Main lesson MMU taught: Be brave

By Tiara Muñoz/Staff Writer/May 4, 2023

As I reflect on my time these past four years at MMU, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I have grown, and if I have grown. How have I grown?

Coming to MMU in August of 2019 18-year-old Tiara had no idea what she was getting herself into. At this time, I was nervous for my first collegiate pre-season for soccer, and I had no idea how to access my classes. My roommate and I were crying every night because we missed home. To say the least, freshman T was a mess.

I look back at freshman T and think about how silly I was to be nervous. After two weeks of uncertainty, MMU soon became a home away from home. Through connections on the soccer team, I was quickly introduced to leadership on campus, being encouraged to run for the Class of 2023 President and eventually running for Cabinet for Student Government.

Many people have asked me if I always planned on “working my way up” to Student Government President, as if my whole agenda coming to MMU was to get an education and be “the” student leader. To me, this concept was silly. I never would have thought that I would have dedicated so much time and energy to the school, let alone work with so many different students and be their advocate. If I am honest, I had no idea such a thing could even happen.

As I write this farewell, I believe it is important that students finally know what my motivations are and how I got to where I am today.

As some may know, I came to MMU purely for academic purposes. I “tested” out the women’s soccer team my freshman year to first see if I wanted to continue my athletic career (spoiler, I stayed with the team all four years). Coming from being a very busy person in high school, I wanted my time at college to be focused only on school, soccer and my extra-curricular activities outside of school (if you know what I mean).

My attempt at being just a fly on the wall failed, and I was soon noticed by both student leaders and staff who work closely with student leaders. These people showed me the opportunities MMU could give me, and they showed me how I could improve my skills and use them for the better.

The more I learned about MMU, student government, and meeting a variety of students from across the world, I began to see where I could have an impact.

One of the “perks” of being in student leadership is hearing about the opportunities for improvement our school can make and hearing about what may be lacking or hurting our student body. This included school budgets, faculty concerns, and controversies within the institution. The more I learned about MMU, the more I saw the need for change, but most importantly, I saw the need for someone to speak up about the issues and work to make positive change.

As my interest in student leadership increased, I was guided by amazing leaders such as a recent MMU graduate, Emma Lantz, ’22; and Nate Klein, ’07, VP for student success. Lantz empowered me to not be afraid of speaking up when something was wrong. She empowered me to be brave and want to work to be the best version of myself I can be. Klein guided me through finding myself by giving me the support and encouragement to not be afraid of being the loud, out-spoken, out-going T that he saw perform at Do It for Danny Dance.

With the constant support and guidance from these two amazing people, and the continuous support of other staff and peers, the scared, naive freshman T transformed into a person who students can go to for support and advocacy.

If there is one thing I wish to leave for my fellow students, it is to always stay true to yourself and never try to suppress who you really are. I wish I would have never doubted who I am; I tried to be someone I was not coming into college. I tried to be someone who I thought people would want me to be. MMU taught me that being me is the best version of myself. MMU taught me so much about myself, my values, and how to lead a courageous life and live it with purpose and meaning.

I am beyond grateful for all that MMU has provided me, and I am beyond blessed to have met and interacted with the students here for these past four years. I have met so many people who all come from a variety of backgrounds, lives, and experiences. I have only grown in my knowledge of the world and of who I want to be in this world. I would not change a single thing about my experience here on the Hill these last four years.

Again, if there is one thing, I hope people take away from my time at MMU is to not be afraid of being your full authentic selfl. Always try to speak up when you see something needs to be changed.

Thank you for your time MMU.


Not a COVID kid

College included cleaning the lint trap, learning TikTok

By Annie Barkalow/Staff Writer/May 4, 2023

When I first started at Mount Mercy three years ago, I was about 50 pounds lighter. We were not only at the height of the pandemic, but we were still cleaning up after the infamous derecho left a wake of chaos in its path. Tim Laurent had just taken over as interim president after the recently hired president abruptly resigned. Classes were a hybrid mix of in-person and Zoom.

Behind our variegated masks we watched our professors battle (and sometimes lose) the technology war. Owl cams were kind of cool and creepy at the same time. It was a weird introduction to the Hill, but I like weird.

As an elder Millennial returning to college, I found myself juxtaposed between instructors who were either my age or my parents’ age, and students only a couple years older than my kids.

My primary degree is in media communications, but my secret degree is in generational anthropology. Up to this point, my life has been a weird blend of cleaning out the dryer lint trap and keeping up with TikTok. I’ve sincerely enjoyed my Gen Z classmates, and I’m excited to see where their lives will take them.

I’ve enjoyed looking back at my time on the Hill, and while I don’t have many regrets, I have a few, nonetheless—but the triumphs have far outnumbered the losses.

Stuff I wish I could have done over: Probably not eaten so many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I study with 20-year-olds, but I don’t have the metabolism of one.

Stuff I’d definitely do again: Join the Times and the Paha Review. Being part of these publications was the highlight of my school experience and proved to be invaluable.

Writing for the Times, I learned how to ask strategic questions, honed my writing and photography skills and met a lot of interesting people. With the Paha Review, I had a privileged glimpse into the talent at Mount Mercy and the opportunity to learn about layout in an art and literary magazine. Joe Sheller, faculty advisor to the Times and associate professor of communications, and Mary Vermillion, faculty advisor to the Paha and professor of English, were fantastic mentors, and I’m appreciative of the impact they have had in my life.

After graduation, I plan on doing some traveling before buckling down and job searching in earnest.

The biggest thing I’ll miss on the Hill is the people. The staff and faculty are encouraging, and the students are bright, ambitious, and friendly.

Thanks, Mount Mercy, for making this nontraditional student feel welcome and at home.

Homeless when I arrived; grateful for my new family

By Elaina Sanders/Assistant Editor/May 4, 2023

When I came to Mount Mercy, in the summer of 2018, to be part of the Project Connect early start program, it was one of the hardest times of my life. My parents were going through a horrible divorce, all my possessions were in my dorm room, and I was essentially homeless.

My freshman year, MMU had gone up and beyond for me, providing me more than just an opportunity for an education, but a winter coat which I truly needed.

It took me a while to find a major I was good at and would work with my lifestyle plan of being a homemaker. Yet through all my struggles during college, I was able to get baptized on campus, discern for marriage, and get married in our chapel, all things that I knew I wanted.

Now, with the completion of my degree and a baby on the way, I am a bit nervous about my new life. Just as quickly as I showed up on campus, I will be leaving back to Wisconsin.

What I will miss the most is our Catholic community. I have so many friends who have the same beliefs as me and understand the importance I place on being able to serve my husband and the baby I am expecting. Although I am uncertain about how day-to-day life will look with a baby, or when I will find the perfect job opportunity that will allow me to work from home to raise my little one, I am most grateful for my husband who in high school encouraged me to seek out not only a community of my own but a degree and an opportunity I thought was not available to me.

The charism that the Sisters’ of Mercy instilled into our university is the reason I was able to attain this degree, for I am sure that if I had gone anywhere else, I would not be where I stand today. The mercy, grace and faith I have received here on the Hill has changed the outcome of my life, and I am so thankful for having been accepted to this university.

As I close this chapter, I pray for the continued growth and support of this beautiful university and that it may stay strong in the charism the Sisters’ have given as a foundation to this university. I pray that the friends I will be further from will also discern their vocations and trust God’s plan for them as I have.

Change the world

Live your MMU values beyond campus

Faith on the Hill by Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/May 4, 2023

Summer. Such a beautiful gift. It gives us time to recharge and to live out what we have learned on the Hill.

It makes me realize that there is so much joy in life. Yes, there are tragedies as well, yet at the end of the day, you can always pick out one good thing that happened. Goodness will never be defeated; it remains even amidst the trials of life. It all depends on where you look.

If you look for the good in people and life, you will always find it. It is there, I promise. Look at our campus as an example.

We may seem like an ordinary university with the same ups and downs that other universities have. If you look closer, the hospitality and community comradery at Mount Mercy is unique. Students and professors have shared that this type of comradery does not happen on other campuses. Take this to heart and continue to live it out over the summer. The ripple effect is powerful.

If every student and employee lives out our values beyond campus, other communities will start to change. Changing the world seems so intimidating. How can one person take on such a large task?

The truth is that we cannot do this in our lifetime. You may never see the fruit of your hard work. That does not mean that one should give up. Rather, we should do good because we will be building up the kingdom of God here on Earth. This work will bring about joy.

As this is my final piece for the Times, I want to leave you with some encouragement. Saint Catherine of Siena is famous for saying, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” We can make the most impact on ourselves and others by using our God-given gifts. Develop these gifts along with virtue, and you will live a joyful life. The world will change a little because the fire of joy will burn brightly within you.

Go set the world on fire, Mustangs!

No more stolen sisters
Join the fight to end violence towards Indigenous women

Staff Editorial/Opinion of the Times editors/May 4, 2023

Joselyn Hildebrand, sophomore, feature editor, created an art piece in 2021 to raise awareness for MMIW. (Contributed photo by Joselyn Hildebrand)

On the Hill, we recently recognized March as Women’s History Month and April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Although MMU did a great job of celebrating women and sexual assault survivors and being inclusive at the same time, we wish the women who are often forgotten about could have been given an equal amount of recognition for the month of May: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). 

MMIW is a movement that seeks to end the violence and oppression that Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals experience and to raise awareness of this crisis. It was created because Indigenous women go missing and are murdered at a much higher rate than women of other ethnicities.

According to the Native Women’s Wilderness, Indigenous women are murdered 10 times more than any other ethnicity. Four out of five Indigenous women have experienced violence in their life. More than half of Indigenous women experience sexual violence. The third leading cause of death for Indigenous women is murder.

Despite being considered an epidemic, MMIW are often swept under the rug by law enforcement and the judicial system, receive little to no media coverage, and have a large number of undocumented cases. There are many factors contributing to this widespread silence.

The Indigenous community feels distrustful of law enforcement and is not comfortable reporting crimes committed against them because of the long history of violence and forced assimilation against their people.

Indigenous tribes were stripped of their land and culture and forced by the U.S. government onto reservations two centuries ago, and they are still dealing with the repercussions of this today. Many tribes living on these reservations are subjected to homelessness, poverty, overcrowding, poor healthcare and low resources. Because of this, tribal law enforcement often lacks the resources needed to file charges or conduct an investigation.

Non-Native people are committing many of these murders on Native-owned land, which combined with the jurisdictional issues between federal and tribal law enforcement, makes it extremely difficult to even begin the investigation process. On top of this, reservations and settlements are often seen as sovereign nations, causing outside law enforcement to not pay attention to or attempt to investigate these cases.

This problem is real and has a very harmful effect on Indigenous women throughout North America. At MMU, there are many actions we can take to begin healing this generational trauma.

First, acknowledge that it is a prominent issue and educate yourself on why it is harmful.

Second, speak up for these women who are silenced by law enforcement and media and educate others.

Third, wear red on Red Dress Day, May 5, to honor the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and call attention to the violence they experience.

We urge everyone on the Hill to ensure there are no more stolen sisters.

AI is evolving quickly, do we need to slow down?

By Wyatt Lindsay/ Staff Writer/May 4, 2023

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly rising.

Many were introduced to the world of AI through their Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa, but AI has grown more complex and new uses for it have been introduced around the world, more recently in chat bots. These allow for someone to give a brief explanation or command, and the AI is programmed to give you information or verbiage on the topic.

The AI we are exposed to right now is Narrow AI; what this means is that the AI we are using is designed to perform a task like an internet search or the use of facial recognition, but this is only the beginning of human use of AI.

Recently AI has blown up; the use of AI software has changed, and there are a lot more programs that are allowing humans to use AI to their advantage. This has recently gained relevance because students are using it to aid them with writing papers, answering questions and even presentations.

New software is being built every day, and these AI programs are catering to humans’ needs. With the rapid growth in the AI industry, many are wondering if it will be taken too far.

Even many top AI researchers are concerned for the future of this kind of program. Will people be without jobs, will AI take over the world, and when will we realize it was too late?

As impressive as AI is, I don’t think we should push the limits of it and try to use it for everything. AI is quite simply not human. It does not understand things the way we do.

No AI software is comparable to the human mind, and AI is not something you can trust due to its lack of human connection and qualities. AI scares people, and it is at such an early stage of evolution that I believe the use of AI right now should really be limited.

At the pace it is growing, AI is likely to take over the professional world and leave humans without a job to fill. AI is capable of much more than a human is and it is only still developing.

AI has not developed fully, yet, and there is still a lot of unknown within it. The good and bad is yet to come.

Embracing our future

Times to become fully online in fall 2023

Staff Editorial: Opinion of the Times editors/April 19, 2023

What may come as a shock to some, was expected by others: The Mount Mercy Times will be going completely online in fall following a decision in April by our oversight group, the Board of Student Publications.

That board did not tell us to go online—we asked it to review the status of this newspaper. It’s clear, based on long-term trends, that sooner or later the Times would migrate to an online publication; it was really not a question of “if” but “when.”

Thus, we have been contemplating this decision for a couple of months. The editors have gone over pros and cons, our advisor sought input from other Iowa colleges and the Board of Student Publications sent out a survey to students, staff and faculty.

The gratifying news is that many of you are fans of the paper Times, and we have taken your concerns and opinions into account.

But, while we know this newspaper, founded early in the 1990s and serving this university for about 30 years, is beloved, we believe it can continue its mission using new media rather than old. Web-fed newspaper presses were invented when steam engines first powered them in the early 1800s.

We are finally moving into 21st century technology.

There are many reasons why we have decided it was time for the Times to switch:

  • Most of our printed copies end up being recycled. There is also a cost, both ecological and financial, to clinging to paper. We cannot really reduce the number of papers printed—we are already at the minimum press run most newspaper presses can handle. As MMU seeks to tighten its financial belt, we feel that the cost of producing and recycling 800 copies of a 1,000-copy press run is flab we can lose.
  • In the “real world,” today’s news communication professionals are functioning in an environment dominated by the internet and social media. That is not always a good thing, but it is the reality. By no longer printing a paper, we can devote our staff’s full time to giving The Hill the best digital news possible.
  • We are following the lead of other Iowa universities. At state universities, paper newspapers exist but the number of pages and frequency is going down as they see the “writing on the (Facebook) wall.” About a decade ago, Buena Vista University in Storm Lake switched its paper to online—we are part of a powerful trend.

Many of you will miss the actual paper Times. We will, too. But we are also excited at the new digital future that is opening. As an online news source, we can provide more multimedia content. We can update news in a timelier fashion. We can provide you with more images, and yes, audio and video.

There is a danger in making this switch. The newspaper is a tangible artifact that reminds the passersby that there is student news at MMU. Our worry is that in going digital, we become still less visible.

So, our challenge is to shake it up. Make some noise. Let you, our readers, and the Powers that Be at MMU feel and sometimes fear our presence.

Done right, we are excited about what can come next. And we want more of you to be a part of the new Times. We still need writers and photographers. We need marketing students seeking to learn web and social media design. We want videographers. Podcasters. The range of creative talent that we know already exists at MMU has an exciting new outlet.

You can help us make the future of the Times more useful to the community we attempt to inform and entertain.

If you are faculty or staff, keep reading and discussing what we have to say in your workplace and classes—you are vital in keeping us alive, too. We appreciate that you supply us with information when we ask, and we appreciate your feedback.

If you are a student, consider being a Times staff member. If you have a student ID, you are eligible, regardless of major or year in school.

It is about you, reader. Keep up with the Times as we keep up with the times. And come in. The water’s fine. So is the internet.

Trash talk takes over

By Wyatt Lindsay/Staff Writer/April 20, 2023

Following the results of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship on Sunday, April 2, it seems that a majority of the focus hasn’t been on who won or what a great game both teams played, but the focus has been shifted to something else. After the game, it seemed that there was only little focus and praise of the Louisiana State University (LSU) women’s basketball team for defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes, 102-85. 

Rather than the focus of the public being on the performance of LSU and their dominance in the game, fans, sportswriters, players, and NBA Hall-of-Famers have all been talking about the same thing. During the last few seconds of the game when LSU had already confidently secured the win, their star player, Angel Reese, had some ideas other than celebrating with her team. Reese followed Iowa’s best player, Caitlin Clark, towards her bench taunting and bragging about the win.

Some would argue that this isn’t a problem because they are both competitive players and Clark is known for her competitive spirit and has a reputation of partaking in a little trash talking herself. Many believe that it’s unfair to Reese that she is receiving this backlash for doing what she did. However, Clark has never been the type of player to follow a player from the opposing team, get in their face and point to their ring finger (to indicate where her championship ring will be) when winning by 17 points in the national championship game. 

I am not trying to bash Reese; I am just highlighting that it was a moment of unprofessionalism. Reese is an outstanding player and was recognized by winning the 2023 Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament because of her ability to score a double-double in every game of the tournament, which is beyond impressive. What she was seen doing is affecting her image, and a moment of trash talk is really going to impact how her actions could negatively influence others. Some would argue that Clark should be criticized as well, but in the heat of the moment, Clark wasn’t the one following Reese to the bench. Clark didn’t even say anything to Reese when it was happening, she took the high-road, so it really shows that it was an act that was unsportsmanlike and unprofessional, therefore tarnishing her image.

Wanted: gender equity
We should do more to support women

Staff Editorial: Opinion of the Times editors/March 30, 2023

Suffragettes march in New York City in 1912, protesting to gain the right to vote. In 111 years, despite progress, the U.S. and Mount Mercy have not achieved gender equity. (Library of Congress image downloaded form Wikimedia Commons)

March marks an important month for Mustangs, a majority of whom are women, and even cis-gender men have a stake in understanding those who are biologically or by gender identity female.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, the Times urges you to uplift the women who do the work it takes to continue make history today. Women are a critical concern of the Sisters of Mercy.

But why?

Well, there are many reasons. The Sisters are sisters, after all, and MMU was originally founded to educate and uplift women. Women statistically make far less money, own far less land, and serve in far less leadership positions than men.

According to a 2011 study from the University of Virginia, even car safety features are designed for men, leading to women being nearly 50% more likely to suffer from car crash injuries. Just by being female, women are negatively impacted in nearly every aspect of life, including education, employment healthcare, and political representation.

In 2020, women in Iowa who were salary or full-time had a reported earning median of 83.7% of their male counterparts earning, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Iowa is yet to pass any laws protecting the rights the women who make up nearly half of the workforce and a majority of its population (there are over 21,000 more women than men in Iowa). Sixteen states have laws providing accommodation for pregnant workers.

The inequities extend beyond wages. According to Cedar Rapids Police Department, cases of domestic abuse were at 94 in 2020 but spiked to 132 in 2021, and women are disproportionately the victims in such cases.

Perpetuating gender inequality around the world are even more issues such as child brides, higher illiteracy rates in girls than boys, and lack of prenatal care. The gender equality gap is a systemic issue worldwide, something to be taken seriously.

So, what can our coMMUnity do about it?

It starts with support. Support your classmates, teammates, faculty, staff, family, and friends. Tell the women in your life that you love them, and you care about them.

Promote women in leadership roles around campus. Attend the Women in Leadership series with your friends. Spread word about resources and volunteer your time at the Catherine McAuley Center or your local women’s shelter.

Take sexual assault seriously by reporting it, supporting survivors, and educating yourself. Call out gender stereotypes and biases you may see around campus or off-campus.

Educate others around you on women’s rights and the gender equality gap. Show up at events that women oversee or are speaking at. Fight for women to have rights to their deserved healthcare, wages, and respect. Most importantly, to change this systematically, vote. Encourage those around you to vote for candidates who are most supportive of gender equity.

Everyone—men, women, nonbinary humans—benefits from gender equality, which makes society fairer and more just. It encourages economic growth, decreases poverty, and creates more diverse and inclusive coMMUnities. It removes negative biases and stereotypes, encourages stronger relationships and families, which in the end creates a more delightful environment for all.

Every day provides us another opportunity for each of us to do something to erase the gender gap once and for all.

We are all humans, and deserve respect

By Elaina Sanders/Assisstant Editor/March 30, 2023

Dr. Joe Hendryx, assistant professor of English, spoke March 22, explaining aspects of transgender history and the harm that transgender people face in culture. See page 4 for an opinion column sparked by the material that Hendryx presented. (Times photo by Elaina Sanders)

Dr. Joe Hendryx, professor of English, held a reflection event March 22 on the topic of transgender history and the harm that they have endured.

I was greatly disappointed by the lack of community involvement with this event since weeks earlier, we had the presidential lecture that touched on this topic. Hendryx defined harm as “loss of or damage to a person’s rights, property, or physical/mental well-being.”

He argued the following: 1) transgender people have always existed 2) minority stress theory effects the transgender community today and 3) those who are not deemed as useful by the state are pushed to the edges of society.

Hendryx cited the Indigenous culture of the past and the revival of the “two-spirit” gender type which is a contemporary term to describe the hundreds of different Indigenous gender nonconforming people. He went over on how much of the Native culture was forced out of the communities by those who colonized them.

When it comes to the modern effects of being either forced to a new land or conquered, Hendryx cited the “minority stress theory,” which he describes as the negative impact of medical and mental health of chronic stress by members of a stigmatized minority group, including family rejection and higher rates of homelessness. He argued that those who are at risk of being affected by this includes the transgender community.

I will not argue that minorities and transgender people are not exposed to discrimination; they are. Yet, to simply say that those who find themselves amongst these groups are destined to be in poor health is not something I will accept. I respect the human dignity of everyone but there is so much opportunity for all of us if we simply look up and grab them.

Hendryx also cited Transgender History by Susan Stryker (pages 68-69):

“The state’s actions often regulate the bodies, in the way both great and small, by enmeshing them within norms and expectations that determine what kind of lives are deemed livable or useful and by shutting down the spaces of possibility and imaginative transformation where people’s lives begin to exceed and escape the state’s uses for them.

“This is a deep, structural problem within the logic of modern societies, which essentially preforms a cost-benefits analysis when allocating social resources. . . Those who don’t or can’t function this way – have a harder time sustaining themselves and justifying their very existence. . . Transgender lives are similarly seen as offering any kind of value to society by the virtue of their transness.”

I would argue that this point is very in line with what Erika Bachiochi pointed out during her lecture that the market has unfortunately affected every part of our society. That this not only has affected women who wish to be homemakers but also the LGBTQ+ community.

