I’m a Cis, White Girl and I Was Almost the Victim of A Hate Crime

 By Ruby Samuels

Two weeks ago, a bearded man with a long robe and a koran threatened me and my girlfriend with a switchblade. We were on a train coming home from an art house in Brooklyn and I had my arm around her. I guess my arm must have been pretty offensive because the man screamed, knife in hand, “I fucking hate lesbians and faggots! Hate them! One of these days, I’m gonna do something about it.”

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Attend Turban Day 2016!

By Jessica Gregory

Last year, I attended an amazing event called Turban Day. The event is held by CU Sewa 11155136_763371423770154_2176876862737350987_oand is happening yet again! The 4th annual Columbia University Turban Day will be held this Friday, April 15th, from 12 pm to 5pm. Why is it amazing? Because you can get a turban tied by one of the many volunteers at the event (to help de-stigmatize the Sikh Turban), and at the same time learn about Sikhism as a faith.

For those of you who don’t know, CU Sewa is a social justice and community service organization based on the Sikh value of sewa, meaning ‘selfless service’. Their events incorporate values of acceptance, equality, and service to speak to the diversity of experiences in the community. Read More »

Need to Know: John Boehner’s Resignation

by Tori Fourman

On Friday, September 25th, John Boehner announced his resignation as Speaker of the House. His announcement came just the day after Pope Francis, while in Washington during visit to the United States, spoke in an address to Congress. Boehner’s announcement came as a shock to many, though he did say that he had planned to announce his resignation at the end of November regardless.

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For Democrats, Midterms Matter Too

by Laura K. Garrison

Where were YOU last Tuesday?

Last Tuesday was Election Day, and only 13 percent of voters who cast ballots were between the ages of 18 and 29. Let that sink in – 13 percent. If this statistic doesn’t elicit a response, consider this: almost 25 percent of voters on Tuesday were senior citizens who largely support the Republican Party. Tuesday’s youth turnout was better than the previous midterms when, in 2010, people aged 18-29 constituted 12 percent of voters. During the 2012 presidential elections, however, almost 20 percent of voters were between 18 and 29. I ask you, politically engaged and socially aware college students, where were you last Tuesday? Apparently not at the polls.

It was not a good day for Democrats, who lost control of the Senate when Republicans gained seven seats (two races are still in the process of determining a winner – Alaska and Louisiana). Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mark Udall of Colorado were among those unseated by their Republican challengers, though Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire was able to hold on and defeat Scott Brown, the carpetbagger former Senator from Massachusetts. The Democrats also lost eleven seats in the House, though this number could grow. As a result, both houses of Congress will be overwhelming red.

None of this is much of a surprise, at least not for the political pundits who have been predicting disaster for the Democrats for months. History shows that the President’s party often loses a significant number of seats during his second term midterms – remember the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006. Many Democratic candidates were doing everything in their power to distance themselves from President Obama, making clear that they sometimes disagreed with him on key issues and even going so far as to avoid answering questions as to whether they had voted for him in 2012. There are many reasons why the Dems lost on Tuesday, among them their inability to campaign on the issues that matter to their liberal base. But young people must bear some of the blame.

As a student of Political Science who analyzes election results like it’s her job, I can say the 2014 midterms confirmed some of the truths of American electoral politics. Democrats come out to vote during presidential elections but stay home for midterms, while Republicans show up to the polls for every election. Young people, who traditionally support the Democratic Party, also come out in droves during presidential elections but can’t be found two years later. Most of the electorate has little interest in what happens between the big races, and this is an extremely irresponsible attitude to have.

If you supported President Obama in 2012 but didn’t vote last week, you’ve done him and his administration a great disservice. What happened on Election Day will have a pivotal impact on what the President is able to accomplish in his last two years in office and will have considerable implications for his legacy in American history. Republicans, empowered with majorities in both houses, will no longer just obstruct President Obama’s agenda, they’ll downright destroy it. Any legislation passed will be done with little input from Democrats and will be vetoed by the President. Obama will be forced to rely on Executive Orders, which will undoubtedly be criticized as undemocratic by the right. There is a very real chance that Congress will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and impeach President Obama. If you thought the last two years in Congress were bad, the next two will be even worse.

It only doesn’t count if you don’t vote.

I would like to think that every eligible voter on Barnard and Columbia’s campus cast a ballot on Tuesday, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology. Considering the numbers, however, that doesn’t seem likely. While there are no doubt significant barriers to voters – disenfranchising voter ID laws in states across the country that target groups that traditionally support Democrats, gerrymandered districts meant to protect incumbents, and complex voting laws that make it unnecessarily difficult to vote – we are lucky enough to attend a university that schedules our fall break during Election Day with the hope that we will cast our ballots and take an interest in our country’s fate.

