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Academia is a demanding and formidable pursuit. By the time American students head off to college, they have about 13 years of formal education under their belts. Many will choose to continue after undergrad — the cycle is seemingly unending with semester after semester spent in the classroom. It’s hard for most students to imagine a time when they were not spending the majority of the year in an academic institution of some kind.
Being a teenager — or being young in general — is difficult. Your brain isn’t fully developed, you don’t know how to handle situations properly and no one seems to really understand you. But being a teen girl comes with a unique set of challenges. Teenage girls are constantly mocked and ridiculed for their interests and actions, particularly online with the popularity of social media. There’s an uncountable number of memes, YouTube videos and movies all making fun of girls for enjoying seemingly mundane things, whether it be bands, makeup, fashion or trends. While it is easy to write off this behavior as natural and to label those who speak out against it as “too sensitive,” this type of humor and scorn just perpetuates the constant cycle of mocking women for having interests.
My first year, I needed help moving my things out of my dorm for winter break. The end of my exams lined up awkwardly with my family’s schedule, so my mother was the only one able to help haul my suitcases and IKEA bags of clothes and books to the car. I lived on the third floor of Dillard, which had no elevator available. In addition, the gates were up in the circular driveway around Gooch-Dillard, so there was no place to park other than the stadium. I really didn’t want to make my mother — who had been having sciatic nerve pain for the past month — brave the hill up to Dillard, three flights of stairs and then back again with all of my things. We opted to park at Runk, but we were given a warning ticket by the University 15 minutes before 5 p.m. — the standard time for parking to become unmetered. Though we didn’t have to pay that particular time, we would incur a fee the next time we were caught in a similar situation.
In December, the University announced that during the 2021 spring semester, all students living on Grounds or in the Charlottesville area would be tested once weekly on specifically assigned days. Getting tested regularly is a vital part of containing COVID-19, especially because the virus can be spread to others even when one is asymptomatic. However, frequent testing is only one aspect of the University’s plan for controlling the spread of COVID-19, and a negative test does not guarantee complete safety. While the weekly testing certainly provides peace of mind for many vigilant students, it is necessary that students do not use them as a reason to disregard current guidelines and regulations.
The federal work-study program seems like the classic American bootstraps approach to funding higher education –– pay your way through college with your own hard work. While the money partially comes from the government, it still isn’t one of the dreaded handouts complained about by so many of the older generation. However, the program itself falls short of this outdated ideal. In many instances, finding a job through work-study might become a significant challenge for incoming students struggling to pay tuition. In order for the program to be useful to all students, the University must guarantee employment to those eligible.