‘Am I a feminist?’: The movement should not have a bad rep

By Valerie Velazquez ’20
Illustration by Lauren Mcgee ’20

At least 470,000 people assembled less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration to protest numerous issues concerning women’s rights in light of his problematic campaign for the presidency. According to the New York Times, crowd scientists deduced that the number of people who marched in Washington D.C. was roughly triple of those attending the inauguration.

Concerns surrounding feminism were present prior to the Women’s Marches; however, the publicity around the marches has newly sparked them. Many of us are now asking ourselves questions in light of the heated debates around feminism, women’s rights and the patriarchy. Even if one believes oneself to be well informed, the question we all eventually ask ourselves when thinking about feminism is, “Am I a feminist?” Issues such as abortion are blurring the line for many people as to what a feminist believes in or what a feminist should believe in, making the answer to that question more complicated.

Abortion has been a huge topic, and it is bound to come up when discussing feminism. Since Planned Parenthood was one of the biggest supporters and sponsors of the Women’s March, many women against abortion felt unsure about attending, despite the fact that they agreed with many other issues concerning women’s rights. All women should individually have the right to choose abortion over an emotionally painful and unwanted pregnancy, especially since the choice to have a baby is one that affects the mother and the child’s future. Feminism supports the right of each woman to autonomously make decisions as to what to do with her body and health; not her husband, her partner, her parents and especially not the government. Being against abortion is still accepted since everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion; however, no one should force their opinion on someone else, especially when multiple lives are at stake.

Feminism is also criticized for the exclusion of the transsexual community, ignoring trans women’s issues or blatantly not recognizing trans women as women. Some people consider themselves feminists, but they ignore the trans community because they believe that trans women who one were once considered men are exempt to issues concerning women. However, the more people who identify as feminist and support trans women, the quicker this ignorance can go away.

Additionally, the title of “feminist” has been called into question as to what that entails and how effective it really is for the future of women’s rights. Public figures like Kellyanne Conway, the first female campaign manager to win a U.S. election, and celebrities like Kelly Clarkson have made their stance against feminism clear. One of the main concerns that these women and many others have about feminism is that it could foster a society where women are overly dominant and men are considered inferior or worthless.

“I’m not anti-male. One does not need to be pro-female and call yourself a feminist, when with it comes the whole anti-male culture where we want young boys to sit down and shut up in the classroom,” Conway said in an interview with the Washington Post.

However the issue of women overly dominating society in the same way men have been for thousands of years should not stop one from supporting feminism because the problem itself does not exist. The goal of feminism is not to put women above men; it is to equal the playing field. The idea of “sit down and shut up” is not as related to men as depicted in Conway’s quote. Women have been shut up for the vast majority of history, whether it has been in their marriages, classrooms or in front of the Senate like Elizabeth Warren. The feminism movement is meant to make up for the women who did not get a chance in history and to make the future more inclusive.

Some prefer to pivot to identifying as “humanist” or choosing another way to avoid being directly called a feminist. Though being a humanist seems appealing, it is essentially avoiding differences in opinion with those who avidly disagree with feminism. The point of calling oneself a feminist is to be confident in one’s decision to be fully supportive of women. The word feminist is supposed to be a harsh word. It is supposed to be strong and provoke confidence in those who embrace it, and in a way it is meant to intimidate. However the harsh stereotypes identifying feminists as power hungry women who do not have children, take extreme measures and burn bras do not define the aspects of feminism. Feminism is the opinion that both men and women should have equal opportunities in the world.

It is hard to believe that the world is still faced with such a primitive issue since many of us like to believe that our generation is miles above the past in terms of human and especially women’s rights. Though it is true that women’s rights have improved greatly during our lifetimes, it is incredibly important to remember that there is still a huge amount of work to do in order to fully achieve acceptance and equality for all women. Yet this should not discourage people; instead, that makes it all the more urgent for gender inequality to be resolved. If we see ourselves as the future of America, and representatives of the free world, we need to be able to embrace the challenge and not flee from conflict. Feminism at its core is not a hard concept to accept because in theory, as long as one believes in women’s rights, they should be considered a feminist. However it is the stereotypes and stigmas against feminism that discourage people from fully embracing it. In reality, taking the leap of faith to call oneself a feminist is the easiest risk one will ever take.


Gor-Such a Bad Choice: Analyzing Trump’s pick for justice

By Luke Scheider ’20
Illustration by Hannah Mittleman ’20

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, President Barack Obama pushed for Merrick Garland, a qualified appellate judge, to take his Supreme Court seat. However, the majority Republican Senate announced that they would not consider any of Obama’s nominees. This action was deemed unconstitutional in a letter signed by over 350 law professors. This made it clear that they were holding out for a possible Trump presidency.

