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America’s Foreign Language Crisis

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Source: Courtesy of University of Denver Dept of Languages and Literature

“To prosper economically and improve relations with other countries, Americans need to read, speak, and understand other languages. Unfortunately, only 18% of Americans report speaking a language other than English, while 53% of Europeans (and increasing numbers in other parts of the world) can converse in a second language.” – U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, 2010.

As America’s cultural diversity continues to expand, the interest for learning new languages in our education system (including Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Arabic) is in great demand. Yet, the recent stats of Americans studying another language are far from impressive. American Academy of Arts and Sciences recently released a report on foreign language learning in America and compared it to other parts of the world.

While more than 65 million U.S residents speak a language other than English at home, that number only represents 20.7 percent of the total population, and only a fraction of this cohort is considered proficient in reading, writing, and speaking a second language.

Unlike in Europe, approximately 66 percent of all European adults report having knowledge of more than one language. Furthermore, another shocking disadvantage of America’s investment in foreign language instruction is at least 44 states report a shortage of qualified K-12 language or bilingual teachers for the 2016-2017 school year; more states report a shortage in languages than any other subject.

Should America place greater emphasis on their foreign language investment? Absolutely! If America wants to be both a serious global competitor and diplomatic partner to the world, then there needs to be a deeper commitment and better prioritization of foreign language instruction.

Nancy Rhodes, Senior Foreign Language Education Consultant for the Center for Applied Linguistics, discussed that “there are definitely more jobs globally that require language and cross-cultural skills to the point where U.S universities need to prepare globally competent graduates and are starting to offer more tailored language classes in preparation for needs in the workforce.” Along with strengthening the workforce and preparing young adults who might live and work abroad, learning foreign languages has other benefits.

Jonathan Fanton, President of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, pointed out that “the long-term benefits of children learning an additional language (along with English) includes cognitive benefits, important habits of mind, and new and valuable perspectives on the world.”

Tracy Kaufman, a nonprofit professional based in New York, spent nearly a decade of her adult life learning three incredibly complex languages (French, Russian, and Korean). For someone who came from a family of a history teacher and is completely fascinated with world history and geography, learning languages in her eyes “are some of the most direct paths into those additional cultural lenses.” Currently serving as the Community Outreach Manager at the Foundation Center, foreign languages are significant in her role. She loves how her French language skills have come in handy to visitors, especially where even “older immigrants who visit, in particular, tend to have more limited English skills and I’ve worked with many who come from primarily French-speaking African countries, or Haiti, and they appreciate having someone nearby who can communicate with them in the tongue which they’re most comfortable.”

Foreign languages influence every aspect of American life, including economic growth, cultural diplomacy, productivity of future generations, and greater fulfillment.

Prioritizing foreign languages in America’s education system will not only bridge the on-going cultural gap and language barrier but also show the rest of the world how much we embrace and value every culture that comes through our door!

By: Francis Asprec

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The Truth About “Get Rich Quick” Scams

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You may see them marked as spam in your email. You might get a call from an unknown number. You could even be contacted through a direct message on Instagram. “Get rich quick” scammers try to reach you in any way they can in order to convince you to funnel your money through them, all while promising you fast, easy money.

A constant hustle for funds can lead college students to questionable investing and entrepreneurial pursuits, the most dangerous of which are “get rich quick” scams. Instead of actually making a profit, students may just be helping the scammer maintain and spread their scheme.

By not investing in false opportunities, you not only avoid losing your own money, but you potentially save someone else from losing theirs as well. Here are 6 tips to avoid falling into a “get rich quick” scam, so you can save your money for real investment opportunities down the line.

1. Know the Tricks.

The first step in avoiding “get rich quick” scams is to know what you are up against. By knowing the common schemes that young adults and college students fall for, you can identify them without the hassle of extensive research.

