When good friends Arya Rao and Kanav Kalucha were sent home early from Columbia University as a result of COVID-19, the computer science students knew they weren’t done putting their education to use quite yet. From their homes in Michigan and California, respectively, Rao and Kalucha noticed that many citizens in their hometowns – particularly the elderly – were already making masks to donate to frontline workers. With technology at their side, the two realized they had the skills to speed up the donation process, and just like that, the Mask Up initiative was born.

 

Co-founders Arya Rao and Kanav Kanucha

             What started as a two-person effort has now amassed over 100 volunteers to make and deliver masks to frontline workers. “There are a lot of organizations that have PPE shortages,” explains Rao, “and while this isn’t a substitute for that, we can reduce the risk for some of the people who are fighting this pandemic.” 

            Becoming a volunteer is simple. Go to the Mask Up website and enter your location, and how many masks you will be able to make. You will then be matched to the nearest healthcare organization. Additionally, essential services and organizations can request donations through the website as well. Since its inception, Mask Up has been able to provide masks to the New York National Guard, the Public Transit Unit of the North-Eastern United States, and dozens of hospitals and care homes. 

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Some of the masks that have been made and donated by volunteers. 

            Initially, it was a struggle to leverage the technological aspect. While younger generations are no strangers to social media, the majority of Mask Up volunteers are the elderly, who are less familiar with the world of technology. Rao quickly realized that while Facebook, Instagram, and a website would reach a younger demographic, the best way to spread the word is through good old-fashioned newspapers, and other local media outlets. “Lots of cold-emailing and cold-calling,” Rao recalls with a chuckle. 

            The Mask Up initiative will continue for as long as necessary. Until then, Rao explains that their only goal is “to continue to service the needs of the nation.”

            “This pandemic is really throwing all of us for a loop right now and I think the first thing we want to do is provide a little good and a little light in the world.”

 

by Fiona Rose Beyerle

Some may think landing an internship or job in college is impossible unless you have a stellar grade point average (GPA), outside connections, or amazing experiences. However, this is not true! Very few people are extremely impressive in every quality.  Think of it this way: you are not better or worse than your competitors; you simply offer different qualities. Sometimes you may not be what employers are looking for, but that does not mean you are not talented. I will be the first to admit that my GPA is not stellar and I came in with no connections or relevant experiences in my field when I started looking for my first internship at my university. Still, here are a few tips I have used that helped me land an internship in a lab my first quarter at my university, an undergraduate job in the health field, and some other opportunities! 

  1. Always be open to any and all opportunities.  

This is KEY!  Too many times when talking to my peers about gaining job experience, I hear someone say they are “waiting for the perfect opportunity.” Being open to many different opportunities will open doors for you. Waiting for one experience you think is “perfect” limits your potential. By choosing to wait for said experience, you may be missing out on other amazing experiences to help you grow not only in your field of interest but as a person. I am not saying that you should take absolutely any opportunity that comes your way, but when opportunities come to you, even if they seem trivial, give them a chance.  Do you have an opportunity to work in a lab, but it’s not exactly what you want to study? Give it a shot! Working in one lab could be the stepping stone to get to the kind of lab you want to work in.

2. Always bring a notebook to an interview. 

This is not my own idea, but I read this online somewhere and have been shocked at how rarely people actually do this. I am not joking when I tell you that at my last job interview (I got the job, by the way), I brought a notebook and the interviewers spent five whole minutes talking about how impressed they were that I actually brought a notebook and how I was the only person they interviewed for the job that did so. That may sound so minor, but trust me when I say that the small things add up! Showing a lot of interest in the job and bringing a notebook to write down questions or notes about the job will demonstrate how dedicated you are.  People will notice!  

black notebooks and packing stuff
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(Bringing a notebook and taking notes during an interview is sure to gain you respect).

3. Always bring a book on another subject to your interview. 

This one may sound a little peculiar but I have actually found that this tip is a great way to showcase your diverse interests and skills. Employers and colleges desire well-rounded individuals, but it can sometimes be difficult to discuss other interests and talents in a short interview. I am a biological sciences major and art history minor and at all my interviews, the interviewers are always interested in hearing about my strengths in both seemingly different subjects.  However, this does not always come up in conversation during the interview. Because of this, I bring an art history book to the interview. By reading it while I wait and placing it next to me during the interview, it is another opportunity for employers to notice and ask about it. Try it! 

