Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg paved the way for women everywhere to pursue their dreams.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American hero, a woman who dedicated her life to improving the lives of others through her expertise in the legal system. A powerhouse pioneer, Justice Ginsburg was respected for not only her brilliant legal mind, but her unwavering tenacity to break the boundaries exercised onto her and other women because of their sex. At only five feet one inch tall, Justice Ginsburg was a tiny but mighty force on the Supreme Court, challenging the status quo to ensure that the Constitution protected the legal rights of all Americans.
Nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then President Bill Clinton, Justice Ginsburg’s potential placement was already breaking barriers within the makeup of the current court. With her confirmation Justice Ginsburg became the second woman, and the first Jewish woman to fill a seat on the Supreme Court. Seen as a moderate, Justice Ginsburg’s placement was expected to settle legal discrepancies between the liberal and conservative justices.
During her tenure on the court Justice Ginsburg always made the preservation, and the increase in women’s rights as a priority of hers in rulings. For example, in 1996 Justice Ginsburg authored the court’s decision on United States v. Virginia ruling that it was unconstitutional for the Virginia Military Institute to implement a men only admission policy to exclude women from applying to their institution. This ruling was a breakthrough in preventing institutions from excluding women from educational opportunities on the basis of their sex.
Although Justice Ginsburg initially displayed a moderate legal interpretation on the court, as the legal identities of the upcoming appointed justices became more conservative Justice Ginsburg proved that she was not afraid to present a dissenting opinion. In 2007 she dissented in the ruling on the Ledbetter v. Goodyear, which prevented a woman from receiving financial compensation for a previous job in which she was paid less than her male counterparts for the same work. The court ruled that the statue of limitations had passed in this case, therefore, refusing to rule in favor of compensation.
In response to this ruling Justice Ginsburg advocated for reform to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in order to prevent such rulings from continuing. Following her advocacy Congress passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, named after the woman who presented her own case to the Supreme Court.
For the majority of her life, there was one person who stood by her, who supported, and respected her for who she was, and believed in who she could be: her husband Martin. Known as ‘Marty’ by those closest to him, Martin Ginsburg was his wife’s biggest supporter, and advocate throughout her legal career. A successful lawyer in his own right, Martin was instrumental in Justice Ginsburg’s nomination to the Supreme Court, using his influence and connections to advocate for her consideration.
Raised in an era where women were not expected to be nor accepted in the professional world, Martin never felt threatened or embarrassed of his wife’s successes, instead he chose to be her partner, remaining faithful, and supportive of her dreams. His care and companionship gave Justice Ginsburg the confidence in the home, in order to make change in the outside world.
Through adolescence her mother Celia remained a source of encouragement, and inspiration for Justice Ginsburg. Unable to receive an education for herself, Celia was determined that her daughter would be given the opportunity to learn. Justice Ginsburg often cited her mother as a role model, and leader for herself.
Justice Ginsburg served on the Supreme Court for 27 years, one of the longest serving justices on the bench. She battled several health issues, persevering through five rounds of cancer. On September 18, 2020 Justice Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 87.
Following her death thousands of mourners from all over the country traveled to Washington D.C. to pay their respects. Even in death Justice Ginsburg continued to break barriers; at the Capitol Justice Ginsburg lay in state, becoming the first woman, and the first Jewish person to do so. Justice Ginsburg was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery next to her beloved husband who died in 2010.
Although Justice Ginsburg is gone her spirit will live on in the hearts of all those she touched. She has inspired generations of women, including me, to follow a career into the legal profession, or more so, to pursue a career of their choosing. Her tenacity, courage, and wisdom will forever be cherished by thousands of people all over the country who may never have known her personally, but were impacted by her example. Her quiet determination displays leadership, someone to learn from, and be inspired by.
As a pioneer of final words, it seems only fitting, that the end to this tribute should conclude with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s own, a source of encouragement to all: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Resident Advisors work to keep their residents engaged during this difficult time, while respecting CDC guidelines.
School life has changed drastically for everyone ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Causing many to wonder, how will we manage to adjust to our new normal?
