Category Archives: Opinion

Something Different: A Review of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”

Photo labeled for reuse

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

BBC America’s new show “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” kicked off its first season on Oct. 22, 2016 with an hour-long pilot episode entitled “Horizons.” The new series, directed by Max Landis, boasts an amazing cast and features the hilarious duo of Samuel Barnett as the title character Dirk Gently and Elijah Wood — known for his role as Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings” — as Todd Brotzman, Dirk’s reluctant sidekick. First shown at the BBC America panel at New York Comic Con, the first episode of the TV series introduces a number of other characters of varying importance and presents the main mystery of the series, but it does not really get around to explaining a lot. The first series covers the mystery of a missing girl and the murder of the girl’s father, a prominent businessman. It also introduces a strange and mysterious disease Todd’s sister has, which seems to cause hallucinations that can actually hurt her. Other odd occurrences can be seen throughout the first episode, including a man in a gorilla mask, a strange and gruesome murder scene, a person in two places at once, a lottery ticket, and a corgi that keeps popping up.

“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” is one of the strangest TV series to date. It seems to be a mix of Sherlock and Doctor Who but only really rises to similar mix of insanity and wonderfulness in the last few episodes of the season. By contrast, the first episodes are more of a slog, partially due to the fact that the viewer understands very little. The new series is based on a series of books by Douglas Adams (author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) by the same name and yet, according to other reviewers, the only thing the TV series and the book series seem to have in common are the main character. Still, the first season ended on a high note in comparison to previous episodes. The first season had eight episodes, but the series has already been renewed for a second season which promises another ten episodes and is set to debut some time this fall. Intrigued? The series is not yet available on Netflix, but can be bought on iTunes or watched on the BBC America website until Feb. 8.

In Response to Christine Flowers’ “Privileged College Kids Don’t Understand Real Social Injustice”

By Katya Olson Shipyatsky, Staff Writer

On November 18th an article entitled  “Privileged College Kids Don’t Understand Real Social Injustice”, written by Bryn Mawr alumna Christine Flowers, was published on article was in reference to a student organized protest at the Lower Merion Police Department on Wednesday, November 16th which was in response to the chapter’s affiliation with the Fraternal Order of Police which, during the election, endorsed Donald Trump.

In the piece, Flowers expresses doubt whether students protesting in the Bi-Co have ever experienced what she calls “real prosecution.” She argued that the privileged Bi-Co student protesters have no grounds from which to draw parallels between the recent election of Donald Trump as president and historic beginnings of totalitarian regimes. Flowers stated that the “privileged Main Line kids,” should not draw those parallels on the grounds that they are offensive to victims of state-sponsored violence from authoritarian regimes.

Flowers is likely correct that none of us can know exactly what the impending Trump presidency will bring. Many of his proposed policies contradict not only existing government policies, but also with one another. However, her argument that Bi-Co students do not have reason to be fearful of what the next four years may bring and that student protesters are simply “looking for a political cause” is flawed, and oversimplified.  

Aside from Flowers’ incorrect assumption that students in the Bi-Co have never experienced real “fear, persecution, and horrors,” Flowers’ also argues that students are hastily comparing Trump’s rise to power to that of other dictatorial leaders. But what Flowers doesn’t realize is that such comparisons is entirely warranted. Confronted with Trump’s campaign platform of “law and order,” we are not wrong to draw parallels to the increases in police power that have historically come with the beginnings of authoritarian regimes.

Bombarded throughout the election season by the Trump campaign’s racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric, it is not irrational for Bi-Co students to compare Trump’s rise to power to that of authoritarian leaders. But it is not only Trump’s violent rhetoric that has students worried: Trump is also inheriting a Supreme Court that may need up to three seats filled in the next four years, and a majority Republican Congress. This unique combination of institutional power and violent rhetoric leaves us with legitimate grounds from which to draw parallels to the historic beginnings of dangerous, totalitarian regimes. In this sense, we are left with every reason to be fearful of what a Trump presidency will bring.

In light of this, we must look to history to guide us toward effective paths forward. The search for successful methods of resistance leads us to protest, hoping that those methods that have effectively resisted the rise of dictatorial regimes of the past can aid us in preventing them today.