There’s no denying that this campus skews liberal, more liberal than most. In class and on Low Steps, students make sure their voices are heard. If you’re excited that you can be on your parents’ health insurance until you’re 26, if you believe a woman’s health care decisions are best made between her and her doctor, if you believe climate change is a real threat to the future of the planet, if you believe the government should be investing in college students rather than making money off their college loan interest, you should have voted on Tuesday and voted for the Democrats. If you didn’t even make the effort, you’re as much a part of the problem as the Republicans who prefer gridlock to compromise.

In reality, there’s probably little that could be done to keep the Republicans from taking the Senate. But apathy is the biggest enemy to democracy, and I now can’t turn on the TV without hearing Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who in a few short weeks could be the Majority Leader, gloat about how the American people have spoken. No, they haven’t spoken, many of them couldn’t be bothered to vote.

In 2016, young people will return to the polls in (probably) record numbers, and the Democrats could very well regain what has been lost. If you really care about the environment, women’s reproductive health, immigration, universal healthcare, and any of the other issues Democrats care about, you’ll vote not only in 2016 but in 2018 also. Because midterms matter too.

Laura K. Garrison is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of nafme.org and Wikipedia.com

Why Every Barnard Student Should Be Watching Veep

by Laura K. Garrison

Where are my Veeple people?

Tonight, girls around campus will share HBO GO passwords and crowd around lounge televisions to watch the continuing saga that is the fourth season of Game of Thrones and the season seven premiere of Mad Men. Afterwards, they will return to their last-minute homework, plan for L-course signup, and eventually try to get some sleep for the busy week ahead. Unfortunately, these students will be missing out on one of the funniest, and most underrated, television shows currently on air: HBO’s Veep, starring Seinfeld‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, My Girl‘s Anna Chlumsky, and Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale. Veep has been well-received by critics, garnering numerous awards including two Emmys for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and one for Tony Hale.

Season three of Veep premiered last Sunday, as Vice President Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) stopped in Iowa during her book tour for Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey. Her bumbling staff is back in DC for the wedding of her Director of Communications, Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh), and the President (unknown, but referred to as POTUS) is forced to make a major announcement after a social media-related mishap by Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), the annoying White House liaison to the Vice President. Though off to a bit of a slow start, season three promises a bright future for the Veep’s political career, including a possible presidential campaign, new staff members, and continued rivalries with some of Washington’s most influential men.

Every Barnard student should watch Veep, a true lesson in women’s strength and leadership.

Selina Meyer is the Vice President of the United States, the closest a woman has ever come to the office of the president.

While Selina perhaps isn’t the greatest example of women in elected positions, she is fiery and determined and doesn’t take crap from anyone. After serving as a senator in Congress, she ran for president but was instead chosen as a candidate for VP. Despite this setback, she still has her eyes on the White House and is an inspiration to women running for office everywhere.

She has spent years fighting the patriarchy, so nothing can stop her.

During season two, Selina heads to Finland for a diplomatic trip in which she is fondled by the husband of the Finnish Prime Minister. Unable to report his behavior for political reasons, she vehemently decries the “axis of dick.” While there seems to be less emphasis on Selina’s gender than one might expect, in all her dealings with the powerful men of Washington she holds her own despite often being the only woman in the room.

She has a creative comeback for every situation, and I suggest you keep those tucked away for your own use.

As an HBO show, all of the characters on Veep use language not always appropriate in polite society. Selina in particular drops some of the best one liners against her political enemies. She often uses very colorful language and overt sexual innuendos to describe whatever difficult situation she and her staff find themselves in, and she sometimes borders on being verbally abusive when dealing with members of the DC establishment. She speaks her mind and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

She hires other strong women in important positions, who equally can hold their own in male-dominated Washington politics.

Amy Brookheimer (Chlumsky) serves as Selina’s Chief of Staff. Amy is by far the most competent person in the Vice President’s inner circle, and she is often tasked with fixing whatever disaster threatens the Veep’s political future (including claiming she was pregnant and miscarried when rumors swirl about a pregnancy test in the VP’s office). Most importantly, she is Selina’s friend and confidant and remains loyal to the Vice President during her most trying moments. Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw), who refers to herself as the “third most important person in the world” after the President and VP, is Selina’s personal assistant. She is abrasively sarcastic with callers on the phone and is dismissive of anyone she deems unworthy of her time. Like Amy, she is one of the few competent people in the Vice President’s office, which during last season almost fell apart during her absence due to testimony at a congressional hearing. In a running joke, Selina asks whether the President has called, to which Sue usually curtly replies, “No.”

Veep airs Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO and can be watched online at HBO GO.

Laura K. Garrison is a junior at Barnard and Editor in Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of HBO AsiaVulture, Tumblr, and Thought Catalog.

Hobby Lobby Remains Willfully Ignorant About Lady Parts

by Danielle Owen

… And people say that sex education isn’t important. The US Supreme Court will soon provide a ruling on Hobby Lobby’s appeal that Obamacare infringes upon the corporation’s “religious freedom,” or rather, their right to force their religious beliefs on their female employees. The lesser version of superior craft store Michaels has claimed that Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate is “forcing them to violate the law or violate their belief that life begins at conception – a choice no company should have to make.” Apparently, not a single person in the entire corporation knows how to use Google, otherwise it would have taken them five minutes to realize that neither regular birth control nor emergency contraception has anything at all to do with abortion.

