Too Many Distractions

I know I am not the only person in the world who finds studying to be boring. After spending an hour at my desk with an open textbook and notebook, I reward myself with a break to keep from getting a headache. I usually pull out my phone and scroll through my social media feeds just to see what my friends have posted recently and make a comment or two. Before I know it, I have turned a quick study break into 40 minutes of watching videos on Youtube or Facebook. At that point, I become irritated that I wasted time I needed to study or complete a project or paper. I had this problem a couple of times this weekend as I tried to study for midterms and thought back to the other days this semester when I had wasted my precious time and found myself too sleepy to get back to work. For this reason, I have decided to log out of social media for a week regain focus on my priorities.

It can be difficult for me to focus on a task and that is made worse when I have many distractions in front of me. Social media is not my only distraction. I get bored and eat chips, watch movies or music videos, or sometimes carry on long conversations with friends and family to keep from getting back to the books. If you also struggle to focus while studying, I have found a few tips that can help you.

1. Find a space

Studying at home is comfortable, but I prefer to study in the library during the week. When I’m at home, I get distracted with the TV or get too comfortable in bed and decide to take extra-long naps that last for two hours and leave me with little time to work. The library is perfect for me because it is quiet and it puts me in a mental study mode. I have room to lay out all of my materials and I am not comfortable enough there to take a nap. If you find yourself unable to focus where you are currently trying to study, find a space that has fewer distractions. It might also be helpful for you to study with friends that encourage you to stay on task.

2. Limit your gadgets

If you do not need your laptop out to take notes, put it away. If you do not need your phone on your desk to study, put it away. Having unnecessary gadgets out while you are trying to concentrate can break your concentration. When I have my laptop on my desk while I’m reading chapters form my textbook, I have a habit of randomly browsing the internet and looking up questions that have nothing to do with what I’m reading. For this reason, I will shut my laptop and push it away from me or place it in my backpack to force myself to pay attention to the book. If you use your laptop or phone for notes or flashcards, practice restraint.

3. Time yourself

I got into the habit of timing myself while studying when I was freshman in college. I only had morning classes and would give myself and hour or so for each subject that day to complete the readings or assignments. Between subjects, I timed 10 or 15-minute breaks to give my brain a chance to rest before diving back in. When I had a visual reminder of how much time I had to work on an assignment, it made me work harder to finish or accomplish as much as possible within that span of time. I was less likely to get distracted because I could see that I only had to stay focused for a few more minutes before I could take a break. When I didn’t time myself, it felt like I had hours to work on one assignment and I would drag it out instead of just getting it done.

4. Split your tasks

If I know I am going to spend more than one hour on homework for one class, I prefer to split the work. It can be tiring to force yourself to sit and read one textbook or write one essay for two or three hours straight. Take a break somewhere in the middle to rest or work on something else before you get too distracted to finish.

One important rule about study breaks is to keep them short. Anything more than 20 minutes can lead to you spending an hour or two binge-watching that new TV show you found out about on Netflix and having to cram for the big test tomorrow. Use your break time to eat a meal or do some stretches to keep you awake and alert. I like to read a book or listen to music during my breaks.

Staying focused while studying can be difficult when it is not a subject you are interested in or you just do not feel like studying. However, I hope these tips above can help you make it through you course work this semester. Remember, if you set good study habits for yourself now, you can reduce the stress of final exams at the end of the semester!

Help for Harms of Hazing

Blake Novacek has sued the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and two fraternity members over an alleged hazing incident in October of 2015 that reportedly left him with a traumatic brain injury.

Courtesy of Christopher Cooke

Blake Novacek, son of former NFL tight end Jay Novacek, is suing a University of Oklahoma fraternity for brain injuries he sustained from hazing in 2015.

He was pledging to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity on October 11, 2015 when he was taken into Shane Musselman’s room and asked to state facts about the fraternity’s history. When he could not give the answers, he was hit in the stomach with a baseball bat. He fell after being hit and struck his head on a hard object which left him unconscious for around ten hours. Novacek alleges that Gavin Martindale approached him after he woke up and told him to keep his mouth shut about the incident.

Novacek’s attorney, Christopher Cooke, said the plaintiff has been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, postconcussive syndrome, and bipolar disorder. Novacek is also under the care of many doctors.

