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Nikki Shewmaker

Protecting Yourself on Campus

Millions of students will head back to to campus this fall to begin the college year.  Between classes, keggers and sporting events, it’s easy to forget that college students are one of the easiest targets for crime and sexual assault. While most colleges make safety a top priority, there are a few tips you can follow to improve your personal safety on campus and still have the full college experience.

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Use the Amenities Provided By the School

Every college campus has a security office and you should familiarize yourself with its location and the programs it offers to students and faculty. From downloading campus maps with suggested safety routes and using the emergency phone system on campus to taking advantage of the late-night escort services, you need to be prepared for the times you end up out late at night or happen to find yourself in a scary situation.

Power in Numbers

It might sound trite, but it’s always safer to be with a group when walking around campus and the surrounding neighborhood at night or in the early morning. People walking alone are easy targets for crimes of opportunity. Stay safe and get someone to walk you to and from your car or dorm room whenever possible.

Be Aware

It’s easy to get caught up listening to Spotify or checking Facebook on your phone, but don’t let it interfere with your safety. Avoid possibly dangerous situations by turning down the volume and staying aware of your surroundings and keep your fancy electronics out of sight as much as possible.

Invest in Self-defense Items

It’s always a good idea to have pepper spray on hand, even if you’re out in a group. Pepper spray comes in all shapes and sizes and can be carried in your hand, pocket and purse or on a key ring. If you’re out walking, you should always have it within easy reach. Test it out (away from innocent bystanders) after you purchase it to make sure the canister works.

Know Your Limits

Sexual assault is the most prevalent crime across college campuses in the United States. One in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted during their college education and someone the victim knows will perpetrate the vast majority of those assaults. College-aged students often tend to go overboard when drinking at bars or parties. It’s important to know your limits and to have friends who will watch out for you if you happen to over-imbibe. If you are out and the rest of your group is calling it a night, you should too. Do not allow yourself to be put in a possibly dangerous situation, and never feel guilty for saying no and excusing yourself from anything that makes you uncomfortable.

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Saving The Environment While Commuting For College

College can be a bit of a culture shock. Students arrive on campus and not all of them come from major metropolitan areas with public transportation systems. A large number of them will be used to driving everywhere. However, keeping a car while in college can be a major hassle. Most schools require parking permits while on campus, not to mention finding and paying for gas, upkeep and monthly garage storage off campus. The good news is that there are several easy, economical solutions to getting around campus and the surrounding areas.

  1. Walking– The most obvious solution to the student commute. Get up and get moving! Not only is it the cheapest method, but it’s an added dose of exercise to your day and a great way to check out your campus and neighborhood. Most dorms and student housing are located on or alongside campus, making walking an efficient way to get to class, run errands and meet up with friends.
  2. Public Transportation– Eventually there will be a day when the weather is terrible or classes are located so far apart that one cannot walk there in time during their break. If public transportation is an option, it’s a great idea to invest in a bus pass. Not only is this option cheap, but it’s the quickest way to get around most cities. Seattle’s University of Washington is so large that the public transportation system runs through campus, making it easy for students to get from one end of campus to the other in minutes. All colleges may not have buses drive straight through them, but major universities usually have public transit that runs along major streets outside of campus, cutting down the commute time and getting students where they need to go. Many colleges offer discounted or unlimited passes to students as part of their tuition, so be sure to check with an advisor.
  3. Scooters and Skateboards– If you are not gravity challenged, investing in a skateboard or scooter is an easy way to get around campus. Most colleges have well-kept landscaping, making for a smooth ride on sidewalks and streets. Just be sure to keep an eye out for oblivious passersby who might step directly in your path without warning.
  4. Bicycle– Biking on campus is convenient and easy. Most campuses have designated bike lanes and corrals located near buildings. Colleges recommend this as the first alternative to owning a car and many have bike renting/sharing programs implemented for students. The University of New England promotes biking for students, saying, “The goal is to ease critical shortages of parking and to change the car culture that clogs campus roadways and erodes the community feel that comes with walking or biking around campus.” Keep in mind that biking on campus usually requires a quarterly permit registered with administrators.
  5. Car-sharing Services-Of course, there will be days when you have to stock up on groceries, or textbooks and supplies and it would be easier to haul it back to campus in an actual car. Services like Zipcar are affordable, efficient and can be rented hourly so that students can get their errands done and get back to campus, without the hassle of owning a car full-time.

