January 18, 2017 | Posted in ASH Online
By Guido de Bloois
So, some things happened in 2016. We all know a few, but to avoid crippling depression, let’s not go into detail regarding most of those. The past year and recent history beyond the bounds of 2016 have known their fair share of violence, hate, intolerance, and polarization within societies, and I’ve picked just one theme to say something about real quick.
One aspect of U.S. society consisted of arguably excessive use of force by the police against especially African American men (sometimes boys even), resulting once again in some of their deaths. Retrospectively, many victims were claimed to be innocent or unarmed, which is most likely and tragically true in several cases.
The media were not shy at all in their coverage of these mishaps and helped to paint a very negative image of American police officers throughout the country. That is because, as somehow often seems to happen, a large part of the public quickly tends to unconsciously assume that (inexcusable) acts of individuals are committed by the entire group that those individuals are from. Now, a lot of particularly African American citizens fear police violence, and many of us soft Europeans in our welfare states are appalled by the continuing police-related deaths in the savage land across the pond. Rightly so, I would still say.
This reaction has to do with the fact that most issues simply aren’t quite as big or deadly in our own little country of the Netherlands. We are famous for finding smaller problems within society everywhere, out of lack of bigger ones. This is what we call “ant-fucking” and we do it all the time; just spend literally one minute on social media.
Coming up with countless irrelevant problems does cause real problems to be overlooked. For example, it usually doesn’t really come to mind that fast, but we have our own issues with law enforcement here and they are far from similar to those in the U.S. Instead of concerning about police violence, many Dutch officers are concerned about their own safety. Especially towards New Year’s Eve. Some individuals carry out their deranged plan to attack policemen who are there to protect them, 2016 included. The officers have come forward several times now to claim that they don’t feel safe on the streets, because they are undermanned and under-equipped. Naturally, it is a problem when law enforcement isn’t confident enough to enforce the law.
It’s easy to think that our socialist European piece of land that’s half the size of South Carolina is so culturally divergent, and the big, bad U.S. of A. is so far away, but surely we can learn from each other? With some officers shooting up the place on one side of the spectrum, and the other side not being able to use their Taser without causing a national outrage, I would be inclined to feel that surely there is some middle ground to be found.
Maybe our police department could look to the U.S. when it comes to improving the availability of backup when needed, the effective use of (non-lethal) force, or police authority in general. Maybe American officers could take some inspiration from the Netherlands in regards to toning down the gun violence a little, connecting to local communities, or the public image of law enforcement in general.
This photo is from my own home town of Maarssen, where small kids were allowed to sit on police bikes and played little quizzes with the officers. In the back of a police truck, citizens were given the opportunity to express their opinion on the local police department, which was generally very favorable.
Of course, by writing this I paint a very rose-colored picture of the obscure hamlet that is Maarssen, and I casually speak of the “public image of law enforcement” as if that is something we can actively control. Nonetheless, I believe that we as a local, regional, national, and perhaps even international community do have influence over how our police officers are portrayed in society.
Yes, the media can be toxic when it comes to covering police-related incidents, especially in the era of instant news and catchy headlines of social media, but we as quasi-intelligent human beings have to be able to see through this. Some of us are quick to focus on all the negative aspects of today’s world and easily slip into a belief that everything used to be better “before,” and I have to admit that I sometimes find it hard to avoid being cynical in present times myself.
Maybe it is possible to change this by trying to highlight positive aspects in some occasions and trying to look for ways of improving our police departments, instead of continually bashing what is wrong with them. We could start changing our attitude and media-extremes by being a little less single-minded and moderating ourselves just a bit more when it comes to these issues. But then again, who am I but a suburban 19-year-old Dutch boy who practically never came into contact with the police at all?
January 16, 2017 | Posted in General News
Recently we hosted a Facebook poll to see if you all were interested in seeing EPU merch, and specifically what kind of merch. The Totebags and the red-white Varsity jacket were the winnners! This means that from now on you can (pre) order these items with the form below!
The bag will be 6 euro’s. We are still working on a deal of the price of the jacket, but this will be around 30 euro’s.
If you select the jacket, please write down the requested size in the comment form. They are available in every color, please also specify this below.
January 3, 2017 | Posted in ASH Online
By Aaron Magunna
In 2016, the quarterback of the NFL (National Football League) team San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand up for the national anthem during a preseason game. After receiving rigid criticism for the refusal (videos emerged showing fans burning Kaepernick’s shirt, Kaepernick received death threats and an anonymous NFL executive called him a ‘traitor’), Kaepernick stated:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the streets and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick referred to the police brutality conducted against African Americans and the subsequent emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. The NFL has been used as a pivotal stage for civil rights activism in the past. One particular person, and one particular team, has been involved in remarkable fashion in the fight for a more just US society: Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.