Currently, controversial and hazardous laws and orders are being passed, the constitutionality of many of these laws and orders will almost certainly be called into question in the Supreme Court, and a Republican court would only continue to reaffirm the horrendous laws already being enacted by the Republican congress and president.

Trump’s immigration travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries will likely be called into question by the Supreme Court. The legality of this executive order has already been questioned by many judges and justices, and it has been partially halted by some federal judges. However, the Supreme Court has the power to overturn all decisions, furthering the Republican agenda to an even greater extent.

Another way that a fifth conservative judge on the Supreme Court could be detrimental is because they would support the enactment of the Mexico City policy and many other laws restricting access to abortions for many women across the country. A Supreme Court that reaffirms these laws could be the final nail in the coffin for many abortion providers. In places with very few options for abortion services, this could have terrible effects on the people who reside there. For example, the state of Mississippi has just one abortion clinic, and even that one clinic is in danger of shutting down.

If Gorsuch assumes the empty seat, Republicans hold a majority in all three branches of government, in effect, a monopoly on the United States. For example, this occurred in 1927 to 1933, which were the years leading up to and the first part of the Great Depression, and again from 2003 to 2007, which were the years right before the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The Republican Party will have complete control of the United States, allowing any number of drastic laws to be passed. When one looks at the correlation of these events, one can only speculate the awful laws that could be enacted with a fully Republican government coupled with a president who has promised radical reforms.

The nominee to this seat, Neil Gorsuch, does not alleviate any concerns of many sensible people of the U.S. He nearly always votes along party lines, so coupled with Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, he is very likely to nearly never challenge any of Trump’s executive orders or any of the conservative legislation that Trump signs into law. Gorsuch’s opinions share the strongest resemblance with those of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a firebrand conservative known for defending anti-sodomy laws and attempting to uphold school prayer. These extremists pose a threat to the freedom of the United States when put into a position of power.

As a traditional conservative, Gorsuch has ruled against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Along with providing health coverage for millions across America, the Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until they are 26. This allows young people to establish themselves in the world before they need to pay for health insurance. Obamacare sets people up to prosper, which further cultivates the economy. However, Gorsuch and the rest of the Republican Supreme Court could easily side with Congress and Trump and repeal Obamacare. This would hurt millions upon millions of young and disadvantaged people.

Complete control of the government by the Republican Party will allow Trump near complete control of the United States, putting our lives in the hands of someone unfit to serve.


Protests are Best: Protesting is effective in the long run

By Rachel Brown ’20 and Emma Shapiro ’20
Protests Comic AWU
Illustration by Astor Wu ’20

Although the Women’s March was roughly a month ago, we continue to view it as a successful way we fought back and resisted. Protests seem to be everywhere we turn nowadays, and they are making the public evermore present in the political stage. With the increasing of protests, it is important for one to decide for oneself whether they even matter or consider what these demonstrations might lead to.

Nearly 250,000 people gathered in 1963 to attempt to end segregation and earn equal rights in the Civil Rights March on Washington. This protest is often viewed as one of the most influential marches and led to the Civil Rights Act being passed. However, the size of the crowd itself did not cause the protest to be successful. Instead, it was the fact that citizens heard those speeches, went home and worked to achieve their cause.

In 1963 Hazel Mangel Rivers spent eight dollars, or 63.50 in today’s dollars, on an overnight bus from Birmingham, Alabama to Washington. Without the actions Rivers and countless others took after that March on Washington, we would not have the Civil Rights Act or the amount of equality we have today.

“When I get back tomorrow I’m going to do whatever needs to be done. I don’t care if it’s picketing or marching or sitting-in or what, I’m ready to do it,” Rivers said to a Times reporter at the protest in 1963.

When we look at successful protests, the Hollywood ending does not seem to  happen until years after. This is because it is not the protest that causes change, but the lawmakers who are working behind the scenes. Protests influence citizens to push legislators to begin working for a certain cause, but without lawmakers nothing gets done. In 1913, women gathered to march in support of women’s rights and the right to vote. Although initially they did not make an impact, women were granted the right to vote seven years later. The demonstrations, now referred to as the Women’s Suffrage Parade of the 1913, sparked a series of political movements that later caused the government to change their previous views. Assuming that our situation is similar to theirs, the Women’s March hopefully started an idea in the government and gathered the popular support that will ultimately lead to achieving the end goal of equality.

While seen as an initial failure due to them not completing their goal, the Occupy Wall Street protest in 2007 created a movement that we still see today. Protests build up morale and energy to rally behind a cause, and once the numbers build and they get more exposure, the greater impact they make. Many can trace the energy from the 2007 marches to the supporting of Bernie Sanders. We saw this during the presidential election. It included social media advertising before the event took place, gathering more numbers like the Women’s March today.

