Censorship versus Creativity

 

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By Tim VanHouten

Where does the line between censorship and free speech exist for you? The website (media.okstate) defines censorship as the “Official prohibition or restriction of any type of expression believed to threaten the political, social, or moral order. It may be imposed by governmental authority local or national, by a religious body, or occasionally by a powerful group.

These are my questions: Are we getting denied the chance to expand our skills of analytical thinking to keep from being offended or offending others or fear of being wrong, and how can we be expected to grow as individuals and be leaders if we are not allowed to think for ourselves.

Free speech in speaking and writing is imperative to increasing our analytical thinking skills in addition to the development of new ideas. Consider censorship as being force-fed information. You will only know what you are allowed to know. That does not help us advance as a species. We are hard-wired to be thinkers, to overcome obstacles and to be innovative.

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Photo courtesy of Google

In the United States there are campuses that uninvite speakers, refuse comedian acts, and silence their students when they question the acts of the status quo. At Rutgers, Condoleezza Rice was protested till she withdrew; comedians have to “sell” their acts at NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) before being accepted on the college circuit and Hayden Barnes at Valdosta State University was threatened with expulsion for protesting the building of a parking garage with student fees.

Do not allow yourself to fall prey to these circumstances. Read something you find offensive, watch a movie that you find disturbing or listen to a person who doesn’t share your ideology. Without the freedom of free speech, technology will become stagnant, social causes will not to be fought, and groundbreaking discoveries will go unfounded.

We can’t allow that kind of oppression to go on unchallenged.

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Photo courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

Federal Aid Fiasco: Middle Class Troubles

keep-calm-and-file-your-fafsa.png     For those of you who are not familiar with Federal Aid, EFC stands for Estimated Family Contribution. This is the magic number that the Free Application For Federal Student Aid(FAFSA) generates in response to the numbers that you plug in. It asks for things like your parents’ salaries, whether they own land or if they have filed for bankruptcy in the previous year.
     The FAFSA is what determines whether the government will be helping you pay for college. Some people qualify for grants (free money). Most of the time, students are automatically qualified for federal loans. Some of these loans accrue interest during your time at college(unsubsidized loans), while others do not (subsidized loans). Both of which you are required to pay back after leaving college.
     EFC calculation is a problem that many middle-class college students face. Middle-class families are constantly on the cusp of the Federal Aid mountain. The household income for middle-class families usually exceeds the magic number that qualifies students for federal aid. The government sees them as not needing extra help, but how much can they actually contribute to their children’s college fund?
     Let’s base our example on the typical “American dream” family in 2013.  The Gomez family has a household income of $80 thousand per year. They are comfortably within the middle class boundary. The Gomez’ have two children who are two years apart. Both students work a part-time job ($10,000). The older one plans on attending an in-state public college, then transferring to an in-state university for the last two years of college ($21,000/year for the university). The younger child decides to go straight into the workforce.
     The cost for an older student to attend college may be around $17,000. This does include both parent and student contribution. However, the FAFSA does not take the water bill, electric bill, mortgage or car payment into consideration. The FAFSA does not look at your grocery bills. It does not look at expenditures that affect the family’s life. Is it realistic that this family would be able to shell out $17,000 a year for their child to attend college?
Who has to foot the bill? Typically, the college student, who is learning to survive, is also stuck with mounds of debt. This debt is typically in the form of a ten-year repayment plan.      If the loan is around $25,000, the payment of $280 a month will end just in time for the student to have children and start the cycle over again. If the student is hard-working and lucky enough to land a decent job, he/she just might avoid drowning in the vicious cycle.
I think that a reform of student aid should be looked into. The middle-class student is suffering. If most careers (excluding manual labor) require a bachelor’s degree, it should be made easier for the student to acquire one without landing a small house worth of debt.

Killer Speed in Keyser

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Photo By: Will Walters. Caden Walters as he speeds down Green Mountain Road.

By Caden Walters

College students in West Virginia have failed to realize the recreational potential of the hills they hike to class everyday. Dozens of activities like biking, hiking, skiing and snowboarding are participated in annually. However, downhill skateboarding is low on West Virginia’s list of activities, if present at all.

Being a college student generally means a lack of expendable money, leaving most of us to be car-less. As a student at Potomac State College, I use my longboard to get to and from class. Many of my peers use the same method to travel across campus or through town.

So my question is, if people are aware of the hills around them, as well as how to ride a longboard, why are we not seeing a longboarding culture?

Keyser, West Virginia is a small mountain town full of wind turbines in the middle of the Potomac Valley. It is on the map for one reason only: its college. If you take a tour of our college’s agriculture department, you will be taken to a road named “Green Mountain Road.” This dragon is at an incline which fluctuates between six and ten percent depending on which part of the mountain you’re on.

