Black vs. White Cookie Eating Contest

Today I walked into North Hall and came across an interesting sight: There was a table set up in the lounge with a large amount of Oreo cookies. On one side of the table were two white students, and on the other side, two black students. It turned out that I had stumbled upon an event called “Black and White Fight” hosted by brothers of Phi Beta Sigma. It was an eating contest where the student who could finish all the Oreo cookies first would win $50. I stayed and watched as the competition began, and people in attendance began to cheer for their “color.”

The purpose of the event was to address the segregation that is sometimes seen on campus, not just between races, but also between sports teams and social clubs. After the Oreo eating contest, everyone got involved in a deep discussion about mental enslavement and how we naturally separate ourselves from people who are not like us. After the event, people commented on how they thought it was interesting and a great way to get people who do not normally interact to engage in something meaningful.

I also got to eat some Oreo cookies!

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Shout out to Adalbert De La Cruz, and all the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

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Homecoming

Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumnus of Utica College. So many events were held that it was nearly impossible to attend all of them, which was a shame. However, this 2013 homecoming was particularly special to me as it was the first time in 10 years that the alumnus of the Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity came back to an active chapter of Omicron Phi.

We kicked off the weekend on Friday night with a get-together on Varrik Street at the Celtic Harp, where a great number of alumni and undergraduates met for the first time, or reconnected after years of being apart. The entire second floor of the pub was filled with Greek letters, laughing and old chants, which I’m sure pushed the first floor patrons to their limits of tolerance.

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Early Saturday morning, we held our Postulant pinning ceremony, a ceremony which marks the beginning of a prospective member’s journey into becoming a brother of Alpha Chi Rho. Of course, at that point, the ceremony was solely for the purpose of maintaining tradition, as I and all the other members of the Fraternity were already brothers. It gave us a chance to be paired up with an alumni “Big Brother” who would guide us through the rest of our college career, and for the rest of our lives. It was an amazing feeling to have my big brother, Jean-Paul Plamondon from the class of 1996, stand before me and administer my oath into the Brotherhood. JP and I both have served in the Army, and got to know each other over the summer when the undergraduates and graduates went camping in the Catskills.

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After the pinning ceremony we all moved over to the parking lot for some tailgating activities. Our alumnus went all out, setting out a red carpet, velvet ropes and a wacky waving inflatable tube man. I don’t think Utica College has ever seen so many AXP letters on its campus at one time. Needless to say, we had an awesome time.

 

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Why Pinterest’s “Health & Fitness” Section Gets it Wrong

Generally speaking, Pinterest is a happy place for finding inspiration, recipes, fashion, endless photos of your celebrity obsession, funny memes, and more cute, fluffy animals than you can count. In fact, most people associate Pinterest as being one of the more positive forms of social media.bafeb8990846b5bda2d3127d3abd5b67

One of the most popular sections of Pinterest is the Health and Fitness feed where you can find an infinite amount of healthy recipes, tips for well-being, and “fitspiration” (fitness + inspiration). On one hand, I love this part of Pinterest. It motivates you to be healthier and more active, and it gives you millions of ways to do so in one easily accessible place.

But there is a downside to this. Although most of the Health and Fitness pins tend to have good intentions, some of them send the wrong message. A common theme for a H&F pin is a skeleton-thin woman in next-to-no clothes and some sort of “inspirational” quote written across it. The problem is that the women in these photos are usually completely unrealistic and subconsciously send the message that if you don’t look like this, then something is wrong.

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This was captioned “fit.” This isn’t fit; girl has no muscle!
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Again, no muscle or strength. You could snap this girl like a toothpick.

And the quotes aren’t always helpful either, saying things like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” or, “Don’t reward yourself with food; you’re not a dog.”

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It’s almost contradictory. These pins are preaching being healthy and fit but also saying there is only one way you can be that: by being stick-thin. In reality, there is more than one body type that can qualify as healthy. Similarly, there is no guarantee that someone is healthy just because they’re skinny. They could eat fast food all the time and sit around 24/7 but have a fast metabolism.

These pins send across the same incorrect idea that most of the media today does: being skinny is the best thing you can be. This is the kind of thing that perpetuates eating disorders and other serious body-image issues. If you’re doing good to your body, then why should anything else matter?

There’s another big problem that comes with a feed full of user-generated health advice: probably only 25% of what you see is accurate and from a credible source. I hate to break it to you, but when you see pins about workouts claiming to burn 300 calories in two minutes, that is impossible. Much like how doing 100 jumping jacks before every shower isn’t going to make you thin. And a lot of diet pins are misleading too; cutting out chocolate for a month will not cause you to lose weight if you’re still eating a ton of other crap.

Those pins have the “magic fix” message; and I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing when it comes to health and fitness.