Believing that Trump’s rhetoric combined with the power of the American presidency may be indicative of a shift in the direction of totalitarianism is not far-fetched or baseless, and our justified resistance to a rise of dangerous political ideology does not classify us as “rabble rousers looking for a political cause.” Indeed, the study of history is important for the very reason that it allows us to draw such parallels between events of past and current times with the aim of preventing repetitions of past atrocities.

We are right to be impacted by the parallels we see between Trump’s ascent to power and the rise of past totalitarian leaders. We are right to feel the need to resist. Protests like the one that provoked Flowers’ response are indicative not of a nation-wide trend of millennial oversensitivity, but a trend of historically justified political activism. The future remains frightening and deeply uncertain, but I hope that students of the Bi-Co will trust their inescapable sense that something has gone deeply wrong and continue to draw on historically effective forms of political resistance as we continue into and past January 20th.

Read Flowers’ article here:

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

A Glimmer of Hope in the 2016 Election

By Kate Weiler, Staff Writer

It’s hard to deny that Wednesday, Nov. 9 was a memorable day. And now that almost a month has passed, the decisions made have already begun to build a foundation for the future of the United States. I will focus on three pillars of this foundation: women, wages, and weed.

Four states voted to legalize recreational marijuana on Nov. 8. Massachusetts voters said yes to Question 4, a bill to legalize the recreational use, possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana starting on Dec. 15. And with California’s vote in favor of Proposition 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana for those over the age of 21, the entire West Coast of the U.S. has legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana use. As of 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 9, California residents are allowed to grow up to six plants in their homes, and recreational sales from shops will become legal on Jan. 1, 2018.

Nevada and Maine voted yes on their weed referenda as well. As of January 1, 2018, Nevada residents are legally allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. While all four of these states are left-leaning, the decision made is significant for both their economies and their law enforcement policies.

Four states — Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington — passed ballot measures that will raise the minimum wage significantly by the year 2020. Hourly workers in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine will see their wages rise to $12 an hour, gains of more than $3.75 per hour, and Washington’s minimum wage will rise to $13.50 by 2020, an increase of $4.03 an hour. In South Dakota, a referendum that would lower wages for workers under 18 years of age was defeated.

Several incredible women celebrated wins on October 8. Tucked into the surprise surrounding the loss of Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton were little glimmers of hope for women in politics, with several “firsts” as countless women were elected to various offices across the country.

Kamala Harris is the first black politician to represent California in the Senate, and the second black woman ever elected to the chamber. In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina ever elected to the Senate. The first Indian-American woman elected to Congress, Pramila Jayapal, won over Seattle’s seventh Congressional District in Washington. An immigrant, founder of advocacy group OneAmerica, and Washington State senator, Jayapal has been praised for her resilient progressivism.

Ilhan Omar is the first Somali American to be elected to State Legislature. A refugee who immigrated to the United States at when he was 12, Omar wishes to represent and protect the diverse people of her district, focusing in particular on the rights of immigrants and refugees who seek a better future in America.

In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth defeated Republican Senator Mark Kirk. A veteran of the Iraq war, in which she lost both her legs, Duckworth has promised to use her new power to address structural issues that have prevented veterans’ access to private doctors and to speak for soldiers who have previously been silenced about deployment and foreign policy.

Oregon’s Kate Brown, who took over the position of governor when her predecessor resigned this past year, has become the first openly LGBT person elected governor. She is an outspoken advocate for marginalized communities, including women, underprivileged youth, and the LGBTQ community.

The progress made by these election results, which support of the right to recreational marijuana, higher wages for workers, and women in power, should be recognized and appreciated across party lines. Despite the setbacks, things are changing for the better and will continue to change for the better, and that in and of itself is comforting. So, in this difficult time, remember the good things in life: you don’t have to go all the way to Colorado to light up.

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

Quaker Values in a Time of Divisiveness

By Michael Schwarze, Business Manager

In the aftermath of the election, political polarization seems to be at an all-time high around the nation and even within the Bi-College community. Disagreement is important because it forces people to face viewpoints different from their own, but it sometimes dissolves into back-and-forth arguments where neither side is listening. In a time when engaging in healthy discussion is especially important, how can we work toward productive dialogue?

The first step is to realize that finding mutual understanding does not mean accepting bigotry, racism or other prejudices.