On the other hand, I believe that one can offer more to society than just being a skill of any kind is important. Regrettably for as much harm as the market has done, this was not done by state authority but materialism and the overvalue of paid labor that has harmed our most vulnerable. Caring for the home is no longer seen as justifiable, just as art if not monetized labor is seen to have no benefit to society.

And above all, we should seek a connected society that is beautiful in its diversity, from job to belief to even sexuality, without rejecting the shared part of all of humanity. We are all human, deserve respect, and need a family to be truly fulfilled in life.

President’s lecture sparks varying reactions

Campus speaker causes controversy with anti-LGBTQ+ comments

By Delcie Sanache/Editor-in-Chief/March 2, 2023

Feminist or trans-exclusionary radical feminist? This is the question I have for Erika Bachiochi, author of “The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision,” after she argued her stance on sex-realist feminism, using sexual asymmetry and heteronormative reproduction as the main focus of both her book and the President’s Lecture event hosted by President Todd Olson in the University Center on Feb. 23.

After her presentation, she opened up to questions from the audience. The first question asked was, “Your book and presentation focus entirely on heteronormative marriage and reproduction. Where do queer and trans women belong in your vision of feminism?”

I was glad to hear someone else asking this because I was wondering the same thing and was intrigued to hear her answer. She began by saying her focus is sexual asymmetry, or the reproductive difference between men and women, so that is why she only talks about heteronormative relationships. I was thinking, ‘Okay, that may be a valid reason.’ Until she began discussing why she doesn’t include trans women, and it didn’t take her long to start throwing out some of the grossest stereotypes about the trans community that I have ever heard said out loud.

She stated that the trans community is a “setback” for the women’s rights movement because women have fought against these gender norms, and for someone born male, who identifies as female, to wear makeup reinforces these gender norms. I was shocked to hear someone who identifies as a feminist say such an anti-women comment. If your idea of feminism does not include ALL woman-identifying people, then it is not feminism. Aside from that, the women who fought for our rights that she refers to were the same women married to husbands who owned slaves and repeatedly beat and raped Black women.

In her answer, she also discussed gender dysmorphia, surprisingly acknowledging that it is real. However, she believes adults shouldn’t encourage young children’s desire to transition to the opposite gender. Clearly, she isn’t aware that many states have banned medical professionals from providing gender-affirming healthcare to minors, and many more are considering doing the same. The most adults could do in this situation is buy their children clothing from the opposite gender’s section at stores or call them by a different name or pronouns, which wouldn’t cause harm to anyone.

The icing on the cake was when she used an outdated and derogatory slur to refer to people who physically present themselves as both feminine and masculine. Is this 2023 or 1923?

I asked her the next question, “Do you believe trans women should be included in the modern-day feminist movement?” I had an idea of what her answer would be, but I was still interested to hear her stance. 

She responded by saying she doesn’t believe someone who went through puberty as a male should be put in an all-women’s prison, should not be put in a housing program for women who experience sexual violence, and should not be competing in women’s sports because “they take our gold medals.”

She may think she is solely looking out for women, but the real motive is never about protection. It’s about excluding trans people from society. This is just contributing to the harmful myth that trans-athletes have a huge physical advantage over their opponents. 

Bachiochi identifies as pro-life as well. I find it a bit contradictory to the harmful stereotypes she spews about trans people and beliefs that trans women should be subject to the risk of sexual abuse, violence, and even death by being placed in an all-men’s prison that she expressed in her presentation. In conclusion, Mount Mercy must do a better job when researching who they are inviting to campus. Bachiochi’s lecture could have easily made any woman-identifying person or transgender attendee in the audience experience unnecessary fear or discomfort. I believe the university owes a sincere apology to the LGBTQ+ community.

Women’s Right to Vote: A student’s reflection on the book and panel

By Elaina Sanders/Assistant Editor/March 2, 2023

Erika Bachiochi was invited to campus for the presidential lecture and that afternoon also held a panel. The panel held two of our own: assistant professor of philosophy, Adam Myers and visiting assistant professor of sociology, Sonja Bock. The discussion of the book, “The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision” began with Bock giving a critique about there being a lack of race discussed in the book, and Myers reflected on the devaluing of women coming from the market over value of work and products.

As a young woman, senior student, wife, and soon to be mother, I personally found this book full of value. Although, other women and peers my age may feel different, there is much in this book, if adopted, that allows women more freedom in our rights than without.

For example, on page 156, “That women ought to be understood—and understand themselves—as human beings who reach self-fulfillment not by ‘liv[ing] through others’ but by ‘realizing [their] full potential,” was argued by Betty Friedan. This idea can easily be misunderstood by personal bias, but I feel like it calls women to know themselves physically and intellectually and do what they are best at. This in turn will be the best for society.

Yet, society is not the best, not because of the patriarchy, but because of women ourselves. Whether we choose to be career driven, or stay-at-home moms, in trend or out of trend, promiscuous or virtuous, attacking one another and pressuring each other is wrong. I’ll agree that not everyone finds the right man at the right time but throwing all virtues into the wind can and will cause men who devalue women. For if we do not value ourselves, how will they value us?

On another note, the book talks a lot about the birth control pill and how it was originally meant to be an alternative to abortion and the Plan-B pill. One thing modern women forget about, is that any birth control will never be 100% effective, even tubal ligation can reverse, although difficult. 

Birth control, if effective, has been known to be overused and on many women’s accounts to cause severe issues. The pill, which is often given to teenage girls for a variety of problems, often just masks the true problem. Some examples: severe pain and cramping could be endometriosis, severe weight gain may be polycystic ovarian syndrome, and severe acne may be caused by hormonal irregularity. 

Why mask the problem than actually treat the woman? Because it seems to be easier than finding out what the problem is or teaching women how to track their menstrual cycles. Even more disappointing, is the fact that the pill has many side effects, which in turn, that women are going on the pill to avoid. 

As an alternative to over prescribing a drug that may or may not hurt women’s fertility, we study women’s bodies and do not ignore them, and women are taught that tracking their cycles can be an indicator of not only health and stress levels but that they can only conceive in a short window. 

Voluntary motherhood is possible with the help of male partners who understand chastity. Women have the right to their bodies only as far as their knowledge goes of their body. Our full potentials could be becoming a noble scientist or being a homemaker, stay-at-home mom, or homeschooler.

As pertaining to race like Bock brought up at the panel, I agree that the book does not express it much, but unfortunately, we cannot solve every problem at once. Yes, minority men are incarcerated more, but I disagree of her conclusion that minority women will lack ‘mates.’ We are all human, and there are plenty of couples in this world who are mixed raced, and the world is better for the cultural overlaps. I am Czechoslovakia-bohemian and Native American. We are not limited by our skin, culture, or other features for loving those we love. 

In conclusion, I understand that not all women want to take my path of being a homemaker and not every woman dreams of a career. We should not feel pushed one way or the other. I just wish that women have the freedom to do what they feel is their full potential. Just as I feel pressured into working a 9-5, other women feel pressured into being homemakers, and I just wish that with knowledge, women will learn that we need to support each other.

Klein leave legacy of service other should follow

Staff editorial/March 2, 2023

What makes a person a great Mustang? What attributes show the true Mustang spirit?

If anybody on the Hill deserves the title of being “the” Ms. or Mr. Mustang, in our view it’s Dr. Nate Klein.

And last week, like a bolt from the blue, we received word that Klein will be leaving MMU at the end of this academic year. Our VP of student success hasn’t revealed his future plans and noted in a Facebook post that it’s time for a change.

We are thankful for Klein’s nine years of service to the Hill. That nine years was just after the 2007 MMU alumnus returned to us as a professor. His active ways and infectious smile were attributes that were noticed at MMU when he was a student.

In 2018, Klein moved from the classroom to student services, taking the VP position he’s in today. He touched many students as a professor and sponsor of Enactus, and his role expanded when he made the shift.

In many ways, Klein was an exemplar of how we wish students were always treated at MMU. He found creative ways to connect with us, for example:

n Meeting with every incoming freshman every year, taking the time to get to know us.

n Being easily approachable, and always involved with the student body. He was the glue that connected even the most distant student groups on campus.

n Visibly relating to everyone on campus, from eating with us to being here in our times of need whether personal, the Covid-19 pandemic or the derecho.

Of course, not everyone had fun with Klein all the time. In his role, he had to deal with students who engaged in various kinds of shenanigans. As far as we can tell, he dealt well and fairly with those situations, although, to be fair, the editors of the Times aren’t among the hardest of party animals on The Hill.

Klein had an engaging personal touch. And it was partly due to his time here as a student. He was a longtime fan of Dale Harrison, an MMU business professor of the past fondly remembered for, among other things, being the number-one Mustang fan. Klein used to refer to Harrison as “the man, the myth, the legend.” We will not dub Klein that out of respect for the memory of Harrison’s legacy, but the Hill will long remember another legend among Mustang ranks.

Yet, life will go on. We can think of many other MMU staff or faculty who have poured their hearts into this place, and there is plenty of caring and compassion that will be visible on The Hill even without Klein’s sunny presence. MMU is that kind of place. We do not envy the powers that be here scrambling to fill Klein’s shoes, however.

We wish that wherever Klein goes, his work there be just as impactful as he has been at MMU. Thank you, Mr. Mustang, for the wonderful coMMUnity you helped build here. And in your honor, and in honor of those great spirits of the past such as Dale Harrison, we vow to carry on and do our best.

There will be more men, more women, more myths and more legends here on the Hill even if Klein’s contributions are long remembered.

Questions of Justice America, MMU still have work to do to combat systemic racism

Staff Editorial/ Opinion of the Times editor/Feb. 16, 2023

The logo of the Black Lives Matter movement, established in 2013 and globally famous following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

Devonna Walker. Tyre Nichols. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Atatiana Jefferson. If these names don’t sound familiar to you, they should. Each person is someone from the Black community who has suffered from the devastating act of police brutality or a hate crime.

The distrust that minorities have in the power systems in our culture, especially the justice system, continues to be an ongoing theme in the United States. Although the Black Lives Matter movement was established in 2013, we did not see it become as globally recognized until 2020 after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

More recently, the death of Tyre Nichols and the release of body cam footage showing Nichols being mercilessly beaten by Memphis police has generated outrage and protests across the country.

Hitting closer to home is the case of Devonna Walker, who was caught in an altercation with her neighbors outside her home in Cedar Rapids. Her neighbor was seen on video calling Walker a racial slur before apparently stabbing her. No arrests have been made in her death.

February is Black History Month, and racism is a critical concern of the Sisters of Mercy. Despite all the progress this country has made with civil rights, there are signs that America still has a lot of reckoning to do. The Times urges all on the Hill to be aware of these issues. Besides police brutality, another thread of racism is the silencing of minority literature.

Contributing to the deepening of distrust in “the system” has been the movement of restricting access in schools and school libraries to literature written by Black authors or about the history of Black people in America. A few examples from this list of banned books are, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, who examines how America uses a caste system to produce racial hierarchies, putting Black Americans in the lowest caste.

In “Beloved,” author Toni Morrison has written a novel about an enslaved woman who killed her daughter to save her from slavery, based on the true story of Margaret Garner.

“The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas has become popular over the past few years and focuses on racial justice and police violence surrounding youth.

This repeated act of banning books in schools that shine a light on America’s long history of racism sends the message to all students of color that their history, identity, and struggles don’t matter. Becoming educated on the history of struggle that minorities have faced in our country is an easy step in ending racism, and we can’t do that if our educational resources such as books are being denied.

And yet, in Iowa, Governor Reynolds recently told a conservative group that she wants more restrictions on “pornographic” books in public school. Leaving aside the fact that her comments show ignorance of what that legal term means, many targeted books are either about LGBTQ+ issues or about minority history and experience.

It is on the shoulders of those in systemic power to regain trust with communities of color by recognizing their privilege and biases and the barriers that have been embedded in America’s system to prevent minorities from succeeding.

It is also on the shoulders of all of us on the Hill to be informed and favor open dialogue and education, especially now during Black History Month.

Grammy speech

You’re not correct, Styles, people like you win all the time

By Jenna Welty/Campus Editor/Feb. 16, 2023

Harry Styles, who won the Grammy for Album of the Year, performing on tour in 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Wikimedia Commons image by Leticia Moraares)

“This doesn’t happen to people like me very often,” said Harry Styles while receiving the Grammy for Album of the Year.

This part of his acceptance speech has invoked quarrels regarding his proclamation as the sort of person who does not win highly regarded awards. But what type of people have most winners of Album of the Year been?

Of the 65 Grammy Award ceremonies, an overwhelming majority of winners have been white men, just like Harry Styles, with women of color accepting the least number of wins.

So, in an organization dominated by people like Styles, his win continues to run the award show as it was—pun intended.

For Styles to assume himself with a community of people who tend not to win is inaccurate. It leads him to occupy a space that is not for him and extend his privilege to that of a minority group.

Recognizing your privileged identities does not discredit the hardships of your life. There are certain aspects of who you are that can make living in our society easier or more difficult, and they are not mutually exclusive.

However, when Styles relates any difficulties, he may have had to his opportunity to win an award, he is overlooking the history that people “like” him have had regarding winning.  There is a neglection of his privilege and its impact on his rise to fame. That is not to say that aspects of this rise have not been tumultuous, but there are plenty of other communities of people who tend not to win these prestigious awards.

The chances of winning a Grammy are slim, but they are significantly slimmer for people who are not like Harry Styles.

May Advent and Christmas bring blessings to all Mustangs

By Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/Jan. 16

It is that time of year again, with big shopping sales and malls playing Mariah Carey. Most eagerly await the white blanket of snow and icicles that reflect colorful lights. Decorated trees appear inside of homes.

Christmas is the time where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. His birth marked the start of a new age. Even our calendars reflect this change as the years are counted from the time of Christ’s birth. B.C. is the abbreviation for “before Christ,” and A.D. is Latin for “anno Domini” or “in the year of our Lord.”

The preparation for this big celebration starts way before the actual holiday. It is teasingly debated among Christians as to when it is time to start the preparations. Are Christmas movies and songs OK to start right after Halloween? Does the tree go up right after Thanksgiving? What about the other decorations? How soon is too soon?

All these questions show that big celebrations need the appropriate preparational time beforehand. The preparation gives witness to the importance of the event. That is why the Catholic Church designated four weeks of preparation for Christmas. The four weeks are called Advent. The word advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming” or “arrival.”

During this time, we are preparing our hearts and homes for the coming of Christ. We are taking a deep look into our lives to see if we have room set aside for Jesus.

In the Nativity story, Jesus is born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. Each year, I have to ask myself if I am like that inn. My heart and my life are packed full of the things that I would like to have. Does my heart have room for Christ to enter?

If the answer is no, then I must remove the clutter and prepare a place for Him. If the answer is yes, then I look to the place that I have set aside. I check the time that I last cleaned the room by going to confession. I open the blinds to let the light of Christ inside. I dust the room and shake off my bad habits. The room is unlocked so that Christ can enter all the time. Frequent prayer holds the door open and is the invitation that He is waiting to receive. These are some of the ways that I prepare to celebrate Christmas. Your family might have different traditions to help you prepare. The Church helps us by setting aside the four weeks of Advent. I encourage you to take these weeks as a time for prayer and reflection.

Have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas, Mustangs!

A needed winter break: enjoy the ‘giving’ time

By Riley Rundquist/Staff Writer/Jan. 16

Winter break is a long-awaited time of the year for many students.

We put in long hours of hard work during the school year and then usually get a few weeks in December and January to relax and recharge.

It is a time for students to recoup and get rest from the various demands that the rigorous semester entails. Academic stressors have huge effects on students of all ages spanning all the way from elementary school to graduate school. Without breaks like these, students will not be able to meet the academic demands that school requires of them to the best of their ability.

Throughout this well-deserved break, students are able to reconnect with their loved ones as many return to the places they call home.

Two of the highlights over break are celebrating Christmas and New Year’s. Both holidays create joyful times for many families in which everyone comes together and has their own traditions. It is also a time for people to come together in order to give back to people and communities that are in need. One tradition that my family always participates in is the “Giving Tree.” At my mom’s work there is a Christmas tree with envelopes and each one is filled with a family requesting help from others to have a successful Christmas.

My family and I always pick an envelope and help out the family that’s inside. Look around at MMU—there are giving trees on campus here, too. They are called angel tag trees.

It is times like these that I look forward to all semester because I get a chance to help someone in need during a season of giving. Winter break provides a mental cleanse that is exactly what is needed.

What MMU needs is a ‘freedom of expression’ policy

Staff Editorial/Jan. 16

On the world stage down to local communities, the freedom to say and be who you are is a hot topic.

Elon Musk is finding that Ye can quickly convince him that “anything goes” can lead to chaos on Twitter. The past few years have brought freedom of speech to the forefront of national politics. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard the phrase “fake news,” usually used about a news source or story that someone does not like.

And here we are at the Hill, grappling with some of the same issues. There is a committee of staff, faculty and students grappling with drafting an “expression” policy for Mount Mercy.

We don’t envy the panel it’s task. Balancing the competing needs of different constituencies won’t be easy, but, on the other hand, we’d be happier if the committee were working on a “Freedom of Expression Policy” rather than an “Expression Policy.”

We would like MMU to state that creative communication on a Catholic university should be open and robust—“Catholic,” after all, means “universal.” MMU has long welcomed students of every faith and no faith backgrounds. And while it’s important we be mindful of and respectful to our Sisters of Mercy and Catholic identity, that identity includes openness to a wide variety of viewpoints.

We also worry that an expression policy is being drafted without a clear opportunity for the wider community to engage in the discussion.

And a policy that specifies expression needs to be clear: Some may find some expressions offensive. Before employees start tearing down art, however, some pause and some reflection whether a reasonable person would agree is in order. Part of the controversy last year wasn’t just from the disputed artwork, it was from the cavalier way creative work was removed from public spaces, such as the tunnels, that have traditionally been open to such expression.

It can be hard to understand why we, as a society, are so adamant on pretending that the things we don’t like are lies. While it is easiest to see people with opposite viewpoints doing this, the hard truth is that we all are at least a little guilty of this line of think-ing.

So how can we break this vicious cycle? Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to look within ourselves when we find something that we do not like and ask ourselves if there is a good reason why we don’t like it. Is it genuinely problematic, or is it showing us a different viewpoint that isn’t hurting anyone, but is making us uncomfortable?

When trying to sniff out reliable news sources, look for biases, both within the reporting and within yourself. Sometimes the truth is hard and can make us uncomfortable, and that’s OK to admit. History is full of uncomfortable things, as is the present and most likely the future. But ignoring what makes us uncomfortable only allows it to continue unchecked.

If we are to make the world a better place, we must learn to confront our discomfort, not hide from it.

And at MMU, the Mercy way should include the grace to allow students to create the widest possible range of works in their authentic voices.

Shooting near campus highlights gun violence

Staff Editorial/Nov.10

According to The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, in the United States, around 40,000 people are killed by guns each year; that’s almost as many as those killed by kidney disease each year.

Gun violence is an extremely prevalent issue in America right now, and this was amplified on our campus on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Gun violence is recognized as a national public health epidemic, and it consists of homicide, violent crime, suicide, attempted suicide, and unintentional death and injury. The rate at which people are killed by guns in the U.S. is almost 25 times higher than other high-income countries. There is currently no federal law that requires those purchasing guns to experience a background check. Therefore, criminals and other prohibited people can buy guns from unlicensed sellers and easily steer clear of background checks. This danger is apparent in mass shootings; one in three occurrences consisted of a shooter that was legally banned from owning a gun.

How does this affect college students, more specifically at Mount Mercy? Aside from the recent tragedy that occurred near our campus and resulted in an injured student on Nov. 3, at least 155 people have been injured and 86 have been killed due to gun violence on U.S. college campuses between 2013 and 2021. According to the crime statistics report for 2021 that the Cedar Rapids Police Department released, there were 28 incidents of people being shot. Of these incidents, 32 people were wounded and seven were killed. Fortunately, Mount Mercy prohibits the possession and use of firearms and other dangerous weapons on campus. However, learning about gun safety and the effects of gun violence is still a vital step towards eliminating this pressing concern.

Although it may seem like your voice and actions won’t make a difference, there are many steps you can take to cause change. Simple tasks include educating yourself on gun violence and safety, establishing a culture of gun safety, especially with youth, and voting for leaders who advocate for gun control.

Should high schoolers be able to earn college credit?

Catherine Kratoska/Opinion Editor/Nov.10

High school students taking online college courses has been a growing phenomenon. Well before the pandemic, community colleges began to offer online “anytime, anywhere” college-level courses to high school students in nearby school districts. I myself tookmy first college class online in 2016 during my sophomore year of high school. But is it a good idea to allow high school students to get this head start on higher education?

I attended a small public school in rural Iowa that did not have a large assortment of classes. The highest-level classes were Advanced Placement courses, and even then, we only had AP U.S. History and AP Chemistry. This made the free online courses so much more appealing to students like me who needed an extra challenge in certain academic areas. The head start on college was an exciting bonus f

or students and their families who wanted to attend college after graduating high school but were short on money.While I was not one of them, some students are even able to graduate from high school with their associate degree, saving tens of thousands of dollars. As higher education becomes more and more expensive, any amount of free college can be life changing.

So, what’s the catch? The idea of “anytime, anywhere” classes means that a student can often wait until the final few weeks of the semester to do any work and still pass the class. Online tests are frequently unproctored, which means that students can cheat with little to no consequences. Many professors realize this and create their classes accordingly, but many others continue to hold their students to the honor system. Not all students will resort to cheating, of course, but for many, the temptation is too great.

Possibly the biggest problem with these online classes is actually learning the material. When students do all their work within a few weeks instead of spreading out over a semester, it is highly unlikely that they will remember most of what they learned in a few months, let alone years down the line. In high school, I took a course on human evolution and passed it. While I remember enjoying the course, I could not tell you the difference between homo erectus and homo habilis now, years later.

Does this mean that these college courses are useless? No, I don’t think so. I know my high school experience was made better by the more challenging material, and it saved me thousands of dollars. However, not only do I think there is room for improvement, but improvements need to be made for these classes to be successful.

