Author: Madeleine Tibaldi

Scrutinize social dimensions of ADHD

In the last decade, the frequency of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder ADHD diagnoses has skyrocketed with rates now reaching 11 percent among school-aged children. This number is alarmingly high and merits our consideration as to what is causing this drastic increase in diagnoses. Is something in our cultural environment causing more children to develop the disorder, or are parents just more eager for their child’s hyperactivity to be diagnosed and treated?

Finding an answer to this question forces us to consider whether our society, specifically the educational system, is maladapted to the natural activity level children need to succeed. Many have noted that the school day largely forces students to be sedentary, making it more difficult for them, especially boys, to focus on school work. Nationwide budget cuts have caused school districts to limit students’ recess time and cut their number of physical education teachers. New teaching philosophies place increased emphasis on test scores rather than individual creative development, causing classroom teachers to spend more time prepping students for tests and less time keeping them active.

On March 31, The New York Times released a controversial article with new statistics pointing to a sharp increase in ADHD diagnoses and subsequent medication prescriptions. It is important to note that among the increase in ADHD diagnoses, the vast majority have been given to boys. According to 2012 data released by the Center for Disease Control CDC, an astonishing 20 percent of U.S. high school boys have received an ADHD diagnosis, while only 10 percent of high school girls have ever been diagnosed with the disorder.

From a psychological standpoint, elementary-aged boys and girls have different biological needs and may react differently to a lack of physical and creative stimulation in the classroom. The gender divide among ADHD diagnoses raises the question of whether these diagnoses are linked to a larger issue of male maladaptation to the American education system. Beginning in elementary school, girls statistically outperform boys through college. Boys are 30 percent more likely to drop out of high school or get held back. That being said, boys do tend to perform better on test material related to math and science while girls perform better on verbal and written tasks. Boys tend to excel more in tactile, hands-on learning, but school is on average four-fifths language-based and only one-fifth hands-on learning.

The gender gap in diagnoses should make us question whether this is due to an educational system that is increasingly better suited to the biological and educational needs of girls instead of boys.

In addition to the debate regarding why rates have drastically increased, many psychologists have raised concerns over the amount of new prescriptions being distributed for ADHD patients. Some doctors diagnose ADHD far too readily, citing any complaints of commonplace hyperactivity, frustration or inattention as indicators of the disorder. The most frequently prescribed medications, Adderall and Ritalin, can be extremely helpful for children who suffer from the disease. The problem, however, is that these potent drugs are being prescribed too frequently and sometimes without enough evidence for an actual diagnosis. These medications carry severe health risks, especially when mixed with other substances.

An even bigger concern is that these medications may end up in the wrong hands. An estimated 30 percent of pills prescribed to ADHD patients are given or sold to friends or clients without a prescription. Adderall and Ritalin are becoming almost as commonplace on college campuses as marijuana and are frequently used as study aids to help students cram before a big test or paper. According to James Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Florida International University, “There’s no way that one in five high-school boys has ADHD. If we start treating children who do not have the disorder with stimulants, a certain percentage are going to have problems that are predictable – some of them are going to end up with abuse and dependence.”

By continuing to prescribe medication to children with mild cases of ADHD which many psychologists simply dub natural behavior for school-aged children, we may be creating more problems than we are solving. Adderall is not intended to be used as an occasional study aid, but the increase in prescriptions have made it readily available to college and high school students.

While ADHD is by all means a serious and legitimate medical concern, we must be skeptical of its increased prevalence so we can find alternative solutions to the over-prescribing of potent pharmaceuticals. ADHD is a condition that has grown to characterize our generation, and only we have the power to address its implications.

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Men’s hockey drops regular-season finale

The St. Olaf men’s hockey team fell twice to Gustavus Adolphus last weekend during its last games of the regular season. The Oles face the Gusties yet again in the first round of the MIAC playoffs tonight.

EBRU YAYLA/MANITOU MESSENGER

St. Olaf defenseman Connor Quinn ’16 covers a Gustavus Adolphus player in the St. Olaf defensive zone on Feb. 16. Quinn had four penalty minutes in the 0-2 loss at Northfield Ice Arena.

On Feb. 15, the Ole men began their series on the road, losing 1-4. David Rath ’16 scored the first goal of the game on assists from Mark Rath ’16 and Nick Marsh ’16, giving the Oles a 1-0 lead over the Gusties in the sixth minute of play. The Gusties were quick to respond, tying up the game later in the period on a goal by Tyler Lapic.

The Gusties went on to score three more goals from Jack Walsh, Andy Pearson and Adam Smyth, leading to their 4-1 victory over the Oles.

The Oles faced the Gusties again the next day, this time cheered on by a full house of enthusiastic fans at the Northfield Ice Arena. The Gusties completed their two-game sweep, winning 2-0 on goals from Walsh and Lapic. The Oles’ offense showed impressive strength, with 34 shots on goal to the Gusties’ 30.