Getting around campus is not an easy feat, but with a combination of these tips, students are sure to have a safe, cheap and easy commute.

How to Throw a Campus Blowout

Here is the recipe for the best parties or school socials

It’s the middle of summer, which means it is time to enjoy the beautiful weather, cocktails and good friends—and what better way to celebrate than throwing an amazing party. Here’s what you’ll need to plan the perfect campus blowout.

Paperwork: Throwing a party on campus usually requires reserving a dedicated space and a permit(s). Check in with your campus’ administrative center to make sure you are in accordance with all regulations. It would be a pity to plan a huge bash, only to have it be shut down by local law enforcement.

Raising Funds: For an all-campus bash, you’ll need more than you and your friends pitching in to make it a success. Look for campus organizations and local community businesses to sponsor or donate to the party. This is a great way to get free/discounted food and beverages while getting all different members of the community involved.

Pick a Theme: Whether it is a campus-wide block party or something as specific as a toga party or a speakeasy, pick an interesting theme that will lend itself to decorating and accessories.  Encourage attendees to be creative. This is how great memories are made.

Entertainment: Whether hiring a DJ or setting up a stage for local/campus bands, or something as unique as a campus fashion show, make sure to have all the equipment rented, set up, and checked prior to the big bash, so that the performances run smoothly.

Food/Refreshments: No party is complete without food, refreshments and, let’s be honest, liquor. With an event this large, coordination is key. Have food and refreshment stands staggered throughout the venue so that there isn’t a massive crowd around a single bar. Bottlenecking isn’t fun, nor is waiting an hour in line to get a drink. Set up the space so that guests can easily maneuver to the different areas with ease.

Invitations: To throw a campus blowout, you need the collective student body to attend. Print up some cheap fliers and post around campus, but more importantly, use social media to spread the word. A well-planned party announcement is sure to quickly go viral and catch the attention of most students.

Parties are fun, but they are a lot of work. Make sure to have a specific plan for setting up, breaking down and cleaning up. Not only that, but whatever the turnout may be, make sure that safety is a major concern and with those things in mind, you’ll be sure to have an awesome campus blowout.

Crowdfunding pros and cons

How Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites can make or break an independent project

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding websites have thrived in the past few years, allowing people to have a platform to fund everything from independent projects, small business ventures and even raising college tuition. Even famous people have joined the action and found success. The Kickstarter campaign for the “Veronica Mars” movie met its multi-million dollar goal in less than a day. Levar Burton managed to raise the funds to bring back childhood favorite “Reading Rainbow.” The appeal is obvious—it’s an easy-to-use system that allows projects that would not otherwise be made a chance to succeed.

However, not all campaigns are successful. Depending on the particular crowdfunding site used, the creator may or may not receive the funds if the total goal is not met. Even worse, many people overextend themselves, promising too many rewards to backers that they are unable to fill.  In 2011, a Kickstarter user named Ed Carter ended up losing his house and filing for bankruptcy after promising free shipping of the board game he created. Even more troubling, a man in Chicago raised over $51,000 to publish a comic book, only to have misallocated funds and not be able to ship all of the orders. Instead, he took the finished books into an alley and set them on fire, leaving fans and backers angry and at a loss.

The secret to a successful crowdfunding campaign seems to be setting a realistic goal, having a legitimate financial plan, and a realistic timeline.  Finally, make sure the rewards to backers are carefully considered before launching a campaign.