4. Always write a letter of intention. 

When applying for a job or internship, sometimes the company will ask you to write a letter of intention, which is essentially a small essay explaining why you want the job and what you can bring to the company. However, not everything you apply to will directly ask for this. Write one anyways! Demonstrating your desire to get this job will not hurt you. I often write about my previous applicable experiences, life goals, and how this opportunity will help me reach those goals. Be as clear as possible about why you think you are a good fit for the position and company. Employers will be impressed that you went the extra mile to show how much you want this position.    

crop woman taking notes in notebook
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(By writing a letter of intention, you prove your interest in the position).

5. Never underestimate yourself! 

In your life, you have probably heard the saying, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” This can be a good reminder for those who are sometimes overly optimistic; however, if you are like me, you may find it easy to doubt yourself when competing with others who may seem like a better fit for the position than you. When you catch yourself thinking negatively after an interview or when you are waiting on a response from a job, pause and remind yourself that everything will be okay. You are worth more than you think, and no one job (or loss thereof) will be the end all be all. Be confident and open-minded when applying, and do not count yourself out before anything happens. You will not be sure if you are chosen for the position unless you try.  

Thank you for reading my tips and I hope you find these useful for your next job interview or application process! As always, opportunities are around you if you do some digging and never give up! You got this!

 

by Lia Weinseiss

In the current times, it can be difficult to uphold friendships in ways that we have become accustomed to. We can’t share a dinner, go for drinks, and/or hang out at each other’s houses. It seems cruel that in these times when our mental health seems to be at its most fragile, we cannot even see a portion of our support system.

So what can you do? You can text, arrange Zoom calls, send letters, and send gifts. You can show your love and support by checking in every once in a while. While it is certainly a different, modernized form of friendship, it is possible. We do, after all, stay in contact with our home friends when we are at school and with our school friends when we are at home.

However, in these times when our mental health is so fragile and we are doing our best to keep our own heads above water, how much do we find ourselves with an obligation to ensure our friends are doing well? Is a weekly text enough or should it be daily? Are we bad friends if we can’t bring ourselves to do those Zoom calls?

man having a video call on his phone
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

(Zoom is a popular method of calling, and people use it when they are distanced)

We are all going through different struggles, some of us more than others. “Family therapist Catherine Lewis says communication can be fraught when friends are experiencing the pandemic differently.” (Noveck, Jocelyn) If some of us are struggling more than others, it can often be difficult to have the will to reach out or even incite feelings of jealousy if some are dealing with isolation better than others. This can make it even more difficult to keep up friendships, especially if you are in the position of the one expected to keep up contact. 

Being alienated from friendships that used to be a part of daily life can create unexpected rifts because “people are now having to pick and choose what works in a friendship, and what’s maybe no longer a good fit.” (Noveck, Jocelyn) Without seeing people in person, we can easily read texts in a negative way or think that a lack of Snapchats means that a friendship is now lackluster or unimportant. A simple lack of communication can lead to rifts and the eventual fading away of a friendship. With extra time, self-reflection can help us realize that people who used to be in our lives may not have a place there anymore.

 To put it bluntly, this time can make or break a friendship; so, what are some tips you can use to stay close with your friends even if you can’t communicate with them?

  1. If you have a problem, address it.

In a time where verbal communication is one of the only tools we have, letting issues brew because it feels like there is more time to solve them is not the answer. Ignoring your friends or pretending things are normal will only amplify the issues – quarantine or not.

2. If you can check in, do it every now and then. If you can’t, let your friends know why.

Communication is key, though you are under no obligation to text your friends every day. That being said, in times when people are often struggling, texting a friend when you can will have an impact on their day. If you are unable to communicate daily, texting your friends and being honest can often avoid issues that are likely to arise by complete silence.

3. Set up Zoom events.

Though setting up Zoom meetings can sometimes feel like a burden, they can also be a beneficial way of bonding. A simple quiz as a reminder of enjoyable past moments can help bring back to life a friendship that feels largely online.

4. Set up a book trading system.

pile of books on green summer lawn in park
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

(sharing books is a great way to stay connected)

Being able to send books to one another not only lets you and your friends know what each other are thinking, but it also gives you more things to read and do. I’m not going to list out all of the benefits of reading, but it can definitely help.

