Boy Scouts shut down troop due to gay scoutmaster

By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
@katreenz

The Boy Scouts of America./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Ted Eytan

The Boy Scouts of America cause controversy due to its new policies./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Ted Eytan

Last week, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) shut down a troop in Seattle for refusing to get rid of its scoutmaster, Geoff McGrath, who is openly gay.

Pack and Troop 98 are sponsored by the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. In late March, upon discovering McGrath’s sexuality, the BSA demanded that the church remove McGrath, but the church refused.

Just last May, the BSA decided to break its 103 year-old ban on allowing openly gay youth from becoming members. However, the ban (which was put into effect on Jan. 1, 2014) did not extend to its adult gay and leaders, leaving many (myself included) in confusion. It even caused some sponsors, like the Walt Disney Company, to cut off all funding to the BSA starting in 2015.

But how can an organization decide to open its arms to only openly gay youth but not its openly gay leaders? It certainly seems like taking one step forward and another step back in an endless waltz of discriminatory actions.

Despite the BSA’s controversial ban, Rev. Monica Corsaro, the minister of Troop 98’s host church, admits that the church and the troop knew about McGrath’s sexuality, and that choosing him as their scoutmaster violated the BSA’s policy.

In a statement, Corsaro wrote, “We didn’t choose Geoff McGrath as a political statement. We chose Geoff because he was the perfect person for the job, an Eagle Scout himself . . . [who] has mentoring and leadership skills that someone taking on this role needs… The Boy Scouts of America need to recognize the growing number of churches whose beliefs include all people. And by all, we mean all.”

Although the BSA has given the boys from Troop 98 the opportunity to be placed in other troops, Corsaro has said that they will continue to meet next week, whether they wear uniforms or not.

Lol Thursday: Brozen, a love story

By Ann Singer, Staff Writer
@annmsinger

What do you get when you put together two good-looking athletes and a rendition of a “Frozen”song? Over one million views on YouTube of course!

Matt Kilby and Brad Borosak, both US Navy baseball players, released a video of them lip-syncing to the song “Love is an Open Door,” which has gone completely viral, garnering the attention of Good Morning America on ABC. Even celebrities like Zooey Deschanel have shared the video on social media.

In the video the two men perfectly lip-sync every line, getting the timing down perfectly. Matt Kilby syncs to Kristen Bell’s character Anna, and Brad Borosak plays Santino Fontana’s character Hans. The two men somehow get every emotion, every croon and affectionate side-glance right on, making this performance so much more adorable than any other “Frozen” rendition on the Internet (and there are are a lot of those floating around).

The video came to be because of the crush Kilby and Borosak share of one of the characters in the movie: Elsa. When trying to expose a fellow friend to the phenomenon that is “Frozen,” Kilby came up with the hashtag “Brozen,” as in bros who watch Frozen, and the video was born.

The video was originally shared just between teammates and Facebook fans, but with some urging the men shared it with the public, much to tremendous approval. See for yourself how two men who serve our country and play ball have shared their other talents. Enjoy!

New app makes sure you get home safe

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

“Text me when you get home,” is a phrase that we often give and receive when we part with friends and family at the end of a night.  I’ve used it, you’ve used it, everyone’s used it.  But most people forget to follow up once they do actually get home safely.

With the SMS app Kitestring, this will no longer be a problem.  Kitestring is a free web-based “safecall service” that allows its user to send automated text messages to themselves and their emergency contacts.

When Kitestring is used, it allows the user to punch in their destination and how long their trip will take (30 minutes, 2 hours, etc.).  If the user does not return home by the time previously estimated, they can ask for extra time.  If the user does not respond to the checkup text within a few minutes, Kitestring sends out a custom-made text to your assigned emergency contacts to let them know that something might have happened.

The user can set up their own personal check-in-word, so that if an attacker has struck, they cannot check-in for the user.  There is also a duress code, which is used in case the user is actually in trouble. If the duress code is sent as a reply to the check-in text, the app pretends like the user checked in, but actually alerts the emergency contacts that they might be in danger.