Anson Corsair, 27, a graduate student at Cal State Los Angeles, is a proponent of crowdfunding and recently launched his first Kickstarter campaign for his solo album, “These Melodies.” Backed by a talented crew and supportive friends and family, he set an attainable goal after carefully researching costs from different vendors to have the rewards and promotional materials made, as well as having the CDs pressed and packaged. Despite the fickle nature of crowdfunding, Corsair isn’t worried. He’s just excited to get his work out to the public.

All in all, crowdfunding platforms, like anything, can be help or a hindrance—it all depends on the people behind the projects. However, in times of economic hardship, it’s hard to ignore the opportunities these sites present.

*For more information about crowdfunding and Kickstarter campaigns, please visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1810347363/anson-corsair-first-solo-album-these-melodies

#YesAllWomen: A social media trend won't change our culture

#YesAllWomen- A personal experience with misogyny and my response to the #YesAllWomen trend

The only time I’ve ever been told I couldn’t do something because I’m female happened on a trip to New Orleans with my best friend. While exploring Bourbon Street, we decided to check out a strip club since neither one of us had ever been. We picked the nicest looking one—one that had a pricey cover charge and a bouncer that wouldn’t bat an eye at cutting off service to drunk, belligerent tourists. As we approached, the doorman (wearing coattails, no less) asked if we had an escort. Our what?  Yes, it seemed all women needed a “gentleman” to escort them into this fine establishment.  I’d like to say that I was deeply offended (since that is supposed to be the only acceptable response), but I wasn’t. Given that the activity I was being denied was watching women gyrate for tips from intoxicated tourists, it didn’t exactly leave me feeling oppressed. My best friend and I laughed it off and enjoyed the rest of our trip and, short of a funny anecdote, I forgot all about the incident.

Cue the social media explosion of #YesAllWomen that happened in response to a terrible tragedy carried out by an entitled individual with seemingly a ton of mental instability. Women and men, celebrities and regular people jumped on the #YesAllWomen bandwagon, but mostly only men opposed the viewpoint. While I appreciate the discussion it engendered, I can’t say I really support the movement. I think it allows women to victimize themselves—which is the exact thing they are fighting.

Let me start by saying that I am a beacon for crazy people. I don’t know what it is about me, but there is something that calls out to every off-kilter individual to sidle on up and give me grief, or put in candidacy to be my new best friend. This was never more apparent than when I worked in customer service.  All through college I worked in a coffee shop and the things I have seen are downright shocking. I have seen people steal, I have seen people fight, and I have seen (and had to clean up after) a deranged individual who defecated on the floor of the lobby.  I have seen someone sucker punch a police officer, throw a shoe, threaten to kill me and my coworkers (somewhere Seattle dispatch has a recording of me threatening said person with a box cutter and a portafilter), and I have been bitch-slapped with a newspaper by a female transient holding a teddy bear. The list could go on and on, but I think that gives the gist of my experiences.

So, I think it is safe to say that on a daily basis, I have dealt with more intrusions than the average person, and that isn’t even including my personal life in the mix. That’s why, when approached with an over-eager male insisting on buying me a drink or making a catcall, I don’t bat an eyelash. I also don’t classify this as immediate harassment. I’d be lying if I said I had never made a dirty joke or said something lewd to, or about a man.  Can being catcalled or being asked to join someone for a drink be annoying? Certainly. However, it doesn’t follow to immediately vilify the man in question. Just because someone is pushy does not mean they have nefarious intentions. I was raised with strong female role models, and I am confident enough in a situation to tell someone to back off—and believe me, they likely won’t be asking again. Don’t be a wilting flower and, as I so often hear, don’t immediately use the “I have a significant other excuse” to ward off an unwanted suitor. Stand up for yourself and you’ll find that it isn’t the only excuse that works. The person who continues to pursue the matter isn’t bad because he’s a man, but because he is a rude and inconsiderate person, regardless of gender.

