Older generations call us the teenybopper age, the generation of individuals who conform, the fad generation. And while this may be true in some senses, overall, we are one of the most unique generations since the baby boomers. Let us please be realistic for one moment. Every generation has a fad or style that it follows. From dance styles to clothing choices to hairstyles to music, each generation has those few trends that are popular among the entire age group. The ‘60s and ‘70s generation had rock and roll and platform shoes; the ‘80s and ‘90s had hip-hop, miniskirts and shoulder pads; and we have pop, Justin Bieber and thrift vintage dressing.
Does the fact that we follow these trends make us conformed and unauthentic? Absolutely not. The thing about us is that we follow these trends but in different ways. And on top of that, we do not all follow the same trends. We each individually choose what we want to follow or whether we want to follow anything at all. Some of us are flat-out hipsters who make it cool to not follow anything or to follow everything beyond its extremities. The point that I am making is that we take full advantage of our free will.
Did anyone consider those who stood together to protest against the war in Vietnam conformists? Was every girl who decided to wear teased hair to school not unique? I guess if you decide to follow a trend because you like it, you are not considered an individual, and if you go against all trends because you want to be considered an individual, you are seen as a socially awkward outcast. No one is safe anymore.
If we are considered to be conforming to the mainstream, then so be it. Like any other generation, we band together to contest against adversaries that directly affect us and our future. Do not consider us conformed because we all think smartphones are the best thing since cheeseburgers. Do not consider us conformed because Beyoncé and Kanye West make music that we can all relate to and enjoy. Do not consider us conformed because we use social media more than we write papers for English class.
We are individuals because we have a larger sense of free will in choosing our own paths than our parents did. We are individuals because there are so many different types of us that the categories can no longer be simply accounted for. We are innovative individuals because we think of creative ways to make our lives easier almost every day. We are individuals because we are not afraid to let the world know who we are. If someone says that we are uniform and brainwashed, then they must put themselves in the same category because no generation is better than another when it comes to individuality.
Virginia Wesleyan College has its very own designer. Meet junior Joshua Beatty, a native of Virginia Beach who has taken his creative eye and applied it for the greater good through a brand known as Good Garments, United. I sat down one-on-one with Josh at Virginia Beach Starbucks to get a little more info on the backgrounds of him and the brand.
AT: What is Good Garments?
JB: Good Garments is a brand that I’m a part of. We create opportunities for people to change the world—in style. We produce items that represent quality and authenticity, among other things.
AT: How is Good Garments a movement?
JB: We want to raise awareness of the need for clean water in other countries. And we also just want to give the best-quality product possible, and make a statement. We are doing what we love. If Good Garments didn’t exist, I’m sure we’d all still be doing things to help people, as well as exploring our interests fashion-wise.
AT: How did you guys come about?
JB: Good Garments’ founder, Justin Tungol, used to play basketball overseas in the Philippines immediately after he graduated from high school. Over there, he found himself in good fortune and he had his own driver, a nice car, his own house. But he realized how little those things mattered when there are other people struggling. So he came back to the U.S. and founded Good Garments. Justin and I had met not long after he got back. I’ve always been into fashion personally, even when I was really young and couldn’t afford much. It wasn’t until high school that I could start expressing myself and I ended up getting voted “best dressed” which was pretty cool. I’ve always studied fashion in my free time. Materials, history, designers, influences, art, textures, patterns, fabrics, development, all sorts of things. I had been working closely with people from the Good Garments camp for a while, and eventually I decided to apply for a position formally. Everything just meshed well.
AT: Did you find it difficult starting up in Hampton Roads rather than a more urbanized area?
JB: I think people underestimate Hampton Roads, and Virginia as a whole. But I don’t really think we thought about the difficulty of starting in one particular area, though. From the start we’ve just been thinking larger than that. Our goal was pretty much to help people and change lives. Putting our focus on that, along with ensuring quality in our items, is what I think blessed us with the amount of success we’ve had. A lot of businesses don’t make it through their first year.
AT: Is there a reason you specifically chose clean water?
