From the Editor’s Desk: U.S. Lacks Paid Maternity, Paternity Leave

Originally published in Issue 6, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (November 17, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

As I contemplate my life after graduation, which seems to be an everyday occurrence, I often wonder about my future family. Women consider this issue more than men because women are still seen as the primary caretakers of children.

Yes, the U.S. is becoming more progressive and there are stay-at-home dads but that’s not really what I’m concerned about. Did you notice I called my future family an “issue?”

I would say that I want to have children when I’m older because let’s get real, any child that is half me is going to be awesome. But when I really consider how much time and attention children need, I think, “Mehh, kids ruin your life.”

So far, all I’ve known is school. It is this wonderful and terrible constant in my life; summer is over and I go back to school. All of my education has led up to college and my career. I’ve been essentially working toward it my whole life. My career is extremely important to me (I’m in a lot of debt because of it), and I don’t want kids to mess that up. However, to be fair, it’s not the kids that mess it up; it’s the system.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not provide paid maternity leave to mothers, which means there is definitely no paid paternity leave for fathers.

This past September, Pew Research Center analyzed 41 nations, and countries such as Australia, Czech Republic, Norway, Hungary, Japan and many others have over a year’s worth of paid leave for new parents. Estonia offers the longest amount of paid leave at 82 weeks (over a year and a half).

According to Pew Research Center, most countries use a social-security-type system to fund the paid time off, but in some cases, the employer also pays part of the bill. Additionally, while the U.S. does not have a national paid leave mandate, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have state-mandated paid leave plans.

While the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave, there are requirements to fulfill, such as working for a company with at least 50 employees and having worked at the company for at least one year. Many workers that do qualify for the leave do not take it because they can’t afford it.

The lack of parental support provided by the U.S. and its businesses forces many women to choose between taking care of their families and earning an income. However, I don’t want to have to choose, and I don’t want to have to compromise between my children or my career. The U.S. needs to up its game and catch up to the rest of the industrialized world.

Speaking of upping games, the environmental committee at DeSales has been making great improvements on campus, and the men’s and women’s basketball teams are ready for a successful season.

Additionally in this issue, The Minstrel covers Ben Long’s campaign, a how-to article on sleeping, which I’m sure we could all use a lot more of, and a large A&E section covering everything from movies, music, books and dance. I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as my staff and I enjoyed writing it.

Peace, love & DeSales,

Kellie Dietrich
Editor-in-Chief

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Dakota Access Pipeline Discredits Tribal Sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Originally published in Issue 6, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (November 17, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline—a $3.8 billion oil pipeline running 1,172 miles through North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa—have been gaining traction since the summer and becoming more intense.

On Oct. 27, hundreds of activists occupied land along the pipeline’s proposed route. They argued that it belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota under an 1851 treaty with the U.S. government and has not been properly honored. Police responded with rubber bullets, pepper spray, water cannons and also arrested 141 activists.

Since being proposed in 2014, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been very controversial. The Standing Rock Sioux has two major concerns. First, the pipeline would cross right under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, the tribe’s main source of drinking water.

It’s not a matter of if the pipeline leaks; it’s a matter of when. Pipelines are known to leak.

The Center for Biological Diversity in Austin, Texas did an analysis in 2014 of the records from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which has a database of U.S. pipeline incidents that are classified as “significant,” including death or injury, damages over $50,000, more than five barrels of highly volatile substances or 50 barrels of other liquid released or where liquid exploded or burned.

The Center for Biological Diversity reports that since 1986, there have been 8,700 significant incidents in the U.S., which results in more than 300 spills a year.

The Standing Rock Sioux’s other main concern is that the pipeline would run through sacred sites and burial places with construction and bulldozing destroying them. This goes

back to the 1851 treaty because although the land does not technically belong to the tribe, they argue it was unjustly taken from them.

Most importantly, the U.S. government did not consult the Standing Rock Sioux, when under federal law—they should have.

Journalist Aura Bogado, who has been following the Dakota Access Pipeline closely, says the core of the dispute is tribal sovereignty, the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within U.S. borders.