It’s often said that women need to be more aware of their surroundings and carry some sort of protection while out at night. That is absolutely true, but I would argue that all people need to be more aware of their surroundings and on guard while out at night. Having worked in coffee, I have traversed the streets of Seattle and Chicago at all hours of the early morning in order to get to work. It is dangerous, but not just for women, and to claim that is ignorant.

I lead a pretty cushy life. It’s not perfect, but I (and every female I know) am ridiculously blessed. To my knowledge, I have always made the same as, or more than my male counterparts. I am almost always in a position of authority in my employment (and even when I’m not, you wouldn’t know it). If there is disparity in your workplace, again, make your voice heard. Complaining on social media and then not taking proactive steps to rectify your own situation isn’t going to fix anything. It’s just releasing pent-up frustration and that is not a solution.

My world is not perfect. No one’s is. Guess what, it never will be.  I refuse to blame men in general for some of the problems I face. #YesAllWomen have faced obnoxious men, and obnoxious women. And all men have faced the same. I refuse to blame some of the inconveniences and dangers of life on gender, but instead take responsibility for myself and getting the things I want and being treated with the respect I deserve.

How I Met Your Mother bids fans adieu *SPOILER ALERT*

How I Met Your Mother has held audiences captive for nine seasons and goes out with a shocking, but not so surprising ending

“How I Met Your Mother” aired its series finale after nine long seasons, finally explaining how Ted Mosby met the titular Mother. “How I Met Your Mother” spent its final season on the weekend leading up Barney and Robin’s wedding, and there were still so many unanswered questions going into the finale. Theories ran wild and expectations were high. Would the Mother die? Does Ted turn out to have Alzheimer’s? Do Robin and Ted actually end up together? If the Mother did die, are Ted’s kids (who seem exasperated at their father’s lengthy jaunt down memory lane) sociopaths?

“How I Met Your Mother” co-creator Carter Bays, when asked how he thought fans would react to the finale, said, “I think it’ll be a fantastic series finale. The series finale is kind of why we’ve done the show all along and whenever we do get to do that finale, we’re very excited about it because I think it’s going to be really heartbreaking, and sweet and wonderful.”

However, Carter Bays and co-creator Craig Thomas might have been surprised at the reaction of fans after the “How I Met Your Mother” finale aired. Social media erupted with fans who were happy and touched by “How I Met Your Mother” coming full circle, but the show’s ending outraged the vast majority of people. So, just what caused such a divisive response?

Robin, the one woman who could tie Barney down, ends up traveling the world as a reporter with her husband by her side. However, the popular “How I Met Your Mother” couple ends up divorced after three years of marriage. This information is dropped on the audience less than 20 minutes into the finale and tipped audiences off as to what was to come. Robin distances herself from the group and over time, she rarely sees her friends, letting Lily know that hanging out with her ex-husband and Ted, the guy “I probably should have ended up with” while he is with the Mother, isn’t what she considers a good group of friends.

Barney, the resident cad of “How I Met Your Mother” ends up having a daughter, Ellie, with one of his random one-night-stands. Just like that, Barney softens and actually seems thrilled about having a kid.  At the end of the day, he’s still the same old Barney who likes to drink scotch and chase women though, and he asks that his friends accept that he’s never going to change.

Marshall and Lily (who is increasingly upset about the dissolution of their group of friends), wind up having three kids. Marshall ends up becoming a judge and eventually runs for the New York State Supreme Court. This couple was the ideal version of love Ted was constantly trying to emulate and they had a very happy ending.

Ted, the star and narrator of “How I Met Your Mother,” who was eccentric, emotional and too quick to fall in love, led fans through nine seasons of happiness and heartbreak. As expected, Ted meets the Mother (whose name turns out to be Tracy) while waiting at the Farhampton station in the pouring rain. The destined meeting prompts Ted to cancel his move to Chicago and ask Tracy out on a date.  However, a few years down the road, in the midst of planning their wedding, Tracy discovers she is pregnant. Two kids and five years later, the duo that everyone has been rooting for, had yet to tie the knot. Ted and Tracy do eventually wed, but three years later, Tracy dies from an unspecified illness. Six years later, as Ted finishes up his epic tale, his kids call him out on the fact that he wasn’t telling them about how he met their mother, but rather asking for permission to ask out Robin, the one woman he had always loved.

