Monday, December 1, 2014

There Are Stupid Questions

            Since Kindergarten I’ve heard the words, “There are no stupid questions,” repeated by authority figures time after time.  There is certainly something to be said about embracing the freedom of education that we are lucky enough to enjoy in the United States.  Still, I find there comes a time when kids need to be told the truth about questions.  Life isn’t an elementary school classroom, and the ugly truth is that there are stupid questions.
            This adage promotes the type of creativity and exploration that allows children to grow immensely.  To have the power and audacity to question authority in a learning environment is prerequisite to learning how to think as an individual.  In school, kids have the opportunity to soak up as much knowledge as they can before graduating to a life of responsibility and independence.
            The negative side effect of this principle, however, is that students become completely dependent on being given the answers rather than seeking the answers themselves.  Even in college classrooms, I constantly witness intelligent students asking professors to repeat definitions that are clearly printed in the reading, or bolded on that day’s PowerPoint presentation.  So, despite the stupid questions mantra, I struggle to believe that every lazy reach for basic information is really a valuable use of class time.
            Obviously, there are instances of simple questions that serve to clarify or elaborate on any given topic of study; this post does not intend to negate the use of questions as another tool for learning.  Instead, what I’d like to focus on is the thoughtfulness exhibited throughout classrooms.  The problem lies in the relationship between teacher and student; in order for questions to be worthwhile for the class, the exchange must be a dialogue, not a lecture.
            The idea is that if students ask interesting, derivative questions, the teacher will give specific, extensive answers.  In essence, the answer can only be as good as the question that prompts it.  So, perhaps there are no bad questions.  Yet, the deeper we delve into the subject matter, the more our teachers have to work with.  If we ask for the definition, I’m afraid that’s all we’ll get.  If we dare to go further, to reach, to leave our comfort zones, that is when we truly learn.
            Students who ask the professor for the definition of each term will usually get the answers they seek, even if they could have found those answers themselves by simply opening the textbook.  These kinds of students will take diligent notes; they’re not slackers, they’d just rather ask than read.  These individuals will probably even score well on the tests; definitions are gold on multiple-choice exams.

            Nevertheless, you’ll never hear me ask one of these questions.  When I raise my hand in class it’s because I have to something to say.  I like to ask questions that not only beg the response of the teacher, but also ones that seek the reaction of my peers.  A classroom is a community—one whose growth is directly correlated to the effort exhibited by both the students and the teacher, together—and stupid questions drag that community down.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Enough Is Enough

You can say what you will about hazing, but at this point it is clear that there are bigger issues happening on Emory’s campus.  Pledging a fraternity is a decision that individuals make, the majority of whom are fully aware of the gravity of that decision.  What goes on in fraternity basements may seem cruel and unusual, even scary to outsiders, but the recurring issue of sexual abuse on campus is more alarming than any instance of eating dog food or drinking vodka.  Sexual assault simply cannot be tolerated on a college campus.
            What is nauseating about the current situation is that there is no obvious solution.  It is easy to throw a house off campus or expel an individual when they commit a heinous act, but it shouldn’t come down to that.  The issue at hand is clearly one of culture; sexual assault cannot be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  This is a campus-wide issue.  It should be a basic right of students to feel safe on the campus they call home for four years.  Nobody wants to live in constant fear of their personal wellbeing.
            I am impressed with IFC’s swift reaction to the most recent case—we cannot continue to support a culture that breeds disrespect and neglect.  It would be na├»ve to dismiss this social freeze as the many taking the fall for the actions of a few.  This issue is one that continues to arise and will not cease to do so until it is addressed directly.  Finally a governing body at Emory has decided to attack a problem at its heart.
            We are the ones with the power here.  Whether or not fraternities continue to be a significant presence at Emory and across the country remains to be seen, but, the manner in which the student body acts socially must change.  This is an opportunity for the community as a whole to grow.  Instead of erasing problems when they occur, we have to take actions to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.
The entire campus would benefit from education on sexual assault; I know I’m hardly educated on the subject, at least not formally.  I’ve been lectured on drinking responsibly, and the proper use of condoms, and birth control on countless occasions, but I’ve never been exposed to healthy dialogue regarding sexual assault and its prevention.  It is our responsibility as students to respect our peers and foster a community that values the safety of its constituents.  IFC has shown that it is ready to make swift and powerful motions to change the ugly reality that current students are living in.