As Saint Mary’s continues to reopen and welcome back students on campus, there is a need to maintain a balance between keeping on campus residents enjoying their time in a residence hall, and the new campus guidelines set by Saint Mary’s. Resident Advisors (RA) have a challenge ahead of themselves trying to plan hall events, and keeping the residents safe and following SMC guidelines. This comes with increasing difficulty as the virus has proven to be very contagious in the wake of the superspreader event that occurred at the White House earlier last month. Where several people in attendance contracted the virus, proving that no one is immune.
RA’s are now tasked with making sure that their residents are enjoying their time in a residence hall, while also ensuring their safety. Samantha Newman, an RA in the townhouse Thille, has been doing all she can to create a space for residents by hosting hall events. Per the schools guidelines, all events must be hosted via Zoom. So far she has done self care nights, paint nights, online learning tips, and encouraged residents to also attend other school events like SCAAR events.
“I want the students to feel involved, rather than feel locked in their rooms,” mentions Newman. That is why she puts all the thought she can into hosting these events and encouraging her residents to be involved. Being with upperclassmen the attendance to some of these events are naturally lower due to students having been on campus for some time, however Newman still works to provide events that appeal to them.
All RA’s need to remain fluid during these ever changing times as anything can change in an instant. To prepare for quick changes all RA’s attend weekly meetings with Residential Experience to ensure that they have the most up to date information. During these meetings RA’s will receive updates from Saint Mary’s administration about updated school and county guidelines.
Tom Latz, a first year RA in Mitty Hall, is excited that the school has just given the greenlight to allowing in person hall events (given they take place outside and all must wear a mask and physically distance). He sees this as a step in the right direction as he can plan more fun events for the first year students who are new to the college experience.
“Since most of the students are alone in their rooms I try to plan fun events that can get them involved, like hosting an Among Us game night over Zoom,” mentions Latz as he bakes cookies for residents. Baking for residents is now allowed to happen again as the school has begun to lessen the restrictions as cases go down in the county.
“All the RA’s are doing their best adjusting to the new normal and they are all doing so well,” says Latz. He is very happy with the turnout of students to his hall events and seems to be really enjoying their time living on campus.
All the RA’s must remain ready for things to change in an instant, as this pandemic is ever changing. But they are all doing their best navigating these challenges, while ensuring they are involving students and keeping their safety as a top priority. In the new age of living during a pandemic we need to start adjusting to a new normal, where we can have fun but ensure the safety of us and others around us.
Gael Sisterhood is making lemons out of lemonade by making the best of virtual club life.
As the fall academic semester progresses, so has the club life at Saint Mary’s College. Clubs have started to formulate again amid the barrier of the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result, have had to creatively stretch themselves in order to stay connected.
Gael Sisterhood is among one of the clubs at Saint Mary’s that has made tremendous efforts to link past and new members through virtual events. Second-year member, Julia Parishis, explains how the club has been functioning.
“The club meets over Zoom once a week on Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m.,” Parishes said, “It has only been on Zoom because there are a lot of members who are living at home this semester.” Members have been offered various virtual activities such as mixers, big sister little sister reveals, and movie nights.
The President of the club, third-year Taylor-Montana Swoish, explains how the club has utilized social media as an additional way to connect members. “We do a lot on social media,” said Swoish, “We have a weekly spotlight on Instagram for one of our members.”
Even though meeting over Zoom is not as ideal as meeting in person, Parashis explains how she believes participating in club life during a pandemic is beneficial. “Since most things are held virtually, it can be hard to make new friendships, but Gael Sisterhood has made those friendships still available no matter if you are on campus or at home.” Building connections with other students is vital to individual well-being, especially during the current climate where isolation and social distancing is praised.
Swoish describes how although it has not been an effortless transition to conduct the club virtually, the positive feedback she has received from members make the struggles worth it. The President said, “It feels nice for the girls to tell us that they are so happy to be involved in our club and are able to make connections through virtual events.” Hearing that virtual club life is making a notable difference in members’ lives solidifies the need for it on campus.
