Victoria Jennings

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Victoria is currently a freshman at DePauw University and resides in Rochester, Indiana.

"iPhone 5C" by Karlis Dambrans is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

On Thursday, April 28, 2016, the Supreme Court heard a proposal to amend Rule 41 of the Federal Criminal Procedure, which details the circumstances under which a warrant may be issued for search and seizure. The proposal asks to extend the parameters of search warrants to include “access to computer located in any jurisdiction,” according to a Huffington Post article written Thursday.

"Republican Elephant and Democrat Donkey" by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

President Obama has been making headlines lately for missing the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia, who passed away unexpectedly on Febuary 13th. When asked why the president would not be in attendance, his aid deflected the question, instead relaying that “Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will be attending Justice Scalia’s funeral.”

The efforts by India to push green energy as well as green business have been stalled by the World Trade Organization. The WTO claims that efforts hinder international business and put up unneccesary barriers for foreign companies. Is it permissible to put money above the enviornment?

Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant by Blatant World is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

On Wednesday, February 24th, the Huffington Post published an article calling attention to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) objections to India’s “ambitious program to create homegrown solar energy.” The declaration was especially controversial due to the organization’s history of and capacity to squash other international efforts attempting to utilize local resources and businesses to build sustainable energy programs.

“classroom” by Emory Maiden is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 (via Flickr)

As universities deal with an increasing number of sexual assault allegations, attention is being turned to finding a way to clarify the term “consent.” Many activist groups are unhappy with the current sexual education programs in the United States, arguing that the lackluster curriculum is partly to blame for the high rates of sexual violence on college campuses.

"My cigarette is burning" by Florian Eckerstorfer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

The crackdown on cigarette smoking is still in full swing, as evident by the new law proposed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro. Proposed on November 12th, this rule would enact a nation-wide requirement for public housing agencies to transition their buildings into smoke-free facilities.

“First Student #568” by ThoseGuys119 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

The National Education System recently published an article in which author Mary Ellen Flannery cites a privately funded program in Houston that offers fifth-graders monetary awards when they “master basic math standards”. This concept is a not a new one in the discussion of how to remedy failing school systems. With educators often struggling to find more effective modes of motivating their students to perform well in the classroom, offering students money in exchange for higher performance makes sense. According to Superintendent Michele Harmala at Wayne Memorial School in Wayne, Michigan, “about 25% of the students who enroll in the program meet their goal. Another 65% improve their grades.”

"Forever 21" by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

The past thirty years have seen a rise in “fast fashion” – a system of mass production that “refers to cheap, trendy, and popular clothing chains which rapidly change their inventory and styles.” This system is what allows us to walk into Forever 21 or H&M and purchase a whole outfit for less than $50. But you do get what you pay for – these clothing articles often have loose seams are made with cheap fabrics. As many customers of these stores can attest, laundry day becomes a chore thanks to excess shrinkage, unraveling, and rapid degradation of the quality of the sweater, shirt, or dress. However, many consumers are undisturbed by this disposable clothing trend because in the fashion world, trends are ever-changing and often fleeting. It doesn’t matter that the trendy sweater you bought two weeks ago is becoming a tad threadbare, because it’s already out of style. These clothes are now so cheap that upon the emergence of a new trend, it is affordable to go out and newly stock your closet.

An indisputable attribute to this industry is that money and status are no longer barriers. A new video by AJ+ explains we are only spending about 3% of our income on clothing, explaining that in a time of vast socioeconomic inequality, almost everyone is able to participate in the “fashion for all” culture. But what is the real cost?

According to the aforementioned AJ+ video “Why H&M Costs More Than You Think” referenced by The Huffington Post, 85% of the used clothes that we throw away goes into landfills, while only around 15% is recycled or reused. “Textile dyes make up 1/5th of industrial water pollution, and it’s estimated that the apparel industry makes up 10% of the global carbon footprint.” If this doesn’t persuade you, the cheap textiles we buy are full of contaminants such as lead and carcinogens. Teenage girls are most often the group targeted by these clothing chains and are thus exposed to these contaminants whilst still in developing stages.

The consequences don’t end there – the practice of mass production perpetuates the exploitation of cheap labor. As most of you probably know, many workers, who are often children, in countries such as China and Bangladesh are working from dawn to dusk in dangerous conditions for less than a dollar. How have we been justifying the fashion industry’s malpractices for so long?

There are some social benefits to buying into the disposable clothing culture. Rates of clothing donation to organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army has drastically increased. Many millennials who are laden with debt and struggling to enter the workforce are able to inexpensively stock their wardrobe with clothes that make them look presentable. However, is fast fashion justifiable when posited next to the dangerous working conditions and minuscule wages that make this practice possible? What about costs to the environment and the burden it places on future generations? It’s time we start asking what the real cost is of purchasing our wardrobes from these chains and questioning the implications of our whimsical consumerism and disposal tendencies.

"Canada Day in Whistler" by Ruth Hartnup is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

In mid-September, Zunera Ishaq, a Muslim Pakistani immigrant seeking Canadian citizenship, was turned away because she refused to take off her veil during the citizenship ceremony. Ishaq brought the case to court, which ruled in her favor that is was unlawful for the government to ban religious veils at the ceremony. The federal government is currently undergoing an appeals process to challenge the ruling in the supreme court.  Timing is everything in this process; the decision will affect her ability to vote in the Canadian federal election on  October 19th.