Thanksgiving: Show gratitude with acts of service

Matthew Murphy/Staff Writer/Nov.10

Thanksgiving is a holiday of giving back to your community, friends, and family, where we gather together to celebrate all the things we are grateful for.

When celebrating this holiday I like to think how we can do good in our lives to help others out. During this time of the year, I like to think about all the things we are thankful for. There are many things in my life that I am grateful for and it is all the people that I am surrounded by: either my family or all the people who have helped me in my life.

I would like to see how the Mount Mercy Community can give back to others and help others that have been there for us while we have been on campus. There are many activities that I am grateful for at Mount Mercy and I feel there are many activities that we can do to give back to our community. As a community we can help out others by raking our neighbors’ leaves or picking up trash around the community. I feel that helping our community around this time of the year is a very polite and meaningful way to embrace how thankful you are.

Another great thing about Thanksgiving is catching up with your family and friends at the Thanksgiving dinner table if you haven’t seen them in a while. Seeing your friends and family is something I am very grateful for because they have done so much for me in my lifetime. How can you give back to your family and friends who have helped you to get where you are today?

One tradition during my Thanksgiving is texting the people who I am grateful for and thanking them for getting me to where I am today. A text means a lot to those people as they feel they have encouraged you throughout your life. Sometimes during this thankful holiday I go to dinner with these people and catch up with them and give back to them by treating them to a nice dinner.

This is a time to give back to the people you know and love. I encourage everyone to do something generous during this time of the year and make someone be grateful for your presence. How can you help your community and build stronger relationships with the people you are surrounded by?

Hocus Pocus 2: Evil sisters less spooky and less fun, too

By Morgan Ingwersen/Assistant Editor/Nov. 10

Almost 30 years after the release of Hocus Pocus, the Sanderson sisters have been resurrected for Hocus Pocus 2. This long-awaited movie has been praised by many, but I see it as contradictory and have been left disappointed.

Hocus Pocus is a Halloween classic; it has adequate casting, fantastic performances, emotional attachment to characters and strong female roles. The original offers a strong and solid plot, leaving this movie as a refreshing token from the ‘90s. The return of the Sanderson sisters has been something I have been clamoring for. Hocus Pocus 2’s story falls completely flat from the original.

Hocus Pocus 2 did not live up to the hype that it gave off over the past year. The Sanderson sisters’ backstory fell short. It did not reveal any more about their journey after getting the book. The sisters were also not as evil as in the first movie. In the first movie, they would kill as many kids as possible to remain young and live longer. I was hoping to see a more It-like premise of child-killing after 29 years, but I suppose they could not be bothered to have a little fun with the movie.

I thought the Sanderson sisters would come back eviler and wanting revenge, but they seemed to have come back soft and more comedic than before. The jokes felt super forced in the movie and a few were recycled from the first movie—they were not as funny when they were told the first time in the first movie. The movie was more focused on the sisters’ bond rather than their evil acts.

Along with the lack of evil, Hocus Pocus 2 relied too much on the nostalgia of the first movie. There were too many subplots and not enough time to explore them. In addition to the return of the Sanderson sisters, the movie followed this broken friendship between Becca and Izzy, revealing that Becca is a witch. This left so many questions for me, and I am confused as to why she got powers.

One other question that comes to mind is how the Sanderson sisters knew so many musical numbers if they had been dead for 29 years. There is no explanation as to how they know songs like “One Way or Another.” While these performances from the Sanderson sisters are fun, they are still illogical. If they had taken out all the musical numbers, they could have made more room for some of the sub-plot holes, making the movie stronger and better. But I suppose they were bringing back nostalgia with the performances that originally brought the charm of Hocus Pocus.

Overall, this movie left me disappointed after almost a year of being excited for the release of a sequel to my all-time favorite Halloween movie. The storyline was lacking and contained too many plot holes for my taste. It left me confused and unwilling to rewatch it.

Information barrier: Social media undercuts understanding reality for our generation

By Morgan Ingwersen/Assistant Editor/Sept. 28, 2022

From Instagram and Twitter to Snapchat and TikTok, today’s modern age presents a world that is fixated and dependent on social media. Unfortunately, society’s reliance on these platforms has infiltrated the barriers of how we think and form opinions.

Before the era of social media, we often received our information from traditional sources–newspapers, magazines, television news and radio shows. Whether the topic was political, social or economic, the flow of information was trusted, consistent and reliable (for the most part anyway).

It is not to say that social media has not provided convenience. The existence and creation of social media has allowed for an increase in accessibility to information around the world. The timeliness and simplicity of having everything at our fingertips is undoubtedly alluring.
Social media allows us to crowdsource our news from different sources, both professional and personal. As a result, trustworthiness and accuracy of information are both sacrificed, often leading us to skewed information or false news.

As a student, I find myself witnessing this pattern daily. From inaccurate disputes regarding the 2020 presidential election to biased and one-sided information on international crises, opinions are constantly being distorted and misguided by the falsities presented on social media.
Social media platforms have become so deeply ingrained in our lives that we often do not recognize the influence it has over our opinions.

It is not only news that tends to be distorted within social media. I have seen, through Instagram, the unrealistic body types that are posted by celebrities. Unrealistic body types are highly edited, either by themselves or by professional photographers.

These distortions can lead to several negative effects. After doing extensive research last semester covering my senior thesis, I have found that distortions on social media can lead to body dysmorphia, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and so much more.

Something needs to be done regarding the distortion of social media. I find it necessary to turn away from this unreliable allure of social media. Our generation needs more holistic and multi-perspective information, and social media will not get us there. It will not be the means used to form original opinions and ideas that will lead us to success.

Student journalism deserves our support and respect

Staff Editorial/Sept. 13, 2022

This year, we’ve made some changes to the Times. Nothing earth-shattering, but you have no doubt noticed that the paper is smaller this year—that’s because we’ve switched from broadsheet format to a tabloid. One reason for this shift is that we’ve been working on being more active in our internet site, and you can expect to see a lot more stories posted there before the print issue comes out. 

Campus papers are an important part of the collegiate experience. The Times is entirely student-operated, which means the opinions expressed are authentically students’. Why does this matter? Without a student newspaper, student voices are muted. The issues that are important to you may not be made public otherwise. 

Campus newspapers also serve as a place to train future journalists and citizens, sharing the responsibility of keeping the public informed about the events around them while keeping those in power accountable. It can enact change, spur conversations between professors and students and spread awareness.  

We’ve discussed tuition hikes, mental health, art censorship and more. This begs the question: what’s important to you? What would you like to see addressed? We welcome comments and letters to the editor. Without your input, we won’t know what matters to you or what you would like to see addressed.  

Student journalism deserves our support and encouragement now more than ever. In an age of social media disinformation, accurate reporting and critical thinking are more important than ever. And the Times is only as strong as you, the larger you, all of you, choose to make it. 

If you’ve read this far, thanks. You’re part of the Times, too. If you answer a reporter’s questions, thank you also. Most of all, the entire MMU community and our editorial staff owe a debt to the students whose bylines appear on these pages. And you, regardless of your major or level in school, are welcome to join us and add your input to an authentic student news source. 

Don’t worry darling; it’s OK to enjoy celebrity drama

By Jenna Welty/Opinion Editor/Sept. 13, 2022

Many people say they do not like drama or gossip. However, when it comes to celebrities, they are all over it. The upcoming film “Don’t Worry Darling” is currently stirring the drama pot within the realm of fame, but how is this important in our lives as “normal people?”  

For some quick context, the production stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine. It formerly starred Shia LaBeouf and is directed by Olivia Wilde. Each of them plays some role in the alleged drama. From rumored romance between certain actors and the director to supposed firings and a dismissed spitting on, scandalous tales keep brewing as the movie’s Sept. 23 release date approaches. 

While all of this seems very exciting, there are questions about what value it brings to us. Is caring more about people and what goes on in their lives just because they exist in the public eye beneficial?  

I feel as though it brings a distraction to our everyday lives and perhaps even our own issues. Many express how celebrity gossip is fake, nonsensical, or irrelevant, but it can be fun to share in a mystery of rumors that don’t harm others or affect you personally.  

Enjoying rumors feels ingrained into our society, as well as pretending not to care about them. However, when we are so far removed from them, it seems like a better option than perpetuating gossip within our closer circles. 

It is completely valid to not care about Harry Styles as long as we do not spread hate based on speculation. Reveling in the drama adds to the entertainment before the film, which might not be as compelling as we thought, as it received a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

No matter the gossip, our favorite or least favorite stars should be respected when the truth behind the information is uncertain.  

Has it all been a publicity stunt? Does it matter if it was? Regardless, I will certainly be catching the film when it arrives in theaters to evaluate my own thoughts on its entertainment value and any more drama that is conjured. 

Rush to Remove Pandemic Precautions

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, but you wouldn’t know that based on how many politicians are shaking up pandemic precautions. 

On Monday, Feb. 21, major pandemic news poured in from England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England plans to end all legal COVID-19 restrictions. This announcement followed just hours after the world learned that Queen Elizabeth tested positive for the virus. 

In the United States, some politicians are handling things much the way Boris Johnson is. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has never been keen on COVID-19 restrictions, and thus Iowa is currently without a statewide mask mandate. In early February, neighboring Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzker unveiled a plan to dial down COVID-19 restrictions in the coming weeks. 

Other governors are making similar announcements. According to the Chicago Tribune, the governors of Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Oregon have laid out plans to adjust mask requirements in schools over the next couple months. Additionally, California will stop mandating masks for fully vaccinated individuals. 

Politicians are certainly correct in the fact that COVID-19 cases are on the decline, but now seems too early to start adjusting restrictions. According to the New York Times, the United States’ COVID-19 numbers have declined 80 percent since they peaked in January, but national numbers of new cases are still topping 100,000 per day. That’s not exactly a minuscule number. 

It’s also worth mentioning that more than 2,000 Americans a day are dying due to COVID-19. There was a time in this pandemic where that many deaths a day was unfathomable. 

Has any policymaker stopped to consider that the restrictions are the reason that cases are on the decline? If we remove all precautions with reckless abandon, aren’t we taking a gamble that cases could go on the rise again, and we’d be right back where we started? 

On Friday, Feb. 28, Mount Mercy announced via an email from Nate Klein that the university is changing its mask mandate. Klein’s email said that beginning March 1, masks will only be required in classroom settings. This means that people in common areas and nonacademic settings on campus no longer need to wear masks. The email also says that the campus intends to remove the classroom mask mandate by the end of the semester. 

Times urges the university to return the mask mandate to how it was before. It is important to make health and safety of our campus community a priority. Mount Mercy is also well-known as one of the region’s top nursing and health sciences schools; it seems appropriate that a place known for such programs would put health and safety above all else. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry in the time of a pandemic?  

Next Media Move: Audio

By Gwen Johnson/opinion editor/March 3, 2022

A weird quirk of coincidence has gotten me thinking. 

A couple weeks ago, there was the awards ceremony for the Iowa College Media Association.  This is a little bit like the Oscars for student publications that are part of said association. Categories include things like Best Headline Writing and Best Investigative Reporting, but also various and sundry Bests for different non-print formats like television and radio or podcasting. 

A couple weeks ago was also the time that I had to choose a research project for a class, and it had to have a media-related topic. 

I chose to combine my innate competitiveness with the knowledge that there are currently five people enrolled in introductory journalism classes, a fact that does not bode well for the publication you are currently reading. 

My idea was to research whether the inclusion of non-print media in journalism programs was related at all to student involvement. While the project is in process, I thought I would speculate a bit. 

College students tend to be on the go, from personal experience, and based on what I’ve seen, less likely to pick up a print publication than a digital one. 

According to the timeline on the wall nsext to Student Services, the university at one point had a radio station. 

Can you see where this going? 

Radio stations require a lot of money to maintain, but there is a more modern invention with a much more reasonable barrier to entry: podcasting. 

The university already has some of the required equipment, but the endeavor depends on student interest. I am certainly interested in the idea— I think it might engage more Mustangs in student journalism, and it would definitely allow the Times to compete in more categories at ICMA— but I am also graduating soon. 

I believe we as a campus need to engage more with student journalism and better recognize its value. Podcasting might help us reach a wider audience in the digital age, but first we need the work and accomplishments of student media to be acknowledged to get people interested in the first place. 

Black is Not a Bad Word; Take Time to Celebrate it

By Jada Veasey/editor in chief/March 3, 2022

It’s Black History Month. Well, it was when I was writing this column, anyway. By the time this issue hits newsstands it will be March, but you’ll have to forgive me for not being able to make the calendar bend to my will. 

In celebration of Black History Month, I thought I’d impart a little wisdom — telling Black people you’re “colorblind” is not the super woke win you think it is. 

This teachable moment is brought to you by the Winter Olympic Games. The Olympics started on Feb. 4 and wrapped up on Feb. 20. If you didn’t keep up with bobsledding at the games this year, you probably don’t know that American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor made some major Olympic history. Meyers Taylor just became the first Black Winter Olympian to win five career Olympic medals. 

After achieving that awesome feat, Meyers Taylor was excited. “It’s so crazy to hear that stat and to know that I’m part of a legacy that’s bigger than me,” she said, according to CNN. “Hopefully it just encourages more and more black athletes to come out to winter sports and not just Black athletes, winter sports for everybody.” 

As I scrolled through the comments on the official Team USA Facebook post, celebrating Meyers Taylor’s achievement, some of the responses really started to get on my nerves. Tons of people were commenting things like “who cares if she’s Black, just celebrate the achievement!” and “I don’t see color, just an awesome athlete.” 

Not seeing color doesn’t help anyone, especially the person of color. To ignore a person of color’s skin color and ethnicity is to ignore our lived experiences. It’s an insult, and it harms far more than it helps. 

I would go so far as to say that being color blind is not only unhelpful to people of color but, is actually counterproductive. Intentionally ignoring someone’s lived experiences as a person of color is an attempt to erase those experiences. Additionally, not recognizing the experiences of a person of color can help to perpetuate racism. If no non-Black people recognize a Black person’s Blackness, how can that Black person achieve equality? Step one to making society more equal for everyone means that first we have to recognize that it isn’t equal yet.  

So yes, we should be able to celebrate Elana Meyers Taylor’s historic new record. Her Blackness isn’t something to be ignored or overlooked; it is something to be celebrated.  

Banning Books Does Nothing but Stop Students Learning

Across the country, school districts and government officials are talking about books that are considered obscene and offensive and are pulling them from shelves. The books in question involve topics like race, gender, and sexuality.

While these books could be graphic and unsettling for some people to read, does that constitute them being pulled from shelves and hindering other students having the opportunity to read them? Many best-selling novels such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The 1619 Project” are among those being banned. Authors like Laurie Halse Anderson and Toni Morrison are having their books called into question.

Pulling books off shelves in libraries and not giving students the option to pick up these books that were taught for so many years would be an injustice. The books provide important information that is important for students.

This topic is a nationwide issue and is also being discussed in Iowa. Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing a bill for school districts to publish their curriculum and the list of book titles in school libraries. The book “All Boys Aren’t Blue” is especially in question, as some people believe the detail is graphic and inappropriate for K-12 students. The book was written to help readers understand what a young queer boy growing up went through. Sure, the content may be directed towards older children, but banning the book and censoring the content from all students is not helping them learn the struggles of people who may be different them, or on the flip side it is censoring students who may be experiencing a similar situation.

Banning books seems to be a way for schools and parents to monitor what their children are being exposed to, but it is also preventing learning for students. Not all students read to learn, some read for enjoyment, and some read to feel less alone if they are struggling with certain areas of their life. If students want to read about gender, race, or sexuality it should be up to them to decide, or to talk with an adult to see if the book will be appropriate. Not to mention, children today have full access anywhere they go to the internet and apps like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. The obscenity in books seems to be minor compared to what a single search on the internet can do.

Banning books and taking the opportunity away from students who want to learn about the more difficult areas of life will not help them, it will only prevent them from learning about the different people in the world around them.

State Laws Don’t Really Stop Voters

By Jack Sperry/staff writer/Feb. 17, 2022

Over the last year, 19 state legislatures, including four with democratic governors and two with democratic state legislatures, have passed what they call “election integrity” legislation following the highly contested results of the 2020 election. Although there has been no proof indicating that mass voter fraud determined the result of the 2020 election, these measures have been put in place to “increase the integrity and the public trust in our elections.”

In response, democratic lawmakers and even President Biden have publicly stated that these laws are an attempt by Republicans to actively suppress the vote, with a “special focus” on suppressing the vote of people of color, young people, and the disabled, all of which are groups more likely to vote Democrat. As a countermeasure to what President Biden himself called “Jim Crow on steroids”, federal democrats whipped up HR.1, otherwise known as the “For the People Act,” to “protect the American people’s fundamental right to vote.”

Upon reviewing the documents, hyperbolic does not even begin to describe the disingenuous nature of the claim that the state legislation in question “restricts the right to vote.” Legislation labeled as “restrictive” by the Brennan Center for Justice report cited by federal Democrats included widely popular measures such as voter ID requirements, eliminating same-day voter registration at the polls which contributes to long lines, and outlawing unethical practices such as ballot harvesting and electioneering. In my estimation, none of the legislation mentioned in this report restricts any American’s right to vote, and to say it does requires a very low bar for what categorizes as “restrictive.”

Upon reviewing HR.1, what I saw was a proposal to federalize U.S. voting law and ban any states from enacting legislation that asks for any kind of verification from the one casting their ballot. If passed, voter ID requirements, which are supported by 87% of Americans, 72% of registered Democrats,and 75% of black and brown Americans according to a Harvard Harris poll conducted in June 2020, would be made illegal. The bill would also require every state to provide a mail-in ballot to whoever applies for one and given that voter ID laws would be outlawed nationwide, that would provide opportunities to those with fraudulent intentions.

HR.1 also preventsany state from outlawing ballot harvesting. Ballot harvesting is the practice of collecting other people’s ballots to turn into their polling office. The problem with this is that political operatives who engage in this have the potential to tamper with or dispose of other people’s ballots, and both Republican and Democratic collectors have been caught tampering or disposing of ballots in recent elections.

Not only is HR.1 an attempt to federalize voting law which is dangerous because it could give those in power the ability to change election law in their favor, but it is also an attempt to make it more difficult to verify the validity of future elections by preventing the practice of verifying the identities of those who vote in said elections.

After reviewing all the documents regarding this issue, I do not think there is any reason to believe that the legislation passed in these states will have any effect in suppressing anyone’s right to vote, and by no means is HR.1 or any federal voting legislation necessary to secure that right to our citizens. If Democrats take heavy losses in the 2022 midterms, it’s a very real possibility that they will claim the elections were illegitimately won by means of mass voter suppression, but at the end of the day, those claims would be just as baseless as the ones Republicans made in 2020.

Keep Wordle Free for all to Play

By Jada Veasey/editor in chief/Feb. 17, 2022

It’s February, and love is in the air. These days, my heart belongs to the increasingly addictive game Wordle (absolutely no offense to my lovely boyfriend, of course. You’re pretty cool too.) I started playing Wordle in mid-January at the behest of my trendsetting little sister, who was playing the game far before it cropped up on my radar.

For the uninitiated, Wordle is an online spelling game that first emerged on the internet in the fall 2021. The game gives the player six chances to guess a five-letter word. With each guess, the game keeps track of how many letters are correct with a sort of stoplight system –a green box indicates a letter is correct and in the right spot, a yellow box indicates that the letter belongs in the word but is in the wrong spot, and a black box indicates that the letter is incorrect. One of the fun quirks of Wordle is that you can only play it once a day.

Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer who wanted to make a new word game for his partner. The name is a clever pun of Wardle’s last name. After introducing the game to family and friends initially, Wardle launched the game to the public, and it has recently become a smash hit.

The clever little word game has become a daily ritual for me and for many other people in my life. I have a text group chat with my sister and our best friend from high school, and every day without fail we share our Wordle results. It is the most connected I have felt to them in a while. Wordle has given us something to share. It’s joy in five letters–“happy,” if you will!

On Jan. 31, big Wordle news broke –the New York Times bought the game. While the Times has said it will keep the game free to play for now, there’s no guaranteethat price will remain that way in the future. While I am a New York Times digital subscriber, its basic subscription does not cover any of the online games it currently boasts. I fear that in the future that means that Wordle will sit behind not one but two paywalls.

This might sound cheesy, but Wordle should stay free because it brings people together in a time when we all feel more apart than ever. The game allows you to share results on social media or send them to friends, it makes your brain think a little extra, and it is so much fun.

In the spirit of uniting humanity (or at least those of us who like word games), I urge the New York Times to keep Wordle free and accessible to all. The New York Times already has enough of its content behind paywalls. Let the people have one little word game.

The Best Time to Wear a Cropped Sweater is Never

By Gwen Johnson/opinion editor/Feb. 17, 2022

I take issue with the cropped sweater. This complaint comes to you in two parts, with part one being that it is an entirely impractical style of clothing for the reality of Iowa winter. It is important to note that as I am writing this, I am wearing a cropped sweater, which only serves to fuel my rage.

This garment barely allows for anything past your rib cage to be warm, and certainly not with one’s arms raised overhead, as one might win raising their hand to answer a question. The particular sweater that I am wearing also has sleeves that are about 2 1/2 inches too long, running past my fingertips in some weird inversion of the high school dress code.

I will give the cropped sweater credit in that the silhouette is cute, but it is not practical for Iowa winter weather. I don’t even have to go outside to get to class due to tunnel infrastructure, and even then I am cold. I will grant you, dear reader, that I am a naturally cold person, but the point of the sweater is to be cozy.

We will segue into the second prong of the problem via methods of achieving a similar look.

There are many other ways of simulating this silhouette using a regular length sweater, though it may need to be one made of a thinner material. You can tuck it in to whatever else you’re wearing, or else fold it up inside itself to raise the hem. This method is also more environmentally conscious, as I suspect cropped sweaters won’t stay fashionable forever.

Modern trend cycles change way too often for these sweaters to be considered a reliable staple, and we need to be mindful of fast fashion’s impact on the environment. I would say I hate to make everything about the environment and the state of the planet, but it honestly helps to remember that we are a part of the planet’s environment, and our habits have a very noticeable effect on it.

I actually came to this conclusion about my own clothes while writing this.