Not only does the presence of virtual club life aid in students making life-long connections, but it additionally serves as an ideal social escape from the constant stressors of schoolwork. Freshman member Eleni Kvochak shares how participating in Gael Sisterhood’s online events have incorporated nothing but positivity during her first semester at Saint Mary’s.
“Virtual meetings held by Gael Sisterhood give me the opportunity to take a break from the stresses of school and just have some fun,” Kvochak said, “I look forward to our meetings because I get to meet new people and as a freshman, I feel so lucky to be able to be part of something.” Gael Sisterhood is continuing to commit to organizing exciting, virtual events in order to keep members engaged and connected. Attempting to re-formulate the club during a pandemic is a challenge, but the opportunities it grants members to interact with both fresh and familiar faces serves as an incredible reward.
Gael Sisterhood’s solidified events for this month consist of a Halloween movie night, a Bob Ross painting class, and a merch designing contest.
Hard rock and metal guitarist Eddie Van Halen leaves an unforgettable legacy of music.
Pioneer. There’s no better word to describe Eddie Van Halen. Let’s take a look at his signature axe, and one of the most recognizable guitars of the 80s. He chopped up bits from a couple guitars, threw together a $50 body and a $80 neck, and the FrankenStrat was born. He destroyed the status quo of needing pricey gear to play well and inspired mini Van Halen’s to go destroy their gear bought with daddy’s dime.
You might have, scratch that, you most definitely have, heard the hit song “Jump.” We all recognize that killer guitar solo belonging to the legendary Eddie VH. But who’s the mystery man behind the keyboard solo? Well, that would also be Mr. Eddie Van Halen. His music know how was insane. He developed his style on both the guitar and keyboard without reading a single note of music.
Without a base in music theory, Van Halen had the juice when it came to composition. Sure him and his brother Alex had taken classical piano lessons as a kid, but those only went so far in the composition of songs like “Spanish Fly,” and “Eruption.” The latter of which, was an off the cuff recording of one of Alex and Eddie’s jam sessions. But more notably, “Eruption” was one of the first instances that we meet the legendary two hand classical guitar note picking style Eddie brought to metal. He played his guitar like a piano, making impossible fingers spreads that would make the Great Khali jealous.
Van Halen tracks are featured on many of my playlists, and while they’ve never been my number one, I’d be lying if I said my jaw didn’t hit the floor the first time I put on “Eruption” in the car, or if I didn’t crank up the radio when it played “Panama” bright and early in the morning.
Sure Eddie was an innovator and a musical savant who went on to inspire musicians and bands to this day. But one thing I can’t help but admire is the guy’s attitude. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eddie Van Halen says, “ Because I personally have never rated myself as a guitarist, or anyone else. To me it’s not the Olympics or a competition, you know what I mean?”
We live in a time far removed from the ballads of Led Zeppelin, Clapton’s singing six string, and the Jump of Van Halen that it’s hard to picture any of the blokes in the band getting old, much less sick. But as long as there’s a kid teaching himself Eruption on his dinky off brand Stratocaster, the spirit of Eddie Van Halen lives on. Rockstars are immortal.
By Benjamin Noel
Now I may be a little late to the show, but here’s my review of the Karate Kid follow up show, Cobra Kai.
The show opened right where the Karate Kid left off, with the final fight of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament with Daniel LaRusso’s crane kick and Cobra Kai’s notorious Johnny Lawrence’s face hitting the mat. Fast forward 30 odd years and Daniel owns a luxury car dealership, while Johnny is well, broke. After a familiar turn of events involving a kid getting jumped in the first episode, Lawrence opens up a dojo, a new Cobra Kai. Now this dojo, under Sensei Kreese in the 80s was well known for their motto “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”
When teaching his first student, the one he saved from thugs the other night, Lawrence drills those same fundamentals into young Miguel Diaz’s head. And aside from having Miguel do all the chores around the dojo, he builds him up the same way Kreese did, toughening him up so he can hold his own against the thugs that keep tormenting him and his friends.
