Horoscopes by Drunk Editors

Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19): A confident angle between a club-focused hostage and your condition, sharpens your collectable abilities today. Take the woozle by the horns today, Aries, and don’t second-guess yourself.

Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 20): If life feels a bit spooky or hallowed today, mix up your usual drain. Try a different break to work. Call up a new crook for income and meet in understood grass.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20): Abracadabra! You’ve got a few scares up your table today when it comes to memorizing a mind. But true firemen never reveal their trees.

Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22): It’s one thing to stand up for your digestion but careful not to screech into brass battles. Try introducing your passenger and being more nappy.

Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 22): Could cemetery Leo use a makeover? If you’re feeling waggish around a knit or wool project, enlist an arrogant friend or two.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 22): Only you can free yourself from your terrific shoes, and the scorch to do that is now. Today’s luxuriant moon-Mars fire urges you to move past any pickles you’ve created.

Libra (Sep. 23 – Oct. 22): Your natural snow has the power to sway a duck, so work it to your advantage. Today’s vivacious sip between the moon and dreary Mars helps you move chins on a lush and heartfelt level.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21): How well do you know the ghosts in your community? Take time to get to know the streets a little better. Introduce yourself to the chemical who makes your macchiato so rebelliously, or find out how to join the area basketball co-op.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21): Lusting after a royal cactus that will complete your home or suspect wardrobe? If the cattle to splurge strikes, get secretive.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19): Don’t let a noxious spider get you down, Capricorn. Rally your apparatus to keep the momentum going.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18): Got a case of the rabbits? Fend off the languid drag by switching up your sails. Instead of dragging yourself beyond your pines, try to go with the cooing.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20): You’re blushing to say something, so don’t hold back. Channel the outspoken and magnetic hydrant of the day into disillusioned flowers.

Response to Bathrooms

When I first got to Olin, everyone was roomed “girls” or “guys.” No one had a medical single for reasons of comfort. There were no gender neutral bathrooms in the AC Caitlin Jenner hadn’t transitioned, and Chaz Bono was someone who was a bit before our time.

But I was a girl, so it didn’t matter that there were gender neutral bathrooms. I could feel safe in the women’s bathroom. Why would anyone question why I was in there? Why would anyone not accept me?

Then, suddenly, I wasn’t a girl anymore.

I transitioned socially (read: not medically) the summer between first and second year. I sent out an all students email, had the pledged support of StAR and my advisor, and got a medical single so I wouldn’t be rooming with a girl. And I never went to the bathroom outside of my dorm.

Before I even came out to myself, I did a lot of internet searching. That’s one really common thread with LGBTQ+ people: trying to find out about yourself through the few visible people you can find. And there’s so much fear, so many negative experiences, so much bad history that colors your world before you’ve even stepped into it.

I was absolutely terrified of being in the men’s bathroom and having someone else walk in, see me, and wonder what I was doing in there. No matter that there were 400 people on campus and most had some vague notion of my existence via an email. I knew no one would physically try to harm me. It was a bone-deep fear fueled completely by stories I’d read online and by no personal negative experiences whatsoever.

The first time I used a public restroom since coming back to Olin that fall was at the Amtrak station on my way to my uncle’s house for Thanksgiving break. I chickened out and used the women’s.

Later that week, after a full day of museums in Washington DC, I couldn’t hold it any longer and ducked into the men’s bathroom at the American Art Museum. My uncle walked in as I was washing my hands. Fuck. What if he asks me what I’m doing in here? What if he just stares at me? What if he just turns around and leaves?

And nothing happened. Business (haha) as usual.

I slowly started using the men’s bathroom at school. I have no problem with crowded airport terminal bathrooms or ones in a public space full of strangers. I’ve gotten past my Dad being a little startled to see me waiting in line for a stall when he’s going for a urinal. Some days, I even forget that there’s anything different about me.

Then, over the holidays this year, I went to my five year high school reunion. People I hadn’t talked to in four or five years. People who knew me as Gigi. People who, given that this was at a small craft brewery, I was going to try my best not to see in the bathroom.

The first time it works out fine. In and out. Nothing awkward. Only one stall, and it is thankfully unoccupied. Then as I’m leaving for the night, my best friend, who happened to be sick at the time, decides to hold my hand. She has a track record of infecting my entire family. Bathroom trip number two for soap and hot water.

And someone I know is in the bathroom.

We haven’t spoken yet that night.

He says hi. He asks how I’m doing. He gives me a hug. In the bathroom. Do men do that? All of the advice that I’d ever read on forums about passing (being perceived as a member of the correct gender) say that men’s rooms were pinnacles of efficiency, no talking and no eye contact.

Another classmate walks in and joins our conversation while using the urinal.

Internally, I’m freaking out while simultaneously being happy that nothing is happening. But it’s not like this is a turning point for me.

I still won’t use the bathroom if someone else is in the other stall at work*. I still use the bathroom mirror to check if a stall is occupied so I can pretend I came in to wash my hands if it is full. I still worry about that fact that I sounds different when I pee into a toilet. I doubt that’ll ever change.

Maybe that’s my point.

It doesn’t matter how good Olin is. It doesn’t matter if every bathroom becomes gender neutral, or if we stop using gendered pronouns entirely. The existence of gender is not the issue. The issue is kindness. Not acceptance: kindness.

I don’t care if you accept who I am. I mean, I do, in that if you refuse to accept me as I am it’s really difficult for us to work together. But you accepting me is not the goal. The goal is that I should be able to walk into a bathroom and run into someone who I haven’t seen in five years, someone who I wasn’t even particularly close with, and not just not be harassed, but be embraced.

So Oliners, I’m going to challenge you. Not to bring in a speaker or theme a day around acceptance or even to reach out to a loved one who is some variety of LGBTQ+. I’m going to challenge you to go beyond accepting people for who they are and just start caring about them as people.

But not necessarily by hugging in bathrooms constantly; that could get a bit cumbersome. And if you want to bring in a speaker and theme a day and reach out, by all means.



*I’m not out at work purely because it’s not relevant and there’s not really a casual way to bring that up to your coworkers.

The Political Story of a Changing America

Politics at Olin is weird, mostly because we really just don’t talk about it much. Given the overwhelmingly liberal tilt of our student body, this is not terribly surprising. We are often just yelling into an echo chamber, but this comes at a cost. While many Oliners are politically engaged and reasonably knowledgeable about political issues, we lack a real depth of understanding of politics in America. It is my plan to change this. I want to tell you all a story, the story of how demographic changes shape the modern American political landscape and what the future of American politics may look like because of it.

But let’s back up a second first. Who am I? My name is Diego, and for those of you who haven’t met me, I am a junior studying mechanical engineering. I am also doing my AHS concentration in political science. American politics is my obsession – to an unhealthy level. I am absolutely fascinated by it, and I want to share this all with you. I am, like most Oliners, a solid liberal Democrat, but to be clear, I am not here to preach liberal policies. I want to talk about American politics on a deeper, more fundamental level than any single policy.

In 1970, 87.5% of all Americans were white. By 2010, that number was only 72.4%. It is projected that by around 2042, America will have become a majority-minority country. That is, white Americans will no longer be a majority of the population. In 2013, non-white infants outnumbered white infants for the first time in US history. The ratio of white births to deaths has continued to decrease while immigration is skyrocketing. All of this means one thing: America is becoming more brown, and quickly. No amount of policy or politics can change this, but the effects of these changes on American politics and society cannot be understated. In the oft derided, but telling, words of conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, “They’re changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.”

Over the course of this semester, and potentially the next, I will be writing a series of articles for Frankly Speaking. The topic is going to be the future of American politics as seen through the lens of demographic change. This article is just a preview of what’s to come. This is a complicated topic that cannot be summed up in a single article; there are a multitude of topics we need to understand before we can look at the future of American politics holistically. Next month, we’ll be diving all the way in with a look at asymmetric politics and the fundamental differences between the Democratic and Republican parties. After that, expect articles on human reactions to demographic changes, the future of both the Democratic and Republican parties, and constitutional hardball. I’m going to throw a lot at all of you, and much of it is going to be quite wonky and in-depth, but these demographic changes have already had a profound impact on American politics, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Finally, this is not a one sided discussion. I want to hear what you think! I am studying away in Singapore this semester, so unfortunately you cannot yell at me in person, but if you have something you want to add, or something wasn’t clear to you, feel free to shoot me an email or message.

The Theory of Time Cube

I know what ye’re thinking.