Ultimately, the U.S. government is suppose to have a “government-to- government” relationship with native tribes.

In an interview with Vox, Bogado refers to the U.S. government not consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux as “environmental racism.”

“The historical emissions produced by white colonists have greatly contributed to climate change, leaving indigenous peoples and people of color—that is, the very people who didn’t contribute to global warming much at all—most vulnerable,” said Bogado.

The pipeline crossing the tribe’s main water source is solely affecting the 8,250 people living on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which is of course making

the indigenous people most vulnerable like Bogado said.

“If you live in a city, look up your closest landfill,” Bogado told Vox. “Chances are that landfill, and all the health and environmental concerns that stem from it, is in a neighborhood of color.”

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The proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline travels southeast through North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. Photo courtesy of Energy Transfer, LLC

Advocates of the Dakota Access Pipeline say that the estimated 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered oil that lies in the Bakken Formation, an underground deposit where North Dakota and Montana meet Canada, would greatly benefit the U.S. economy.

Constructing the pipeline would add 8,000 to 12,000 jobs and make the U.S. less dependent on the Middle East for oil.

However, opponents argue this is not the answer and the U.S. should be looking for alternative and renewable sources of energy.

Over 389,000 people agree and have signed the petition on credoaction.com

to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. The controversy has gained the attention of activists, environmentalists, celebrities such as Shailene Woodley, who was arrested at a protest, and politicians Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.

The fight has been invading social media as well. The hashtag #NoDAPL has been trending and many people have been “checking in” at the reservation to show their support.

Dakota Access LLC, the company behind the pipeline, plans to tunnel under Lake Oahe within the next few weeks, despite President Obama recently

saying that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who approved the pipeline, is looking for alternate routes. Dakota Access LLC plans to finish the pipeline by the end of 2016.

Additionally, Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline in November of last year and many believe the Dakota Access Pipeline is the Keystone XL argument all over again, so maybe the pipeline can be stopped.

With 70 other oil pipelines across the U.S.- Canadian border, does the U.S. really need another one?

From the Editor’s Desk: Unearned Privilege and LGBT Rights

Originally published in Issue 5, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (November 3, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Grandparents are fantastic; they’re always trying to feed you, give you money and provide you with unconditional love and hugs. But one thing many of them have in common is that they’re slightly racist. It’s not exactly their fault either. It was a different time period when they were growing up.

I grew up going to public school and I had friends of all different kinds of nationalities. I had friends who identified as Indian, Chinese, Dominican and even if I wasn’t friends with some of them, there were so many ethnicities in my classrooms. I grew up and treated them all the same. I had group projects with them and it never dawned on me to treat them differently because of their ethnicity. The same thing goes with sexual orientation. Why discriminate against people based on this?

I was very happy to be alive on the day the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in 2015. It was a beautiful day about love and equality, and especially meant a lot to me because I just attended Philly Pride that month to support a friend who identifies as a lesbian. And to be honest, before I was friends with her, I didn’t have a wide perspective on lesbians and gay.

The truth of the matter is that fighting for LGBT equality is not over. Whether you identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, questioning or other categories, there are differences between each. Yes, we are all human beings, but it’s our differences that make us unique and we need to be able to understand and support each other.

In 2015, the Solidarity Initiative scheduled an LGBT forum that was cancelled. However, don’t we need to talk to the LGBT students in order to understand their needs? DeSales does a great job of making a welcoming and inviting atmosphere on campus, but some students are not willing to speak out against these issues individually. We need to hear what LGBT students have to say before we can put a plan into action.

Another danger is that many of you reading this have unearned privilege and privilege is often invisible to those who have it. Men may not think about women’s issues because they are the superior group with privilege. The same goes for economic status, race and sexual orientation. You may not think there are issues with LGBT on campus because you are straight; however, you must broaden your perspectives. You can start by reading the news piece on the front page where we hear perspectives from a professor and a student who both identify as gay.

