Quicktake: freshman year and summer news

Clarification appended

About the Quick Take
Every Friday, the Quick Take columnists will offer their views on an issue of significance to AU. Notable members of the campus community will also be invited to contribute to this feature. Suggestions for topics and other ideas from readers are welcome and encouraged, so please submit comments to edpage@theeagleonline.com.

This week, the Fall 2013 Quick Take writers introduce themselves and tackle two different questions to start the year.

Quick Take: As a freshman, what are you most looking forward to in your first year at AU?

Name: Emily Dalgo
From: Ocean Springs, Miss.
Interests: Politics, traveling, German culture, art, music, conspiracy theories
Favorite thing to read: Dystopian novels, Shakespeare, The Washington Post
Favorite news story of 2013: “CIA finally admits Area 51’s existence”

FreeFest at top of freshman year bucket list
By Emily Dalgo

My schedule is finalized, my suitcases are unpacked, I have traveled the 1,045 miles to AU, and, for the time being, my flights are over. In one day, I ate breakfast on the quiet, charming Gulf Coast of Mississippi and then ate dinner in one of the greatest, most diverse and bustling cities in the world: Washington, D.C. I am suddenly surrounded by thousands of unfamiliar faces and presented with “free time.”
The college countdown is over and I am a freshman once again. As with any adventure, there is so much to look forward to, but one nearby event in particular has captured my attention. While “Life in D.C.!” or “awesome classes and making awesome memories with awesome friends!” are completely satisfactory and authentic answers for what any ordinary freshman should be looking forward to, I would have to say that at this point I find myself most often daydreaming and counting down to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in September. After I see MGMT and Pretty Lights, I will be able to more effectively focus on harnessing excitement for my classes.
While freshmen on campus are snug in their dorms with visions of internships dancing in their heads, I am visualizing myself in Columbia, Maryland at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I will be surrounded by 50,000 glittering, high-waisted-shorts-wearing, fortunate souls adorned in tribal print and flower crowns who will be experiencing the paramount (and cheapest) music festival of the year. FreeFest: eleven hours of psychedelic, indie, electronic, and funk music, and only about 30 miles from AU’s campus. There was a limited number of free tickets for the 2013 Festival, which were gone in minutes. All other tickets, ranging from $10 to $50, sold out in less than six hours. I tried and failed to snag two free tickets after logging on to Ticketfly only seconds after the portal opened and ended up paying a total of $100 for tickets for my roommate and myself. While it is certainly ironic to pay for FreeFest tickets, I have no regrets—I love music festivals. Robin Thicke and Vampire Weekend are set to headline the event, with sub-liners just as illustrious: MGMT, Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers, City and Colour, Icona Pop, and Kaskade round off the list of notable musicians who make up the incredible lineup.
My courses this semester, such as World Politics and American Legal Culture excite me; imagining picnics on the Quad or exploring my new beautiful, historic city excites me; being on AU’s campus as a freshman in general excites me. So of course, newfound independence, knowledge, and friendship top my list of what I look forward to as a freshman at AU. But there are no Blurred Lines; I can’t help but feel the most excitement out of all for FreeFest. I am in a Flash Delirium counting down the days until Sept. 21.
Dalgo is a freshman in the School of International Service.

Name: Rathna Muralidharan
From: Chantilly, Va.
Interests: Reading, writing, anything Batman-related, listening to good music, watching 80s movies, visiting new places, trying new food
Favorite thing to read: Poetry
Favorite news story of 2013: Obama Urged to Resign Over Beyonce Scandal

Freshman year: A chance to break free
By Rathna Muralidharan

When you leave high school, you don’t just leave with lessons learned and memories made; you leave with regrets.
My greatest regret is never putting myself out there or trying something new. I judged everything and everyone I encountered quickly and harshly in high school. I was so sure that they were doing the same thing to me so I dismissed every new opportunity that made itself available to me. Even though I did manage to find a great group of friends and have some very memorable times, I missed out on exploring an undiscovered world. And it took until I was driving away from my graduation ceremony to realize that, though the past four years had been pretty great, they could have been spectacular if I had just taken a chance and tried something new.
Now, I and all my fellow members of the Class of 2017 have a chance to break out from the protected sphere of high school, and leave our mark on the world by not letting our hesitations from the past dictate our future and using our regrets as fuel to change our lives.
I made a promise to myself and many others who have been tried to get me out of my comfort zone, that I wouldn’t waste the next four years like I have the last. If these years of “soul searching” have taught me anything, it’s that I have no idea who I am or what I’m doing. But this time I’m willing to find out, because this time, I’m not going to wait for the world to call upon me. I’m going to get out there and make the most out of my life here at AU.
Maybe the girl who I pass on the way to my dorm doesn’t seem like the kind of person I’d hang out with, or maybe she’ll become my best friend. Maybe the club I’ve been scoffing at will help me figure out what I want to do with my life. Maybe the class I’ve been blackmailed into taking will be the best thing to ever happen to me. Who knows what’s going to happen? We never will unless we give it a shot. I’ve been given the chance to attend my dream college in one of the most remarkable cities in the world. If I don’t make the most out of this experience, if I just stay locked up in my room and never try something different. Then the only person I’ll have to blame is myself.
So I’m going to push myself. No matter how much it makes me cringe on the inside, I’m going to force myself to talk to people. I’m going to try new things that I think I’ll despise. I’m going to stop being so rigid and just go with the flow. Hopefully, I’ll surprise myself with just how far I go.
Muralidharan is a freshman in the School of International Service.