Even though the sweater I’m wearing was bought secondhand, I still feel kind of bad about purchasing it considering how much I don’t like wearing it. It’s cute and I get plenty of compliments, but I’m freezing cold, inconvenienced by the length of the sleeves, and just generally having not a good time. Every time I wash it, I hang it back up and then wait long enough to forget how much I dislike the wearing experience, only to put it back on and have it all come rushing back.

So, this is a reminder, I guess, to me as well as you, that clothes are resources that should be purchased with thought and care. Even clothes bought secondhand have the carbon impact of shipping behind them though they come without the planetary cost of creating new materials.

Fashion trends don’t last forever, but we should try to make the clothes we have be as effective as possible for as long as possible—they last something near to forever when they get thrown in a landfill.

New Year means new goals for MMU

Staff editorial/Jan. 24, 2022

The Times staff has decided to put together a list of resolutions for the January web update. These resolutions cover everything from student life to campus culture. Presented in no particular order, here are our New Year’s resolutions for the Hill we call home.

We would like the strategic plan to support the arts and make use of the Macaulay theater. Bring music back to the Hill! Maybe even bring back drama club! The possibilities are endless. The university should be as committed to the arts as it is to athletics.

We think it is important to campus to invest in IT professionals and campus technology. As an academic institution, Mount Mercy should be on the forefront of technological support. Students and faculty all have many technological needs, and the IT department deserves enough staff to support those needs.

Mount Mercy should expand the fall faculty series to include more lectures. The series was longer in its early years but has shrunk in the meantime. We want to hear more perspectives on the interesting topics selected for the series.

We’d like to see more involvement in registered student organizations— including the Times staff. Creating a true college experience relies largely on students being invested in clubs and organizations. Many RSOs are dwindling in membership these days. We challenge students to step up to the plate and get involved.

We have a challenge for professors, too. Professors should be timely with their grading. There’s nothing worse as a student then turning in a bunch of assignments early in the semester and then not even having an idea of your grade until midterm rolls around. Keep grades updated so students know how they’re doing in your classes.

We think Mount mercy should make commencement more of a big deal, once pandemic things are over at least. We should invite a commencement speaker, someone that would get students excited. That tradition once existed at Mount Mercy, why not bring it back?

The Times staff is tired of picking up used disposable masks and Styrofoam coffee cups on the floor as we journey to our office in the library. Students, please clean up after yourselves— don’t commit the crime if you can’t toss the grime!

The coffee shop should be open before 10 a.m. Everyone needs their caffeine before then, especially if they’re expected to be alert and functioning for 8 a.m. classes. We know there are problems persuading students to staff dining services, but in 2022 the university has the ability to incentivize dining employment so we can all get our daily coffee fix.

Finally, Mustangs, treat each other with compassion. Be kind to each other. We all need it.

Finals inspire thoughts of changing the status quo

By Gwen Johnson/opinion editor/Jan. 24, 2022

I ‘ve been thinking— for a weird amount of time considering that they’re over— about finals. Yes, I know thinking back to the end of the fall semester, something seems different in comparison to previous ones.

As finals season was approaching, I got email responses from the professors that said things like, “I’m really busy this time of year and it’s kind of stressful.” If that isn’t the mood of the season, I don’t know what is—but I wasn’t used to hearing it from professors. Same goes for comments like, “we’re all just exhausted.”

The odd thing about hearing this stuff from professors was that my gut instinct response was “well, can’t you just change it?” I mean, they are in charge of the syllabus, and it’s not like those things are set in stone.

I get why professors would be stressed toward the end of the semester like the students. They’ve got grading to catch up on, and massive cumulative exams to write that the rest of us are studying for. But if everyone is stressed out and exhausted then I would think that something needs to change— and students aren’t the ones with the power to set the course work.

I totally understand that if something is a domain course, then certain requirements need to be met, and that all the subject material in any course is only included because the people teaching it think it’s important, but I also think we should allow ourselves to consider that our brains have collectively been through a lot the past few years.

We’re entering our third year of a global pandemic, which takes a toll. We’re all dealing with that on top of regular human life stressors. Many of us have been through the process of switching from in person classes to online, then back again. I, for one, know my sense of time is skewed enough that whole pandemic has kind of blended together. I feel like we need to account for this, that this is another scenario we’re trying to rush into a “back to normal” state and it isn’t really helping.

I’m not suggesting a Harry Potter-style solution where exams are called off because Voldemort is back in town, but there must be a better way than forcing our brains to treat everything the way things were pre-pandemic.

John Deere Strike Reminds Us of the Importance of Unions

By Jada Veasey/editor in chief/Nov. 11, 2021

My hometown is Rock Island, Illinois. It’s one of the four (or five, or six, depending on who you ask) cities that make up the region known as the Quad Cities that straddles the Illinois and Iowa border of the Mississippi River. For many people, the words “Quad Cities” are synonymous with “John Deere.”

John Deere has made national headlines in recent weeks as workers have gone on strike to protest their contracts. The striking workers belong to the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, and they are operators of the machines Deere uses to build its tractors and farm equipment. The strike began on Oct. 14, after the union and Deere failed to negotiate a contract. The contract Deere proposed was rejected, with workers citing unfair work schedules and lack of appropriate wage increase.

The strike is still going on. Union employees at 14 of Deere’s company facilities have been picketing. They are receiving strike pay from the UAW and Deere is sending in scab workers–workers willing to cross a picket line for financial compensation–to construct its machinery.

Whether you agree with the specific demands of the workers or you don’t, you have to admit that the strike is an impressive thing to watch happen in real time. I remember being in high school and reading about the picket lines and looking at grainy black and white photos of workers from the 1800s and early 1900s. It is interesting to see it all go down in my own hometown.

Both of my parents work in public education and work right alongside union teachers. That fact, combined with the fact that I grew up in an area so full of John Deere employees (including, before his retirement, my own grandfather), means that I smile when I pass a yard displaying a sign that reads “proud union home.” I think there is strength in numbers, and that unions really do protect the rights of workers. The strike at John Deere serves as a reminder that unions are still important today, even though there are people who believe they are things of the past.

UAW members working for Deere are far from the only people striking these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified and worsened labor conditions; workers are expected to work longer hours to compensate for reduced staff and are often not compensated appropriately. West Coast members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union have been on strike since Oct. 18. Nurses’ unions across the nation have staged strikes and walkouts to protest unsafe working conditions in recent months.

As the pandemic rages on and life shows no real signs of stopping, workers are discovering that they have power. And I commend them for t

Rotten to the Core: Red Delicious Apples Are a Disgrace

By Annie Barkalow/managing editor/Nov. 11, 2021

There is a pervasive lie in this country that many of us unwittingly perpetuate–a form of false advertisement that we have become accessories to because of our quiet tolerance of it. Grocery stores sell the public this bold-faced lie openly and without shame. Unfortunately, I have seen this transgression on campus in our own cafeteria—an offence glaringly red, yet unobtrusive at the same time.

That’s right—I’m talking about Red Delicious apples.

This joyless pome fruit has been passing itself off as “delicious” for years, despite screaming evidence to the contrary. Tasting like a cross between a Styrofoam cup and sadness, it infiltrates every revered American institution. It shows up in gas station baskets next to bruised bananas, lurks in school cafeterias, plagues hospitals and prisons, speeds along the deaths of residents in nursing homes (I actually don’t know this, but it seems plausible), and occasionally shows up in Halloween treat bags.

I’m sure it’s happened to you as a kid—you ring the doorbell, hold out your bag, give your toothiest grin ever and are rewarded (punished?) with a Red Delicious apple. It’s like getting a tract in your trick-or-treat bag, only worse, because you can throw away a tract without feeling guilty for wasting food. Is it a coincidence that these fruits are offered in places where people are at the mercy of the institution?

I’m not the only one who has questioned the continued existence of the Red Delicious apple. A sanguine headline for the New York Times declared “The Long, Monstrous Reign of the Red Delicious Apple is Ending,” while the HuffPost bluntly explained “This is Why Red Delicious Apples Suck So Hard,” and Vice skipped the niceties altogether and spewed vitriol: “Red Delicious Apples Can Rot in Hell.”

A family friend enthusiastically asserted that Red Delicious apples picked from an orchard were pretty decent. I was skeptical until my daughter came home from a lark to the local orchard and brought some home with her, and…they actually weren’t that bad. I was kind of disappointed in being wrong. My gag reflex stayed gagged. So what gives with the commercial apples? To quote the HuffPost, why do they “suck so hard?” And why do we export billions each year?

To better understand the present-day Red Delicious, it’s helpful to take a step back in time to its roots. In the 1870s, a farmer named Jesse Hiatt discovered a rogue tree growing in his orchard in Peru, Iowa (yes, our state has the wonderful distinction of being the birthplace of the Red Atrocity). After several unsuccessful attempts to cut it down, he let it grow, and discovered red apples streaked with gold. He sent some samples to a contest held by the Stark Brother’s nursery. When C.M. Stark bit into it, he said “My, that’s delicious.” And thus it got its name.

Over time, the apple was cross-bred to get its attractive, red color, and cross-bred again for its tough skin, which helped prevent bruising and increased shelf life, and once more cross-bred to retain the dimpled bottom that made it easy to stack and transport, and so it went. Along the way, looks took precedence over taste, and the unfortunate grocer experiment produced a pretty, but crappy apple. To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

So, there you have it. The Red Delicious apple’s long evolution to notoriety started innocently enough. With its long shelf life and cheap exportation, it’s the go-to apple for places that need fresh fruit but also need to stay on a budget. The apple left over from Halloween that’s still on your counter doesn’t need to go to waste—Christmas is coming up, and I hear Red Delicious Apples make great ornaments on holiday wreathes.

More Than Physical

By Times Staff/Nov. 11, 2021

On Sept. 11, 22-year-old Gabby Petito went missing while on a cross-country road trip with her fiancée, Brian Laundrie. When he returned home without her, suspicions were raised. Weeks later, Petito’s body was found at a remote campground, and Laundrie disappeared.

A month before Petito disappeared, a witness called 911 after seeing a physical altercation between Petito and Laundrie. The caller had driven past the pair and told the operator that “the gentleman was slapping the girl.”

“Then we stopped,” the caller added, “they ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off.”

Petito’s case is not isolated.

Hundreds of women go missing or are murdered each year, but do not receive the same coverage in the media. Most of these cases stem from intimate partner abuse.

One in four women are victims of abuse and of these, college-aged women (between 18-24 years of age) have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. Intimate partner abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other.

Being a Catholic university that espouses the Sisters of Mercy critical concerns, we’d like to think Mount Mercy only attracts individuals who are like-minded in their treatment of others, particularly those closest to them. The sad truth is that abuse is sneaky and is found everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic status, religion, or education.

According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the age bracket in which most abuse occurs encompasses our entire campus.

How can you tell if abuse is occurring? Maybe you have a friend who gets nervous hanging out with mixed genders without their boyfriend because their boyfriend is “the jealous type.” While a little jealousy can be normal in romantic relationships, hearing this phrase warrants a pause and some reflection.

Many people think the usual sign of abuse is bruising. But did you know there is a form of abuse just as prevalent, but not as visual?

A common misconception of abuse is that it is strictly physical. Verbal and emotional abuse are just as toxic, and because they do not leave physical marks, they are trickier to conceptualize. Here are some signs of emotional abuse:

-The abuser is manipulative and dismissive. Uses guilt trips, withdraws affection, ignores/excludes, makes you doubt yourself when you’ve done something they don’t like, makes fun of your achievements and dreams, says you are “too sensitive” or are “over-reacting” when you confront them.

-The abuser is hyper-critical or judgmental. Humiliates or puts you down in front of others under the guise of “just kidding,” uses sarcasm or jokes to make you feel bad about yourself, has an opinion on most things you do,gets upset if you don’t agree with them.

-The abuser is possessive/controlling. Separates you from family or friends under false pretenses–says your friends are “a bad influence” or “they don’t understand you like I do.” Gets upset and “punishes” you for wanting to hang out without them. Monitors what you do/where you go, constantly texts to check up on you, blocks exits so you cannot leave, uses blackmail to maintain control, is extremely jealous, controls finances to keep you dependent on them, threatens to hurt themselves if you break up.

-The abuser calls names, is patronizing, uses condescending “pet names,” regularly explodes in anger or screams at you.νThe abuser does not take responsibility for actions. How they act is always someone else’s fault (e.g., “you made me mad”).

-The abuser crosses boundaries. Invades privacy and checks your texts and social media without permission.

Sometimes what makes abuse confusing to recognize is the behavior of the abuser following an incident. The abuser may show remorse for what they have done—cry, say things like, “I never meant to hurt you,” or “I won’t do it again.” The abuser may “love-bomb” their significant other with affection or gifts, casting doubt on the situation and causing the victim to question themselves, i.e., “maybe it’s my fault,” “I’m being too hard on them,” “they’re just having a bad day,” “they can’t help it,”or “they’re just young and immature, they’ll grow out of it.”

Relationships are sticky and when we’re close to someone, sometimes we don’t see things as they really are. It’s helpful to have an outsider’s perspective, which means keeping family or friends close. And if you think your friend may be a victim of abuse, don’t stay silent. Emotional scars are harder to see, but they’re there.

If you think you may be a victim of intimate partner abuse, call Waypoint’s domestic violence crisis line at 1-800-208-0388.

Mount Mercy Needs More Dedicated Space for the Arts

By Bri Ostwinkle/web editor/Oct. 28, 2021

Music and the Arts are something that I feel never receive the recognition it deserves. 

As a student majoring in the arts and participating in music at the university, I feel more and more as though the arts are placed on a back burner.  

My whole life, I grew up in a smaller community where athletes were praised for the work they do and facilities were always built around athletics because that was always what brought in money for the schools. 

After leaving such a small community and attending an (albeit small) college, I thought there would be more recognition for those involved in the arts.  

The one thing I have noticed the most, especially in my classes, is that the classrooms, offices, and studio spaces for students are not built or even treated the same as those who study other subjects. 

Art students on Mount Mercy’s campus are shoved in the top two floors of Warde hall and given very little space to present their work. The art gallery on campus has limited space and is barely large enough to hold one show, let alone multiple shows at once for students who present their thesis in a group show.  

Warde is a beautiful building but it was not built to hold large studio space classrooms. Although the art department does not have many students, there is no room for the department to grow and it is not an impressive space for perspective students. 

Students in music have the same issues. I am a student in the university band and have been for the past three years. The lack of facility space is not exclusive to the band, but includes the university choir and show choir as well. 

When I first joined the music department it had a good number of students but was still relatively small, consisting of 148 students, including university choir and show choir. This year that number has reached 190 students.  

The music department is expected to share McAuley Auditorium, which is fine for now when it comes to rehearsal, but what the auditorium lacks is proper storage and privacy. It was not built for music but for theater.  

Band students who play larger instruments are allowed to leave their horns in the back of the stage, which works. However, it is not a secure way of storing expensive equipment because it runs the risk of damaged or stolen property.  

The music department has started to hold their concerts at Cedar Rapids Prairie High School because there is more seating for family and friends to support them. Prairie High School’s performance center was built to accommodate music.  

Mount Mercy does not have the space for the department to grow and does not currently have a place suitable for either music or the arts in general, for lack of money. Conversely, it seems as though there is always room in the budget for athletics to enhance their facilities in order to improve their athletes, but there is nowhere for students showcase their talents in the arts. 

Political Harmony is Necessary and Attainable

By Jack Sperry/staff writer/Oct. 28, 2021

Although it may seem crazy today, America was once a place where it was common for people to be civil with and even close friends with those who disagreed with them politically. Fast forward to 2021, and that kind of mutual respect and civility has been replaced by anger, resentment, and hatred for anyone who dares to challenge one’s political beliefs. The political landscape in America is deteriorating before our very eyes, so here is how we restore it. 

The first thing we must understand if we are to bring political harmony back to the U.S is why the political left and the political right exist in the first place. For those on the right, it is important to realize and appreciate that the American political left acts as a voice for change, and that their function is to bring about new ideas that could help society at large. For those on the left, it is important to realize and appreciate that the American political right acts as a voice for those who came before because change is not always in society’s best interest, and their function is to inform the public why a current policy is good and why changing it would be bad for society at large.  

Each side exists to check and balance the other; if the left goes unchecked, they may throw out good ideas and replace them with bad ones, and if the right goes unchecked, society might never evolve and get better over time. Although we all fall more on one side than the other, understanding and appreciating the importance of “the other side” cannot be overstated.  

The second thing we must grasp if we are to find political harmony in this country is that we must accept the doctrine of attacking ideas instead of attacking people. There is way too much name-calling and mischaracterization of views in the political discourse today, and all that shows is our inability to fully understand the views of the other side. As responsible political actors it is imperative that we understand why people believe what they do, even if we disagree with their conclusions, because if we fail to understand what the other side is proposing, we have no shot at accurately refuting their claims in a substantive manner; we would be forced to resort to either ad hominem attacks or utilizing strawmen to make our opponents look evil, stupid, or both.  

When we commit to making substantive arguments, it sharpens our understanding of the issue and when the other side presents a substantive counterargument, it allows people to test how their views hold up in the marketplace of ideas and only in that kind of environment can minds truly be swayed towards the truth.  

As college students, we are this country’s political present as well as its future, and if we want something more than the name-calling and division that currently plagues our political landscape, we have to be able to respect and appreciate the other side of the political aisle and fully understand each other’s arguments so that we can focus on attacking ideas rather than attacking people. If we can do those things, we have a chance of returning to a place of civility and harmony in which we see our fellow Americans as a whole rather than the sum of their political beliefs.  

Freshman Finds Peace Spending Time With God

By Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/Oct. 28, 2021

Fall break was a good time for me to take a step back from my busy life. It was a time to think about how I was balancing my spiritual health along with the many other things that college students think about. In what ways can Mount Mercy nourish our spiritual lives? How can we live out our faith here on the Hill? 

Owen Gaul, a freshman Math Education major, has found ways that he can live out his faith while pursuing his academic goals. Gaul said that the biggest rewards of practicing his faith are comfort, peace, and consistency. “It keeps me grounded, on track, and focused on what’s important. It puts me in the right mindset to stay motivated in academics.” He noted that peace was something he looked for during prayer. Gaul likes to visit the Chapel after typical business hours. “It can be very peaceful at night.” Peace is a stillness, a quiet, and a calm assurance that guards our decision making. Peace is the fruit of trusting in God. 

In the Gospels, we can see Jesus using peace as a greeting to others. Peace is found all throughout Scripture. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” according to Philippians 4:6-7. The words that Saint Paul uses here are thought provoking. The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. As humans, we make decisions using our hearts and minds, so peace becomes the guardian of our decision making. 

Peace is needed today. It takes just one look at the news, social media, or a mention of a “hot topic” to trigger emotions and passions. These come from the heart. When ordered correctly, they can be good things. We need peace to help us make wise decisions because it connects our hearts and minds. It gives us the assistance to avoid rash choices.  

The upkeep of our spiritual life is central in finding this peace. Gaul’s advice to others is to get involved in the faith opportunities that are present on campus. He takes part in prayer groups, NAVs, Emmaus, and Sunday Mass. He recommends getting in touch with our campus minister Michael Beard or one of the residential peer ministers.  

I also encourage you to reflect on the ways that you are nurturing your spiritual life. Maybe you have not thought much about it, or maybe you are looking for ways to go deeper. No matter where you are at, pursue ways that you can obtain the peace that surpasses all understanding. 

Face to Face Job Fairs are an Important Element of College

Editorial Staff/Oct. 28, 2021

It is abundantly obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on college life around the globe. Undergraduate students especially are still feeling the impact of the pandemic surrounding typical college social opportunities. Those of us here on the Hill have certainly been affected by the rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The traditional college experience at Mount Mercy was seriously shaken up by the pandemic. In the spring semester of 2020, students were sent home from campus and carried out the remainder of the school year online, completing classes via Zoom and utilizing other technological tools. Then last school year, though students were back on campus, classes were largely online, and typical campus traditions were painfully absent. 

While many campus traditions, including October’s homecoming celebration, have been making an in-person comeback this year, it feels like something is missing on campus. Job fairs have yet to return to Mount Mercy in their typical format in person in the University Center. 

Several in-person job fairs were slated to occur this fall semester, but in recent weeks all have been cancelled entirely or moved to online formats.  

College is about elevating yourself to reach higher job opportunities. It seems a bit strange that in-person job fairs have not been prioritized as on-campus events but many other collegiate events, like concerts, are once again occurring in person. It is also worth noting that an in-person volunteer fair recently took place in the University Center, an event quite similar to a job fair. 

Ideally, it would be nice to have a mix of both online and in-person job fair opportunities for students to pursue. Those who want to make face-to-face connections should have the opportunity to do so if the university is allowing other events to occur in person. 

We also hope local employers see the value of coming to campus. Getting your name out to undergraduates in a face-to-face setting is a great way to recruit for any organization. 

Highly Awaited Sequel Represents What Dystopian Fiction Should Be

By Jada Veasey/Editor in Chief/Oct. 28, 2021

I wish I could read books as quickly as they come out, but alas, sometimes I have to do my homework instead of reading for fun. Nursing school is seriously interfering with the timeliness of my book reviews, but I felt that Ernest Cline’s 2020 sci-fi novel“Ready Player Two” warranted a severely delayed feature.

“Ready Player Two” is the sequel to the beloved and critically successful “Ready Player One,”which came out back in 2011. The first book in the series was adapted into a film directed by Steven Spielberg in 2018. The books and the movie have amassed a significant fanbase in the meantime.

The backdrop for both of Cline’s novels is the dystopian future. The events of the first novel take place in 2045, and the events of the second one occurs three years later. The world of these novels is incredibly bleak –Earth is severely overpopulated, many people are starving, and everyone lives out the majority of their days in an online virtual reality called the Oasis.

In “Ready Player Two,” the protagonist of the series, Wade, has inherited the company that owns and controls the Oasis. In the first novel he won control of the company by winning a super complex contest online, in which he had to solve a series of 1980’s themed video game riddles and challenges. Cline’s crazy contest ideas continued into the second novel, as Wade is once again forced to solve incredibly niche 1980’s themed puzzles to save the world from total destruction.