  • Ponzi scheme – This scam, named after the infamous Charles Ponzi, can lead victims to believe for an extended period of time that their investments really are paying off. The scammers take the money of new “clients” to convince old ones of growth. This scam only works so long as the victims don’t demand all of their money back and the firm keeps pulling in more “investors.” A company with abnormally steady returns could be utilizing a Ponzi scheme.
  • Pyramid scheme – These schemes are easy traps for students to fall into, and they are difficult to catch. Rather than selling a meaningful product, this business model relies on recruitment. Victims are encouraged to recruit more people, and joining usually requires some sort of upfront payment, like a membership fee or the purchasing of a product to resell. Pyramid schemes are not sustainable; when they do collapse, the vast majority of recruits will have lost money rather than gained it.
  • Low-risk, High-reward – The very name of this scam should tip you off that it might be a false promise. In investing, high returns are a reward for risking a lot. However, scammers will often promise the victim a high reward for a small sum, “guaranteed.” Be wary of anyone who promises too much, too quickly.
  • Becoming a “Partner” – Scammers might offer you a share in their fake or illegitimate company. This may seem like an amazing opportunity, but be wary of taking on additional liability. A partner in a firm may be responsible for its actions, which can lead to some serious trouble if it’s been up to no good.
  • The Advance-Fee Scam – This category includes the infamous Nigerian Prince and Spanish Prisoner scams. In this case, the scammer will offer a huge sum of money, which can supposedly only be accessed if the victim provides them with a small up-front payment. Modern scammers can hack your friends’ email accounts and use them to ask you for money, or send you text messages claiming to be someone you know or an organization you trust.

2. Ask yourself: Why me?

Why were you specifically given the opportunity for this investment? Where did you find out about it? Was it from some guy you kind of knew in high school, a cold call, or a random internet ad? All of these sources could very likely lead to a scam.

Remember that pyramid schemes rely on recruitment techniques to perpetuate their scams. They draw college students into the scheme in order to trick exponentially more people into investing in the business, and in the end, almost everyone loses.

You should also keep in mind that scammers often target people who they believe are easy marks, such as the older generation or the inexperienced and young generation.

3. Google and stalk.

Do your research before investing a single cent. You may already do this for other products, but it can be easy to lose perspective when easy money is on the line. Google can serve as an uncomplicated way to check for the validity of a company, though sometimes Google is not enough. Many scammers are becoming more sophisticated and have legitimized their web presence.

Even if you do see evidence of online reviews, look for financial documents that are approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). While perhaps overly complicated and difficult to read, you should also check their 10-K (a company’s annual report) to make sure the information available at least matches the information the salesperson gave you. This will take you one step closer to verifying the opportunity being offered to you is legitimate. Unfortunately, SEC-verified documents are only available for publicly traded companies, so you may have to request documents from the salesperson. As with anything they give you, take it with a grain of salt.

4. Don’t rush yourself.

Scammers will often attempt to instill a sense of extreme urgency in you with fake deadlines or warnings—don’t fall for it. Any real investment opportunity would give you the chance to thoroughly vet them first. Good companies prefer their investors to be knowledgeable and informed, which is why they self-report a lot of valuable information. It’s the fake ones that don’t want you to do proper research.

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5. Is it too good to be true?

After you’ve done your research and seen all of the numbers, make sure you really question if the deal is too good to be true. If making money quickly was easy, everyone would be rich. Any real investment comes with some risk; if the salesperson attempts to assure you that there is none, then they are either exaggerating or scamming you. Be wary and carefully weigh the risks of any investment, even if you’re certain it’s not an illegal scam.

As a student, it can also be difficult to make this determination. It’s a good idea to talk to an independent authority before investing any large sum of money. Exercise caution when in doubt.

6. Report, report, report!

If after all of these steps you believe you have encountered a scammer, report them! The Federal Trade Commission is the primary agency you would report a scam to, but there may be a local, more immediate organization that can act faster. For example, many universities have an Information Security Office where you can report scams, especially those you encounter through your university email or on campus. By reporting fraudulent activity, you may be able to help another college student avoid falling for a “get rich quick” scam.

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4 Reasons Why Cancel Culture on College Campuses Is Destructive

Aanandi Murlidharan

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For the past 5-6 years, social media has been an integral part of our lives. Through social media, we are able to keep in touch with friends and family, share content, and reach larger audiences much faster. However, as easy as it is to express our opinions on social media, it is just as easy for these opinions to be shamed and criticized on these platforms. 