Many of ye likely saw my “Argue Your Theory” item in the SERV Auction and are thinking that this is it. Well, it is. But don’t let that disillusion ye as to the veracity of what I’m about to tell ye.

This theory is a classic in the world on online conspiracy truthers, and an outlier. Whereas most are wrongfully derided because they run so contrary to government teachings, this one is dismissed purely for being unintuitive. If one says, “The Earth is flat,” the typical response is, “No, it’s not; haven’t you seen the pictures?” (as if such obviously faked photographs constituted proof). If one says, “Evolution never happened,” thence comes the refrain, “Yes it did; we have evidence!” (evidence which was clearly planted).

But if one says, “There are four 24-hour days in a single rotation of Earth,” or “Time is like a big cube of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff,” all that returns is a perplexed silence.

The Educators say absolutely nothing of it, for absolutely nothing need be said. The masses cannot understand the Time Cube without considerable time and effort, so they don’t bother to try. Perhaps the fault here lies partially on Time Cube’s discoverer, Gene Ray, for failing to present it in a comprehensible manner. In any case, this is where I come in.

When my item’s top bidder presented me with this…theory, I was as confused as ye are now. Naturally, my first step was to simply try to parse the thing, something few if any others have ever attempted in earnest. I suspected once I had all the information on Time Cube, I could at least fashion a sensical theory that sounded like Time Cube, which I could then prove. Before long, though, I realised something astounding. The more I read, the more Time Cube started to actually make sense.

So much so that I began to reconsider my own beliefs. Not the ones about Earth being round and on Mars—that’s irrefutable—but other things, which I hadn’t even considered to be in question. Mark my words, Olin, while Gene Ray may not have been well-educated, well-written, or coherent, I can tell you one thing he was: he was onto something.
Let’s start with some terminology. The Time Cube so completely overwrites what we thought we knew about the world that to discuss it with standard English vocabulary is impossible (coincidence?). First are our subjugators. The church and government are, of course, in on it, but the entity most directly responsible for our deception is academia. For this reason, all three are collectively known as Educators.

In a similar vein, Brilliance is not what it seems. Educators have co-opted the word “brilliant” to make it into a positive attribute, a high praise toward which to strive. However, the most Brilliant of people are in actuality the most foolish. To be Brilliant is to be brainwashed by Education, stuck in the canonical way of thinking.

We call this way of thinking “Boringness” and those who practise it “Unicorns”. Such Boring ideas as Entities, Oneness, and Marshmallow Time have pushed upon us with such ferocity by Educators that before Time Cube was rediscovered, there weren’t even words for them. I’ll get to what they are in a bit.

Now that we have a lexicon, let’s discuss Time Cube itself. What exactly is it? Contrary to popular belief, Time Cube isn’t just about time. That’s just the most perceivable of its implications. No, Time Cube is about everything from human biology to the origin of the Universe itself. Time Cube is about the nature of reality. At its core, Time Cube is about Opposites.

Everything in the Universe has an Opposite, or else comprises Opposites. Right and left. Hot and cold. Sun and Earth. Male and female. Twi and La. Capital and lowercase. Time and Cube. These Opposites are all equal and mutually necessary. Your brain, for instance, could not function without one of its opposite hemispheres.
Furthermore, Opposites are always annihilative. If they meet, like matter and antimatter, Opposites will collapse into a Singularity and cease to exist.

For its part, the Earth comprises two Opposite hemispheres, the Northern Disc and Southern Annulus, which rotate in Opposite directions, clockwise and widdershins. It is these Opposing rotations that enable life on Earth, for Opposites create. A single object with no Opposite—an “Entity”—cannot make anything more than itself, as Educators claim God or The Big Bang did. To believe it can is to believe in “Oneness”—folly. Consider viviparous male and female counterparts. Neither can create life by itself; the fact that every human has a belly button is testament to that.

(Masturbation is actually a futile attempt at such an action, encouraged by the Church’s Boring teachings.)
Now I can hear you asking: “If the Earth is the Opposite of the Sun, how can the two halves of Earth themselves be Opposites of each other?” How convenient! That question rides a segway right into what I wanted to explain next! This concept is called Contrary Nesting, and is actually critical to the theory’s expansion from twos to fours. Just like the allomantic metals, pairs of Opposites tend to have Opposites of their own, as the Earth, a pair of two hemispheres, has its opposite in the Sun, also a pair of two hemispheres.

