<![CDATA[The Daily Tar Heel: Opinion]]> Sat, 25 Sep 2021 06:12:47 -0400 Sat, 25 Sep 2021 06:12:47 -0400 SNworks CEO 2021 The Daily Tar Heel <![CDATA[Column: The future of the Greene Tract must center community voices]]> At the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center, Minister Robert Campbell prepares bags of canned goods, rice, lentils and fresh produce for the community center's food pantry every month.

He has given the food to his neighbors through RENA's Food Bank since the 1980s.

Over the years, he's watched those neighbors grow up - celebrating centennial birthday parties and seen many of his friends have children. Some of his fondest memories are going on hikes in the nearby Bird Property behind his home.

Now, Campbell is ready to see his community and those trails grow.

With no nearby grocery store, shopping center or schools, many living in the Rogers-Eubanks area, a historically Black community, see the RENA Community Center as their hub for neighborhood life, according to Campbell, who serves as president.

The small building off Purefoy Drive, however, can no longer accommodate all the needs of the growing community. That is why Campbell, and others within the area, want to see the Bird Property - now called the Greene Tract - become a mixed-use housing development site.

"The Greene Tract is about more than affordable housing," Campbell said. "It's about healing, uplifting and supporting the community at wide."

Where the Greene Tract stands today

The 164-acre site is ripe for development into affordable housing, schools and shopping districts.

Developing on this land is tricky because it is jointly owned by the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County governments, but lies within Chapel Hill's zoning jurisdiction. This means decisions about the land are made by Chapel Hill Town Council, then approved by the Carrboro Town Council and Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The future of the Greene Tract has been debated for decades now. It was designated for development in 2002, and since then, there have have been several community engagement reports and environmental assessments for what to do with the land.

The most recent decision on the land came in July of 2019, when the three governments approved an environmental impact analysis that configured the development sites of the property to preserve critical environmental areas. The plan designates approximately half the acreage of the Greene Tract for preservation and the other half for development.

Issues surrounding the Greene Tract came into the public eye once again as a major part of local candidate platforms ahead of the municipal November elections. The new officials are likely to make a decision about the official realignment of the site in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

Community Input and sustainable growth

Some people, like Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Adam Searing, see the resolution as a departure from original plans laid out in the "Rogers Road: Mapping Our Community's Future" report in 2016. The document was commissioned by the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County local governments for RENA and the Marian Cheek Jackson Center to enact a community first plan for the property.

"If you actually open that report and read it, it's very clear - it's (that) 80 percent of the whole property be preserved," Searing said. "When you've gotten the community involved, that's what they've said, when you get the County Commissioners involved, that's what they've said again and again and again."

The 2016 report outlines the desire to "ensure that large parts (80 percent) of the Greene Tract are permanently preserved as open, natural space."

Searing said the departure from preserving 80 percent of the space is disregarding 20 years of written documents about what should happen on the Greene Tract.

Abel Hastings and Searing started a neighborhood group called the Friends of the Greene Tract Forest to get more people on board with their trail preservation message.

"The preservation of the Greene Tract is important for my generation, my children's generation, my grandchildren's generation, because as Chapel Hill grows, green space will become more and more important," Hastings said. "The community is clearly leaning in the direction of preserving a significant portion of it."

Hastings said the Greene Tract is used by people all over Orange County, not just the people who live directly adjacent to the property. But therein lies the issue.

The people who determine the future of the Greene Tract should be the ones who are most directly impacted by its development. People like Campbell, who was on the commission that put together the Mapping Our Community's Future report, said he believes people like Friends of the Greene Tract are nitpicking a parenthetical - despite never having been part of the community discussion.

"Our purpose in that figure is that we didn't want another trash collection or material recovery area on the Greene Tract," Campbell said. "We knew how valuable the property was as far as nature itself, growing up that was basically our playground."

Campbell, who has lived next to the Greene Tract since 1973, said knowing its environmental value is important. But more than preserving his childhood playground, he wants his neighbors in the Historic Rogers Road community to be able to support themselves and their families.

"You can't just come in and shut down the vision, you need to be a part of it." Campbell said. "They didn't show up all these years, now suddenly they want to bring the biggest hammer to nail in a needle."

The voices of the Historic Rogers Road community are the ones that need to be at the forefront of the discussion about the future of the community. Nobody is denying that there are recreational and environmental benefits to preserving green space, but this is about more than trails.

It's about lifting up and centering Black voices and giving them a space to thrive in Chapel Hill. It's about giving the single mother, who works two jobs and relies on the bus to get to work, access to a nearby grocery store. Or even giving housing to the firefighter that commutes from Hillsborough on a daily basis.

Recognizing the vision Campbell and others in Rogers Road have for their community means seeing them and their struggles.



A "No Dumping" sign is pictured on The Greene Tract in Chapel Hill, NC. The Green Tract is a parcel of land owned by Orange County, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro.

<![CDATA[Editorial: Solving crimes with new technology should be police priority]]> Last week, Chapel Hill Police Department announced the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Faith Hedgepeth. The UNC junior was found beaten to death in her apartment on Sept. 7, 2012, and her case has remained open since.

This news brings some relief and resolution to the Hedgepeth family and a community that has been grieving for the last nine years. And while the case has not yet resulted in a conviction, it seems to be an anomaly among most homicides in the U.S., which never end in a conclusion.

One-third of all murders go unsolved, with homicides having a clearance rate of 64.1 percent. Not only is this decreased from over 90 percent 50 years ago, but clearance rates do not always reflect convictions. Arrests or deaths of suspects are also counted in this staggering statistic.

This downward trend can be attributed to any number of factors, including the theory of broken windows policing - which suggests that police spend more of their time and resources attempting to prevent crime by patrolling in underserved communities, rather than solving violent crimes. The result is over-policing, which can create social and power vacuums in communities that can inevitably allow more violent crime to occur.

The rape kit backlog is evidence of this. There are 9,268 untested rape kits in North Carolina, and while newly collected kits have resumed testing, the backlog is shrinking at an incredibly slow rate. In 2018, NC passed H.B. 945 to develop a system for tracking and recording rape kit tests. At the time, there were about 15,000 untested kits in the backlog.

And this DNA evidence is important. DNA left at the scene of Hedgepeth's murder allowed a technology company to produce a composite profile of the perpetrator in 2016. This was the profile used to arrest Miguel Enrique Salguero-Olivares of Durham, who was charged with first-degree murder in the Hedgepeth investigation.

It's been proven that the processing of DNA recovered from felony crime scenes often causes delays in trials of up to three years, calling into question defendants' rights to a speedy trial. By employing and investing police resources into DNA testing, it's possible that more crimes - murders or rapes - can be solved and closed.

The general shift in policing from preventing crimes to solving them is partially to blame for the at least 200,000 unsolved homicides in the U.S. since the 1960s. Resources are not being used to swiftly bring justice - justice that is deserved for victims and their families.

Resolution in the form of a conviction has yet to occur in the Hedgepeth case, but this arrest is a start. It could serve to be the start of justice for countless other homicide victims as well.

Last week's news brought a sense of closure to a case that has loomed over the Chapel Hill community since 2012. It demonstrated how important it is to clear the backlog, have police forces that actively attempt to bring resolution and peace and use community resources effectively.

It demonstrates that we need a criminal justice system that produces solutions.



A piece by the Daily Tar Heel's Editorial Board calls for police accountability and advocates for the usage of new technologies.

<![CDATA[Column: For a musical, "Dear Evan Hansen" would've been better with less singing]]> "Dear Evan Hansen" left me very conflicted after leaving the theater last night - with a feeling I couldn't quite get a handle on until well after I got home.

For a movie trying so desperately to tug at the heartstrings of its audience, it just … couldn't quite get the job done.

