perceived to speak with an undesirable accent or dialect.”

Southern accents are perceived as “cute” or “charming,” not “intelligent” and “commanding of respect.” Just as it’s difficult to discern from where such negative stereotypes—such as that people of color, particularly blacks, are innately violent, dangerous, or angry—stemmed, it’s also difficult for us, as proud Southerners, to understand why people have it in their minds that having an accent deems us as slow, uneducated, incompetent individuals.

This being said, both the problem of linguistic profiling and the ignorance it breeds aren’t just pertinent to the Southern United States. This simple concept can also be applied to any aspect of language across a multitude of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Dr. Agnés Krozser-Hamati, Chief of Oncology at the Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City, TN, has said repeatedly that had she spoken with a thick Hungarian accent, her competency as a doctor would be vilified.

“When I moved to Cleveland, Ohio, at eleven, I did everything in my power to be as American-sounding as possible,” she remembers. “I got tunnel vision—I practiced speaking English every day after school with my teachers. I was determined to put an end to the mindless bullying that surrounded my being foreign.”

Krozser-Hamati has called Johnson City home for nearly thirty years, and is proud to live there. One note she, Buckles, and Shelton have made is this: “You can’t pick and choose which parts of a culture you idolize while dismissing the rest.”

Cultural stereotypes are multifaceted, and each facet can be dreadfully harmful. They pose a power struggle between the powerful and weak; the able and disabled; the civilized and savage.

Stereotyping is the Regina George of society: even though it’s the popular, conventional, and—dare I say—ingrained thing to do, it deepens the divide between equality and progress.

For Shelton, such cultural stereotyping has “created opportunity for linguistic and social elitism to put chinks in an otherwise solid armor.” It is disheartening. However, grinning, she retorts that witnessing such moments of ignorance have helped her to avoid stereotyping others, and gain perspective on a broader scale.

“I have personally seen these experiences are frustrating for me as an Appalachian woman, but, [in looking at the broader problems of profiling and stereotyping as a whole], I see a jumping point off of which to check privilege and leave elitism at the door.

In the South, the sweet tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter. What would really be neater, however, is fostering respect towards our culture by challenging such hurtful stereotypes. We, too, are multi-dimensional and dynamic idealists, and we’d be more than happy to discuss our ideas with y’all, anytime.

Third Student Reflection: The Multifaceted Role of Guns in Society

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Here is a third student reflection on the normative question of the role guns should play in (American) society, from my Sociology of Guns seminar. The first reflection can be found here, and the second here.

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By Ashley Hamati

The role of guns in our society is multifaceted. Thus, it is difficult to determine one single catchall phrase to describe the role of guns in American society. There are areas in which I believe they are portrayed appropriately, for example, as a means of self-defense or sport. However, there are also areas in which I believe need some work, particularly with regard to gender issues. Thus, my personal view of the role guns should play in our society is that they must take into account gender equality and can be used recreationally or as a means of self-defense.

Part of my pro-gun stance stems from growing up…

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5 feels? 5 playlists

Do you wish you were surfing right now?

…Or would you rather be cuddled up with bae?

How about wishing you were in a smokey dive instead of the library?

…Or trying to set your intention for the day to feel like the empowered badass you are?

Perhaps you’re just trying to be in the kitchen cookin’ pies with your baby?

How to Be a Better Ally and (Finally) Check Your Privilege

With camaraderie comes great responsibility. One such responsibility—and necessary accompaniment— is the notion of recognizing one’s own privilege.

It’s awkward when someone tells you, “You’re privileged.” Your defenses go up, along with a thousand excuses rushing to the front of your mind detailing ways you are oppressed, ways you have struggled, and ways you are not at fault for it.

Privilege can often be a tough concept to grasp. It’s not a thought that constantly pops into the mind. I’m positive no white person, for example, wakes up saying, “Hey! I’m white, and I have privilege and I don’t have to worry about being systematically oppressed or thought of as inherently malicious or angry.” I can speak on my own behalf—the first thought in my mind is locating the coffee, not reminding myself to be careful not to come off as seeming “angry.”

However, privilege is by no means a negative status. Everyone has privilege, just as everyone experiences oppression. Privilege and oppression are multidimensional and are not mutually exclusive. In other words, privilege in one social construct does not exclude anyone from being oppressed in another.

For example, a heterosexual, obese, male person of color is privileged because he’s male and non-LGBTQ+, but experiences oppression within the realms of race and weight. Likewise, a white, thin female that identifies as lesbian experiences both white and thin privilege, but is oppressed because she is female and LGBTQ+.

With this idea in mind, the conversation progresses, as privilege can be recognized and acknowledged. The duty of being an ally, however, is the next obstacle.

Being an ally involves the recognition of privilege followed by the recognition of the responsibility to such privilege. If you were, say, in a group planning a campus-wide event and noticed that some of the content could be construed as offensive towards oppressed individuals, you would try to brainstorm an alternative idea such that the oppressed would feel comfortable attending the event.

It is not the internalization of an oppressed group’s experience—this can cause the silenced voices to be further marginalized and overshadowed by privilege—but rather the use of one’s position of privilege to direct the forum towards a more respectable place.

It is also listening to the experiences of such groups. The more testimonials and stories heard, the more context a P.O.P. (person of privilege) can garner in order to stand more strongly in solidarity with O.P.’s (oppressed persons). Furthermore, P.O.P.’s need to educate themselves on such issues so that they can better engage with O.P.’s, for it is not an O.P.’s responsibility to educate everyone on the history of the systematic, daily forms of oppression they undergo.

Of course, a frustrating aspect can be that some allies feel as though their efforts in being an ally aren’t fruitful, and thus, it’s important to remember that additionally, allies need to be allies to each other.

Fostering more support among each other strengthens the bridge of camaraderie that is necessary to keep the momentum of working in solidarity going. Thus, if we can learn to recognize where we are privileged and where we are oppressed, educate ourselves on such issues, and strive to foster a positive movement towards equal treatment of all individuals, we can move forward in the movement against oppression.

a spoonful of culture

The truth is, I’m always hungry.

Hungry for empathy, hungry for change, hungry for an intersectional dialogue that respects various cultures. My stomach is growling for public communication that disregards systems of oppression and is rich with the recognition of privilege.

Coming from an eclectic mix of Jordanian and Hungarian roots, I have a passion for culture and learning about people and their traditions. From Kolkata to Rome and places in between, I have acquired an appetite for connecting with people and finding the most effective means of communication. It has taught me to recognize privilege, both within myself and within others, and to notice oppression and the ways systematic oppression is further reinforced in the media.

Learning about these similarities, differences, struggles, and passions can open windows to cross-cultural communication. Empathy and travel can also teach you how to encompass respect with each action, thus creating a more inclusive environment, engaging more people, and making a larger impact.