Don’t save the drama: Drama-shaming prevents growth

Cartoon Credit: Jackson Turcotte | The Los Angeles Loyolan

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Don’t save the drama: Drama-shaming prevents growth – The Los Angeles Loyolan.

Ugh, drama. Don’t you hate it? All of a sudden, when you’re not even looking, drama’s just there, lying in wait for you. Festering, brought by a bunch of haters. Haters always bring drama. You’re just trying to party and turn up and turn down and all this drama is getting up in your life, in your mind, in your drink – aw, man, now your drink is haterade. Who likes to drink haterade? Drama queens. Better get rid of that before the drama gets in your system.

One quick question, though: What is drama?

The very idea of drama is hilarious in how much of a silly trifle it is – as if there’s this airborne pollen that somehow drops onto you and ruins your life. Drama is not concrete. It is not some viral plague; you can’t avoid drama by doubling up on your vitamin boost at Jamba Juice. Drama is merely the product of two or more people with differing views on a subject rubbing up against each other. In the scientific world, they call that friction – and that’s probably the best synonym we have for it.

Drama is a poppycock term that has somehow violated our vernacular without anyone bothering to explain what it is. Blame Kim Possible. Or maybe Mary J. Blige. Blame whoever is responsible for drama becoming the enigmatic behemoth we all fear and hope to blame others for – hell, it’s probably all of us at fault. But drama presents a serious problem – a dramatic one, if you will.

Unlike most modern tweens, teens and 20-somethings, scientists don’t roll their eyes and text their friends whenever friction happens. They study it. They evaluate it. They learn from it. I know, this is a ridiculous metaphor, but drama is a silly topic, so it’s deserving of such a bizarre comparison.

Yet as strange as the parallel is, it’s also apt. Why do we, when drama enters our lives, not learn from it? Why do we get so defensive and insist that we don’t create drama, it just finds us? Instead of taking the chance to grow from an experience, we avoid all consequences and seek to blame others for creating an uncomfortable situation. Call it “drama-shaming,” if you will.

The problem with drama-shaming is that it uses a situation where, yes, someone probably acted at the inconvenience of others, and bashes that person with the weight of their action until they find themselves properly chagrined for daring to do so. You also wanted to ask that guy to your date night event? Drama. You disagree as to the best plan for a weekend night? Drama. Your schedule isn’t flexible enough to meet whenever for a group project? Drama, drama, drama. Don’t bring that here, you drama queen.

Instead of wagging our collective finger at someone for creating drama, we can – and should – be able to step back and figure out why there’s a situation in the first place. Is there a compromise not immediately visible? What can we learn from this situation to prevent them in the future? How can we grow as people from this? But hey, that’s hard, I know. Much easier to just shoot out that subtweet. #drama

I myself have talked about drama – at length – with friends and co-workers in the past. But somehow, the people who tell me that they never create drama always find themselves surrounded by it. Those are the people who could most use some self-reflection. As an angsty, closeted teenager, I thought all the world’s drama was finding me and that I was a saint. I wasn’t. I was an angsty, closeted teenager. I had more on my mind than you could imagine. I needed more self-reflection than Justin Timberlake could find in a funhouse.

In no way do I mean to drama-shame-shame with this piece. On the contrary, I absolutely did it myself. Sometimes I still catch myself doing it. But I’m doing my best to grow from the experiences, as I think everyone can – and should.

So the next time you find yourself bemoaning the drama in your life, maybe take a step back and see what’s going on. You might just learn something new. Leave the drama in your theatre class.

LMU stuck in programming rut

Originally published by the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: LMU stuck in programming rut – The Los Angeles Loyolan.

Pop quiz for all you Lions who have been around for a while; don’t worry, you should be able to ace it.

What event, to be held next month, is put on by Belles and Crimson Circle service organizations every year?

What philanthropy events did Delta Zeta and Delta Gamma host earlier this year? Follow up: How often are these events held on campus?

Essay question: Does LMU have a problem with repetitive programming?

The answers are, in order, “Charity Ball,” “Turtle Tug and Anchor Splash,” “every year” and “if you nailed the other questions, you already know the answer.”

LMU is hardly mired in tradition – our identity as a campus is continually evolving, and our sports traditions don’t travel far beyond Hank’s House. What it is stuck with, however, are student organizations putting on the same events year after year. For college students increasingly spending time in their own social media-driven world and away from the campus community, that is potentially fatal to LMU’s programming success.

From Madness at Midnight to Derby Days to Almost Golf, it’s striking how similar each year’s calendar is. Is it tradition? Maybe, but I’d chalk it up more to a rut. And if there’s one thing that inspires tweets like “wait this is so lame omg my school is embarrassing #overit,” it’s a rut.

None of this is to say that any of this programming is inherently bad – far from it, actually. Charity Ball next month will surely be a blast, and regarding Greek philanthropies, why fix what’s not broken? LMU students are only here for four years. For the next crop, all these events are brand new.

Except for the class of 2017, these events will be old hat next year. Even if they go, they might embrace their ennui and take their troubles to Twitter instead of paying attention. More likely, they’ll find something else to do – there’s always some new dessert to put a picture of on Instagram that can only be found off campus.

Attention spans are getting shorter, says psychologist and author Daniel Goleman in his new book “Focus: The Hidden Driver for Excellence.” In the book, as excerpted in the Huffington Post last week, Goleman interviews executives who feel addicted to their mobile devices – and those are the kinds of people running companies. We’re college students who often can barely pay attention in core classes. Student groups settling for the same old programming are clearly not going to hold students’ attention for very long.

Luckily, some organizations are getting creative. Pi Beta Phi traded in its Speed Read event of the past for this year’s Dodge the Arrow, a twist on the old theme that still benefits the same cause. They’ll still have Arrowspike next semester, but it’s a start.

In that same vein, ASLMU totally revamped After Sunset this year, bringing it outside – holding it, er, mostly before sunset – and introducing a live musical performance. It was a resounding success, and a huge mark in favor of innovation. You don’t even have to change the name of the event, just freshen up what happens. (Though if it’s going to continue to be before sunset, they might want to change the name.)

Unfortunately, those two steps forward aren’t enough. This semester alone, we’ve already had a bevy of events that more or less followed the agendas from previous years: Lip Sync and Stroll-Off. Glow. Homeless Awareness Week. Rodeo. Sure, there might have been slight alterations, but the focal points were the same – and they were fine. But they won’t be fine for much longer; they’ll be boring.

LMU, like all universities, has to appeal to a changing student body. Student organizations should not ignore the challenge and remain at a standstill, but use it as an opportunity to try new things and move forward. Otherwise, the social media-obsessed community will pass right by, tweeting all the while about how boring their school is. “#overit,” indeed.

Pope’s resignation: Opportunity for change

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Pope’s resignation: Opportunity for change– Los Angeles Loyolan.

Change can be a good thing, but how can you say that when the supposed reason for the change is anything but good?

It’s pretty grim to celebrate someone’s allegedly poor health, but Monday’s announcement that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down from his position – the first such resignation in almost 600 years, according to the article “University reacts to the Pope’s resignation” appearing on Page 1 of this issue – isn’t what I’d call “bad news.”

It’s the perfect time for major transition and progression for the often socially conservative Roman Catholic Church, which is, in my opinion, quickly losing touch with young people like myself. Many in my demographic were baptized Catholic, myself included, but quickly became disillusioned with the Church’s outmoded teachings on the role of women in the church and, especially in my case, homosexuality.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took his place as the head of the Church in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II, and since then has managed to remain frighteningly stagnant on social issues, particularly about gay men and women and their relationship to the Church. As recently as last Christmas, according to theHuffington Post article “Pope Benedict Takes Anti-Gay Marriage To New Level In Christmas Speech On Family Values,” Pope Benedict XVI called homosexuality a “manipulation of nature.”

“People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” Pope Benedict XVI continued. “They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”

For the patriarch of a multinational organization to say something so startlingly archaic is, in my opinion, a sign that the Church itself is completely behind the times for most of the Western world. Additionally, there’s Pope Benedict XVI’s inactivity in properly responding to the Church’s sex abuse scandals. According to the Guardian article “Pope Benedict ‘complicit in child sex abuse scandals’, say victims’ groups,” the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) considers the pope’s lack of transparency about sexual abuse by clergymen to be “terrible.”

