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Five Ways Communities are Giving Back to One Another During the Coronavirus

Alyssa Klier

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A lady in a blue facemask, and a blue face shield wearing a grey shirt, is one of many healthcare workers working hard to save lives.

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The Coronavirus is happening to everyone across the world. Everyone’s daily lives are being altered by the virus.

Throughout the world, people remain on lockdowns or stay at home orders. Borders, schools, restaurants, and many businesses are closed. Economies are shutting down.

Unemployment rates are high. People are fearful of their own and their loved ones’ health. Healthcare and essential workers are working copious amounts of hours to keep our society and world afloat.

This time can be scary and unsettling for many people because the degree of uncertainty apparent is foreign to us. 

With the prolific amount of uncertainty, people can find commonalities. We are all humans living and trying to just keep hanging in there through these times.

People around the world have united to support and help one another. Despite the different statuses that people hold, people have found ways to connect and help. 

People who are strangers to one another have reached out a helping hand to communities. There have been many uplifting stories that have emerged that emphasize the goodness in this world despite the current circumstances. 

The Coronavirus has proven that solidarity, generosity, and helping out are contagious forces that bind humans together.

A young boy with short brown hair wearing a dark green boy scouts uniform sits at his desk in his house.

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1. Boy Scout 3-D Printed Earguards for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are heroes. They have been working countless hours and long shifts to help treat people during this pandemic. Healthcare workers have to wear protective gear like masks, gloves, and gowns to keep themselves protected from the contagious virus. 

People around the world now have also been advised to wear masks in public as a safety measure. As a result, masks have been a liability due to their demand.

Healthcare workers spend their whole days wearing masks. After a result, they end up their days with facial bruises or cuts on their ears due to the pressure of the protective gear.

A Canadian 13-year-old boy scout decided that he wanted to help health workers. He designed ear guards that could be made with his 3-d printer.

The guard connects to the masks of healthcare workers. The guard elevates the masks so that it does not touch healthcare workers’ ears, therefore alleviating cuts. This boy scout has made 1,300 ear guards that he has donated to local healthcare workers. 

His mother made a post on social media that went viral. This post contained what the boy scout was doing and gave access to anyone on how to make and replicate these guards. After this viral attention, an additional 2,000 guards were made and donated to Canadian hospitals for healthcare workers to wear. Healthcare workers have expressed gratitude for this boy scout giving back to them generously.

2. High Schooler Makes Coronavirus Tracking Website

There has been a copious amount of news about the Coronavirus on every platform possible. Oftentimes, this serves as overwhelming to a majority of people.

How do people know which articles to look at? What sources are the most credible and least biased? What are the real statistics and updates of the pandemic? Is the information accurate? 

A seventeen-year-old recognized these concerns and decided to make a website. The website, Ncov2019.live, aims to track and update viewers on Coronavirus news. The site is coded as a place to put all of the Coronavirus information together in an accessible and accurate way.

First, it tracks data from various sources. These sources include the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and health departments in one’s geographic location.

Second, the site aims to avoid misinformation. It updates automatically every ten minutes on facts including confirmed cases, deaths, people recovered, and countries where Coronavirus is confirmed. This site has been viewed by millions of people.

The seventeen-year-old often works six hours a day on his site and has been commended on all of his work. He has given back to the community by giving people consistent and up to date information.

A young brunette lady wearing a white mask and white shirt picks out an orange at the grocery store.Source:

3. Tyler Perry Pays For Seniors’ Groceries

Senior citizens and people who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk of contracting the Coronavirus. Many grocery stores have recognized the danger and they have implemented an hour where only seniors can shop before the store opens to the public.  

Tyler Perry took it upon himself to pay for the groceries of seniors in Atlanta and New Orleans. He paid for groceries at 44 Krogers and 29 Winn-Dixie overall in these two locations. Atlanta and New Orleans hold significance to the actor’s life.

He both started his career and grew up in the locations Atlanta and New Orleans respectively. 

It was reported that Perry also contributed $21,000 in tips to out of work servers in Atlanta. Many people have tweeted about Perry’s gracious contribution. They have expressed a copious amount of gratitude for his generosity of giving back to themselves, family members, and their respective communities.

4. Teacher in the UK Walks 5 Miles to Deliver Students Free Meals

The Coronavirus has significantly highlighted the inequalities apparent within the food system in place. Many families are struggling to feed themselves and in particular their children. 

Many children depend on free lunches or meal plans in schools to have their meals. Additionally, many food banks are having difficulty balancing their supply with the demand of people who need food. 