The problem with this neat little wrap-up is that it completely mitigates the Mother. Fans spent eight seasons waiting and wondering whom the Mother would be, only to find out and see her for a miniscule amount of time, then she is killed off without much of their actual relationship ever being explored. Did Ted love her? Sure. However, the ending makes it seem that he never loved her as much as he loved Robin. “How I Met Your Mother” bid its fans a fond farewell with the most iconic image of the show: Ted standing outside Robin’s window holding the blue French horn. At least someone had a happy ending—just not the Mother.

Lindsay Lohan turns reality star in Oprah's docu-series

Lindsay Lohan’s new reality series debuted on the OWN network.

Lindsay Lohan is infamous for her hard partying, addiction, convictions and severe lack of common sense or self-control. Lindsay Lohan, a once-legitimately talented actress, has become a cautionary tale of young Hollywood. Lohan has six rehab stays, multiple arrests, convictions and probation violations under her belt, and every time the public starts to root for her, she goes and inexplicably puts herself back at square one. Lindsay Lohan has been given more chances than is seemingly acceptable and she realizes that—or so she says.

Lindsay Lohan’s docu-series premiered on OWN Sunday night. Many people were shocked that Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful women in the world, would put her faith in Lohan given the girl’s disaster of a track record. The episode opened with Oprah interviewing Lindsay Lohan, who claimed that she wanted to “show the real me” and “ to live life with integrity.”

For the most part, the show is pretty tame. It follows Lindsay Lohan and her wranglers (which includes her sober coach—who isn’t convinced that Lohan is sober) mere days after she was released from her latest rehab stay in Malibu. Lohan packs up her stuff and returns to New York, where she tries to find an apartment. She claims she needs to be settled and can no longer live in hotels, because the instability helps enable her behavior. It’s small gems of entitlement and inability to take responsibility for her actions like this that made viewers roll their eyes. The most telling part of the episode is when Lindsay Lohan complains that the judge refused to release her from jail even though there was overcrowding because “an example needed to be made” of her. Lohan fails to see that maybe her jail stay was extended because she committed a multitude of crimes and actually deserved jail time. It seems that thought never crossed her mind.

Another cringe-worthy moment came from Lindsay Lohan’s mother, Dina. As she helps Lohan unpack boxes, they come across a t-shirt with the word “Fetch” printed on it. “Fetch” has been a decade-long joke from “Mean Girls,” which was Lindsay Lohan’s biggest hit at the height of her career. However, Dina doesn’t get it. It’s painful to watch Lindsay Lohan explain to her mother that it’s a line from “Mean Girls,” as it is the most successful film her daughter has ever done and the success of the movie no doubt paid for Dina’s house. Moments like this make the viewers feel bad for Lindsay Lohan.

All in all, the episode was relatively dull. People expecting “Jersey Shore”-style debauchery are out of luck. However, Lohan’s unprofessional and selfish nature seems more prevalent in the preview for next week’s episode, as she refuses to film and enrages Oprah Winfrey. The problem is that Lohan seems to have finally run out of luck and the public just doesn’t care enough either way.

"Resurrection" premieres on ABC

“Resurrection” follows the inhabitants of a small town as their loved ones return from the dead.

“Resurrection,” the heavily promoted and eagerly anticipated ABC show premiered last night.  “Resurrection” begins when an 8-year-old boy awakens mysteriously off a dirt road in China with no passport, no plane ticket and no identification. Promptly returned to the U.S., the boy, whose name is Jacob, is put under the care of Immigration Agent Bellamy (Omar Epps) and is returned to Arcadia, MO, which Jacob claims to be his hometown. The problem is that Jacob drowned 32 years prior.