What I loved about the show is that they gave Johnny Lawrence the depth he was missing in the first movie. He was a total jerk in the film, always picking on Daniel, and he was the embodiment of what Cobra Kai stood for. But now seeing his side of the story, how Daniel moved in and stole his girl, they have me rooting for the guy now. He’s had a tough draw, with a messed up family growing up, learning under a sadistic sensei, but he’s trying his best to make things right with his new dojo.
Daniel-san on the other hand, has remained pretty much the same, but without Mr. Miyagi’s advice, he at times proves to be no better than his Cobra Kai nemesis. And it’s great. It’s real. They’re not so much good and evil anymore, there’s a balance. As Mr. Miyagi said, “Whole life have a balance.”
Overall, it’s a fun show to watch. There’s a few easter eggs from the Karate Kid movie here and there, but the show is not a total rip off of the original, unlike the second two Karate Kid movies. Johnny Lawrence’s dry humor keeps the laughs rolling, and the intertwining lives of the characters had us hooked. The band of misfits studying under Sensei Lawrence, and the character dynamics kept the story fresh, and modern while still retaining a bit of that old school charm. So season one’s been quite a nostalgia trip, some bits reminded me of when I did martial arts as a kid, and I’m excited to see what the next season has in store.
A candid conversation with staff member Calvin Monroe about racial identity, social justice, and moving forward.
By Angus Stayte
In response to recent events, the Black Student Union has had considerable challenges presented to them. I interviewed Saint Mary’s staff member, and seminar 102 teacher Calvin Monroe, the advisor for the BSU, and a Black Studies major in his doctoral program currently, to get his take on Saint Mary’s, and national topics. We discussed why he chose to become a leader in the BSU, his reaction to Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s deaths, his views on campus police and how the campus has responded to these events.
When asked about why he chose to become a leader in the BSU Monroe spoke to finding his niche helping young black students get through “trauma who still have to try and be strong for their peers as well as help out other minority students who may not have had parents or friends who have been to college”. He goes on to say “we are processing information and expressing it to each other to begin to heal and start to gather ourselves to help other black students on campus who may need it.” Calvin cites trying to keep minority students ‘in the fight’ of higher education as his main goal.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. In addition, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was fatally shot in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment on March 13, 2020, when a search warrant was executed by officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department. I asked Calvin how his leadership has been affected within the union since these events. The first thing he spoke about when I asked him was how he had to make sure he personally was “strong for his people mentally.”
We then shifted to the micro-level and the Saint Mary’s campus. I asked about what he thought the role of Public Safety should be on campus. He spoke to the need for them to have a ‘silent presence.’ He goes on to say “BSU wants to know that you are there and that there is equality.” He further clarifies that “[we hope that] in reports no one group is getting citations or tickets more than others.”
He further claims that no one is perfect and recognizes that mistakes will be made but the effort should be there. He then adds that when mistakes are made that dialogue is key to hash out issues in the name of achieving “restorative justice.”
Finally, we talked about how the events of the summer have been received on campus by faculty, students, and staff. He revealed that he has received supportive emails from faculty. He also cites that the students in the BSU “are tired of lip service” and want real action. He suggests that actions can mean money and it “can be spent on assisting under-resourced students in financial aid packages, or for programming centered on their healing” He also talked about how students are intertwined on campus and take notice of peers who are silent. The action that Monroe suggests for the future for healing would be “to have an open heart wanting to learn more” and “to just listen and have good dialogue.”
Saint Mary’s students react differently to approaching school work during online based learning.
By Isabelle Cannon
The library is closed, many students are at home, and the future of in-person learning is unknown. Virtual learning is something that many people are currently adjusting to due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. It has caused many students to change their learning environment, whether it be isolated in a room or living back at home. This can potentially cause consequences in relation to motivation of getting schoolwork done.
Senior, Caroline Escobar, expressed “I think of home as my free time place”. Because Escobar is living at home with her family this semester, her motivation levels have dropped. The environment you are in can change the way that you feel making schooling difficult.
However, when compared to Saint Mary’s student Veronica Nims, she voiced, “I have never been so invested in my schoolwork with most of Moraga being closed”. Nims is currently living in the dorms on campus and seems to be very motivated with her online classes due to high levels of isolation. Though both students are in very different situations they seemed to express that their motivation levels are largely due to their living environment.