JB: Water is one of those things that gets overlooked. We see it everywhere, and assume it’s abundant everywhere. A lot of people don’t think about this much, but water is actually one of the most essential resources in the world right now. Within the next 30 years or so, people are going to be fighting wars over water if nothing is done to help these families. Right now, there are close to a billion individuals going without it, and water-related illnesses are extremely high right now. In the next 30 years, it’s said that water-related illnesses will kill more people than AIDS. And we as Americans sometimes take it for granted because we are removed from the epicenter of this crisis. So at Good Garments, we feel like it’s only right to raise awareness on the issue and help before it’s too late.
In the months ahead, there will be a new fine arts building striking up conversations across campus. Students, faculty, and staff will appreciate the generous gift of $5 million from the Goode family, which is helping to fund the construction of the building.
“This extraordinary gift from the Goode family has electrified the campus community about the possibilities for this building as a new center for learning and creative expression,” said Mita Vail, vice president of college advancement.
With this donation toward the fine arts building, our campus community will soon be prepared to display its talented individuals and attract new students, faculty and staff to the department.
“This donation allows for a new face that better reflects the work that our students, faculty and staff are already doing,” said Michael Trotta, assistant professor of music and director of choral music. “It will allow for the arts programs to continue to grow and will provide valuable classroom spaces and a new theater that will act as an artistic hub for the Hampton Roads.”
It is believed that the building, which will be in a prime location on campus, could be used in a multitude of ways in the near future.
“I see the new Creative Arts building as an epicenter for the very best that our campus has to offer. Not just in the arts, but as a center for gathering, learning, inspiring, and performing,” said Trotta.
The campus community cannot express their excitement or their appreciation to the Goode family for the new fine arts building.
“I felt enormous gratitude to the Goode family for their commitment to Virginia Wesleyan and the arts,” said Vail. “As Mrs. Goode said in announcing the gift, ‘We believe the arts are vital to a liberal arts education and for our nation’s future. We hope this building will support and energize Virginia Wesleyan’s commitment to the liberal arts. Our family is very pleased to be able to make this gift and challenge others to do the same.”
Students have been involved in the planning process for the upcoming construction of this building to ensure that any concerns or ideas students may have are made known to the administration and to the architect.
“The students are so excited; they have become part of the planning and creation process. The faculty and architects are working together with students to make sure that their vision is part of the final project,” said Trotta.
It is important for the students to have a voice on campus, and the fact that their involvement is welcomed is of great benefit to the campus community.
“Our architect, faculty, and college leadership are committed to ensuring that our students’ ideas are reflected in the work spaces and gathering spaces being planned. The excitement and energy with which they have approached this assignment has been great,” said Vail.
Our campus has an active student body, and their opinions of this addition to campus are all positive.
Some aspects unique to the building will further arts education as well as extracurricular involvement campus- wide, which makes the new fine arts building all the more valuable to students.
“This building is important, because it will bring our terrific theater, fine arts and music programs together in a new state-of-the art facility that will enhance our students’ educational experiences. For example, the building will include a 450-seat theater that can be used for lectures, films and a gathering space for larger groups and individual classes,” said Vail.
As of now, there is no specific date for breaking ground on this project, but in the near future our campus will be overjoyed to welcome the opening of the new fine arts building.
“The construction timetable for the building will be decided in the months ahead. The architects are still developing the design. The construction company is being hired and, of course, the funds will have to be raised. Stay tuned!” said Vail. “This new building will have a tremendous impact not only on the arts at VWC but on the vitality of the College for decades to come.”
When cannabis, also known as marijuana, pot, or weed, was legalized in the state of Colorado last November, new tax legislation had to be created to regulate the recreational cannabis industry. When the law was finally put to work on Jan. 1, 2014, and people began to buy and sell the product, the state raked in more than $2 million from taxes on non-medical marijuana, adding up to a total of $3.5 million when including medical marijuana. Economists disagree over whether this new situation spells financial splendor for the state, or if the complex variables involved in legalizing a controlled substance will prevent the herb from making serious profit for Colorado.
Since only 37 dispensaries were open in the entire state during the first week of the new year, the rest of the country was stunned that Colorado managed to sell $5 million worth of marijuana in only seven days. Colorado’s Director of Finance Barbara Brohl said, “The first month of sales for recreational marijuana fell in line with expectations,” according to the Huffington Post, a news website. That expected amount of revenue came out to $14 million.