How is it that such an ill-informed claim has gone completely unchecked? It may have something to do with the tragic fact that many people still find the idea of women having premarital, consensual sex too scary to think about. Clearly, Hobby Lobby’s fight isn’t actually about saving “innocent lives” or “religious freedom” as they claim it is. If that were true, the corporation wouldn’t be investing in contraception manufacturers. Instead, the entire debate centers on Hobby Lobby’s right to police the sex lives of its female employees.

Frankly, I’m a little scared of the Supreme Court’s eminent ruling: not only is the Court dominated by a five-justice conservative majority, several of the male justices have made clear during arguments that they have little understanding of how birth control actually works, or the multitude of uses the Pill has. A recent report reveals that in Mississippi, sexually active girls are being equated to dirty chocolate, suggesting that the nationwide panic about female sexuality won’t be over soon. Meanwhile, men can still enjoy free coverage of Viagra and penis pumps, as exposed in a hilarious Daily Show segment. However, the blatant ignorance and disregard for facts expressed by Hobby Lobby’s appeal is no laughing matter, not when 60% of women use the pill for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, such as treating ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and endometriosis.

Stay tuned for the Court’s ruling, which could drastically limit birth control provisions in Obamacare and radically reevaluate the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Danielle Owen is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of UltraViolet.

And In Other News…

by Mariah Castillo

Stay informed Barnard.

As of the time I am writing this article, I’ve been at Barnard for one year, six months, and sixteen days including NSOP, and while I can say it’s been an overall wonderful experience, my biggest gripe with my time here is that MoHi is basically a sanitized bubble, blissfully away from what’s happening in the world. Add to that the busy schedules of students, the spotty internet connection, and the fact that you have to pay for cable in your room, we might see students who don’t even have a clue of what’s going on outside our little zip codes of 10025 and 10027. While yes, news about things going on around campus is important, why should we limit ourselves to that? In this day and age, it’s pretty easy to find out what’s going on via our Facebook feeds and the blogosphere, so there’s practically no excuse to not have even a little inkling of the world beyond Barnard. With that being said, here are several events that have happened in the past two weeks. If you want to skip straight to the more lighthearted news, go right ahead.

You have to be cut off from the world in practically every way to not even know that something is going down. Here’s a little background to the crisis: In November 2013, the cabinet of President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an agreement with the European Union that would have strengthened trade ties between Ukraine and the EU. A little before this suspension, Ukraine’s Parliament rejected a bill that would have allowed opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country for medical treatment, one of the stipulations of the EU-Ukraine trade agreement. Instead of signing this agreement with the EU, Ukraine strengthened its ties to Russia, and protests started. Later that month, protests started to grow, and on November 24, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in Kiev, the biggest since the Orange Revolution almost ten years prior (Fun Fact: the Orange Revolution came about when reports of the 2004 presidential election being rigged surfaced; the winner of said election was Yanukovych!).

In December, protesters occupied City Hall and Independence Square in Kiev, with its largest crowd of 800,000 people. On December 17, Vladimir Putin agreed to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian debt as well as decrease the price of Russian gas supplies by about a third. In January, anti-protest laws were passed in Parliament but were later removed.

There was a brief truce in February, but that broke down, with 88 people killed in 48 hours. February 20 marked the bloodiest day in 77 years in Ukraine. A few days later, Yanukovych left the country, and Olexander Turchynov was named the interim president.

From late February onwards, the focus has shifted to Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine with a majority population of native Russian speakers. Pro-Russian gunmen seized key buildings in the region, and Putin was green-lit by the Russian Parliament to send troops to Crimea. The US and EU countries condemned this move, threatening Putin to stop. However, the Crimean Parliament formally asked to join Russia March 6, and there will be a referendum on March 16, so keep an eye out for that.

Early Saturday morning (or last Friday afternoon EST), the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, lost all communication with authorities and the company. It was flying relatively low (its signal was lost within a few hours of its take-off), so such sudden loss of contact is rare. Searches started that day in the Gulf of Thailand and have spread to the Andaman Sea, hoping to find any traces of the aircraft. Two oil slicks that were found in the sea, but neither of them was confirmed to be from the plane. There is speculation that this was a terrorist attack, but so far no organization has claimed responsibility. Hopefully everyone gets their answers soon.

The Disney movie Frozen recently hit the $1billion mark in the worldwide box office, marking the first time a film directed by a woman reached this milestone. It is the second animated movie, after Pixar’s Toy’s Story 3, and the first non-sequel animated film to do so. While my colleague on the blog has some choice words about the film[read them here and here] (and I personally can’t comment since I haven’t seen it myself), I still think it’s a nice way to start off Women’s History Month. It goes to show that women-led and women-directed films can be blockbusters. Now let me get my Wonder Woman movie.

Mariah Castillo is a sophomore at Barnard and the Food and New York Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of NorthJersey.com.