Allen Davis, better known as ‘Al’ Davis, took charge of the Raiders in 1963 and is still perceived to be a cult figure in Oakland until this very day. Davis, who passed away in 2011, was a respected head coach, but was also renowned for his fierce stance against racial oppression and discrimination.
During Davis’ time as a head coach, one particular incident outlined his activism and his opposition to discrimination in the US. When the Raiders travelled to a match in Mobile, Alabama, in 1963, Davis refused to field his team because of laws that implemented racial segregation at that time. He demanded the game to be played in the rather liberal Oakland and ultimately refused to send his team to play in cities that demanded the segregation of white and African American players, for instance in terms of accommodation.
Davis continued his activism when he eventually took over the Raiders as a part owner in 1972. Him being in charge saw the Raiders become the first franchise to employ the first African-American head coach in NFL history (Art Shell from 1989 to 1994) and the first female Chief Executive in NFL history (Amy Trask from 1997 to 2013).
Davis’ activism was not only closely associated with the Raiders as a franchise, but also with the city of Oakland (California). Known to be a city with a historically high crime rate and deeply implemented issues of racial zoning, the Raiders became a team for the socially disadvantaged. The most active fan group of the Raiders, Raider Nation, is consequently known for its close association to the working class of the entire Bay Area and its ethnically diverse fan base.
The Raiders are the team that is the most well-known for its activism for civil rights and the rights of African-Americans in particular. They are, however, not the only franchise that openly criticized the police violence conducted against African Americans. When Michael Brown was infamously shot in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, five players of the St. Louis Rams came out of the tunnel with their hands raised as a display of solidarity.
When Colin Kaepernick decided to take a stand against the contemporary racial disparity by not rising for the national anthem, he received harsh criticism, often with an underlying racist tone. He certainly incited a lot of activism with his refusal: numerous NFL players started using the Black Panther greeting (a raised fist) instead of locking up arms with their teammates before the start of the game. Jeremy Lane from the Seattle Seahawks argued: “It’s something I plan to keep on doing until justice is served.” The incident also sparked protests in other professional sports in the US: female soccer star Megan Rapinoe started kneeling when the national anthem was played. Basketball stars such as LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers) started warming up in shirts saying “I can’t breathe,” protesting the shooting of Eric Garner in New York City.
Kaepernick is in line with other individuals in professional US sports leagues that stood up for civil rights. The NFL has nonetheless a very distinctive history in the fight for a more equal US society. This is pivotally connected to the high amount of African Americans professionals in the sport and also the activism that was imposed by individuals such as Al Davis, and, currently, Colin Kaepernick. Figures such as Davis and Kaepernick have henceforth been essential to raising a broader awareness for the struggle against discrimination and oppression. They stood up for something that was and is a lot bigger than themselves and deserve the upmost respect for doing that.
December 21, 2016 | Posted in ASH Online
By Lobke van Meijel
Henry David Thoreau might actually think there is still hope for us, now that the United States is moving more and more to his former living standards: a cozy little home, near or inside the forests. And the movement even holds communal values dear to its heart. Indeed, Americans are increasingly embracing the tiny house hype. Time to elaborate the reasons and show some examples, I think!
A tiny house is tiny. Logical, but vague. To put its size a bit more into perspective: a typical American home takes up about 2,600 square feet of space (240m2). For a tiny house, that number is decreased to 100-400 square feet (9/37m2). That is right: more and more Americans are choosing to live in spaces as big as student rooms that Dutch students immediately cross of their lists.
In addition to the cramped space–which tiny house owners consider a positive as it leads to less clutter and more time to focus on what they regard as truly important—there are several other things that tiny homes often have. They are often placed on long trailers to make them mobile. In many instances, the second-floor bedroom space is vertically low, which requires its inhabitants to crawl to bed. And although most have a working shower and toilet, many owners choose for a composting toilet because of sustainability reasons or because they can be used off-grid. Last but not least, there are even those who choose not to install a toilet or shower in their home altogether. These people must really enjoy nature.
What is the appeal, then, of the tiny house movement? Well, some of the more popular reasons include financial motivations, environmental concerns, minimalist wishes, and the desire to be less tied to specific investments or a specific space. Financially speaking, tiny homes are a great option because the cost for land and for utilities is low. In addition, there is the dream of not having to pay mortgage, of course. Nevertheless, one should not expect to drop a couple thousand dollars and get the tiny house of their dreams. Precisely because of its small size, careful planning and good use of space and materials is vital. A great design costs money, one always has to calculate the weight of every screw and piece of wood, and if you want your living space to truly match your needs and desires, almost every piece of furniture has to be custom-made. Tiny house designers and builders have stated that in their experiences, costs are often cut in places where there is no room to save money; on the very frames of the house, or on the trailers that supports the mobile home.
