Tag Archives: Pitt

Belated Farewell Column!

Other things I forgot to post to this blog while I was busy scrambling to graduate from college include my farewell column to the Pitt News, featuring my thinly-veiled thoughts on the Druids, musings on being both opinionated and crazy, and helpful hints that a woman is not going to touch your genitals tonight.

Sometimes the cruelest thing you can say to someone is “There’s nothing wrong with you.” When you’re struggling with symptoms — mental or physical — that make you miserable and impair your daily living, those words sound like, “There’s no relief for this. It’s always going to be this bad, and if you were a stronger person, you’d just be able to deal with it.” That is a cruel lie. If you are suffering more than you are enjoying your life, then something is wrong — whether or not it’s diagnosable — and you don’t have to live like that.

http://www.pittnews.com/index.php/opinions/71360-hickey-a-departing-senior-imparts-words-of-wisdom-reflects-on-pitt-experience


Backlogs: Fossil Fuels! Preteen Thongs!

So I am behind on this blog again, but here are some of my backlog columns in case you missed them! On the controversy over Victoria’s Secret making sexy underwear for children – and the fact that being squicked out is not a solid place from which to advocate:

“The Victoria’s Secret tween line does not mean that middle school girls will — all of a sudden — be wearing racy underwear. Many of the young girls who will shop the new line were already wearing racy underwear, no doubt some of it from Victoria’s Secret; after all, people don’t exclusively buy things that are marketed to them directly, and of no demographic is that more true than girls who want to seem older than they are.

It also doesn’t mean that any of these girls are doomed. Girls with whom I went to middle school wore thongs, and many of them turned out fine. I, for my part, insistently purchased and wore a red string bikini at age 12 that I now cringe at the thought of such a young girl wearing, and I would venture that I also turned out OK.

That young teens and preteens want to feel grown-up and experiment with sex and sexiness is less a symptom of a sick society than a developmental fact. That intimates stores would want to corner that eager market is perhaps an inevitability of capitalism. But one thing’s for sure: The urge to control, condemn and punish young people — especially young women — for wanting to be grown-up and sexy has failed, thus far, to produce the desired result of adults with healthy sexual expectations and boundaries.”

http://www.pittnews.com/index.php/opinions/71205-hickey-victoria-s-secret-marketing-move-no-cause-for-moral-panic

On fossil fuels being an unsexy investment choice for Pitt:

http://www.pittne

After all, “sustainable” isn’t just a catchy buzzword. It means that an environmental practice can continue. Fossil fuels are unsustainable, not only because they are huge polluters but because there is a finite supply of them. Investing in fossil fuels is an exercise in prioritizing short-term reward over long-term stability. We can do better.

ws.com/index.php/opinions/71336-hickey-pitt-must-make-divestment-from-fossil-fuels-a-priority


Catch-Up: Two Big Damn Columns

As the title indicates, I wrote two Big Damn Columns over the last month – one about asexuality, one about student debt – that I am rather proud of.

For my asexuality column, which was a basic “Yes, asexuals exist!” 101 type piece for the Sex Edition, I got to interview the wonderful Sasha. I was taking on a lot of responsibility, as a sexual person taking the role of “introducing” asexuality to the Pitt student body, and I mostly was just praying I didn’t fuck it up. But asexuals from Pittsburgh commented on the post saying that it made them happy, so I think it was a success.

When asked what’s the most important thing she wants people to know about asexuality, Sasha answers bluntly, “that we exist.”

http://www.pittnews.com/index.php/opinions/70950-sex-edition-hickey-asexuality-should-be-recognized-as-a-legitimate-sexual-orientation

Then I wrote about student debt, which was lengthy and kind of difficult – I had to confront some truths about my own finances that made me very anxious – but very rewarding. I also learned a lot about egg donation, because every time I thought about how much I owe in student loans, I started researching the requirements for selling my eggs.

When I graduate from Pitt this April, I will owe a combined total of $53,638 in subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford, Parent Plus and private loans, not counting interest.

How much do you owe?

