‘#MeToo’ movement needs to keep moving forward

by Hillary Twiford, news editor

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Hillary Twiford, news editor

A revolutionary movement sparked a conversation in 2017 about sexual harassment and appropriate behavior towards other people. A group of individuals, called the Silence Breakers by Time magazine, are those who have dealt with sexual assault/harassment and have stepped forward to hold their attackers responsible. A recent issue of Time details accounts of courageous men and women who decided to share their stories of experiencing sexual assault and harassment.

Sexual misconduct is a serious problem that prominently resurfaced in 2017. The “#MeToo” movement began with activist Tarana Burke in 2006, but the phrase was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano with her tweet, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
Over 68,000 people replied to the tweet in over three months. The enormous number of people who have come forward and keep coming forward exposes a pressing problem with today’s society. Over 80 women have accused film producer Harvey Weinstein alone of assault. Weinstein was one of the first men to fall due to accusations, many other powerful men going down after him. Even though some accusations have come from the past, they should still be considered seriously.

“I think there would be a lot of guilt and shame of “what did I do?” I think it’s good no matter how far from the the past,” said junior high social studies teacher Mrs. Kara Bechtel.

Finally, people are being held accountable for their own actions. Admittedly, some will not change their ways and will continue to neglect the consequences. However, it should be society’s duty to hold them to the same standards as everyone else, with no regard for status or wealth. This inexcusable behavior cannot continue. Men and women do not deserve to suffer because of sexual misconduct, so we should no longer discourage them from sharing their stories.

“The #MeToo movement, I think that one makes me the most sad,” said science teacher Mrs. Melissa Statman. “Victims of of sexual assault in the past did not have the support they need to heal from that tragic situation.”

Similarly, on Jan. 20, one year after Donald Trump was elected president and the first anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March, people flooded the streets of hundreds of cities, such as New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, and more. The protests were spawned from Trump and his administration’s policies on controversial issues, including immigration and healthcare. Others took to the streets to protest civil and women’s rights, as well as sexual harassment and assault.

“I agree with the women marching and I believe they should be speaking out about how they should be treated. I hope the men that aren’t acting appropriately are paying attention,”  said business and technology teacher Mr. Tim Houck.

In 2017, the world was reminded that sexual assault and harassment is a frequent, yet devastating occurrence. The Silence Breakers shaped the movement that began a serious discussion of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and the common workplace. In 2018, we have to keep moving forward as a society and hope the movement does not stop until sexual assault does.

YouTuber sparks controversy with shocking video

by Kassie Boyd, news editor

YouTube celebrity Logan Paul, who rose to fame on the popular app Vine in 2013, has come under fire for posting a video entitled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” which was quickly deleted, but not before garnering nearly three million views.

Paul begins the video by saying: “This is not clickbait. This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted on this channel and this is the most circumstantially surreal event that has ever happened in my life.”

Paul and a group of friends filmed their experience in Japan’s Aokigahara. The forest, located near Mount Fuji, holds the tragic title of the second most popular place to commit suicide (the first is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco). The video shows a hanging victim, unblurred and uncensored, with the exception of his face. Japan adheres to much stricter privacy laws than the United States, and while Paul will avoid legal trouble, he demonstrates a massive lack of respect for the deceased man, and Japanese culture in general.

Other than blatant disregard for cultural and emotional sensitivity, Paul spends the entire video perpetuating the American stereotype: loud and ill-mannered. While the body is certainly the most shocking part of the video, it’s not the only problematic part of Paul’s trip to Japan.

Paul and company spent the entirety of their trip making a mockery of Japanese culture. He dresses up in Kimonos and throws Poké Balls at unsuspecting people, he destroys things in stores and shoves dead fish and squid into stranger’s faces.

The video was only up for a few hours. It was deleted and followed by a half-hearted apology that placed the blame on everything and everyone but himself. It’s important to note that his apology video was monetized, meaning Paul ultimately profited from this whole ordeal.

YouTube came under fire following Paul’s video, for allowing it to trend and for not taking harsher action. Many claimed that Paul’s video violated Youtube’s strict content laws about privacy and disturbing imagery.

Following the blowback, Youtube dropped Paul from their YouTube Red comedy “Foursome,” and set aside any original material Paul was working on. He was cut from Google Preferred, a premium ad program that runs on the top five percent of Youtube channels. While Paul will still make money off his videos, he won’t make nearly as much.

Subscribers and non-subscribers alike denounced his actions. “I think what he posted was extremely offensive to people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and/or depression,” said junior Mikayla Balog. “It’s also offensive to Japanese culture and the family of the deceased.”    

YouTube’s official statement included a reminder of their partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a condemnation of Paul’s actions. Many said YouTube did too little, too late.

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Paul said in a recent video. He plans to return to vlogging soon, most likely hoping the whole incident will blow over.

Maybe it will; people forget or ignore issues and troublesome past in order to focus solely on artistic matter.

But his reputation has taken a massive, and well-deserved blow.

Saegertown draws the line. . . two inches above the knee

by Scout Van Cise and Hannah Nicholson, editor in chief and opinion editor

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Editorial Cartoon by Morgan Radwick, staff writer

On the second day of school, all students were pulled out of class and called into the auditorium by grade level to discuss various school policies and the idea of whether or not school is a fashion show. According to new assistant principal Mrs. Kylene Koper, it is not.