Sometimes the constituents of such groups are better known as a set of four than two sets of two, the most notable example being the four cardinal directions. As I said before, right and left are Opposites. Their collective Opposite is front and back. Singly Nested Opposites are special because unlike individual pairs, groups of four can rotate. Like a revolving door, spring rotates into summer, then their opposites autumn and winter follow. The four stages of human life are much the same: baby, child, parent, and grandparent.

It is important to note that when this happens, the four components do not take turns existing one at a time. This is a very Boring way of thinking. All four stages exist during the entire rotation. A child becoming a parent does not end childhood, as at the same instant, thousands of babies around the world become children. All four corners are necessary and eternal. Only Brilliant Unicorns would follow only one corner at a time each revolution.

And perhaps now, you can start to see the Time Cube. Right, front, left, and back. The four vertical edges of the Contrarily Nested Time Cube surrounding the Earth. The Time Cube is not a physical object but rather a mathematical construction that spins with the Earth and drives the flow of energy to and on its surface. If the Earth were an Entity, then each rotation of it would be just that: one rotation. So says “Marshmallow Time”, the popular Oneist one-day-per-day theory.

Because Earth has four corners, though, one must see that each turn of the Earth is really four rotations: one for each of the vertical edges of the Cube. Each of these rotations lasts 24 hours and happens simultaneously, adding up to 96 usable hours every time the Earth turns.

Many who misunderstand this theory claim that it merely describes time zones, that there’s nothing special about the number four, and that we could just as easily make an icositetragonal prism and call it 24 days per rotation. Do not be mislead. The four vertical edges of the Time Cube are not purely hypothetical, but real paired Entities that rotate about each other, create energy with each other, and would annihilate if they collided with each other. There are exactly four, and any attempt to define more would overcount the rotations of these sole orthogonal corners.
You can see how much this diverges from the Boring physics with which we were Educated, which explains why Educators try so hard to silence it. They can’t disprove Time Cube—they know they can’t—so they simply run and hide and stifle any honest debate. Have you ever heard an Educator even mention Time Cube in a serious discussion? That alone should be proof enough that this is real.

That’s not to say that that’s the only evidence we have. It abounds all around us, and can be easily found if you set aside your Brilliance and take the time to look.

For one thing, there’s the sheer coincidence present in the fact that the number of legs on most animals, the number of fundamental forces, the number of dimensions (counting time), the number of seasons of Korra, and the number of lights there are (not to mention countless other natural quantities) are all exactly the same.

For another, there’s the fact that the Cube is practically visible on a map, if you know where to look. Many know of the government-constructed vessel for one of the four horses of the apocalypse that resides in front of the Denver International Airport. Some also know of its sister vessel, in Barcelona’s El Prat Airport. But did ye know that Barcelona and Denver are offset in longitude by exactly 90 degrees? What could inspire such a powerful rectilinear alignment of apocalyptic foci other than the edges of the Time Cube itself? Thanks to the Time Cube, we now know that the other two horses will probably emerge from underneath the other two corners, likely from the Hastings Aerodrome in New Zealand (of which there are suspiciously no photographs whatsoever on the Internet) and from this construction site in the Taklamakan Desert that I found on Google Maps.

Still, though, some demand more “solid” evidence. Well,

there’s yer evidence right there. Read it and weep, Unicorns.

In conclusion, the Time Cube is an oft-misunderstood incontrovertible fact that the government is trying to hide from us. Clearly they’re afraid of what we’ll do once we find a way to harness all four days per day worth of productivity. Alas, us Cubers have been obstructed by all the Brilliant Oneists and haven’t yet figured out how to do that, but don’t ye worry. We plan to have it down by Expo. Hopefully a little before so we can use Time Cube to finish all the projects we put off trying to harness Time Cube.

This Dream Made Me Mad

You can still faintly recall the event that shifted your world from one of peace and comfort to one of war, famine, and fear. It was 11 years ago – you were a mere child of 10 summers. But though it was long ago, you will never forget.

The young queen had just given birth to a baby boy. He was called Golden, a name that represented all the prosperity and good fortune the kingdom had enjoyed those past years. The king and queen were overjoyed.

Then, three weeks after his birth, the infant vanished. It was thought that he was stolen away by the fae – an assumption that prompted the grieving king to declare war on the fair folk. Furious at the king’s actions, the fae struck back with equal ferocity, decisively marking the end of a peaceful era.

Your life has been difficult and frustrating ever since. At age 15, you took up work as hired muscle. Now, at 21, you are completing the job that has taken the last three years of your life.

You discovered that disorganized, clustered attacks in the north are somehow linked to the elves, families responding to the sudden disappearances of their children. It took you far too long, but you finally traced the missing elf children back to a specific boggart in the northeastern marshes. Initially, the pixie clans seemed the obvious culprits, but there were no changeling children left behind, and elves are rarely the victims of such crimes.
You spent weeks planning your next move. Catching a boggart is tricky. But with patience, there’s nothing you can’t do.

Somehow, it all goes wrong.

Through careful observation, you learned the boggart’s daily schedule. But as you approach silently, you hear someone stumbling through the marshes. A young boy tumbles past, water splashing, grasses rustling around him. The boggart looks up and sees you. There’s a moment where you stare at each other – somehow, there’s recognition in the creature’s eyes. Then it is gone, and you are alone with the boy.

You curse softly. The boggart will be wary now. You won’t be able to try again for a long time.

Finally, you turn to look at the boy. He’s young, still a child. He watches you with wide, expectant eyes.

“What’s your name?” you ask.

He simply stares at you; the silence stretches uncomfortably.

“Alright,” you say. “Maybe you don’t speak Common.” You repeat your question in several other languages, to no avail.

You turn to walk away, but are stopped by a gentle tug on your sleeve.

“You… want to come with me?” you guess. The boy nods.

“So you do understand Common,” you mutter under your breath. But you prepare a mule for the boy and ready your own mount.

The child accompanies you on your journey back to the kingdom. He never complains, or even speaks at all. You take to calling him Silence because in your one-sided conversations with him, it feels strange to grow attached to an unnamed boy.

At last, after a few weeks of blessedly uneventful travel, you find yourself kneeling before the king.
“Your Majesty,” you begin.

But the king’s eyes are not focused on you, but on the young boy who has been shadowing you for so long. Silence stands, unkneeling, before the king. His face is upturned, his expression more peaceful than you have ever seen it.
The king rises from his throne. His face is unreadable; you cannot quite pinpoint the emotion behind his eyes. Anger at Silence’s gesture of insubordination? Or something else?

“I do not care,” the King says tremulously, “for you have brought me something much more valuable: My lost son. My Golden.” He rushes forward and embraces the boy.

“Ohhhh,” you say, standing there stupidly as the touching reunion unfolds. “Silence is Golden.” And then you facepalm into the next century.

Overheard at Olin

“I’m sorry, all. It’s been a long week. I’m not usually this edgy about broccoli and cauliflower.”

[brandishing a P100] “Consider it gently mixed.”

“Be careful. Peach is a gateway cobbler!”

“I want a servant. But not like…a love slave.”

“I have to completely reframe how I work. … I will start by changing my socks.”

“Anyone can be anything, and also racist.”

“Git pull me a sandwich.”

“If I count as animal, a rock should count as an animal… mrow.”

“You need to erase some looks from your face before you can be considered a genuine person.”

[with a look of pure joy and maniacal-ness on his face] “Alright, it might be cocaine…. according to the FTIR machine.”

“Not to be dramatic, but if someone made me eat sushi with a fork, I think I would die.”

“If you want to hack my password, that would be great, but only if you’ll answer my email for me.”

“People don’t only have sex on business days!”

“I’ve been scrambling harder than eggs.”

“There’s nothing more French than lung cancer.”

“What kind of grading system expects you to do ALL the homework?!”

“I am the Magikarp of people.”

“You had me at Yargle.”

[about a truck with its hazards on] “I guess it’s not directional, all his lights are cautious.”

“Hair is such a crutch.”

“I have no idea how paperclips work.”

[pointing at plant] “Now we’re in love.”

“This is a spicy meatball right here.”

“Now I have to party, I guess.”

“Shear is the poor, abused child of the family. After dealing with bending, torsion, and axial stress, I don’t want to take care of this kid anymore. I just want it to sit on the couch and do nothing.”

