Author: Payne McMillan

The Love Column

When our parents bought their first mobile phones in the early aught’s, they were used exclusively for emergencies. Now we assume that our friend is having an emergency if they don’t respond to a text within fifteen minutes.

Most of us carry computers in our pockets that are more powerful than the machinery that was used to put people on the moon. Technology is changing and we’re changing with it.

Our cellphones have become extensions of ourselves. Most college students can’t go anywhere or do anything without their mobile device.

Though they enable us to have quick, reliable communication with people outside our immediate vicinity, cell phones negatively impact how we interact with those around us. Whether we’re texting, checking our Facebook or swiping on Tinder, cellphones consume our attention, even when we are engaged in a good personal conversation. It’s distracting and frustrating for a group dynamic when one or more people are so engrossed in texting that vibrating ringtones interrupt every other word.

It seems that we use cellphones as everything except as a phone. In terms of efficiency, this doesn’t make any sense. Mobile phones were created to improve our communication, but they have regressed it instead.

When we type text messages, we have to engage much of our focus. We use our eyes to watch the screen for typos, engage our thumbs to type and put our concentration on developing a succinct message.

We’re fooling ourselves if we think that we can still be present while doing all that. When the response comes, we again revert our attention away from our surroundings back to the screen in our palm. This back and forth can go on for ages. This takes time away from quality interactions with friends and family members, not to mention paying attention in class.

Why not call? It may seem old fashioned but it’s much quicker and more personal than texting. Telephones are remarkable; we have the ability to hear the voice and expression of friends that are miles away. Quality of conversation is also higher because you are completely focused on that conversation with the person on the other end the whole time.

By calling people, we can connect at a more human level without all the hassle and misunderstanding that plagues texting. We have all had those awkward experiences of someone interpreting a text message in a way that we did not intend.

We also don’t irritate the people around us by being distracted for long periods of time, like we do when we when we are texting have you ever worked on a group project with one of those people? It’s the worst. A one minute call accomplishes the work of ten minutes of texting.

My challenge to you this summer is be conscious of how often you text. If you’re doing it to make plans or flirt, consider dropping a line instead so that you can showcase your personality.

Rather than just typing little quips, make plans to get together. Face-to-face interaction time is seriously declining among our generation, in both amount and quality.

Spend that time being present with the people you love rather than letting your phone distract you with what’s far away or coming next.

mcmillap@stolaf.edu

Are you an expert on all things romantic? Let everyone on campus benefit from your fabulous advice! Email mess-ae@stolaf.edu for more information on becoming one of our love columnists for next year’s Manitou Messenger.

-the A&E Editors

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Letter to the Editors: April 24, 2015

It’s always a comfort to learn that our Minnesotan Congressional representatives are standing in the way of damaging legislation. I write to express my support of Senator Amy Klobuchar in her fight to keep dangerous abortion restrictions out of the Justice for Trafficking Victims Act.

When S. 187 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was introduced in mid-January to establish funds that would help provide victims of sex-trafficking the resources to heal and resettle, there was widespread bipartisan support. The vast majority of human trafficking incidents in the U.S. involve criminals coercing women and children into performing commercial sex acts. An account I read from a survivor used the image of a revolving door to describe the scope of men who raped her the day the Super Bowl took place in the city where she was trafficked. Once they are free from these repulsive conditions of modern-day slavery, trafficking survivors deserve ALL the support and services possible to get their lives back on track.

Unfortunately, Republican leadership is blocking this bill with a provision that expands the Hyde amendment: a discriminatory amendment that bans federal funding for abortion care in most cases. In fact, the restrictions would reach beyond the extent of the Hyde Amendment because the victims’ compensation fund stems from fines on traffickers, not taxpayer dollars. The GOP’s introduction and refusal to remove this clause demonstrates that they are more focused on pushing their own ideological agenda of banning abortion than helping sex-trafficking victims to access health care in their time of need.

It’s sickening, but if the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act passed as it is, lawmakers would further control the autonomy of survivors by denying them the resources to make their own reproductive decisions. This act was designed to help survivors, not to hurt them further.

Let’s support the courageous stance of Senator Klobuchar so that we can defeat anyone who puts personal politics above the health and safety of women.

Payne McMillan ’15 mcmillap@stolaf.edu is from BlueBell, Pa. He majors in English.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Letter to the Editor: October 31, 2014

Dutiful Citizens,

Midterm elections are around the corner Tuesday, Nov. 4 and I am excited to exercise my right to vote. Many eligible voters choose not to participate in the democratic system, believing that their single vote is insignificant. I write to dissipate this myth! The margin of victory between candidates is often small, especially in state elections. The representatives that we elect dictate what legislation will be introduced and voted on. In May 2013, the Eighty-eighth Minnesota Legislature our current state government passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage; this would have been impossible under the Eighty-seventh Minnesota Legislature. Marriage equality became a reality in Minnesota because of constituents who showed up on Election Day and voted for candidates who supported their rights.

Tuesday’s election is no different from 2012; some candidates will work to expand our rights, while others will impose restrictions. Though American politics seem tied overall, progressive legislation is being enacted in this state. In July, Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy introduced the Contraceptive Health Equity and Employee Rights CHEER Act. This bill was proposed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a Federal Court ruling which allows employers to restrict contraception coverage for their employees based on religious beliefs. The CHEER Act is an anti-discrimination measure that would require for-profit employers in Minnesota to cover FDA-approved prescription contraception methods for their employees. The bill would make businesses like Hobby Lobby disclose to current employees or prospective hires if they have restrictive coverage policies based on religious beliefs.

The CHEER Act would allow people to make medical decisions based on their own needs rather than their boss’ beliefs, but it does not stand a chance at ratification if the DFL loses control of the Minnesota Legislature.