In November 2013, two tax levies were approved by voters: a 10 percent special sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax. There are also application and license fees for those over 21 years old who want to legally purchase marijuana. This initial surge in sales has tapered off, but economists project that Colorado’s sales will stay at a level of consistent growth, since there are now more than 150 recreational dispensaries in business. Recreational marijuana was also legalized in Washington state, but is not predicted to be sold until summer.
Those with a long-standing belief in the legalization of pot agree that regulated sale of the plant would drive down production costs and retail prices. According to Bloomberg, a financial news website, it is projected that the availability of “cheaper, legal cannabis would generate precious tax revenue and refocus drug enforcement efforts on more socially harmful narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth.”
Destiny Barnes is a sophomore and a business major. She wants to be an accountant after she graduates. “When it comes to commodities, it is historically cheaper to produce them when you are able to grow them outdoors. Legalization could cause a serious plummet in production costs.”
A huge road block for high tax revenue will be the fact that Colorado is currently the only state selling recreational pot, and is one of less than half of the states that have legalized medical weed. Other factors such as state tax policies and the shifting behavior of buyers and sellers could also cause revenue to be lower than expected. At $400, the price for an ounce of commercial-grade pot is more than double the price for medical-grade.
“This market is fairly new; there are only so many shops that have opened since January. Also, people who believe in legalized marijuana have been waiting for a very long time to buy it legally. The inflated prices are likely to change,” said Barnes.
People are also more likely to pay more for a higher-quality product. At dispensaries, smokers are able to choose from hundreds of variations of marijuana that have different levels of medical qualities and cause different kinds of highs.
An anonymous source said, “That’s how it is here, buying off the black market. I would pay way more any day for a better-quality bud because it seriously makes a difference in your experience. I personally use it for anxiety and stress and sometimes just for fun with my friends, so I would be willing to throw in a little more cash if I could buy a strand that specifically helped with anxiety.”
Today, 20 states in the U.S. have legalized medical cannabis. Florida is voting to legalize it in November, and New York and Georgia are currently considering its legalization. At the beginning of March, the District of Columbia officially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed. Oregon and Alaska, on the other hand, are expected to follow the trend of Colorado and Washington, and will have cannabis legalization on the ballot in 2014. This increase of loosening legislation on pot has also influenced the overall public view of legalization.
More than 70 percent of the American population supports legal medical cannabis, including the more conservative South. In the short time span that recreational cannabis has been legal in the U.S., public opinion has swung sharply in favor of loosening cannabis legislation. A CNN/ORC international survey stated that 55 percent of those surveyed supported legalization and 44 percent opposed it. National polls shifted positively 10 percent; that shift is projected to continue to climb.
After the abrupt departure of Jenn Mitchell from the college, more than 62 faculty, staff and students interviewed the potential candidates for the vacant position of director of student activities, and finally selected Kate Polivka to fill the position.
“Kate is a nice fit for Virginia Wesleyan College,” said Director of Community Service Diane Hotaling. “She is student-focused, with an emphasis on leadership development. She has the education and training to do the job well. Her experiences in Student Activities are similar enough to how we do things that she’ll fit right in, but different enough to grow the office in new and exciting ways.”
After Mitchell separated from the college, the school set out on a national search that led to a total of 98 applicants. Ten individuals from this pool of applicants were selected for phone interviews, and from there, four people were invited to campus for interviews. Polivka was one of those candidates.
“Kate was my favorite of the four candidates that came to campus,” said junior Heather Killian. “I think she is very qualified for the position. She seems to relate well with the students; she was also very professional when interacting with us throughout our meeting with her. She was very personable and fun.”
Polivka comes to VWC from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. A native of southeastern Virginia, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Geology and her Master of Science in Higher Education from Old Dominion University.
“What really stood out to me the most was the depth of her ownership and understanding of the role of a Student Affairs professional,” said Hotaling.
Polivka has been involved in the field of higher education for 10 years in the areas of orientation, career counseling and residence life, at Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Christopher Newport University.
“Polivka was the overwhelming choice of the committee and she has outstanding qualifications,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Enrollment Services David Buckingham. “Equally as important is Kate’s personality. She has excellent communication skills and a very positive disposition which were quite apparent to all of us who met and spoke to her approximately one week ago.”
At Trinity University, Polivka was the assistant director of campus and community involvement. In that position, she coordinated orientation and leadership development.
“Another thing that stood out was that it seemed like she would give students the freedom to do the events that they want to do, which is good because it is the STUDENT activities office, and the Wesleyan activities council is a board of students,” said Killian.