The film centers on Evan Hansen's (Ben Platt) plot to manufacture a friendship between himself and Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan), a student that had taken his own life. Hansen, who suffers greatly from anxiety and depression, is unable to tell the truth - that he and Connor never knew each other - and the lie becomes the foundation upon which a mental health advocacy group is built.

There are plenty of reasons the musical fell flat, but one that very clearly stands out is Platt, the man responsible for portraying the film's protagonist.

Despite him winning a Tony for his rendition of Evan Hansen on the Broadway cast for the play five years ago, when a then 22-year-old Platt could more convincingly play the role of a high school student. Now, at age 27, casting him as a child just seems wrong, as he very clearly looks older than the rest of his fellow classmates and, notably, his love interest, Zoe Murphy (Kaitlyn Dever).

Though Platt's performance was convincing otherwise and his voice is great - though, personally, I think it sounds a bit like it's being run through a car wash. However, it was the frequency with which he sang that presented an issue:

The singing made the movie worse.

This thought first came up after the 30-minute mark, but it really asserted itself towards the latter half of the film. It seemed as though the singing was taking away from the emotional momentum that the performances were building up.

At Connor's memorial, for example, Evan stumbles and falls on the stage, prompting laughter and ridicule from the student body in attendance. Yet, he makes eye contact with Connors' mother, Cynthia Murphy (Amy Adams), which inspires him to deliver heartfelt remarks in the form of one of the film's signature numbers, "You Will Be Found."

Unfortunately, the song is aggressively corny, sounding more like the fight song at a local charity rally than the product of a musical that won six Tonys for its run on Broadway. Even worse is its visual accompaniment, a montage of Hansen's speech being shared on social media. The montage concluded with the entire audience, myself included, visibly cringing when the fabricated social media videos were put together to make a collage of the deceased Connor's face.

The relentlessly poppy, positive singing deflated the sincerity of the moment, rendering it far less emotionally impactful than perhaps intended. It was amateurish.

The same could be said of the unnecessary reprises of songs that had been sung earlier in the musical. Instead of being subtle reminders of how characters feel about what's happening, characters abruptly break into a song we heard mere minutes ago in what appears to be an attempt from a desperate director to make sure the audience is still following along. They're completely unnecessary, taking viewers' focus away from what's happening and instead directing it … well, anywhere else.

It must be said that there are a few wonderful performances hidden in the parade of cookie-cutter ballads and superficial mental health discourse that seems as though its only purpose is to drive the plot.

Julianne Moore, who plays Evan's mother Heidi Hansen, and Adams are both fantastic, as usual.

Moore, especially, delivers a powerhouse performance. Her consolation of Evan when he confesses that he never knew Connor is one of the most emotional moments I've seen in a movie this year, which is why I was so disappointed that it was interrupted by a musical number of her own. It was jarring and unnecessary, especially given the otherworldly combination of love and conviction with which she was already speaking to her son.

For one brief moment, Moore nearly forced the tears out of me. The music just didn't let her get there.

Dever does well as Zoe, as does Nik Dodani as Evan's "family friend" Jared Kalwani. However, both of their performances are lost in the sea of rough performances by the remainder of the high school class. (Extras aren't supposed to stand out - especially not for being awful.)

Technically, the movie left a lot to be desired.

The directing was chaotic and really messy. The camera never stopped moving, whether it be to pan to another end of the room, move around a character's face during a number or to just move for movement's sake. Also jarring was the need the editors felt to keep cutting back and forth between each character that was singing, as though they thought we would forget which voice belonged to which actor.

The sound mixing was spotty at times - which, for a musical, is particularly frustrating. Sometimes harmonies were lost, melding together into a not-so-pleasant sounding mix. There was even a time near the end of the movie where the sound quality of Alana Beck's (Amandla Stenberg) voice sharply declined for a few seconds in the middle of her singing.

The biggest issue this movie has, still, is its deep-seated desire to have its characters sing almost all the time. And when the musical numbers don't look great, don't sound great and can't pack the emotional punch you're going for, why include them at all?

Apart from Julianne Moore - bless her heart - why make this movie at all?






<![CDATA[Quiz: Which celebrity visiting UNC's campus are you?]]> In the past few years, UNC has had a series of celebs visit campus - and student have raced across campus to catch a glimpse of them. Take this quiz to find out which UNC celebrity visitor you are!



Democratic Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of 2,528 on UNC's campus during his campaign to be the Democratic Nominee for the 2020 Presidential race.

<![CDATA[Editorial: The NCHSAA needs to be held financially accountable]]> This summer, North Carolina state legislatures introduced a bill that would strip power from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) and place high school athletics under the control of a state commission.

The commission proposed in House Bill 91 would have had the responsibility to enforce eligibility, game rules and conference realignment for all North Carolina public schools, namely excluding private schools. The commission would have been composed of 17-members, including superintendents, principals, athletic directors or certain coaches - with nine members selected by the governor and eight by the General Assembly.

This bill was met with intense discussion, as it had the potential to upend the governing body of high school sports in the state.

Following a revision, North Carolina lawmakers got it right. There are two major factors in this decision: money and politics. Both issues were appropriately addressed, allowing for high school athletics to flourish in the future.

The original bill stemmed after Republican state legislatures questioned the $42 million in assets the NCHSAA held as of June 2020. The money the NCHSAA held onto is unacceptable.

This sum comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many high school athletic departments are struggling to balance their budgets. Meanwhile, in the midst of the challenging year, the NCHSAA maintained membership fees and levied fines against the school for eligibility violations.

Eligibility violations - in the middle of a pandemic.

Further, in this year's North Carolina high school baseball championships, the chosen host sites were Burlington Athletic Stadium, a former minor league stadium, and J.P. Riddle Stadium, a current community college field in Fayetteville. State-of-the-art minor league stadiums went unused.

These are sub-par baseball facilities that the NCHSAA allowed for their state championships to be held at, a switch from venues at UNC-System schools such as UNC-Greensboro. The decision to play at a second-rate stadium while sitting on $42 million is inexcusable.

The issue, however, with completely abolishing the NCHSAA and replacing it with a commission is politics. Since the 17-member committee would be selected by lawmakers, the process to attain a seat would become purely political.

Bringing politics into high school athletics would be a disaster. The focus would shift from students' best interest to a power grab in Raleigh. We can imagine how high school sports in the pandemic would have become intensely politicalized.

In a HighSchoolOT survey, 86.1 percent of Athletic Directors were against the original H.B. 91 that would abolish the NCHSAA.

While most agreed there needs to be reform, they felt completely abolishing the organization would be the wrong move. One athletic director said, "The NCHSAA needs an overhaul not a death sentence."

Another agreed saying, "Complete government overhaul is not the answer but I do believe that the NCHSAA needs more oversight."

This sentiment is backed up by the revised version of the bill. Finances are a major focus of the new legislation. Among the significant changes the proposed legislation would enforce are:

  • Reduced annual fees by 20 percent when the total fund balance of the NCHSAA reaches 250 percent of the total expenses from the previous fiscal year
  • Prohibit the NCHSAA from issuing fines for rule violation
  • The creation of an appeals process independent of the NCHSAA with a panel appointed by the State Board of Education

The proposed legislation now goes back to the N.C. House of Representatives, awaiting a vote that would send the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk.

The bill proposes the best reform for the NCHSAA. There needs to be a system where the association is held accountable, while not making the fatal error of leaving high school athletics in the hands of lawmakers.



<![CDATA[Column: Phoebe Bridgers 'could do anything she wants to do']]> The lights faded black. Christmas lights wrapped tightly around microphones and instruments provided the only illumination in the entire amphitheater. Thousands of fans in Dr. Martens and fishnets screamed with anticipation. A band of skeleton-garbed musicians walked onto stage, and a single guitar strum rang out.

As the lights came on, Phoebe Bridgers walked to the front of the stage and began to sing "I hate you for what you did, and I miss you like a little kid" - the opening lines to her most well-known tune, "Motion Sickness."

I was frankly worried about the enjoyability of the concert considering the fact that Bridgers' music is often low-tempo and lyric-driven. The concerts that I have most enjoyed in the past have been from high-energy performers such as Beyoncé and Alanis Morissette.

However, Bridgers was able to foster an incredible environment driven by impeccable vocal performance, obvious passion for her music and casual interactions with her fans.

Bridgers is undeniably herself. Though I do not know her personally, her public presence has not been tainted by the expectations of fame or the mental exhaustion that I am sure accompanies a national tour.

At one point, she stopped the entire show just to hear a joke that a fan on the barricade was telling. Upon hearing the joke - after asking the audience member to repeat it multiple times so that she could hear it - Bridgers simply laughed and said, "That was definitely worth it."

She did not share with the rest of the audience what the joke was, but this minute interaction with a fan exemplifies her undeniable humility.

MUNA, a band relatively new to my radar, opened for Bridgers. The only song that I knew ahead of the concert was "Silk Chiffon," which features Bridgers. However, MUNA blew me away.

They were energetic, and their songs were addictive. I added practically every song from their set to my monthly playlist. I highly recommend checking out "Stayaway" and "I Know a Place."

Bridgers' setlist was basically her entire second studio album, "Punisher," from start to finish. I adore concerts like this; it feels so authentic to the music, and it is a concert setup that is ideal for true fans.

Today is the fourth anniversary of Bridgers' first full-length studio album, "Stranger in the Alps," and at one point in the concert, fans began to chant "Stranger in the Alps" in unison. They were politely demanding to hear more "non-Punisher" songs (as "Motion Sickness" was the only "Stranger in the Alps" song that had been played by that point).

However, there was not enough time to play the entire album through, Bridgers said. The fans were then asked to choose between "Georgia" and "Scott Street." I screamed my vote for "Scott Street." This song defined my first semester of college when I was sent home - with most UNC first-years - while COVID-19 cases rose sharply on campus.

Bridgers then played "Scott Street," and it is a moment I will cherish forever. It was like seeing my life come full circle - from the despair of a virtual first semester to a point where I am satisfied with where I am in life and content with all that life throws my way.

Bridgers has a unique ability of balancing the most depressing songs you've ever heard with subtly energetic live performance. She locked the audience in a trance and demanded ultimate captivation.

I was happy to oblige.



<![CDATA[Column: Bring back wellness days]]> One of the best practices that came from our remote learning era was the implementation of wellness days. The five wellness days that were spread throughout the semester were set in place of a traditional spring holiday to give students a break from classes.

Although we abandoned remote learning as a primary form of instruction, we should've kept wellness days for plenty of reasons -starting with the fact that we're tired and need them now more than ever.

In-person classes are draining and the transition has not been easy

Every time I check in with peers and ask them how they are, their responses are usually the same - "I am exhausted."

And their reasoning is almost always the transition from remote to in-person classwork.

The switch back to in-person classes was quite abrupt, and the transition has been difficult for many students -some of whom conditioned themselves to wake up minutes before class started and sign in to Zoom for classes from their beds.

Students now have to unlearn those old habits and muster up the energy to physically go to class, as if they hadn't just spent three semesters learning from their beds.

The fast-paced nature of in-person instruction has also been difficult to readjust to. It feels like a non-stop marathon to stay ahead, but this race doesn't grant any pit stops.

COVID-19 anxiety still persists

As if trying to keep up with the demands of in-person instruction wasn't exhausting enough, many are still dealing with COVID-19 anxiety.

Just because some institutions like this one have not been as strict with COVID-19 restrictions this school year doesn't mean we are not still living in a pandemic and dealing with the stress that comes with it. This includes the fear of being infected, deaths and sicknesses in the family and financial stressors in the current economic climate.

Grace in the form of wellness days would certainly make these things more manageable.

When used properly, wellness days gave students a chance to reset

Unfortunately, some professors scheduled projects, assignments and exams on the days that immediately followed wellness days. This forced many students to dedicate their days off to studying and doing homework, rather than focusing on their well-being.

For the students who were granted grace from professors, the wellness days functioned as they were intended and seemed to have positive effects on students and faculty. During the wellness days, social media timelines were packed with images of well-rested students smiling and enjoying quality time by themselves or with loved ones.

Many went on hikes, took day trips to the beach, the mountains and other places, while others just relaxed in their homes and had a chance to truly breathe.

I want to see more of that content on my social media feeds. Now, I see students and faculty members sharing thoughts about how overwhelmed and overworked they are. It's upsetting.

The University's expectation for students to seamlessly transition back into in-person instruction without breaks in the academic calendar has been merciless.

This is not to say that wellness days are the solution to these conditions, but they would definitely mitigate some of the burnout and give everyone a much needed moment to pause.

UNC must consider implementing wellness days now and beyond the pandemic, so I don't have to risk an absence for granting myself a wellness day of my own.



<![CDATA[Editorial: UNC's COVID-19 and vaccination protocols fall short]]> As of last week, Meredith College is requiring all students to be vaccinated beginning this spring semester. UNC still has yet to do the same.

The decision was made after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine gained FDA approval, in the interest of maintaining the safety of students and employees. Across the nation, schools are increasingly implementing similar COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements.

Other universities in North Carolina, such as Duke University, have gone even further. After more than 300 COVID-19 cases were reported within the span of a week - many likely a result of off-campus social events - Duke's Student Government asked the city to get involved in enforcing a popular local bar, Shooters II, to obey occupancy limits and the North Carolina mask mandate. After multiple complaints about a lack of COVID-19 safety precautions being taken in the establishment, the bar shut down indefinitely.

Duke was able to identify, and subsequently slow, this positive spike utilizing their mandatory COVID-19 testing program for all students.

UNC has a similar social student culture to Duke. And although UNC's current COVID-19 positivity rate is only 1.67 percent as of Tuesday, our lack of a more widespread testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated students means it's almost inevitable our actual positive case rate is higher than what is reported.

An incomplete picture of the data regarding positive tests leads to an inability for the administration to adequately know to what extent COVID-19 safety precautions need to be handled moving forward.

Furthermore, an incomplete picture puts students, staff and employees at risk among a population inundated with potentially uncontrolled and undetected positive cases.

UNC refuses to put measures such as a vaccination mandate or a more widespread COVID testing mandate in place to protect its "Carolina Family."

Given that UNC is famous for its public health programs, to not pave the way for extensive testing and a vaccine mandate seems illogical.

As of last week, UNC is ranked fifth among public schools nationwide by the U.S. News and World Report. The schools ranking higher than UNC are University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.

These four public schools all required their students to be vaccinated before fall of this year, and they are all above UNC.

UNC claims it cannot currently implement a vaccine mandate because it does not have the legal authority to do so.

But beyond vaccine mandates, there's no reason why UNC can't implement a more regimented testing program for all students. Last semester, UNC required testing once or twice a week for students, depending on their residence. Given the rise of the delta variant, a mandate is crucial for health and safety, yet remains absent.

Until UNC steps up its COVID-19 testing requirements or requires a vaccine, it can no longer consider other prestigious universities peer institutions.



DTH Photo Illustration. A student sits on the quad after receiving a vaccine.

<![CDATA[Office DJ: 21 songs for my 21st birthday]]> Sept. 22 could not come any quicker. I have never been one to stay up until midnight on their birthday. After my 16th birthday, when I could finally drive, my birthdays haven't really been that eventful. But being young for my grade and the last in my friend group to turn 21, I have never anticipated a birthday more than this one. The big 21.

To celebrate I have created a playlist with 21 songs that will act as the soundtrack of my day.

First, I have "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. On the 21st night of September, I will be dancing the night away as I ring in my birthday at midnight. The second is the ultimate hype song if you are a UNC student, "Jump Around" by House of Pain. This song plays at all the basketball and football games and it will be playing as the clock turns to midnight and I finally turn 21. Next, I have "Takin' Shots" by Post Malone as my friends and I will be celebrating all night but, as Post Malone says, "We ain't done yet". I apologize to my Monday Wednesday Friday professors in advance. Fourth on the list is "FaceTime" by 21 Savage, as I answer birthday calls from my faraway loved ones.

After a plethora of party songs including "In da Club" by 50 Cent with its infamous hook "go shawty, it's your birthday," is "Rule the World" by 2 Chainz, featuring Ariana Grande - because this is probably the time of the night when I will feel like I "rule the world."

Right after the high of the night is "Pity Party" by Melanie Martinez because come on, is it really your birthday if you don't cry? A few songs later is "4 AM" by 2 Chainz and Travis Scott. The lyrics "It's 4 a.m., I'm just gettin' started" have never hit harder.

To close my playlist and the night is the ultimate closing song, "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers. Whenever it plays at a party, it's time to gather up your friends and head home. And just like that, the highly anticipated night is over and I have been initiated into adulthood.



<![CDATA[Column: "Certified Lover Boy" is certifiably disappointing]]> In 2016, when Canadian rap legend and "October's Very Own" Drake released his fourth studio album "Views," I felt like he was standing at a fork in his career's road.

"Views" would go on to become one of the top five best-selling hip-hop albums of the decade, but to me, there wasn't really a whole lot to love about it. None of its rap bangers hit as hard or stuck with me as long as anything from his 2015 mixtape "If You're Reading This It's Too Late," and its sweet moments couldn't match those on "Nothing Was The Same."

Words like "boring," "rehashed," "bloated" and "commercial" come to mind.

Many of Drake's subsequent releases have suffered from these same issues, but I held out hope that he may one day rediscover the form and sounds that made me love him in the first place.

Would Drake continue to go commercial, or would he finally return to being original?

Then, on Sept. 3, Drake released his sixth album "Certified Lover Boy," and all my hopes died.

At over an hour and 20 minutes long, "Certified Lover Boy" sees Drizzy abandon all pretenses of making original, interesting music. Instead he opts to lazily recycle sounds, beats and themes from every one of his previous releases, while simultaneously managing to sound like he's falling asleep on many of the album's songs.

The album's opener, "Champagne Poetry," samples the beat from the 2017 song "Navajo" by Masego, who sounds infinitely more interesting - and awake - in his use of the beat. The very first bar on "Champagne Poetry" sees Drake make a strong assertion: "I been hot since the birth of my son," and we need to talk about this.

If you remember, Drake did not publicly unveil his son Adonis Graham to the world after his birth. No, that revelation came at the hands of Virginia rapper and Kanye West associate Pusha T, who was beefing with Drake in May 2018 and exposed him for being an absentee father on the diss track, "The Story of Adidon."

Drake, of course, would rather you forget that ever happened, and so he continues to parade his son around the world as if he's the greatest father of all time - while also never really responding to those accusations.

So yeah, he has not been hot since the birth of his son. He's not hot on this album either. Beyond broad claims within the lyrics, nearly every featured artist manages to outshine Drake at every turn.

For example, Lil Baby's always-frenetic energy on "Girls Want Girls" contrasted with Drake literally dozing off on the track. Rick Ross and Lil Wayne obliterate him on the admittedly-fun "You Only Live Twice", and 21 Savage sounds leagues colder and more threatening than the Lover Boy on "Knife Talk."

Drake also doesn't shy away from his tried and true theme of toxic masculinity and relationships on this album. If you wanna hear Drake chastise a girl for complaining about their relationship when he buys her expensive things, look no further than "Pipe Down."

Also, it has to be said: "TSU" literally has an R. Kelly credit. In 2021. Really?

And as if there hasn't already been enough recycling for you, "Girls Want Girls" is the obligatory rerun of his 2018 hit, "Nice For What," with a thin LGBTQ+ veil and Drake calling himself a lesbian in the chorus.

Yes, those same buzzwords - boring, rehashed, bloated and commercial - are the cardinal sins of "Certified Lover Boy." Drake's beats sound the same, his flows are as boring and insecurely braggadocious as ever, his features outshine him and he just can't seem to stop talking about how great he is, even when he's talking about his mistakes.

If only Drake hadn't gone down that road. Someone, please put on "Know Yourself."



<![CDATA[Editorial: The restaurant industry is feeling the effects of labor shortages]]> "Now hiring," "Help wanted," followed by some text highlighting how much the job will pay an hour (and a signing bonus!). We have all seen these signs in restaurants in the past few months - from fast food places to family-owned favorites.

The staff shortages many restaurants are experiencing are negatively affecting the services they provide - whether that be limited operating hours, a slower rate of service or a hike in their menu prices.

Therefore, we shouldn't be too surprised that we aren't getting the service that we usually expect.

This has been the case for some restaurants located close to UNC. For example, Omar Castro, the co-owner of Breadman's, couldn't provide a comment to the Carolina Alumni Review during a busy brunch shift, as the restaurant was so short-staffed he had to personally wait tables.

Another example is Dame's Chicken and Waffles, located on Franklin Street. Even with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted earlier this year, the restaurant struggled with operating hours and was short-staffed. Dame's was open for lunch on weekdays and only expanded its hours after hiring new staff.

These examples show that even though things may seem to be gradually returning to normal, there are certain aspects that might be affected for a long time even after the worst of the pandemic has passed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that employment at eating and drinking establishments in May was still 1.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels, down by about 12 percent.

There isn't one definitive cause of the labor shortage, and it has become a point of political contention. Republicans argue the unemployment benefits the government provided during the pandemic are taking away the incentive for people to return to work. Meanwhile, Democrats argue the often low minimum wage of working at restaurants discourages potential workers from returning.

However, another explanation is that the issue lies with the industry itself, and the effects of the pandemic simply made the problems more apparent.

Many restaurant jobs are high-stress and often have long and inflexible hours for low wages and few benefits. These individuals also deal with rude customers who'll take out their frustrations on the employees without a second thought. Additionally, many individuals might not be comfortable working indoors and interacting with a significant amount of people while the pandemic still exists.

According to a poll conducted by Joblist, half of former hospitality workers said they wouldn't return to their previous job, and a third of respondents said they wouldn't return to the industry altogether, citing reasons like wanting higher pay, better benefits and a new work environment.

As customers, we shouldn't so easily take out our frustrations on restaurant staff, as they might be having to do the work of multiple people while enduring the burden of rude customers and lengthy shifts to compensate for fewer employees.

The obvious solution to the restaurant labor shortage is to increase wages and benefits, as many restaurants have already done. However, this might also mean a hike in prices that customers have to pay -something Chipotle made headlines for when it announced it was increasing prices by around four percent to counteract an increased average hourly wage of $15.

Even if many of us will lament having to pay slightly more for food from the places we like, it might be the only way for restaurants to be able to attract more workers again. It might be the new normal.



<![CDATA[Column: "Lindsey Buckingham" reflects Fleetwood Mac's historic chaos]]> Lindsey Buckingham returned on Friday with his first solo album since being fired from Fleetwood Mac in April 2018.

It's a self-titled album, which is typically the calling card of an artist finally having the freedom to control their own music, discovering their signature sound or debuting their first collection of music. But in Buckingham's case, it is an album lost in the past.