Our District Representative David Bly supports the CHEER Act. However, our district 20B has also had a victory margin of below 40 votes in past elections. It’s on us to show up and cast our votes for candidates who have our best interests in mind. If you do not know where a candidate stands on an issue that is important to you, call the candidate’s office and ask.

After Tuesday’s big election, I encourage everyone to continue being involved with politics. Schedule an appointment to meet with your representative or write the person a letter. Let them know what issues affect you and be prepared with a specific plan for how they can improve that area. They more often a legislator hears from their constituents about a topic, it sends the massage that it is a priority for the people who they represent.

If you need help contacting your representatives or educating yourself about what they’ve been up to, visit https://www.congress.gov/members for national officials and http://www.leg.state.mn.us for state officials.

Payne McMillan ’15 mcmillap@stolaf.edu is from BlueBell, PA. He majors in English.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Wellness Word: February 28

Everyone who has access to media – whether television, internet or the newspaper – is exposed to numerous and diverse depictions of sex and sexuality. The ways in which sexuality is characterized in the media often dictate whether we regard these sexual practices as normal or abnormal. This can sometimes make us worry that there is something wrong with our lifestyle or sexual preferences.

Everyone differs in what sexual activities they find comfortable or desirable. Whether you choose to be sexually active or decide not to engage physically at all is entirely fine. What is most important is that you and your partner communicate your “dos” and “don’ts” and respect each other’s boundaries.

Many people find it awkward to discuss sexuality openly with their partner. Part of this may come from the worry that they will seem inexperienced. However, no two relationships are the same. Whether you have had numerous sexual partners or are engaging in something for the first time, every experience will be different. It is important to be open-minded and not base expectations on other people’s experiences or on media representations of similar relationships. If you are comfortable enough to be intimate with someone, you should also be comfortable enough to tell them how you feel – and to listen in return. If you don’t feel that you can be honest and open with your boundaries, or your partner does not listen to or respect them, you may want to reconsider whether you should be engaging with them sexually.

Talking with your partner about what you want and do not want to do should occur each time you get intimate. Just because your partner enjoys an activity sometimes does not mean that he or she is always in the mood for it. Asking your partner what he or she desires and communicating throughout can help ensure both you and your partner have a good time. If your partner says “no,” it always means “no.” A lack of “no” does not mean “yes,” so make sure that your partner agrees before assuming that you can go ahead. It is important that the “yes” is genuine rather than stemming from guilt or coercion.

In addition to talking to your partner about sex, using condoms is important. Condom usage is the only way to protect against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms also reduce the risk of pregnancy. Although condoms do not protect from STIs that are spread via skin contact, they significantly reduce the likelihood of getting an STI that is spread through bodily fluid. Also, if you are not in the habit of using condoms or dental dams for oral sex, you may want to consider it, particularly if you have an open sore, cut or burn in your mouth.

If you’d like more information on how to talk to your partner about sex, safer sex and healthy relationships, as well as peer support, stop by the Wellness Center located in Buntrock 112. The Wellness Center is open weekdays during chapel time and from 2-8 p.m.

Sexual Responsibility Week was Feb. 23-27. Wellness Center events included lectures on helping peers with sexual assault, a Condom Olympics event and ‘sexy consent,’ a celebration of healthy relationships. The next Wellness Center themed week will be Health and Wellness week, with events happening March 7-10.

mcmillap@stolaf.edu

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Letter to the Editor

You may have noticed a building labeled “Crisis Pregnancy Center” CPC in downtown Northfield. Perhaps you saw their advertisement for a free pregnancy test in the campus coupon booklet at the start of the semester. The ambiguity of the name causes many students to ask, “What is a Crisis Pregnancy Center?”

The January 2012 report by the NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation revealed some interesting information about CPCs in general. The CPC of Northfield’s slogan claims that it aims “to encourage, inform, and support.” Although this sounds like a valuable community resource, it is not. While the report does not refer specifically to the CPC of Northfield, it does say that some CPCs only encourage women to carry a pregnancy to term. They do not make abortion referrals, and they offer misleading information about the danger of abortion procedures.

The report states that tactics some CPCs use to discourage women from seeking abortions include claiming that having an abortion increases your risk of getting breast cancer or warning that after an abortion, you are more likely to have future miscarriages.

Some CPCs also commonly refer to “spiritual consequences” or “Post Abortion Stress Disorder” resulting from terminating a pregnancy. This information is misleading; although choosing to get an abortion is not an easy decision, many women feel that they made the right choice in undergoing this medical procedure.

The report revealed that CPCs are not medically licensed clinics. Sometimes employees wear lab coats, insinuating that they are trained medical personnel. This builds a false sense of confidence in clients that they are being given well-founded information. According to the report, some CPCs lie to women about how far along they are in their pregnancy so that by the time they seek an abortion, the procedure is more expensive and harder to attain.

CPCs may also provide ultrasounds. The report states that in some cases, these ultrasounds are of another woman’s pregnant womb. False information such as this could be life threatening to a mother if she has a pregnancy complication and has been led to believe that she and her child are in good health.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers target and advertise to women who are in desperate situations. Deliberately lying to women about their body and health care options is ethically wrong. Every woman deserves the right to determine her own future and be accurately informed about her range of options, regardless of what her decision may be.

If you or a friend has an unplanned pregnancy, you can learn the entire range of options for handling the situation – as well as preventative measures for the future – at Planned Parenthood, just 30 minutes north of St. Olaf in Apple Valley.

Clarification: This letter, published on Nov. 15, did not seek to imply any connection between the CPC of Northfield and the NARAL report cited in the letter. The CPC of Northfield is not mentioned in the NARAL report.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote