Professor Nancy Berns hopes to create discussion about the cultural and social issues that death and dying create with a sociology course.
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STORY BY ANNA ZAVELL
One person is sitting at a table for six in the dining hall. This person could be seen as friendless or pathetic, which could lead to them feeling uncomfortable.
An article on Huffington Post article called “For College Kids: How to Eat Alone in a Dining Hall” by Meg Schneider talks about how these feelings are nothing to worry about. And, there is no reason to skip a meal completely.
It’s a common fear for college students to worry about eating alone. Sometimes, class schedules may not match up with your friends’ schedules, which doesn’t allow for the same free time to grab something to eat. Or maybe your friends just don’t want to eat at all, but you do.
“I think it’s weird eating alone because I’m so used to always eating with other people,” said first-year Madison Schwarz. “At home, I’d be with my family, and in high school I would always eat with the same friends each day.”
In the article, Schneider says that these thoughts of how others perceive you are only in your head, and only your thoughts, not other’s.
To Schneider, it’s best to walk in looking happy, keep your head up and occasionally glance around and smile at anyone you may make eye contact with.
Some other suggestions Schneider offers for making eating alone less stressful are to bring a magazine, your computer or if you’re really ambitious, homework and study materials to keep focused and occupied instead of thinking about what others think of you.
“While it’s nice to eat with other people, sometimes eating alone is nice too,” sophomore Nick Bianchina said. “Having a roommate and all, it’s hard to find any alone time.”
An article by Lyan Wong titled “Students Skipping Meals Can Lead to Fatigue” stated that the most commonly skipped meals are breakfast and lunch.
“I rarely skip a meal, if I can’t find anyone to eat with, I instead get food from Quad and bring it back to my room,” Schwarz said. “I’d rather eat by myself in my room than not eat at all.”
Wong writes how skipping a meal will eventually lead to a drop in blood glucose levels, which leads to fatigue, making a student constantly feeling tired.
This feeling of tiredness results in a student depending upon energy enhancing drinks or food. After some time, a student’s learning ability may decrease.
“I would never consider skipping a meal. A dude has to eat,” Bianchina said. “Sometimes you have so much studying to do it becomes necessary to eat alone. I typically do this when I eat alone to maximize my work time.”
STORY BY JESSICA CAMPBELL
You open the door to your room and you’re greeted by repeated kisses. You were missed.
Whether you were gone for one hour or one day, your room is a happier place now that you’re back. You whipe the remaining saliva off your face.
Many believe the policy that forbids students from having pets in residence halls is absurd.
The policy, according to the Office of Residence Life Handbook, states that any pets, except for fish, are not allowed in the residence hall, as they can create potential for safety and sanitization hazards. If reasons to attempt ownership of the pet fails, an animal shelter may be called.
If you have fish in your dorm room, their tanks can be no larger than 10 gallons and must be removed from the residence hall for winter and spring break.
Jeff Foreman, senior, and Philip Degraffenreid, junior, saw the policy as a rule worth breaking.
“Boots was the nicest cat ever,” Degraffenreid said, reminiscing on his love for Boots the cat.
“It was funny because my RA, Lucas Baker, and basically the whole building knew about our pet. We took good enough care of him so nobody said anything.” Degraffenreid said.
Degraffenreid was more relaxed with Boots around.
“Pets are proven to reduce stress and it was fun to play with him. He was just an all around great cat,” Degraffenreid said.
Boots could be trusted to stay in the room alone while everyone else was at class.
“He would really just do his own thing,” Degraddenreid said.
Not everyone found this much ease when breaking the rules. Foreman was willing to risk everything to make sure Biblo had a nice home.
“We found Bilbo on the street. He was covered in mud and was frightened. We cleaned him up and got him his shots,” Foreman said.
Foreman, along with roommate Tyler Nelson, knew the rewards of having a pet outweighed the risks. But both residents went to great lengths to avoid trouble with their RA.
“We would sneak him out in a duffel bag. This is how we would take him outside to go to the bathroom or on a walk,” Foreman said.
Although it sounded bad, Biblo accepted the routine, knowing the duffel bag meant it was time to be outside.
“Biblo got plenty of attention. The girls rooming below us helped take care of him, but we made sure our RA never found out,” Foreman said.
Foreman’s love for Biblo overshadowed any doubt of potential punishment.
“The best part about having a dog was just how relaxing it is to have a pet. It was really cool to take him in and raise him. It just made me feel really good, and that was one of the best parts of having a dog.” Foreman replied.
Biblo is no longer a secret, and is living happily with Tyler Nelson’s parents in Colorado.
He enjoys being able to go outside without his duffel bag.
Sam Olea, a sophomore living in Goodwin-Kirk Hall, would love to come back from class and be greeted by a pet.
“You would come back to a loving animal who is excited to see you and play with you no matter what,” Olea said.
STORY BY ALEX PAYNE
Whether fueled by loneliness or an addiction, Internet pornography is more accessible than ever.