I had low expectations for this album. It's not outstanding by any means, but it's definitely listenable if you are a Fleetwood Mac fan -and are more than just a fan of "Dreams" and "Landslide." It's a sound that's reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's late '70s and early '80s work, which is a sound that Buckingham had a massive role in curating.

It's full of infectious hooks and the type of rolling jams that might get you through a long road trip or set the pace for your morning walk to campus.

I particularly enjoyed "Blue Light," "On the Wrong Side" and "Time." These are testament to Buckingham's talents as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, a contemporary of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

But my primary qualm is that the album lacks cohesion.

If I had to guess, these songs are a conglomerate of Buckingham-penned outtakes from the decades of Fleetwood Mac. It's as if he blended all of his former band's production aesthetics into one album - the ambiguous lyricism of the "Tusk" era, the vocal production of the "Tango in the Night" era and a few random drum loops and bright synth-led instrumental productions reminiscent of the "Say You Will" era.

Taken individually, each of these notions is pleasing to the ear - they match their respective genres. Taken together, these notions fight against each other. It's an indefinable, unedited sound.

Yet, I understand and appreciate Buckingham's continued passion for music. He is a legend in the music industry, and his name carries immense weight.

But these accolades did not shield him from reproach in 2018 when he was officially fired from Fleetwood Mac.

There is ambiguity as to the reason behind Buckingham's departure from the band. Stevie Nicks, singer and tambourinist of the band, said it was because Buckingham asked for too much time off to pursue his solo career.

Buckingham said that he was told by manager Irving Azoff that "Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again."

The alleged comment that "Stevie never wants to be on a stage with [Buckingham] again" is a notion with roots almost fifty years in the making. It's a callback to "Rumours," undeniably Fleetwood Mac's most iconic record.

"Rumours" is one of the greatest albums of all time. It has spent 441 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and is the tenth-best selling album of all time, selling more than 40 million copies worldwide. Released in 1977, it defined the soft rock sound of its decade.

But it was an album rooted in internal strife, a lyrical battle of sorts between Nicks and Buckingham, each on their second album with the band after joining in 1975.

The two had been dating on and off again since the early 1970s, and their relationship only grew rockier after they joined Fleetwood Mac. Their relationship unraveled completely in 1976, and the two -along with another shaky band couple John and Christine McVie - put their emotional troubles and stabbing digs into "Rumours." Buckingham threw swords with tracks like "Never Going Back Again" and "Go Your Own Way," and Nicks rebutted with "Dreams" and "I Don't Want to Know."

The saga of Nicks and Buckingham's racked romance was seemingly never-ending. Even in 1982, five years after the release of "Rumours," Nicks and Buckingham were visibly angry at each other on stage, as evidenced by a video recording of a live performance of "The Chain."

Buckingham left the band in 1987, and Nicks would depart only a few years later. The two would not share a stage again until a Fleetwood Mac performance featuring the original line-up at Bill Clinton's inaugural ball in 1993. The band came back together in 1996, and Buckingham and Nicks found a way to peacefully coexist from then on, though rumors of tension between the two persisted.

Those rumors were all but confirmed in April 2018, when it was announced that Buckingham had been fired from the band.

It saddens me that a band that I was raised on failed to recover from its qualms. The release of "Lindsey Buckingham" solidifies my impression that the band will never return to their original glory. As much as I love Nicks, seeing her perform songs written about Buckingham without him on stage will be disheartening.

Though Buckingham's solo album is decent, it just doesn't excite me the way that I want it to. I will continue to listen to it, but not nearly as much as I listen to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks' solo work.

Though the band's legacy is a landslide of chaos, Fleetwood Mac's discography is preeminent and inescapable. The band's history represents a collective of individually talented pioneers of modern music, so I can definitely forgive a little relationship drama.



<![CDATA[Column: Gaslight, gatekeep, goodbye mainstream feminism]]> If you've ever been told to "rise and grind," or met a self-proclaimed "boss babe" or "SheEO" - you're familiar with "girlboss" culture.

As women see more opportunities for growth and advancement within white-collar jobs, the "girlbossing" phenomenon has been used to characterize hard-working women within these companies.

And for young women in college - pursuing internships and looking to get a foot in the door - "girlboss" culture often characterizes the attitude we are expected to have during our foray into the formal economy. As inspiring as increasing gender equity in the workforce is, these advancements are often limited to white women, who have been at the forefront of "girlboss" internet culture.

The idea of "girlbossing" has turned into a meme, with the slogan "gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss" parodying women who take on traditionally male activities. Despite its evolution, "girlbossing" is based in reality, and is considered a "lifestyle" by self-proclaimed "girlbosses."

The term "girlboss" was popularized in 2014 by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, as the title of her autobiography. Amoruso's story of entrepreneurship became the basis for the similarly named Netflix comedy show, which chronicles a young Sophia's decision to start an online fashion business.

Nasty Gal's digital fashion empire, although governed by a "trailblazing" woman in business, appears no different than other fast fashion companies, ranking poorly for environmental impact, labor conditions and overall ethicality.

Toxic work environments and unethical practices do not simply disappear when company leadership becomes more diverse. The Verge covered luggage company Away, which was known for the former CEO Steph Korey, who created a cutthroat company culture of intimidation and bullying via work Slack channels. Employees were subjected to long hours, brutal criticism and constant surveillance.

The Cut paints a similar picture of the girlboss mentality: educated and wealthy white women finding positions of power in white-collar jobs, then enacting business practices that don't always measure up to claims of inclusivity and change.

Statistics back up this archetype. In the last 20 years, the number of white female CEOs has soared above their Black, Latina and Asian counterparts, which remain stagnantly low. Similarly, the percentage of Black CEOs has fluctuated between only four and seven percent since 2004.

As significant as it is to see women empowered in the workforce, this mentality has primarily only meant mobility for white women - as they fill roles within systems of oppression and capitalist power structures. Instead, we need to empower women to deviate from and dismantle these systems.

In addition, the use of the term "girlboss" only legitimizes female empowerment when it's within the formal economy. It devalues the impact of informal labor, such as child care or contract labor, which is just as valid and necessary to the economy, and more likely to be inhabited by women of color and immigrants.

The "girlbossing" mentality is one symptom of mainstream feminism that has caused many to distance themselves from the feminist title. The advancement of solely white women within harmful power structures does not reflect the true values and goals of gender equity, because it only serves the cis white women who inhabit these predominantly white, cis, male spaces.

Ideologically, these spaces are hardly more diverse than how they were in the past.

But intersectional feminism provides solutions. Intersectionality - a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to explain the unique plights of Black women - focuses on the overlapping identities that people hold, and how multiple systems of oppression can impact people in vastly different ways.

This movement focuses not only on the advancement of women as a broad category, but also women of color, disabled women, trans women, immigrant women and sex workers - just to name a few marginalized groups who are often left out of mainstream feminist advocacy.

It's not enough to just have more diversity in positions of power. We must also create more equitable and less exploitative workplaces that challenge the power dynamics of these positions.

Intersectional feminism means expanding the rights and well-being of workers everywhere, regardless of their status at a company. That's because social justice, at its roots, should aim to dismantle all systems of oppression. This is a principle that mainstream feminism has proven it does not abide by.

Whether your future leads you into the workforce or on another path, it's critical that your advocacy reaches all those impacted by discrimination, not just those you most closely identify with.

Finally, it's time to reexamine what it means to be a "girlboss" in an economy that is far too often exploitative and still upholds barriers against marginalized employees.



DTH Photo Illustration. Girlboss culture only serves white, wealthy and educated women who pursue opportunities in white-collar industries, says senior writer Caitlyn Yaede.