In Spring 2020 Saint Mary’s had to move all of their classes to a virtual format due to the pandemic. Just before finals, after about a month of online learning, it was announced that there would be an option to change your grade to pass/fail if you would like. No announcement has been made regarding the fall 2020 semester. However, if the grading system does change it is likely to impact how involved students are in their academic work. Nims mentioned, “If I knew grades were pass/fail I probably wouldn’t spend as much time putting detail into my work”.
Many students agree with Nims. A lot of research has been done surrounding the topic of pass/fail grading. Specifically a study conducted in Germany found when comparing graded students to pass/fail students that, “A graded test seemed to foster not only confidence but also the accuracy of the confidence judgments” (Barenberg & Dutke, 2013). The motivation level of students when they know their grade is at stake is much higher. Because online schooling is a new concept to many universities it is unknown how Saint Mary’s will adjust as a school and how students will adjust to their learning environment. With the future of learning unknown to the world, being able to adjust now and finding new ways to get motivated is more important than ever.
Students reflect on their on campus housing experiences amid a pandemic.
By Madrey Hilton
Many students at Saint Mary’s College can all agree that this semester has not gone as they planned. As a freshman entering college for the first time, they dreamed of moving into campus, getting to know fellow classmates through social events, and finally gaining the independence from their parents that is long overdue. But in the age of COVID-19, these plans have certainly changed. While some students have opted to attend college from home, others are attending online school from the dorms at SMC. But how has campus life changed as Saint Mary’s tries to avoid the spread of Covid-19 among students and faculty?
In early August, Saint Mary's sent out an email regarding the updated fall plans for residential students. This update included many changes to on campus life: “Lounges and common areas will be limited or closed; Residential students may not have guests or visitors in their room; The Recreational Center remains closed.” These are just a few of the adjustments made by the Campus Housing Department that impacted many students’ desire to live on campus. However, there are still many students living in the dorms who are experiencing college unlike any class before.
When asked how campus life is different for the students this year, Michael Zahn, a Resident Advisor living on campus, revealed one aspect of campus life that students are missing out on this semester: “One of the main attractions that is missed by a lot of people is the Rec Center because it was a great way to meet a lot of people and hang out with friends, but now students aren't able to do that.” The Rec Center is definitely a huge part of social life on campus, and without it students aren't meeting as many people, or participating in as many activities. While an important part of the college experience is forming connections and building friendships with other students, restrictions on social gatherings has made this much more difficult.
As someone who has lived on campus at Saint Mary’s years prior, Michael has noticed the change in social life and how it has affected students. Michael explains, “I feel like I don’t have the same connection with people because campus life has changed so much. Especially with clubs in past years they would engage students, but this year that is really missed and there's a huge disconnect.” Although the year so far has been unconventional, with COVID-19 bringing unexpected challenges to community building at Saint Mary’s, Michael says, “It’s a challenge I’m willing to accept and make the most out of.” Michael’s positive outlook on these strange circumstances is certainly inspirational.
Maddie Martinez, a freshman living on campus at SMC, describes why she decided to move into the dorms despite her classes being online: “One of the driving factors that helped me decide if I was going to live on campus or not was the fact I wanted a normal-ish first year experience.”
Being away from home is a huge influence on students’ decision to live on campus. Most freshmen long for the independence that living away from home will bring, even if their college experience will be anything but ordinary. Maddie explains that even though campus life has changed, she’s happy she made the choice to move in. “So far, living on campus and in the dorms hasn’t been as bad as I expected. I’ve made a bunch of new friends with people on my floor and I love it!”
As many students consider their options for next semester, it is important to know what to expect on campus if they decide to move into the dorms. There are many advantages and disadvantages to living on campus, and a lot of students may continue to do distance learning from home. As a community, the best thing students and faculty can do is remain optimistic for the future of campus life at Saint Mary’s, and take all the necessary precautions to stay safe and slow the spread.
Victoria Vidales '21,