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Opinion

Harmful hazing has no place in our community.

By: Savinie Lin

It is reported that 47% of students come to college having experienced hazing.

     In February 2017, Penn State University sophomore Timothy Plazza died after drinking large quantities of alcohol (18 drinks) in 82 minutes. Plazza fell down the stairs and died as a result of a traumatic brain injury. This happened on his first night of pledging for the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. The fraternity members waited 12 hours before calling 911.

Hazing has long been a way to initiate an individual into an organization or a group. In a way, it’s to prove one’s worth to the other members of the group, and to show that they’re willing to do anything to get accepted.

Hazing comes in many different forms. It includes light-hearted activities like complementing one another or telling jokes, singing and dancing in public, or more harsher activities like forcing people to binge drink, humiliate themselves, isolate them from others, deprive them of sleep, and sex acts.

Harmful hazing like the examples mentioned, although commonly used, isn’t useful or necessary to have someone join a group or organization like those offered in colleges. It has negative and long-lasting effects on individuals. That’s why hazing is such a problematic ritual in group initiation.

Many students wanting to join a fraternity or sorority go through an initiation process to see if they’re fit to join the group. Recent news reports have come out about students dying or getting sick from such hazing initiations. Some examples of hazing gone wrong are alcohol intoxication or, in Piazza’s case, internal injuries.

According to the Babson Centennial, students recognize hazing as a part of the campus culture.

“69% of students who belonged to a student activity reported they were aware of hazing activities occurring in student organizations other than their own,” the Babson Centennial reports. “Students report limited exposure to hazing prevention efforts that extend beyond a ‘hazing is not tolerated’ approach.”

Next year I’ll be going to college along with the majority of the senior class. Being in a new environment is terrifying on its own, but the prospect of meeting new people to help make that experience easier and worthwhile is equally as scary. I’m not going to join a sorority, but maybe I’ll find a club that I’m interested in. I want to have an amazing college experience, and I’m sure others feel the same way. Statistics say that I’ll probably be hazed and not even realize it, that I won’t view what happens to me as hazing.

I don’t want to end up as a statistic, and I don’t want anyone else to end up one either. I don’t want to turn on the news and see someone I know dead because someone thought that they needed to prove themselves in humiliating ways in order for them to be included.

Some students may see the hazing as necessary and unharmful, and maybe it is. But not everyone is the same and not everyone can handle it. Not everyone can walk out of hazing unharmed and just continue living their lives as if nothing has changed because for some, it’s too traumatic.

It’s not just colleges that practice hazing. It occurs in workplaces, high school clubs and teams, and even sometimes friend groups.

People don’t need to put themselves through torture or suffer through activities they don’t want to do just to be accepted. Their worth is more important than that and there are bound to be better groups of people for them to be with, if that is how they are being treated.

America should follow other nation’s gun control laws

By: scott Wu

Citizens visit the Christchurch Botanical Garden memorial to pay respect.  Photo by: Jorge Silva

      On March 15th, 2019, an Australian man live-streamed himself on Facebook shooting and killing 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. What was debatably one of the most peaceful countries in the world has now suffered the eighth deadliest mass shooting in modern history. Only three days after the attacks, New Zealand managed to ban all military style semi-automatic and assault rifles in their country, but what about America?

Why has nothing been done to enforce stricter gun control laws, even after the Las Vegas shooting? In that attack, fifty-eight people died and over 800 people were injured on that terrible night. What about all the recent school shootings? While I agree people should have rights to own guns in America, these recent shootings are raising up more questions about gun control. Why is America the only 1st world country that struggles with this?

I noticed a pattern in these past shootings: most of the shooters are driven by racism, mental illness, religion, or nihilism. These people are motivated by these thoughts and take it to the extreme. Most of the weapons used in these shootings are semi-automatic firearms, which are not easy to get in America. Almost all states have put restrictive laws on the distribution of automatic firearms, requiring owners of these weapons to have high level gun licenses for safety reasons.
After the Douglas Stoneman High School shooting just over a year ago, many schools including Lincoln took their time to give their moment of silence or to protest to commemorate the shooting. This was useless in my eyes, as this “protest” did nothing but boost the egos and self-importance of the protestors who attended. In order to truly make a change, people need to make their voices heard by the government. Standing outside for 17 minutes didn’t do anything, it was just to boost self-morale. Nothing was really accomplished, and many states still stand still with lenient gun laws. We, together as a country, should try our best to stop this problem at hand by banning all semi-automatic rifles just like New Zealand. How many people have to die in order to realize there is something wrong?
Mental health analysis, background checks, and banning all guns in general won’t work. After all, the Las Vegas shooter had a clean to almost perfect record. His most serious offense was a minor traffic citation, and reports show that he had no signs of any severe mental illness.