<![CDATA[Column: Remembering North Carolina's role in post-9/11 United States]]> In the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush signed a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against those responsible for the terrorist attacks, which led to the creation of Operation Enduring Freedom (later known as Operation Resolute Support) - the official name for the military operation in Afghanistan.

This year, President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, 19 years and eight months since the beginning of the operation.

On Aug. 30, the last U.S. soldier, Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, left Afghanistan.

But the withdrawal was not without tragedy - 13 service members were killed in a bombing outside of the Kabul airport. Two of the service members served at North Carolina military bases: Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune located in Jacksonville, and Army base Fort Bragg located in Fayetteville.

The recent events remind us of the significant impact that soldiers from North Carolina had on the conflict in Afghanistan, and can help us remember those who sacrificed their lives to ensure our freedom.

Just days after the 9/11 attacks, 75,000 Marines were authorized to support the operation to Afghanistan. With Camp Lejeune being the largest Marine base on the East Coast, they supplied a large number of soldiers to the operation.

In November of the same year, it was Camp Lejeune's 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division that secured the burnt-out embassy in Kabul, and assumed control over the city airport in Kandahar. It was Afghanistan's second-largest city, which served as a strategic stronghold until the recent evacuation.

Twenty years later, a plaque is on display at Camp Lejeune for the service members who have died in Afghanistan. Since 9/11, nearly 2,000 Marines have died, and thousands more have been injured.

Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the world and home to the 82nd Airborne Division, often known as the first responders of the military, also played a pivotal role in Afghanistan.

Beginning in June 2002, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Afghanistan, setting off a chain of units from the post that continually deployed to Afghanistan over the next 20 years.

Special operations that forced headquarters out of Fort Bragg were among the first supporting units in the efforts overseas that helped stabilize the nation.

Our military presence also allowed for not only education for women in Afghanistan, but also secure election - a rarity in a nation dominated by authoritarian rule. The 2004 election was Afghanistan's first ever democratic election, which was largely enabled by the military's presence.

At least 7,000 American service members were killed in post 9/11 war operations. However, the lasting effects have significantly impacted those who returned home. More than 30,000 veterans of post-9/11 conflict have died by suicide - more than four times the rate of deaths in military operations.

The lasting effects will be felt, even after the last troops leave Afghanistan. Many will return home to face a tougher battle with lasting mental effects. National Suicide Prevention Week also took place in early September, and so it is important to recognize their sacrifice does not stop on the battlefield, but should be remembered even after their military service.



<![CDATA[Column: The best Chapel Hill restaurants for a plant-based diet]]> In college, food is as much a social event as it is sustenance.

When asked if I wanted to join some friends for their midnight trip to Insomnia Cookies, I came along for the camaraderie -not the cookies. As a vegan, I knew there weren't any options at Insomnia that fit my dietary restrictions.

Or at least, there didn't use to be.

As of Nov. 2020, Insomnia Cookies has three vegan cookie flavors. And I somehow missed it.

The natural response to cookies, is of course, pure elation. But as a vegan, my excitement was even higher. Plant-based options are far and few between, and sometimes impossible to discover.

This is especially true in North Carolina, which is after all, a state famous for its barbecue.

With that being said, here's a list of some of my favorite restaurants in Chapel Hill that do satisfy a plant-based diet (already discovered and compiled), for you to enjoy.

Insomnia Cookies

The dessert venue offers vegan chocolate chunk, birthday cake and double chocolate chunk cookie options. Until midnight, and on some days, 1 a.m. - enough said.

Try the: Vegan chocolate chunk cookie

For more vegan-specific desserts, I recommend the Vegan Ice Cream Man!

Spotted Dog Restaurant and Bar

The Spotted Dog is technically in Carrboro, but it's so good that I'm granting it an exception on this list. It has multiple types of cuisine, and many of the non-inherently vegan meals on the menu have the option for vegan protein and dairy substitutes. This is the perfect restaurant to visit when you're with plant-based friends and meat lovers.

Try the: Spot's Salad with tempeh and lemon tamari dressing

Chimney Indian Kitchen & Bar

Chimney offers amazing Indian cuisine filled with rich flavor. It's classy decor is bound to make any meal feel a little more special. Not to mention, if you accidentally call to order after the kitchen has closed, they may even offer to make Chana Masala for you anyway. You're too kind, Chimney.

Try the: Dal Tadka

Cosmic Cantina

Cosmic is one of my all-time favorites. I don't think my college experience would be complete without it, and I'm sure many other students can agree. Delicious burritos, great chips and a selection of beans and tofu to add that extra bit of protein to your plant-based meal. You can't go wrong here.

Try the: Green Burrito

Vegan Flava Cafe

Vegan Flava Cafe is a quaint restaurant tucked away in Chapel Hill that is all vegan and all good. They have everything from tacos and wraps to Sunday brunch and smoothies. As one of my non-plant-based friend's put it: "I wouldn't even know this was vegan."

Try the: BBQ Jackfruit

Mediterranean Deli

Affectionately known as Med Deli, this semi-open air restaurant has so many menu options you're bound to find something for every occasion. Check out the Mediterranean Market just next door for some fava beans and extra baklava on your way out.

Try the: Falafel, grape leaves and tabouli

Purple Bowl

Purple Bowl has some of the best acai I've tried. If you're not an acai person, they also offer a pitaya pink and vanilla almond protein smoothie base. Their unique selection of toppings means you'll never get bored. Ever wanted to try lavender on acai? Go to Purple Bowl.

Try the: Antioxidant Bowl

Lime and Basil

I spent my first two years after going vegan actively trying to find plant-based pho. Lime and Basil was the answer to my prayers. Lime and Basil also offers Vietnamese dishes beyond pho, and almost every option on the menu has a vegan or vegetarian equivalent. It's also home to some of the best summer rolls I've had.

Try the: Pho dau hu

I'm thrilled to see more restaurants including vegan items in their menus. Plant-based meals can be enjoyed by all customers, not just vegans. Making them more accessible is a definitive way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, protect marine ecosystems and avoid supporting factory farming.

Plus, it allows more people to partake in the valuable socialization that comes along with group meals.

So, remember to eat your veggies! Especially if they're in the shape of a cookie.



<![CDATA[Column: Go off to see the Wizard at Beech Mountain's Land of Oz]]> On the side of Beech Mountain in the Appalachian range, you can find Dorothy, a tin man, a cowardly lion, a scarecrow and a yellow brick road.

Sean Barrett, artistic director and producer for the "Autumn at Oz festival" at the Land of Oz, is a huge fan of the film.

The festival, an extensive production that brings in visitors from across the state, consists of multiple live performances, photo opportunities and theatrical experiences.

Barrett attended the festival as a child, and even acted as the Scarecrow on one occasion. He comes down from his hometown in New York for four to six months of the year to prepare for the event.

"I was a part of the Wizard of Oz Club at the time, and the magazine asked me to write an article at the Land Of Oz," Barrett said. "Because I was the only person coming to it."

However, the story of the Land of Oz isn't all blue skies.

The original amusement park began operations under a company started by Grover Robbins, known as Carolina Caribbean (the same owners of Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock). With the development of Beech Mountain, the park opened as a driving attraction in 1970. Debbie Reynold and Carrie Fisher cut the opening-day ribbon.

The Land of Oz was named the "#1 Tourist Attraction."

In 1975, Carolina Caribbean went bankrupt, and months later, a mysterious fire burned down Emerald City. The park was shut down, sold to another investor and rebuilt in lesser quality after three months. As Barrett put it, "Oz went from Disneyland to a roadside attraction."

The park subsequently closed and laid dormant; sections of the park were even demolished due to vandalism and decay.

Still, management didn't want the historic location to go to waste; after having success with opening for a single day in the early '90s, the park continued opening for a few days each year.