Unless someone wants a house that will break down after a couple years of use because of its unsustainable or insufficient frame, therefore, tiny homes still call for financial investments at first. Still, many people take the initial costs to build their dream house (by themselves or by a tiny home designer—what a fantastic job) and to be able to pursue their desired mobility.
To make this a bit more real and to brighten up your day, I want close with a few examples of wonderful tiny homes and equally wonderful life experiences and desires.
This guy lives in the forest in Maine, where he built his own (immobile) tiny home with 80% recycled materials. He made his own wood-fired brick oven to make pizzas when his friends come over. They do have to cross the forest though, because there is no road to go by car. He does not want to imagine dealing with a huge house and heaps of stuff anymore.
These two converted a big yellow school bus into a tiny home for themselves and their dog. Felix considers his stereo and his slingshot some of his most prized possessions. Mogli is incredibly happy with their hand-made shower tiles. They started off in Alaska, and are now crossing Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and so much more to make their way to Argentina. Oh, they even have a blog!
Jacob and Ana White are carpenters from Alaska who show you how to build a tiny home over here. There are many different episodes, and I love watching the final one with the actual reveal! This is somewhat of a more “traditional” tiny house, with it being on a trailer and actually mobile. They did, however, opt for an outhouse instead of a inside bathroom.
And then there is this man, who just had a nice idea and went on to executing it without a plan or anything.
December 15, 2016 | Posted in ASH Online
Interview with NCAA-player at Miami University Laura Cornelius
By Hanne Nijtmans
Dutch basketball player Laura Cornelius comes from Groningen and has lived here and played basketball in the Netherlands for several years. She has played in the youth Dutch national teams with as one of the highlights that she won a bronze medal with her team in the European Championships (which is quite an accomplishment, considering that the Netherlands are not really big in basketball) and recently played her first game for the Dutch national women’s team. She decided to take her basketball career to the next level and moved to the United States to play college basketball in Miami. Although in the US first year players, or rookies, usually won’t get much minutes to play, Laura did get a chance to shine on the court. This year she is a second-year (or Sophomore) and in this interview she reflects on life as an athlete in the US and the importance of sports in American culture.
Why did you decide to go play basketball in the US?
Laura: “Because the level here is way higher than the level in the Netherlands, and I can combine basketball here with an education as well.”
What did the university provide for you to be able to play basketball at a level this high? How do you combine classes and basketball?
“Well, I’m here on a full scholarship, which means that all athletic and academic costs are being covered for me. Our class schedules are adapted to our practice times, which is in contrast to the system back home. When I played in Amsterdam, my practice times were adapted to our class times. Combining academics and basketball takes a lot of self-discipline, especially because we often miss classes when we are on the road. The U [Miami University, red.] provides free tutoring and required study hall hours for athletes who struggle, but so far I’m doing pretty well.”
I heard there were quite some sponsors for your team. What kind of sponsors does your team have?
“We indeed have quite some sponsors. Most sponsors are alumni and just individuals or families who just love basketball. They have season tickets and every now and then they donate money to our program. Recently we had a 1 million dollar gift and we upgraded both men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms with that money.”
What is the atmosphere like at the games?
“Great. In general, America has a great passion for sports and especially basketball is so big. I played for 10.000 people once and people on campus just recognize you because you’re on the basketball team. It’s just a complete different world, I never had that in the Netherlands. I love the sports culture here.”
What’s the difference between playing in the Netherlands versus playing in the United States? Is there a difference in attitude?
“The level is way higher. I play in the ACC, the best league in America and the pace of the game is just so quick. Also I play against the best athletes so you really have to bring your A-game every day. I think Americans do show more attitude and emotions, but that also has a lot to do with the passion for the game.”
How is the relationship between the basketball team and the community?
“Good. Multiple times a season we go out to the community and give back to the people who need it the most. We all know and appreciate the fact that we are privileged, but the opportunity to help people in our community is just awesome. We visit elementary schools to help kids with their homework and play a little with them. But we also help giving away Thanksgiving boxes with food for homeless people.”
How important is basketball for Miami University? Are the coach polls and rankings compared to some kind of status symbol?
“Basketball and football are our biggest sports. We get the most attention, money etc. But our programs also make the most profit for the U. Rankings and polls come out every week, but as soon as you lose you’ll drop. Therefore in my opinion, these rankings are a little overrated, but people pay a lot of attention to them. And they do show status. Most of the big schools are ranked, we are currently ranked #16 in the nation.” [They even climbed to 13 now, red.]