Instead of these ineffective analyses, we need to get rid of the assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. That is our only answer.

Healthy foods should be cheaper and more accessible to all people and communities

By: Olive Savoie

We are told to “eat the rainbow,” stocking our fridges with organic produce, but finding healthy food at an affordable price is a challenge.

      All over the nation, people are being disadvantaged by a lack of accessible nutritious food. Tulane University’s School of Social Work tells us that 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts. Whole communities are affected, usually communities of color, poor communities, and students. This issue is more pressing than you might think; it is occurring in our own city, in our own schools and neighborhoods.

        Food deserts are urban areas where affordable and good-quality food is difficult to find. Grocers are most likely to set up shop in neighborhoods where they will get the most money and traction, and if their food is higher priced, they are less likely to be located in poorer neighborhoods, therefore leaving the people living in those neighborhoods far from access to produce. Food deserts exist all across the nation, and, according to newsone.com, they exist most notably in New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, and (you guessed it!) San Francisco.

        Some neighborhoods like Hunter’s Point and the Tenderloin have more liquor stores and fast food restaurants combined than the total number of grocery stores, and that is a huge problem. It is more common that food deserts are inhabited primarily by low-income people and people of color, which further pushes down people who are already systematically disadvantaged by their race and class.

Affordable and healthy options for people to buy food exist, but these options are little-known. Farmers markets, for example, are a great resource for finding local, organic, and inexpensive produce. But aren’t in all neighborhoods. Farmers markets are set up weekly in the Embarcadero, Ferry Plaza, Civic Center, Divisadero, Mission Bay, Fort Mason, the Fillmore, and the Mission Community Project.

These markets, as wonderful as they are, are also somewhat inaccessible. San Francisco is a large city encompassing many more neighborhoods, and this leaves out so many communities from having easy access to these farmers markets. They have constricting hours, usually from around 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., and resources run out fast depending on how much produce is available! Many people have nine-to-five jobs, children to feed, or long commutes. It is easier for them to go to a grocery store, which is open later than markets. People, who are on a tight budget or are providing for a family, are more inclined to buy cheaper, inorganic options instead of higher quality, more expensive goods, simply out of necessity.

The San Francisco Indicator Project is a data system that measures the city’s performance in bringing healthy, equitable, and accessible food to its communities. Its website documents that in 2011, nine liquor stores, zero produce stores, and only two grocery stores were in the Bayview, whereas, by shocking contrast, in Bernal Heights there were five produce stores, seven grocery stores, and only two liquor stores. According to sfplanning.org, the Bayview district has a population of majority Black, Hispanic, and Asian families and 22% of residents live in poverty. Bernal Heights has a population of majority White, Hispanic, and Asian4 families and 9% of residents live in poverty, a strikingly lower number than residents in the Bayview district. This data is hard to ignore, as it so perfectly showcases the connections between the lack of wealth and the lack of opportunity to eat healthy in a community. Food deserts disproportionately affect people of color and low income communities.

This is an epidemic in our society to perpetuate the preposterous idea that certain people’s resources for a healthy lifestyle should be limited based on income.

I see students eating Hot Cheetos for breakfast or “fasting” throughout the day because they don’t have enough money to pay for a full meal. I see families buying their groceries at the 7-Eleven and others buying them at Whole Foods, where prices are significantly higher, but quality is undeniably better.

But I have hope for change in these food deserts. Resources are being provided to the schools and city of San Francisco to try to improve these conditions.

In 2016, the “San Francisco Chronicle” featured an initiative from Healthy Retail SF, which aided four corner stores in the Bayview and five in the Tenderloin by stocking their stores with produce like oranges, bananas, limes, and lettuce. By bringing healthy food into these corner stores, more people in these neighborhoods will have easier access to nutritious food. Michelle Obama initiated two campaigns called “Let’s Move!” and “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” both introduced in 2010, which brought salad bars to 3 million students, according to Tulane University’s school of social work website. They also provided snacks for 50 million kids.

Many farmers markets in San Francisco and Oakland accept food stamps through a program called Market Match, a Californian grassroots organization which allows shoppers to double their food dollars if they shop at farmers markets.4

School lunches are offered for the low price of $3 every day, or even for free.

Stores like Safeway, Pavilions, and Trader Joes offer healthy food for prices lower than those offered at Whole Foods.