5. Listen to your friends if you can.

If they are having issues, and you can take on the mental capacity to listen, do so. Talking out situations with your friends can often help strengthen a bond that might be fading because you cannot see one another face-to-face.

6. When asking friends if they have an ear to listen, ask if they are able.

Dumping issues on your friends when they are struggling themselves can create an unintended issue in a relationship. Just checking in with them to ensure they are okay can ensure that you create healthy boundaries in your relationship.

 

by Jacob Woo-Ming

At the time I am writing this, it has been almost two weeks since the murder of George Floyd. Yet, it feels like months have quickly passed by.

wall with the text i can t breathe
Photo by ksh2000 on Pexels.com

(A building is graffitied with “I can’t breathe,” George Floyd’s last words before his death.)

I am half Black and half Filipino/Chinese. Because I am ambiguously brown, I’m always terrified whenever I hear of another Black person dying at the hands of the police.

It reminds me of Treyvon Martin, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, all of my other Black brothers and sisters, and those in between.

This time, though, we are fed up. At a time where most of the nation is harmed by the pandemic, we are even more sick of this racism and brutality flying under our noses and going unseen. Despite these troubled times, I have felt threads of hope seeing my friends educate and support each other.

My Black friends are teaching about racism and its systemic origins. My Asian friends are striving to empathize with my Black friends. My White friends are using their privilege to get out and protest.

I feel like I have seen more cooperation and empathy about Black lives in the last week than I have in my entire life. I’ve seen more resources for educating people about racism than in my college classes that are dedicated to these issues. It’s beyond overdue. 

Many people are scared about what they see in the news, but think about how scared we are being born into a society that wouldn’t want to trade places with us for even a day. Remember that we didn’t get civil rights, LGBT rights, or even taxation without representation without rebellion.

people protesting and holding signs
Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

(Protesters walk with signs saying “BLM” and “Black Lives Matter.)

We aren’t just fighting for George Floyd. We’re fighting for the millions of innocent people we have lost to systemic racism, police brutality, and the prison system. We’re fighting to make a difference and we’re in the middle of history being made. We can’t stop now.

Get up, get informed, get your mask on, and donate to the cause! 

 

Especially with this pandemic going on, people are running out of ideas on what to do at home. Besides baking banana bread, oversleeping and engaging in heavy exercise, what many individuals decide to do is online shop. There’s essentially no drawback to online shopping. You can make fun purchases while also maybe supporting a small business. That being said, your finances can also suffer if you shop too much. Here are some of my favorite tactics to use when I shop in order to buy what I want but not spend too much money.

1. Use reputable and reliable websites.

  • This is not crucial since most websites that have good clothing may not be known, and sometimes small businesses are not known, so they are seen as not reputable. With that being said, be sure to do your research and find a good website that seems legitimate. 

2. Try not to impulse buy. 

  • Whenever I shop online, I really try to think about whether or not I absolutely want or need this clothing. I often leave the stuff in my shopping cart for a day or so, which gives me enough time to decide if I really want this top or these shoes. Another thing that helps me is to envision myself wearing said item; if I am not sure that I will like it, I won’t get it. Sometimes you’re surprised, but your intuition is usually correct; it’s often not worth buying something you’re not 100% sure about. 

3. Consider thrifting! 

  • Some websites are super expensive and people can’t justify spending so much money on certain items. Thrifting is a great way to save money on nice clothing. Now, it is very hit or miss, and you can’t really expect to find something. You also can’t really expect to come back and find it, because it might not be there. One time I went to a thrift store in Santa Barbara and found a cute pair of shoes but didn’t buy them because I was a few dollars short; when I came back, they were gone. You might have to expect this to happen. With that being said, thrifting saves a ton of money, helps the environment, and is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can also thrift online if you look hard enough; Instagram is all the rage to find thrifting accounts. 

4. Know your size.

  • Before you buy, MAKE SURE TO KNOW YOUR SIZE! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought clothes that don’t fit because I didn’t know my size. It’s hard to plan for clothes that have different sizing, but be sure to utilize size charts and use your best judgment. Don’t buy something that won’t fit because it’s the only size; it’s better to try your luck somewhere else.  

