Story by Courtney Burleigh
As the years go by, it is safe to assume that society’s views on different issues and topics change over time. It is not unusual for the newer generations to prioritize different issues and have varying perspectives that differ from those of earlier generations, including topics that may have been considered unpleasant or even uncomfortable to discuss. Such topics include mental health, politics and even education. All of these have carried some relevance in society for decades.
Millennials Embrace Mental Health
Mental health is a topic that is no stranger to most millennials. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, millennials grew up hearing about depression, suicide, anxiety and eating disorders. Exposure to such information could suggest why younger generations have become more accepting of others with mental illnesses or prompting them to speak out and get help. However, this was not always the case. Humanities Dean Toni Castillo said when she was younger, the topic of mental health in the 1960s was rarely discussed openly. “Mental health issues were generally thought of as a weakness or oddity rather than an actual illness,” Castillo said. “Certainly alcoholism and drug addiction were viewed back then as a character failing rather than an illness. The stigma was being labeled as a person of weak character, or as a criminal.”
When the United States entered the Vietnam War in 1965, the links between mental health and trauma began to surface. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it was not until 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association officially recognized and named post-traumatic stress disorder as a mental disorder. “Conditions we would now define as bipolar disorder or PTSD were not openly discussed because the main treatment was institutionalization,” Castillo said. “However ... the concept of counseling had begun to emerge, and it [created] a dividing line, with some—especially older generation people—scoffing and ridiculing those who sought treatment.” Castillo continued to describe how a contrast began to form between the older and younger generations on the topic of mental illness, saying the younger generations found the treatments for mental illness “intriguing” and even “full of possibilities.” By the late-‘90s and early-2000s, the stigma began to dissipate. Rose State Political Science Professor Dr. Emily Stacey said society began to “open up.” “It was during the 2000s that we as a society started to be more open about mental health issues,” Stacey said. “From the cultural
and societal level, [we] did see an opening of minds in relation to mental health.”
Now that society began to shift its perspective, how likely were individuals to seek help?
“High,” said Stacey. “I was in therapy for most of my teenage years into my freshman year of college, and I recommend it for
anyone that needs to work through issues of any sort.”
Generational Difference in Higher Education
While some students were studying politics, others decided to stop studying altogether. According to NPR.org, a college education to baby boomers was not “as critical to a middle-class lifestyle.”
Castillo said that after finishing high school, she “moved very slowly” when it came to balancing life and college.
“Out of necessity, I became independent at a very young age, so I worked full-time through college to support myself,” she said, adding that she focused on paying bills, buying groceries and finding study time. “At that time, I didn’t think of college as means to a better economic future as most students do today ... It wasn’t until my first semester in graduate school that I began to link education and employment.”
Stacey stated something similar, saying she was lucky enough to be able to focus on what she loved, but what about today’s students? “I am not sure that I was as focused on a career path as I should have been when I was going through my undergraduate,” Stacey said. “[But] I think that students today are focused more on finding a suitable and lucrative career path, which is good, but [they] may be missing some of the ‘getting to know yourself’ part of college. This is important too.”
She may be correct. According to a Gallup poll cited by the Washington Post, only 38 percent of millennials with bachelor’s
degrees thought their higher education was worth it, and that they saw their degree as “the only entry ticket for any good job.”
On the contrary, the majority of millennials seem to disagree with this sentiment. The younger generations are beginning to think they can be just as successful without a college degree, similar to what baby boomers once did. According to Pew Research Center, 42 percent of baby boomers have bachelor’s degrees, with at least 388,000 returning to college. It can be said that among some millennials, opinions about higher education may have come full circle, yet 61 percent remain in college, according to Pew data. Discussing topics like mental health has not always been an easy task. However, time has proven that with proper research and exposure, society will become more informed, which reduces stigma and bias against mental health.
The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
Science fiction author H.G. Wells offers a riveting tale about a scientist who goes on a journey through time and stumbles upon a futuristic world filled with fantastical beings. His awesome adventure intrigues and horrifies his fellow scientists with the frightening descriptions of what awaits humanity in the distant future. The scientist himself details his dangerous journey.