Take Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, which was deeply rooted in such prejudices. Some have tried to play down the bias he has shown, but the implications could — in fact, have already proven to — be disastrous. Trump’s actions and claims should never become the norm, and it’s important to actively disavow many of his comments. But we simply won’t make progress if we don’t understand others’ perspective. Fortunately, the dialogue we need in order to make a framework for mutual understanding is not incompatible with the idea of holding true our own beliefs.  

For guidance, we look toward some of the Quaker ideas Haverford holds dear. Respect for all people, including those with different opinions, is central in Quaker thought. We can work toward tolerance of the opposite perspective in search of a greater understanding based on mutual respect. This doesn’t necessarily mean supporting that perspective; instead, it means trying to understand where it comes from and what values or concerns it reflects.

Quakers also place a heavy emphasis on reflection in times of disagreement. However, when beliefs are firmly held, as is often the case in politics, it can be hard to remain open to new ideas, and the result is both sides on the defensive with no one really listening. To fight this tendency, next time you step up to join a political discussion, listen to someone who disagrees with you and take the time to deliberate on the topic. Think their arguments through, try your best to understand their perspective, and look for mutual ground to build on.

College is a place for us to experience new things and challenge our perspectives. By doing so, we are able to grow in our understanding of our own beliefs. Disagreements do — and should — happen naturally in college and beyond, but they don’t have to be dead ends. With the right tools, the conversations stemming from disagreements can be productive. They allow us to better understand other viewpoints, and by extension we learn more about ourselves.

I (Michael) grew up in a conservative household, and though I still hold a number of conservative beliefs and am a co-head of the Haverford College Republicans, I have also developed a more liberal stance on several issues. Being a part of the Bi-Co has let me challenge my views and learn why others believe what they believe. I hope we can all make room for productive conversation that pushes toward a more comprehensive understanding of what shapes our beliefs.

Chloe Lindeman contributed to this article.

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

First Presidential Debate: Hillary Clinton Asserts Herself as Madame President

By Veronica Walton, Staff Writer

One thing’s for sure: Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, inspired cheers, gasps and approving snaps from across the political spectrum during her first presidential debate with Donald Trump at Hofstra University on Monday night.  During the 90-minute-long discourse (which, at times, metamorphosed into an exchange of bitter philippics), Secretary Clinton laid out her vision for the future of America–even as she withstood 51 interruptions (yes, PBS NewsHour was counting) from her opponent.  

And Trump: a vacuous and nefarious magnate who has never held an elected office and, as it turns out, is grossly unqualified to do so in the first place, continued to mansplain about how he – and only he – will get “our jobs” back “from Mexico,” and how he would do a “tremendous job” at doing so.  But, unlike previous times Trump has taken the political stage, Monday night’s debate left him a stammering, sniffling ball of fragile masculinity.

Despite these staggering attacks, linton remained poised and self-assured.  Determined and well-read on what she referred to as “the facts,” she spoke of how she would encourage policy that would aid economic growth, benefit the middle and lower classes, combat systemic racism and sexism and maximize national security.  She spoke of how she would “make investments where we can grow the economy” and how she “didn’t buy” into trickle-down economics and Trump’s plans to run the nation like a (white nationalist) business tycoon.  

Many conservative politicians, especially those who support Trump, such as senior Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders, complained that they did not believe the debate was fair, and that moderator Lester Holt did not ask Clinton about her array of scandals.  Sanders remarked, “What I thought wasn’t fair was that we didn’t get to talk about the Clinton Foundation. We didn’t talk about Benghazi. We didn’t talk about the email scandal. We got to talk about all the attacks that Hillary’s camp has made on Donald Trump and pretty much ignored most of the big attacks that have been hit on Hillary over the last several weeks.”

Why did Holt ignore them?  Lester ignored these scandals because, although there is an element of understandable wariness around Clinton’s alleged misconduct, Trump’s plans to build xenophobic walls, his sexist attitudes towards beauty pageant contestants, his indistinct and slapdash plans for the economy and his refusal to release the records of his tax returns have not been highlighted nearly enough by the mainstream, nonpartisan media.  Clinton is constantly held to higher moral standards than Trump is simply because she is a woman.  During her time as First Lady, Clinton was criticized for not reflecting the idealized image of a national hostess; she advocated for progressive social and health care reform.  She actually had a political agenda, and an unprecedented one at that.  Somehow, these hostile attitudes towards her assertiveness and audaciousness, which were at one time discussed only between neoconservative commentators, have seeped into our common cultural consciousness.  Even Trump claimed he had a better temperament than Clinton during the debate, although he is the one who interrupted her 51 times.  This too (rather unsurprisingly) reflects sexist postures.