“Resurrection” boasts an incredibly talented cast led by Frances Fisher and Kurtwood Smith. Fisher and Smith play Lucille and Henry Langston, Jacob’s parents, who deftly embody two people plagued by the long-standing grief of their son’s untimely death. Upon Jacob’s return, it is striking to watch Henry try to make sense of what is happening, not entirely convinced that Jacob is really his son, and Lucille all too ready to accept that he is. Perhaps the most striking performance comes from Mark Hildreth who plays Tom Hale, Jacob’s childhood best friend, now a pastor whose faith and beliefs are tested when Jacob returns.

“Resurrection” plays on some very interesting ideas, but of course, leaves more questions than answers. The episode ended with the unlikely resurrection of another Arcadia resident and the seeds to some soap opera-esque plotlines have already been sown. “Resurrection” has a fine line to walk in that it has a very interesting premise, but can too easily fall into “Lost” territory, where the story becomes more and more outrageous without any actual payoff or cohesive answers. For now, audiences will have to stick with “Resurrection” for a few more episodes to find out.

“Resurrection” airs on Sundays at 9/8 Central on ABC.

Shirley Temple passes away

Shirley Temple, child star and Hollywood legend, dies at 85.

Shirley Temple, Hollywood legend and U.S. diplomat, has passed away at the age of 85. Shirley Temple’s family released a statement early Tuesday morning stating, “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and as our beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.”

Shirley Temple became a sensational child star in the 1930’s. Famous for her strawberry blonde curls and her triple threat abilities, her films quickly became box office successes. Best known for singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in the movie Bright Eyes, as well as for her roles in Curly Top and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Shirley Temple has charmed audiences for over 80 years. Famed director Allan Dwan once said of Shirley Temple, “She was just absolutely marvelous, greatest in the world. With Shirley, you’d just tell her once and she’d remember the rest of her life.”

As she grew older, Shirley Temple left Hollywood, only to attempt a semi-successful comeback. Realizing that her time as a star was up, Temple officially retired from the movie business and focused on raising a family. Temple was married to second husband Charles Alden Black for 55 years and raised three children. Later in life, Shirley Temple had a political career where she served as the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States, as well as an ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Shirley Temple passed away from natural causes and was surrounded by her loved ones when she passed. 

Amanda Knox found guilty in 3rd murder trial

Amanda Knox’s acquittal was overturned by two judges and six jurors

Amanda Knox has been found guilty in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher. Amanda Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito were originally convicted of the slaying in 2009, only to have the verdict overturned in 2011.

Amanda Knox was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle attending a one-year study abroad course in Perugia, Italy. On November 1, 2007, Amanda Knox’s roommate, Meredith Kercher was found dead in the apartment that Kercher and Knox shared. Kercher had been stabbed more than 40 times and her throat slit open.

The ensuing investigation, arrest and trial created a media circus and Amanda Knox became world famous due to the salacious stories printed in tabloids. Amanda Knox became a divisive issue worldwide with many coming to her defense and blaming the Italian authorities and courts for mishandling the case. Others used Knox’s strange behavior and salacious past as evidence that she was responsible for the crime.

Amanda Knox was acquitted after serving four years in prison and returned to Seattle with her family. However, Italian courts operate differently than US courts and there are no laws prohibiting double jeopardy. The Italian Supreme Court chose to retry the case in 2013.

Amanda Knox was sentenced to 28 years in prison and Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 25. Knox was not present for the reading of the verdict, but safely ensconced in Seattle. It is believed that the Italian authorities will attempt to extradite Amanda Knox to serve her prison sentence and that she will attempt to fight any attempts at extradition.  A Seattle-based extradition lawyer, Brian Zagaris said, ““The Senate considers whether a treaty country’s criminal justice is fair. She can try to make the unfairness argument in that case, but U.S. jurisprudence limits such arguments.”

Neither Amanda Knox nor her representatives have commented on the verdict at this time.