Pornography makes up about 12 percent of the Internet, and averages about 25 percent of search engine requests.
Sixty-four percent of college-age adult men and about 18 percent of college-aged women access porn at least once a week, according to Covenant Eye’s 2014 report on pornography statistics.
While pornography takes up a large chunk of the Internet, and more than half of college-aged males admit to viewing it, it is not mentioned explicitly in Drake University’s Acceptable Computer Use Policy for Students.
According to Drake Public Safety Analyst Peter Lundstedt, there is a reason for the issue being so vague in the policy.
“The reason behind that is the whole principle of academic freedom, which Drake values very highly as do most public institutions, private institutions and higher education,” Lundstedt said. “Because of that academic freedom we choose not to block ‘pornography,’ explicitly. So students are free to use the Drake Network to access that kind of content for good and bad purposes.”
That does not mean Drake does not track pornography access on the network.
If a student is doing a paper on the effects of pornography on modern humanity, or something like that, they are 100 percent free to do that, Lundstedt said.
Drake’s technology services does have the ability to log, track and locate any instances that do occur.
If Drake notices that accessing the content has become a problem for a student, they may send a notice or talk to the student.
The university has the ability to track down a certain individual by his or her devices, as it did earlier this semester when a threat was made on an anonymous social media app Yik Yak.
“Technologically, we were able to locate down to within 20 feet where that occurred,” Lundstedt said. “We can look at device names, username, any of that information.”
For junior Brennan Haymond, he sees the access of porn as a problem and would like to see the rates of porn-accessing decrease. Haymond working to create a group at Drake to help both men and women who have had problems with pornography, or who use it as a form of comfort. The group is based off of a program called “Porn Kills Love.”
“It destroys relationships,” Haymond said.
He said that blocking pornography on the Drake network will probably never happen since it is legal for consenting adults, but he wants to spread the word that it is a problem.
“You do not need porn in your life to feel better or good about yourself,” Haymond said. “Getting porn out of your life will actually better your relationship.”
Giving students academic freedom allows the access of pornographic content on the Drake network, but if it becomes a problem, Lundstedt said they have actions on how to deal with it.
“We have the ability to block, we have the ability to locate and track, and we choose not to block,” Lundstedt said. “We just take note and move on.”
STORY BY LAURA VOLLMER
Walking to the Bell Center in subzero temperatures can be quite treacherous for some. Fitness activities during the winter usually dwindles. However, this is not stopping Iowans’ determination. Iowa wants to be recognized nationally as the “healthiest state” by 2016.
According to a 2013 Gallup poll, Iowa was ranked 10th in the nation when it comes to physical, emotional and mental health. The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative’s website says it is “a privately led public initiative intended to inspire Iowans and their communities throughout the state to improve their health and happiness.”
The Initiative hopes to unite individuals, families, businesses, organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a community-focused effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.
Governor Terry Branstad has publicly endorsed this initiative and hopes to be push Iowa to No. 1.
There are many businesses and corporations taking part in this initiative. Companies from all around Iowa are promoting events and endorsements for their employees to become healthier. Many of the events include runs, walks and a weight-watch program with cash prizes.
Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines employee J.T. Cattle said his company has contributed to the effort.
“Our coworkers took part in the mile walk that occurred in October in Des Moines,” Cattle said. “Many organizations and companies participated in the walk to increase awareness of the health initiative. Furthermore, our group just started a wellness committee to promote healthy living.”
Principal Financial Group employee Jacob Repp emphasized how Principal is on board.
“Principal has been very involved in promoting health initiatives,” Repp said. “In the past two years I have worked there, there has been a large event involving a road race challenge that brings many people out to the event.”
There have been several “success” stories within Iowa from schools to state parks. The Grant Wood Mississippi River Region will be the location of the first strategic Iowa parks project. This region plans to better connect Iowans with outdoor recreational opportunities by expanding infrastructure, creating connections and improving the structural, economic and community connections for the region’s four state parks and scenic byways.
Otherwise, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco, Iowa gathered at the Crestwood High School gymnasium on Sept. 5 for a “kick-off to wellness” celebration.
At Drake University, students have also become more inclined to be actively involved through group fitness classes, the new Underground Fitness Center and the company’s involvement.
Campus organizations offer students the opportunity to get involved and promote healthy living styles. Clubs such as weightlifting club and Bulldog Swing Society provide ways to get involved other than the traditional exercise.
The Healthiest State Initiative provides different organizations for involvement that can promote healthy living choices. Some of the groups are Iowa Bicycle Coalition, Iowa Trails Council, Iowa Food Bank Association and Iowa Gardening Association.
Drake graduate Isaac Twombly believes the state is doing well.
“I believe any initiative to make Iowa healthier is a step in the right direction,” Twombly said.
STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Most people have a specific taste in music, but does that taste affect how smart they are?
One study tried to find a correlation between the two.