The Health and Fitness Section of Pinterest is a good idea in theory; it’s just not being executed correctly. Unfortunately, this is through no fault of Pinterest, but of the pinners using it. Pinterest doesn’t have any say over what gets pinned; we do. So we need to focus less on body-shaming and constantly judging each other’s bodies, and instead focus on what really qualifies as healthy: eating well, being active, and feeling good about yourself.

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Let’s see more pins like that one, eh?

*All pins taken straight from Pinterest’s Health and Fitness section.

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Midterms: 7 Tips to Help You Ace Them

It’s that time of year again…midterm season. The time when the library is packed, cobwebs have been dusted off of textbooks, and a paper, test or project is due in every class (and usually on the same day). BUT before you get overwhelmed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel….homecoming starts Friday!

So follow these tips to ace your midterms, and hopefully you can enjoy the events this weekend.

1) Start Now…like right now!

Well, actually wait until you finish reading this post. But after, start! First create your study plan. Schedule what subject you will study on what days (or for those who are in a time-crunch, what hour you will study each subject). Then, create an outline of each topic you want to study and the key points and highlights for that topic.

2) Pick the perfect place

Choosing a nice quiet space where you can focus is important. Studying on your bed, in Strebel Student Center, or in the caf will not help you ace those midterms; they have too many distractions. Instead, find a spot in the library with plenty of room and privacy.

One of my favorite places to study are the computer labs in Hubbard Hall or the Library Basement. These rooms are usually very quiet and have are rarely crowded!
One of my favorite places to study are the computer labs in Hubbard Hall or the Library Basement. These rooms are usually very quiet and have are rarely crowded!

3) Unplug and Disconnect

This tip, is one of the hardest to do. Checking Twitter, Facebook or Instagram every five minutes has become routine, especially when we don’t want to study or work on assignments. According to “Top 10 Tips for College Midterm and Final Exams,” turning off your cell phone and shutting down social media for at least one hour will help you accomplish a lot.

 4) Cut the Junk 

Even though it’s easy, skipping meals or eating junk food from the vending machine will not help you ace those midterms. Plan time in your study schedule to have regular meals, and pack yourself some “brain foods” as snacks. According to the Huff Post Healthy Living, here are some super foods that can help keep your brain in tip-top shape:

  • Walnuts
  • Berries
  • Coffee (could also carry you through an all-nighter too!)
  • Dark Chocolate (yum!)
  • Avocados

 

Berries, walnuts, chocolate and coffee can boost your brain power during midterms!
Berries, walnuts, chocolate and coffee can boost your brain power during midterms!

5) Meet with your professor

If you have time, go to your professor’s office hours and talk to them about the topics that seem too big to tackle. They may even give you key topics to study, and give you a heads up if you are focusing too much on a less-important topic.

6) Take a Break

After a few hours of studying, take a little break so you do not burn out. 10-15 minutes is enough time to stretch, get some fresh air, and have a little snack.

7) Sleep

Giving your mind and body time to rest and relax before a big exam is important. If you walk into a midterm exhausted, you will not be able to think clearly. Six to eight hours the night before will give you the energy you need to make it through the test.

 

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On studying, slacking and some.

The early bird gets the worm.  I guess there is some truth in that, and in regards to studying, it could not apply more. I’m a senior this year; I’ve seen many students come and go, and with that, the whole spectrum of studying habits: everything from your child-prodigy-never-had-to-study to the perennial slacker and everything in between. I’ve seen teachers pets so eager to jump down their professors throats that they over prepare and become crippled with anxiety  when it comes time to do tests.

My style, however, is more gung-ho. I’m quite an obsessive person, so when I’m in the mood to do some studying, some studying is going to get done. I understand that everyone has their own personal style and preference when it comes to studying, but I cannot stress enough the importance of good planning matched with good execution. More often than not, that is the difference between students who succeed and those who do not.

With that being said, I’m writing this post at 2 in the AM, with a midterm early tomorrow morning and a lab practical the day after.  I guess you could say I’ve been productive, productively slacking that is.

99 Songs to Make Your Homework Awesome

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About Me

Hi everyone! As my first post, I thought I would introduce myself and talk about why I chose Utica College and some of my experiences so far:

I have lived in Central New York my whole life, but love to travel all over! My most recent vacation was to California this past spring with my parents and brother. We went to Disneyland, Universal Studios and Hollywood. My favorite part was the “Back Stage Tour” where I saw the sets and props from The Mindy Project, The Voice and Back to the Future. (I am a big TV fan, I watch pretty much anything and everything!)

Since I was in kindergarten I wanted to be a teacher, and even after graduating high school I still believed that. I had only applied to one school, the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY, and the night before my first deposit was due, I completely changed my mind. I decided that St. Rose was not for me…at all, and my mom suggested that I visit Utica College. So it was May, only a few weeks from graduation, and I quickly applied to UC with the help from my school’s guidance counselor. The admissions staff at UC was SO helpful and I was admitted and registered for classes for the coming fall semester.

