Ayla Horan: Lambda Theta Alpha’s Helping Hand at USF

20141117_143006_resized
Ayla Horan is a Spanish major at USF and a Lambda Theta Alpha member.

 

Students slouch around the Marshall Student Center in sweatpants and squeaky, soaked sneakers,  umbrellas dripping at their sides. Everyone seems to be falling asleep to the dull patter of rain falling against the building’s roof and windows, until one female’s laughter breaks through the dreary ambiance.

Ayla Horan hugs and greets several acquaintances on her way inside the student center. She flashes a huge smile, pushing her long brown hair to one side as she adjusts a bulging burgundy Greek emblazoned tote bag.

Leaving her friends, she answers several new text messages on her phone. Horan’s online presence only underlines her outgoing and social personality. Online there are photos of herself with sorority sisters and friends abound—one can’t help but notice her many involvements and accomplishments at USF. Horan seems to do, and have it all.

However, a second look shows her to be much more than just a polished social butterfly of a sorority girl.

“I grew up always being told, ‘You’re going to be just like your parents. You’re going to amount to nothing,’” Horan said.

She grew up outside of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a house broken by crime and drugs. Horan’s mother did drugs up until she was born; her father, an alcoholic, drug addict and robber, was in and out of jail. Continue reading “Ayla Horan: Lambda Theta Alpha’s Helping Hand at USF”

Skip the all-nighter, get some sleep

Roshni Patel and Keylon Moraldo are two complete strangers with one thing in common: Neither of them gets enough sleep.

Patel, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, is at the library almost every night during the school week. A typical day on campus for her begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 a.m., when she finally returns to her off-campus apartment.

“I probably get four to five hours of sleep on a normal night,” Patel said. “Some nights I get even less, and I feel really sleepy. Then I’m just dragging myself through the day, trying to figure out the next time I can hit my bed.”

Moraldo, a sophomore chemical engineering major, cites his heavy workload and roommate issues for his lack of sleep. He says that getting the ideal seven to eight hours of rest is impossible because he has so much to do and needs to get good grades.

“I don’t have a bedtime. I just basically nap for an hour or so— seriously, it’s what I do!” he said. “I know it’s not good, and I’m trying to readjust it in time for exams, so I can be well-rested for them.”

Patel and Moraldo are just two of the many college students nationwide who are sleep-deprived. Nearly 60 percent of college students claimed to feel “tired, dragged out, or sleepy” on multiple days during a normal week, according to a 2010 study of over 95,000 students by the American College Health Association. Brown University also reported that only 11 percent of college students get good sleep.

“Unfortunately, students don’t realize how much sleep deprivation affects their performance,” said Rachael Novick, a certified health education specialist at the USF Wellness Education center. “Health-wise, sleep can affect everything.”

Novick said that lack of sleep can cause students to feel more stressed leading to weight gain, a weakened immune system and problems learning and remembering material for class.

Dr. Robert Geck, the associate program director and a faculty physician at the USF Sleep Center, agreed.

“Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to consolidate your memories and to form new ones,” he said. “As a student, pulling an all-nighter actually impairs your memory more than getting a good night’s rest.”

Geck also pointed out that students run the risk of injuring themselves and others when they don’t get enough sleep. At a commuter school like USF, sleep-deprivation can cause grogginess and judgment problems in students driving to and from campus, resulting in car accidents.

But the bad news doesn’t stop there.

The amount of stress on a student’s body due to sleep deprivation could also have some serious consequences.

“Increased stress can lead to an increased disposition towards diabetes, heart disease and stroke farther down the road for students,” Geck said.

However, the good news is that it’s never too late for students to try and fix their sleeping habits.

“A lot of students don’t know what it feels like to be well-rested and productive because they never have been,” said Novick.

The Wellness Education center seeks to inform students on the importance of getting more sleep through data collection and programs on campus involving topics such as proper napping. Novick explained that naps shouldn’t make up for students’ lack of nighttime sleep, and they should only last 20 to 30 minutes. That amount of time allows students’ bodies to reach a restorative level of sleep, allowing them to wake up feeling energized.

“Sleep packs” are also available for free from the Wellness Education center. They include earplugs, an eye mask and “sleepy time” tea to help a student relax and get a good night’s rest.

Students may also be surprised that some of their daily habits can affect the quality of their sleep at night.

Geck recommended avoiding caffeinated drinks after 12 p.m. Beverages like coffee and soda only help to alleviate tired feelings for a short time, and can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. He explained that electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and TVs, should be turned off and kept away from the bed. The noises and light produced by these devices can disturb a student’s sleep throughout the night.

But the biggest change is probably the easiest to think of: setting a sleep schedule.

“Ideally, the key would be to keep a strict sleep regimen. Try to keep the same bedtime and wakeup time, if you can, regardless of the day of the week,” said Geck.

Like any problem, the first step to solving it is admitting you have one, and Patel and Moraldo aren’t in denial.

“I think if I didn’t feel like I have to do every single thing, I’d have more time to sleep,” said Moraldo. “I’m definitely going to spend a lot of time sleeping over winter break, and hopefully come back to school on a better schedule.”

Patel sees a few all-nighters in her future, and knows exactly how they will impact the average amount of sleep she gets.

“Oh, it’ll decrease, for sure,” she said. “I wish I got more sleep than I do.”

Hundreds of Scientists Warn of Food Shortages, Mass Extinction in Climate Report; Opposing Arguments ‘Do Not Hold Water’

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report warning worldwide governments about the wreaking effects of climate change on Friday.