The student handbook says, “Saegertown Jr. – Sr. High School strives to promote a businesslike atmosphere and encourages all to ‘dress for success.’” This implies business casual attire for students and teachers alike. “The dress code prohibits dresses and skirts shorter than a notecard width or two inches above the knee (even with leggings or tights underneath), clothing, piercings, and tattoos that are distracting or interfere with the educational process, shirts with straps narrower than two inches in width, clothing with excessive holes or holes that expose skin higher than two inches above the knee, excessively torn, frayed, or unlaundered clothing, hats, headbands, bandanas, ‘hip hugger’ pants below the navel, chains, and pajama pants with or without pockets. Face makeup and hair ‘must be in accordance with cultural and community standards, and must not attract undue attention, cause a disruption in the classroom, or be considered to be potentially harmful to younger impressionable students.’”

Some students have accused the dresscode of being sexist. Shocking, right, considering that the current policy actually addresses men twice, regarding loose fitting pants and “wife-beaters.” According to Mrs. Koper, “Girls, you have so many opportunities or different things to be able to wear that it becomes an issue. I get that most of the time it may appear sexist because girls have, like I said, so many other opportunities.”

PENNCREST school board policy 221 states, “The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that all rules and procedures implementing this policy impose only the minimum necessary restrictions on the exercise of the student’s taste and individuality.” This clarifies that students do indeed have freedom of expression and are permitted to wear whatever they want within reason.  The keyword here is “minimum” restrictions, so is it really necessary for the faculty to whip out a notecard to ensure the length of our dresses and skirts are not an educational distraction? In reality, students are sitting in a desk for the majority of their day anyway, so the length of their dresses and skirts are hardly seen let alone a distraction. Is it necessary to remove students from class if their clothing is deemed inappropriate rather than allow them the education that they are there to receive?

Despite the unpopular changes to the policy, students have found loopholes in the dress code. Many females with holes in their jeans wear leggings or tights underneath to prevent revealing skin. Students are able to wear leggings/yoga pants with a long shirt that covers the front and the back of the upper thigh and hip regions. Hats and pajamas can be worn on designated days organized by the Key Club once per month. Some of the dress code prohibitions are not regularly enforced, so while some students may get caught violating the dress code, others may not be for wearing similar apparel.

The dress code in the official student handbook has not been updated since last year, and the policies are not uniform with what is enforced, causing more unnecessary confusion. Despite what feels to some like excessive interdictions and the targeting of teenage girls, students deserve a clear and consistently enforced code. This poses the question: are we currently being distracted by our dresses, or our are we actually distracted by the dress code itself?

Should college visit days count toward total student absences?

by Hannah Nicholson, opinion editor

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Hannah Nicholson

Many seniors are starting the process of applying to colleges, and one part of that process is college visits. Seniors must decide what environment would best suit them for the next two to four years of their education, and the best way to get a feel for universities is to visit in person.  Unfortunately, the current school policy decrees that college visits count toward the 10 excused absences a student has each year. Many seniors disagree with this decision.

In order to be excused for a college visit, Saegertown’s policy requires that students bring a note from an admissions counselor saying they were at the college on the day they were absent. “Technically by now we want kids to be applying. They should tour during the summer when they do their senior projects,” said guidance counselor Rose Watt.

With the current system, students who did not tour over the summer, like Stefanie Arblaster, are stuck using their excused absence days for college visits. “I understand why that rule is in place, but they should take into consideration that a lot of people make decisions about college during the school year, and that it’s pretty important that we tour a school where we might spend the next four years,” Arblaster said.

Many colleges also invite seniors to come back for different activities during the Fall to show them what campus life is really like. Seniors are invited to sit in on college classes, which can be important if a student is concerned about class size at larger colleges.

Visiting a college during the summer only shows students what the campus looks like, and not what it feels like. “I think visiting a college is important because we’re going to spend the next 4 years or more there, so it’s important to get a feel what the campus is like and what kind of education it provides,” Arblaster said.

Board policy 204 says “The board may excuse a student from school attendance to participate in an educational tour or trip not sponsored by the district,” but that “ the board may limit the number and durations of tours and trips for which excused absences may be granted to a student during the school term.”

While this is the board policy, it is based in Pa. School Code. This law was last reviewed in 2004, and it is time for it to be updated to reflect student needs.  Bottom line, the policy surrounding college visits and student absence is unfair to students. Seniors should not be charged absence days when they are trying to make informed decisions about their futures.

Uggs: hot or not?

By Stefanie Arblaster, website editor

It’s cold outside, and chances are you’re probably making some changes to your wardrobe. Whether it be sweaters or scarves, we all have some sort of attire we break out when the temperatures drop. And UGGs, the authentic Australian sheepskin boot, are seen on almost everyone during this time of year.  

UGGs were created by Australian surfer Brian Smith in 1978 and are made from sheepskin and suede, creating a comfortable, stylish boot that will keep your feet warm. On average,  the boots retail for around $200.

Sophomore Miquel Robison is an avid owner of UGGs. Between she and her four sisters, they’ve owned eight pairs. “My favorite pair definitely have to be my plain tan ones because I can wear them with almost anything,” said Robison.

Although these shoes are a classic for most people this season, they’ve caused some controversy throughout the years. In 2007, actress and model Pamela Anderson called for a boycott of the UGG boots because they’re made from sheepskin. Technically, sheepskin is a by-product of the brand, meaning that no sheep are killed during the production of UGGs and the amount of skin they use is limited. Senior and sheep herder Austin Brown confirmed this fact. “The meat is the most valuable part of the animal. The skin is just a by-product of the meat industry,” said Brown.

The brand keeps strict regulations on the suppliers they endorse to meet specific animal welfare policies and try to alleviate animal cruelty as much as possible. You can read their animal welfare faqs at ugg.com.

Senior Morgan Kightlinger is an advocate for animal welfare. After learning how the brand uses actual animal fur, she threw out her UGGS and purchased Bearpaws, a cheaper and more animal friendly alternative to UGGs. “I refused to have a pair (of UGGs). It makes me sad to really have anything with real animal fur,” said Kightlinger.