In 2009, Virgil Griffith, a computer scientist and California Institute of Technology graduate student, attempted to identify this relationship.
Griffith looked at the favorite music listed by those who attend a specific college on Facebook, and then found that school’s average SAT and ACT scores and charted them on a graph. He titled the study “Musicthatmakesyoudumb.”
According to the study, the highest scoring artists included Beethoven, Sufjan Stevens and Counting Crows. Lil’ Wayne, Beyonce and T.I. were the lowest scoring artists.
The highest scoring genre was Indie, while the lowest was Rap.
Drake University’s favorites were The Fray, ColdPlay and The Beatles.
Stephanie Johnson, a neurologic music therapist in Des Moines, said the findings were interesting but misleading. Johnson said that there may be some correlation between the two, but she also questioned how the study was based on Facebook likes, not on actual surveys, which discredits it, she said.
Johnson believes that one’s education would affect music taste more than intelligence would, opposite of Griffith’s claims.
“Actually interacting with music is what’s important,” she said. “Hitting the drums or singing or dancing (along with it)… (will help) develop fine motor skills. Neurons that fire together wire together.”
Johnson noted that the right side of the chart, the side with higher SAT scores, contained more music that can be seen as complex, while the left side was comparatively simpler.
She also pointed out that those with more education tend to appreciate more complex music.
“Somebody who has access to music lessons tends to be higher in a higher socio-economic status,” Johnson said. “Being a musician (can help one perform) higher-level tasks as opposed to (someone) who simply (listened) to the music.”
Marissa Schuster, a sophomore music theatre and psychology double major, talked about more than just the correlation of test scores. She also touched on other effects that music tastes can have on a person.
“If you’re so focused on one (genre) of music then that will sway you in a way of thinking, of your thought process, the way you say things, how you structure things. That’s why I think it’s good to have a huge music taste instead of (only listening to one band),” Schuster said.
Music does have an influence on what people perceive as intelligence, but Johnson does not entirely agree with this perspective.
“I think there are a lot of links to learning and memory (with music),” Johnson said. “But ‘intelligence’ is so subjective.”
Music does improve test scores, Schuster mentioned, but she did not mention the genre’s role in this relationship.
Griffith did note in his article that the correlation does not mean that smarts and music taste directly influence one another, but it was implied that such an observation may be true.
“The thing is (that) with one study it’s very hard to completely prove something in psychology,” Schuster said. “Having just one study … (makes it) very difficult to say ‘This is 100 percent correct.’ The more information there is the better.”
Both Johnson and Schuster believe that although the article is interesting and makes a point worth thinking about, the study’s proclamation that some music will make you dumb is questionable at best.
STORY BY LAURA VOLLMER
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide caught recent media attention through Brittany Maynard’s publicized death.
Maynard, 29, was diagnosed last year with a Stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, terminal brain cancer, and the prognosis of six months to live.
She decided to move from California to Oregon to have the legal opportunity of physician-assisted suicide.
Maynard ended her life on Nov. 1, using medication under Oregon’s “Death for Dignity Act.”
Maynard’s YouTube video, posted on Oct. 6, has received more than 9.5 million page views to date.
In the video, she explained her diagnosis and how she planned to die.
“I plan to be surrounded by my immediate family and will die upstairs in my bedroom … and pass peacefully with some music I like in the background,” she stated in the video.
There are currently only five states that have legalized such acts: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico.
Iowa does not allow euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
Euthanasia is defined as the action of inducing a gentle and easy death.
Physician-assisted suicide is knowingly helping or inciting a person to kill him or herself.
Drake University third-year law student Emily Cohen commented on the legalities of physician-assisted suicide in Iowa.
“Iowa has specifically criminalized euthanasia of humans and assisted suicide. Iowa’s law can hold physicians and nurses accountable for aiding someone in committing suicide or euthanasia,” Cohen said. “However, Iowa does allow palliative care, meaning that if a healthcare professional performs a procedure or gives medications that may hasten death in order to keep the patient comfortable, it is not a criminal assisted suicide. We also don’t consider withholding a life-sustaining procedure (under certain restrictions) illegal. If someone is convicted of assisted suicide they are charged with a class C felony.”
Overall, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is controversial.
There are many different viewpoints surrounding the current situation involving Maynard.
The National Right to Life states cases like Maynard’s are “the opening wedge after which, once the (principle) is established, the ‘right’ to be ‘assisted’ expands to a whole panoply of reasons, none of which are about terminal illnesses.”
Des Moines University medical student Tanner Davis commented on the ethics of the situation.
“I believe that Brittany Maynard’s situation was ethically the right thing to do. It would be unethical to keep her on machines and have uncontrollable pain,” Davis said.
There are several resources available for students to learn more about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
Human Life Alliance, LifeNews.com, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, The Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics (NRL–National Right to Life) and the Scholl Institute of Bioethics are some sources Iowa Right of Life president Mary Merritt suggests for more information about physician assisted suicide.