The Minstrel also has perspectives on Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate running for president, and much less weighty topics including DeSales hosting the NCAA cross country regionals and student Adam Desseyn who is developing a video game. Enjoy this issue and keep widening your perspectives.

Peace, love & DeSales,

Kellie Dietrich
Editor-in-Chief

“Sexual Orientation” Missing From DeSales’ Non-discrimination Policies

Originally published in Issue 5, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (November 3, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

DeSales strives for students to “Be who you are and be that well;” however, it is very controversial whether DeSales is including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students if they do not explicitly state “sexual orientation” in their policies.

The student handbook, faculty handbook and all policies at DeSales lack a non-discrimination clause that protects sexual orientation.

“We don’t recognize that as one of the items that are a protected class. We protect all people’s sexuality,” said Rev. Bernard O’Connor OSFS. “My problem with trying to list every category is that the list can get really long and we’d rather not focus on all of those individuating points.”

O’Connor often speaks of the sense of solidarity on campus; however, the solidarity coordinator position ceased to exist once graduate assistant Romar Lyle graduated from the program and found a job this past July. Years before, there was a full-time position but with downturns in the economy, it had to be cut.

Dean of students Linda Zerbe said they have always wanted a full-time position back. Last year the student affairs committee submitted a request for a director of solidarity, which would be a full-time position. The budget and finance committee did not approve of any new positions at DeSales last year and Zerbe said they plan to resubmit the proposal this year.

As a replacement of not having a solidarity coordinator, there have been Mondays in McShea to cover diverse topics. Zerbe also said what students have not done is requested a club for solidarity.

“That’s a really lovely opportunity to talk about everything,” said Zerbe. If students requested this club, it could focus on LGBT, ethnic backgrounds and other topics they are interested in and want to discuss.

“It’s under that umbrella,” said Zerbe who believes sexual orientation and other ways that students identify themselves falls under solidarity. “We work together as a whole community and look at: what does this mean to us, how do we belong at DeSales and how do we feel valued.”

Others feel the term solidarity is not sufficient in including the LGBT population on campus.

“I think the University’s efforts to label it as solidarity is a mask,” said professor Larry Belt, who openly identifies as gay. “It does not recognize the expressions of diversity that our population is made up of, and it doesn’t recognize the interests or concerns of the students who are gay or lesbian, LGBT.”

Throughout his ten years working at DeSales, Belt has had young men and young women come out to him as gay or lesbian, or come to him to discuss what it’s like identifying as LGBT.

Belt says people, in particularly faculty members, are not willing to come forward because there is no protection for them.

“I don’t know any other faculty person who is willing to come out and say that they’re gay and offer their support and help to the administration and to the students to facilitate discussion and implement some kind of different relationship,” said Belt.

He references the open forum “LGBT and DeSales” that was planned by the Solidarity Initiative in April 2015 and was cancelled.

“The purpose of that was to share what their experience was and what their concerns were, if they had any,” Belt said.

“We’re not trying to invent issues, we weren’t going to come up with solutions in that forum. It was just really about, let’s explore it, but we have to hear it from the students. We can’t just let it come from what we imagine or what we hear secondhand.”

A DeSales student who identifies as gay said, “So even though I personally haven’t had any discrimination problems, some people might not be as fortunate, so regulations should be used to help prevent future discrimination.”

This student also mentioned that if someone was interested in finding other gay students, it would be hard to do at DeSales and believes a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), a club that provides a safe place for people to support each other with sexual orientation and gender identity, and also work towards ending homophobia and transphobia, could be helpful.

“It might be good to have if gay students wanted to relate and talk to someone in similar situations because sometimes your straight friends don’t understand everything completely. Some might feel more comfortable in an LGBT setting.”

Many Catholic universities and schools protect sexual orientation in their non- discrimination clause and also encourage diversity programs such as a GSA.

Overall, there is not a lot of data out there on the LGBT population. Sexual orientation is not a question on the U.S. Census survey so if there is no data to be measured and no conversations about the LGBT population, there is no way to improve their lives.