As a result of posting in the midst of such a judgmental culture, online public shaming has been rising. This idea is known as “cancel culture” and is prevalent on most college campuses in the United States.

While it is important to call out people whose rhetoric is harmful towards others (especially celebrities who profit off of their actions), cancel culture can be extremely destructive when brought to college campuses. Here are four reasons why cancel culture on college campuses is destructive.

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1. Leaves no room for growth

This is arguably one of the most detrimental effects of cancel culture. By “canceling” a person for tweeting an ignorant remark, it also cancels the opportunity for an individual to learn and grow from their mistakes. But how could they not know what they said was wrong? Isn’t that just common sense? No.

Many college students often forget that not everyone received the same kind of education as they did and that we all grew up in different backgrounds. For example: A queer BIPOC woman, who grew up in California, a predominantly blue state, has personal experience with the struggles and microaggressions queer women and BIPOcs face.

Additionally, she has grown up in a more liberal environment making it easier for her to understand the liberal environment of a college campus. However, a straight, white,  cis-gendered man growing up in rural Pennsylvania, a fairly homogeneous area in a red-swinging state, may not be able to understand the daily microaggressions that POCs face.

This is because he has most likely never been exposed to that environment. Therefore, if this man posts a tweet stating that he does not understand “what the big deal is” if a POC is asked, “Where are you really from?”, people should take it as an opportunity to educate him instead of “canceling” him for not being able to understand.

“If we completely cut people down every time they make a mistake or have a mistake from ten years ago, people are gonna feel like there’s no value in learning or progressing whatsoever because you are punished forever for the sins you no longer stand by,” stated Good Place actress, Jameela Jamil, when discussing the negative effects of cancel culture on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

“Ten years ago, I was problematic in my thinking, and there were loads of things I didn’t know and didn’t understand. Had I been canceled at that moment, I would have never gone on to spend all my time fighting for women’s rights or fighting for the people, who are marginalized.”

By canceling someone, you are leaving no room for them to grow from their actions or learn more. You are not only taking away their platform, but also, their ability to learn from their actions. 

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2. Feeds into a herd mentality

A large part of cancel culture is the herd mentality behind the process. As in many situations that involve large-scale decision-making, people often tend to go along with things due to the fact that “everyone is doing it.”

This mentality is also responsible for the immense popularity of certain fashion trends or songs. However, in the context of cancel culture, it has detrimental consequences.

“When cancel culture is enforced, it encourages everyone to gang up against one person just because everyone else is, and sometimes, without knowing the full story,”  described a student of the historically women’s college, Bryn Mawr.

“Our school is especially small and tight-knit so things like these run rampant very quickly. Information can easily be distorted with no question. I have seen this before where people will ‘cancel’ someone just because other people have, but they don’t actually know the background story or anything.” 

Small liberal arts college campuses like Bryn Mawr College are not the only places where this herd-like mentality exists. “There was this kid in my year and nasty rumors about him started floating around and everyone took that story as truth at face value and started ‘canceling’ him without even knowing, or meeting him, myself included,” stated a student from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

“One of my good friends had become really close to him, so I met him as well. One day he opened up to me and told me his side of the story, which was completely different and made it seem like he was the actual victim.  [The fact that] he went through a second ordeal over canceling despite supposedly being the victim in the first place was saddening.”

The student describes how to this day they do not know exactly who was in the right or wrong, but emphasizes that “we never really know people and should not try to assert ourselves or make such strong judgments on their character with limited information.”

3. Does not promote tolerance

The definition of being liberal is to be open to new behavior and try and understand the viewpoints of others. College campuses are considered to be hubs of primarily liberal/ progressive thinking. While it is great that places of education promote progress and non-traditional thinking, it often leads the student body to dismiss and ostracize individuals who are more conservative-leaning.

It feeds the “my way or the highway” mentality that fuels cancel culture. This mentality disregards the need for discussion and respect towards everyone’s beliefs. While there are certain things that are morally incorrect on every front (i.e. sexual assault, homicide, genocide), it is not correct to shut down a person’s opinion simply because it does not match with yours.


