28 February 2008

Ethics and Pressure in American Schools

The cheating scandal at the prestigious North Hollywood private school Harvard-Westlake has my mind ticking. Six students were expelled from H-W for stealing world history and Spanish exams. Dozens of more students face punishment for looking at the exams.

What has become of our nation's youth?

While so many kids fall behind at inadequate schools, the lucky ones who get a top-notch private education cheat. Isn't this country supposed to be moving towards a more liberal, ethical, and educated future? Shouldn't kids be valuing what they're learning and upholding the highest ethical principles?

Either these kids haven't developed a sense of ethical responsibility or they're choosing to ignore it.

It's called....pressure.

I could write a dissertation on the absurd amount of pressure put on today's youth. From sports to grades to extracurriculars to standardized tests, these kids are getting crushed!

College is everything. If these students don't get accepted to a top-tier school, they can essentially kiss their lives goodbye. (Not really, but that's how they see it.) The college admissions process has become increasingly intense and competitive. In order to stand out to the admissions committee at a "good" school, students have to be involved in every area possible with the best grades and the best recommendations and the best GPA and the best test scores.

So really, it's no wonder students feel like they need to steal tests! It's for their own success! Failure isn't an option and they're willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, including abandoning all ethical principles.

While this is just one of the many problems with education in the US, it is still important to address. We need serious reform in K-12 education as well as in higher education. I don't necessarily have the answers.

Maybe Barack Obama does.

25 February 2008

The Oscars: Best and Worst Dressed

I know, I know. I'm probably the ten gazillionth blogger to write about some aspect of the Oscars today, but it's the most interesting thing going on in my life right now. It's the most interesting thing going on in most people's lives right now. Can't wait for People magazine to come out.

Here are my picks and pics for best and worst dressed at the 80th Academy Awards!

Katherine Heigl in Escada:

Katherine Heigl is stunning in this one-shoulder column gown and old-Hollywood hair and makeup.

Calista Flockhart in vintage Valentino:

I love this dress. I love Valentino and I love vintage. Perfect. Although I'm not so sure about her hair.

Saoirse Ronan in Alberta Ferretti:

A future fashion icon? This dress is beautiful and just right for the 13-year-old. She looks wonderful, not at all terrifying or horrible like her character in Atonement. (Note: She plays Susie Salmon in the forthcoming The Lovely Bones. Can't wait!)

Heidi Klum (sans Seal) in John Galliano:

I know it's Heidi Klum. If it were anyone else it would be 100 times worse. But in my humble opinion, it's just TOO MUCH! Her hair is awesome though.

Penelope Cruz in Chanel Couture:

This is not cool. The drape-thing in front is totally wierd and I have no idea what's going on with the fur/hair/tinsel.

Jennifer Garner in Oscar de la Renta:

She looks like a curtain rod. With ugly curtains. In an ugly room.

24 February 2008

Rules for a College Party

**Disclaimer: This post involves discussion of possible underage drinking. I do not wish to incriminate anyone at Occidental College or any other college. The author, who is 21, does not necessarily condone or condemn underage drinking. This post is not meant to advertise or encourage such behavior.

Loyal readers, I'm not going to lie to you or sugar-coat anything: This semester sucks.

All my friends decided to go abroad this semester. Literally.

OK, not literally, but pretty darn close to it. Last semester, when I had friends and a social life, we all partied together on the weekends and had a great time and everything was perfect. The same cannot be said about this semester. No one knows how to be a good guest or a good host.

Many students live off-campus and most of the houses host the occasional party. The party may be large or small, exclusive or open, fancy or casual. Regardless, there will be alcohol. It's college.

As a general rule, the house hosting said party provides at least some alcohol. Alcohol, unfortunately, costs money. Thus, hosting can get expensive. However, the same house almost never has two parties in one weekend, and rarely has a party two weekends in a row. Because of the rotating party venue, the alcohol money usually balances out. I say usually, but let's be honest here: This is Occidental. Some students can put the booze on daddy's credit card anyway.

Most of us, though, cannot afford to supply unlimited alcohol to the general public...i.e., freshmen. Or, gee, sorry, "Frosh" or "First-years" as we call them here at Oxy.

So, to the free-loaders and party-throwers, here are my suggestions to you:

1. Don't go to a party JUST because there will be "free" alcohol there. You should at least sort of know someone who lives there or have a good friend that does.

2. Don't expect there to be enough booze to get smashed. If you want to get smashed, hey--that's your prerogative, but do it on your own dollar and your own legal (and medical) risks.

3. Maybe...bring a 12 to share at a party once in a while. If it's an exclusive or small party, bring something for the host like a bottle of wine.

4. If you have a house, share the love. Host, please. It doesn't have to be a rager. Just host sometimes.

5. Don't be mean and charge people for alcohol at your party. If someone offers, you can accept if you really want to, but don't ask. Putting a jar out may be OK sometimes, but don't push your luck (or your popularity/reputation which obviously is everything at Occidental).

6. Love everyone as a guest and as a host. And just as a person in general!