The New York Times reported on the potential risks:

Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.

The Washington Post also summarized the IPCC’s report:

The report said some impacts of climate change will “continue for centuries,” even if all emissions from fossil-fuel burning were to stop. The question facing governments is whether they can act to slow warming to a pace at which humans and natural ecosystems can adapt, or risk “abrupt and irreversible changes” as the atmosphere and oceans absorb ever-greater amounts of thermal energy within a blanket of heat-trapping gases, according to scientists who contributed to the report.

“The window of opportunity for acting in a cost-effective way — or in an effective way — is closing fast,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University geosciences professor and contributing author to the report.

The IPCC report comes in the wake of movie star Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech at the 2014 UN Climate Summit in September.

Posts were made last month on President Barack Obama’s Twitter account in support of action against climate change.

Even with evidence piling in favor of climate change, the president’s tweet  received backlash.

Adam Bryant, New York Times environment editor,  stated last week that the opinions of climate skeptics “do not hold water,” and therefore the paper was “not going to take that point of view seriously.”

But not all skeptics are out to label climate change a hoax and call it a day. Some point out numbers and data that might misinform the public, such as the popular statement that 97 percent of scientists think global warming is a serious issue caused by man.

Others, such as Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, believe in climate change, but don’t agree with the data used to assert it as a man-made issue.

But the most surprising of all climate skeptics might be John Coleman, a former meteorologist and co-founder of the Weather Channel.

Coleman made his stance publicly known via Twitter.

In the end, it’s all weather to him.

USF Quidditch Club practice shows magic, hard work

The USF Quidditch Club has been bringing the fictional sporting event from the Harry Potter series to life since the club’s inception in January 2011. The club boasts an active roster of approximately 30 members, as well as official membership status in the International Quidditch Association. Major achievements for the team include seventh place at the 2011 Quidditch World Cup and second place in the 2012 Swamp Cup. Take a closer look at the magic that happens during USF Quidditch practice.

USF Foam Fighting Club Creates Lasting Friendships

Photo by Tayler Caddy
Photo by Tayler Caddy

Dirt clouds rose from the ground as a group of young men battled on the lawn, their swords hitting the bodies of one another with dull thwacking sounds. While most participants wore street clothes, one combatant looked like a knight straight from medieval times in a belted gray tunic with black pants and boots. He deflected attacks with his shield as he jumped and jabbed at enemies with his sword.

Bystanders watched the unusual scene with looks of amusement and wonder. But for the modern-day knight, Glen Greenberg, it was just another day doing what he loves.

Greenberg, 20, began the unofficial USF Foam Fighting Club in 2013 when he decided to bring his adolescent obsession to campus.

He claimed it all started about six years ago with a show on the Discovery Channel.

“In half an hour, my jaw was on the floor,” Greenberg said. “As my parents put it, it was the only thing I ever put initiative into, so they supported it in full, 100 percent.”

The name of the game is Dagorhir. Founded in 1977, the live-action combat game based on medieval themes and J.R.R. Tolkien lore involves players fighting one another with light-weight foam weapons, or boffers. Attacks on an opponent must be made with sufficient force, and all players are held to an honor system to acknowledge good, solid hits. When a player has “lost” two limbs, they are considered “dead,” and therefore out of the game.

Greenberg had led a group of Dagorhir fighters in his hometown of Boca Raton, but found himself with only his swords and shield for company when he came to USF. So he decided to go out and find people to fight with in a rather unconventional way.

Chase Brown, 19, a business administration major and club member, recalled seeing Greenberg outside of Castor Hall on campus last year.

“He literally stood up on the table and said, ‘Come fight me!’” Brown said.

Greenberg’s efforts weren’t in vain.

“Slowly, one by one, people actually went up to this crazy guy yelling up on the bench, and said, ‘Sure, I’ll give it a shot.’” Greenberg said.

Since then, the group has grown to nearly 20 members. The club practices at Castor Lawn on Wednesday and Friday afternoons and never fails to draw a small crowd of spectators.

Brown said they are always open for new members, and encourage bystanders to join the fights.

“A lot of people come up to us and are like, ‘I saw the movie Role Models! Is this kind of like that?’” he said. “And we say, yes, definitely, but less magic, more fighting.”

In reference to live-action role play, the group emphasizes that Dagorhir is more live-action than role play. While Dagorhir players can wear costumes, or garb, and create characters and backstories for themselves, it doesn’t affect the way they fight or how the game is played.

The group hopes to be approved by the university as the official USF Foam Fighting Club, so they can use facilities on campus and receive funding to create or buy extra weapons for walk-on players. They would also like to do demonstrations at Bull Market, particularly around midterms and finals week, to help students release stress and to get the club’s name out around campus.

The group is quick to mention that its unofficial club status hasn’t affected on-campus activities.

“Campus security, teachers, administration, everyone loves us,” said Roman Guinazzo, 19, a business administration major and long-time friend of Greenberg.

Members have never gotten into trouble for fighting on-campus, or while toting their weapons to and from practices.

“We actually have campus security and the university police come out and watch us on their off time,” Greenberg said.

In the end, the group insists that fighting Dagorhir is all about having fun with others. Whether someone wants to fight, help make weapons or garb, or just hang out and watch, members encourage them to get involved.

“We try to incorporate everyone and make it a very diverse populace, because that’s what it is. It’s meant to bring the community together,” Brown said.

Guinazzo agreed: “It’s a really close-knit community. Once you’re in, you’ve got friends for life.”