Cline has a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the 1980’s, and it shows within his novels. Fans of John Hughes movies and Prince’s music would especially get a kick out of “Ready Player Two,” as some of the puzzles in the book revolve less around straight up video games and more around 1980’s pop culture as a whole.

Though the nods to the 1980’s make for a fun read, “Ready Player Two” is also somewhat depressing and incredibly self-aware. The novel touches on issues like climate change, world hunger and warfare, all within the context of a highly technological not-so-far-off future. In terms of dystopian world building, Cline’s novels are among the best I have ever read.

I highly recommend “Ready Player One” and its newer sequel “Ready Player Two” to anyone with an interest in dystopian fiction or anyone who loves 1980’s pop culture. I give “Ready Player Two” four-and-a half out of five stars.

Story of Tobit Show How Angels Can Aid Us

By Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/Sept. 30

The Bible is filled with stories of and references to angels. For example, we read about the archangel Raphael in the book ofTobit in the Bible. Tobit was a faithful Israelite and served his community. He would feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bury the dead. He courageously performed these works of mercy even when faced with opposition.

Here on the Hill, service is a vital part of our Catholic Mercy charism. We can relate to Tobit’s experience of serving others. As the story of Tobit continues, he becomes blind and prays for deliverance from this suffering.

The scene then switches to Sarah, the daughter of Tobit’s relative. She is also asking for deliverance from suffering. She has been married seven times, and each time her husbands died soon after the marriage. Tobit 3:16-17 says, “At that very time, the prayer of both of them was heard in the glorious presence of God. So, Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the white scales from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see with his own eyes God’s light; and to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, as a wife to Tobiah, the son of Tobit, and to rid her of the wicked demon (who was killing her husbands).”

Raphael becomes a guide for Tobit’s son, Tobiah. Raphael and Tobiah journey to pick up a payment that was due to his father. They travel to the town where Sarah lives. Tobiah asks for permission to marry her. After the marriage, everyone is afraid that Tobiah will die like the others. Here, again, the archangel Raphael is a protector and Tobiah survives. They all return to Tobiah’s parents. Tobit rejoices that they are alive. Tobiah follows Raphael’s instructions and Tobit is cured of his blindness.

The story closes as Raphael reveals his true identity. Imagine what that was like. When an angel appears in the Bible, the first thing that they say is “Do not be afraid.” Their visible presence is often more than a human can comprehend, hence the initial fear. It was the same for Tobit and the others. Raphael explained to them that God sent him as an answer to their prayers. He shows us that angels serve God, and they also are sent to help us as well.

God never leaves us stranded. Like Tobit and Sarah, we are called to be faithful even amidst hardship. God used Tobit’s and Sarah’s suffering to unite the families through marriage. God may not send me an angel, but He does not leave me stranded.

One of God’s gifts to us is an angel companion called a guardian angel. More than an angel that just sits on your shoulder, they are here to guard us from evil and serve as a guide in our spiritual lives. Rejoice in the knowledge that God’s love is so complete that He gives you an angel to guard you in all of your ways.

New McQuiston Novel a Time-Travel Romance

By Gwen Johnson/Opinion Editor/Sept. 30

I read “One Last Stop” in a single day. According to my reading log—because I’m the sort of person who has one of those—I read it in four chunks, ending at approximately 3:30 a.m. I didn’t even realize how much time had passed.

Casey McQuiston’s new romance novel involves some light magical realism in the form of some time-based weirdness on a subway line. It features August Landry, a bisexual college student with a knack for fact-finding, as she navigates finding friends and a future in New York. Along the way, she gains a group of eclectic roommates, a job at a historic House of Pancakes, and the attention of an attractive stranger who always happens to ride the Q train at the same time.

This book has a beautiful cover designed by Kerri Resnick and illustrated by Monique Aimee, and is a great warm weather, sunny day kind of read. (I’m avoiding saying “summer,” because I think if you wanted that kind of energy in the dead of winter, this book could bring it). The story spansfrom spring to fall, but in a way that keeps a nice pace. It’s a bit late to make a play on words about August, timing wise, but August is on so many levels pivotal to the story—as a time, a person, and a place.

The book is set in 2020, a fact that is only mentioned once and rather lightly, and only really to orient the characters in history relative to the 70s, as opposed to dealing with anything that actually happened in 2020. I, for one, was grateful for this, because if I’m going to be reading a fun escapist in novel, it’s going to be for the fun escapism. I suppose you might even be able to consider that part of the time weirdness, to have a pandemic-less 2020, though I don’t think it was intentional. This is fiction, and a widespread disease pandemic wouldn’t serve the plot—so it’s not there.

“One Last Stop” being a time travel romance allows it to do some interesting things with history. That is, it allows characters to discuss LGBTQ+ history through time and the cultural differences that have developed even just within New York between the two relevant time periods. The reader is able to have a fun summer romance with its twists, turns, and tragic moments, and to develop a little bit of knowledge about a community history. It also creates the opportunity for some fantastic 70s rock playlists, since many specific songs and artists are named throughout the novel.

All this explanation is an understated way of saying that I really, really liked this book. I generally think that the phrase, “emotional roller coaster” can be overused, but I felt all of the emotions laid out on the page incredibly intensely, so I think it is apt. The mystery was interesting, the romance was exciting, the twists were twisty, and the variety of representation was great. I give “One Last Stop” five out of five stars, with some extra fireworks thrown in there for good measure.

Dystopian Disappointment

By Jada Veasey/ Editor in Chief/ Sept. 30

Hate-watching is not a new phenomenon, but it is a relatively new thing for me to engage in. If you are unfamiliar, the Oxford Languages Dictionary defines hate-watch as watching a program “for the sake of the enjoyment one derives from mocking or criticizing it.”

Usually, I am motivated to watch a film because I have heard good things. For Hugh Jackman’s latest movie, “Reminiscence,”however, I was convinced to watch because of how terrible people have found it. The film currently has a 36% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What can I say, I was intrigued!

“Reminiscence” has an interesting premise but suffers from a unique combination of a wonky plot line, mediocre acting, and a rather unexciting soundtrack. The film begins by introducing a dystopian, climate change-affected future –it’s set vaguely sometime after the present day, in Miami, which has been flooded by the rising sea levels. There are constant references to something called the “Border War,” but said war is never completely explained.

Since the world has become so sad and waterlogged, most people in the world of “Reminiscence” are profoundly depressed, and constantly longing for the happier days of old. Hugh Jackman’s character, Nick, a veteran of the war and a man who chooses to wear loafers even when trudging through severely flooded streets, profits off people’s pain. He owns a business that specializes in (the titular) reminiscence –he has technology that allows people to access memories in extremely vivid detail, almost like they’re reliving the experience.

The story really revolves around Nick’s romance with Mae, a one-time client but later lover. The movie is full of romantic snippets of dialogue and (sometimes pretentious and or ridiculous) references to Greek myths. The plot really kicks in when Mae leaves Nick, leaving him to solve a series of mysteries and discover why his one true love abandoned him.

In addition to Jackman, the film also stars Thandie Newton as Watts, Nick’s business partner. Newton is perhaps best known for her work on “Westworld,” which makes sense, as the director of “Reminiscence,” Lisa Joy, also had a heavy hand in creating “Westworld.” Mae is played by Rebecca Ferguson, who has actually starred as Jackman’s love interest previously in 2017’s “The Greatest Showman.”

While the three main actors seem to do just fine, the minor characters in the film are poorly acted, which distracts from the parts of the story that are genuinely interesting. The film fails to fully explore its unique dystopian setting and also fails to make any real commentary on climate change or wealth inequality, though both are clearly involved in the big picture world of “Reminiscence.”

Overall, “Reminiscence” is a fairly forgettable film that wasted an interesting dystopian premise. If hate-watching is your thing, then this movie is for you! I give it one-and-a-half stars; very literally the lowest rating I have ever assigned to anything I’ve reviewed for this newspaper.

Thank you, Hugh Jackman and Lisa Joy, for giving me something I absolutely loved to hate.

Book Rates Age of Our Species

By Jada Veasey/Editor in Chief/Sept 30

Before 2020, I sometimes wondered why there weren’t more pieces of fiction set in the time of the Spanish Influenza. I mean, what a setting for a good story, am I right? The drama! The opportunities for symbolism! The options for tragic love affairs! Whilemy beloved “Downton Abbey” touched on the Spanish Flu briefly, it didn’t linger on it.

Of course, after living through (and in —I suppose it isn’t over yet) the coronavirus pandemic, I understand why few authors were eager to pen novels about the Spanish Influenza. As it turns out, living in the time of a plague is actually terrible, like, absolutely the worst, and I understandwhy nobody really wanted to write about it. I don’t want to write about it. Which is hard. I run this newspaper, and most of the current news revolves around the virus. Sigh.

So, I digress, I don’t have any real desire to read fictional narratives about the COVID-19 pandemic, but I am thoroughly impressed by a piece of nonfiction that came about because of it.

John Green’s latest book, “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” is very good. It’s different than any other John Green book, that’s for sure. Green is best known for his works of young adult fiction, maybe most famously “The Fault in Our Stars.”

His latest is nothing like that —instead, it’s a book of reviews. It contains Green’s takes on the things in life that dazzle, delight, and disappoint him, and his reviews succeeded in dazzling and delighting me.

“The Anthropocene Reviewed” explores topics that range from Diet Dr. Pepper to Sycamore trees to sunsets. Green captures what makes humanity interesting and worthwhile in a series of well written and occasionally strange reviews. Each one ends with a star rating, a system that I, a serial reviewer, can certainly get behind.

While a book of reviews may sound to some like a silly premise, Green’s book is inspiring in odd ways. He finds ways to make the mundane sound fantastic. He finds light in things others could only find darkness in. I most recommend his review of the plague, which stuck with me so much that I recently quoted it in a speech I made to sophomore level nursing students at their white coat ceremony. While I never want to read fiction about this pandemic, to read a piece of nonfiction reviewing the concept of plague that so thoroughly captures what we’re going through was calming, to be honest.

To make a long review short, if you like reviews, you should read this book. You should also read it if you need a little hope. And after the year we’ve all had, I think that’s probably all of us. I give “The Anthropocene Reviewed” five stars.

Interns deserve to be paid

Staff Editorial/Sept. 30

The discussion of whether interns should be paid seems to matter to students and companies everywhere. While every student working as an intern wants to be paid, many companies want to save money and hire students for little to no pay.

As students, being paid for work seems obvious to us. However, the argument of whether you’re being paid for work or being paid for experience stands. Work and experience are two different things, and it is important to recognize that when looking at internships. If you are working for a business independently and with little supervision, then expecting to be paid is appropriate. As a business, if interns are doing work on their own without the help of a preceptor or mentor, then they deserve to be paid.

Of course, some internship positions do not have the intern working on their own. Sometimes an internship is more of a shadowing experience and interns cannot operate independently. In this case, the intern is gaining lots of experience from the position, but they may not contribute much value to the company that they are working for.

As students, we do think that it is important to be recognized for our work and to be paid. And not only paid but being paid in a way that is fair to the work being done. Companies see interns as cheap labor and underpay them. Big companies and businesses can get away with paying interns less than a living wage. This is the biggest issue with paid internships, as some of them are almost as bad as not being paid at all.

If paid internships are not offering interns a living wage, they become unfair because the only people who can apply for such positions are those who already have a decent amount of money saved up and are not relying on the internship’s paychecks to get by. This creates a type of classicism among interns –those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to be able to accept internship offers and may have to seek other kinds of paid work that offer higher wages.

Additionally, some companies may see the student intern as unknowledgeable since they don’t have their degree yet, and do not take them seriously as a result.Though a degree may indicate an educated person, it does not constitute someone’s knowledge on a subject. Not to say that an intern should be paid the same as a full-time employee with a degree in the field, but as an intern, the pay should be fair and reflect the work being done.

Some places of work think that hiring an intern is a way for them to get experience to further their chances of a getting a career post-graduation. If that is the case and they are simply trying to expose students to the future work they will do, interns should not be expected to take on the workload of a full-time employee with the little pay they receive.

At the end of the day, companies should realize that if interns are adding value to the company and are working independently, they deserve to be compensated appropriately.

We may be out of Afghanistan, but the war is far from over

By Jack Sperry/Staff Writer/Sept. 16, 2021

For decades, politicians on both sides of the aisle have successfully campaigned on the idea that the U.S. should significantly decrease its military presence around the world. They claim that American blood and treasure is being wasted on international conflicts that the U.S. has no national interest in and that the attempt to spread democracy to places around the world that widely reject it is a fool’s errand. 

On the surface, that is an easy stance to get behind, which is why most polls show that over 70% of Americans supported the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Even so, reducing American military presence in these areas of the world makes the United States less safe and provides tactical advantages to those that want to see us fail, or worse, dead.

The unfortunate reality is that the withdrawal from Afghanistan has only worked to strengthen our enemies, such as China, and extremist groups such as the Taliban, ISIS-K and al-Qaida. China, for example, already plans on including Afghanistan in their “Belt and Road Initiative,” which will seek to take advantage of the vast natural resources that exist in Afghanistan.

 Not only that, but China will most likely strike a deal with the Taliban so that they can examine the billions of dollars in advanced U.S. military equipment left behind in Afghanistan so they can replicate our military technologies for their own use. These potential deals with the Chinese would make the Taliban very wealthy, and thus the Taliban looks to become a legitimate world power within the next decade. 

Perhaps the worst thing about leaving Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban is that we are handing over the country to the very same people that allowed al-Qaida to flourish pre-9/11, and we have no reason to believe that they will resist similar terrorist efforts now or in the future. Despite what dissenting politicians may say, our main function in Afghanistan wasn’t nation building, but to prevent future terror attacks on the American homeland, and for 20 years, that is exactly what our brave troops who served in Afghanistan were able to accomplish.

How much did it cost the U.S. to keep Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terror? In terms of blood, the U.S. only had about 2,500 troops on the ground mostly to provide intelligence and close air support to the Afghan military, and from 2016-2020 there was an average of 13.8 combat deaths per year in Afghanistan.

In total, there were less U.S. combat casualties throughout the entire Afghan conflict (2,372) than those who were killed on 9/11 (2,977). In terms of treasure, about 1% of the federal budget went towards the effort in Afghanistan, which comes out to be around 60 billion dollars per year. That might seem like a lot, but when you consider the fact that this effort kept Americans safe from future terror attacks on U.S. soil, I think 1% of the budget is a reasonable price to pay.

Twenty years after the horror that was 9/11, I’m thankful there hasn’t been a major terror attack of that magnitude in the U.S. since. That can be largely attributed to the servicemen and women who were willing to put their lives on the line to protect America from terror, but sometimes I think it can be too easy to take that kind of safety for granted. 

Our counter-terrorism efforts in countries like Afghanistan keep, or I guess kept, us safe. Just because we leave a certain part of the world does not mean that those people will yield in their efforts to destroy America. 

Remember, on Sept. 10, 2001, the U.S. wasn’t at war with anybody, but somebody was definitely at war with the U.S., and no matter how much we want to pretend we just ended America’s longest-lasting war, that war isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Remembering how the fires of 9/11 still smolder for us today

By Annie Barkalow/Managing Editor/Sept. 16, 2021

“I don’t know what to say. There’s three guys, they’ve hijacked the plane… we’re turned around and I heard that there’s planes that have been flown into the World Trade Center. I hope to be able to see your face again, baby. I love you. Goodbye.”

This was a voicemail to her husband from CeeCee Lyles, mother of four, flight attendant on Flight United 93, minutes before the hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field. This was one of many voicemails that were recorded from the victims of the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, when members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers, one into the Pentagon, and one onto a strip mine in Pennsylvania after the passengers and crew wrestled for control of the plane. 2,996 people lost their lives that day.

It’s strange for me to think about a whole generation growing up only experiencing 9/11 through a history book—a date to be memorized for a high school test. A grainy image of skyscrapers on fire printed onto glossy pages, an ugly blip on America’s timeline, a memory trotted out every anniversary to be pontificated on.

For millennials such as myself, it’s a memory that doesn’t fade, no matter how much time has passed. It was a moment that defined the trajectory of our lives. Kids my age who signed up for the military in peacetime to help pay for college suddenly found themselves facing combat, saying goodbye to their families and heading into a hellish war that wouldn’t be over for 20 years. We learned that our country was not invincible. Catastrophic things still happen in technologically advanced countries. Important details can slip through the fingers of those who are in control. 

One event changed the everyday mechanisms of life, from boarding planes to wearing backpacks. Islamophobia sprang from the wreckage like mushrooms, infiltrating the cracks and crevices of America with malicious spores. When I think of the random acts of violence that permeate our society, I cannot help but think that it sprang from that horrible day in our modern history.

When it comes to speaking about 9/11, like CeeCee, it’s difficult for me to know what to say. Not because I have nothing to say, but where do I start? I’m tempted to wrap things up in a bow and say something about the American Spirit burning bright during that time, how there were no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans, but the truth is more complicated than that.

History is never as straightforward as it seems from the textbooks. Twenty years later, the fires are still burning, and questions are still unanswered.

Reality of college campus today: As an older student, I am not alone

By Raven Stuefen/Staff Writer/Sept. 16, 2021

The United States of America, land of liberty, land of opportunity, land of the free, home of the brave—it is a country built on opportunity, diversity, and controversy.

Nowhere is this diversity more evident today than on the college campus. According to a study done in 2017 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 61% of the student population were white, 18% Hispanic, 12.3% Black, 5.7% Asian, 1.9% were biracial, .07% were Native American or Alaskan and 0.3% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

Tour a college campus today and you will find students of all races, nationalities, sexual orientations, religious affiliations, and ages. You will also find students with varying degrees of abilities, from people with mobility issues to learning disabilities and a host of other challenges including my personal cross to bear, a lack of computer skills.

Being in my early 50’s and deciding return to school to earn my bachelor’s degree in journalism was a decision that I did not take lightly. I became quite ill this past year and was unable to continue in my current job as a factory worker after having been off for 10 months with my undiagnosed illness. I was finally feeling better, but my body was no longer physically able to perform the strenuous activities required for me to to do my job.

Having nearly 30 years of customer service and retail experience under my belt, you might think that I would have returned to the road
well traveled, but I had walked that road so many times that it had become a dead end, and I had always been told that my talent lay in my writing ability. So, I dared to dream.

A recent study done by Maryville University found that more than 47% of students who are currently enrolled in universities in the U.S. are older than 25. The average college student is 26.4 years of age, but more and more people are returning to school in their 50s and beyond.

There are studies suggesting that one’s life expectancy increases for bachelor’s degree holders, 12.9 years higher for men and 10.4 years longer for women, but the most compelling reason that most people in their 50’s and beyond choose to return to school is the same reason that I have chosen to do so: to improve my financial status.

Obviously, this is the main reason anyone attends college, so in this way, we are not so different. Everyone here at Mount. Mercy has been very friendly and helpful, yet a separateness caused by the generation gap is present, like a constant shadow. I am older than some of my professors. Taking me out of my comfort zone is not necessarily bad and it does help knowing that so many here are also experiencing similar challenges. In this way, we are not so different after all.

Today’s college campus truly is the new melting pot.

Now that a shot is FDA approved, what’s the next excuse you’ll use?

By Jada Veasey/Editor-in-Chief/Sept. 16, 2021

Throughout this pandemic, people have offered me various excuses as to why they have not yet been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. While some of the excuses baffle me, there is one that (almost) makes sense:

“I haven’t gotten the vaccine yet because it isn’t FDA approved!”

I suppose I understand the desire to have the Food and Drug Administration’s stamp of approval on a new vaccine before you get the shot, especially for those “my body is a temple” types of people. 

Well. My body is decidedly not a temple. I got the vaccine months ago, back in January. But luckily for me, my risk has paid off and is now purely a reward–I am better protected from the virus than I would be if I weren’t vaccinated, and now, as of Aug. 23, the Pfizer vaccine is FDA approved.


If FDA approval was the one thing holding you back from getting your vaccine, I look forward to you getting the shot. Being vaccinated is one of the best things you can do at the moment for the benefit of public health. To get a COVID vaccine is not only an act of kindness for yourself, but an act of kindness for your whole community. 

Unfortunately, however, I know a lot of people were leaning on the vaccine’s lack of FDA approval as a sort of crutch. It was an easy excuse to make as to why one would refuse a vaccine, and it was a hard point for anyone to properly refute. I am hoping that people who used the FDA line to explain their vaccine hesitancy do not simply move on to the next easiest excuse.

Please, if you were someone who used a lack of FDA approval to justify avoiding the vaccine, put your money where your mouth is and step up to get the shot. Campus will have more vaccination clinics in the future, so take advantage of the easy access. One is planned for this Friday, so please watch your email.

Getting vaccinated could be one path to having a somewhat normal school year; don’t let your fellow Mustangs down and ruin it for everyone. 

The vaccine is now shown to be safe and effective. Even the other shots, provisionally approved, have been given millions of times and are clearly safe—and will, also clearly, soon near full FDA approval.

Protect yourself against severe illness and hospitalization and decrease the chances of passing on an infection to others. Be a public health hero.

There’s nothing stopping you now!

We may be tired of pandemic, but it’s not tired of us

Staff Editorial/Sept. 16, 2021

We don’t believe that everyone on the Hill is doing everything that they should do to stop the spread of COVID-19.

For starters, many students aren’t wearing masks indoors as required, or are wearing them improperly (and ineffectively). It bears noting that your nose is connected to your lungs—a mask over your mouth muffles your voice but doesn’t muzzle a respiratory virus.

In the same vein, very little is being done to enforce the mask policy. It also seems that last year’s policies regarding sanitizing workspaces and public use items like tables and chairs after using them have been abandoned. 

Additionally, there was recently a COVID -19 vaccination clinic on campus but it was not as well-attended as it should have been. We urge any at MMU who have not received their shots and can get them to get them, and to watch for opportunities to get vaccinated on campus. 

That being said, it would be far from the truth to say that the Mount Mercy community is doing nothing. The fact that we are even able to have a mask requirement is a massive help in stopping the spread, and the continued presence of hand sanitizer stations and available masks is as well. Additionally, we have free testing and are tracking vaccinations. We also applaud the university’s transparency in displaying the coronavirus infection numbers on the website’s COVID-19 dashboard. 