Both Martindale and Musselman have retained attorneys to “aggressively defend” them in the suit, and the fraternity denies the allegations. The Gamma Phi chapter said there were no fraternity activities on October 11 because nearly all of the fraternity members were in Dallas for a football game that weekend. Novacek also posted a photo of himself at the Dallas Cowboys football game of October 11.

Cooke says Novacek is unable to recall dates after sustaining head injuries and says the date given is the closest he can recall to the date of the events outlined in the lawsuit.

The most recent fraternity hazing death occurred on September 14 at Louisiana State University. Max Gruver, 18, was laid on a couch by members of Phi Delta Theta that morning. When they came back, his pulse was weak. Gruver died at a nearby hospital later that day. The coroner reported Gruver having a “highly elevated” blood-alcohol level. His BAC was .495, significantly higher than the 0.08 that would be considered legally drunk in Louisiana.

Max Gruver

Arrest warrants were issued for ten people involved in Gruver’s death. All ten were charged with hazing, and Alexander Naquin has an added charge of negligent homicide.

According to the University of Dayton, alcohol consumption is one of the most common activities involved in hazing and contributes to 82% of hazing deaths. Nine out of ten college students who have experienced hazing in college do not believe they have been hazed. While alcohol is a common hazing activity, there are also many others including:
• Morally degrading or humiliating activities, games or stunts
• Physical abuse
• Requiring of nudity
• Having a person run personal errands

Hazing cases that result in death occur each year. However, most students who experience hazing do not come forward and report it to their campus officials. This is partially out of fear of the consequences of their actions and because they do not realize they have been hazed. These activities occur more frequently in clubs, teams, and student organizations. Sometimes hazing occurs with a faculty member who is present or is actually engaging in the activities. Students TAMUT can report hazing to the Office of Student Life at (903) 223-3116 or the Vice President of Student Affairs at (903) 223-3602.

For more information about hazing, visit the following links:

You Can Learn Another Language

The United States has always been considered a melting pot of cultures, customs, and ideas. One large part of a culture’s identity is language. While English is the language primarily used in the U.S., it is not classified as the official language. When visiting larger cities, it is not uncommon to see businesses with their names written in a foreign language. Even in Texarkana, it is likely that you will hear people speak a foreign language during a trip to the grocery store or on a Saturday at the mall. Perhaps you have been curious about what they were talking about or what language they were speaking.

There are many benefits to being multilingual in the United States. Being multilingual provides opportunities in education and business. Many businesses and companies are looking for people who are multilingual to handle their overseas accounts or communicate with members of their target demographic. Among the largest occupational fields in the United States are retail, food preparation, and registered nurses. Workers in these fields are very likely to encounter people who are not comfortable speaking English and would be relieved to find someone they can really communicate with. In a survey of 581 alumni of The American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona, most respondents said they had gained a competitive advantage from their knowledge of foreign languages and other cultures. They said that not only was language study often a critical factor in hiring decisions and in enhancing their career paths, it also provided personal fulfillment, mental discipline, and cultural enlightenment.

Learning a foreign language does not have to be as difficult as some may think. There are many resources available now online and in print that make learning easier. Apps are available like Babbel and Duolingo that prepare lessons for beginners and more advanced learners that make learning simple and less expensive than taking a formal class. Learning can also be made easy by simply watching movies in foreign languages. It is proven that adults learn language more naturally when they replicate the process of first language acquisition. As babies, we learn language by mimicking our parents and others around us. They can inflect the meaning of words by changing their tone of voice or exaggerating the emotion it represents. We don’t begin expanding our vocabulary and learning grammar rules until elementary school after we have basic knowledge of the language. In the school setting, language is taught with vocabulary and grammar first. This process makes learning more difficult for adults who are already used to speaking one language.

Second language acquisition is more natural when you familiarize yourself with the sounds and pick up words and phrases from hearing the language more often. Being multilingual can open you up for opportunities in a variety of career paths and give you an edge when you apply for jobs. The process of learning other languages does not have to be difficult, time consuming, or expensive and you can set your own pace based on your other responsibilities.

A silent protest with a loud message

Dallas Cowboys team and owner lock arms in moment of silent protest on Monday September 25. Photo from ESPN.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick drew nationwide attention for not standing during the national anthem before games. His silent protest was against the oppression of people of color in light of events of police brutality. This form of protest has gained more attention since Sunday, when more players were shown with arms linked, kneeling on the field, sparking a debate over what the players are protesting and whether they should be able to protest at all.

On Monday September 25, the Dallas Cowboys team and its owner, Jerry Jones, linked arms and knelt on the field before the national anthem was played amidst jeers from the crowded arena. Jason Garret, Dallas Cowboys head coach, said in an interview with NFL Total Access they chose that moment to demonstrate for a reason.

“The biggest thing for us was to show support and to demonstrate, but do it in a way that didn’t involve the American flag and the national anthem, and everybody was behind that,” said Garret.

“The reason that I’m particularly proud of this team and the coaches that coached them, is because we all agreed that our players wanted to make a statement about unity and we wanted to make a statement about equality,” said Jerry Jones.

Jones is not the only owner to kneel with his team. Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons and Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins also kneeled with their teams. Donald Trump has spoken out against the NFL, urging for a rule that forces the players to stand for the anthem and sees kneeling as a sign of disrespect on the United States rather than a silent protest for social equality. He shared his opinion through a series of tweets.

Many Americans agreed with his statements. Taya Kyle, widow of ‘American Sniper’, Chris Kyle, shared her thoughts about the issue in a letter to the NFL on Facebook. In the letter, she claims the NFL’s job was to “bring people together and heal the world” and feels that their recent protests go against that.

“You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division,” Kyle said.

Not all Americans feel the same way as President Trump and Taya Kyle.

Olivia Okoye, freshman, also supports the players kneeling. “It’s their right to kneel. If they feel that they should do it, it’s their right.”

“I think they are standing as a team no matter what race they are because it affects all races. There are all races in the NFL,” said Arlena Lightsey, freshman.

Zane Watson, freshman, was on the fence about the issue.

“It’s their right as human beings to represent their opinions, but those opinions can reflect badly on the organization,” he said.

Speak up or stay quiet?

Women are supposed to be quiet. Women are supposed to be polite. Women are supposed to be delicate creatures to be seen and not heard. These are just a few of the misconceptions people have about women that can be very damaging to women and society. Growing up, I was taught the importance of being a lady, but did not realize what that could convey to others. While my mother always told me to speak my mind, I realized at a young age that the girls that spoke their minds were viewed negatively. Teachers and students thought they were being bossy or rude when they were behaving like the boys.

Many women struggle with assertion because it is a quality that is more acceptable in men. If a woman is outspoken or bold in her approach to a situation or person, she is at risk of being viewed as less of a lady. This is a problem when they are put in situations where it is very important that they assert their opinions and feelings, such as the workplace.

On July 26, Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, was arrested when she refused to let police take blood from an unconscious patient. Her arrest sparked outrage because she was following the correct legal protocol for her job and was put in handcuffs. However, how would this situation have been different if she had not spoken up? If this was the case, Wubbels could have lost her job for going against policy.

Because more women are choosing to be in careers that are traditionally male dominated, there is an increased need for assertiveness to ensure that these women are taken seriously in their profession. One step is for women to speak up. They should feel more comfortable making requests and asking questions. While some may feel uncomfortable asking their boss about a promotion, this can open a conversation that can lead to career advancement. It is also important to assume responsibility for emotions. Using “I” statements shows that they are not blaming anyone else for how they feel. The next step is to be ready for the consequences of assertion.

Women are showing their assertion through feminism and following celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Lady Gaga, who have spoken their minds on controversial subjects. This country is more welcoming to this behavior than others. Gauri Lankesh, an Indian journalist, was sentenced to prison for a story about a local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party last year. On the evening of September 5, she was found dead on her porch from gun shots. Although it is unknown the reason for her murder, she was known to be outspoken.

While there are still grave consequences for assertion, it is still an important skill for women to work on. It can help women move forward in both their professional and personal lives. It truly is a skill to communicate thoughts, ideas, and opinions without being disrespectful. The absence of this skill can keep women from advancing further in their lives, which counteracts with what many women are working very hard toward.