What used to be a fully-functioning theme park in the '70s and '80s that rivaled that of Disney's has now been reduced to a location for private tours and the "Autumn at Oz festival." This year, the festival has been extended into three weekends to account for public demand. The event is propelled by a staff made up of nearly 125 seasonal workers, including cast members, ushers and merchandise vendors.

The adventure starts at a series of parking lots at the base of the mountain, where you have the option to ride a shuttle to the park, or take the scenic chairlift for an additional price.

Ira Wilder, assistant photo editor, and I opted for the shuttle. Given the variable waiting time, as well as lack of air conditioning on the vehicles, we'd recommend shelling out the $12 to get one of the best views of the Blue Ridge Mountains on your way to the park.

The initial sights aren't what you'd imagine for a relatively expensive ticket.A weathered fountain, rocky trail lined with historic infographics and a cheesy musical number next to a white tent with vendors offering kettle corn - it wasn't the best start.

However, things quickly turned up after a trip through Dorothy's toppled house, full with effects and a UV light show. From there, we embarked on the famed yellow brick road, met all the characters, including Glinda the Good Witch, who insisted that Ira and I link arms and skip down the path after getting our photo taken. Not to mention, the scenery at the mountain trail was gorgeous (Barrett mentioned that it's home to nearly 4000 poppies.)

Unfortunately the themed scenery was underwhelming for an event of this size - the yellow brick road ended at "Emerald City," which consisted of a white event tent hosting the final show stage. However, while the props and themed scenery were subpar, it was understandable for an event that had to be constructed and demolished within the month of September. In retrospect, the actors did a phenomenal job making the shows interactive and engaging the audience.

And, even though much was left to be desired on the physical side of the park, I will not hide the fact that the souvenirs were top-notch. I did leave with a very cute "Land of Oz" t-shirt, and Ira found some collectible memorabilia to take home for his aunt.

As someone who wasn't a huge Wizard of Oz fan to begin with, seeing the Land of Oz wasn't particularly life-changing. Coupled with a feeling of displacement being one of two people of color there, I was weary even on the shuttle.

However, it was incredibly interesting to learn about the history behind the park, as well as see people who were much bigger fans than I was come dressed up and meet their favorite characters.

Barrett wants to perfect the "Autumn at Oz" festival as much as possible before expanding.

"We're hoping to add more events throughout the year, such as a nighttime Halloween-themed attraction," Barrett said. "Although it's not any time in the future, we have all the plans and the design concepts."

It wasn't what we expected - but to be fair, we weren't exactly sure what to expect. The Land of Oz was a unique experience that any history buff, musical lover or Wizard of Oz fan can enjoy, and supporting the lively event is a way to keep its history alive, and expand it back to what it once was.

Assistant Photo Editor Ira Wilder contributed reporting.



<![CDATA[Column: The things I never learned in school, but should have]]> For many of us, college is a major step forward in our lives. It's probably the first time that we have left home and are living on our own for prolonged periods of time.

Yet at the same time, I didn't feel like general K-12 education had truly prepared me for life on my own, both inside and outside the college classroom - and I'm not alone. According to a survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities published in 2015, only 55 percent of high school students feel prepared to enter the real world.

The fact that basic financial skills like balancing a checkbook or filing taxes aren't widely taught in high school means that a lot of students struggle when these things inevitably come up in their lives. This is something that is exacerbated for underprivileged students who may not have a support system to guide them on these topics.

While I was fortunate to have been raised by parents who were financially literate, many adults struggle with basic financial skills. Research has shown that on average, American adults correctly answered only 50 percent of questions on the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, a financial literacy exam, in 2021.

For K-12 students who aren't financially independent, it can be a lot to expect them to make massive decisions such as balancing student loans, getting a credit card or choosing to attend college.

Another example is CPR and first-aid training. It would make sense to include this in all general education so students can be prepared in the case of a medical emergency. But even in states that mandate CPR training, many schools don't actually teach it. According to a study surveying administrators in 32 states that require CPR training, only 77 percent of respondents said they completed it.

In my own experience, I was taught CPR in middle school, but it was done very quickly - and it almost seemed like an afterthought by the faculty. While I received a certification, I didn't feel prepared to perform CPR in a real-life situation.

Even within the classroom, high school courses, including Advanced Placement, don't guarantee that students will be ready for college. Studies have revealed that the majority of public colleges report enrolling students who aren't ready for college-level work.

The data shows that many students don't feel and aren't ready for life in college and beyond. This is only made worse by the financial burden COVID-19 has caused many families, who can no longer afford to pay for college.

The online learning environment does nothing to make this better, as many students have experienced technical issues and poor internet connection.

All of this calls into question the sustainability of current education models.

States should include, or even mandate, personal finance courses into the curriculum. Fortunately, it appears that more states are doing just that, with 45 states including personal finance education in their curriculum standards for K-12 students.

The same thing should be done for CPR and first-aid training. As of 2018, 38 states plus Washington, D.C., require students to receive such training in order to graduate high school.

The issue of improving the quality of education in classes in K-12 is much harder to solve, especially since funding for schools is inconsistent across the country. Some schools might not be able to afford up-to-date textbooks or improved technology like laptops or tablets in classrooms.

However, the dedication of teaching to pass a test instead of genuinely preparing students for what they'll encounter in the real world needs to be changed.



The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more urgent and more challenging to learn important life skills not learned in school, such as paying taxes and filing for health insurance. DTH Photo Illustration.

<![CDATA[Column: "The Melodic Blue" cements Baby Keem's name in the rap game]]> Baby Keem first appeared on most listeners' radars after his song, "ORANGE SODA," went viral on TikTok. His casual vocal delivery and unique voice made this song a summer hit, and propelled him into the hip-hop spotlight.

The acclaimed hit came from his 2019 mixtape, "DIE FOR MY B****," one of my favorite projects of the year. The tape saw Keem utilize skeletal instrumentals that often had multiple beat switches, a style that complemented his aggressive lyrical output.

So, it was safe to say that when I heard Baby Keem's "family ties," featuring his older cousin and rap legend Kendrick Lamar, I was eager to hear the rest of his debut album, "The Melodic Blue." The second of two singles that dropped prior to the album's release, "family ties" was a demonstration of how rappers with tight chemistry can bring their songs to the next level.

The first half of the song has Baby Keem doing what he does best -creating bangers with interesting flows and various beat switches. This is followed by a Kendrick Lamar verse (his first since 2019) in which he switches to a country-like flow, which is arguably the best musical moment this year.

"The Melodic Blue" certainly lived up to the hype that was established by the success of "family ties."

The album opener, "trademark usa," projects Keem at his most vulnerable, contemplating the consequences of his newfound fame over a somber soul sample. This is immediately contrasted when distorted 808s come in under Keem's combative bars. After an on-brand beat change, Rosalía supplies a catchy chorus.

"Pink panties" adds a contemporary love song to one of Keem's many acquaintances. This cut is in line with Keem's earlier discography, but is enhanced by the chorus, sampled from Che Ecru's 2019 freestyle "F*ck Instagram."

On "Scapegoats," Keem reflects on the contrast between his present and past over an emotional serpentwithfeet sample. It's clear Keem wanted to expand past the traditional rap banger he's known for, and accomplishes this on this cut. Unfortunately, the track is only one minute and 17 seconds long, the shortest on the album.

"Range brothers" is more of the same as rap's newest duo, and feels like a continuation of the fun that was had between Keem and Kendrick during "family ties." Despite the lackluster production, this song is held up by the amazing performance between the two cousins. The song begins with Keem crooning about his need for a girlfriend, and Kendrick carries the song to half point of the album with a solid verse.