As beautiful as this app sounds, it’s not perfect. If the user’s phone dies, and they miss the check-in text, the distress text will be sent to their emergency contacts. Also, there will obviously be times the user does not remember to reply to the check-in text, or ask for more time, which will result in another text sent to their emergency contacts (followed by unnecessary panic).

Depending on the situation, I get very frustrated when my friends don’t text me that they got home safely. For all I know, something could have happened and I would be devastated to learn that something did happen and I thought it to be forgetfulness.

Even so, it’s a really practical app.  It could save someone’s life, and it is worth investing in. Kitestring is a free app, so, as far as I can tell, there isn’t really any reason not to give it a try.

Student project aims to combat racism on campus

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

I am too, NYU aims to combat racism on campus./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user DryHundredFear

Despite better efforts, racism still exists./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user DryHundredFear

Nine students at New York University recently banded together to form the “I, too, am NYU” project. The organization’s goal is to bring a voice to the campus’ many racial minority groups and illuminate the discrimination that such students frequently face.

The inspiration for the project originated from similar actions taken by students at universities such as Harvard and Oxford. Involvement in the mission came after the college’s president, John Sexton, proclaimed in a university-wide speech that “there is no racial majority ” on the campus. Needless to say, many students felt insulted by such a remark, as it minimized the importance of race and glossed over prejudices that still exist today.

The project’s most powerful element comes in the form of photos that have since been publicized by means of various social media outlets. In the pictures, each individual holds up a whiteboard on which he or she has written some of the racist or stereotypical remarks that have been addressed to them.

One black female student wrote down a comment made by her white male roommate, which reads “There’s no such thing as a black pretty girl.” Another student wrote down the words of a concerned parent who didn’t think her daughter would get into the school because the school was “letting in a lot of foreigners.”

Along with the photographs, the organization crafted a proposal asking the university’s administration to be more open in regards to issues such as race. Though their efforts are quite recent, the group has been met with large amounts of both support and criticism.

Most of the disapproval comes from those who claim that racial tension has been the only result of this project. Others are upset at how the project represents certain racial minorities better than others. On both accounts, I find these criticisms to be quite wrongheaded.

In regards to racial representation, the group itself wisely pointed out that the project is still in its early stages. Hopefully, as it continues to expand with new participants, it will not be long before a full spectrum of racial diversity is expressed.

However, it is the comment concerning racial tension that I found most disconcerting. By unveiling the discrimination that still exists in our current culture, these students have illustrated a problem that is often thought to be antiquated or irrelevant. Though prejudice is not as blatantly malicious as it once was, it is still an issue that demands to be addressed. Therefore, these students are not causing racial tension. They are simply uncovering an aspect of society that is all too often ignored by many people.

I was deeply moved by the project, and I hope that their efforts are rewarded by the presence of a more racially harmonious campus environment.

Spotlight: The return of Edgar Allen Poe

By Stacy Schoonover, Staff Writer
@stacyscootover

The FreeP's take on Poe./ PHOTO BY Maya Devereaux

The FreeP’s take on Poe./ PHOTO BY Maya Devereaux

The goal to bring Edgar Allen Poe back to Boston has finally been reached! The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston has been raising funds to install Stefanie Rocknak’s Poe Returning to Boston statue, and they finally reached their goal last month.

Rocknak’s statue, chosen from 265 different proposals, shows Poe walking and holding a briefcase with a raven by his side. It’s currently being constructed at New England Sculpture Services in Chelsea, Mass.

Poe, famous for his dark and captivating tales such as “The Raven” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” was born in Boston in 1809, which the foundation wanted to honor and recognize. Other states show memorials and museums of Poe and his accomplishments, but until now Poe has been kept quiet in the Boston community.

The statue will be installed in Poe Square, located at the intersection of Boylston Street and Charles Street South. Former Mayor Thomas M. Menino dedicated the square, near Poe’s former residence, in 2009, shortly after the Poe Foundation formed.