Initial results of global movements may not have immediate change, but they slowly build and the movement grows, encouraging more people into following the popular mass. Especially since the Women’s March had a national turnout, that should help convince leaders to make a difference and support the cause. Protests are beneficial because they unite a group or large mass of people to show a certain stance on an issue that many individuals support. The larger the turnout and publicity, the more likely changes will be made.


Thoughts from a Journalist: The importance of news

By Jessa Glassman ’20
Spectrum Fake News Art
Graphic by Hannah Mittleman ’20

In an era where the media is tightening its grip on every consumer, journalism often gets jumbled up in its power, causing it to enter murky waters. The evolution of news is tremendous, starting with periodicals made by letterpress printers, going on to newspapers delivered by bicycles and all the way to broadcasting and websites updated hourly. We can even receive updates on news from anywhere in the world in minutes through a simple tweet. While this has many obvious advantages, it also has some unfortunate aspects.

When we get two sentence notifications that come right to our pockets, the value and need for print journalism is eliminated. It becomes too routine to just scan quick blurb summaries of news that we cannot bring ourselves to read physical copies of newspapers in their entirety or wait until Sunday to purchase one. Over the years, consumers have craved more condensed news that they can read on the go while sitting on the public bus, on the way to work or while waiting in line for a morning cup of coffee. For journalists everywhere, adapting to this new demand while still making a profit is extremely difficult.

Numbers in the journalism industry are smaller than many would think, and they are what have lead to its so-called “death”. We have moved into an age that focuses entirely on internet presence, and while we might be saving trees, there are not many other benefits to this transition.

The growth of online news and media has led to many issues involving consumers’ suspicions. When news stations align with a certain political party or when they target a specific political audience, questions regarding the credibility and the objectivity of their content are raised. This issue has received more publicity than before because of the politically charged times and recent election controversy. Claims of fake news have been seen significantly more than ever before.

As a journalist, it is my job to report the news in the most objective way possible so that I can deliver my audience the facts without my own personal take on them. It is immensely important to acknowledge the fact that the ethics of journalism have been called into question, not only for problems involving incorrect reporting, but also sensationalism and writing stories for profit. Certain news channels, papers and websites often cover stories that will grant them the largest audience and not the stories that are most relevant or that need to be written. This is apparent when we see articles about celebrities closer to the cover than articles about real world issues. News stations also can exaggerate facts, make assumptions and blow things out of proportion. For instance, creating a front page story with a headline that talks about a divorce rumor or an abuse claim that is not based on evidence. This yellow journalism is problematic because newspapers and news sources evolve into something that they should not be.

As someone who works on a newspaper full of writers who are passionate about journalism, it is imperative to recognize the problems that the journalism industry is currently facing. Training writers who can reflect favorable journalistic ethics and who can also adapt to their audience is important so that we can carry on the profession. Reinforcing the momentousness of newspapers, magazines or anything else that falls under this category is our job, as we are their future. Even despite this, good training and learning how to satisfy consumers while making a profit and while still appealing to the ethical toolkit is of the utmost importance and needs to be taught and reinforced so that journalism can continue.

School should not be a Marketplace

By Caitlin Chung ’20 and Anusha Mathur ’20
Reselling Cartoon AWU
Illustration by Astor Wu ’20

Buy for five dollars, sell for ten. At first, it seems like a smart idea. It seems like an easy way to make money and give someone something they want. As Girl Scouts began to sell cookies this spring, several issues involving both selling and reselling goods arose in the school community. Should students be able to sell items at school without facing consequences, or should it be banned completely?

As outlined in the MS Student/Parent Handbook, “selling of items for any reason” is prohibited. However, “students who wish to sell items for charitable purposes must apply for permission from HW-Give.” Although Girl Scouts qualifies as a charitable organization, none of the students selling cookies on campus have asked for permission from HW-Give. In addition, some students have been selling other goods such as shoes and different types of apparel for their own benefit. This has led to discussion among the middle school deans, who have not yet reached a conclusion about how the school community should handle the issue.

Even though selling goods such as cookies is technically a violation of the school code of conduct, the administration said it wants to be able to support its students in their extracurricular activities. Because Girl Scouts is an organization which is involved in building leadership in young girls, and the money earned from selling Girl Scout cookies supports good causes, selling Girl Scout cookies should be an exception to this rule. However, the line must be drawn at reselling Girl Scout cookies for a higher price by people who are not Girl Scouts and reselling other goods for personal benefit.

The administration is clear that reselling goods for a higher price constitutes a violation of school rules and will not be tolerated. Even though many students might interpret this act of entrepreneurship as being smart, it is explicitly banned. While the profits earned from selling things such as Girl Scout cookies goes to the Girl Scout organization, which is involved in empowering women, the profits earned from individual sales such as shoes, other apparel and goods solely benefit the seller. By allowing students to engage in these types of activities at school, we are fueling a self-serving mindset.