5. Familiarize yourself with return policies. 

  • If something happens where you don’t like the clothing or if it doesn’t fit, it’s important that you know how to return or exchange it. Nobody wants to keep something that doesn’t work for them. You can always donate or sell your clothing, but it’s often best to try to return the item so that you can get your money back or purchase the style or size you desire once you find it. Sometimes it’s hard to find return policies, and some companies have none. Just make sure to do your research!

6. Use coupons.

  • If you’re the type who often shops online, you might find that your bank account is being drained quickly. The best way to keep yourself from spending too much is to use coupons/cashback services. Honey and Ebates are some that I use. They find coupons for me and give me cash back on purchases respectably. Credit cards also do this too, depending on the card you have. This is a given that you will save money, and you don’t have to do too much work! Make sure to install Honey on your browser and connect Ebates to your bank and get to saving! 🙂

by Mia Foster

batteries lot
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

(A bundle of multiple colored batteries)

Currently it is considered safe to throw away single-use batteries in all states except California. However, just because it is deemed safe enough by the government does not mean it is the best option. Today I will go over how to recycle different types of batteries and, if you are unable to recycle, how to properly prepare your batteries for the landfill. 

Recycling Alkaline/ Single-Use Batteries

Every single-use battery contains reusable materials, such as zinc, manganese, and steel (Earth911). As in any other form of recycling, by choosing to recycle our batteries we divert them from the landfill, create new products, and prevent excessive mining for new metals because the metals from the recycled materials fill the quota.     

To recycle single-use batteries, find a mail-in or drop off recycling service near you. Call2Recycle is a wonderful resource, and Home Depot has partnered with them. If you live near a Home Depot, you can take your dead batteries to said location and they will recycle them for you. Earth911 also has an extremely helpful Recycling Locator that can help you find recycling facilities near you.

Recycling Rechargeable Batteries

It is required that we recycle reusable batteries when they are at the end of their life because they have toxic chemicals and heavy metals that are not safe for landfills (Home Depot). They are recognized by the EPA as hazardous waste and should be treated as such (Earth 911). These batteries can be recharged and reused hundreds of times but they will eventually die. When they do, follow the same process as with single-use battery recycling; the same facilities often handle both types of batteries. It is important to note that if you have a piece of technology with a rechargeable battery that dies, with the exception of cell phones, it is best to remove the battery from the device prior to recycling.

anonymous person showing recycle symbol on smartphone
Photo by ready made on Pexels.com

(a phone with a recycle sign, which is what you should do with your batteries if possible 😉 )

Throwing Away Single-Use Batteries

If you cannot recycle single-use batteries, you can dispose of them in the garbage (excluding Californians) if you take precautionary measures first. Dead batteries are not entirely dead and they are still a fire hazard. To prevent issues with disposal, tape over the ends of 9-volt batteries and place batteries in a plastic or cardboard box to avoid sparking.

Conclusion

Batteries are very common in our everyday lives and the proper disposal of them is an issue nearly no one understands. My family has jars of dead batteries sitting around waiting for the day when one of us knows what to do with them. I figure there’s no time like the present! Hopefully with this information on battery disposal we can rid ourselves of dead batteries together while being environmentally conscious.

by Eleanor Kelman

When I was younger, I was what adults would call a “voracious reader.” Not a day went by that I wasn’t buried in a novel. If I finished an assignment early, it was lunchtime or I simply had a free minute, I would pull my book of the week out of my backpack, flip to where one of my handmade bookmarks was slotted in between pages, and continue on in a little fantasy world by myself. I requested only Barnes & Noble gift cards from my family for Christmas and had a devoted bag just for my weekly library trips, which I would overfill with everything from manga to gossip rags to classic literature. I read anything and everything without discretion; I just wanted to read.

And one day, I didn’t.

I guess the decline was slow in hindsight, but by the time I was deep into high school it was evident: I just didn’t read anymore. I read what was required for class, but the passion wasn’t there and I had no motivation to pick up a book for pleasure at all. By the time I was in college, the only times I read a book outside of coursework were on long plane flights during which there were no real distractions. This brought the grand total of full novels I read for fun in about a seven-year stretch to something to the order of three. That’s how many I could have finished in a typical month as a child.

Every single new year brought forth that resolution to “read more” and each summer gave me a theoretical new wind to pick up and finish even just one book. And, of course, not a single declaration of “this is the day I become a reader again” actually came to fruition. It didn’t take long for me to become jaded despite still hoping I would one day be able to find my passion for reading again.