Thanks to a year of fundraising and a $10,000 grant from the Lynch Foundation, the funding goal of $225,000 has been reached. This money was needed to fund the fabrication, transportation and installation of the statue. It will even cover the maintenance of the statue after installation.

The statue will be revealed at 2 p.m. on Sunday October 5, 2014, just a few days before the 165th anniversary of Poe’s death.

However, here at the FreeP, we were thinking of our own way to honor Poe before October. We thought of locking someone behind one of the walls of the FreeP, putting a beating heart under one of the desks in the office or even keeping a pet raven. But we settled on making a statue of our own. Enjoy.

How to Live to Senior Year: Bell Peppers

By Sabrina Katz, Staff Writer
@sabrina_katz

What's your favorite way to eat bell peppers?/ PHOTO BY Sabrina Katz

What’s your favorite way to eat bell peppers?/ PHOTO BY Sabrina Katz

Unlike their picante cousin the jalapeno, bell peppers are a mild, sweet pepper that are used widely in savory dishes. These green, red, yellow and orange veggies are crunchy and delicious, making them the perfect raw snack to munch on or use as a base for another dish.

Bell peppers are packed with vitamins C, A & E, as well as nutrients called carotenoids (they give bell peppers their colors!) and flavanoids that the body uses as antioxidants.

In addition, bell peppers have sulfur-containing compounds that are linked to cancer-fighting health benefits.

Remember how I mentioned jalapenos before? Well it turns out that capsaicin, which is responsible for the spiciness, is also present in bell peppers — which is great because it has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and ease inflammation.

One reason bell peppers are one of my favorite foods is because they are so low in calories (about 30 for a whole cup!). Plus, they’re fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free.

Raw peppers may contain all of these nutrients, but cooking them strips them of some antioxidants. Don’t let this deter you — bell peppers should be eaten in every which way, be it sautéed, grilled, caramelized, raw or stuffed!

Fortunately, the dining hall always stocks bell peppers in the salad bar and often uses them in their dishes.

If you don’t already, here are some simple tricks for fitting bell peppers into your meal plan:

  • Dice up some bell peppers from the salad bar and add them to tuna or chicken salad
  • Grill bell peppers at the Warren Towers Mongolian station
  • Eat them raw with carrots and dip them into some creamy hummus
  • Stuff them in a wrap with other raw veggies for a fresh, vegetarian sandwich

What’s your favorite way to eat bell peppers? Let me know in the comment section below!

The aftermath of Columbine, 15 years later

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer
@shizupates

Fierce debate surrounds the gun control issue./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Josh Lopez

Fierce debate surrounds the issue of gun control./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Josh Lopez

This past Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the shootings that took place in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine High School. Two high school students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire on their school, killing twelve people and wounding over twenty. They then committed suicide in the school, leaving the tragedy that is Columbine behind them.

Since then, a total of 29 notable shootings in schools have occurred across the country from 1999 to 2012.

Let that sink in for a moment.

These 29 shootings span 13 years — U.S. citizens have witnessed this many tragedies.

The ages of the shooters themselves range, but what I find incredibly disheartening and tragic is that one shooting (although less fatal than some) involved a six-year-old boy shooting one of his classmates.

There are two sides to the issue of gun control. There are those for increased restrictions on gun usage, and there are those against adding restrictions to gun usage. The latter is spearheaded by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

With recent shootings, like the one that took place just last year at Sandy Hook Elementary, the NRA has been criticized for its support of the use of firearms. In their defense, they claim that in pushing for more gun control, the Second Amendment right to bear arms will be put in danger.

According to their website, the NRA has implemented programs such as the “Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program,” which is designed to train kids from K-6 to not touch a firearm if unsupervised and to alert an adult immediately, or the “Refuse To Be A Victim” seminar, designed to teach anyone how to attain personal safety at all times.

Remember that six-year-old boy I mentioned earlier? He did the exact opposite of what the program preached, and the boy’s relatives were convicted of leaving a firearm where it was easily accessible for children. With this situation in mind, it is difficult to trust the effectiveness of the program, when it has proven not to reach its entire intended audience.