Food banks only have so much food and right now fewer people are donating due to financial constraints. Further, more people are demanding food besides people who already had been doing so due to cut hours of employment and more family financial obligations. 

A teacher in the UK has recognized this dilemma. To ensure that his students get their meals, he walks five miles a day to deliver free meals at their homes. The students come from low-income with minimal resources. They would go hungry without the support of the teacher.

Many of the parents of these students are essential workers who are out of the house for many hours. Delivering the meals meant that these children were granted daily with proper nutrition and that they were able to stay inside. Additionally, the teacher was able to check on these students’ wellbeing from afar to maintain social distancing measures. 

This teacher stressed the importance of taking care of all children even if they are not physically at school. His actions highlighted the importance of ensuring child safety for students of various upbringings. This teacher gave back to his students in a way that ensured proper health and safety recommendations.

5. Anonymous Donor Donates Gift Cards to All Citizens of Iowan Town

Smaller towns in the United States have been having trouble fueling their local economies. These towns only have so many jobs that are essential due to the lack of shops. In one of the small Iowa towns, an anonymous donor decided to donate gift cards to all 549 residents in this town. 

In this specific town, there is one grocery store and two food places. The anonymous donor divided evenly the amount of money in gift cards between the three stores. 

The goal of this was to help fuel the local economy, precisely by contributing $82,350  spent amongst the 1,647 gift cards distributed. Each household received $150 in gift cards with a note saying that it was not a scam. 

The note also said if the household did not want the cards they could call the city hall to pass them along to others in need. The gift cards fostered a sense of giving back because 50 families gave them back for families more in need.

The gift cards inspired the citizens of this town to make a difference and help their community. They expressed extreme gratitude for the anonymous donor as well.

Good news during the pandemic is contagious but often overlooked. Often, the media tends to focus on the negatives of the pandemic. Of course, the severity of this pandemic is not one to be downplayed. Life as we know it is halted right now and people are falling ill. However, it is also imperative to recognize that there are still positives happening frequently in the world around us today. 

This helps unifies us and reminds us that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel. It is extremely uplifting and inspiring to hear how people can largely impact the lives of strangers. It is also important to note that these people did these acts just out of the goodness of their hearts. 

With the uncertainty of the Coronavirus, it is important to take care of oneself, others, and communities. I challenge all of you here to do something that makes you feel good and to do something generous.

So what are you waiting for? How can YOU make a difference TODAY? How will you give back? Look around and you will see that there is a lot you can do.

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Is Rate My Professors Worth the Hassle? 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It

Emily Bevacqua

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A person with short buzzed hair  wearing a black sweater, and reading a dark blue book, while sitting in a desk with a pile of books in front of them.
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When it comes to choosing classes, students often turn to Rate My Professors to learn more about which professors and courses to take. However, with lack of accurate information and biased opinions, Rate My Professors isn’t as helpful as students think. 

Class schedules are the bane of a college student’s existence. Creating a perfect one is impossible and picking professors is a gamble. Unless students can see the future, they won’t know if a class is going to be interesting or if the teaching style is going to be boring.

Students have to create backup schedules and sometimes even backups to the backup schedule. It’s unpredictable. The only way to get some insight into the process is by doing research.

There are a couple of ways students can guess at how a class will be. First, universities provide descriptions of courses, and departments post more specific information on their own websites. This usually helps students decide if the material will be interesting and something they want to learn.

A young brunette lady wearing a grey T shirt with teal writing on it takes notes in her notebook, while reading her textbook with her glasses on top of it.
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The other way to gain perspective on a class is through other students. Turning to friends who have had the professor or taken the specific course before can be useful. However, with large universities, a friend may not have even heard of the one in question. So, students then turn to the “trusty” old site, Rate My Professors

Rate My Professors is a website where anonymous users post reviews on professors and their courses so that others can gain insight. People have been using this site for over a decade, ranking quality and difficulty of the class on a scale of five with a brief explanation. 

The problem with this site is that it’s really inaccurate. Relying solely on this information is a mistake. Students shouldn’t trust Rate My Professors, and here’s why:

1. Posts are outdated.

Sometimes, users haven’t posted about a professor in years. Julia Keefer from New York University has 6 ratings, the newest from 2010. Similarly, Michael Himes from Boston College hasn’t been rated since 2011.

These professors still teach at the universities yet they are being judged by opinions from ten years ago. Teaching styles, material, and people change over the years. It is inaccurate to trust opinions that are so old.

2.Opinions are the extremes.

When someone posts a review on a restaurant, they either loved it or had the worst dinner of their life. The same goes for Rate My Professors. Alan Fridlund from the University of California Santa Barbara is, as one student puts it, “a divisive professor. Some people love his humor and passion for the subject while others hate his politics.”