I was not shocked that I once again found an opportunity to read when I was kicked off of my college campus and quarantined within my home. But even that dream was quickly squashed when I found out that all local libraries were closed for the foreseeable future. I do have plenty of books at home, but my most prized ones I had already read (two of the novels I’ve read four times each) or hadn’t considered starting because they just didn’t pique my interest that much. While I did pick up a science fiction novel from my shelf, it only took about a chapter for me to realize I was not interested in the bland setting and unrelated storylines of multiple characters (I’ve always disliked that writing style). I relegated myself to yet another half-hearted attempt at becoming a reader that went nowhere.

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[A snippet of my personal bookshelf, er, bookfloor]

The thing was, I still really, really wanted to read. I mean, it wasn’t like I had much else to keep me busy! My hectic schedule, from classes to multiple clubs to constantly seeing friends up on campus had come to a screeching halt; I had exponentially more downtime now than I had had in years. Fumbling around on the internet eventually led me to a way to access e-books through the library cards I already had (one for my local library at home and another for the one closest to my university), and once I downloaded that app I only had one final excuse left to not start reading. I still could just forget to get around to it, no?

Once the semester ended and I was officially done with classes, the website I had used for the past four years of college to track homework assignments had lost its purpose. This actually disheartened me a surprisingly good amount, as I had become weirdly attached to it after it practically single-handedly saved me from failing every class I took. I was so fond of this website that I decided against unceremoniously giving it up, and swapped the course subjects for categories of things I’d need to do that summer and didn’t include class periods. One such thing I added was a way to track my reading, something I’d previously used it for to track the chapters professors had assigned weekly. Now that I had nullified that excuse, I had to read.

Okay, I’m not going to pretend I dove headfirst into hundreds of novels and can now say that I’ve polished off half of the Library of Congress. However, I did actually start successfully reading for fun, which is a much less lofty and much more vague goal but a goal I finally achieved nonetheless. I finally have flipped the final page of Thomas Cullinan’s The Beguiled, which wasn’t my favorite in the end, but what it represented was so much more than just a mediocre Civil War-era thriller novel. I’ve moved my e-book endeavors on to two books at once: John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, a book that has been on my radar since I became engrossed in a podcast about the white collar crimes of Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos, as well as Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw, which has a forthcoming adaptation in the second season of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix.

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[The porch has quickly become my favorite place to engross myself in a book]

It’s not even about the quality of these books per se but rather about how they show me how I’m maturing. I feel better when I’m reading, sort of like one of those “self care queens” on YouTube. They give me a jolt of “wellness,” and some feel-good nostalgia. Reading brings me back to a simpler, less chaotic time when I didn’t have any adult fears and anxieties looming over my head. They remind me of a childhood when I did something for no reason other than truly enjoying the escape. And when I finished one book, the only worry on my mind was to pick which one to read next.

 

by Mia Foster

Lightbulbs and batteries are such commonly used household items, they are considered essentials. By purchasing the correct light bulbs and batteries, we can decrease energy usage and the waste we send to landfills.

Light Bulbs

analysis blackboard board bubble
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A 60-watt incandescent light bulb is the traditional style but that does not mean it is the best; these bulbs are extremely inefficient and have a relatively short lifespan. The best option is an LED light, which uses 80% less energy and has a lifespan that is 25 times that of the incandescent bulb (Davis). While LEDs have a larger initial cost than incandescent bulbs, the savings in energy bills and the decreased need to continually replace bulbs make the swap more cost-effective over time. By switching your lights to LED, you can significantly decrease the environmental and monetary impact of your lighting. If you need more motivation, EnergyStar reports that: “If every American household replaced just one standard light bulb with a high-efficiency version, the United States would save about $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent 9 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions.” (Davis) The switch might feel small, but it makes a huge difference!

Batteries

close up photo of batteries
Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

Rechargeable batteries are a more complicated issue. Simply buying and using rechargeable batteries does not make them more sustainable; according to Yale Climate Connections, a battery must be recharged 50 times before its impact is significant (Grossman). This is due to different methods and metals used for production, the energy used to charge batteries, and the different processes of disposal. For this reason, it is suggested that we use rechargeable batteries for highly used items such as remotes, cameras, and electronic toys (Schildgen). These items need new batteries more often, meaning the batteries will be charged many times, making the switch environmentally beneficial. 