At the same time, by instituting gun control laws, the purpose of a firearm for use of self-defense is defeated when there are so many rules and regulations.

I find the debate interesting, but with the ever-increasing worry about future shootings, it is necessary for both sides to come together and figure out a solution before the situation becomes even worse.

Science Tuesday: Pulling all-nighters doesn’t help you cram

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
@sanahfaroke

When I took my core classes at the beginning of my college career, I pulled all nighters studying for my exams for days at a time. I made immense study guides, until my TA told me that my 32-page guide was equivalent to a grad student’s. My memorization isn’t the best (remember my issue with the Memory Game?) and I didn’t do too hot on my exams.

Turns out, according to a series of recent studies, like one presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society earlier this week, lack of sleep is detrimental to remembering things like test answers and where you put your keys.

Sleep, according to the study, not only helps us remember what we did in the past, but also reminds us of what we want to do in the future. Susanne Diekelmann of the University of Tübingen and her colleagues found that there are two ways to remember our intentions. One can be if we internally recite what we want to do, like repeating that “Parenthood” is airing tonight and you need to watch it, or you can store your intentions in the memory network. If it’s stored well enough, then you won’t have to internally remind yourself that your show is coming on later that day.

Diekelmann and her researchers made these discoveries through word pairing: half of the participants were told that they’d have to remember material later and then were either instructed to sleep for two full nights or were kept awake one night and were allowed to sleep the second night. Diekelmann found that the subjects who slept both nights performed better on the test.

I’ve always claimed to be a night owl, because it’s true — I work better at night. But it’s also true that when I don’t get enough rest, I bomb my exams. No amount of coffee could help me there (and trust, me, I’ve tried). So take a break, study with enough time, and make sure you get a good night’s rest. You’re going to need it!

Pop Culture Countdown: “Gone Girl” trailer and Biden joins Instagram

By Danny McCarthy, Staff Writer
@thedanosaurus

Hey there! How was your week? Did you do that thing? You didn’t? I can’t believe you, this is so typical. You always overcommit and then never fulfill anything. Well, I guess there is one thing you can do to redeem yourself. You can keep reading and find out what happened this week in pop culture!

7. Emma Stone got pranked over the Spice Girls:

Emma Stone loves the Spice Girls, and I love that Emma Stone loves the Spice Girls. In fact, it’s such common knowledge that when Emma appeared on “The Graham Norton Show,” the host couldn’t help but prank her. Although the Spice Girls have been mentioned quite a lot on the “Amazing Spider-Man 2″ press tour, like when she told Jimmy Kimmel she could forge all their signatures, Stone hasn’t met one in the flesh. “As you know Stone, it’s very rare for more than one Spice Girl to appear together for any reason at all,” teased Norton to the flair of a drum roll. “So, they’re not here.” And safe to say, Stone was heartbroken.

6. Gone Girl” movie trailer:

The trailer for the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller “Gone Girl” hit the internet this week. Now, I watched the trailer, and found myself wanting more. Obviously the trailer can’t give away the plot twists that gave “Gone Girl” its cult-ish, fervent following, but I still felt like it didn’t pack a punch in the way it needed to. What do you think? How do you set up the movie trailer for a psychological thriller without revealing the big twist? Are you going to see “Gone Girl”? Can we go together? (Disclaimer, I talk throughout movies).

5. Taylor Swift surprises a fan at her bridal shower:

Sometimes, Taylor Swift amazes even cynical old me. The Red singer showed up at the wedding shower of longtime fan Gena Gabrielle in Ohio. Gabrielle mailed Swift an invitation to her wedding as a long shot. Swift couldn’t make the wedding, but that didn’t stop her from stopping by the shower. Gabrielle had no idea, and I can’t imagine the shock and happiness the bride-to-be was feeling when her favorite singer walked in with presents. Swift has been stopping by to visit fans a lot recently. In March, she visited 17-year-old Shelby Huff, who has cancer. Swift spent 4.5 hours at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and 20 minutes with Huff. Thank you, Swift, for being a grade-A good person. I appreciate it.