            In a culture where, for many, a night out means getting blackout and going to Maggie’s; in a culture where, for many, sexual conquest is glorified above all else; in a culture where, for many, the campus feels like anything but home; it is our duty to reevaluate how we interact with the people around us.  I’d like to personally thank IFC for taking such a strong stand against the abuse that plagues campuses across the country.  This is no longer about institutions or organizations; this is about community.  We need to save ours before it’s too late.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Walk In Their Shoes

            Student Parking Only has served me well as an outlet for my personal opinions.  There I’ve shared small anecdotes and bouts of wisdom that I think are relevant in our everyday lives.  Yet, lately I’ve felt a void that I have been unable to fill with the occasional blog post.
What I’ve come to realize is that there is an inherent flaw in trying to represent a community with just one voice.  I believe that in my readership there is a wealth of opinions and insights that goes largely unrepresented in my blog that has become so personal.  As my good friend, Michael, likes to say, “Everything is relative.”  We need to see issues from more than one side to claim any sort of knowledge on a subject.
A glaring problem I see with society today is that we do not make judgments with regard to the people at the heart of the issue.  We see headlines flashing up and down Facebook, tiny vignettes flowing through our brain with no filter.  Too often, it seems, the massive amount of information that we retain is dictated by our search history and friends list as opposed to a natural yearning for enrichment.
            So, I present to you, A Walk In Their Shoes.  With this addition to Student Parking Only, I hope to open a new window into the lives of the people that I have tried to serve on my own for the past three years.  This is a space where individuals will share their own perspectives—a place where we can see the world, not from the ever present eye of the media, but rather, from the eyes of the people living in it.
            I hope to attract not only a diverse audience, but more importantly, a diverse cast of authors to offer meaningful content from individual perspectives.  I am calling for people with passions that go unrecognized.   People with missions that they hope to achieve.  People with visions for the future that they believe in wholeheartedly.
            Together, we can create a forum for uncovering perspective.  We can create a venue for hosting the brilliant ventures and initiatives we value so deeply.  This is an opportunity for us to tell the stories that would otherwise go untold.
            So, if you have a story, a passion, an alternative lifestyle, anything that you think might be of interest to the world if only presented from a different perspective, please send me a piece.  I want your voices to be heard.  I want your ideas to be understood in a new light.  I want the world to take a walk in your shoes.

Feel free to send me an email at

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Extra Slow Play

            Anyone who reads this blog knows that I don’t go to the bar looking for a one night stand.  I don’t believe in the seek and destroy approach that a lot of guys take with them on nights out.  I hesitate to throw myself at a girl before I know a thing or two about her, and perhaps more importantly, before she knows a thing or two about me.  Herein lies the beauty of the extra slow play.
            What if I told you that there’s more to romance than abs and expensive drinks?  This is not to suggest that looking good or displaying generosity are unattractive qualities, rather, that they are merely a piece to the puzzle.  A strong jawline and a deep bank account will certainly get you somewhere, but perhaps not exactly where you want to go.
            The fundamental issue with trying to pick up girls at a bar is that the setting highlights a few qualities and marginalizes the rest.  I have no problem with buying a girl a drink; in fact, I very much enjoy doing so.  On the other hand, I’ve had very little success telling tipsy girls in high-heels about my blog.  At a bar, people look for a very narrow range of character.  I often find the constraints of this nightlife culture to be to my disadvantage.
            I’ve had far more success, romantically, using the extra slow play.  This technique is certainly not for everyone—it requires extreme patience and discipline.  The idea is that by building a relationship based on conversation, shared interests, and a basic friendly compatibility, you are much more likely to foster a fulfilling romance.  Pulling a hot girl at a bar is all well and good, but I don’t want to date someone based on the fact that they like tequila shots as much as I do or simply because they have blond hair.  Likewise, I’d rather not have a girl pass her final judgment on me after one night of drinks and empty conversation.