The general accusation against Pope Benedict XVI, according to the same article, is that despite his knowledge of clerical sex abuses, he has, for the most part, done little to respond to them. As the article quotes SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy as saying, “He knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups than anyone else in the Church, yet he has done precious little to protect children.”

Though all the details in those cases are still being scrutinized, there’s no doubt in my mind that it is all yet another sign that the Catholic Church needs to become more progressive and more transparent. While the Catholic Church is proud of its traditions, they won’t mean much if membership in the Church dwindles – and according to the Slate article “He Didn’t Finish What He Started,” that’s exactly what’s happening.

In my opinion, the Church is in a position to make the biggest sweeping reform since the Second Vatican Council started in 1962. Vatican II changed the spoken language of the Mass from Latin to a colloquial tongue as part of an attempt to make the Church less imposing and more a part of traditional family life. However, it could be argued (as the aformentioned Slate article does) that it wasn’t enough to keep younger people involved. A more drastic shift in the Church could occur should a more progressive figure become pope, wherein things like homosexuality would be brought into a more contemporary context.

However, I’d bet that’s not going to happen. In January of this year, according to the Reuters article “Pope Benedict names new cardinals who’ll choose successor, mostly Europeans,” the retiring patriarch named an additional 18 conservative European cardinals who will participate in the papal election process. This decision raised the number of Europeans among the 125 cardinal electors to 67. This means that instead of a more diverse choice from another continent, we’re likely to see yet another conservative European.

Still, if I could implore the Catholic Church to do one thing, it would be this: Consider Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation as an opportunity to appoint someone new and different. Progress as an organization. Move beyond where you were and into present day.

The Church is quickly losing touch with our generation, and things aren’t going to get any better if the next pope stays the course. This is a changing world, and now is the time to move along with it.

A different kind of Valentine

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: A different kind of Valentine – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Having a tough time finding that ‘perfect someone’ this Valentine’s Day? Bored with the ‘same old same old’? Do you feel like the opposite sex just isn’t cutting it anymore?

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge all straight-identifying, single Lions to try something new: experiment with the same sex. Sure, you may have never thought about it before, and it might not be your cup of tea. But maybe, just maybe, the idea has been there for a while, gestating in the back of your mind. You might be a lady harboring a girl crush on Mila Kunis. Or, maybe you’re a bro who secretly loves Ryan Gosling movies – or just Ryan Gosling.

Regardless of your past relationships, there’s no better time than now to shed your inhibitions and give experimentation a shot. Here are my top tips for all you single ladies and gents who are just a little bi-curious.

1. Don’t restrict yourself to experimenting at LMU.

Take it from a guy who’s attempted to date among the approximately six openly gay men on our little campus: You’re better off away from the bluff. If you’re of drinking age, heading to the bars around UCLA and USC can reap some long-term rewards.

Then again, if you’re bar hopping and only queer for the evening, why on earth are you wasting your time anywhere besides West Hollywood? Eleven, Micky’s and Gym Sportsbar are all distinctly different but great bars with different styles, meaning curious guys will be able to survey several different flavors of dude.

Ladies, your bar options are unfortunately slimmer, but you can try out the Palms Bar for an all-lesbian experience. Then again, girls can also go to pretty much any non-gay bar and find at least a dozen drunk women looking to get Sapphic. Y’all will be fine.

2. Master the eye language.

Despite what you might think, not every homosexual is trying to get into your pants. So, you’ll have to learn the lingo, but lucky for you, it’s all in the eyes.

Ladies, I unfortunately can’t speak to this as well for you as I can for men, but the biggest tip I can give is to never approach someone before locking eyes across the room. Why? It’s actually universal to all sexualities: Think about if someone you weren’t interested in was trying to make eye contact with you. What would you do? That’s right, you’d turn away. So, if the eye contact sticks, that’s your signal to dive in. Don’t worry about the chase – if you’ve kept up eye contact, he or she is definitely interested. Go for the gold.