But there is more we could be doing. For many people, it feels strange to be in a classroom without social distancing, and it can be uncomfortable to be in a completely full cafeteria. The nonchalance with the mask policy might be less concerning if everyone on campus who were medically able were vaccinated, but they aren’t.

For those still hesitant about vaccination, it might help to know that COVID-19 vaccines are shown to be safe and effective, even against the Delta variant. The Pfizer shot recently received full FDA approval. 

Besides which, Pope Francis said last month that getting vaccinated was “an act of love.” On campus, we might call it an act of coMMUnity. So is continuing to put a little bit of cloth between your respiratory system and the outside world–over your nose and mouth both, please; it’s all attached to your lungs.

The temptation to disregard the mask mandate is understandable. The novel coronavirus doesn’t feel new anymore. To some people, it may no longer feel like a threat, but just because something is no longer new does not mean it is no longer dangerous.

We urge the university to step up and set more rigorous COVID-19 guidelines for students, staff members and faculty. Existing guidelines should be enforced appropriately. The Mount Mercy community has an opportunity to be an example among Iowa colleges. Beyond what the university demands of us, it’s time that we students recognize we have the power to distinguish fact from fiction, fake from true, science from nonsense. We can take responsibility and do what we can to end this plague in our corner of the world.

Mustangs, it is time to step up to the plate. 

Celebrate Christ on More Days Than Easter

By Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/April 15, 2021

Alleluia, Jesus is alive! Let the joy of Christ’s Resurrection shine in your life throughout the entire Easter season. We are meant to rejoice and celebrate Christ’s victory over death. This is not a one-day deal. We are called to rejoice for 50 days. 50 days! Just the length of this celebration should tell us something.

For the early followers of Jesus, this was a big deal. They heard Him speak and witnessed His miracles. They knew that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what they were thinking when Jesus died. All of their dreams were now at a standstill. They thought that He was going to free them from the Roman occupation and restore their broken humanity. They wanted a kingdom of God in place of a kingdom of Rome.

Now, walk with the women on the first day of the week. Maybe you are carrying one of the jars of spices to give Christ’s body the proper burial that it did not receive on Friday. What was the conversation? Was there simple silence? You had to walk out of the city and go near the place of Jesus’ death in order to reach the tomb.

Approaching the tomb, one of the women wonders how you are going to get into the tomb. The stone is large, and they do not know of anyone around to roll it back for you. The whole group finally reaches the tomb, and the stone is rolled away. What could this possibly mean?

As the group looks inside, they cannot find Jesus’ body. Imagine the conversation that took place. The next thing that you know, you see two men in bright white robes standing next to you. They tell you and those with you: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7). What thoughts are racing through your mind as all of the Scriptures start to fall into place? Christ is alive! You have to tell the others!

I encourage you to read the Resurrection story again and again during the Easter season. Let the joy of the early disciples reign in your hearts. Follow their example. Go tell others that Christ is alive!

I Miss the Movies…But Not That Much

By Jada Veasey/Senior Opinion Editor/April 15, 2021

While home for Easter, I got a chance to do one of my favorite things – talk to my sister about movies. My sister, Zoe, is a far more dedicated movie watcher than I am. She has opinions about everything, from soundtracks and casting to audio design.

As we talked about movies, Marvel’s upcoming “Black Widow” film came up. I mentioned how excited I am to see it when it premieres on Disney+ this summer. Zoe says she may venture into a movie theater to experience it on the big screen. I was a little shocked at such a declaration.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually judging my sister for anything here! She’s vaccinated and follows pretty much every COVID-19 precaution there is, she’d be as safe as possible if she goes to the movies.

I guess I was just surprised that she doesn’t prefer new movie releases pandemic style, because I certainly do.

There is something freeing about being able to watch brand new movies from your couch. It’s not as though the idea is entirely new; streaming services like Netflix have been releasing new films directly to their platforms for years now. But the pandemic has legitimized the practice, as this year’s Oscars did not require films to have a theatrical release in order to be nominated.

I love getting to watch new movies from home, not only because of the convenience, but because I am a talker when it comes to watching movies. I always have a million questions, and I prefer to say them out loud rather than just wonder. In the movie theater, I have to work hard to stay quiet, as I know my fellow audience members wouldn’t appreciate my commentary. When watching movies at home, though, I am free to pester whatever unfortunate soul has agreed to watch a movie with me (many apologies to my sister, my boyfriend, and my dog).

While I do miss the experience of getting dressed up for an evening at the movies, and I definitely miss the freshly buttered popcorn, I do hope film studios keep releasing their movies on streaming services, even once the pandemic ends. It’s much more convenient for the consumer. Plus, they can keep up their current pandemic approach – releasing the films to the theater for people like my sister while at the same time they offer a streaming option for people like me. It’s the best of both worlds!

Infrastructure Should Not Be a Partisan Issue

Staff Editorial/April 15, 2021

President Joe Biden released a statement on March 31 regarding his plan to improve American infrastructure. The concept is called the American Jobs Plan, and despite its beneficial sounding initiatives, it is turning into quite the political controversy.

Biden’s plan consists of six major goals, but the first one may just be the most important. The official wording is that the American Jobs Plan intends to “Fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems.” This goal calls upon congress to make upgrades to American infrastructure while committing to creating more labor jobs that pay a decent wage.

Why is this goal so important? It addresses a huge issue – America’s infrastructure is crumbling. Younger generations will be the ones that have to grapple with that fact.

The American Civil Society of Engineers scores the United States’ infrastructure a C- on its infrastructure report card. For context, a C- doesn’t even count as a passing grade in Mount Mercy’s nursing program, so American infrastructure certainly isn’t great.

The nation’s roads are crumbling. There are huge issues with our pipes and our running water supply. Our bridges need help. Railways are messy, and most Americans don’t have great access to railway transit. Something has to change, or future generations of Americans will be left with literal ruins to travel on.

And of course, college students are part of the generations that will be left with terrible infrastructure. We should all be paying attention; we have serious stake in this game. The government has the opportunity to make our futures better; they should take the opportunity and do the right thing.

Biden’s method of paying for his plan is what is causing all of the controversy. While no one is claiming that the country’s infrastructure is in top shape, there are some politicians, Republican ones, who don’t like how Biden plans to cover the costs. Paying for the American Jobs Plan will require a corporate tax hike – it will be bumped up from the current 21 percent to 28 percent.

Infrastructure improvements shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Both sides of the aisle need to come together to make American infrastructure better for future generations. On April 7 when speaking about the proposition, President Biden said, “Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes are certain.”

Hopefully the debate, compromise, and changes Biden spoke of are enough to get the American Jobs Plan into action. Our futures depend on it.

The True Madness in March is Gender Inequality

By Carter Lawler/Staff Writer/April 1, 2021

In the age of social media, access to current issues and events is at our fingertips. March Madness is an event that draws all ages and sport watchers, and this year, athletes’ social media posts uncovered unequal treatment of men and women’s teams.

On Thursday, March 18 in Indianapolis, men’s NCAA Division 1 basketball started, and it wasn’t only covered on ESPN. On all major social media platforms such as Tik Tok and Twitter, the players on most participating basketball teams documented their opinions and experiences of the tournament. Their weight rooms, food, trackers, and gift bags were shown on display for the entire world to see.

The men’s basketball tournament was not the only tournament playing. Four days later, on March 22 in San Antonio, the women’s NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament was underway.

From many states away, hopes were high for the women’s teams and the anticipation of the basketball tournament to start. The excitement was higher than usual, as the 2020 March Madness tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As players from the different colleges started to arrive in San Antonio, more social media coverage was on display from the women’s tournament, and many differences could be seen in comparison to the men’s side.

One main difference that was shown was the weight rooms from both sides. A women’s basketball player showed the various sizes of dumbbells and yoga mats that were given to the players for them to use in between games. Earlier in the week, men’s players displayed the squat racks, bench presses, numerous sets of dumbbells, and the excessive space given for the players to use.

As a collegiate baseball player, emphasis from my coaches is put on practice, staying in routine, great shape, and being able to compete at the highest level possible. The women’s players were outraged at the visible difference from their tournaments.

More Tik Tok’s came out from San Antonio that showed the gift bags the women had received that consisted of a t-shirt, bag, some snacks, and a single tampon. The men received a pair of shoes, bags, toiletries, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and much more.

As these are collegiate athletes, they are not being monetarily paid—instead, they receive scholarships. These players bring in millions of dollars for the universities and the media who cover them. It is unfair to profit from these athletes who work year-round and who put their heart and soul into the game. Overnight, the women were given a full weight room and space to freely workout. The uproar caused a change in heart from NCAA. If the women are supposed to workout, practice, and play the same as men, the same opportunities should be given.

We Need to Talk About the Other Pandemic

By Jada Veasey/Senior Opinion Editor/April 1, 2021

It would have been easy for me to write another opinion column disparaging the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I’ve written lots of those this year. We need to talk about another pandemic that’s been ravaging the United States for far longer than the coronavirus has–we need to talk about gun violence.

On March 16, eight people were killed by a gunman in a race-related act of violence in Atlanta. Less than a week later on March 22, 10 people were killed by a gunman in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

In the days between the incidents, politicians invoked familiar sentiments. Those on the left called for action and made vague promises of a future less influenced by gun violence. Those on the right sent out thoughts and prayers and defended the second amendment both in congressional spaces and on the internet.

I was a senior in high school when the Parkland shooting happened on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Many of my classmates and I were horrified–those kids could have easily been us. We took action because we felt like we had to.

We staged walkouts and wore orange ribbons and followed Parkland survivors on Twitter. On March 24, I attended the Davenport, Iowa March for Our Lives. My mom virtually joined Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement created to prevent acts of gun violence.

Well. Now it’s three years later, and I ask myself, what did any of that do? Americans are still dying by way of gun violence every single day. This is the only developed nation on Earth where this sort of thing happens regularly.

The Atlanta shooting came as a shock, if only because America’s been on partial lockdown, preventing mass shootings. School has largely been out of session, driving down the incidents of school shootings in the past year. But gun violence is still happening.

What do we need to do to convince the people in charge that this is an issue? And no, I don’t have an answer to that question, I am genuinely asking. I’ve done everything I was taught to do when I see an issue in the world–I’ve voted, and marched, and volunteered for politicians. I’ve donated, spoken out, and written letters to those in charge. And yet, nothing has changed. I’m so tired. And I’m so sad.

When is America going to wake up and start caring more about people than it does weapons?

Are You Planting Seeds?

By Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/April 1, 2021

When I was little, I had big dreams of changing the world.

I wanted to go everywhere and just tell people to be nice to each other so that the world would be a better place. I sometimes laugh at how simple I thought the world’s problems were. As I started to reflect on this more, I realized that the simplest actions do speak volumes—think of the times that you share laughter with friends or enjoy a walk together.

At Mount Mercy, we are continually asked, “What is your one?” We are called to reflect on what impact we would like to have on campus.

My freshman year, I took this into deep consideration and thought about the ways that I would like to impact this community. Bringing God’s love and joy to others was one of my goals. I do this by planting seeds. Planting seeds of faith, hope, and love in others that would one day sprout and give them an opportunity to grow in these virtues.

When you shine a little light onto someone’s day, you are planting a seed. When you witness to others, you are planting seeds. In your conversations, you may not change minds, but you will plant a seed that will later grow and bear fruit.

In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus gives the parable of the sower.

“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” (Matthew 13:3-8).

Jesus explains that the seeds are the Word of God. We are the sowers. Our focus is not on the type of soil, but on the action of sowing. God will take care of the rest.

You never know how much of an impact you can have in your everyday interactions with others. Maybe they had a family member or another friend plant a seed, and you were the water that they needed to grow. Maybe you were the sunshine that helped them to grow.

Any way that I can put it, the message is the same. Doing good things will always have an impact, even if you cannot see it.

Maybe the person that you are with has had a seed planted by someone else, like their parents or high school friends. You could be the one that waters the seed or is the sunshine that allows them to grow. The simplest gestures can go a long way. Reflect on the interactions that you have with those around you.

Are you planting seeds?

COVID-19 Doesn’t Take a Break When You Do

Staff Editorial/March 4, 2021

This month marks one year since COVID-19 hit the United States and Americans watched their nation go under lock down, following other countries.

The country transformed for Americans, who went from living freely to do as they wished, to living in fear of leaving the house or not wearing a mask. Overnight, schools were shut down, mental health declined, non-essential jobs dried up, and stimulus checks were deposited.

We had spent all of March into the summer months under lockdown, putting a pause on our lives. Many people picked up new hobbies, discovered hidden talents, and set at-home goals for themselves.

Yet here we are—a whole year has passed, and few things have changed since then. Perhaps masks will never fully go away, maybe everyone will continue to be more aware of social distancing, and perhaps constant sanitation will be adopted.

While we don’t want to see people in lockdown and not living their life to the fullest, we also don’t want people to forget about the pandemic. Spring break is right around the corner. Be cautious of your choices. COVID-19 is nowhere near gone, and it doesn’t take a break while you are on break.

Spring break travel is a popular bucket list item for high school and college students alike, but we are still in middle of a global pandemic. Choose to stay home, choose to relax with family or friends (socially distanced, of course), make the decision to learn a new hobby, or binge a new show. Check off some pandemic friendly things from your bucket list.

Don’t be blinded by the normalcy of the pandemic. Now is not the time to be exposing yourself to new people, being in enclosed spaces like planes, going to parties, and ignoring COVID-19 recommendations. The actions people make now will directly affect the future of this pandemic.

People choosing not to abide by COVID-19 safety recommendations during this time could cause the pandemic to last longer. If our students, faculty, and staff choose to be reckless, then it can easily result in spikes of positive cases on campus, restrictions being re-applied, and a longer wait to normalcy.

If everyone who is tired of COVID-19 played their part in ending the pandemic, we all could go back to enjoying the things we loved before it started.

Hinson Misses the Point of Equality Act

By Jessica Abdoney/Staff Writer/March 4, 2021

Iowa Congresswoman Ashley Hinson has hidden behind her lack of understanding of the First Amendment and religious liberty to oppose the Equality Act.

The Equality Act expands protections to the LGBTQ+ community and was passed by the House on Thursday with the approval of 244-206 votes. Three Republicans bravely crossed party lines to admit that humans deserved basic rights and sided with the Democrats.

The Equality Act bans discrimination in the workplace, housing, public education, and public accommodations. This may sound familiar because the Equality Act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

However, Hinson voted against the bill, stating in a tweet Friday that; “No one should face hatred or discrimination of any kind and I will fight for everyone to be treated fairly and with respect. But I won’t support legislation that undermines the First Amendment.”

Hinson managed to contradict herself perfectly in a 280-character limit. A round of applause.

Hinson clearly states the purpose of the bill in the first half of her tweet—for people to be treated fairly and not face discrimination of any kind. The Equality Act provides protection against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

So, if Hinson voted for this bill she would be acting on the promise of, “I will fight for everyone to be treated fairly and with respect…”

Hinson voted against the bill because of religious liberty and the First Amendment. The problem with this reason is that The Equality Act does not ‘undermine’ the First Amendment.

In its simplest terms, it strengthens civil rights protections and protects those from being mistreated or discriminated against because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Equality does not violate the First Amendment.

Using the First Amendment is a weak excuse to constitute outdated views and to promote bigotry and villainize the LGBTQ+ community. By voting against this bill, Hinson is upholding the message that the LGBTQ+ community should not be afforded the basic rights that she takes for granted every day.

Hinson’s official statement on the Equality Act is that it, ‘threatens’ religious liberties. The conservative party prides itself on religious freedom, but it is easy to conclude that religious freedom is exclusive.

The Equality Act does not restrain religious institutions from living under this bill. If Hinson was concerned about how religious organizations felt about this bill, she would have noticed the 100 faith-based organizations that endorsed it. The endorsements ranged from Baptists to Evangelical Protestants, including one from her own state, the Iowan Unitarian Universalist Witness and Advocacy Network.

If Hinson truly cared about her constituents and protecting the first amendment, she would have done her research and not hid behind falsities. Instead, Hinson is playing her fiddle to match the tune of the conservative party and solidifying her base.

Gen Eds are More Important than I Thought

By Jada Veasey /Senior Opinion Editor/March 4, 2021

Sometimes, schoolwork is frustrating. Shocking, I know! Who knew that earning a life-changing degree could stress you out? I have had a stressful beginning to my spring semester; it just seems like so much is happening at once.

This semester I’m enrolled in two nursing courses, an honors seminar, and a philosophy course. The philosophy course is an intro level one, and I signed up for it purely because Mount Mercy says I need it to graduate. As you might imagine, I, a nursing major, was not super excited about the idea of spending time reading and writing about philosophy.

When it came time to write my first essay of the semester, I was discouraged. The content was not easy for me to understand, and I knew it would take me a decent amount of time to gather the sources I needed and to complete the reading required to write the essay. In the back of my mind, I wondered, ‘Why do they even make us take these classes? I’m going to be a nurse, not a philosopher!’

I wrote the essay, though, and I learned a lot while doing so. By the time I was done with my readings, I was genuinely interested in the text. But more importantly, I realized why a philosophy course might be a smart thing for a nursing student to take – it forces you to ask and answer big questions. Those are two things I’ll one day have to do as a nurse, even though the questions and answers will look a lot different.

After I turned in the first essay, I started approaching other essays with more enthusiasm. I’m learning a lot about both philosophy and myself. The whole experience is making me grateful I chose a liberal arts school that has a vested interest in creating well-rounded students.

I know that general education courses can be mentally taxing and may even feel like a bit of a waste of time for some of you. But I encourage you to think about how you can apply what you learn in these courses to your field of study. I think one day we’ll all be better professionals because of it.

Lenten Promises are Important

By Vanessa Milliman/Columnist/March 4, 2021

Each year around this time, I get asked the same question repeatedly, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

The conversation will lead to a statement such as this. “I really need to lose weight, so I am giving up desserts.” That is a good thing, but we are called to go deeper, to go beneath the surface and into our hearts. Open your heart and ask: What is distracting you from God? In what places do you need to grow in your faith life?

Only after honest reflection am I able to choose what I am giving up. I will admit that I have fallen into the bad habit of giving up something for Lent and then doing it again right after Easter. This defeats the purpose.

Lent is a time designated for us to focus on our relationship with Christ. There are three pillars that the Church gives us so that we can grow closer to Christ. The first pillar is prayer.

Prayer, simply put, is a conversation with God. You cannot know a person without talking to them and then listening to their response. How well would you know your spouse or friends if you never talked to each other? Communication is essential in all relationships, and thus, prayer is important in order to pursue a relationship with God.

Fasting builds off prayer. It is removing the things that obstruct our relationship with God. This is what most people are referring to when they say that they are giving up something. By fasting from the clutter in our lives, we can freely journey closer to Christ.

Almsgiving is the final pillar. Almsgiving is giving of your time, talent, and treasure. Time. How can you give your time to those around you and to God? Talent. God created us with many beautiful talents and gifts. How can we give these to those around us and to God? Treasure. This does not only mean our money.

Think about your shoes, clothes, and other items that you own. How can we give these to others? In a practical sense, when I think of almsgiving, I think of letting someone use my “stuff.” A classmate needs an extra pencil or a note paper. A coworker needs you to print something for them. A family member needs your car.

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, we read about the three pillars. Jesus tells us how to pray, fast, and give alms. Firstly, He tells us where to direct our focus.

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1). Doing good deeds can be a great way to witness to Christ’s love, but the focus of the good deed should not be on ourselves.

We should pray, fast, and give alms so that we can grow in our relationship with God and do all things for His glory. That is the purpose of Lent.

COVID Stimulus Checks: Round Two

By Viktorja K Heires/News Editor/Jan. 22, 2021

I am fortunate in that I have the means to cover my expenses each month without worrying too much about how I’m going to keep food on the table. While I lost one job last year due to the outbreak, I didn’t lose my main job. I know that not everyone is as fortunate, however. Many individuals and families live paycheck to paycheck, if they have a paycheck at all thanks to COVID and the derecho.

People are so far behind on their rent or mortgage that they stand to lose their homes when the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums are eventually lifted. For those who lost their jobs due to COVID, many received the additional unemployment benefits, but not everyone was eligible for that. We were told that a reduction in pay or hours due to COVID made an individual eligible for a portion of those benefits, but that was not the case.

So, $600, quite frankly, is a slap in the face and an utter insult to those who are struggling to get by.  I understand that $600 is the base and it goes up or down from there based on variables such as income and number of children. For those of us without children, we’re still financially screwed. Not to mention that some people are hundreds or thousands of dollars behind on rent and utilities because of the loss of income in 2020. And even though there was CARES funding and prevention money to help with some of those back rent payments, it still isn’t a guarantee of future income or success in maintaining a roof over folks’ heads.

It’s a small blessing that those receiving SSI automatically get the money, and I say “small” because those on Social Security are among some of the most impoverished citizens in our country, and there are many people, including those on Social Security, who were eligible for the first stimulus payment and never received it. What good does a stimulus payment do if those who need it the most also have the most obstacles to receiving it?

I am appalled that big businesses such as banks and airlines are continuously bailed out by the billions of dollars, and that some of them got the PPP money that should have gone to small mom-and-pop places that were inevitably forced to close down. Our government can spend trillions on the military, but they can’t (read: won’t) do what is needed to keep roofs over the heads of our citizens? What good are they?

$600. From the country that proclaims itself the absolute “best” at everything, and yet we are last in line to make effective assistance a reality. So far, members of Congress have been all talk when it comes to what they feel would be best.  Some went so far as to introduce a bill that would have increased the second stimulus from $600 to $2000; but it died in the Senate thanks to McConnell because certain citizen and members of Congress are “concerned” that people might get “more than they deserve.” I spit on them for that.

The thing is, those we elect, and who are meant to represent us, live cushy lives. They get pensions and incomes and have stock portfolios that will keep them perpetually living the upper-class life. They don’t know what it’s like to be at the bottom of the barrel financially.  They don’t know what it’s like to see an eviction notice posted on the door, or to be served papers by a process server. They have never experienced a cut off notice from the utility company, or wondered how they were going to get by until the next paycheck came in. And they have certainly never tried to live on minimum wage or below the poverty line.

I’m not the only one who holds this opinion. Kellee McCrory, professor of social work stated, “The 600$ stimulus amount as it is a drop in the bucket to what people need to move forward, with unemployment in Iowa at 6.7% compared to 3.6% a year ago and the average rent in Iowa is roughly 700$ a month, this stimulus will barely make a dent in a person’s budget.” She continued, “We need our government to work together to ensure that Americans are not falling off financial cliffs that they may never recover from. I am very fearful for many families when the federal moratorium on rent ends at the end of the month. Our social services are severely strained as donors have become clients of many services.”

Professor Joni Howland echoes those sentiments, saying, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on January 8th that 140,000 jobs were lost in December and that an additional 1.15 million people filed new unemployment claims during the first week of 2021. These numbers underscore the need for an additional comprehensive relief package that aids individuals, families, and the economy over the coming months.”

Our government has failed us time and again during this pandemic, and this last show of disrespect towards taxpayers may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak.  I for one will be doing more political research to see who voted for and against aid for citizens every time it was proposed. Those who voted against it will never get my vote for re-election. They clearly do not represent me, or the impoverished, or the homeless.

In Defense of New Year’s Resolutions

By Jada Veasey/Senior Opinion Editor/Jan. 22, 2021

Happy New Year, Mustangs! 2020 is over, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is incredibly grateful that such a strange, painful, and long year is finished. Hopefully 2021 will be full of good news and positivity (after the year we all just had, I think we deserve it). With a new year of course comes New Year’s resolutions.

According to History.com (the lovely website of the History Channel, it does not actually contain an internet record of all of history), the tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back to over 4,000 years ago. The ancient Babylonians made resolutions as part of their New Year’s festivities, though their year began in March instead of January.

A few years ago, I considered New Year’s resolutions to be completely overrated, and went several years without making a single one. I thought they were silly, and I also believed I lacked the gumption to make any of them stick. After the truly terrible year that 2020 was, however, I have given New Year’s resolutions a new purpose – they give me something to look forward to each day.

2020 was a tough year for me, as it was for everyone. My year was hard because of a combination of social isolation, homesickness once the school year started, and the health issues of some of my family members. As the year crept closer to a close, I got a lot happier, because I had the winter holidays to look forward to.

Christmas and New Years offered a light at the end of what had been a long, weird, and lonely tunnel. I got to go home, which was the best gift I could ask for.

Now, however, I am back on campus and away from my family. I am still taking social distancing very seriously, so I don’t make many social visits to friends on or off campus, and when I do, they are masked, brief, and sometimes sad. I predicted that my previous feelings of loneliness may affect me again once J-Term started, but my New Year’s resolutions are helping to inject my days with a bit of fun and happiness.

One of my big resolutions this year is to read more – specifically, I am trying to read some of the works of James Baldwin. Reading is always something to look forward to, but for me, this goal also has a social component. My younger sister is a huge Baldwin fan, and reading more of his novels and essays means I will have even more excuses to FaceTime her in the upcoming months.

I am also trying to expand my musical horizons. I love so many bands in a superficial way, usually I only really know the greatest hits of a group I claim to be “super into.” This year I’m doing a deep dive into some of the discographies of my favorite artists, and it’s already been a fun time.

It’s not too late to make New Year’s resolutions, even though the holiday itself has already passed. Let yourself make goals that will give you joy in 2021; you most certainly deserve it!

Heard on the Hill: How Should Classes Be Held?

By Josh Harmon/Senior Multimedia Editor/Dec. 8, 2020 

Like all universities, Mount Mercy has been coping with the COVI d-19 pandemic, which is spiking in Iowa. This fall, classes were offered in a variety of face-to-face and remote formats. So the Times asked students: 

What format would you like your classes to be in Winter & Spring terms? Why?  

“I commute to school, so I wouldn’t mind online classes, but I am wanting to return in-person.”  

  • Becky Fishbein, junior, criminal justice major 

“I prefer in-person because I feel like students learn better, but I think hybrid classes are the safest option.”  

  • Vanessa Milliman, sophomore, elementary education and religious studies major 

“I don’t really have a preference, other than going full online or fully in-person.”  

  • Carter Bell, freshman, accounting major 

“I’d like to be in-person because it’s easier for me to pay attention.”  

  • Devin Blish, senior, biochemistry and math major  

“I really like hybrid classes because I’m able to revisit lectures and PowerPoints online.”  

  • Elaina Kinser, junior, biology major  

“I feel like I’m on quarantine doing class from home so I’d rather have class in-person.”  

  • Luke Nickleson, senior, criminal justice 

Opinion: A Vaccine Will Only Work if Enough Buy In 

By Jada Veasey/Senior Opinion Editor/Dec. 8, 2020 

Like most people these days, I follow news about the coronavirus pandemic pretty closely. Over the past few weeks, one buzzword has dominated the news cycles: vaccine.  

The promise of a vaccine sounds so wonderful, it seems like the light of the end of a very long, sad, quarantine-ridden tunnel. But a vaccine for COVID-19 will only be truly effective if a significant portion of the population gets the injections, as the purpose of a vaccine is to help us reach a manmade version of herd immunity. 

According to Mayo Clinic, herd immunity refers to when the majority of a community is immune to a disease, which makes further spread of that disease unlikely. A vaccine builds up one’s immunity, helping to establish herd immunity if enough people receive it. If not enough people receive the vaccine, COVID-19 could continue to have significant spread, as there will be people in communities who have no immunity to the virus and are therefore still susceptible to it.  

Since the effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine depends largely on enough people being vaccinated, consider this article to be a plea, Mustangs; if and when the vaccine becomes available to you, please take advantage of it.  

Please think critically about the issue of COVID-19 vaccination and do more research than simply skimming through headlines on Facebook or Twitter. I know that the idea of vaccination in general has a lot of moral and ethical nuance, but this pandemic is no joke, and it is nothing to play around with.  

Getting a vaccine would have huge benefits for society at large. Getting a vaccine could mean keeping yourself and others around you free from the virus, which keeps more people out of the hospital, and helps to relieve some of the pressure placed on our already exhausted and strained healthcare workforce.   

While I am certainly not an epidemiologist or a vaccine expert, I am a junior level nursing student who has done a bit of scientific research in her (admittedly brief) academic career. 

I can tell you that a lot of the science surrounding potential COVID-19 vaccines looks sound and promising.  

The CDC and FDA have lots of great resources regarding vaccine safety, and all that information can be accessed simply by going to their websites. Nearly every newspaper (ours included) also covers the coronavirus pandemic in some capacity. They are resources you can utilize as well, and popular sources are easier to digest than academic ones.  

If you’re looking for a more direct source, think about asking some of the faculty here at MMU your burning vaccine questions – I’m sure some of our biology, chemistry, and nursing professors would be thrilled that the student body suddenly has a serious interest in their fields of expertise.  

Above all, please don’t give into the misinformation campaigns that are smeared across the internet and social media. 

Please don’t let a silly internet hoax be the reason you jeopardize everyone’s health and safety.  

International Student Finds Band of Brothers at MMU 

By Dylan Mills/Staff Writer/Dec. 8, 2020 

The experience of being an international student at Mount Mercy University is nothing short of amazing. Coming from Johannesburg, South Africa, a massive city, to a quiet town like Cedar Rapids, you think to yourself “this is not where I belong.” These were my first thoughts when flying over big cornfields the first time I landed in Cedar Rapids – Have I really came here to play soccer and study full-time?  

However, from the very first day at Mount Mercy University I have been treated by students, faculty, staff, and coaches with the respect and love that everyone deserves. I came to MMU as a very nervous freshman, not knowing what to expect, what the people were like, and who I would meet – I learnt very quickly that the things I was worrying about should never have been a concern. 

I still remember the first few weeks of classes. I struggled to get on track with the way things worked in a new country and couldn’t find a routine that worked for me. However, every professor and coach that I dealt with understood and supported me through everything that I had to do. 

I had the feeling that I was accepted into a second family away from home. 

During my four years at Mount Mercy, I have made plenty of friends who became brothers and sisters. Some left because their time as a student had come to an end, but we were privileged to gain new members to the family every single year. Mount Mercy accepts anyone into their community, no matter who you are, or where you come from. 

I am a senior now at the university, and my final year has come with many challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The year I was looking forward to the most during my time as a college student has brought on the toughest experiences not only to me, but to everyone else at the university.  Although the pandemic scared all of us, I have never felt so close to the people here, especially to my brothers on the men’s soccer team. 

What I thought was going to be a terrible season and semester, turned out to be the most successful season we have had since I have been here, and to top it off, we have managed to qualify for the conference tournament in the coming spring semester. 

I have made friends that I will never forget for the rest of my life and will definitely make plans to visit them sometime in the future. As I enter my last semester here at Mount Mercy, I have no doubt that with the New Year will bring everyone the success and joy we have been waiting for. 

One thing I will always remember about Mount Mercy University is the fact that every single person involved within the university are willing to drop whatever it is they are busy with and give a helping hand – the Mount Mercy community is like one big family, a family known as “The Mustangs.” 


Biden Won… Now What?

By Jada Veasey/Senior Opinion Editor/November 15, 2020

What an election week! Yes, election week, not election day. Though the last ballots were cast on Tuesday, the winner could not be predicted until Saturday morning, and even now the race is still being contested by the current commander in chief.

Joe Biden won, and it brought me a fleeting moment of joy. I watched his acceptance speech on CNN Saturday night and felt happier and lighter than I have in many months.

Biden winning this election means something to me – more Americans chose hope over hate. The race was far closer than I would have liked it to be, a lot of people still chose hate, but I remain thankful that Biden and Harris won in the end.

My various social media feeds have seemed far more optimistic than usual over the past couple days. Friends and family are sharing stories of glee and relief about the election. They are celebrating, and some of them have posted about how excited they are for things to “go back to normal.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news during such a joyful time for so many Americans, but it needs to be said – we are a long way gone from “normal.”

Sure, Joe Biden may have beaten President Trump in the election, but America is still deeply divided. Biden becoming President Elect will not change the fact that America has deep rooted problems with race, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia.

A new president cannot rewrite a nation’s painful and shameful history. Biden’s new status will not make hateful Americans any less hateful. The Biden administration does not have a magic wand and it is not a quick fix, because none of America’s problems are ones that can be repaired instantly.

As a black woman in this country, I cannot stress enough how nervous the current political climate makes me feel. It seems like this country could implode upon itself at any moment.

While confederate flags and MAGA hats have always made me nervous, they scare me now more than ever in the days after the election. Republican rage seems to be at an all-time high, and as a black person who often travels around town alone, I feel like an easy target.

There has been an uptick in wary and angry glances thrown my way in public in the last week. I am uncomfortable and sometimes feel unsafe, even though my favored candidate won.

I do remain hopeful that the Biden administration will at least try to unite the nation, while the current president has done nothing but try to turn Americans against each other. I think that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have America’s best interests in mind, while I feel Trump tends to operate off of his own self-interest, rarely considering how his words or actions may affect the average American citizen.

So yes, I am hopeful about America’s future. But I fear that I’ll never feel “normal” in this place again. If you’re someone who thinks Biden will make your life feel normal or calm again, please recognize the immense privilege you have. Not all of us are so lucky.

Joe Biden won, and it brought me a fleeting moment of joy. I watched his acceptance speech on CNN Saturday night and felt happier and lighter than I have in many months.

Biden winning this election means something to me – more Americans chose hope over hate. The race was far closer than I would have liked it to be, a lot of people still chose hate, but I remain thankful that Biden and Harris won in the end.

My various social media feeds have seemed far more optimistic than usual over the past couple days. Friends and family are sharing stories of glee and relief about the election. They are celebrating, and some of them have posted about how excited they are for things to “go back to normal.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news during such a joyful time for so many Americans, but it needs to be said – we are a long way gone from “normal.”

Sure, Joe Biden may have beaten President Trump in the election, but America is still deeply divided. Biden becoming President Elect will not change the fact that America has deep rooted problems with race, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia.

A new president cannot rewrite a nation’s painful and shameful history. Biden’s new status will not make hateful Americans any less hateful. The Biden administration does not have a magic wand and it is not a quick fix, because none of America’s problems are ones that can be repaired instantly.

As a black woman in this country, I cannot stress enough how nervous the current political climate makes me feel. It seems like this country could implode upon itself at any moment.

While confederate flags and MAGA hats have always made me nervous, they scare me now more than ever in the days after the election. Republican rage seems to be at an all-time high, and as a black person who often travels around town alone, I feel like an easy target.

There has been an uptick in wary and angry glances thrown my way in public in the last week. I am uncomfortable and sometimes feel unsafe, even though my favored candidate won.

I do remain hopeful that the Biden administration will at least try to unite the nation, while the current president has done nothing but try to turn Americans against each other. I think that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have America’s best interests in mind, while I feel Trump tends to operate off of his own self-interest, rarely considering how his words or actions may affect the average American citizen.

So yes, I am hopeful about America’s future. But I fear that I’ll never feel “normal” in this place again. If you’re someone who thinks Biden will make your life feel normal or calm again, please recognize the immense privilege you have. Not all of us are so lucky.


This Wasn’t a Normal Election; Why Did We Pretend It Was?

By Jada Veasey/Senior Opinion Editor/November 4, 2020

By the time this paper hits the newsstands around campus, election night will be over. Seeing as I am writing this article several days before election day happens, I’m not able to make any snappy comments about the outcome (though trust me, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of them for upcoming issues). What I can comment on, though, is just how strange it is that we conducted an election in an almost-typical manner…in the middle of a pandemic.

Though tons of Americans took the opportunity to vote with mail-in or absentee ballots, others waited to go in person, either voting early or voting on election day itself. While I can understand still presenting in person options, I am disappointed that there was no national push towards choosing one of the mail-based voting options. Of course, that was largely due to the sitting administration, but still.

It seems silly, and dangerous, that we would want people going out into crowded public spaces where voting happens when COVID-19 spreads so easily. Even if everyone wore their masks and social distanced appropriately (which let’s be honest, probably didn’t happen, especially not here in Iowa), lots of people will still be touching the same items and surfaces as they vote.

Plus, many poll workers are retirees. Most retirees are in their sixties or older; the age group that carries the largest risk for severe complications if they’re infected with the virus. In person voting feels like a recipe for disaster.

In addition to the issue of preventing the spread of COVID-19, mail-in voting is also more accessible to Americans in general. Some people work at the times that the polls are open, others have issues with childcare or transportation. Though a mail-in ballot would not be a perfect fit for every American, they certainly are a great option for many of them. I think that the government’s hesitancy (or in President Trump’s case, blatant opposition) to endorse mail-in voting methods during this election cycle was reckless and wrong.

I hate that I even need to say this, but I will – if we ever have another pandemic happen in my lifetime, I hope the elections will be run a little differently than they were this time around.


Pumpkin Spice&Everything Nice

By Viktorja Heires/News Editor/October 18, 2020

2020 has been one heck of a year and seems like it has lasted much longer than it should. I feel like I’ve aged at least a decade. And somehow, we’ve still got two whole months to go!

So, yes. 2020 is terrible. So painful. Literally the worst. But you know what even a pandemic-election-double-whammy of a year can’t ruin? Autumn! It is, in my humble opinion, the best season. No offense, Christmas, but I think that Halloween might actually be the most wonderful time of the year. I will take a light autumn breeze over a December snowstorm any day of the week, thank you very much.

I have been enjoying all things autumn as of late. I broke out the Halloween decorations, I took a trip to the pumpkin patch. I’ve been watching spooky movies, and of course, I indulge in all things pumpkin spice.

There, I said it! Pumpkin spice things are good! They’re fun! They make it slightly less painful to exist in our current reality. And yet, the fall flavor is constantly under attack, and those who enjoy it are mocked and scrutinized by society at large.

Twitter exploded earlier this year when Dunkin’ Donuts announced they would release their pumpkin flavored beverages and treats in August rather than waiting until September or October like some other coffee retailers. People all over the internet were outraged! How dare one of the most successful and beloved coffee companies in America give their customers the option to order a pumpkin spice latte in September! It’s practically sacrilegious!

To a point, I understand the outrage. There are some slightly questionable pumpkin spice products in existence. The Beemster brand is selling pumpkin spice gouda cheese, there are pumpkin spice Pringles, and apparently there are even pumpkin spice flavored Wheat Thins these days. Sure, those all sound strange. But are they really hurting anyone?

This column is an appeal to the general public – please just chill about how much you hate pumpkin spice. That’s fine, no one is going to make you drink a latte you didn’t ask for. Just let those of us who love pumpkin-spice-everything enjoy the season. Who cares if it’s a little (or even a lot) #Basic?  In 2020, we must find joy whenever and however we can.

Athletics is Impacted by COVID

By Dylan Campbell/Staff Writer/October 18, 2020

As a student athlete, I can say that this year is something that we never thought we would experience.

There are many new things that we have to do on a daily basis. Every morning we have to list our symptoms and record our temperature. We must also wear a mask at all times during practice. It took a little bit of time to get used to the regulations, but they have become a part of our life.

The games have been relatively the same with some changes. Typically, after a game we would shake the other team’s hand and tell them all good game. Now all we do is take our hats off and yell good game from across the field.

Pitchers tend to lick their fingers while pitching to increase their grip, this can’t happen now. Rosin bags are used in place of finger licking because the flour like substance helps with grip.

We also have to social distance while we play. Some players sit in chairs outside of the dugout. Of course, masks must be worn at all time when not playing.

I think most of these new rules are a little much, but I do understand the seriousness of the whole situation. I know that if the regulations set out are not followed, our season could be taken away from us like it was last year. Losing our season last year was heartbreaking, and I have no intentions of letting this season slip away.

I feel that I’m getting used to all of the changes and that my team is flowing at a steady pace. I’m seeing great strides from my new teammates and growth from those who I have played with before. I am excited for our spring season to come and whether or not these regulations are lifted, the Mount Mercy baseball team will be something special to watch.


Period Dramas Provide the Ultimate Escape

By Jada Veasey/Opinion Editor/May 14, 2020

I’ll do it. I’ll say the words we’re all thinking – right now, the world is a pretty strange place. If I contemplate our current situation too hard, I get teary-eyed and my mind begins to run a million miles a minute. Thinking about the present is sad and thinking about the future is downright scary.

Convocation ceremony encourages students that they belong

By Morgan Ingwersen, staff writer/August 26 On Aug. 22, Mount Mercy held its annual convocation ceremony, which was full of informational and inspirational speeches. One speaker, Nate Klein, vice president for Student Success, really stood out.  Convocation is a yearly ceremony that Mount Mercy holds in the Chapel of Mercy for the incoming freshmen and…

I’ll do it. I’ll say the words we’re all thinking – right now, the world is a pretty strange place. If I contemplate our current situation too hard, I get teary-eyed and my mind begins to run a million miles a minute. Thinking about the present is sad and thinking about the future is downright…

State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition Brings Welcome Changes to Zombie Survival Game

Above: Scouting a nearby farm. Below: Brother and sister watching guard over our settlement.

By Derek Hamilton/News Editor/May 13, 2020

I’ve been tirelessly searching for a quality quarantine game to review. I use a complex array of criteria including the longevity of the game, resonance and whether the game is exactly “new.” I have dabbled with a lot of games, and while some of them have been good, few have met my criteria.

I stumbled on the sequel to a game I played for maybe an hour, State of Decay. I thought the game had a lot of potential but didn’t seem quite ready for the stage yet. State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition is a massive improvement. 

Juggernaut Edition is a revamped version of State of Decay 2’s base game, with two other game modes available. It is meant to make the game enhanced for experienced players and newbies alike.

It is a game that takes expert strategy. I frequently find myself pausing and considering my next move or moves. I spent at least half an hour just deciding which pair of survivors I should use to start the game. A couple more survivors are added to your circle after the introductory tutorial, and they’re both very helpful. The game has a steady difficulty curve, but punishes your mistakes.

Imminent doom is the norm in State of Decay 2. There is no way you can get everything you want to accomplish done. The game is designed to make you calculate tough decisions. Neglect a survivor enclave, as I did for the essential purpose of keeping my settlement alive, and they may become hostile. Survivors in your settlement are all playable, and they are all mortal. I have frequently resorted to making last-ditch scavenging escapades to find enough medical supplies to save infected and injured people. Play long enough and you’re going to lose survivors.

Different survivors have different personalities and make different types of leaders. Using your survivors’ strengths can be crucial to your survival.

Right now, I have a warlord type leader. This allows me to upgrade a building plot that used to only hold four beds and can now hold eight for a morale penalty. So, I’ll find a way to upgrade my command post, gain the ability to use another outpost, which is essentially a forward-operating base that brings daily supplies, and use that outpost at something like an espresso bar that’ll bring positive morale into my community. 

This is a great survival game that will keep you coming back for more. Fighting the zombie plague and doing everything you can to fight infection resonates in this time with our struggle to stay healthy, part of the reason I chose this game.

You might not think struggling to survive in a plague-ravaged world would be very good escapism, but it is a good contrast. It reminds you that things could be worse, while helping you confront the situation. 

State of Decay 2 was developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft. You could easily sink a lot of time in this game, and as you become invested in your characters drama unfolds even if the game doesn’t have much of a real story of its own.


In Times of Crisis, We Must Adapt

Staff Editorial: The Opinion of Times Editors

With the constant flurry of developments about COVID-19, it’s hard to stay on top of the news. But with each instance of action and inaction comes the inevitable question: Are we doing enough?

Questions like this are difficult to answer at times, but they’re necessary to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect each other and to move forward with knowledge that will protect us in the future.

It’s also vital that we consider what we’re all learning from this. No one should forget that, with no pandemic response team and not nearly enough ventilators, supplies and COVID-19 test kits, we weren’t prepared for this scenario.

In the future we need to be faster to respond and we need to have the systems in place to be able to do so. There’s much to be learned from this by studying the way that different areas handled quarantine and testing, and with this, we can find a more swift and effective way to respond should something like this happen again.

It’s important that we take the lessons we’re learning, and we use them moving forward. The ability to work together and slow the spread of COVID-19 is an invaluable one, and we need to be more prepared for this as a community, as a state and as a country. But what do we want to happen? What are realistic changes to expect?

For many, this pandemic is pointing out glaring and obvious flaws in our healthcare system, as well as the startling lack of supplies our healthcare workers have when dealing with something of this magnitude.