$5.99 paperback on amazon.com
The Queen of Water - Laura Resau & Maria Virginia Farinango
Inspired by a true story, this book is a fictional account of a Quichua (Ecuadorian indigenous group)
girl unknowingly sold into slavery by her parents. Virginia spends most of her childhood serving an upper-class mestizo family and enduring abuse at their hands. The story allows readers to feel Virginia’s sorrows and triumphs as her life takes her down various roads.
$9.99 paperback & Kindle on amazon.com
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
This fictional story depicts a stark glimpse into
the human condition. The book follows a boy’s
journey from affluence as an architect’s son to a
refugee in the United States and later to a suc-
cessful author. Set in Afghanistan prior to Taliban rule, this story covers a broad array of topics, including an unlikely friendship, discrimination,
family secrets, betrayal, the darkness of the
human mind and the endurance of the human spirit when faced with insurmountable odds.
$11.91 paperback & $11.99 Kindle on amazon.com.
Story by Yesenia Gonzalez
Photos by Yesenia Gonzalez & Michelle Rojano
Water is the source of life on earth. When looking for life on other planets, one of the first signs scientists look for is any amount of water. More than 70 percent of the earth is covered in this resource and human beings cannot survive more than three days without it. At any given moment, different parts of the world exhibit unique weather patterns with profound effects on the ecosystem. Natural weather events, like floods, droughts and tornadoes are some of the most common in Oklahoma.
Weather occurs in cycles and one way that scientists can predict incoming disasters is by looking at weather patterns. Oklahoma is no different and its varied landscaping makes for a wide variety of inclement weather activity. Oklahoma is prone to drought because of factors like the dry line, which means there is low moisture in the atmosphere. Wildfire dangers emerge when there is a lack of rain, dry air, high winds and low dew points over a region. Wildfires are one of the negative consequences of periods of intense drought.
According to Steve Carano, professor of atmospheric science and geosciences coordinator, in 2011, Oklahoma had more than 50 days with temperatures over 100 degrees. If 100-degree weather is not dry, but rather muggy and moist, there is a potential risk for other types of severe weather outbreaks. As the environment becomes more unstable, tornado chances increase. The weather during 2011 proved deadly, with the Oklahoma Forestry Services reporting 1,745 fires that blazed across Oklahoma. It was a different story for May 20, 2013, with the resulting weather being just as deadly. A category EF5 tornado ravaged central Oklahoma, with Moore enduring the heaviest damage. A tornado forms when cold, dry air converges with warm, moist air and that combination creates instability in the atmosphere. Thunderstorms precede tornadoes but can increase in severity depending on how unstable the environment is at the time.
One of the reasons Western Oklahoma exhibits a different climate than that of the dry, eastern region is that the western part of the state faces the Rocky Mountains. Its location gives it a wide gap in the diurnal temperature. A diurnal range of temperature is the difference between the highest and lowest daily temperatures. When the diurnal temperature difference is wide, there is an increased risk for the atmospheric instability that causes thunderstorms, floods and tornadoes.
According to Professor of Environmental Science and Geosciences Coordinator Daniel Ratcliff, there is no real way for humans to prevent droughts; in fact, one of the biggest challenges in water preservation is the copious amount needed by the agricultural industry.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimated that agriculture accounted for about 80 percent of the United States’ consumptive water use. Oklahoma is right in the middle of a region known as the central plains, which hosts other dry, flat areas. Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana are the other states located in the central plains. Economic research conducted in 2017 by the United States Department of Agriculture concluded that Oklahoma is the state with the fourth highest number of farms in the US, the total sum being about 77,200. Texas is the top farm state in the United States, with about 240,000. In the case of Oklahoma, regions in the western half of the state are prone to dry, arid conditions while the eastern half of the state receives more precipitation.
Although human intervention cannot prevent Oklahoma’s inevitable droughts, scientists, farmers, agricultural engineers and utility companies take steps to mitigate the consequences of Oklahoma’s droughts.
Xeriscaping is a practice where farmers place plant species that consume less water in areas prone to drought. Water laws during the summer time are instilled by different municipalities across the state, each law limiting the amount of water people can use to water their gardens and at what times. Oklahoma has the most man-made lakes in the United States. Since Oklahoma is a flat, dry state, man-made lakes have one primary function: underground water storage. Lake Hefner, Stanley Draper and Overholser are all man-made lakes that serve as water storage.