After sitting in my first education class, I realized that I could not do this for the next four years, let alone my whole life! Through a variety of classes and the help from advisers, I found that I love the field of public relations.

Two years later, I know I made the right decision. UC has given me something that no other college could have; the opportunity to find out what I really wanted to do! I am sure that if I had attended any other school, I would not have had the support from advisers and professors that I did here. I know that i also would not have had such great experiences, and would have never met the life-long friends that I did.

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Why Silence Isn’t Golden in the Classroom

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Photo from Utica College

 

Nobody likes being forced to talk. We all despise those dreaded ice breakers and introductions we’re put through on the first day of classes. It’s a complex battle of trying to sit calmly waiting for our turn while also internally stressing over what we’re going to say.

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Source: IWasteSoMuchTime.com

But do we honestly expect to sit through an entire class in silence, never having to speak or acknowledge each others’ existence? Before I started at UC in 2011, I had a glamorized idea of what each new class would be like: everyone would be friendly and outgoing, happily introducing themselves and eager to make new friends. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t people like this, but way too many of my classes, especially larger ones, have been filled with silent, stone-faced students.

It’s strange because you’ll then spot some of those same complacent people outside of class acting loud and personable, and you’ll wonder why they shut off when they enter the classroom. I know it’s hard to be the one to raise your hand or to start up a conversation, but somebody’s got to do it. And there’s nothing more awkward than a class-full of people who refuse to speak.

Frankly, it’s uncomfortable for everyone involved. The professor asks a question, and tense silence ensues when no one responds. It’s not even that we don’t know the answer. A lot of the time, it’s a simple question, but we just don’t speak up. Why? Are we all socially awkward?

Probably not. Perhaps we don’t want to be THAT person who answers every question, or most of the time, we’re afraid of sounding foolish. Even the smartest people are susceptible to screwing up an answer to an easy question. But if no one talks at all, not just when it comes to answering questions but participating in discussions as well, then class is 10 times more awkward and a thousand times more boring than it needs to be.

We all just need to loosen up a bit. No one’s going to judge you if you laugh at the professors’ jokes, or at the very least, crack a smile for once (some professors are quite amusing at times). Plus, you’ll make the professor feel better, and the rest of the class might feel at ease about letting their guard down too. Not to mention, professors love students who choose to participate. So why not take an easy opportunity for getting on their good side and maybe boosting your grade?

I don’t know about you, but I won’t tolerate the second half of the semester being so cold (and I don’t mean temperature-wise). I know it’s easy to think everyone’s judging you, but they really couldn’t care less. So raise your hand once in a while, say “hi” to that kid next to you, and crack a smile at your professor’s attempt at hilarity (whether or not they’re successful).

 

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Fun at the Zoo!

Nothing like the zoo to make you feel like a little kid again.
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…. I act my shoe size more often than I care to admit.

I was able to visit the Syracuse Zoo on Sunday thanks to Cody, a resident assistant in South Hall for the ULive themed floor. The floor is aimed towards biology/health studies students, and they do all sorts of cool stuff geared towards students in those majors. I was so excited to be a bio major for the day!

I’m a huge animal lover and always find myself mesmerized by the unique animals at the zoo (and trying to kidnap the cute ones), like this little fellow:
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Poor thing has a cataract from a car accident, but he’s made almost a full recovery.
We’re also pretty much in love. Send dead mice in lieu of wedding gifts.

Another great part of the zoo is seeing animals in their natural environments. It’s kind of like “The Real World,” but with lemurs and flamingos.

This photo was taken seconds before the the two penguins that are in each other’s faces went at it. I’m actually being completely serious this time.
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The penguin on the left lost and was not too pleased.
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Poor guy.

And no trip to the zoo is complete without this movie star:
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Not a fan of paparazzi.

You better believe I was that person yelling “you guys, I found Nemo!!!” in the middle of the zoo. Even the toddlers were embarrassed for me.

Your turn!
Do you like the zoo? When was the last time you went and what zoo?

Favorite animal?
Owls! Although, the red panda is making a mad dash for my heart.
Do you act your age?
In most situations, I do (I swear). The zoo just warrants some light-hearted fun!

 

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Majors and Minors Fair

Today, we had the annual Majors and Minors Fair in the Strebel Student Center Lounge. Before the event officially began, the lounge was packed with students. It was almost impossible to walk through without bumping into someone. All the departments had their own table with so many cool things to show off.

But the best of them all: the Physics departments table, where we were “shocking” students with our static electricity machine and a bunch of other cool toys. I think the Chem departments table was pretty cool, literally, with their ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and to all my friends and colleagues who were participating in the event.

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Hiking with South Hall

Today, I tagged along with some of the RA’s from South Hall on a hiking event they held for their residents. We went up to Old Forge to a trail that went around a lake and passed a small waterfall. Great hike, free lunch and all with the best company! Thanks Sam and Vikki!

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