His ratings are all over the place. Some give him a 4.0 to 5.0 quality rating while others give him 3.0 or even a 1.0. They say he is a “Very funny guy, [and] makes what he talks about seem very interesting.”

However, a student also said, “I found many things he said to be quite inaccurate in his lectures. His Republican viewpoints often collided with his teachings, and he misinformed so many students.” With drastic viewpoints, Fridlund seems questionable. Which review should potential students for his classes trust?

3.Few ratings give good (or bad) overall reviews.

With any collection of data, the more input, the better the conclusion. Professors can have hundreds of ratings, which provides a more accurate judgment, but they can also have as few as three or less.

Cameron Myler from New York University has one rating, which happens to be a good one. This gives Myler an overall quality of 5.0. However her fellow colleague Jing Yang, also has one rating that gives her an overall quality of 3.0.

4.Professors have no reviews or a page.

Some professors don’t have any reviews at all, as is the case for Lisa Samuel from New York University. There are also times where they do not even have a page on the site, like Elena Kalodner-Martin from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This can make students jump to the conclusion that the professor is new to the school and lacks experience, which can deter them from taking the class.

5.The course isn’t reviewed.

Specific courses oftentimes don’t have any reviews, but the professor is rated on others. Judging them based on a different class is jumping to conclusions. They may teach a 100 level course in a completely different way than an upper-level one.

6.Users don’t provide details.

Students can be lazy. They want to help other college kids, but they don’t want to put in too much effort. Descriptions on Rate My Professors can be very short. For Harold Peterson from Boston College, his three reviews say, “Best professor ever,” one is blank, and, “Very easy. Don’t take anyone else for Principles of Economics.” Judging Peterson based on those few words is unfair.

A man with a beard and glasses wearing a business outfit, while sitting down and using a business chart app on his iPad.
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If students are going to use Rate My Professors, they have to look beyond the site. They shouldn’t trust these anonymous opinions alone. University websites provide professors’ profiles through faculty directories. This gives more information on their qualifications, accomplishments, and personality.

Students can also ask classmates that they’ve worked with before. Asking others within a major, increases the likelihood that they have taken the course or had the professor. Alternatively, students can post in Facebook groups to see what other peers who’ve recently taken classes with the professor have to say. 

In the end, picking a professor is still a guessing game. Thankfully, the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester allows students to change their mind after attending the class a few times. It’s okay to change a schedule once the semester begins. Students have to be happy with their courses in order to gain the most from them and keep a healthy mind.

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Are Ethical Fashion Brands the Solution for a Better World?

Anna Anderson

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A close-up view of a rack filled with several pieces of clothing on white hangers at a thrift store.
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Fast fashion brands have grown in popularity for their low-cost clothing and convenient accessibility online. However, these brands bring about major consequences in the world. From maltreatment of workers to heavy environmental damage. 

First, the workers in the fast fashion industry are often underpaid and overworked. Some are abused and must work in poor conditions, such as overseas. Human beings should not have to undergo this brutal treatment or face such exploitation. Instead, they should be paid fair labor wages for their hard work, time, and efforts.

In addition to this, fast fashion heavily contributes to the pollution of our water. After fast fashion brands manufacture clothes made of synthetic fabrics, consumers buy them and wash them. Every time someone washes these materials, it leads to polyester pollution.

Since the water inside washing machines, which is now contaminated with microfibers from these synthetic fabrics, streams into fresh bodies of water, a large portion of wildlife actually ingest these unhealthy and inorganic fabrics.

Another impact on the environment is excessive waste. These fast fashion companies produce clothing in bulk, leading to more than what is necessary.

If people don’t buy all of the excess inventory, then it goes to waste. The clothing made of synthetic fabrics is incinerated or goes to landfills and never decomposes. 

Lastly, the fashion industry is responsible for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion also uses up 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water every year. All of these factors are destroying the Earth’s ecosystem.

These effects make it important for all of us to do our part in decreasing our consumption of the industry. Thankfully, there are many ways to address the problems above.

First, you can do research on different brands with the help of the internet. You can find out if your go-to stores are actually the perpetrators of workplace abuse and stop shopping there, and research brands that are kind and caring towards their employees. 

With more research, you can also look for organic and vegan brands. Their fabrics, which most likely consist of organic cotton, won’t do as much damage to the Earth. There are hundreds of these stores out there, and with online shopping, it’s easy to buy from them. 