Clearly, some initiative is being taken to provide easier access to healthy foods, but more must be done. We can start creating more options for people to eat healthily and with ease by spreading the word about farmers markets, deals on produce at our local stores, and growing food together in community gardens.

Having access to healthy, affordable food, in all of our communities and in schools, is of the utmost importance because healthy food improves concentration and performance. Everyone deserves the option to eat healthy and affordably, and no one’s health should be compromised by high prices and inaccessibility.

Using phones in school may lead to the biggest failure in our education system

By: Olive Savoie

Here are just a few of the many phones confiscated in the Dean’s office.

     When you think of “addiction,” what comes to mind? Most likely, you think of substances like alcohol, drugs, or even sugar. But walking down the hallways at Lincoln, you might add one more item to the list: cellphones.

Students are using their phones more and more in school, and it is affecting their performance academically and socially. Because of this, it is imperative for teachers to implement a phone policy and keep high expectations for their students so they can thrive, maintaining healthy social and academic lives.

What started out as a conversation among teachers and faculty about the security and safety of phones at Lincoln after an increase in phone thefts, opened into a bigger conversation about phones in school: why they are disadvantaging the student body and why we, as a school community, should consider banning phones from school.

“When I walked into the cafeteria the other day I was horrified: The whole room was silent, and every single person was crowded around tables, and they were all looking at their phones,” says Karen Melander, ACE Pathway teacher. “When I come in in the morning, everybody is sitting in the hallway looking down at their phones.”

We’ve all noticed something of this sort: teens interacting digitally rather than face-to-face when another person is sitting right next to them. I have been in many, many classes where the teacher does not regulate phone usage enough or at all, and because of this I see students playing video games, listening to music with airpods, and generally being disconnected from both instruction and the people around them, teachers and peers alike.

It is easy to blame a boring lesson or a monotone teacher for students’ disengagement in the classroom.

“If our [teachers] lessons were more engaging, there wouldn’t be any need for students to be on their phones,” says Avery Balasbas, a ninth and tenth grade English teacher.

But this obsessive phone-checking does not stop once students are released from these supposed “boring” or “unengaging” lessons. Students continue to disconnect outside of these classes and lectures, carrying these unhealthy habits into every class, passing period, lunch, and after school. Clearly, this problem is more attributed to phone addiction than to anything else.

The “SFUSD Student and Family Handbook 2017-2018” states that it is state and federal policy that students comply with the “off and away” policy, which means that “all personal electronic signaling devices must be turned off during instructional time....Passing period is considered part of the school day, and electronic signaling devices will not be permitted...Any use that disrupts the educational process or school programs or activities is prohibited.”

But a “school-wide-policy” is, while good intentioned, quite unrealistic, because each individual teacher creates their own classroom environment and rules for themselves. The district policy requires that phones be put “off and away” during all instructional time, but I still sit in classes where the majority of the students scroll mindlessly through social media instead of paying attention to the lesson before them.

“A school-wide policy can be difficult to enforce because ‘one size fits all’ does not fit all,” says Becky Gerek, AP Statistics teacher.

No mold can fit every teachers instructions, as each teacher not only has different subject matter, but their teaching style may vary depending on their students, their resources, and their time frame. Teachers may not agree on policies or rules to enforce in their classrooms, as what works for one teacher may not work for another.

These differences in moral standings and practices amongst teachers are evident when discussing phone policies. Teachers at Lincoln are handling the situation in different ways:

Chris Cary, who teaches AP Government, strictly prohibits phone use by requiring his students to place their personal technology devices into a “phone bin” each day.

Melander doesn’t allow phones “at any time in my room: not before school, after school, or at lunch.”

“If they’re on their phones,” she continues, “I kick them out and say, ‘if you’re gonna be on your phone, go eat by yourself because basically that’s what you’re doing.’”

Gerek has no phone ban in her room, but uses an app called “Pocket Points,” which calculates how many hours a person has not logged into their phone, to incentivize students to put away their devices for her class, giving them extra credit and other rewards.

“Education is compulsory for students under 18,” Gerek points out.

And, indeed this is true. As much as I would like to say that my peers value true learning, failure and all, as much as I do, this idealistic thinking is just simply not realistic. The reality is that students sometimes need extra motivation to want to do well in a class. But is incentivizing the best way to motivate?

“It’s nice, as students, that we can get extra credit for doing this, but it’s kind of sad that teachers feel like they have to incentivize us for us to actually pay attention in class without phones,” says Angelina Young, a student in Gerek’s AP Statistics class.

