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Some Good News with John Krasinski is Spreading Virtual Positivity During COVID-19

Katherine Feinstein

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Actor John Krasinski wearing a grey suit smiling next to a sign that reads Some Good News
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Though the current state of the world in quarantine to COVID-19 is certainly bleak, actor John Krasinski has created the perfect, heartwarming distraction. His Youtube channel, Some Good News (SGN), has a sole purpose, and it’s to report on positive news stories. 

John Krasinski, best known for his role as Jim Halpert on the hit sitcom “The Office,” is lightening the load of virtual reporting on the pandemic with an overwhelmingly positive weekly newscast. SGN was started a mere three weeks ago on March 29th and has since gained nearly two million subscribers on Youtube. The logo, which happens to be a colorful picture of “SGN” drawn by Krasinski’s kids, can often be seen on the media platform’s “Trending Now” feed with the first episode of the series amassing over 16 million views. 

How did this positive news channel gain popularity so quickly? The answer is simple: people need to believe that there are still good things happening in the world right now. 

Krasinski, clad in a suit and tie, opened the series three weeks ago with the first SGN episode, jokingly saying, “For years now I’ve been wondering, why is there not a news show dedicated entirely to good news? Well, desperately seeking my fix somewhere else, I reached out to all of you this week!”

Prior to the premiere episode, he had taken to Twitter to ask his 2.5 million followers to send him stories that “made you feel good this week or things that just made you smile”. Before sharing some of the many heartwarming stories, Krasinski concluded his friendly introduction with, “Why not us? Why not now? Ladies and gentlemen this is your fault, and this is SGN!”

From the very start of the show it became clear to viewers that the comical, laid back, and welcoming persona that Krasinski played on “The Office” radiated out of his persona as well.

The first story that Krasinski shared was about the tireless, selfless, and heroic efforts of healthcare workers putting their lives on the line everyday for complete strangers. He emphasized how these heroes had never asked for a ‘thank you’ or any reward, but that across the globe people were coming together to show their appreciation. Krasinski then featured a montage of videos sent in via Twitter accompanied by upbeat music. 

The videos included people cheering in the streets outside hospitals, dancing and celebrating for doctors, lining up in solitude with ambulances on the street, and thousands clapping for their rescuers in what looked like a makeshift triage site in a warehouse. In Spain, Krasinski exclaimed, police lined up in their cop cars outside of a hospital and flashed their lights to show their appreciation for the work of their hospital staff. Subsequently, everyone on the adjacent street joined in from their apartment windows. 

Though the pandemic situation has forced everyone to quarantine for the sake of those most vulnerable to the virus, Krasinski highlighted just how positive continued unity and selflessness can be. 

This first SGN episode also featured how some people are making “kindness extra special” by going out of their way to support others. Krasinski introduced the segment with, “Even indoors in the weird world of isolation, good news is happening everywhere.” Highlights included someone who left out bottles of hand sanitizer and boxes of toilet paper for Fed-Ex workers and a food delivery person to take when they made their deliveries. 

Another family with four kids sent in a video of their elderly neighbor mowing their lawn. Their neighbor, an army veteran, had promised the deployed husband of the family that he would take care of them while the husband was away. The family praised their neighbor for always looking out for them, noting how he would sometimes send pizza to their house. Other stories from the episode showcased couples improvising romantic proposals and dates despite trips being cancelled, as well as an elderly man serenading his wife from outside the window of her nursing home. 

Despite everyone being in a tough position with the current state of the world, Krasinski’s SGN certainly demonstrates that, “Somehow the human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away.”

Krasinski concluded SGN’s first episode with an interview with another “The Office” alumni, Steve Carell, aka ‘Michael Scott’, to celebrate the show’s 15th anniversary. Viewers flooded the comments with their favorite “The Office” quotes and gushed about loving ‘Jim Halpert’ even more than they already had. Whether viewers first clicked on this channel for positive news stories or purely because they saw Krasinski’s familiar face in the thumbnail, it’s clear that the impact of this Youtube channel is more than powerful. 

In fact, anyone and everyone is included in the uplifting movement that SGN has started. Just this past Friday, Krasinski hosted a live “SGN Prom” on the channel to cheer up high school seniors who would be missing an important milestone due to the pandemic. 

In an Instagram post promoting the live, virtual event, Krasinski wrote, “First of all, you’re welcome. Second of all, I can’t take it anymore how much you are all missing your prom. So, let’s do something about it! Let’s have an #SGNprom!” 

Though many had hoped to go to events like prom and graduation, the tireless efforts of John Krasinski and his channel still provide hope and a reason to smile. Further, the optimism of the show and sharing of heartfelt gestures that can still be seen in today’s society reminds people that good news still exists and everything will be okay. 

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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.

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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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