Now let me preface this by saying this might be the best part of a rap song, ever.

Kendrick begins the verse with a contagious chorus that consists of him repeating the phrase "Let's get this sh*t," and then, "top of the morning." Keem then spits the coldest bars of the past decade while K. Dot supplies ad-libs.

These might be the best ad-libs ever seen in the genre.

They include:

  • "Give me that b****, but, sir"
  • "pgLang, fool"
  • "Rover gang"
  • "We're not the Wayans"

And my personal favorite -

  • "He's Baby Keem"

Unfortunately, the album hits a slow moment after "range brothers."

The song "issues" is nothing new, done better by better vocalists such as Don Toliver or The Weeknd. Keem has been known to make slower ballad-inspired songs where he belts his heart out, but in my opinion, these have never been his strong suit. This same problem appears on the song "lost souls." It is nice to see Keem step out of his comfort zone, but this style is so painfully average that it takes away from the songs on the album.

"Gorgeous" and "south africa" are both songs that lack memorable choruses, but have Keem in his prime during the verses.

"Cocoa (with Don Toliver)" and "durag activity (with Travis Scott)" both attest to Keem's talent for hook delivery. He supplies great verses in both songs, but shines when he accentuates his unique sound and pairs it with a catchy flow.

"Vent" is the third song on the album that features Kendrick, and in my opinion, could have been the best if it would have stretched past the three-minute mark. Again, the two's undeniable chemistry is infectious and forces the listener to have fun.

Overall, "The Melodic Blue" shows Keem deepening his iconic sound, while also debuting rap's most powerful duo. While some new directions he experiments with could be developed and explored more, some should have been left with his previous EPs.

If one thing is true, Baby Keem is going to be here for a while.



<![CDATA[Editorial: The chancellor's commissions were made to be ignored]]> After trying to ensure police accountability and improve campus-community relationships with law enforcement, the UNC Campus Safety Commission has dissolved. However, this should come as no surprise, as the commission was given virtually no authority to make decisions or directly influence campus leadership.

The University took the commission's time and energy, using them as a public relations stunt to provide the facade that they were doing something positive, in the eyes of many commission members.

Frank Baumgartner, one of the commission's chairpersons, and other members of the commission wrote a letter to the chancellor where they expressed their sentiment that the work of the commission was not valued.

"These actions have undermined our efforts to build trust. Actions speak larger than words," the letter said. "We have played virtually no role in the most significant threat to campus safety in a generation: University response to the Covid pandemic."

Commission members told the Daily Tar Heel they felt used and unheard. It is inexplicable for the chancellor to create these committees and then ignore their advice.

This isn't the first time administration has inadequately addressed the concerns raised by the committees they themselves created. In August, faculty chairperson Mimi Chapman expressed frustration to the chancellor that she was "in the dark" about the University's COVID-19 plans for the fall semester. Chapman is a member of the Campus and Community Advisory Committee (CCAC), which was established by the chancellor to reflect on the Fall 2020 Roadmap.

"My own standing meetings with Kevin (Guskiewicz) have been rescheduled multiple times making me wonder whether the lack of communication is deliberate," Chapman wrote in emails obtained by N.C. Policy Watch.

Chapman went on to explain her frustrations with the toxic positivity promoted by the administration, something the DTH's Editorial Board also views as problematic rhetoric.

UNC administration created these committees and solicited recommendations from both the CCAC and Campus Safety Commission, only to ignore their advice and leave them in the dark. When these well-intended groups aren't given any teeth, their recommendations and concerns remain unaddressed by those with the real power.

The commissions were tokenized and left placating. They could advise, plan and write resolutions repeatedly, but the power holders - University administration and the UNC System - retained the right to judge the legitimacy of their advice. The commission would send its advice upward, but never be heard in response.

The Campus Safety Commission put in substantial effort to try and make this University a safer place. Its work included requests for action to increase Black student enrollment, recommendations on how the University should navigate COVID-19 and guidance for improved police accountability.

CCAC's work was also praise-worthy, providing recommendations for a safer way to navigate campus reopening during the pandemic.

All of these efforts were worthwhile. They deserved to be acted upon.

These entities are useful to the University, not in the role they play, but for the image they portray for UNC. It gives the guise of having community members from underrepresented groups at the table with power to address important issues and influence campus decisions.

These commissions are important. They are tackling big issues on this campus like safety and race relations that urgently need to be addressed to make our campus better. That is exactly why it is so distressing to see these entities not given real influence to make decisions, especially when they were explicitly created and subsequently ignored by the chancellor himself.

Since the emails were reported by NC Policy Watch, Chapman said she had a productive conversation with Guskiewicz to improve communication. The Campus Safety Commission was asked to reassess their decision, but Baumgartner and colleagues decided against it because their recommendations were not taken.

CCAC and the Campus Safety Commission are full of students, faculty, staff and community members who volunteer their time to discuss how to make Carolina better, but their efforts are wasted if the suggestions and recommendations they pose are pushed to the wayside.

It is no longer enough to just be listened to by the administration - there is a need for action and real power in the hands of these commissions. The next time UNC forms a new commission, it needs to be coupled with the influence to actually change the policies it's designed to address.



<![CDATA[Editorial: John Mulaney doesn't owe us anything]]> Comedian and writer John Mulaney announced on Sept. 7 that he and his girlfriend Olivia Munn are expecting a child, and the internet promptly broke.

Within the past nine months, Mulaney has been to rehab, divorced his wife, relapsed on drugs and started dating Munn. The baby announcement, however, is what has seemingly put the internet - and many of Mulaney's fans - over the edge.

Mulaney previously mentioned in a comedy special that he and his fan-beloved wife, Anna Marie Tendler, weren't planning to have children. So, the news comes as a shock to his fanbase. This, along with the divorce of Tendler - who served as another topic of many of his comedy specials - has resulted in fans feeling betrayed. After all, who was Mulaney, if not the goofy, dog-loving and child-averse husband he painted himself to be on stage?

His career is built on his image as a genuine and relatable figure, and his deviation from this presentation in the past six months has seemingly been interpreted as a personal attack by Mulaney's viewers. But this overwhelming response by fans hinges on a central problem: Why do we care so much about what Mulaney and other celebrities do in their personal lives?

There's one answer: parasocial relationships.

These relationships, often mediated through the Internet, are completely one-sided, where one party thinks they know another personally, but the other is unaware of their existence.

Celebrities don't know their fan base personally. They don't know our names or where we live. To them, we are numbers on a screen and dollars on a check.

For us, however, celebrities are vibrant and complete characters. We know, or we think we know, everything about them based on their public personas. We expend emotional energy on these individuals and respond to their actions the same way we would if a friend or family member committed them.

But the reality is, we are only seeing a small sliver of these people's lives. We are getting the headline of John Mulaney's life without ever seeing the day-to-day rationale behind his divorce and a new relationship with Munn.

From these slivers, we are choosing how to define our entire relationship with celebrities - whether we will judge them, despise them or celebrate their victories as if they are our own. Celebrities have complete control over what parts of their lives are visible to the general public, and in reality, we have no understanding of what their lives entail.

Some fans theorize that Mulaney's relationship with Munn overlapped his marriage to Tendler, especially considering the two met at a wedding when Mulaney and Tendler were still married. The divorce comes after Tendler was a topic of much of Mulaney's comedy.

We're humans. We can't help but feel sympathy for Tendler, and even some outrage at Mulaney. But we can realize that we don't know - and will likely never know - the big picture.

We are feeling disappointed by someone who owes us nothing. Celebrities are humans with flaws before they are public figures, role models or Netflix comedians.

When we place individuals on a high pedestal, their fall from grace is bound to be far more dramatic than if we had not elevated these strangers to that level of admiration.