Incentivizing students to want to do good in order to win superficial prizes such as a bump in a grade or a change of seating defeats the intended purpose of learning: to value learning as a personal importance. It makes students want to do better in order to get those incentives not to want to do better for the sake of their own education.

Balasbas sets aside time specifically for students to take a “phone break” and otherwise only lightly enforces phone rules, placing the responsibility mainly on the students to take charge of their workload by themselves. He does, however, in lieu of promoting a more phone-free classroom, mark student’s participation grades down for being on their phones in class.

“The students do need guidance, and I think some sort of phone policy will help,” says Balasbas, who goes on to say that students should be able to “figure it out” for themselves whether they want to misuse their phones in class or take charge of their own education, independently fostering their own solid study habits and academic focus by their junior and senior years.

But how will students “figure it out” if, all around them, their peers are all misusing their phones and teachers aren’t doing anything to stop them? This “no-policy” policy leaves kids in the dark, left to their own devices, and only deepens the problem.

“I personally believe it is up to the students. Even though a lot of the time, they are on Instagram or Snapchat or playing ‘Ball Stars’, in this day and age, it’s just the culture of everything,” says Balasbas.

And, sure, phones have become the centerpiece in much of our society today. But that doesn’t mean that we should normalize this antisocial behavior as “the culture of everything.” We should actively try to change it!

It is the duty and responsibility of adults to educate and guide young people into being the best versions of ourselves.

“I think the teachers need to enforce the rules in their own classrooms, and if they don’t want the students to be on their phones, they need to take them and send them to the dean’s office,” says Melander. “A scrambling system [a proposal for a school-wide scramble that would make the Internet inaccessible to phones on campus] would only be enforced because we [teachers] are incapable of enforcing our own rules.”

Schools educate us academically, but they also teach us about social structures, who we are as learners and participators, and what we bring to our communities at large. Teachers, being agents of change, must actively give their students regulation and guidance to become communicative, engaged, and intelligent people.

It seems many of our own teachers are divided on this matter, and each stands alone in their practice of phone regulation. So, do phones add to or damage a “positive learning environment”? Is it entirely students’ faults that we face cellphone addiction, or is it a generational sickness which needs guidance and aid from adults?

These questions are layered and nuanced, as opinions and definitions of a “positive learning environment” differ from person to person, and many teachers have different standings on what role of responsibility should be given to students and adults.

“I’m here to teach math. I’m not here to teach cellphone use,” says Gerek. “I am not in the phone collection business. My path of least resistance is to do nothing and to hope that by modeling, students will realize that school is the time when they’re supposed to be learning, not to be on their phones.”

And, although it is true that ‘phone collector’ is not in the job description for teachers, it is the responsibility of teachers to engage their students in meaningful work and adapt to their needs. Students need guidance and aid, as much as we might resist it. We need adults to, yes, be a model for good behavior, but also to hold high expectations of us so that we may blossom to our fullest academic and social potentials, which simply cannot happen when phones can distract us in class.

This responsibility is a lot to ask of our teachers, however, and how can we ask them to teach effectively while also addressing problems of phone usage in the classroom?

Many teachers, like Gerek and Balasbas have different opinions than that of Melander’s.

Balasbas says, “I think responsibility should be on the students to do their work. It’s on the Google Classroom, so they know what they have to do. I want them to realize it’s their own education and their own learning.”

Both Melander and Balasbas teach ninth and tenth graders. We all are, as high schoolers, so young and impressionable. Here, in these formative years, students will build a basis of knowledge and set up study skills that they will use for the rest of their high school career. It is teachers jobs to guide us in the direction where we will be most engaged. The skills that we learn in a classroom-teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, and self-expression-should translate to other aspects of life besides academic. We should be able to bring social skills we learn in school into our personal lives.

Gerek says, “Phones have a place in the classroom. History teachers may use them for Quizlet, while math teachers may use them for Desmos.”

And it’s true! Our society is rapidly changing into a technological age, and we must adapt. But when we’ve already tried a school-wide policy, phone bins, warnings, and incentivizing, is there a way to ensure an appropriate usage of phones in the classroom?

Melander says, “Something really insidious that I’m noticing with my ninth graders is that they come in already attached to social media. There’s a lot of gossip and posting, and 14-year-old drama that is done not face to face. For the first time, also I'm seeing my student cutting themselves, using drugs and alcohol, having a lot of emotional problems. And it could be just circumstance, but I also notice my ninth graders come in without skills that they need. They use their phone as a barrier.”