An example of this occurred at Bryn Mawr College during the 2016 election. Andi Moritz, an 18-year-old freshman at the time, had asked on a Facebook group if anyone would like to share an Uber to a nearby Trump rally. Bryn Mawr, being a primarily liberal-leaning school, did not take well to this post, leading to a flood of negative comments and name-calling such as “white supremacist” and “bigot”.

These comments caused her extreme emotional distress. Moritz described how she used the Suicide Hotline and emailed her teachers that she was not feeling well and would not be in class the next day. Mortiz eventually ended up leaving Bryn Mawr the next year.

“In this big bubble of people who will echo your opinion, you can throw something out there and if it’s a liberal opinion, you’ve got a ton of people who jump on and say: ‘Wow, you’re right, I agree with you.’ This is a big problem” stated Moritz.

In order for problems to truly go away, we must try to understand another’s perspective instead of “canceling” them. Trump may be an extremely controversial figure, but it is our responsibility to facilitate discussion and make sure we fully understand people’s viewpoints and intentions before publicly shaming them. 

4. Creates animosity and escalated situations

Oftentimes, cancel culture can create extreme animosity within communities and escalate situations beyond repair. On March 4th, Micheal Carducci from the group, ‘Coming Out’ Ministries, was invited to speak at Bryn Mawr College by a student club. The event was marketed by the club as a healthy conversation about love, sexuality, and the church.

After attending the event, many students felt as if the speaker was encouraging conversion therapy, or the idea of “converting” a person in the LGBTQ+ community to a “straight” person. The students of Bryn Mawr took it upon themselves to address the situation by expressing their grievances towards the student who invited the speaker. However, many of these comments turned into vicious comments.

Shortly after this situation occurred, Bryn Mawr’s Dean of the Undergraduate College sent out a statement to the student body saying that the speaker’s message was against the values Bryn Mawr held as an institution, but she “urges all students to be mindful of their rhetoric and how they are using social media” and that “all forms of harassment and bullying violate the Honor Code and the values of Bryn Mawr College.”

In order to preserve the anonymity of the student who invited the speaker, their name and any personal details will not be mentioned. However, Jess Chen, a recent Bryn Mawr alum and friend of the student, was willing to give a statement on the event.

Chen described how many of the people posting comments on social media did not take into account the background and cultural upbringing of the student organizing the event. She also mentioned how many people did not accept the student’s attempt to apologize.

“If you’re angry about the concept, you can be angry at the concept, but when you start attacking a student for inviting someone as a part of an event I think that gets a little ridiculous. The cyberbullying should not escape to the point where she is not safe to go to class,” stated Chen.

Upon doing deeper research on ‘Coming Out Ministries,’ it seems that the organization may encourage some problematic rhetoric. The website links videos such as Lesbian Christian Changes Her Mind, that urge members of the LGBTQIA+ community to abandon and suppress their identities.

The Bryn Mawr student body had a right to feel hurt, but not to cyberbully or personally attack the student organizer. Those who felt hurt could have facilitated an open discussion that made an effort to understand the multiple perspectives on the issue. 

But they said something very hurtful!  How can we just stand by and continue to do nothing? 

The idea behind cancel culture is not toxic in and of itself. Cancel culture was used to prevent celebrities and public figures, who endorsed hateful ideas such as racism, sexism, and homophobia from making profiting off the public.

However, it has morphed into something problematic. People have taken cancel culture to an extreme by applying it to normal people, who are not profiting off of the general public, and are thereby not taking on the responsibilities of a public figure.

Therefore, cancel culture on college campuses should switch to “call out” culture. Call-out culture is respectfully pointing out someone’s misunderstanding, explaining why their words might be hurtful, and giving them an opportunity to rethink their actions and words. Most importantly, it entails others listening to their response and apology. 

“Cancelling means De-Platforming someone and calling for their job and position of power to be taken away; often for the foreseeable future. I rarely support cancellation unless the person/ company, has done irrevocable harm or hurts more people than they help, or refuses to shift on their dangerous/bigoted views, and behavior” stated Jamil in response to the difference between cancel and call-out culture. 