Conclusion

The appliances and products we purchase and use are fundamental to the sustainability of our lives. By making educated decisions about purchases we can decrease our individual economic impacts, therefore creating a larger cumulative decrease in energy use and product waste. Small items such as light bulbs and batteries are significant!

 

As a graduating senior at UC Santa Barbara, my graduation has been indefinitely canceled. I say indefinitely because nobody is sure if it is still happening at a later date or if the in-person ceremony will cease to exist. There will be a virtual ceremony on June 14, the same day as the former in-person ceremony, but many students will argue that this is not the same as a real celebration. However, all hope is not lost for recognition for those students who are graduating from high school or college this year.

A few weeks ago, my grandmother sent a text to my father and stepmother. The text talked about a “senior spotlight” that KGO, a local news station, was putting on for seniors affected by the pandemic. Anyone could (and still can) apply, and they will be featured on the station. My grandmother suggested that my parents submit both me and my sister, who is also a graduating sociology student at UCSB, to the event. I don’t know if she was submitted, but I know I was.

Technically, it was supposed to be a surprise for both my mom and I, but my mom “cheated” and looked up the website. At 6:00 pm, my mom, brother and I sat in the living room and watched the news. We assumed it might come on at the end of the hour-long show. Half an hour passed before we saw anything. Around 6:40 my brother got up to go pee and, wouldn’t you know, my name got shown on the TV.

(the picture featured on the TV program)

I’ll be honest that I had no idea what to expect and it was a bit shocking. I am a very shy person and don’t love this type of attention. You can imagine my surprise when I saw myself on the news and compliments started flowing in through my social media. Something about it was really nice. I never would have expected to be featured. 

A few days have passed and I have continued to get compliments on my mom’s Facebook post, my Snapchat post that my brother convinced me to make, and even Twitter. I’ve told two of my good friends to apply, and I haven’t found their pictures on the website yet, but I’m excited to see someone I know get featured. It’s a really nice thing that KGO is doing for those seniors whose accomplishments feel forgotten, and I hope many more people take advantage of it. There are about 130 people so far, and I’m excited to see those numbers rise.

Overall, it’s just really nice to get this recognition we deserve, even if it’s small and a lot of people might not watch the news. It shows that students, business, and news groups like this are all in this together. We all have individual struggles and losses that we have to deal with. We are one in the same and can get through this pandemic together. 

by Olivia Garcia

As the number of COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising in the USA with over 5,000 new cases as of recently, the presence of anti-lockdown protesters is concerning but more so confusing. 

As an American citizen myself, I understand the sacrifices we are all making that comes from losing our jobs, closing our schools and blocking us from travel. What people do not realize, though, is that we do this because we are trying to prevent the spread of COVID and keep people safe. 

Being that this pandemic is only the second time a mass influenza like this has occurred, the decision to halt the lives of all Americans was not a decision the federal government took lightly. It’s naive of me to say that President Trump didn’t understand the severity of the situation, or even that he was naive to the fact that he was effectively closing our economy. Everyone was aware of what could happen with such a drastic shift to the way we live our lives. But it was necessary.

So why are people risking not only their own lives but the lives of others to protest these orders that are in place just to keep them alive?

Let’s start with the facts.

I think it is important to state the symptoms of Coronavirus and these people are potentially risking. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms include but are not limited to cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and chills. The most severe cases may end up hospitalized. There is currently no cure for the coronavirus. Those patients who die in the hospital are alone.

So why across the USA have protesters gathered in large masses (sometimes in the hundreds and thousands) to demand the reopening of the country?

We must first know why people protest. Movements like the Women’s March, Pro-Choice, and Black Lives Matter all are movements that are founded on bringing awareness to these minority groups who have faced oppression continuously since the founding of the United States. Using their legal right to do so under that first amendment in the constitution, groups of minorities have the chance to publicly vocalize their demands peacefully.

With this being said, where do these anti-lockdown protesters fit in? 

They don’t. As the majority are white Americans, they are not a minority group. These are not peaceful protests. These protesters are found screaming in the faces of police and bringing semi-automatic weapons into courthouses to “try to prove a point.”