A few weeks ago you flew back to France and The Netherlands to play for the Dutch National Women’s team. How was this coordinated?
“We played on Wednesday the 16th a game with Miami, the day after we flew straight to Paris, had one practice with the team [national women’s team, red.] and we played the 18th a game against France. The next day we flew back to Amsterdam, and we played the 23rd our final game against Estonia and we flew the next day back to Miami to have a game on the 25th. So it was pretty intense to say at least, but it was also a lot of fun.”
What do you like best from playing at Miami?
“I just love our culture and the family we created here. I really see my teammates and coaches as family and this place really feels like a home far away from home.”
Finally, what are your plans after graduating from Miami?
“After I graduate, I would like to play professional basketball, and until my body gives out I will keep on playing. After that there is always time to look for a real job.”
Do you want to know more about the sports culture at the American universities? Make sure you won’t miss the next ASH!
November 21, 2016 | Posted in General News
We will fly to Warsaw on the 22nd of April. The flight will depart at 8:50 from Eindhoven airport, so we have to leave Groningen on arranged transport early in the morning, around 04:00. This means that we will have the whole first day in Warsaw to rest and explore the city a bit! We will fly back the 25th of April, and arrive in Eindhoven around 12:00.
The total costs of this trip will be 190 euros, including flight, hostel, activities, and dinner. If you want to join this awesome trip, make sure to be ready for the opening of the sign-ups on the EPU website (21st of November, 17:00, link will follow on Facebook). In order to fill in the sign-up sheet, you will need to have your passport or ID card ready, and you should know whether you have a travel insurance or/and a liability insurance.
Shortly after you have signed up, you will receive a confirmation-email of your spot on the trip, or an email that states you have been put on the reserve list. If you are one of the lucky people that have managed to claim a spot, you will have to transfer your first deposit payment of 70 euros to the EPU bank account (IBAN NL06ABNA0468748490) before the 25th of November. Please note that if we do not receive the first payment before the 27th of November (it might take a maximum of two days to receive your money after transfer), you will lose your spot on the trip. The first person on the reserve list will then get your spot, so make sure you pay on time!
Note that you will not be able to cancel after the 27th of November, and we will not give refunds. If you have any questions regarding the trip, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com We hope you are just as excited for the trip as we are!
November 4, 2016 | Posted in General News
Dear First Year’s,
Where in the world do they take bowling more serious than in the good old USA? That’s why EPU has the honour to present to you: FIRST YEAR BOWLING 2K16! With American Studies comes American leisure activities and that’s why we have a great night planned for you where you can show of your (lack of) bowling skills and have lots of fun. Amateur or Pro, you are all welcome to join us on the 16th of November, and for only 7,50,- you will have 1,5 hours of bowling.
October 31, 2016 | Posted in General News
Dear First Years,
In order to help you prepare for the Americas Ia exam, we will organize a workshop on Friday the 4th of November from 13.00-14.00. The structure of this workshop will be similar to the one for Theories of Culture I. The first fifteen minutes you will be able to ask any question you might have from your preparation. Then, the group will be divided into smaller study groups and you will have the opportunity to discuss the texts amongst each other. During this time, older year students will walk around to help you with any problems that might arise. After this, the last couple of minutes will be devoted to any questions you still have.
Once again, this is a workshop and not a seminar and the structure requires you to come prepared. We ask you to send in any questions you might already have beforehand to firstname.lastname@example.org or put them in the sign up form, so we can prepare some main topics to discuss. The workshop is open to everyone, but we ask you to sign up so we will know how many we can expect.
We hope to see you all on Friday!
Fancy a break from studying? Well our Salsa event is the perfect chance to unwind with your fellow EPU members!
On the 10th of November, for just three euros per person, EPU members have the chance to learn some Salsa, access to cheap alcohol and a night off studying.
October 24, 2016 | Posted in General News
Dear First Years,
Within the American Studies program there is a big focus on essay writing. We know that people struggle with this, especially in the first year, and EPU wants to help you! Therefore, we have scheduled a workshop on Friday the 28th of October from 13.00-14.00. We would like you to bring the (old) essays that you have written up until now, so we can discuss (general) issues and problems that are pointed out. We will also discuss comments we have received from your teachers concerning your writing skills, as well as a (thorough) walkthrough of the American Studies Writing Guide. There will also be time to answer any other questions you might have regarding (essay) writing, so be sure to join!
We ask you to send in any questions you might already have beforehand to email@example.com or put them in the sign up form, so we can prepare some main topics to discuss. The workshop is open to everyone, but we ask you to sign up so we will know how many we can expect.
We hope to see you all on Friday!