One survey was done by Pew Research Center in 2013. They interviewed 1,197 LGBT adults and found that the majority of them regard faith groups as “unfriendly” to their community and specifically, 79 percent said the Catholic Church is unfriendly.

Additionally, three-in-ten LGBT adults said they were personally made to feel unwelcome in a religious organization.

Some could argue that DeSales not including “sexual orientation” in their non-discrimination clause is unwelcoming to LGBT students, faculty and staff.

“It’s not a Catholic prohibition. It’s an institutional prohibition here,” said Belt. “And that would be to me, the most significant thing that ought to be changed because then that stops marginalizing people who are different from the rest.”

Writing Portfolio as Editorial Intern at Lehigh Valley Style

I had a great experience building my writing portfolio as the editorial intern at Lehigh Valley Style magazine. Here’s some of the work I wrote during my time there.

February 2017
In the Issue:
Volunteer Spotlight: Catherine Benincasas, Cetronia Ambulance Corp.

Web Extras:
Home: DIY Valentine Treats
Life: 6 Valley Super Bowl destinations
Style: Menswear-Inspired Fashion for Women

January 2017

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I interviewed Sarah Hinsch, owner of Greenmouth Juice Bar + Cafe to write “Everything You Need to Know About Juice Cleanses.” Photo by Kellie Dietrich

In the Issue:
Ask the Expert: Everything You Need to Know About Juice Cleanses
Volunteer Spotlight: Ashanti Littlejohn, St. Luke’s University Health Network

Web Extras:
Home: Local Ways to Fill Your Wedding Welcome Bags
Life:Winter Mountain Destinations
Style: What to Wear: Wedding Guest Edition

December 2016
In the Issue: 
Volunteer Spotlight: Logan Houptley, Mikayla’s Voice

Web Extras:
Home: One of a Kind Lehigh Valley Experience Gifts
Life: Volunteer to Spread Christmas Cheer
Style: Must-Have Winter Accessories to Keep Warm

November 2016
In the Issue:
Decadent Dish Restaurant Awards 2016
Volunteer Spotlight: Nick Ogutu, Amnesty International

Web Extras: 
Home: What to Make With All Your Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey
Life: Brush Up on Your Lehigh Valley History
Style: Shop for Fashion that Gives Back

October 2016
Blog: 
Pop-up Run in Bethlehem, Runner’s World Festival & More

Additionally, I wrote the Calendar of Events, Life in the Valley, Books and New In Town sections in each print issue Nov.-Feb. Click here to view full issues of Lehigh Valley Style. 

From the Editor’s Desk: Life After Graduation

Originally published in Issue 4, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (October 20, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

I don’t know what’s worse: telling people I’m a communication major and explaining to them what that means, or answering what I’m doing after graduation.

Alright, definitely the latter because at least I can answer the first question.

As a senior, I am asked what I am doing after graduation more and more often. To be honest, I really don’t know and I think most of us don’t. Currently, I’m editor-in-chief of The Minstrel, I’m an editorial intern at Lehigh Valley Style magazine and my Facebook feed is basically only my writing, so it’s pretty clear I want to write. I like writing articles for newspapers and magazines, I like editing and I’d also love to write a novel one day.

However, I don’t know where I’m going to get a job after graduation. Some people assume I’m off to New York, but that’s not really how it works anymore. There are magazines, newspapers and publishing companies all over the United States. There’s also freelance writing, and with shrinking staffs, this is often the best bet for writers. You pitch your own ideas to newspapers and magazines, but the idea of no benefits or job stability scares me.

If I have learned anything about myself in college, it’s that I have superb time-management skills, and that makes me believe I could make a salary out of freelance writing. Or I could land a steady job and freelance on the side. The possibilities of a communication major are endless. So please stop asking me where I’m working after graduation because it’s only October. The only thing I know for sure is I’ll be writing; you can have my word on that.

Due to my confusion about what I’m doing after college, I decided to write about grad school this issue and created a survey to see what other seniors are doing.