Quick Take: What was the biggest news story from Summer 2013?

Name: Dave Sweet
From: Holden, Mass.
Interests: Sandwiches, go-carts and/or bumper cars, water slides, cool-looking nature, Fox News
Favorite thing to read: A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago
Favorite news story of 2013: Dennis Rodman visiting North Korea

Arab Spring meets Arab summer
By Dave Sweet

While the world’s media fixates on a very loud and escalating state of post-revolution in Egypt, less than a thousand miles north there is a silence that is truly terrifying.
That would be in Syria, where the Arab Spring has lulled into the Arab summer since June: dry, slow, and stale. Make no mistake; the casualties are keeping a dreadful pace, 100,000 by some estimates, or 5,000 per month. But aside from the rebel seizure of a military airport earlier this August, neither Bashar al-Assad’s army nor the Sunni opposition has found a way to tug the status quo into their favor.
Rather, each side has held their ground and dug in deep. What’s replaced the hope of spring is in fact the harsh reality of summer, and it turns out to be much more patience and pain than glory and triumph. Syria has since fractured into three semi-autonomous pseudo-nations, each clinging to both their own ideologies and the pain of history to justify their stay.
Bashar al-Assad’s government holds down the west, including the capital, Damascus, and all major Mediterranean ports. They are backed by the Shia powers of Iran and the Lebanese party-cum-militia Hezbollah, who would be dealt a major blow if they lost their Syrian allies. Russia also provides the regime with weapons and has a vote on the UN Security Council to delay multinational intervention. Ideologically, Assad represents the Alawite sect, a branch of Shia Islam, although most Syrian Alawi resent the regime for putting a target on their backs. This is a war waged by the government after all, not the Alawi. The regime has an overwhelming military advantage, yet the Alawi constitute less than 20 percent of the Syrian population.
Further east, the Sunni opposition has managed to settle into the Euphrates Valley, stretching from the key city of Aleppo in the north to the Iraqi border in the east. They are unethically backed by the Sunni powers of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. For more than a year, however, al-Qaeda-affiliated cliques have been fighting on their behalf and have taken credit for much of the opposition’s success. The previously mentioned rebel seizure of a government airport, for example, was accredited to the infamous Isis jihadists, and black flags now fly over several rebel strongholds. While they fight for purely ideological reasons, the Sunni Syrians have a much better claim to rebellion: about a half-century of murderous persecution under the Assad regime.
A third party has since emerged as a major player in the conflict. The Kurds—long starved of a homeland of their own—occupy the northeast corner of the country and see the Syrian war as an opportunity to stake claims to land while the government is distracted. They have since developed the most semi-governable region in the country, equipped with an elected assembly, a constitutional draft, and an effective police force. A friend to neither Assad nor the jihadists, the Kurds have avoided taking sides in favor of establishing a military force of their own.
Syria has since been in a strategic stalemate. While the subtlety of the Arab summer may sound positive, it is nothing but preparation for a loud, lengthy conflict for many years to come. Each side is showing its patience. For now, a three-headed beast is sleeping. But soon it will awaken, don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.
Sweet is a junior in the School of Public Affairs.

Name: Katlyn Hirokawa
From: Saratoga, California
Interests: Singing, baseball (go Giants!), reading, traveling
Favorite thing to read: Harry Potter for the win
Favorite news story of 2013: 60 Minutes’ “Afghan children on a long and perilous journey”

Trayvon case made for a divisive summer
By Katlyn Hirowaka

Six months ago, a 29-year-old man armed with a semi-automatic pistol stalked a 17-year-old armed with a bag of Skittles. Is it just me, or is something wrong with this picture? The story of Trayvon Martin’s murder caught the country’s attention, and had many eagerly following the trial of George Zimmerman this summer.
The result of the trial sparked a massive outcry and protest across the country regarding the jury’s verdict. Many are disturbed that George Zimmerman got away with his immoral actions.
Zimmerman thought it was OK to pursue Trayvon Martin based on his appearance. Zimmerman did not have any evidence or motive that Martin was committing a crime. What is even more perplexing is that Zimmerman pursued Martin after police ordered him not to.
Some may argue that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, but in any case it was completely reckless and unnecessary of Zimmerman to get into a physical confrontation with an unarmed teenager. The biggest injustice that came out of this trial is not that Zimmerman may have racially profiled Martin, but that the Martin family will not see the proper justice for their son.
From our elementary school days we are taught that a trial by jury is just and effective. But, there was nothing just or effective about the Zimmerman trial. It scares people that this trial failed in the fact that a murderer got cut loose. What is more alarming is how a trial like this split our country in two.
Some argue that there was no sort of injustice based on the belief that the prosecution did not prove Zimmerman guilty. The prosecution did have a tough case to prove, and could have presented some of their evidence more effectively.
But no matter what people think of the verdict of this trial, it still does not make the death of an innocent 17-year-old is OK. It is highly unlikely that our justice system will change from this trail, but as a country we will remember the effect that this case had this summer.
Hirowaka is a freshman in the School of Communication.


Clarification: This Quicktake was published a week late due to web maintenance issues.

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