Despite their losses this weekend, the Oles are currently in fifth place in the MIAC, clinching the last spot in the upcoming playoffs. St. Olaf will travel to play fourth-seeded Gustavus yet again in the playoffs tonight. St. Olaf’s record stands at 10-13-2, 9-7 in the MIAC. Meanwhile, Gustavus has a record of 15-7-3, 9-5-2 in the MIAC.

“I think both teams will be ready for the game,” said Jasper Kozak-Miller ’16, team manager. “The league is just so tight, and we have such great goaltending. I think we can definitely do it, and if we can turn it around, we play St. Thomas the next day, who we swept this season, and after that will be the finals.”

This will be St. Olaf’s fifth appearance in the MIAC playoffs in the past six years. Last year, the Gusties defeated the Oles 4-2 in the MIAC title game. All is at stake for both teams, as the intense competition is reinstated once again tonight.

tibaldi@stolaf.edu

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Election Day inspires excitement, energy

PAC, STObama, St. Olaf Votes No get out the vote

It’s official: Barack Obama will be a two-term president. At 10:18 p.m. Central Standard Time, the Pause exploded in cheers as CNN projected Barack Obama as the winner of the 2012 presidential election.

Oles’ commitment to political activism has perhaps never been as evident as it was this Tuesday when students from various political organizations inspired a voting frenzy among students from all corners of campus. Buntrock Commons, the social center of campus, was transformed into a official polling place, and students from St. Olaf Votes No cheered on voters as they exited the building. Members of STObama and St. Olaf Votes No door-knocked until 8 p.m., making sure every member of the St. Olaf community had come out to vote. The Political Awareness Committee PAC hosted a results viewing party in the Pause, lasting past 1 a.m., where Oles gathered to learn the election day results.

Many Oles intended to pull all-nighters waiting to find out who America’s next president would be, but it ended up being a much shorter night than most of them expected.

While the popular vote was quite close, with President Obama taking 50 percent of the vote to Romney’s 48, the electoral college was hardly a nail-biter. President Obama won nearly every swing state, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Iowa. The only notable exception was North Carolina, where Romney carried an extra 15 electoral votes, winning the state by less than 2 percentage points.

The race in Florida remained too close to call at press time, though Obama led Romney by a slight margin. Florida has the most electoral votes of any of the swing states, though this time unlike the infamous election of 2000 where Americans had to wait weeks for Florida to determine its winner, its result won’t affect the fate of the nation.

Of course, the results of the presidential race were not the only anxiously-awaited results this Tuesday. In two very close races, those who voted “no” prevailed on both the Minnesota marriage amendment and the voter ID amendment. Slightly more than 51 percent of Minnesotans voted against the marriage amendment, while 52 percent voted against the voter ID amendment. Blank ballots for both amendments were counted as noes, which helped to crush both amendments. Rice County voted against both amendments, perhaps due in part to the liberal presence on the St. Olaf and Carleton campuses.

In a landslide, United States Sen. Amy Klobuchar was re-elected for a second term, beating out conservative challenger Kurt Bills.

In Minnesota’s second congressional district, which includes Northfield, Republican incumbent John Kline defeated challenger Mike Obermueller, who paid a visit to campus on Tuesday afternoon along with David Bly, who won a seat in the State House this year after being unseated in the 2010 elections by a mere 37 votes. Kevin Dahle, a Northfield resident who ran for State Senate, narrowly defeated Republican challenger Mike Dudley by just 82 votes. A recount is underway, but it seems likely that Dahle will head back to St. Paul next year.

Oles turned out in overwhelming liberal support, with 80 percent of the campus voting for Obama. Similar numbers prevailed with both amendments, gaining nearly universal disapproval among students.

Minnesota was not the only state with constitutional amendments on the ballot. Maine, Washington and Maryland all voted to legalize same-sex marriage, and Colorado and Washington voted in favor of legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Democrats expanded their control of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, occupying 53 Senate seats 55 counting two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats, but failed to regain majority in the House, where Republicans control 233 of the 435 seats.

The excitement and anticipation of election day is now over, and regardless of whether or not students are pleased by the outcomes, they will all appreciate the absence of slanderous political TV spots and campaign videos every time they turn on a football game or try to listen to a song on YouTube. Members of St. Olaf political organizations can rest assured knowing that they helped raise political awareness and engage students in their civic duties during this groundbreaking election.

The results of election day 2012 will undoubtedly create some divides between excitement, disappointment and ambivalence around our campus and communities throughout the country.

Perhaps no one said it better than our president himself during his victory speech: Regardless of how you voted this time around, we should enter this new political era with optimism towards the dissolution of polarized bipartisanship.

“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests,” Obama said. “We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”

Surely after a few days off, politically gung-ho Oles will be back at it, promoting their various causes, set to make this nation and this world a better place.

tibaldi@stolaf.edu

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Kurry Kabab permanently closes its door

On Oct. 21, Kurry Kabab, a favorite local restaurant among Oles, closed its doors for good. The rather abrupt closing of the casual establishment, which was known for its inexpensive, yet authentic Indian cuisine, was met with widespread discontent in the Northfield community.

Loyal Northfield patrons missed no opportunity to get their fill of Indian delicacy before the restaurant’s closing on Sunday evening. During Kurry Kabab’s last weekend in business, the establishment struggled to keep up with the unusually massive amount of customers.