Phones have become a crutch for us young people. Everywhere I go, on the bus, in class, at restaurants, I see herds of people craning their necks down to stare at their illuminated screens. This cannot be encouraged or condoned in schools! If our own teachers are endorsing this addictive behavior instead of eradicating it, how can students be expected to break free from it?

“Any rule is only as effective as its enforcement,” says Cary.

That’s why teachers must help young students, who may not be able to recognize their unhealthy phone-addicted behavior, by enforcing a “no-phones” rule. Phones should only be brought out for academic purpose, like to use educational tools like Quizlet, Kahoot, and Membean, and otherwise should be exempt from classrooms entirely. Using phones sparingly and only for learning purposes means that classrooms would be adapting to the culture of electronics while also enforcing traditional standards for learning, and in this way is the most effective for modern students.

Adopting this attitude and practice for phone usage will make it possible for students to have impactful, transformative educational experiences.

Students should be aware of their surroundings while driving

By: Ken Chen

Sitting in the driving seat should be attentive.

      Car accidents are one of the most prevalent incidence that cause casualties and unnecessary loss due to distractions, lack of awareness, and violation of traffic rules.

At Lincoln, student driving happens everyday and people around have been talking about issues that are caused by student drivers such as bumping into others, parking at street cleaning, and even rushing through stop signs. Since driving is so prevalent, better practice on driving and recognition of traffic rules are necessary.

Learning how to drive is a milestone in a young person’s life. Teenagers are involved in three times as many lethal car accidents as more experienced drivers. Another way to state this is that teenagers have a higher chance of being killed in a car accident, which is predictable due to the lack of experience and self consciousness while driving on the street.

Reducing car accidents is a primary task for our safety which means changes must be made while driving. Electrical devices are one of the biggest distractions, texting or playing on phones usually slows drivers down from reacting to what’s happening on the road, this is particularly aimed at teenagers. Researches show that teenagers will be less prepared to step on the brake when it's needed. Furthermore, fatigued driving is definitely on the list of causes, lack of attentions and being easy to distracted are typical symptoms of fatigue driving, so we should always make sure we are being fully attentive while driving on the street. Since people are sometimes driven by urgencies such as being in a hurry, it is important to avoid speeding especially on roads or highways. In addition to avoid students causing accidents, having a limited set of driving hours or a new policy that gives a special license to students while limiting their access to personal vehicles at peak time when there is a high traffic flow, a compromise should be made between laws and students to solve the concern.

dear lincoln log

     Thank you for all your work.  I wanted you to know I appreciate and take you seriously.  In particular I’d like to compliment but also respond to the editorial entitled “Instead of dismissing its problems, ALHS’s communication needs to improve.”  I am happy you chose to focus on how decisions are made and give a call for transparency.

However, it was disappointing the commentary made no effort to acknowledge how the spirit of the way ALHS Administration doles out information is bound by the law and society’s need (and Lincoln’s mandate) to respect the privacy of minors.  It is obviously true a lack of transparency is going to lead to rumors and misinformation, yet that is the unintended but expected consequence of laws that are designed to protect another minor’s dignity.  I honestly don’t think anyone at Lincoln who was involved in the story “Bathroom video provokes questions about sex, safety, and social media” (March 2019) was “carrying on like ‘business as usual.’” In fact it was quite the opposite!  There was disappointment, confusion and heart wrenching sorrow, not to mention work.

It is easy to criticize, harder to be constructive.  Whether the decisions themselves were right or wrong, there was nothing “random” about how the decisions were made.  (In fact, one of the things that was not “transparent” was that certain decisions were dictated to Administration by the superintendent’s office.)  Regardless, it would have been a nice nod to mutual respect if the editorial had bothered a little to explain why there cannot always be the clarity of communication one might wish for.

Stepping back to think on a macro level, the complex issue of how decisions are made, and the questions of power and authority that are involved is really worth looking at.  So, do students, and the Lincoln Log, pay attention and participate in those places where students ARE involved in decision and policy making? Are students, and the Log, following school board and state legislature actions and their stated rationale for the decisions they make?  The article begs the question: does the Log have any ideas about how the site could legally and respectfully better “notify and consult the Lincoln community”? I’d have been impressed if you addressed that.

(As a related aside, I was happy Curiel-Friedman, author of [“Bathroom video provokes questions about sex, safety, and social media”], quoted me as saying “there is less conversation now…not just about sex but about the power dynamic.”  I cannot emphasize how much I stand behind that comment and how disappointed I am that it’s true. As a father, husband, son and brother to women, I am completely bewildered why we haven’t made more progress in my lifetime. THAT would be worth writing about!)

Sincerely, Joel Balzer