• Lewinsky TED talk highlights important issue in cyberbullying

    Monica Lewinsky, a name people would associate with a sex scandal with former President Bill Clinton, recently delivered an important speech about cyberbullying. In her speech, she indicated that because of the anonymity of the Internet, it is incredibly easy to say whatever people want to say when they want to say it, as if the same rules didn't apply that normal people have to follow in the real world. But what people say on the Internet can hurt, and ChildLine, a counseling service for children and young people, saw an 87 percent increase in contacts about cyberbullying from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013.  

    Of course, there are laws to protect us from malicious online actions. Kevin Christopher Bollaert, who operated a website called “revenge porn” that allows people to post explicit photos of others without their permission,was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison. Victims of Bollaert's website had to pay a certain amount of money to get their image removed. Punishment to the website owner may serve as a warning to those who want to profit from invading others' privacy. However, the problem lies not only with the creator, but with those who upload such videos as well.  

    Young people tend to care more about how other people see us than what we see ourselves. We constantly check how many likes we get on Facebook and rely on social approval to boost our self-esteem. It is dangerous, though. Most of us have not had extensive life experience at this point, so we are not mentally equipped to handle public shaming. 

    Last year, over 10 percent of UT students sought help at the Counseling and Mental Health Center. From 2009 to 2014, the number of students walking through their doors increased from 3,900 to 5,265. While this could be a sign of decreasing stigmatization of mental illness, it also shows that mental illness is still a serious problem. 

    Kathryn Redd, interim program director of CMHC, revealed the issues that students seek help with the most. The top three are stress, anxiety and depression, which can all be caused by cyberbullying.  

    Identifying a problem is critical. If you notice in yourself a change in behavior, eating habits or sleeping patterns, it is time to start assessing those symptoms and seek professional help if needed. CMHC provides individual counseling as well as a MindBody Lab where students can relax and listen to music. 

    If you are concerned about other students or staff, the behavior concerns advice line (512-232-5050) is the best resource. At the same time, let’s all work toward a friendly and supportive online environment, where, as Lewinsky said, everyone “speaks up with intention, not for attention."

    Liu is an associate editor.

  • What food says about us in an age of global elites

    In his most recent column, Suri examined the divide between local citizens and global elites, characterizing politics in a global age as “intensely local.”

    Food, to take just one example of the difference between haves and have-nots, is inherently political. There are several steps in between the seed and the meal, including production, distribution and consumption. A lot of people outside Austin dictate how Austinites eat. Food is governed by markets, trade, laws, lobbyists, climate change, Congress, the executive and the courts.

    At the same time, the broader politics of food are intensely local. The movement for organic, sustainable foods has become one of the upper middle class. Austin is home to a number of healthy, organic food vendors. But eating “real food” is expensive. Fresh vegetables are healthier than canned ones but come at a higher price. Shopping at Wheatsville is more expensive than shopping at Walmart. Because of these prices, sustainable foods are not accessible to everyone. Whole Foods has no Dollar Menu. Cheap junk food is readily available. This means that lower-income households are subjected to lower-quality foods.

    What makes this paradox dangerous is that food is an integral part of the local experience. Everyone eats food. The prices of food affect everyone. But not everyone can eat quality food and live “sustainably.” Quality food shouldn’t be a luxury for some and a lifestyle for others. This is a fundamental inequality that is present at each dinner table, grocery store and in each dining hall. Suri says that global politics reflect “local expression.” What do the divisions in our access to quality food say about us?

    Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.

  • Alcohol should be sold 24/7

    I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. If I did, however, want to take up the cancer-causing habit, as is my individual right in this country, I could walk to a nearby 7/11 — at 3 in the morning, if I so chose — and purchase a pack of Marlboros. If and when the day comes when I need to have my wisdom teeth removed, I will likely fill a prescription for Valium, Vicodin or some other highly-addicting painkiller at a pharmacy that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco is the underlying cause of death for about 480,000 Americans every year. Abuse of prescription painkillers is responsible for roughly 17,000 additional Americans. Combined, this is nearly 20 times the estimated number of yearly deaths in the U.S. caused by alcohol. And yet, inexplicably, alcohol has indescribably more archaic restrictions and regulations.

    Well, not totally without reason. Southern states such as Texas were some of the strongest advocates for the disastrous Prohibition movement in the 1920s, which naively banned the sale of alcohol. When the country rightly disposed of this asinine experiment, Texas and other states retained blue laws that kept tough restrictions on the sale of alcohol, still — without justification — finding it to be some type of horrendous vice worse than the others such as smoking.

    Accordingly, still to this day, liquor may not be purchased after 9 p.m. on weekdays or at all on Sunday. Fortunately, a pair of bills in the Legislature have been introduced by power players to do away with these silly outdated customs, but they do not go far enough.

    House Bill 1634 by state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, one of Speaker Joe Straus' top lieutenants, would allow liquor stores to open an hour earlier on Saturday, whereas Senate Bill 604 by state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, would keep the stores open a little later each night. Both are good steps in the right direction, but they do not go after the core of the problem. Merchants of all stripes, be it convenience stores, grocery stores or something in between, should be able to sell alcohol all hours of the night and all days of the week.

    To deny this right would be to ludicrously pretend that alcohol is in a more deleterious position to society than cigarettes and other tobacco products, which is certifiably false. While the negative effects of alcohol in society are well known, they are miniscule compared to tobacco. And some people's — the vast minority of drinkers — poor decisions are not grounds for punishing all of society with inconvenient regulations.

    Horwitz is the senior associate editor.

  • Roundup should focus primarily on philanthropy

    Texas Kappa Delta hosted “KD Quesadillas” during RoundUp to raise money for its local philanthropy, Austin Center for Child Protection.
    Texas Kappa Delta hosted “KD Quesadillas” during RoundUp to raise money for its local philanthropy, Austin Center for Child Protection.

    This year's Roundup was huge, with more than 15,000 attendees in West Campus. Twenty-five hundred of those were non-UT students who paid $10 each for wristbands, bringing in $25,000 for IFC. Sorority-hosted philanthropy events raised $30,000.  

    These numbers are impressive, and the money raised will be directed toward separate philanthropies depending on the Greek organization. Yes, Roundup is a nuisance to a majority of the non-Greek population and proved troublesome to APD this year, but the event should not be so quickly discredited. Instead, emphasis should be placed on the good that will come from so many students and non-students alike contributing to charities by means of attending these parties.  

    Roundup has not been a University sanctioned event since 1990, when a series of racially charged incidents led to a dissociation between the two. Roundup was primarily a recruitment event allowing newly admitted Longhorns a chance to check out Greek life on campus. IFC and UPC put an end to that in 2013 and threatened large fines if any fraternity or sorority was found to be "dirty rushing."  

    So what even is Roundup anymore? It's no longer official or a recruitment event, so IFC and UPC should maintain and even intensify their focus on philanthropy. 

    Bounds is an associate editor.