Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Engaging with people
Aug29

Engaging with people

It is hard to remember what life was like before laptops were in our laps, cell phones were in our hands and “Google” was a mainstream word. Technology and media are here to stay, whether we like it or not. It is accurate to say that media has made life easier in a multitude of ways. However, has society succumbed to the convenience of and addiction to media to the point that it harms the engagement of meaningful relationships? According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘engage’ means “to hold the attention of” or “to do or take part in.” Therefore, are we engaging with media, or has it just become mindless scrolling? The majority of media users would most likely agree that the first thing they do when they wake up is grab their phone and start scrolling. It is not something that most users have to even think about, because it has become a part of their morning routines as well as drinking coffee and brushing teeth. Many opponents of the social media craze believe that people are not really engaging with friends and family when communicating via text message or tagging/posting on social media. For the most part, I do not believe that people are really engaged with one another while communicating through social media sites, such as Facebook or Instagram. Media users are not truly communicating with another person through the ‘like’ button. Some people are more used to seeing their friend’s Bitmoji than their actual face. Too often at social events, people are busy communicating through social media rather than interacting with the people around them. The media has not only affected interpersonal communication, but attention spans as well. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conversation, smiling and nodding, yet not really knowing what is going on? Instead, have you been thinking about what you will name your future labradoodle and four kids or some other topic unrelated to the conversation? You are not alone. A recent study has shown that since the digital revolution, it has become increasingly more difficult for people to fight off distractions. Microsoft Corp. uncovered that the average attention span has dropped from twelve to eight seconds since 2000. At the first sign of an awkward silence, many people instinctively fumble for their phones to avoid silence’s piercing scream. According to a survey by Time, 77 percent of people between the ages of 18-24 said “when nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone.” Unfortunately, it has become rare to see people sitting down for a meal together without their...

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Freshman year: Overcoming hardships
Aug29

Freshman year: Overcoming hardships

Freshman year of college is one of the most unique times in a young person’s life. For the first time, they are able to leave high school, move away from home and experience a sense of independence unlike ever before. However, this transition is not complete without its own set of challenges. Mental Health America addresses some of the top issues that college students face in their first year, including schoolwork, roommates, sleep issues and homesickness. It is no secret that college is harder than high school. The classes are more intense and the course material is more in-depth. Many students find that the pressure of college classes are unbearable at times compared to high school. Sophomore criminal justice major Benjamin McCauley says that college is more challenging because “it involves teaching yourself a lot of material, while in high school, a lot more is just given to you.” Before college, most students lived at home with their parents, and may not have had any experience living with a roommate. Sharing a small space with another person can be difficult, and in order to avoid conflict and maintain a good relationship, it is important for a student to establish rules and expectations for their dorm with their roommate. Mental Health America recommends that college students get at least eight or nine hours of sleep each night. For a student that wakes up at 8 a.m., this means going to bed at midnight or earlier, which many students find difficult when they need to finish homework or are spending time with friends. “The amount of sleep I get now is much less than what I got before…it has definitely affected me negatively because I wake up more tired,” sophomore finance major Steven Neaves said. By getting enough sleep, freshmen are able to boost their energy levels, stay healthy, maintain good grades, succeed in classes and participate in extracurricular activities. One of the most common issues that freshmen experience when starting college is homesickness. For most students living on campus, going to college means that they will be living away from home for the first time. Instead of coming home at the end of the day to their house, family and pets, they come home to a small dorm room and an unfamiliar roommate. One good way to combat homesickness is to keep in touch with family and friends from back home. Additionally, by joining a club or organization and reaching out to new people, a student can make new friends and gain a sense of belonging in their new environment. Freshman year of college can feel overwhelming at times, but...