            So, when I meet a girl at a bar whom I’m genuinely interested in, I tend to run the other way.  I buy her a drink, we have a nice chat, and if I really like her, I wish her goodnight.  Sometimes I see a text from her an hour later.  Sometimes I see her walk out with another guy.  Sometimes I never see her again.  Nevertheless, the ones who are worth it always seem to come back for more, and that is the beauty of the extra slow play.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It Wasn't About Winning

Guest Post by Michael Ginsburg

May 30th, 2014 was the last time the Orioles lost four games in a row. While many criticized us for not having a premiere first baseman or an established ace heading the rotation, manager Buck Showalter again proved why he deserves manager of the year. The Orioles seemed invincible, leading the league in home runs with a bullpen that could shut down any team. But Showalter isn’t going to win manager of the year, and the Orioles didn’t make it to the World Series. 

I’ve never watched so many Orioles games in one season. I was born in 1994 and have lived through one of the worst spans of baseball in Orioles history. My parents and grandparents always told me how fun it was to go to Memorial Stadium and watch Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, all hall of famers. But as the story goes, the Orioles had losing seasons from 1998 all the way until 2012, in essence, the entirety of my fanhood. 

I’ve gone to every Ravens home game that I've been in Baltimore, playoffs included. I witnessed Michael Jordan’s last game as a basketball player in DC, and Cal Ripken's last game in Baltimore. I was at the Super Bowl when the Ravens held off the 49ers on the goal line to win. Amidst all of this, the Orioles winning the AL East has easily been the pinnacle of my fanhood. I can’t explain how exciting it was to go from the laughing stock of the league to the team that everyone talks about. It was amazing, a miracle, orioles magic, meant to be. We were the team of destiny, until Kansas City got hot. 

Getting swept didn’t feel good. I traveled home to see us lose games one and two of the ALCS in Baltimore, and it hurt. I’m upset; I still am and always will be. However, as much as I wanted to win a world series, I think what I’ll miss most is how this Orioles' run brought people together. Everyday someone wanted to talk about how the Orioles were doing. My friends at other schools, my friends studying abroad in Europe, my family back home in Baltimore--everyone. Facebook and twitter were both filled with Orioles fans saying great things about the Orioles. M&T Bank stadium lit up orange for the Orioles, the town and people were covered in orange. It was incredible. 

So with that, I thank the Orioles for hands down the best run of my life. Thank you for making it easier to keep in touch with people around the world, and for bringing Baltimore fans some of the greatest games we’ll ever watch.

Monday, October 13, 2014

This Year Is Different

            The Royals are up 2-0.  The last two games have given me horrifying flashbacks of Jim Johnson.  Of Raul Ibanez.  Of 14 losing seasons.  Of missed opportunity.  This year is different.
            I’ve been going to Orioles games since before I can remember.  I’ve seen a few wins.  I’ve seen a lot of losses.  On April 11, 2002, my eighth birthday, I watched the O’s come back from a 6-1 deficit against the then Devil Rays.  They scored 12 runs in the bottom of the 6th and went on to win 15-6.  That season the Orioles went 67-95.  This year is different.
            In 2005, I watched the birds cling to first place in the AL East for 62 days early in the season.  Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada rounded out the middle infield for the American League All-Star team, and Tejada even hit a home run in the midsummer classic.  Things were looking up.  After a historic collapse, they finished the season 74-88 in 4th place.  This year is different.
            After 14 consecutive losing seasons, my Freshman year of college, the Orioles went 93-69 and claimed a wild-card spot for their first playoff berth since 1997.  They knocked off the Rangers in grand fashion and eventually lost in 5 games to the New York Yankees.  I was crushed, but I really didn’t expect us to go very far.  Making the playoffs was remarkable in and of itself.  2012 was a success.  This year is different.
            The Orioles are losing this series 2-0.  That is a simple reality.  No team has ever lost the first two in the ALCS at home and gone on to win the series.  Yet, these Orioles aren’t like any team I’ve ever seen.  Buck Showalter seems to know what is going to happen 5 steps before anyone else.  Every single player on the roster seems to make a huge play just as we begin to lose hope in their ability.  The fan base in Baltimore has united in a way that didn’t seem possible just a few years ago.  History says that the Orioles will lose this series.  This year is different.

            So tonight, at 2 AM in Madrid, I’ll turn on my TV.  I’ll be wearing my Machado jersey and my orange and black, cartoon bird cap.  I’ll watch as my beloved team tries to turn around a series that at the moment looks bleak at best.  Tonight, I won’t get a lot of sleep, and that’s okay.  The Orioles will win, because this year is different.