Lake Stanley Draper specifically functions as an aqueduct. The way an aqueduct functions is that when the lake fills with water, a series of ducts and canals transport that water to the regions it serves. Lake Thunderbird also has an aqueduct that supplies water to Midwest City and Norman. Oklahoma’s eastern half is more prone to flooding than the western half, so it is especially important for artificial lakes to collect some of the excess to place less of a burden on the area.
“The No. 1 cause of weather-related fatalities is drowning,” said Professor and Director of Emergency Management Jackie Wright.
In 2015, record flooding impacted eastern Oklahoma. The Red River was backing up to the dam, which could not keep up with the heavy rainfall that hit the state. When a natural disaster hits Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Emergency Management Department oversees ensuring the safety of those affected. Oklahoma is one of only about 20 percent of the U.S. whose emergency department is not directed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Rather, it is overseen by Oklahoma’s Department of Homeland Security as an office under public safety instead of being its own department.
During the 2015 eastern Oklahoma floods, disaster declarations informed residents of the incoming dangerous road conditions. According to Wright, fatalities caused by floods are common because people do not respect dangerous flood waters.
Severe weather events do not only impact human lives but can also bring about negative consequences to wildlife. According to Ratcliff, since every habitat is different, organisms are adapted to varying conditions. What may not greatly affect one ecosystem can bring about detrimental effects to another. Species who are adjusted to dry climates like those of Western Oklahoma would not experience particularly adverse effects during a drought but organisms who live in wetland environments would receive a greater impact. Environments like bogs, marshes and wetlands contain microorganisms who contribute to nourishing the soil. Without water, those microorganisms would not be able to thrive and keep the habitat healthy.
“Those [animals] which have adaptations that are tied to an aquatic environment [are more vulnerable to extreme drought],” Professor of Life Science Dr. Cory Rubel said. “This obviously includes fish which require water as their habitat, but also, droughts can affect the level, temperature and salinity of water which can cause detrimental consequences. But other animals as well, such as those whose reproduction is tied to water, [like] the amphibians, and animals whose food source requires water, which can include reptiles, birds and mammals.”
Long-term versus short-term droughts can mean all the difference for plant and animal species when it comes to survival. Ratcliff explained that droughts increase evaporation in the soil. In a short-term drought, the earth can regain that lost moisture content, but extended droughts can have permanent effects. Droughts are not unique to the 21st century. In fact, as severe as weather events may appear during certain years, severe weather patterns are nothing new. Ratcliff used the Ancient Pueblos of the Four Corners region as an example of the result of a severe drought that occurred more than 3,000 years ago. The region is known for its dry cliffs that formed during the drought and housed Native American groups. Today, the cliffs remain, a picture of the far-reaching effects of long-term arid conditions.
“Brief droughts are usually recoverable. Organisms often have variations in populations that allow for survival of some members during the drought that recover fully when conditions return to normal. Organisms with many offspring allow for a high mortality, yet those few that survive often survive until adulthood. However, most populations will see a decline in population due to many factors including loss of habitat, reproduction, food source, fires, and an increase in disease due to organisms crowding together by the remaining water sources,” Rubel said.
Water is a limiting factor when it comes to population growth among humans. Currently, there are about 7.5 billion people inhabiting the earth. Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson from Harvard University is among the scientists who believe that the earth has a capacity to carry, at most, 10 billion people. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates that the total global population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050. There are various solutions to alleviate droughts and reduce water consumption, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
Genetically-modified crops are nothing new, but Ratcliff thinks that talks of genetically modifying crops to consume less water may increase in the coming years. Some of the benefits of genetically modifying crops are lower water consumption and increased drought resistance. However, genetically modifying plants reduces biodiversity among species. Without biodiversity, a disease could easily wipe out an entire plant species to extinction because all the plants are engineered to be alike. Cloud seeding is another widely debated topic. Seeding a cloud means to insert more particles in it so that it can produce more condensation, which in turn produces rain. While cloud seeding has the potential to relieve areas in long-term droughts, it can also cause floods and other types of damaging, inclement weather to the area or even surrounding states.