Because of the push, the creator of the N95 mask has come out of retirement to find ways to safely sanitize and reuse them. Some drugmakers are capping the co-pay cost of insulin at a fraction of the wildly inflated prices they’ve been advertising for years—further proof that such a thing is possible, we just need to fight for it.

We may even see masks become more common in the U.S. In several Eastern countries, it’s normal to wear face masks when sick—it isn’t uncommon to see someone wearing one in public. This isn’t to protect themselves from others, but to make sure they’re limiting their ability to infect other people.

With current recommendations to wear a mask in public to reduce contagions and uncertainty to the nature of this virus, Americans might grow to use them when sick as well.

We may see a rise in people being able to do their jobs remotely. Since COVID-19 hit the U.S., many offices and services have gone completely online (for example, many mental health services are hosting online counseling sessions, including Mount Mercy’s Marriage and Family Therapy program, which is offering telehealth counseling support).

We may see more flexibility to include this kind of work in the future, but it’s important to note that this has a number of other possible applications.

All on-campus events have been canceled for the semester, but should they be? Important guest lecturers and speaker events could easily be streamed online for Mount Mercy students and community members alike. Though the transition period and the growing pains might be difficult, it could foster more of a sense of community and normalcy while giving viewers a closer approximation to the opportunities they would have had pre-pandemic.

We also need to move on from this with a renewed sense of respect to all of the essential workers that make life possible during times like this. This includes the healthcare workers who are doing their best in an unforeseeable situation and the schoolteachers that provide the education that so many parents are struggling with right now, but it’s also the trash collectors, the truck drivers, the fulfillment center and grocery store workers, and so many more. It is because of these people that we’re able to keep going on.

Many of us don’t like uncertainty, but humans are adaptable above all else, and we’re capable of creating good change if we learn from our mistakes and we fight for it. We’re all capable of coming together in times of crisis, even when coming together means staying 6 feet apart.

New Netflix Film ‘Extraction’ Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

By Veronica Jons/Editor-in-Chief/May 14, 2020

Despite Extraction being written by Joe Russo, the co-director for “Avengers: Endgame,” the new film did not live up to expectations after its release on April 24.

The movie started out very, very slowly with a flash-forward teaser of the very end of the movie, to only flashback to two days earlier when India’s most famous drug dealer’s son gets kidnapped by Amir, Bangladesh’s most well-known drug lord.

While being held for ransom, actor Chris Hemsworth, playing the character Tyler Rake, takes a break from being an alcoholic missionary to jump back into his Special Forces position. The goal is to save the son by extracting him from the drug ring, hence the title “Extraction.”

This movie is ranked on Netflix as #1 in the United States, yet I don’t see why. This movie is similar to the Bourne series, John Wick, and even the last few Mission: Impossibles. Throughout the story, Tyler’s action scenes go from amazingly staged, to overdone and repetitive. He kills like a soldier, not giving the viewers any personality; it’s all seriousness with precision. It’s a run-of-the-mill action movie. Personally, I’d rather watch the previously listed movies instead.

The most ‘on the edge of your seat’ moment in the 1 hour and 57 minutes of the film is the 12-minute one shot fight scene. Yes, one shot. The producers in an interview admitted to doing it all in one go, no breaks or editing in between.

This scene is intense with not only a car chase (because who doesn’t like those?), but also a foot chase, fistfight-turned-gunfight, then back into a car chase! This is definitely the heart and soul of the movie “Extraction.” However, because of the importance and seriousness of the plot, the scene takes away from that.

The dialogue is interesting, to say the least. My biggest pet peeve in movies is when the word usage is unrealistic. The 14-year-old Indian son says, “You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.” Oh yeah, very realistic! Or at one point, Tyler tells the son, “We just got attacked by the Goonies from hell.” Who says that? Comparing foreign drug lords, murderers, and kidnappers to the Goonies? Absolutely not.

To add to my bitter disappointment of this movie, it tries to paint a beautiful soul struggling to find his place. Tyler is shown throughout the movie in flashbacks with his young son who was battling cancer. It eventually shows he loses his battle, and now Tyler is grieving by becoming an alcoholic and going on a killing spree. How enduring is that? He is not a soul-searching white man in a foreign country or a poor soul that’s been tortured (like the movie tries to portray); he is a hired killer in a poor country trying to kill its citizens. Period.

Overall, if you are looking for a greatly rehearsed, acted, and edited action-packed movie, this is for you. I enjoyed the fight scenes, just not the blinkered politics throughout it. This is a typical action thriller movie that is a good option if anyone is looking for a new movie on Netflix. I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Sanders’ Exit From Race Represents Divided Democratic Party

By Jada Veasey/Opinion Editor/ May 14, 2020

On April 8, Berne Sanders’ team announced that the Vermont senator would be suspending his presidential campaign. The news came directly after Sanders’ disappointing performance in an upsetting primary election in Wisconsin—the state still held in-person voting, despite the COVID-19 pandemic raging on.

In a livestream, Sanders said, “So while we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. And so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”

Many Americans may claim to have seen this coming, as Sanders has been largely removed from the campaign trail for the past few weeks. He shifted his focus away from the presidential race and instead concentrated on the Senate’s efforts to pass a COVID-19 stimulus package. Sanders was a key part of the bill’s passing through congress. But in reality, Sanders’ words were quite truthful—he’d garnered the support of many, especially the younger voting demographic.

Though Sanders was not my initial first choice in this presidential race (that honor belongs to Elizabeth Warren, a fact obvious from an impressive t-shirt collection and a number of donation receipts), he was certainly one of my top contenders. His policies were exciting, and far more progressive than the ones proposed by former Vice President Joe Biden, who now has a completely clear path to the Democratic nomination, as no other competitors remain in the race.

I feel as if Sanders’ exit from the race represents a very divided Democratic party. Biden and Sanders couldn’t be more different—Sanders swings quite firmly to the left on the political spectrum, while Biden’s career has been built on centrist ideals.

Sanders’ base is committed to making the party more progressive, while Biden’s call out for party unification and a move towards centrist policies. It seems to me that it will be difficult for the Democratic party to band together and agree to back Biden, especially considering that there are still voters lingering on candidates that dropped out months ago, like Senators Cory Booker or Kamala Harris. The party is fractured.

The Democrats ought to get their party platform together so their voting base can have a clear understanding of just what they’re expected to be supporting when the general election against President Trump happens in November. Without a clear platform, voters may become bitter, or even apathetic enough to avoid voting all around.

‘Borderlands 3’ Keeps Players Coming Back for More

Zane the Operative, one of four playable class characters in “Borderlands 3,” who each come with their own broad abilities and skill trees (above). The game features several weapons for a number of missions and side quests (below).

By Derek Hamilton/News Editor/May 14, 2020

In the past, I have written reviews of new games for the Mount Mercy Times, but being locked down at home, I am finishing up games I have purchased but not played in an effort to help fellow gamers make decisions about the best game to play during a quarantine.

I began with a game I got for Christmas, whose previous iterations have made me a major fan. And if you are too, this might be your favorite. I’m talking about Borderlands 3.

After about 40 hours, my journey through the third Borderlands installment draws to a close. Who am I kidding? This game is just getting started. With tons of ways to continue playing and replay, Borderlands 3 is sure to keep me eagerly returning for more. I could play this game a thousand hours and it would still be fun and fresh.

I began my voyage as the new operative class. The four new classes are operative, beast master, siren, and gunner. Each class has a few different action skills to choose from. I went with a hologram version of myself that fought alongside me. Borderlands is a fast-paced looter-shooter RPG–that is, a first-person shooter in which you spend a lot of time managing loot, with role-playing game elements like skill trees within which to spend level-up points.

Borderlands 3 is pure mayhem. The story is as insane as the gameplay and the universe the game takes place in. A new bandit cult, the Children of the Vault, are following two new villains, Tyreen and Troy, to unlock all the monster-containing vaults across the alien galaxy! It is up to you, vault hunter, to stop them.

In times like this, it is fun to have a game that is good at occupying your mind. Borderlands can certainly do that spectacularly. The combat is frantic chaos that will test your abilities. More than occupying your mind, this game exercises it, as well. You’ll be weighing the stats between the literal billions of guns and mods, trying to figure out how to best manage the combat you’re up against.

The art in Borderlands 3 is something worth noting. This is the first Borderlands on this generation of console, and it does not disappoint.

For one thing, we are not stuck on the planet Pandora, or its moon, as we were in past games. We explore rich, diverse environments all done in the signature, cartoonish Borderlands style. The music is a vast improvement over previous iterations as well. Gone is atonal throat-singing, gone is repetitive dubstep. In its place is music that suits the atmosphere and enriches the experience.

I suggest you do all the side missions in this game. They’re fun, for one thing, but also, you will want the extra experience for a lot of the bosses. This game is a lot harder than past games if you are familiar. There are also a lot more bosses, which is a good thing, just something to be aware of so you don’t get in too deep on a boss fight.

Student Athletes Face Uncertainty Amidst Closures, Schedule Revisions

By Aaron Golding/Business Manager/May 14, 2020

As most of you have heard, Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has been in numerous meetings about revising the spring athletic seasons. Gov. Kim Reynolds has extended school closures until April 30, so IHSAA hopes that students will be able to finish their seasons once classes resume. This will not only allow students to come back to the classrooms, but they will be able to continue participating in spring sports.

With Iowa extending multiple state tournaments into early to middle of June, it may cause some conflicts with three or four sport athletes. Softball and baseball in Iowa are very unusual when comparing them to other states. The school sport seasons are played during the summer so this may affect some early games with players in other sports. Most athletes will be fine with this because it will allow students to finish seasons they have missed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

With the IHSAA trying to complete the 2020 spring seasons, it allows students to compete and possibly have colleges recruit them in those sports. This is a great choice for high schools especially if the school year resumes because students will be able to finish their seasons. It is easier for high schools to extend and move back their competitions where colleges are in a dilemma. I say this because most universities and colleges have gone to strictly online only courses to finish out the spring semester.

Online courses mean students are going to be going home to save money and to spend more time with family. Universities to complete the 2020 spring sports seasons was not feasible. With this outbreak, it caused major sporting events to cancel such as conference tournaments for all winter sports. It also cancelled March Madness, other major sporting events, and postponed numerous tournaments and concerts that were planned in the spring and summer months. Universities knew they would have to cancel these things due to the outbreak to keep students safe because they didn’t know how long it would take place.

The NCAA and NAIA have both extended eligibility to student athletes for two more semesters which will allow students to compete in the season they have missed due to this crisis. Due to this revision, athletes will now have twelve semesters to finish all four years of eligibility instead of ten. This will be beneficial to athletes like myself who have redshirted a season due to an injury or any other situation that they have had. Without this designation, other athletes and I would have missed competing in a season due to this unfortunate crisis.

High schools are not able to grant an extra year of eligibility because most students are going off to college. I applaud the efforts of the IHSAA to revise the spring seasons in hopes student athletes can resume competition. This is the one thing high schools can do and it would drive me crazy if I was going to miss a season due to this crisis. It should make athletes feel better that officials are wanting to try and finish the spring seasons even though they would finish later than normal.

Even though college athletes and I would have loved to participate in the 2020 spring season, we are glad that the NCAA and NAIA have both extended their eligibility requirements. It allows many athletes to recover from previous seasons and focus on strengthening to be stronger for next year. I can speak for Mount Mercy because it is offering graduating student athletes a 10-20 percent discount on their master programs. This was very beneficial for individuals who were looking to come back to compete that missed out on their fourth year of eligibility.

UPDATE: Spring season sports will no longer be making up their seasons after May 1.


Staff Editorial: The Opinion of Times Editors

What COVID-19 Means to Mustangs

This is a very strange time to be alive.

All our classes are online, the Mount Mercy Times faces an uncertain future, and we feel trapped in our homes by an invisible enemy. Streets, restaurants and shops are empty. Even those of  who are a little older and remember 9/11 have never seen America mobilize like this before.

We are banding together while staying apart. And we do it not just for ourselves, but our fellow humans.

This is what is most important during these trying times. Humanity. The world may be changed by this outbreak, so let’s not let it be for the worse. It is bad enough so many people are getting sick and dying, and all the suffering of essential personnel like healthcare workers.

Let’s not stack a racist legacy on top of it. Even president Trump, who for weeks was crossing “COVID-19” out of his notes and replacing it with “the Chinese virus,” has changed his tone and publicly said don’t be afraid of or resent Asians just because this outbreak started in China. This clearly isn’t a problem contained to China. A virus doesn’t have an ethnicity.

This doesn’t need to be said to some people, but racist attacks against Asians have spiked since this all started. Again, after 9/11, racism against Muslims spiked, and that is an embarrassing stain on how much this country really banded together at that time. 

Another important thing to keep in your heart during this ordeal is that a great many people have it far worse than most of us. Healthcare workers are risking it all going into work every day. They work inhuman shifts, and at the end of the day go home with their faces covered in bruises from the protective gear they have to wear.

Food workers in grocery stores and take-out restaurants are also on the front line, and many of them are doing it for minimum wage. While the stimulus floats around Washington, there are people who need money now and don’t know how they’re going to pay rent and eat. Then there’s those who have suffered the disease, or died or lost someone to it. Imagine what that funeral is going to be like. It may not even happen, which could really upset the grieving process. 

So, let’s be our best selves. Let’s only go out when it is necessary. Let us take the Mercy tradition into our hearts, and if nothing else, pray for those at risk. Through prayer you may find guidance within yourself.

Maybe that means it is time to buy a new game console to keep yourself entertained, or stick to simple meals you can make at home. Take precautions to safeguard yourself like washing your hands and not touching your face, but also don’t freak out. Eventually this will blow over. The better we are all about it, the faster that will be and the easier the transition will be.

Reach out to people who might be lonely, or if you are feeling lonely or scared yourself don’t be afraid to reach out.

These are uncertain times. But The Times will be doing everything we can to continue bringing you content that matters to you. True, we don’t have sports or events at school to brief you on, but we have a staff of students who all have tips on what to do while isolated, personal stories and other insight.

Let us know what you would like to read about during this pandemic. If you’re life is touched directly by COVID-19 and you’re willing to share that experience, please shoot us an email and a student journalist will contact you. We are launching a special blog of personal experiences called “The Covid Diaries,” if you have a story to share there, please let us know.

It is a strange time to be alive, but we are alive. And let’s work together to keep that true for as many people as we can. This current crisis is not forever, but how we react to it will say a lot about who we are.

Opinion/Personal Point of View of the Writer

The Problem with Autism Speaks

By Elsa Gustafson

Staff Writer

Autism: One in every 59 people born in the United States has some form of it. A well-known organization that claims to support individuals with this disorder is Autism Speaks. But is this company really all it’s made out to be?

Organizations that claim to support autistic individuals are important to me. I am a caregiver/family member of my younger brother who is autistic. At the end of the day, I want help for him, not me. I want him to be able to thrive and live his life to the absolute fullest. Therefore, it is important to know who is behind the organization and what their cause is.

Autism Speaks was created in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a boy with autism. To this day, they have not had a single person with autism on their board of directors or in any decision-making position. Along with that, they have continuously portrayed autism as a burden to the parents and siblings of those affected by it, rather than as a uniqueness.

Take, for example, their ad titled “I Am Autism” that the company made in the late 2000s. It begins with a dark, menacing voice saying various things such as, “I work faster than pediatric AIDs, cancer, and diabetes combined,” and, “If you are happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails.”

The commercial flips halfway through, with an uplifting atmosphere as the voices of families with autistic relatives speaking out, saying that their love will overcome. However, the beginning is very hard to get past. They compared autism to AIDs, amongst other diseases, as if it is just as bad or worse. The focus of the video was how terrible autism is and how brave their families are for dealing with it.

More recently in 2015, the official Autism Speaks YouTube page posted the “Sounding The Alarm Documentary.” One would think that after taking down previous videos due to backlash, they would listen to the people and make changes in their attitudes and focuses. But yet again, this documentary is hyper-focused on those without autism and how they have to deal with it.

They act as if ‘high-functioning’ autism does not exist. There are many adults with autism who have jobs, relationships, hobbies and entirely normal lives. Where is the support for them? Their company name is “Autism Speaks,” but they never let actual autistic individuals speak for themselves.

My brother is amongst the autistic population who is unable to speak for himself, but my family and I know that he is valuable and his life matters. I also know that there are those with autism who are able to speak for themselves, and they deserve to be heard. People with all ranges of autism deserve awareness, acceptance and assistance.

Much of the money that goes to Autism Speaks is put into research. Currently, there is a prenatal test for down syndrome, and part of their plan is to find a similar test to see if there is autism before the child is born. This is likely why there is little or no focus on older individuals with autism, or those whose autism is not as noticeable as others’. 

Autism Speaks is a hypocritical name for an organization that only speaks over individuals who have autism. In order to make progress in our society, autistic individuals must be seen as the unique and valuable people they are. There are other organizations that I would highly recommend you give your time and money to instead, such as Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Opinion/Personal Point of View of the Writer

Democratic Race-And Then There Were Two

By Jada Veasey

Opinion Editor

With the historic COVID-19 pandemic dominating every form of news these days, it’s easy to forget that America is in the midst of a presidential primary election cycle. The race has narrowed substantially in the past few weeks, and the Democrats are down to just two potential candidates – former Vice President Joe Biden, and current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

The most recent resignation from the race came on March 19, as Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard officially suspended her presidential campaign. Gabbard’s exit from the race prompted many Americans to ask the question, “Wait, she was still running?”

Many political analysts seem unsurprised that Sanders and Biden are the final two candidates in the running. The two men had a lot of support from the beginning. They’re also poised on two opposite ends of the Democrat’s political spectrum; Biden is quite moderate and is considered by many to be a centrist, while Sanders occupies a much more progressive and left-leaning stance. Many of their proposed policy plans are starkly different. 

Only time will tell which man will secure the Democratic nomination, but at the moment, Biden is leading. So far, Obama’s former right-hand man has secured 1,217 delegates, while Sanders lags behind with 914. 1,901 delegates are needed to win the nomination.

It’s also worth noting that in recent weeks, Biden has picked up a slew of prominent endorsements, including several of his former competitors. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar are just a few of the prominent political figures that have recently pledged their support to Biden.

Once considered a frontrunner, Elizabeth Warren has yet to back either remaining candidate, much to the puzzlement of political pundits and former Warren diehards alike. 

The rest of the race will be interesting to watch play out, especially considering the impact that COVID-19 has had on politics. Campaign events have pretty much been put on hold, as many states ban large public gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus. Senator Sanders has been on the Senate floor, hoping to pass bills that will provide economic relief after the viral crisis ends. Several states and territories have postponed their primary elections due to the pandemic. 

In essence, there is really no clear-cut timeline as to when Americans will know who the Democratic nominee is. 




Staff Editorial

Sexual Assault on Campus: Let’s Talk About That

As noted in a news story, a recent film showing on sexual assaults has brought an important issue to light.

According to national statistics, one in five women have a chance of being sexually assaulted within their four years of college. This statement haunts many young women attending colleges and universities across the nation.

Every school official says their institution takes sexual assault and the safety of their students very seriously. How do students know whether or not this is actually a reality?

Imagine this: You are at a campus party; you’ve had nothing to drink and are having a fun time with your friends dancing. All of a sudden you are grabbed by your jean’s back pocket and pulled down onto the nearby couch that is in a dark, deserted area of the room.

A guy that you see in the cafeteria, see on the sidewalks to classes, you may have even seen him in a class before, is fondling your body even as you try to push his hands away. You keep saying “stop” and trying to get up, but his weight is too much and all he does is laugh at you. Finally, after what feels far too long, his friends notice and save you from the already too-far situation.

This is not a hypothetical situation; this is an experience shared with us by a Mount Mercy student.

When things like this happen, do students report it or let it go? A big problem that could be clouding many students’ judgements is the connections that the person has on campus. If the student is well-known on campus, an athlete, or otherwise heavily involved, the victim may worry about others knowing the attacker and rumors quickly spreading, or worse, victim shaming.

This is a problem that so many students at small campuses are dealing with. Despite having the “family-like” or “tight knit atmosphere,” in this case that feeling could be doing more damage than good.

Most colleges struggle with sexual misconduct and assaults, but Mount Mercy has a relatively low number of reported cases. While this could be accurate and a positive thing, it’s also possible that incidents are under-reported to school officials.

Maybe students don’t feel confident enough to report because of how small Mount Mercy is. The faculty and staff are authority figures, but they also typically try to be friendly and build good connections with students.

Victims may worry that their story won’t be taken seriously because the assaulter is well-liked by faculty and staff. To add to that, victims may not be comfortable filing a report because others may find out and their reputation could be tarnished. Students may just care too much about others’ opinions to help themselves.

It’s no secret that news and rumors spread like wildfire at a small school. No one wants to be judged, talked about, stared at, or given a negative reputation. Could reporting an assault on campus really do that?

It’s important for students to remember that if you are able to save another victim, stop another attack or put a stop to the assaulter, you would be seen with respect and might be able to prevent future assaults. After all, most attackers are multiple offenders. However, the responsibility should not all be on the victim.

It would help if public safety patrols at night were more visible. Students may feel safer if there were more cameras in dormitory halls and stairwells and better lighting outside at night.

This doesn’t just affect women. Men are overlooked when it comes to sexual assault. Although there is the stigma that only women can be a victim of sexual assault, that is not the case.

There are many options to choose from when reporting. Students can contact public safety, a member of the Title IX team or a trusted faculty or staff member. However, those are all face-to-face options. Many students may feel too ashamed and traumatized to tell someone. A solution could be a link on the MMU app that gives you a form to fill out and submit or email that then goes to the Title IX team. From there, the team would be able to contact the victim to set up a meeting when the victim feels comfortable enough to confide in them one-on-one.

It is the responsibility of the student body to come together and make reporting assaults on campus the least painful experience possible. No one should have to go through it alone. No one should be too embarrassed or ashamed to speak out.

If you share your story and file a report, you can stop another person from being a victim. It can be a painful personal experience, but please report—you can choose to save fellow ’Stangs.





Look for new stories soon

The Mount Mercy Times is committed to covering the news as MMU becomes, for an unknown period of time, a virtual community. Please contact us with your story ideas, and any concerns or questions you may have. We also welcome opinions, letters, guest columns, etc. Mustangs, let’s say in touch. The Times