….

when we talk about student debt, we tend to be vague. Most of us say we have “a lot of loans,” but it’s rarely clear what that means — anything from $20,000 to $100,000 can be someone’s idea of “a lot of loans.”

http://www.pittnews.com/index.php/opinions/71093-hickey-don-t-feel-guilty-about-college-loans-come-out-about-student-debt


Pitt Before Roe

I was late posting this, because I wanted to post it with a more in-depth blog about my gigantic screwup with my source Deborah, whose last name I originally forgot to edit out of the column. Thankfully, though, my editor fixed it within the day (the linked story contains no trace of her full name), and Deborah doesn’t hate me – in fact, she doesn’t hate me so much that she took me out for a drink at the Beehive tonight, because we had never gotten to meet in person.

The column, for better and for worse, didn’t get a lot of attention – not even close to what I saw with the rape column, though this one was more controversial and, I think, better written. There was no comment war, and no angry letter from Pitt Students for Life. On a professional and political level, that’s a little disappointing, but under the circumstances, with my forgetting to abridge Deborah’s name at first, it’s a relief. Revealing in a public venue that someone helped women get illegal abortions when she was an undergrad… if the column hadn’t flopped, I actually could have put her at risk.

So, the moral of the story is, do not unthinkingly out your sources, especially when they are incredibly generous with their stories, and especially when those stories are about abortion. Not everyone is as magnanimous as Deborah, and you would really hate yourself if they started getting death threats.

Without further ado!

Let me take you on a trip. You are a female Pitt student, and the year is 1970.

The Roe v. Wade decision hasn’t been made yet, and although 95 percent of Americans at the time engage in sex before marriage, birth control is taboo. You and the others in Holland Hall have a curfew — although your male classmates don’t — but its effectiveness is belied by the number of girls who drop out because of unintended pregnancies.

Student Health Services doesn’t prescribe birth control, but if you unintentionally get pregnant, you can appeal to the Student Government Board for a loan to pay for an abortion and the cost of traveling to New York, where the procedure is legal.

We Won’t Go Back: Reflections on the Pre-Roe Era at Pitt

P.S. The only comment on this link somewhat skeptically asks for the source on the 95 percent statistic. I am barred from  commenting on the website, but the figure is from Guttmacher. I listed it when I handed in the column, but it wasn’t published. http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2006/12/19/index.html


Column: Renting for your Mental Health

I have a column in this year’s Rental Guide, about what to consider for your mental health when you’re looking for a place to rent (because clearly what we all need for our mental health is MORE things to worry about when renting. duh.)

I personally try never to live more than two minutes from a reliable food source. I’m not talking Market District — CVS or Sunoco will do — just as long as I can go there at nearly any hour to buy milk, eggs, soup and Easy Mac. Don’t get me wrong — I’d rather not subsist on ramen and gas station hot dogs. But I have occasional depressive episodes, and if I don’t really cook. If I have a breakdown while living more than five minutes from a convenience store or small grocery, I’ll eat nothing for two weeks but cold pizza and shame.

“How To Rent An Apartment that’s Good for your Mental Health”

P.S. special thanks to my friend Mike for alerting me that the purple color I was using for the background of this blog was “frankly alarming.” It does look much better now that it’s white. For as fabulously well-dressed as I am, I have basically no aesthetic sense for anything that’s not on my own body.


Columns I Forgot to Blog

Trying to take advantage of the attention my last column got and dust off the blogging hat or whatehaveyou. To that end, here are my columns I forgot to post over the last few months.

November 22nd – Pitt’s scare-’em-straight posters of alcohol tragedies were tasteless and horrible:

When using a person’s death to raise awareness, it is always important to proceed with the utmost care because you are using the name and likeness of someone who did not — could not — consent to have that likeness used. While I’m assuming the victims’ families consented to have their children serve as cautionary tales — and I hope they saw and approved the final drafts of the posters before they were released ­­— family consent is only part of making an ad tasteful. You have to ask yourself: If I died in some tragic way, would I want to appear on a poster that looked like this? Despite the best intentions of the Office of Health Education and Promotion — which had not responded to requests for an interview as of press time — the “This Was [So and So]” posters fail that test.

November 29 – I went to a Survivors of Suicide Loss conference, and it was SO SAD, and I wrote a column that was sad too:

Some people had outbursts during the psychiatrist’s PowerPoint presentation. Some had to leave the room to compose themselves. Strangers cried in each others’ arms. This was an educational conference, not a group therapy session, but many attendees — some of whom had lost their loved ones only months before — had never attended therapy to help them cope with their loss or met another suicide-loss survivor in a therapeutic context.