Ultimately, the root of an issue does not go away simply by canceling someone. “I don’t think anyone was ever officially canceled, otherwise certain people wouldn’t have Grammys, wouldn’t have Oscars. Certain people wouldn’t be where they are in their positions,” stated Demi Lovato, someone, who has been canceled many times before on an episode of Jameela Jamil’s Podcast, “I Weigh.” 

In order to make a significant change, it has to be slow, persistent change. It has to come from a place of understanding. Individuals must recognize that canceling does not make the problem go away, but causes it to resurface in another form.

“People seem to think that if our trauma lies in one person and if we cancel one person, then that is easier than actually addressing systemically how this issue is dealt with on-campus,” stated Jess Chen.

“[They] feel some sort of comfort in isolating the issue.” The world is not just black and white. There will always be ambiguity and multiple perspectives on an issue. Canceling should only be used as a last resort when a person refuses to learn and acknowledge their mistake as something hurtful. It is the societal duty of our generation to promote call-out culture and “cancel” cancel culture.

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How to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement in the Long Run

Anna Leikvold

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The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, prompted outrage across the nation and world. The fight to end police brutality is far from over, and the most important thing to do is to not let this movement lose momentum. The end goal is to never have another man, woman, or child of color brutalized or killed by the police. 

As a white person, I understand my privileged position, and hope only to share my personal goals to support the movement, and hope to help others do the same. Here are 7 things you can personally do to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the long run and bring us one step closer to achieving that goal. 

1. Support black-owned businesses in your area and around the world. 

Do some research into your area or shop online with these companies to help them grow. This is one of the many ways to empower non-white communities and help create lasting impacts. Shift away from large chains as much as you can. Here is a list of 75 black-owned businesses with incredible products you can start supporting now. 

2. Educate yourself

Especially for white people. Continue to learn and understand this movement. Listen to podcasts, read books and articles, and watch movies. Most importantly, listen to the messages of black people around you and work to understand. Educating yourself about these issues is a lifelong commitment. Understand that you will never fully understand, but do your absolute best.

Know that the more you learn, the better of an ally you can be for everyone around you. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander or “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo are some great books to start or continue with self-education. If you want to see a movie to self-educate, “13th” and “Just Mercy” are two of the many great options.  Educate yourself so you can better inform people around you. 

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3. Use your social media presence.

Keep using your social media platform to spread important messages and create your own messages. Share information with friends and family members, and turn skeptics into allies. For white people especially, work hard to make other white people in your communities understand this massive problem. Understand the privilege you have in this movement and use it to have hard conversations. Don’t post your normal content. It is really important to keep social media as a platform for change. It is a simple thing to do that makes a big difference. 

4. Think local.

Local politics are crucial in changing policing systems. This means putting pressure on city council members, mayors, judges, and other representatives to make a difference. This isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can easily locate contact information for elected officials in your area, and send letters and emails demanding justice and change in the system. This also means staying more informed about local legislation and elections. Protest when necessary and make your voice heard. These elected officials are there to represent your wishes in government, so demand that they do so. Know the names of your city and state representatives and hold them accountable. 

5. Make recurring donations.

While many people have donated to organizations recently, it is crucial that these organizations continue receiving financial assistance from those who can afford it. A great way to do this is to commit to a recurring monthly donation. This amount can be small, but consistency is what will keep the organizations strong throughout this long fight. Do a lot of research about where you are donating so you feel confident in the organization you are supporting. 

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6. Vote in all upcoming elections. 

This goes without saying for most, but we need policy changes both federally and locally, and it is so important to vote for officials and policies you believe in. Stay informed and up to date always. There is no room to be ignorant about politics now. 

7. For White People: Remember your privilege. 

It is very common for movements such as this one to die out because people go back to their day-to-day lives. In this case, white people have the privilege of not having to fear police brutality every single day, and it becomes easy to forget about the violent status quo. Acknowledge that privilege as much as you can and come to resent it. Talk about it and be an ally. Remember this isn’t your fight, but you can help every step of the way if you listen, learn, and understand your place in it all. 

We must imagine a better future for it to ever be possible. In a time of chaos and fear for many, it is important to not become overwhelmed to the extent that we fail to continue fighting for what is right. Take these 7 steps, and some of your own, to continue to support Black Lives Matter in the long run. 

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