So why are kids reselling items for an inflated price? It seems like an easy way to make money. However, what students often do not consider are the repercussions it has on others. It is upsetting for the person they bought the good from because the original intention of selling it was certainly not for it to be resold. Additionally, in the case of Girl Scout cookies, the Girl Scouts who were selling cookies at school were very upset that students were taking advantage of their efforts to promote the Girl Scouts organization and that the money earned from the later sales were not going to the right place.

Reselling cookies can also have adverse effects on the person buying the product, because they have bought the good for an unfair price. Many times, students are unaware that they were even buying the good for a higher than normal price. In that case, reselling the cookies is actually dishonest and would constitute an Honor Code violation.

This is not to say that reselling goods to other people is always bad. In the real world, reselling of goods for a higher price happens often. For example, retail stores sell goods for a price that is marked up. However, students should not be conducting such transactions at school. Doing this promotes an environment where students take advantage of others for their own personal interests.

It is important to support students participating in organizations such as Girl Scouts, because it is directly involved in empowering leadership in young girls, but pursuing one’s own ends at the expense of other people or a good organization only creates a sense of distrust within the community.



POLITICS Left/Right/Center: Reflecting on Executive Orders

By Amelie Zilber ’20, David Arkow ’20, and Jessa Glassman ’20
feb issue LRC cartoon
Illustration by Joanna Im ’20


By Amelie Zilber ’20

Armies of resistance are massed in the streets, representing a motif of opportunity for passionate Democrats optimistic towards change in this drastic, new political era of President Donald Trump.

In a brief span of 30 days, Trump dove head first into an explosion of executive orders in an attempt to deliver his unmistakably far-fetched campaign promises. Having passed 12 executive orders within three weeks, American policies on climate change, public safety and immigration have shifted, alongside our deep rooted American values.

A few short months ago, America was labeled a front runner in global climate change, launching a transitional period towards becoming a nation providing aid in our planet’s preservation. But, little to our surprise, for Trump deems climate change a hoax created by the Chinese, our nation has retreated towards an age of traditionalist conservatism. In a swift, thoughtless process, President Trump ordered the re-authorization and rapid completion of the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines, two controversial infrastructure projects allowing for easier transportation of fossil fuels across North America. This contentious move fulfills Trump’s “Day One” promise of weakening the regulatory procedures in place blocking the pipelines. Not only have we seen his cabinet become occupied by the most extreme hard-right ideological, fossil fuel-oriented appointments in history, we have seen that environmental conservation falls low on his bar of critical issues.

Secondly, Trump signed a series of orders seeking to abolish sanctuary cities in the U.S., and to ensure jurisdictions are made solely to enforce federal immigration law. Trump released an executive order supporting immigration enforcement and encouraging punishment of local governments failing to comply with federal authorities. Sanctuary cities in the U.S. are places in which local law enforcement policies restrict the persecution of undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. Immigration was a central pillar in Trump’s campaign, for he gave off the notion that American crime and violence arose through the residency of immigrants. Despite statistics showing the drastically decreasing probability of immigrant-based crime in the U.S., Trump’s hardline position on immigration deportation deeply resonated with conservative voters.

In November 2015, the Islamic State mounted devastating attacks in Paris, gunning down more than a hundred people at a rock concert, in restaurants and outside a soccer stadium. In response, Trump fulminated about his future radical measures imposed on Muslims seeking to enter the United States if elected. To what came as a disappointing shock, even though Trump emphasized his disposition on key order during his campaign, the nightmarish initiatives employed for political advantage to “Make America Great Again” became a reality. Through his nativism and aggression, Trump represents a new form of Republican: extreme radicalism. His new ban on immigration fundamentally conflicts with America’s long-standing values, extremely undermining our country’s economic dynamism and ability to harness the talent and dire need of immigrant workers.

America stands as a beacon to the world as a refuge for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Trump, after failing to win the popular vote, has acquired no mandate for his actions, and he is steamrolling through a surfeit of unconstitutional executive orders.


By David Arkow ’20

While just one month into the Trump Presidency, he has taken action to his promise of bringing real change to our country by passing many executive orders. Some are minor such as declaring a Day of Patriotic Devotion (Jan. 20), but others are major including reversals of some of former President Barack Obama’s policies (Dakota Access and Keystone Pipeline and regulatory burdens) and the heavily debated travel ban. Rarely has a president issued this many executive orders in his first month, which leaves some questioning as to whether these executive actions are warranted.

An executive order is an order issued by the president that has the force of law. Trump is doing exactly what voters wanted him to do, which is bringing real change to the country. Many Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, are dissatisfied with Washington politics and Congress, and Trump is the antidote. He is using his power as president to act as a leader. The number of executive orders will slow, but Trump will be one of the most active presidents to exercise executive power. With all of the protests across the country, many are only aware of the drawbacks of Trump’s executive orders. However, it is important that people are informed about the orders and how they are intended to benefit the country.