December 4 – I wrote something fun for once, and it wound up on the site with a really redundant headline, but mostly you should shop at Groceria Merante because they are amazing.

Oakland is home to a great selection of small grocery stores with great prices and awesome food, belying the need to take the bus to Giant Eagle every time your cabinets are empty. I don’t know what it is that makes students decide it’s easier to schlep their bags home from Shadyside, but in case it’s fear of the unknown, I want to take you on a tour of just a few of the best local places to take your grocery list.


Follow Up, Victim Blaming at Pitt

Image

So yesterday a whole bunch of people shared my column on rape and victim-blaming on college campuses, which is unbelievable and I am so grateful.

Sadly, the column could have been better if I’d read the paper thoroughly last Friday, when the Pitt Police ran the “crime tip” featured above. For anyone who can’t read it, it says:

CRIME TIP

The Pitt Police Department has recently received reports that female students have encountered some dangerous experiences while drinking at local bars. We have heard the following scenario: A female student under the age of 21 produces a fake ID to the bouncer at the front door of the bar and enters. The female student is intentionally separated from her friends or may be alone when she purchases an alcoholic beverage. She then has no recollection of events until the next day when she wakes up in a strange apartment with an unknown male.

The purpose of this tip is to alert other female students to be on guard when socializing with alcohol.

Things To Consider

  • Don’t place yourself in danger; use your instincts.
  • Fake IDs are illegal and punishable under the law. This can jeopardize your future employment.
  • Don’t be separated from friends. Always arrive and leave with your friends and keep your beverage in your control at all times.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, remember you have options:

Contact Sexual Assault Services 412-648-7856

Contact Pitt PD 412-624-2121

The victim or witness is not required to leave a name or phone number.

So, the tip never mentions sexual assault – in fact, they dance so far around it that it looks ridiculous. “dangerous experiences”? – until the very end when they list the hotlines, which is strange, since usually they list the crime in question up front (i.e. “CRIME ALERT: ROBBERY.”) For that matter, I have never learned from the Pitt Police whether a kid who was mugged had been drinking, whether they were underage, how much loot they were carrying, or whether they were foolishly walking alone at night. I have CERTAINLY never seen a robbery tip say “Don’t place yourself in danger; use your instincts.”

The ad veers toward the absurd with the “don’t get separated from your friends” tip, listed right underneath the fact that the perpetrator is intentionally separating victims from their friends. That is like describing a kidnapping where some thugs dragged a woman into their car, and then coolly advising, “Don’t get into a stranger’s car.”

It honestly reads like a moral tale the police made up to discourage women from using fake IDs – I’m confident that it’s not, but it does read like one. The focus on the fake IDs is so prominent that it nearly obscures the rape – in fact, the ad even goes out of its way to remind us of the penalties for getting into a bar with a fake identification, without even a nod at the perpetrator with a refresher course on Rape Is A Felony.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think victim-targeted warning messages are appropriate sometimes. I do not, for example, think that whatever serial rapist/group of rapists is drugging women on my campus would likely be dissuaded by a newspaper ad telling them to please not do that.

I would actually VERY MUCH APPRECIATE a newspaper ad warning me about a recent spate of drug-assisted rapes on my campus, if it said something like this:

CRIME ALERT: RAPE

The Pitt Police Department has recently received several reports of sexual assaults with similar features. The assailant(s) are targeting female students in bars, separating them from their friends and possibly altering their drinks with [insert whatever the Pitt Police knows, if anything, about what was actually put in these women’s drinks.] The perpetrator may be targeting students using fake IDs.

PPD is investigating these claims. In the meantime, we urge students to practice extra caution when drinking, and keep a close eye on their friends and their drinks.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, or have more information about these incidents, please contact:

Sexual Assault Services 412-648-7856

Pitt PD 412-624-2121

The victim or witness is not required to leave a name or phone number.

Do you see what I did there, with the treating sexual assault like an actual crime? Do you see how it WASN’T THAT HARD?

Bad Pitt Police. No biscuit.