“Now, cloud seeding is just one of those things, what we’re doing in the cloud seeding [process] is we’re putting condensation nuclei in the atmosphere and, so, moisture will condense upon those particles and make clouds and hopefully it will precipitate. Well, let’s say we, like you said, set a cloud seed here and it goes over to Arkansas and they have ten inches of rain and people die and lose their homes. Well, you know, somebody’s gonna be paying the piper for that. So, I think that’s the big reason why they don’t do a lot of cloud seeding; because of [potential] lawsuits,” Carano said.
Water can be a resource that many take for granted. After all, more than 70 percent of the earth being covered in a single resource makes it appear abundant but there are various factors to consider. Only about one percent of all water on earth is readily available for human consumption. As the world population increases, so will the demand for natural resources, which can put a strain on the earth. Ratcliff mentioned a quote by Benjamin Franklin that summarizes the necessity to be mindful of water consumption:
“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”
Story by Kessley Miller
Photo by Julie Archer
For this issue’s “What’s in my bag?,” we interviewed Philosophy Professor Dr. Guy Crain. Crain is a big believer in personal responsibility and choices to improve the world. He dropped the near war-torn lunch bag onto the table. It was a plastic, reusable bag that one would likely get for free as some kind of promotion. In his own words, here is what Crain carried in his bag and why.
Fried Rice & Buttermilk
You can see food items and you can so associate people with them and suddenly those reactions to food can be reactions to people and their way of life. If one sees this food as particularly foreign then people who are comfortable with that become foreign to me and it’s interesting that food can be divisive in that sense. I think about my grandpa, he didn’t grow up on a farm, but he had friends that did and he loved fresh buttermilk, and to my 4-year-old ears, that sounded disgusting. But it’s interesting to look at these two disparate groups this food represents and what they think about each other, and, what’s funny, is these foods are tied up into the tribal markers that underpins what these two think of each other. Some of that [integration] is improving. In Oklahoma in 2018, you could get sushi, Korean or Arab food, and when I was a kid, you couldn’t. Now there’s entire generations that don’t know any different from having a Chinese buffet on every corner and falafel place on ... every third corner. But the options are still there to silo yourself pretty easily.
It’s interesting to me still that the most cost-effective options are in the least nutritious kinds of foods. So those most struggling need to buy the things least replenishing to their bodies. It bothers me to think about. It’s not just about eating picky, but the way in which the options set before you train your preferences. Think about what a vicious loop that might be. Very typically, at a warehouse I worked at, our days were 12 hours long. If that’s what someone is doing day in and day out, and then trying to replenish the body with quarter pounders, it doesn’t work out super well. It’s easy to miss the degree to which food plays an important role in maintaining classes as they are and maintaining tribes as they are. So many of our problems are connected to food in ways we don’t understand. Food is a big component of healthcare seeing as Twinkies are cheaper than apples. The question being asked is ‘can we engineer a safe Twinkie?’ but to me that grossly misses the point.
One thing that strikes me is people who have a degree of a picky palate, is that there’s not a sense of ‘I know
what it’s like to have produced my food,’ and this is especially true in international markets. So like for every 10 people that like chicken nuggets, about seven of them would never make them themselves. I’m not saying you have to go kill all your food or you’re a hypocrite, that’s not true. But being so far removed from your food source can give you a whitewashed view of what that food is. The proportion of these things would change. If I had to think hard about chicken death, I may not stop eating chicken, but I may not think I should eat chicken for every meal. When you’re thinking of what you’re asking from nature, I think a significant number of people would ask less. I think being more familiar with these practices would change people’s food pyramids. What also dawned on me is the power of food to unify. Think of how big of a deal it is to share a meal with a person, the kind of social invitation that it constitutes. It seems to me then it is a big deal to be able to share food with a person unlike you which could involve sharing food unlike what you’ve really had. I’m not even talking about something radical, just the most basic kind of hospitality in that sense is a massive bridge into what a person may not even realize is an intimate tribalism, a gut reaction to what you want to eat; would I go eat there, why not? What am I willing to call weird and normal? And I don’t think people have a sense of how pregnant those terms are, ‘weird’ and ‘normal.’ There’s a very innocent way to hear ‘oh, that’s weird’ or ‘oh’ as in you’re not accustomed to it, but I think you get to a point where it means much more than that ‘oh, it’s not normal,’ it’s more about how there’s this default setting of how these trappings ought to be for everyone and that where wars start and all that.
Story & Photos by Michelle Rojano
Life can be stressful for a lot of people, myself included. Staying healthy can be tough. The responsibilities that come with being an adult can leave our health in the back burner. Learning to prioritize your health, whether you want to lose weight or simply feel better, is important. I am not a dietitian or personal trainer. I am simply an average person sharing their story to help others learn from my mistakes and hopefully inspire others to find their best health. Follow @chelly788 on Instagram to track my 5K and health progress in between publications.
Gaining weight is not the end of the world. In my case, I think I needed a few extra pounds; however, 25 is pushing it. I always had a thinner build and played tennis most of my teenage years. These two factors were key to staying thin throughout my teenage years.
My Body Dysmorphia
I never realized I had spent my entire high school career looking in the mirror and seeing myself as “fat.” My perspective, after gaining a considerable amount of weight, has changed. Knowing how skewed my perspective was makes me wonder if I can trust myself now.
Analyzing my Habits
I began working full-time and attending college full-time. This had a bigger impact on my weight than I expected. I went from eating home-cooked meals at least twice a week to eating junk food for every single meal of the day. Not to mention, I work retail, which I dislike. Food became my reward for showing up to work. Taking a lunch was the most exciting part of my work day, so I indulged. Showing up to work earned me a Starbucks drink, maybe a breakfast sandwich.
Health and Weight
Birth control is a great option for many but with it comes many side effects. Everyone has different experiences, but I truly believe this has contributed to my weight gain.
How I Decided to Lose Weight
I realized, given my routines, eating home-cooked meals was unrealistic. Instead, I decided to make conscious healthy choices about my meals and portions. For example, if I wanted to grab Starbucks before work, I ordered a low calorie coffee or tea in a smaller size. I also picked up the habit of grabbing kids meals whenever possible. I realized ordering larger meals either caused me to eat more or waste food.
One huge move to a healthier lifestyle I have made is cancelling my gym membership and instead signing up for a 5K race. I realized I avoided the gym because I hated it. I felt like people stared at me and judged me. I paid a monthly membership and only visited once a month. On the other hand, paying to participate for a race motivated me to run regularly.
My Journey to 5K
I began running in the beginning of August. My first run was devastating and eye opening. I ran a little more than 3 miles. Really I ran less than a mile and walked for most of it trying to catch my breath and not throw up. It was upsetting to realize I would not be able to run for about half a mile before having to stop for a breath. What if I ever found myself in a life or death situation? I ran a mile in about 15 minutes.
In hindsight, running a 5K from the start was probably too much to begin with. Despite that, knowing I was able to complete it, even at my worst, was a relief. The next day, I was so sore I could not walk properly. After recovering, running the same distance two days later, I was able to shave off a minute. Currently, I run a mile in less than 12 minutes. Running is not only getting easier, but I see myself running more than before. Fewer walking breaks and faster miles.
How I Track Progress
I used my Fitbit Versa at first to track my run. Recently, I switched to the Galaxy watch. The Fitbit and Samsung Health apps also have other useful tools, like tracking water and food intake and weight. I don’t weigh myself regularly or keep track of progress through weight loss. Focusing on losing weight instead of feeling healthy about my choices put me in a bad place. Running helps lose weight, but I am also building muscles I didn’t have before so my weight won’t change for awhile. In the future, I plan to buy a smart scale to pair with my app, but currently it is not the best option for me.
What I Have Learned So Far
I think a benefit of gaining weight and the journey to lose it is that I learned a lot about my body and weight gain. People don’t gain weight overnight. The process is gradual and it takes several months for the person to notice. It’s easy to ignore the signs and fall into a cycle of bad habits. My biggest hope in this is that I learn and practice good habits. I hope I can make running a normal part of my routine one day, and I hope smaller portions become normal portions of food.