Trump’s most heavily debated action so far is Executive Order 13769, or as it is more commonly known, The Muslim Ban. Currently, it is inactive as it was blocked by federal judge James Robart. However, his role is only to decide if the order is protected by the Constitution and federal law, not to judge on policy. Trump appealed the decision, but the appellate court did not reinstate the travel ban.  The executive order is not a “Muslim Ban” as the media has defined it. It is a temporary halt for 90 days on people entering the U.S. from seven middle eastern countries identified by the Obama administration as “countries of concern.” Trump tweeted that the purpose of the temporary travel ban is “about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of our country.” The order’s title is “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.” Its goal is to protect American citizens from foreign terrorists. The large majority of people from these countries are not a threat to national security, but there are a small number who may try to enter the United States from ISIS.

The executive action is viewed as an “anti-Muslim policy,” but it should be viewed as an isolationist policy. We know that from Trump’s foreign policy, trade and immigration views, that he is an isolationist, or as he calls it, “America First.” Past presidents have imposed temporary immigration bans including former President Jimmy Carter who blocked Iranians from entering after Americans were held hostage there. Under Obama, the State Department stopped processing Iraqi refugee applications in 2011 for six months after they learned that Iraqi terrorists infiltrated the U.S. through the refugee program. Trump’s ban is not very different from past ones; it is just on a broader scale. While the travel ban has some flaws, as it is over-inclusive and includes legal immigrants, it can be modified to better accomplish its goal. The executive order also gives preference to religious minorities in these seven countries, mainly Christians. The Christians in these countries are persecuted the most and have the hardest time getting out of the refugee camps. Overall Trump’s travel ban is not perfect, but will improve national security, putting “America first.”


By Jessa Glassman ’20

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, has been exercising his executive power and passing policies that have been widely contested. This power takes the form of executive orders and therefore allows him to bypass the other branches of government in order to take an action.

Executive action is a very controversial topic, especially now during the beginning of the presidency of the least favorable man to take office in our nation’s history. Because it functions off of one person’s ideas, it often faces criticism because there are bound to be people who disagree and also because it overlooks the other two branches of government and gives ultimate power to the president. Questions arise about whether or not this is democratic, but those are typically rooted in personal opinion. People who agree with the president and his executive action are likely not to oppose the system of executive power.

It is obvious that Trump hit the ground running right when he got into office. Trump was the first man since President Bill Clinton to sign an order on his first day of work, and he has been continuing in the pattern of taking the actions he deems necessary in a quick fashion. While many people say that Trump has been abusing his power, he has been putting forth a similar number of orders as  previous presidents. This claim has been circling the nation because of the magnitude and the fact that many of his actions have been opposed.

No matter the number of executive actions he has taken, the important thing that citizens should hold a magnifying glass up to is their intentions and content. A very controversial executive order that has received lots of attention is the so-called “Muslim Ban,” created to temporarily halt the entry of citizens from seven majorly islamic countries chosen by President Barack Obama as “terrorist threats.” The order has created much confusion not only in the U.S., but also throughout the world because of its vagueness. The travel ban has been challenged by many political figures as well as everyday citizens because of the controversy. Both parties would disagree over whether this action is the right one to take, however, it is of the utmost importance that we continue to respect the democratic system that our country has been thriving off of for more than 200 years. If an action is disputed, citizens should talk to their local government officials or find another way to get involved rather than bashing the executive order system. Executive orders are a significant piece of our governmental system, and while it is obvious that this can be abused, focusing on the content of the orders rather than the system as a whole is the right way to go about critiquing executive order.


Point Counterpoint: Is Stress Good for Students?

POINT: Casey Kim ’20



Students who take challenging classes were allowed to do so because teachers believed they were capable of handling the tasks. It is given that Honors courses have higher expectations work that students turn in. Though students are prone to be stressed by high standards, the stress they receive helps them demonstrate their best work. Because of these classes, students are able to excel in certain areas of academics. Without such courses that push students to their limits, students are not able to show their full potential and growth in knowledge.


Because of the stressful nature of honors classes, they can overwhelm students instead of motivating them to work harder. While occasional stress can help students meet daily challenges, honors class demand constant work and responsibility from students. This leads to chronic stress which can cause physical and emotional deterioration of students. There is only so much tension that a student can take, and if that stress becomes continuous, it becomes counterproductive to helping students perform better.


Illustration by Caitlin Chung ’20



Every athlete is susceptible to stress in their sports career—whether it is due to pressure by coaches, injuries, self-reflection or simply not wanting to go to practice. However, overcoming these obstacles and downfalls is a significant endeavor that athletes must experience in order to improve. Without blood, sweat and tears, students will not be able to grow and learn. Rather than some people being stressed by sports, many students in fact turn to sports in order to relieve their stress. Exercising and training the body to be physically active releases endorphins, helping athletes be healthy both mentally and physically.


Many students use sports as a way to escape the daily stress of life. When coaches, family and teammates put pressure on a student to consistently perform well or place impractical expectations on them, it may kill their enjoyment in the activity. When players make performance errors and others criticize them, they may start putting pressure on themselves to perform well. This may end up hindering their performance because they are not be able to stay relaxed and focused during a competition. It may also lead to anxiety which would make them feel less confident when competing.




Eustress, or positive stress, affects our daily lives without us even noticing. Stress gives the body a burst of adrenaline and motivation to complete tasks in time. Students who have procrastinated on an assignment and successfully completed the work the night before it was due would have stress to help them. A sufficient amount of stress helps us be more alert, focused and efficient with our time.


Although some stress may lead to better performance, the stress a student faces in their everyday life can take a toll on their health. Stress is associated with a wide range of health problems, ranging from receiving less sleep and depression to an increased risk of heart attacks. Stress may also exacerbate other health problems that the students are facing. Ultimately, one’s health is a top priority, and because stress can have very terrible long and short term effects on a student’s health, stress is not a good thing.


Stress 1
Illustration by Caitlin Chung ’20



Stress is a huge aspect of our lives and is something we will never be able to deny. Instead of contemplating and worrying about stress, it is best to look toward its many benefits. Stress pushes students to their limits and allows them to demonstrate their best performance. If students feel pressured, they can always turn to different activities to relieve their stress. Although too much stress is unhealthy for the mind and body, some stress can actually benefit students’ everyday lives.


Students’ daily life and schedule is very busy and with so much going on. Stress ends up overwhelming them and hindering their progress. When students experience chronic stress or pressure from adults and peers, it may lead to a worse performance in both their academic and athletic life. Stress can also decrease students’ enjoyment in a certain activity or worsen already existing health problems. Overall, since stress can have devastating effects on students’ emotional state and health, it does not benefit them in their daily lives.

Community Service: It’s more than just a requirement

By Jessa Glassman ’20 and Jordan Murray ’20

The definition of community service is “voluntary work intended to help people in a particular area.” Over time, this definition has become less and less true because the way we think about community service is evolving. The purpose of community service has transformed from being selfless for the sake of it to being charitable to enhance a college application or fulfill a requirement. People no longer attend charitable events, fundraisers or go help out at organizations. Of those who do help out at a non-profit, it is mostly because they have a requirement or want to seem more giving on their college applications. Community service has gone from something people do on their own merit to help those in need to blindly donating to a cause without taking the time to think about the cause it strives to help.

Community service should be about giving back and helping people in need. Many people only take part in community service organizations to benefit themselves, but they are missing out on the real importance of charitable work. The reason people should be involved in community service should not be to benefit themselves, but it should be because people want to give back to the community and because of a genuine interest in helping out. Partaking in community service should be a true act of selflessness and everyone should strive to make it a goal to give back. This is very applicable to our school community because in most instances we are detached from issues others in our surrounding neighborhoods face. Given our privilege and knowledge, it is our duty to help others. There are so many people in need of aid just around the corner.

At school, some students host fundraisers where they sell donuts, ice cream or other treats to raise money. There are also many drives that benefit children in the area. While these events definitely help the community, they might be less valuable than the donation of time. When students just sign their name on a sheet to buy a sweet treat with their parents’ money, they may not leave feeling as impacted as if they were involving in person with a charity. It is important that we experience what it is like to help in a hands on fashion, rather than just giving money and receiving a reward. This will not only help us more, but also those we are reaching out to. Interaction with other people who have the ability to touch hearts and create lasting memories can be much more valuable than money. Even if students aren’t interacting directly with those in need, sorting clothes or food or doing physical work for organizations can be more impactful and also offers an important lesson. The community service requirement gives students the push that they need to enter the charitable world. It also opens our minds up to thinking about what we can do to help and shows us how other people live and just how fortunate we really are.

In conclusion, community service should not be used to make applications look better and should be more than just about donating money. Everyone needs to realize that it important to use some of their free time to give back to their community. Our school offers students a variety of opportunities to volunteer in after school trips to schools and weekend events where each student has the chance to lend helping hand. It is crucial that not just we, but children everywhere, begin getting involved now so that we can kickstart a generation full of people ready to give back.

Put the price in sight: Do students know what they pay for lunch?

By David Arkow ’20

Most people at movie theaters complain about how expensive the food is, but I never thought that would apply to a school cafeteria. Standing in the lunch area, I heard a student complaining to a friend about being charged $7 for chicken and rice. Unfortunately, this story isn’t just a one-time experience, but it is relatable for most students who purchase food from the cafeteria. While the food in the cafeteria is good quality and convenient, some of its prices are inflated and hidden.

In an online survey sent to the Middle School, nearly 50 percent of 320 respondents said they spend about $10-15 per day on food. Therefore, each student can spend up to $2,500 on food every school year. $10-15 a day is a lot of money compared to the average $2.50 lunch in California public schools. Although the cafeteria at Harvard-Westlake is a private company, this is still a large price gap. Even though some students do not pay much attention to this, it is important to recognize this price difference.

The cafeteria provides a necessary service to students by serving quality food, drinks and snacks. However, the price of cafeteria food is greater than it would be at a regular grocery store.  Over 60 percent of students surveyed said that the cafeteria pricing is too expensive. Price inflation can happen at any place where there is a monopoly on a product like at an airport, amusement park or movie theater. The cafeteria has a captive audience in students and can set up their prices however they want.

While students can bring their own lunches to school, most rely on the cafeteria for food (90 percent of respondents said they eat at the cafeteria). However, the same exact Power Crunch power bar sold in the cafeteria for $2.50 is the same power bar that can be bought from home for around $1.25. The difference is that the cafeteria makes a larger profit than the regular grocery store does (still has to cover expenses of bringing the food to school and paying cafeteria staff). In the survey, nearly 70 percent of students who bring lunch from home said that the reason was because the cafeteria is too expensive.

Regardless of the size of the cafeteria’s profit, the prices should be openly displayed to all students. Over 30 percent of students surveyed said they do not know where to check the prices of cafeteria items. While the cafeteria displays the prices of certain foods (hot food, refrigerated food, drinks), not all of the food has a clear price tag, mainly the snacks (similar brands in a grocery store). The price of the unlabeled food is unknown until the I.D. is scanned. Not displaying the cost of food prevents students from making financial choices when it comes to their food. If the cost of cafeteria items are openly displayed, students can check them and be aware of the price difference. Then students can make a better informed decision about whether it is worth it to pay the extra price that the cafeteria charges rather than bringing the snack from home.

Recognizing the cost of food is a first step for teenagers to become more aware of their financial choices. Some of the cafeteria food is price inflated and its cost is not always transparent. Students should be more careful about the costs of what they are purchasing in the cafeteria. This means checking prices when there are labels and checking when an ID is scanned to see if the food is properly charged according to its price. If there is not a price label on the food, then students can ask one of the cafeteria staff for the price. If one does not care about the price of their food, then they do not have to check the price, but the cost should be openly displayed to all. It is not just important to check prices now, but it is an important life skill. In the future, students will be in charge of their own finances (will not have a parent to pay for them) and will have to manage their own money. Students can learn to check prices now so they are not naive when they are older. However, students cannot learn this skill until all prices are openly displayed on all food items sold in the cafeteria.

While some of the cafeteria food is not cheap, they do not necessarily have to be reduced. There just has to be more transparency about the pricing of the food that we eat 180 days a year and spend up to $2,500 per year on.

POLITICS Left/Right/Center: The Wall Brawl

By Amelie Zilber ’20, David Arkow ’20, and Jessa Glassman ’20


Illustration by Caitlin Chung ’20/SPECTRUM


By Amelie Zilber ’20

As we head towards the beginning of a new presidency, pressing issues of our nation take hold. Immigration poses one of the biggest threats to our generation, and in recent polls has been ranked an escalating complication, amongst many, of our society. Within a number of days, President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated into office, alongside many of his ultra conservative reforms while we say goodbye to President Barack Obama and some of the treasured values our nation was built upon.

Trump has long promised to construct a “big beautiful wall” along the southern U.S. border with Mexico to ensure security from, as he sees it, the rising number of immigrants wreaking havoc upon our nation. Promising to triple Immigrations and Customs Enforcement personnel, remove an estimated 690,000 undocumented residents with criminal backgrounds and expel millions of immigrants overstaying their visas, Trump is slowly chipping away the American value of acceptance. An analysis by the Washington Post tallies the number of potential Trump-issued deportations to be around 5 to 6.5 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. These policies, in conjunction with the construction of the proposed border wall, is estimated to cost between $50 to $70 billion. Not only would this structure strangle revenue flows and stunt economic growth, but Trump’s reforms would shatter salaries in the hospitality and construction sectors and create massive expenses for U.S. taxpayers in the form of costly deportations, capsizing the American ideals of liberty, equality and opportunity.

Trump, akin to the regulatory reforms of conservative politicians, wishes to cut off Justice Department grants to sanctuary cities, or as labeled by immigrants, their “shields from deportation.” Sanctuary cities in the U.S. are places in which local law enforcement policies restrict the persecution of undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. Immigration was a central pillar in Trump’s campaign, for he gave off the notion American crime and violence arose through the residency of immigrants. Despite statistics showing the drastically decreasing probability of immigrant-based crime in the U.S., Trump’s hardline position on immigration deportation deeply resonated with conservative voters.

Even as the number of civilians fleeing their war-torn countries accumulates, American borders will shut down. Appalling hundreds around the globe, our government is forcing promoters of acceptance to watch as we turn away from the desperate migrants who once had faith in the secure, hopeful nation of America. It is our moral obligation as citizens with a power to make a difference, to offer shelter to those in need, and it is our duty as human beings to have compassion for those whose world’s have perished in their fight for survival.


By David Arkow ’20

President-elect Donald Trump is days away from being sworn in as President of the United States. In the weeks following his victory, Trump moderated his views on issues ranging from Obamacare to climate change and waterboarding. His stance on immigration, which originally appealed to many voters, has changed as well. Trump’s plans for immigration include building a border wall, dealing with illegal immigrants in the U.S. and ending sanctuary cities. While his immigration policy has positives and negatives, it will ultimately protect jobs and wages for American workers, reduce crime, decrease the influx of drugs and create a secure border that will benefit all Americans.

Originally, Trump promised to build a wall across the southern border and make Mexico pay for it. This idea is not practical as many experts have said. “Trump’s Wall” may be part-fence and part-wall as lawmakers have proposed, and Mexico will likely not pay for it. Regardless of this uncertainty, Trump will create a strong border which our country has lacked for the past several years. He will do this by not letting illegal immigrants flow through our borders without being accounted for. Despite the common misconception, Trump said he welcomes immigrants to come into America legally, saying he will build a “big beautiful door” in the wall. Even though Trump’s plans for the wall are unclear, a strong border will make America safer.

Trump also has to deal with 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States. Trump said he plans to deport the 2-3 million illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records — gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million. We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview airing Nov. 13.

Even though it would require a federal immigration force to find these people, it is worth the effort to keep our country safer and free of crime and drugs.Trump also said other illegal immigrants are “terrific people” and that he will deal with them after the border is secure and he has deported the criminal immigrants. Some illegal immigrants come to the U.S. to find work, allowing employers to pay them less because they are willing to work for less money. This drives down wages for American workers and even takes some of their jobs away. Trump is prioritizing American wages, jobs and security before illegal immigrants.

The topic of sanctuary cities is specifically important to people living in Los Angeles (also San Francisco, Oakland and more). In sanctuary cities, if illegal immigrants are caught, they cannot be sent back to their original country. Trump plans to end sanctuary cities and enforce the immigration law everywhere. If immigrants came into the U.S. illegally, they broke the law, so sanctuary cities should not exempt them from it.
While Trump’s immigration plans and future policies may be difficult to carry out, they will protect American jobs and wages, reduce crime and the influx of drugs and make America safer for everyone.


By Jessa Glassman ’20

With Trump only days away from inauguration, people worldwide are kick starting an in-depth conversation on his stance on different issues and policies. An important topic that has been discussed recently in immigration, which has become problematic for an array of reasons including job loss for U.S. citizens, stolen taxpayer resources, increased crime etc.. The main problem arises from questions about how to handle undocumented people in the country and how to prevent more from entering.

Trump’s infamous wall that sparked backlash from our population has been disputed, praised and questioned. Though a wall might sound like a good idea t some it is economically impractical considering the large U.S. debt. Also, since the border the U.S. shared with Mexico is nearly 2,000 miles long, it is unknown how long it would take to build. Another issue with the wall is that it inherently perpetuates a xenophobic mindset. The U.S., a country built on freedom and civil liberties, should not be building a large structure that separates us from another country in order to prevent anyone from entering. This does not mean the U.S. should continue to have such open borders; the country needs to find another solution that includes making it known that any person, no matter where they come from, is welcome so long as they are legal. Regardless, it is imperative that the borders are tightened, but a wall is not the answer.

The obvious harms that come with the wall beg the question of why the U.S. will not tighten the border shared with Mexico through increased supervision and use of different technologies to increase detection and efficiency. It would have nearly the same effect as a wall while avoiding many of its problems.

Another way to solve the issues inherent to illegal persons ins getting rid of sanctuary cities. They defeat the purpose of having laws on immigration. If there are places were people can live undocumented and it is considered legal, it deters these people from seeking citizenship and also creates the same economic and social issues that come with illegal immigration to non sanctuary cities.

It is unfair to people undergoing the immigration process if illegal persons go unchecked. This means that improvements must be made so that is harder to cross the border without the permission of the law and so that citizenships are more efficient and accessible. A major factor in deterring illegal immigration is deportation. Given the current loose laws regarding deportation, people cross the border illegally because they feel like they will not get caught. If we tighten these laws, for certain circumstances like criminals or people without children, we can avoid many of the problems the illegal population brings and encourage more people to apply for citizenship.