4. Joe Biden joins Instagram:

Vice President Joe Biden has joined Instagram and immediately slayed all the competition. His first picture was effortlessly artsy, with a pair of Ray-Ban aviators front and center and himself blurred in the background. He also posted a selfie with President Barack Obama, and the world fell to pieces at the awesomeness of the moment. Biden already has almost 120,000 followers on the social media outlet, with no doubt of the number growing. And you know what? I’m not even mad. Rock on, Joe Biden. Rock on.

3. Lana Dey Rey’s new song “West Coast”:

Lana Del Rey debuted her new song “West Coast” at Coachella this year. The song will be on her upcoming album Ultraviolence, which was announced in December. “West Coast” is the second new original song for Del Rey to release. Her first, “Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight,” has since been taken offline. The new song is expected to debut in the upper half of Billboard’s Hot 100. Lana has been rapidly gaining followers, and her appearance at Coachella and anticipation for her new music whipping people into a frenzy for her.

2. Miley Cyrus gets hospitalized for allergic reaction:

Miley Cyrus has been hospitalized after a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics. Cyrus has taken to Twitter to express her displeasure over canceling Bangerz shows, but the star has rescheduled some of her canceled shows. The European tour is scheduled to go on as planned, but the U.S. tours are a little more touch and go. Cyrus is trying to keep in good spirits despite being hospitalized, posting tweets, hospital selfies and making jokes. The past month has been tough on Cyrus, and I hope she gets better soon!

1. Jay-Z and Beyoncé on a summer tour:

Could it be true? According to various sources, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are planning a summer stadium tour! The tour will go from June to August, taking them from Atlanta to San Francisco, with a few stops in Paris next September. Although not officially confirmed, the timing works out: Jay-Z finished his Magna Carta tour in January, and Beyoncé wrapped up her Mrs. Carter tour in March. The summer stadium tour could be the perfect thing to get them back into the tour-game. For the sake of all humanity, I hope this summer tour turns out to be true!

That’s all I’ve got! Tell me down below if I missed anything. What do you think? Will Emma Stone ever meet the Spice Girls? Will Taylor Swift and I become best friends? Will Cyrus ever get better? Will Beyonce and Jay-Z go on tour? Only time will tell!

Chipotle plans to hike prices

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
@bluebird1278

Your beloved burrito bowl cost a bit more from now on./ PHOTO BY Robin Ngai

Your beloved burrito (bowl) may cost a bit more from now on./ PHOTO BY Robin Ngai

As a California native, I’ve had my fair share of good and bad burritos. However, when I’m away from home, I’m a pretty big fan of Chipotle. It’s a five minute walk from my dorm room and to have a full delicious meal for under ten bucks is a pretty sweet deal.

This might not be the case anymore: for the first time in three years, Chipotle is hiking up its prices. They are said to go into effect in the next three to six months, and as a loyal customer (and broke college student), this saddens me.

The reason for the price hike is that their food products are rising in price. Avocados are just one of the many products that have risen dramatically in the past few years. With Chipotle’s promise to using fresh foods and having healthier options, it is hard for the chain not to add a couple dollars for their meals.

This may be the point where customers ask, “why doesn’t their owner McDonald’s just save them?” Despite the popular belief that McDonald’s is the parent of Chipotle, Chipotle actually has no ties with the fast food chain. Briefly in 1998, McDonald’s took a minority stake in the business but decided to quit soon after, predicting that the burrito chain would not make it big.

Oh, how wrong they were. People have grown to love the fast food burrito chain so much that it is predicted to still make sales even if the prices rise (watch this guy inhale four of them in three minutes).

I for one, will still be a customer to Chipotle. If the price hikes scare you, just use these handy tips that will make your trip (and extra bucks) worthwhile. Me and my roommates have created a tradition since freshman year to go there once a week, and it’s something that we won’t be giving up any time soon.