An End to Solitary Confinement in the United States

Jackson Boyle ’25

Jackson Boyle ’25

In the 1990s, Five Mualimm-ak was a successful real estate investor, a passionate community leader, and a loving father of a 5-year-old boy. In 2000, he was wrongfully arrested for possession of illegal weapons and spent twelveyears in prison until the Innocence Project exonerated him. During his imprisonment, Mualimm-ak spent five years in solitary confinement. He was not put in solitary for dangerous behavior, but rather for minor infractions that include having too many postage stamps in his cell and not eating his apple. While in confinement, Mualimm-ak would spend 23 hours a day in his 6×9 foot cell with no social interactions. Another former inmate, who spent over seven years in isolation, described the smell as a combination of “defecation, unwashed armpits … [mixed] with the pepper spray officers use to extract prisoners from their cells”. After being released, Five Mualimm-ak was dropped off in Times Square by a bus filled with inmates who had also been in solitary confinement. Of the 15 people who were on the bus, 5 committed suicide within a year.

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Easing California’s Water Shortage: Moving Almond Cultivation

Chase J. Wittbrodt ’23

Chase J. Wittbrodt ’23

The water scarcity crisis in the American West is an imminent threat that directly affects more than 78 million people. As climate change unleashes its devastating impacts, the local groundwater supply is drying up and creating optimal conditions for droughts, wildfires, and desertification. Although California Governor Gavin Newsom has not yet ordered statewide water restrictions, many local municipalities have instated limitations on water usage guidelines. These restrictions prevent the non-essential use of water, such as washing a car, landscape irrigation, and drawn-out showers. As California residents have had their water usage restricted and their lives threatened by wildfires and droughts, local governments must turn their heads to an industry that has continued to use exorbitant amounts of water to cultivate their crops: the almond industry.

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College Students: The Forgotten Americans in a Pandemic

Mikelyn Britt ’23

Mikelyn Britt ’23

Full-time college students have been left out of the stimulus checks for the length of the  COVID-19 pandemic. Students aged 18 to 24 are still eligible to be claimed as dependents on their parents’ taxes and are therefore unqualified for the $1,400 stimulus checks. In addition to this oversight, because many college students are over 17, their parents do not receive the additional $500. Why are they different from any other dependents?

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Texas and Environmental Justice

Brooke Ashfield ’23

Brooke Ashfield '23
Brooke Ashfield ’23

In the aftermath of violent winter storms across Texas, the articles, conversations, and social media representations have stalled out. With temperatures rising and power grids functioning once again, the nation turns its head with satisfaction for the end of the storm. Yet, as we all look away, the story is far from over for the disproportionately impacted minority and low-income communities trudging through the remains of a debilitating week.

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Decision 2020: Trump vs. Biden in Pennsylvania

Giovanna Komst ’24

Pennsylvania Presidential Election Results 2016
Pennsylvania Presidential Election Results 2016. Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the general election approaches, most eyes lay on the key battleground states in the U.S. to predict who will be the next United States President. Pennsylvania is notorious for being a toss-up red or blue state in the general election. Joe Biden and Donald Trump have spent much of their campaign directed toward winning Pennsylvania to sway their twenty electoral votes. For the previous six elections, Pennsylvania voted for the Democratic Party, but in 2016, they turned red and supported Donald Trump leading him to a victory campaign. Each year, the race was a close call with almost a fifty-fifty split in electoral votes for each political party. This year, Pennsylvania is seen as a tipping point in the election and it is said by most that the fate of who wins the election will be entirely dependent on the winner of Pennsylvania.

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Decision 2020: Trump vs. Biden in Florida

Miranda Zamora ’23

Florida Presidential Election Results 2016
Florida Presidential Election Results 2016. Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump cast his ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida, on October 24. As we know, winning Florida is crucial for a presidential candidate in the election, yet it has always been difficult to determine how Florida will vote. The state does not typically show a strong loyalty to either political party and has often been called the “bellwether state” for accurately predicting the national moods of the presidential elections. In fact, since 1928, Florida has only twice voted against the winner of the presidential race.

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Decision 2020: Trump vs. Biden in North Carolina

Will Firman ’24

North Carolina Presidential Election Results 2016
North Carolina Presidential Election Results 2016. Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The state of North Carolina can pride itself on their barbecues, their beaches within the Outer Banks and their status as an election battleground. The future of the presidency of Donald Trump will be on the ballot tomorrow: whether voters approve of his unorthodox handling of key issues enough to give him a second term may be decided by North Carolina, a must-win state for the Republican incumbent. If judging his chances based on past elections – including in 2016 when he carried North Carolina by 3.7 percentage points – this shouldn’t be an extremely difficult task. In the last 50 years, only two Democrats have managed to carry the Tar Heel State on the presidential level – Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Barack Obama in 2008. That said, even as the President carried this state four years ago, it is not a guarantee that he can hold onto this state again.

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Decision 2020: Elaine Luria vs. Scott Taylor (VA-02)

Mani Tangellamudi ’24

Elaine Luria, Official Portrait, 116th Congress
Elaine Luria. U.S. House Office of Photography/House Creative Services, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Virginia 2nd Congressional District encompasses Accomack, Northampton, and York counties and is considered one of the most competitive congressional districts in Virginia. As a district, it has traditionally held conservative representatives in office, with 8 in 10 being Republican in the past ten elections. The district is 67% white and has an average income of $70K, about $15K higher than the average, giving some reason behind a Republican history and reason to the district being R+3. Moreover, there was redistricting in 2012 that was deemed unconstitutional in 2016 and had no effect on the party that held office the year the redistricting was changed.

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Decision 2020: Jeff Van Drew vs. Amy Kennedy (NJ-02)

Jack Comegno ’24

Jeff Van Drew Official Portrait 116th Congress
U.S. House Office of Photography/House Creative Services, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

I have been following the Jeff Van Drew vs. Amy Kennedy U.S. Congressional race for the New Jersey 2nd District. This race is being impacted by local issues, the Presidential race, and a difference in campaign money. Right now, the race is considered a “toss-up,” but a recent poll shows Kennedy in the lead by 6 percentage points. Will the incumbent, Jeff Van Drew, changing parties and becoming Republican help him, or will it show him as a traitor to the Democratic party, and possibly even “pull him down” because of President Trump’s low favorability ratings in the district?

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Decision 2020: Trump vs. Biden in Arizona

Sean Thompson ’20

Arizona Presidential Election Results 2016
Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The presidential battleground state of Arizona has been a highly contested swing state in this upcoming election. Republicans have been the state’s dominant party as residents align with more conservative ideologies; every Republican candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower, except for Bob Dole, has won the state of Arizona. In 1996, Bill Clinton won Arizona over Dole. The state has had over 72 years of Republican voting. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump beat Hillary Clinton with 48.1 percent of the votes. In the current election, Biden is leading with 48.2 percentage points over Trump, who has 45.5 percent. Biden could be the first Democratic candidate to win this state since 1996. The change in this voting most likely has to do with the demographic of voters. It has been reported that more people have moved in and out of Arizona, either due to professions or other reasons. There is also a growth in the Hispanic population, which leans more democratic. There are more democratic residents moving to Arizona as well. Republican voters are also shifting more democratic as they are not pleased with Trump’s current administration. The result of this election will be tough for Arizona. Political scientists predict that the state could go blue, but it could go either way.

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