Another environmentally friendly option is shopping at thrift stores. They sell gently used clothing that isn’t ready to be thrown away. If you live in a big city, there are many thrift stores you can visit. There are also online thrift stores such as ThredUP, Poshmark, and Depop.

When thrifting, you can find unique and vintage items that can’t be found elsewhere. This can upgrade your closet significantly. 

In a similar vein, you can rent or borrow clothes online. Apps like My Wardrobe Hq enables people to borrow clothes from each other. An American company called Rent the Runway allows people to use designer clothes for events. These clothing methods lead to less fast fashion consumption and less clothing waste. 

Sometimes, you won’t want an item anymore even if it is still in good quality to wear. Instead of throwing it away, you can give it to someone who wants it. Decrease waste by donating your old clothes to charity or taking them to thrift stores. 

You can decrease water waste by washing your clothes less often. This puts less fibers into the environment and keeps your clothes in better shape. Fewer washes mean less damage to your clothes. It’s also the perfect excuse for less laundry and fewer chores to do. 

All the ways above can be integrated into your lifestyle and shopping habits. The shift doesn’t have to be overnight but can happen in waves. Every action counts and leads toward a better world. We can all do something to decrease our support for fast fashion and shop more sustainably. With these ethical fashion practices, we can make a huge difference.

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How the pandemic will contribute to negative social-emotional development

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One man with dark hair and one man with brown hair both wearing grey T shirts and  black masks standing in front of a  red wall filled with  clear saran wrap.
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During this pandemic, students across the country have lamented their lack of social interactions, missed their friends, and developed new hobbies to fill their days. The assumption has always been that COVID-19 quarantine is temporary.

Soon, students will be back on campus and the social scene they’ve been missing for the past several months will roar back to life. But by the time life does get back to “normal,” they may have missed out on something much more permanent: growing up. 

Usually, when we think of social-emotional development, we think of babies learning to decode facial expressions or to play with other kids their age. But in actuality, we continue to grow and develop emotionally our entire lives, and one of the most pivotal moments in that development is during college.

This kind of development is another perhaps unavoidable casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone, from kindergartners to college students, has been pulled from their development and left stagnant in safe and unchallenging social isolation.

For college-age people, this is the period of your life where you are supposed to finally grow up. You might learn to live alone or make friends independent of your family. But throughout you have an institution that, if it’s doing its job right, provides you with a little safety net should you fail. 

A dark haired  woman in a green and white striped shirt  with teal fingernails covering her face with a white mask.
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The social-emotional development college students gain is hard to measure but incredibly important. It helps students thrive in a non-academic setting, fostering healthy relationships and learning to independently manage themselves.

There are few other times in students’ lives where they can learn to build that network of support around themselves, knowing that they still have an institution to fall back on. 

During this pandemic, many students came back home, their fellow students scattering across the country and the world. One consequence of returning to a childhood home is the risk of reverting back to high school years and lifestyles. In college, many students develop their personalities and new responsibilities that may be stripped away upon returning home.

Social worker, Claire Lerner, wrote in Psychology Today that noticeable regression in children during times of stress is very common, particularly in the time of COVID-19 where stress seems to permeate the air. Even as someone who is technically an adult, when students aren’t in an environment that promotes growth, then it’s all the easier to backslide or at the very least, remain stagnant.

And social-emotional development isn’t just a meaningless phrase—it can have real importance both academically and professionally. One famous study in the Journal of Counseling & Development found that emotional growth was a better indicator of students persisting (not dropping out) than just academic success.

Students who are well-adjusted are able to cope with the stress of academics and social situations in college, and presumably, the real world better than students who merely get good grades and test scores. 

According to another study in the Social Innovations Journal, the real value of a college degree is not necessarily just knowledge actively gained, but in the emotional intelligence and maturity achieved.

David Castro and Cynthia Clyde, the authors of the study, wrote that college is really about learning soft skills, not just technical expertise that is often more job-specific. With school going virtual, students are missing out on the opportunity to develop many of the skills they pointed out like, “communication, negotiation, the ability to work in teams and team-building itself.”

A dark haired woman lying on bed while using laptop and drinking coffee.
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As long as social distancing and isolation continue, students will continue to miss out on deeply important social connections and moments of emotional growth. As more and more universities unveil their plans for fall, it looks like fall will be a new edition of “Zoom school” for students around the country.

The only way for schools to safely reopen is if this virus is stopped in its tracks, and this seems to be quite a challenge for the United States as is has so far, failed to do so. Face-to-face interactions are priceless and an essential part of the college experience. Social distancing is not just about missing your friends—it’s also about losing the chance to transition naturally into adulthood.

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