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Poverty in the United States
Apr11

Poverty in the United States

When one thinks of poverty, they probably think about countries in the Middle East, Africa or Asia. They picture the commercials of starving children and how $3 can feed them for an entire week. When one thinks of poverty, they do not think of the United States. When people think of the United States, they think of the hustle and bustle of cities like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. They think of the suburban lifestyle. They think of the “American Dream.” Even people who live in the United States don’t think of the poverty that surrounds us. But the harsh reality is that there are more than 43 million Americans living in poverty. That’s a lot of people in poverty. If you added the populations of California and Oklahoma, you would get around 43 million. It is unacceptable for a country that is as highly developed as America to have a poverty rate that is at nearly 13 percent. According to the CIA, the United States is ranked number 20 for highest gross domestic profit per capita. There are many countries in the world that ranked lower on the list in terms of GDP, yet they have a lower poverty rate. For instance, according to The World Factbook, countries such as Canada, Austria and Serbia have poverty rates that are all under 10 percent. If the United States ranks so high on lists when it comes to statistics regarding economy, why is it that the United States still has such a high poverty rate? According to a 2012 article in the New York Times, one of the greatest causes is because many Americans are working minimum wage jobs. These jobs don’t allow for a livable income for a single person, much less a single person with children. According to that same article, this has been a problem in the United States since the 1970s. America is one of the most developed countries in the world. Yet 13 percent of the population live under the poverty line. Many people are focused on giving charity to other countries. This can be helpful. However, those people focused on charity tend to forget that there are people in their own country that are suffering as well. For the U.S. to help other impoverished countries most effectively, they first need to help their home front. When the poverty rate in America is lowered, it will allow America to be an even more successful...

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Cheers to the London Studies Program:  Students share their experiences
Apr11

Cheers to the London Studies Program: Students share their experiences

Trips across the English countryside plus top-notch theatre performances and fish and chips galore: the London Studies Program has it all. In its 11th consecutive year, the program is the only semester-long study abroad program that UMHB offers, and for good reason: UMHB invests every dollar they receive from the participating students back into the program itself. Dr. David Holcomb has been the director of the London Studies Program since its inception in 2007. In choosing the location, Dr. Holcomb said, “London is a fantastic place for study abroad to begin with. It’s rich with history and culture. It’s a great place for multicultural and international study, so you’re getting exposed to lots of different types of people. And, you’re not having the same struggles with language you would have in other places.” Although British people speak English just like Americans, it is not to say that there are no struggles with language or culture. “Talking on the tube is weird,” said sophomore pre-med and biology major Kristopher Hurst about the London Underground transit system. “I can always spot American groups on the tube because they’re just loud.” The differences in culture led students on this trip to learn a lot about the world around them and about themselves. “I’ve learned a lot about myself socially since we’ve been living in an apartment with 12 girls,” sophomore audio art major Bronwyn Taff said. “I’ve definitely developed another layer of empathy.” Twenty-eight students have accompanied their professors to London this last semester, and have lived together, studied together, and traveled to other countries together. “The 28 of us have grown so much closer, and I didn’t think I would be this close to people after 3 months,” Hurst said. “I never thought I’d have friends from Hardin-Simmons or Howard Payne, but we’re such good friends now.” Being in a group of such a small size for three months is a unique environment for most of these students. Hurst learned more about opening up through his new friendships. “I’ve really learned that being vulnerable with people is good. I want that to be a staple of my personality; I want to be vulnerable and make a community of vulnerability with others.” Dr. Holcomb hopes for positive changes in the students he sends overseas. “I have seen students who have a narrow and provincial view of the world, who after spending a semester [in London], really become more sensitive to the world and want to become world citizens, and have a little more appreciation for other cultures,” he said. According to Hurst, his endeavor was successful. “I’m not stuck in what I...