Going down the mountain at speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour can be reached without even a kick to the concrete; individual trees become one large blur, and all you can focus on is the double yellow line on the black pavement. “It’s a controlled fall,” says PSC student Deshawn Thompson. “We have no brakes. After both feet leave the ground it’s just you, gravity, and the mountain.”

Maryhill, Washington is a small community famous for its nothingness and wind farms. Every year the town holds the single largest longboarding event in the US: the Maryhill Festival of Speed. Through this festival, a small town in the middle of nowhere, just like Keyser, attracts athletes and tourists from all over the world to witness who will be crowned the new champion of the downhill race.

Throughout our local Appalachian Mountain Range, roads similar to those in Maryhill and its “world class” quality lay dormant and un-skated.

If Maryhill can do it, why can’t Keyser?

Blood Drive Memories

By: Trevor Kesner

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Blood Drive Photo Bank

I remember waiting in a white room as a child. The nurse would walk in with a syringe, which I found myself staring at. Being the patient and a child, even I could understand what was happening. That thing was going to pierce my arm. Even something so small and thin could induce fear. The anxiety overwhelmed; I started crying.

The horrors of the white room and the manic, stab-happy nurse hardly haunt me now in adulthood. I imagine it is the same for other students at Potomac State College. As I said, I’m not an exception. I may not fear hospitals, but I’m still afraid of needles even today. This fear is what stopped me from donating blood in the Student Union.

I saw students giving blood for the good of others. I remember sitting there in the student union casting cursory glances at people getting their blood drawn. The staff, from what I could see, were very well-mannered and efficient in doing their jobs.

I spoke to Gale Vanhouten, a person on the Legislative Branch of the SGA, for more information.

Vanhouten confirmed my belief that others often do not donate because of their fear of needles. Some people are not willing to donate blood, because they have no direct interest. Since they cannot see their blood in the act of saving someones life, then they may not see a reason to participate. It’s a natural response since it takes a direct choice to donate blood. Of course, that’s not to say that people choosing to donate are doing so because of entirely selfless reasons. Free snacks could be incentive enough for some people.

Blood drives have occurred the past two semesters at PSC, Vanhouten notified me that the SGA takes care of organizing the affair.

MORE: Click here To Donate Blood or Find A Local Blood Drive

 

 

 

PSC’s Outdoor Turf Petri Dish

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Photo Credit: Potomac State College. Photo was taken during a Women’s Soccer game PSC VS WCCC on September 16,2015. Clearly demonstrating the turf crumbs leaving the containment of the turf itself.

 

 

By Paige Harrison

Potomac State athletes are at a huge risk of catching and transmitting harmful bacteria by playing on the school’s synthetic turf field.

According to Edmar Chemical Company, synthetic turf is a breeding ground for bacteria like MRSA: an infection caused by Staph bacteria. Staph enters the body through broken skin, making turf burns a potential route for the bacteria. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one and three individuals are carriers of Staph. This means many of PSC’s athletes have the potential to spread and or catch this highly-contagious bacteria.

Turf fields are continually being contaminated by bodily fluids-blood, saliva, sweat and vomit- plus animal and bird droppings. Edmar points out that many think that rain will wash away these contaminates, but the rubber crumbs that fill the field act as a filter. All the present bacteria gets trapped, and “clean” water filters through.

Some may also think that UV light from the sun kills bacteria present on turf fields. While the UV light can help, at nighttime when it is dark, moist, and the turf is still warm from the sun, the field becomes a habitat for thriving bacteria.

Red Hen Turf Farm and Blue Grass Enterprises, two large synthetic turf corporations, released a booklet together on proper turf maintenance and cleaning. The booklet states that turf must be cleaned and disinfected for player safety. The cleaning process is made simple with sprayer machines that rake through the field while spraying disinfectant. These machines can be purchased from the same companies that sell the turf.

Mark Sprouse, the women’s soccer head coach at PSC, and Josh Seese, the women’s lacrosse head coach at PSC, both stated that they were not sure how or if PSC’s field was kept clean.

“There isn’t a way of disinfecting turf, or at least that I know of,” said Shawn White, the athletic director for PSC.

Four PSC teams use the field, putting it in constant use year round. If the field is not properly cleaned, that is a lot of possible bacteria and infections. This should be a huge concern for the PSC athletes that are subject to play on the turf.

The NCAA and NJCAA do not have any rules regarding the cleaning of turf fields. OSHA has guidelines for the rubber crumbs used to fill the fields but not for disinfecting.

Careful attention is paid to the sanitation of wrestling mats to prevent the same bacteria that are present in turf fields. So, why isn’t anyone giving special attention to the potential health hazards of our turf field at PSC?

Care to learn more about the potential hazards lurking below?

NCIB Debate on Turf

Penn State Study on germs found within turf.

Ohio State addresses staph outbreak and causes.