3. Above all else, have an open mind.

Like I said, experimenting isn’t for everyone. Some people just aren’t into it. For others, it requires an openness that can be difficult to muster. But if you’re interested in trying things out, make sure to really commit to it. Flirt it up and have a good time. Worst-case scenario, you wake up in the morning and think, “Well, never doing that again.” At least you tried something different. And maybe, just maybe, you wake up with the number of someone wonderful you might never have expected to date. That’s the kind of dream most people would kill for on Valentine’s Day.

Holding on to hope

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Holding on to hope – Los Angeles Loyolan.

The Final Stretch

Design Credit: Kevin O’Keeffe | The Los Angeles Loyolan

If you bought into the message of hope that President Barack Obama ran on in the 2008 presidential election like I did, the last four years were probably a disappointment. I know I was underwhelmed – an obstructionist Congress and unrealized, sky-high expectations stymied promises of a different kind of presidency. In addition, Obama got far too caught up in the battle over health care, to the detriment of everything else he ran on.

In truth, what we were expecting was too much, and what Obama led us to expect was too unrealistic. So why am I voting for Obama once again? Three reasons: he is still looking out for my interests, he’s significantly better than Governor Mitt Romney and I still believe in his ability to lead this country.

I’m part of two major groups that supported Obama en masse last election: college students and LGBT individuals. From the perspective of a student who wants to be employed two years from now, it would be easy to say that the disappointing unemployment numbers from the last four years would lead me to vote for Romney. However, that would require Romney to have announced a clear and concrete plan to get job numbers up beyond “I was a job creator at Bain Capital.” Which, like so many things, Romney has failed to do.

What hasn’t Romney failed to do? Well, he has not failed to make clear that he would slash Pell Grants, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. As a college student who values an affordable education so I can get one of those jobs Romney promises to create, I’m horrified by Romney’s suggestion.

I’m also horrified that Romney doesn’t support marriage equality, something the President does. When Obama announced his support in March of this year, according to The New York Times, I was originally skeptical of whether his motivations were political and how much he would actually do for marriage equality. He somewhat enforced this with his statement recently that he wouldn’t push marriage equality on a national level, according to an interview with MTV. However, compared to Romney, who defends the archaic and arbitrary Defense of Marriage Act, Obama is far superior.

In fact, in almost every way, Obama is better than Romney, if for no other reason than that he knows what his policies are and can communicate them effectively. Romney has changed his positions so many times on so many different issues that he makes Senator John Kerry, who bore the ‘flip-flopper’ label in the 2004 presidential election, look positively decisive. Does he support a woman’s right to choose? Depends on the day – earlier in the campaign, he said he wouldn’t pursue anti-abortion legislation in an interview with the Des Moines Register. Almost immediately, his campaign “clarified” the remarks by saying that Romney is pro-life, according to The Huffington Post.

What about funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Well, in the Republican primaries, he wasn’t a fan, according to The Daily Beast, but he’s been suspiciously silent on the subject since Hurricane Sandy started ravaging the East Coast.

There’s a lot of value in a leader who can stick to his guns, especially when the stakes are as high as they were just last week when Sandy caused a state of emergency. Obama was such a strong leader in that situation that even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a staunch Republican, effusively praised the President. Such leadership was also shown when Osama Bin Laden was taken down – something that caused a spike in Obama’s approval ratings, according toABC News.

The worst thing about all the flip- flopping is that Romney is often adamant that his positions never changed. I can’t see someone like Romney being effective in such a situation, especially when he’s someone who lies about almost everything. Romney just doesn’t strike me as a strong leader in the slightest – but I still believe in Obama’s ability to lead.

I’m aware of how unpopular it is to say that I still have faith in the hope Obama once promised, and I’m not sure I do to the same extent. However, I do know that Obama has the right ideas for this country to continue moving forward. He’s more honest than Romney is, he’s done far more than anyone gives him credit for and I know he wants to finish the job he started in the last four years. I’m ready to give Obama that chance. There is still hope.

I still have hope.