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The real meaning behind charity
Apr11

The real meaning behind charity

It’s 2018. Why is poverty still a major challenge? Why are third world countries still struggling? Every year, kind-hearted people box up old clothes and donate money to send to these countries, but we’re not seeing results. Poverty, Inc., a documentary by Michael Miller and Mark Weber that has received 30 film festival honors and won 11 awards, attempts to address this problem. According to the documentary, the reason we are not seeing results is, because emergency disaster relief has become a permanent model. The documentary suggests that it might be time to stop sending clothes, money and shoes to third world countries. According to Huffington Post, the East African Community made up of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burandi, and Rwanda, have proposed to ban all imported used clothing by 2019. According to the same article, (Goldberg, 2016), the clothes that are being donated are being resold for extremely low prices such as in the Gikomba Market, located in East Africa. The article said that jeans can retail for as low as $1.50 at the market, which is between five to 10 percent of a new clothing item made in Kenya. Movie stars, presidents, pastors, non-profit institutions, and just regular people push to send more items to developing countries. But it may not encourage new economies if goods are handed over for free. It was pointed out in the Poverty, Inc. film that these countries don’t need fish handed to them; they need to be taught how to grow a fish economy. I agree. We can’t keep treating these countries like they are in a permanent state of disaster. They shouldn’t be treated as the beggars under the global table, when they deserve a seat at the table. These countries are rich in natural resources that can make a profit. Africa holds approximately 30 percent of the world’s natural resources. It is rich with diamonds, gold, nickel, titanium, oil and gas (Aljazeera.com). Haiti’s natural resources include bauxite, copper, calcium, carbonite, gold and marble (Haitigeo). As a society, we need to rediscover the true meaning of charity. Charity isn’t only about writing checks or sending over a box of used clothing to Africa or Haiti. According to Weber, co-filmmaker of Poverty, Inc., the Latin root word of charity is “caritas,” meaning love. 1 Corinthians states: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” We must stop letting those we help become faceless and nameless. Real love is more than writing a check. Real love is about getting more involved than just a one-time visit. We really should look at how to love others...

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Why domestic abuse must be acknowledged
Feb21

Why domestic abuse must be acknowledged

During the month of February, we often put a heavy emphasis on love and relationships. With an alarming amount of people affected by domestic abuse, it is important to know the signs of abuse and where to seek help.During the month of February, we often put a heavy emphasis on love and relationships. With an alarming amount of people affected by domestic abuse, it is important to know the signs of abuse and where to seek help.It isn’t always obvious that you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse. It’s common for those experiencing domestic abuse to believe it’s their fault that they are being abused. However, it is very important to realize that nothing a victim has said or done makes them deserving of abuse. It can be difficult to spot abusive behavior. Some key signs to identify abuse, according to newhopeforwomen.org, webmd.org, and helpguide.org include:   Possessiveness-Checking in to see where you are, who you’re with, when you left and when you’ll be home, and/or why you are going out “constantly.”-Trying to control where you go or who you’re with and getting angry if you don’t do as they say.  Jealousy-Accusing you of being unfaithful or flirting unnecessarily.-Isolating you from friends and family.  Mental abuse-Attacking your intelligence, looks, mental health, or capabilities.-Blaming you for their outbursts.-Saying:  “No one else will want you.”  Threats-Yelling and breaking things you value deliberately.-Threatening violence toward you, your family, your friends, or your pets.  Physical Violence -Any form of physical violence (pushing, shoving, hitting, grabbing).-Forcing sex or anything you do not want to do and do not consent to.-Actual harm to you, your family, your friends, or your pets. These are just a few of the more common signs that you or a loved one could be victim to domestic abuse. If even ONE of the listed signs feels familiar, it is important to seek help.It is important to not only seek help, but to stay safe. Let the people you love know what is going on, and let them know what your plans are for the future. It is also important to tell them how you plan to leave the relationship as well. Getting authorities involved is beneficial to you and your safety. If you are experiencing an emergency, please try to get to a phone and call 911. The university recommends a domestic abuse hotline as well, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE (7266).In Bell County, you can reach the sheriff at his office number (254) 933-5412. On campus, campus police are located on the ground floor of Mabee, and can be reached at (254) 295-5555. Many people tend to pose the question, “Why didn’t...

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