While some argue that Clinton’s email it rendered her untrustworthy or that her actions were inappropriate, it’s not what we should be calling a “real issue.”  A president who sees women solely as sexual objects, tells P.O.C. in low-income communities that they have “nothing to lose,” and can do little more than talk about the “small loan” he inherited from his father and his subsequent personal success and mogul-ism, poses a tangible threat to the stability of the United States.  Trump’s misadventures, abuses, exploitations, and invectives have too long gone excused.  In other words, it’s time to hold him accountable.

The debate marked a high point in Clinton’s career as a presidential candidate.  She beat back interminably against Trump’s condemnations and stood proudly in the face of a skeptical nation.  She proved that, despite the fact that her her presidency will weather all manners of internalized sexism, anti-establishment rhetoric and cynical media attacks, she is indeed fit to sit in the Oval Office.

From the print edition published Oct. 5, 2016

You Deserve to be Here Too

By Kate Weiler, Staff Writer

Last week, I read an article that made me feel incredibly small. I felt powerless and hurt and confused, but mostly small. It has been five days, and I still cannot get it out of my mind. I am being brought to tears re-reading the piece and writing a response to it now. “The Admissions Office Doesn’t Care About Your Values,” a contribution to Swarthmore’s Daily Gazette, was an attempted attack on the capitalist tendencies of private institutions of higher education, a prevalent topic in the United States today, but it ultimately took aim at something else, something disturbing: students who receive financial aid to attend such institutions.

In case you have not read the article, the excerpt I take issue with is the following:

“Do I think mixing finances and admissions is fundamentally wrong? Absolutely not. Colleges are, at a basic level, private institutions that need to worry about their long term sustainability. Demonizing wealthy students is not productive because, in the end, they are paying not just for their own education but also for the education of their hyper-liberal classmates who resent the upper class at its core. Is this fair? No. But life isn’t fair. That’s reality. Stop whining and get over it. “Check your privilege” should be replaced with a warm “thank you so, so much for being forced to pay for my opportunity.””

Since its publication, countless members of the Tri-Co (Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr) community have expressed their disappointment and indignation with the content of the article and the fact that it was published by the highly regarded student newspaper. I myself was afraid to add my voice to the chorus of disapproval, and this is why this article is being published at this moment in time, and not sooner. I do not attend Swarthmore. I do not know the person who decided to put her views out there. I do not know her socioeconomic class or experiences. I am merely your average college student who made it to the institution I attend because of several different types of financial aid, who is currently being forced to combat a feeling of not belonging that this piece aggressively thrusts upon me.

The utter contempt that the above portion of the piece points at students who rely on financial aid to receive an education, whether from a state university or from a small liberal arts college like Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, is disheartening. It reinforces a hierarchy based on socioeconomic class and demeans those who have put in the extra effort to apply for and receive financial aid. I was taken aback by the assumptions the author, as entitled to her opinions as we all are, made in her stark and insulting generalizations about me and those I care about.

I will be the first to acknowledge that having the opportunity to attend Bryn Mawr was a gift, one that I have already gotten a peek at my first few weeks here, and I thank my family, friends at home and at BMC, and teachers and professors, past and present, my high school, my home state, and the admissions office who gave the girl with the sub-par GPA from Massachusetts a shot, for getting me here. The list, for now, ends there. I will not thank those who are able to pay for the entirety of their college costs without financial help. I don’t resent these people, as the author of this article insinuates that all non-upper class people such as myself do. I respect these people so, so much. Their families have no doubt worked hard to get them where they are, and hard work is one of the most respectable entity out there, in my personal opinion.