Although I’ve had teachers tell me I’d accomplish great things in grad school, I want to start working. I talked to teachers and mentors from past internships and one piece of advice everyone, as well as Kristin Eicholtz, reiterated to me was, “don’t go if you’re not 100 percent sure about what you want to do.”

I would like to go to grad school in the future, but right now, I want to get out in the world and write. I have a large portfolio between The Minstrel and internships. I know I have skills and I want to start using them. Additionally, if I went to grad school now, I don’t know what it would be for: journalism or perhaps creative writing, which I just started getting into over the summer.

So a word of advice from me to all the seniors out there: do what you want to do. Don’t worry if it seems like everyone else is applying to grad school and you’re not or vice versa. As for all the other students out there: try to get as many internships as you can. One of the most beneficial parts of them is the networking and whom you meet because a huge factor in getting jobs is having those connections.

No matter what you do in life, remember to “be who you are and be that well.” This issue we hear from a sexual assault victim who gives a voice and courage to others, students spending a weekend homeless in Washington, DC and athletes being inducted in the sports hall of fame.

Peace, love & DeSales,

Kellie Dietrich
Editor-in-Chief

Seniors Favor Working After Graduation than Going Straight to Grad School

Originally published in Issue 4, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (October 20, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Grad school now or grad school later? The decision to go to grad school right after undergrad is mostly situational, not to mention stressful to think about. The Minstrel recently polled 55 seniors and 50.9 percent said they do not plan on attending grad school in the fall of 2017 with 50 percent saying they want to start working after graduation. Of the 30.9 percent that are attending grad school, 76.5 percent said grad school is necessary for their career goals.

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yesno“You need to be going on to grad school for the right reasons. You don’t want to be going on to grad school if you’re trying to prolong going into the real world or if you’re uncertain with what you want to do with your life,” said Kristin Eicholtz, director of the career development center.

“Undergrad truly is the time to explore and figure out what it is that you’re most passionate about. And getting your master’s degree or that next level professional degree is taking that passion and bringing it to life.”

If someone is unsure about what they want to get a master’s in, Eicholtz advises it is best to work for a few years. Students may even be fortunate enough to get an employer that pays for the costs of a master’s degree for them. Only 14.8 percent of seniors surveyed were undecided about attending grad school in the fall and 50 percent of them said they were unsure of their career goal.

“If it’s something where you’re not 100 percent sure that’s exactly where your passion is and what you want to do long term, maybe work one or two years. Get a sense and feel further what your goals are and then apply to schools,”

said Eicholtz.

Additionally, a common concern students have is being removed from school and that once they are out of school, they won’t go back.

In order to avoid this sense of removal from school, students should make a timeline for themselves by setting goals of when they want to go to grad school. Those years of working after undergrad should be spent looking into graduate programs for when they do decide to make the decision to attend.

Having a master’s degree is not necessarily a competitive advantage if the career does not require it; however, 11.8 percent said their main reason to go to grad school is to be more marketable to employers. Some employers see a person who has a master’s degree as more expensive to employ.

Additionally, a master’s degree could be preferred, not required. In this scenario, someone with real-world experience after undergrad could have a leg-up on someone who went straight through grad school after undergrad.

Overall, the process of applying to grad school is similar to undergrad. Students should still tour the colleges, talk to people in the program, receive letters of recommendation and take standardized tests like the GRE, MCAT or LSAT; however, schools weigh these tests differently. Students also need to write a personal statement, similar to the undergrad college essay, where students explain their short-term and long-term goals.

The main difference between grad school and undergrad is grad school can be funded through grants, fellowships and graduate assistantships. There may be

a separate interview process for these, so it is extremely important to pay attention to deadlines.

Seniors applying to grad school should currently be done with standardized tests, on the second or third draft of their personal statements, have transcripts from the registrar and have asked their recommenders to write their letters. This allows November to be about final touches and be ready to send applications by after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.

“The career center works with students getting ready for grad school too,” said Eicholtz. “We review students’ personal statements and we go through a couple drafts with students until it gets to the point that they are happiest with it.”

The career development center has free resources on standardized testing as well. Their drop-in hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and longer appointments can also be booked.