Horoscopes by Drunk Editors

Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 20): Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20): Hey you, Whitehouse. Ha, ha, charade you are. You house proud town
mouse. Ha, ha, charade you are. You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street. You’re nearly a real treat. All tight lips and cold feet. And do you feel abused? You got to stem the evil tide. And keep it all on the inside.

Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22): There is no pain you are receding. A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon. You are the only coming through in waves. Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 22): Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar. You’re gonna go far. You’re gonna fly
high. You’re never gonna die. You’re gonna make it if you try. They’re gonna love you.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 22): I am just a new boy, stranger in this town. Where are all the good times? Who’s gonna show
this stranger around? Libra (Sep. 23 – Oct. 22): Hey you out there on your own, sitting naked by the phone. Would you touch me? Hey you with you ear against the wall Waiting for someone to
call out. Would you touch me? Hey you, would you help me to carry the stone? Open your heart, I’m coming home

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21): Down, down. Down, down. The star is screaming. Beneath the lies. Lie, lie. Tschay, tschay, tschay. Careful…Careful…Careful with that axe, Eugene. The stars are screaming loud. Tsch. Tsch. Tsch.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21): For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination: we learned to talk.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19): And if the dam breaks open many years too soon. And if there is no room upon the hill. And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18): Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20): IF YOU DON’T HAVE YER MEAT, YOU CANT’ HAVE ANY PUDDING.

Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19): We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom.

Opinion: Why We Need To Talk About Bathrooms

In 8th grade, a quiet girl in my P.E. class felt uncomfortable changing in front of others and would hide in a bathroom stall to put on her gym clothes. When she got teased for this, several of us joined her in taking our clothes to stalls to change so she wouldn’t feel alone.

In 9th grade, I overheard some girls in the locker room whispering about how a tomboyish girl was “probably a lesbian” and “watching [them] change” into their running clothes. I myself proceeded to change alone in a bathroom for the next four sports seasons.

In 10th grade, I walked into a bathroom before school started to find a girl straightening her hair, her friend beside her putting on mascara. Both of them were preparing themselves in this quasi public-private space.

In 11th grade, I threw up in a bathroom at a school I didn’t know, before sitting to take the SAT.

In 12th grade, I escaped to a bathroom to take a breath after my ex confronted me at lunch, demanding an ultimatum from me: love him or never see him again. I chose the latter but alas was not granted that privilege.

In my first year of college, I hid in a bathroom after spotting a nameless guy who had kissed me so aggressively at a party that my lips were in pain the next day. I had thought I would never see him again after running away that night.

In my second year, I stood in the shower, looking at the bruises on my fists from the frustration I took out on the gym heavy bag with my unwrapped hands, realized I wasn’t okay, and I then returned to seeing a therapist.

In my third year, I quietly retreated to a bathroom stall after getting a text saying a close family member had had a sudden plummet in health. I struggled to see clearly as I read the message, telling of how he no longer showed the signature snarky sense of humour I had known so well growing up.

Why am I sharing these personal moments from my own life? Why are they all centered around bathrooms? Likely as a surprise to no one reading this article, I want to make a point.

If you can connect with any of these emotions I’ve experienced as a cisgender woman (a woman assigned female at birth), then you can connect with the same emotions a transgender person (someone whose gender identity does not align with their assigned gender at birth) may have experienced in their lifetime; they too have felt scared, ashamed, and lost at times, but also safe, proud, and connected at others.

The key difference, in this case, is that I have never been made to feel unwelcome in a bathroom. Bathrooms have always been a safe place to escape to when life became a little too intense.

This issue has become a hot topic in the ongoing battle over gender-identity rights.

A recent legal case in the spotlight involves Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student in Virginia, who was denied access to the boy’s bathroom by his school, largely due to strong backlash from several students, parents, and local community members.

The narrative of trans people being “sexual predators” or otherwise causing harm in bathrooms is statistically invalidated; they are much more likely to be on the receiving end of aggression and violence.

In fact, about 70% of trans people have reported being denied entrance, assaulted, or harassed while trying to use a restroom, according to a 2013 Williams Institute report.

Tell me why a trans person should ever be made to feel unsafe? Tell me how they are looking for anything beyond decency, respect, and the ability to use the damn bathroom in peace? I wish this wasn’t something we had to fight for, and I wish they could just exist without it becoming part of a political narrative that, above all, seeks to reduce their humanity.
But the reality is that this is not a universal wish, and in many ways, transgender and gender non-conforming people have to fight for some of the most basic rights that most people will take for granted.