Every table was packed during the weekend buffet, and the chefs even ran out of chicken due to the massive influx of customers. The wait for a table was more than an hour during dinner, and even former employees who were enjoying a last meal pitched in, bussing tables and distributing take-out trays to customers.

Kurry Kabab was the only restaurant delivering to campus other than Northfield’s pizza joints. And even though our Caf food is top-notch, sometimes there is nothing better than gathering up some friends and eating chicken shahi korma and palak paneer on your dorm room floor.

While Northfield isn’t known for its abundance of ethnic food establishments, we’ll still have Chapati for our Indian food cravings. But the Division street restaurant, although more upscale than Kurry Kabab, lacks much of the authenticity that made Kurry Kabab a favorite among Olaf students. Chapati is also pricier and does not deliver to campus.

“By losing Kurry Kabab, we are losing the one authentic Indian restaurant in Northfield,” said Chris Hager ’16, a Northfield native and former employee of Kurry Kabab. “All of the food was cooked by one Indian family, who used traditional recipes, while Chapati is more American.”

Kurry Kabab opened in 2005 when Satinder Singh and his family moved to Northfield from New York City to open their restaurant. According to the Northfield Patch, which released a press statement immediately following the closing of the establishment, Kurry Kabab closed due to a string of economic woes, which in the end were too great to overcome while staying in business.

“With the loss of their liquor license and raised rent, it was hard to make ends meet,” Hager said. “Kurry Kabab was not a well-run business. The location was weird, their number wasn’t in the phone book and they had little to no advertising. I think the only reason it stayed open was because the food was so good.”

Kurry Kabab catered in large part to Northfield’s student population and remained committed to being an affordable eating establishment, despite their economic difficulties.

“Kurry Kabab really treated me like family,” said Mary Clare DuRocher ’16, another former employee of the eatery. “My bosses were always fair with prices and payment, even when their rent skyrocketed. ”

The family that ran Kurry Kabab was just so friendly and welcoming,” Hager said. “They were very understanding, and generous bosses. It’s just really disappointing to see this happen to nice people.”

Whether you’ve been going to Kurry Kebab for years, or just discovered it on closing weekend, Kurry Kabab will not be forgotten.

tibaldi@stolaf.edu

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Bipartisan system restrictive, but useful

As we consider the choice we will make this upcoming Election Day, most of us think of a clear-cut decision between two candidates. We define our options as either Democratic or Republican, with no gray area. We are so caught up in this political mindset that many of us may not even know that there are other candidates running for president: Libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party, for example.

Most of us are probably asking ourselves who these people are and why anyone would vote for candidates with no chance of winning. The answer is rooted in our deeply bipartisan democracy. While other more parliamentary democracies have a multi-party election system, bipartisanship in the United States has both characterized and plagued our country’s political identity. Out of the 100 currently elected U.S. senators, only two are independents. And in the past 63 years, only six members of the House of Representatives have ever been elected as independents.

In a sense, this overwhelmingly two-party-dominated system constrains citizens as it tries to clump the diverse needs and concerns of all Americans into two massive parties, neither of which is able to fully serve all of its constituents. However, the strength of our political system could falter under the pressure of supporting a multi-party system while still keeping the majority of Americans politically content.

The main problem with a multi-party system is that no matter which candidate wins the election, it is unlikely that they will have won by a majority. For example, if there were five political parties ranging from radical liberals to steadfast conservatives, even if one of the five parties won by an overwhelming margin, it would be unlikely to have more than 50 percent voting for the same candidate.

So, while a bipartisan system can be seen as restricting individual political ideologies, in a way it is also unifying. Even if a candidate doesn’t fit a voter’s ideal political bill, our defined partisan division encourages voters to rally behind their preferred candidate early in the presidential race.

In a country where voter registration is decidedly low U.S. voter turnout hovers around 50 percent, we must question whether a multi-party system might encourage more Americans to vote, as their needs would more likely be represented by one of the multiple candidates for president. We live in a country where half of all Americans don’t come to the polls at all, some because they are uninterested in politics, but others because they cannot find a candidate who appeals to them and therefore decide to abstain from voting at all.

Some voters decide to go against the grain of America’s political system and vote for an independent. But voting for an independent is essentially just a way to make a political statement. There has never been an independent presidential candidate who has had even a glimmer of hope to ultimately win the election. Even Ralph Nader, who won a respectable 2.7 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, didn’t win a single electoral delegate and only served the purpose of helping Bush’s White House win. While Nader supporters were for the most part unquestionably liberal, voting for him rather than Al Gore cost Gore the election, and left liberals with the worse of two evils as president.

So, as you ponder the question of who to vote for next month, keep in mind that your choice extends beyond Democrat and Republican. But remember that voting on principle alone could end up derailing the lesser of the two evils, as it did 12 years ago. For some of us, casting our ballot becomes a decision between making your vote “count” and making it matter.

Madeleine Tibaldi ’16 tibaldi@stolaf.edu is from New York, N. Y. She majors in political science.

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