I normally don’t even separate those like me from those who didn’t need to apply for financial aid. I have friends who need financial aid, and I have friends who do not. They’re all equally my friends. By implying that all students who are aid dependent have a beef with those of higher socioeconomic status, the author of this article creates a harsh divide between classes, one I have never recognized myself. She tells me that I secretly hate my friends, my peers, and a good percent of the world. By telling me that I should thank fellow students who have more money than I happen to possess for paying for my opportunity at a good education, she implies that I am not rightfully a student of the Tri-Co. According to her, I shouldn’t be here, in Pennsylvania, writing for this newspaper. That without these students who happen to be wealthier than I am, I would not have been accepted. Like my hard work and struggles mean virtually nothing. I know that this isn’t true.

I decided to speak up about this issue because I know for a fact that articles like “The Admissions Office Doesn’t Care About Your Values” can impact students’ emotional well-being, which is the last thing sleep-deprived, stressed out students need. It sure has affected my own health in the past week. I have already questioned my being here enough, with the rigor of the courses and the extreme intelligence of my peers and friends; three weeks in, I have already felt as though I might not cut it.

With the popularity of this article, I, as well as other students who have received financial aid from their institution, state, and high school, do not need the extra anxiety that comes with being told that we owe everything to those who could pay their way in college. While I respect her as a fellow student journalist, one who is very brave for putting her opinions in the public eye, this author cannot make me ashamed of something that I needed in order to be here today. She does not get to erase the hard work I put in in high school and will continue to put in for the rest of my career at Bryn Mawr. She is not allowed to blame my family, and families like mine, for the steep cost of higher education. She cannot take away my pride in being where I am, and she sure as hell is not going to scare me away from fighting for my right to an education. I deserve to be here. All Tri-Co students, whether he or she has financial aid or not, deserve to be here. We all deserve to study, laugh, have meaningful conversations, and eat as many slices of Haffner’s pizza as we want. We don’t need to apologize for being where we are, and nobody can make us.

From the print edition published on Oct. 5, 2016

Protesters Push Back Against DAPL

By Elizabeth Hoo, Staff Writer

The night before I was left for the rally in Philadelphia to oppose the DAPL, I called my mom.

“Wasn’t this issue based off a movie from a while back?” she asked. I was shocked to hear that she didn’t know what was happening, but with the election and everything else going on in the political realm, it can be hard to keep up.

This article provides some information about the North Dakota Pipeline and the ongoing protests in Standing Rock and around the nation.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Hoo
Photo credit: Elizabeth Hoo

What is the DAPL?

The DAPL is the Dakota Access Pipe Line which extends 1,172 miles through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. The pipeline will cost about $3.7 billion and will transport about 470,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota to a storage facility in Illinois. The Dakota Access Pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas oil company.


The Sioux Tribe, located in Standing Rock, North Dakota, has lived in Standing Rock since 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. This land which the North Dakota Pipeline seeks to pass through is sacred land and belongs to the tribe by treaty which the US made with the Native people. The oil companies did not consult the Sioux Tribe about the Pipeline.

As of now, the Tribe has been fighting oil companies for about two years to get the legal rights to remove big oil from their land. The Pipeline not only affects the way of life for the Tribe but it could affect water supplies for millions of people: if the pipeline were to leak, both drinking water and water for crops would see widespread impacts.

At the same time, oil is a crucial natural resource and having this Pipeline could reduce America’s dependence on international oil. One possible solution for the oil pipeline would be to put it into a different location, but finding a new location is difficult as no community would likely want the Pipeline running through its backyard. So who decides who is given the short end of the stick?

Photo credit: Elizabeth Hoo
Photo credit: Elizabeth Hoo

What is happening now?

Peaceful protests at Standing Rock, ND, are being met with force. There is so much support around the nation for the struggle of the Sioux Nation. In many cities, individuals are coming out and protesting the institutions which seek to implant the Pipeline. Nov. 15 was National Day of Solidarity for Standing Rock. I went to an organized rally with a friend in Philadelphia, where between two and three hundred people showed up to voice their opinions.

The protest began at 8 a.m., with the majority of people holding signs and many chanting “Philly stands with Standing Rock”, “Hey hey Ho the DAPL has got to go” and “Water is Life.” The group walked to several Philadelphia venues significant in the construction of the Pipeline. Our first stop was the Army Corps, where protesters lay down for 11 minutes – one minute for each 1000 kilometers of the Pipeline. From there the protest headed over the Wells Fargo then TD Banks, which are two of the big funders for the project.

With Trump elected, the future for the Sioux Tribe seems very rocky but hopefully with enough support, the DAPL will be stopped.