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(Protestors gather in a group, obeying social distancing rules by standing closer than six feet and not wearing masks)

On my journey to understand, I started on Facebook. That’s where these protesters were organized so I tried to see if I could get intel from here. Having to first apply to get into these groups, I started with “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine”, “Reopen South Carolina 100%”, “Reopen California”, and “Reopen USA”. Each group asked a question along the lines of “are you against the lockdown and demanding that the country reopen?” Even though I do not agree, I had to answer yes to gain admittance. 

Once I joined each group, I surprisingly stumbled upon several welcoming communities. For new members, every week one of the administrators of the group would tag them all in a personalized post to the page. This action was oddly comforting, serving as an introduction to the space they’ve created. 

I stumbled upon the Michiganders page first and watched a livestream one of the administrators was doing. They were asking the followers of that account to call into their local capital’s office and demand the reopening of their county. They even knew where the capital was, the number of their county’s representatives, a time they knew they had to call and the exact number of phone calls that were necessary in order to show support for their cause. It was VERY organized. They had links on the stream, people asked questions and knew almost every answer. In all honesty, I was surprised.

After this, I needed to see if anyone would talk to me. Being completely transparent, I introduced myself as a student journalist and hoped to get numerous responses. I messaged over 50 people and only 8 responded and showed interest. When asked for a comment only 3 said yes, and all 3 wished to remain anonymous.

I wanted to know the impacts the virus has had on their communities. All three expressed that effectively everything in their communities had been closed and events had been cancelled. One PhD student in Southern Carolina stated that they had not had “in-person interaction since March” and described their community as being in “critical condition”.

Fortunately, none had lost their jobs and had to file for unemployment. However, one member said that their income was reduced and they could, therefore, no longer apply for “jumbo loans.” When I asked each respondent to elaborate on how the either loss of/reduction of payment had affected them, one protester suggested that they had to start cooking and are unable to make regular food purchases.

When I asked each person if they agreed with the $2 trillion in federal government spending allocated during the pandemic, only one said yes. Their justification was that if states had not enforced lockdown or social distancing, the spending would not have been as severe. 

Each respondent showed concern when they learned about the current U.S. debt. All 3 understood very clearly that the only way to repair said debt was to get as many people back to work to start funneling money back into our country. 

The final question I asked was regarding the possible second wave of cases these protesters could potentially cause. I brought up the fact that mass media has depicted these protesters as careless to the community and could very well possible be the cause of an increase in cases. 

The first respondent simply answered “no.” Their reasoning was that, even with the lockdown, the virus could and would still spread. They said, “There will be no summer respite from the virus. The rate of speed is likely to drop to that of flu outbreaks.” 

The second respondent showed more concern regarding feeling silenced or discredited by the media. This respondent does not concern themselves with listening to “experts.” They also stated that “people have antibodies to the virus.” Their final statement was that “even 100,000 protesters is a fraction of the U.S. population and only a small group of them will contract COVID-19 as a result of protesting.” 

Finally, the third individual simply responded, “Honestly I don’t think it matters.” They offered no explanation. 

When I asked if they were worried for their own safety or the safety of their fellow protesters, the main concern was of arrests, doxxing/employment retaliation, and police brutality. 

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(protesters stand outside a building holding signs such as those stating “Heil Witmer” with a swastika, as well as a Trump/Pence sign)

Within the USA, we hold our own individual rights and liberties as citizens closer to our hearts than the rights of others. The selfish nature of Americans, such as individual prosperity and unalienable rights, has allowed these racist and harmful protests to occur. The platform that the U.S. has built for the white majority has resulted in a double standard of how a person can act. Let’s be honest, if these protesters were black and not waving large “TRUMP 2020” flags around, the protests would not have happened. We would be seeing graphic images and videos of arrests and tear gas being used on these protesters. We would be mourning over the unnecessary loss of life because police “felt they might have been carrying a weapon.” This situation proves that there is a double standard in this country. This double standard has been present the whole time, especially with the pandemic. 

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((A comic depicting the difference between white and black persons protesting)

Some links for more info:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/anti-lockdown-protests-200420180415064.html

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

https://www.facebook.com/groups/4035375409821058/photos/

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/pro-trump-group-plans-dozens-anti-lockdown-protests/story?id=70395717

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/us/politics/coronavirus-protests-trump.html

https://rallylist.com/browse-protest-and-rallies/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1164291657251953/photos/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html