Polivka will begin her new responsibilities on June 1, 2014.
“OMG you are so right. That b**** got no life #forrealdoe,” says one post. “ __ is so attractive. I would wife that boy up,” said another. “__attracts the ugliest girls on campus,” said yet another.
Both rueful and raunchy, these and other anonymous tweets have popped up on “Adult Confession 757,” a Twitter page that was unofficially linked to Virginia Wesleyan College. It contained posts that were exclusively about VWC students or organizations.
This page popped up on Twitter a little over a month ago, and within days had more than 300 followers and 75 tweets.
“It’s nice for students to be able to have a means to communicate as a community, and I think it’s great that social media is that outlet,” said Director of Batten Center and Recreational Sports Jason Seward. “When it is used properly, ‘properly’ being the keyword here, it is a really effective way of communicating to bring a community together.”
In the Twitter page bio, there was a link to the website ask.fm, a social media platform that allows people to anonymously submit questions or statements to various accounts on the site.
The people running the page received the submitted statements from students and then selected which “confessions” made their way onto the Twitter feed.
“At first I thought it was weird,” said junior Jessica Wood. “Now, after it’s been up for a while I still think it’s really hilarious.”
However, not all students thought the page was as simple as it claimed to be.
“It’s pretty scary,” said sophomore Gabe Higgins. “It definitely hurt people and I don’t really think they understood what they were doing. It got past the point of the original idea that it was supposed to be, and morphed into an anonymous cyber-bullying account.”
“I think that ‘VWC Confess’ started as a harmless posting board for students to communicate confessions, that was spiraling out of control,” said Seward. “What has been posted has negatively impacted this campus and affected a number of students, faculty, staff, parents and other community members. The anonymous comments are disgusting, they are tasteless, and they are what I call a virus among our community.”
The page’s name was “VWC Confess” at first, and was changed, according to a tweet sent out by the account, “due to pressure from administration.”
“We were not involved in asking the page to change its name,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Enrollment Services David Buckingham. “However, from what I heard, the Tweets are offensive, vulgar, untrue, and crude. It was an attempt to be funny that didn’t reach its goal.”
Currently, the Twitter page has been shut down. The account sent out tweets that stated it was due to the administration of VWC. However, the school was not aware the page was shut down.
“We were working with Twitter to figure out who was running the account, but we hadn’t heard from them. At this point, that is all the info I have,” said Seward. “I wasn’t even aware that it was removed until this afternoon.”
According to Twitter’s rules section, “You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are: if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts; if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others; if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats.”
A number of students have sought counseling because of comments made about them on the page.
“I think the best word to describe is ‘hostile.’ I would definitely consider it a form of bullying,” said Associate Director of Student Counseling Marea Hyman. “I think it negates the sense of community that we have here on campus, and perhaps the bigger issue is the lack of communication skills that our society has as a whole. We have become such an electronic society, with little face-to-face contact, which is essential in being able to communicate most effectively. I could go on and on about social media sites encouraging folks to express hostility and rage, rather than working toward a goal or resolving a conflict.”
Students have voiced varying opinions about the page’s being taken down.
“I thought it was interesting how the page claimed to be a ‘confessions’ page, yet instead, the majority of the posts were opinionated comments from people who obviously took advantage of the site’s anonymity to say rude things that they would never say to the faces of the people they posted about,” said junior Amari Agee. “Just a true testament to the realization that enrolling in college doesn’t make everyone a mature adult.”
“I think the page being taken down helps avoid drama and tense situations amongst the student body. The page enabled people to say possibly hurtful things because they had the ability to hide behind the security of it being completely anonymous,” said a sophomore who wished to remain anonymous.
However, not all students are happy the page was shut down.
“Honestly, I found the Twitter confessions page to be interesting and caught myself checking it throughout the day,” said junior Andrew Petrey. “Being a commuter, it gave me insight on things back on campus.”
“I am kind of glad the page was created so the school can see everything that it’s doing wrong, but I’m happy it got taken down because it was getting out of control,” said junior Estelle Goli.
Regardless of the sentiment, the page has left a strong impact on campus.
“Things like this are so fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow,” said Buckingham. “No good can come of this if its is hurting so many people. When something like this persists, we have to stand up and say ‘No, this is not who we are.’”