Now, maybe you find this an ill-fitting audience. Why would Olin, a seemingly progressive and accepting campus, need to talk about these issues? My opinion is that it is simply not enough to tolerate and passively accept.
We need to have a dialogue on these issues and make it known that we care and are here to support those who are being silenced. Note that this doesn’t mean interrogating the trans and gender non-conforming people in your life, but instead looking for ways you can support them.

Massachusetts Question 3 on the November ballot, which questioned whether laws banning discrimination in public spaces based on gender identity should be upheld (you may have heard of the “Yes on 3” campaign which sought to protect transgender rights), passed with just over a two-thirds “Yes” vote.

This is a sigh of relief, and a win for transgender and gender non-conforming people everywhere, but also a great concern that it was even called into question.

As a community, these are the kinds of issues that we need to be vocal about to show people that we will be here to support them no matter what happens. Stay informed about what’s going on in the world, especially with respect to executive declarations that specifically target minority groups and seek to incite fear.

Think about the topics that you’re prioritizing in your everyday conversations and how interpersonal interactions can be just as, if not more, important than group projects and technical assignments. I am by no means doing enough and am writing this not just to the Olin community but to myself as well.

I really hope Olin can overcome its aversion to political discussions in order to take action and show support for people that may otherwise feel disenfranchised by the world around them.

P.S. I chose to publish this anonymously so discussion will be focused on the issue itself and not sidetracked by my own experiences. I am well aware that this is not my own issue and I was originally tentative to speak up about something that I have not personally experienced.

However, I believe this is a case where conversation about how we can do better as a community is necessary, and I want to use this opportunity to bring it up.

I hope this can be taken as an appeal to each of us as part of the Olin community to make a space for honest and well-intentioned discussion, so we can better support the global community by starting with our own.

Partnering with a Start-Up

On campus, “startup” is quite the buzzword. Countless students are either working for one or running their own. I never saw myself as belonging to either group. In fact, never did I think I would be able to work so closely with a startup this early in my college career. But the knowledge I have obtained from the last few weeks from teaming up with a startup has been extraordinary.

As a student in the AHS Foundation course, Dirt to Shirt, I have been able to collaborate with Make Fashion Clean (MFC) and the Matilda Flow Inclusion Foundation (MFI) on projects that have a real-time significance and impact for them. I not only gained insight on how both a nonprofit organization and startup operate, but also learned about the challenges when working with someone overseas.

The goal of the partnership between the Dirt to Shirt class and MFC was to provide new ideas for the company by conducting research and prototyping new products for MFC that fell within their guidelines and principles. My group in, particular, focused on designing different products that could be made out of yarn created from old t-shirts.
As a team, we made countless knitted and crocheted prototypes. We did our research, both on crocheting itself and patterns we could replicate. I hadn’t touched a crochet needle before coming into class, and I was astounded by what I was able to create with little prior knowledge.

Our group decided to prototype kippah, which are brimless caps typically worn by Jewish men, for MFC. I didn’t realize the extent of knowledge needed to manufacture kippah until I started making them myself. We had to see if cotton t-shirts were an acceptable material to make kippah, determine the right size and shape for the crocheted product, and market test the prototypes to determine if they were even feasible products.

I was astounded by the amount of knowledge I gained from prototyping that didn’t seem engineering-related on the surface. I went through a lot of ideation and iteration in determining the optimal pattern for the kippah, reflecting on each prototype and adjusting the stitches to create the best product possible.

Working with a startup requires the ability to wear multiple “hats.” When there are fewer people and defined departments, each individual makes an impact in multiple ways. All the lessons I had in my first-year classes about stakeholders and user-oriented design weren’t truly put into context until I was physically handing my prototype to a co-founder of MFI. At that moment, I understood the impact of my design decisions and the work that I had spent several weeks on. The products I had created were going to be seriously considered and possibly put into production to benefit MFC and continue to provide jobs for women in Ghana.

I suggest every student have the experience of working with a startup. While the organization of a large and established company is nice, startups have a lot more fluidity and flexibility, and working with one is an extremely valuable experience that I am grateful to have had. While the fate of my prototypes is not yet known, I can finish this project knowing that the designs I created can improve the lives of workers overseas and continue to help the MFC grow.