Category Archives: Opinion

International Day of Peace – Overcoming Racism Inside-Out

Featured Image: Organizers of the International Day of Peace event placed doves around the Albert A. Sheen Campus to direct guests to the location of the event.

Alicia Taylor |

ST. CROIX – Students on the Albert A. Sheen campus gathered in EVC 401 Friday, September 16, to observe International Day of Peace. This is the fourth year English 100 students and faculty have organized and held this event on St. Croix.

“Because of Beyoncé and the national news, we decided the focus of overcoming racism was a topic that needed to be addressed and discussed,” said Mary Wilder, Assistant Professor of English. “Instead of just reading about it, we want students to be involved and talk about the issues we presented today.”

To assist in getting the focus across to the University students, Judge George Cannon came to speak about peace within and without.

Cannon expressed that racism isn’t unique to a particular group and that true peace is found within the chaos. “If inside the chaos you can still do a constructive job in efforts to change the world, then you have achieved inner peace,” said Cannon.   Continue reading International Day of Peace – Overcoming Racism Inside-Out

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STUDENTS’ APATHY – A GROWING CONCERN FOR EDUCATORS

Corliss Smithen |

ST. THOMAS – He sauntered aimlessly into the classroom, ten minutes after the bell had rung, with his back stooped as if belabored by the small backpack. He shuffled to his desk, noisily pulled out a chair and slumped down with a sigh. His bag dropped with a thud on the floor.

Taking a cursory glance in front of him, he noticed the notes scrawled across the blackboard.  Looking around the room, he quickly observed that his classmates were engaged in their classwork. Without even bothering to take his copy book from his bag, Jahlil, whose name like the others below have been changed, propped his head in the crook of his arm on the desk and closed his eyes for the entire session.

When the bell rang to signal the end of the class period, Jahlil lifted his head from the desk, yawned, stretched, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, picked up his bag from the floor, and left the room, as if in a daze.

“He’s like this most days,” his history teacher said.  “He hardly does any work, but I continue to encourage him.”

Jahlil, 19, is just one of many students who appear to have little or no interest in academics.  His school records show that he is failing all of his courses.  Four other students who were interviewed are not faring any better.  Brent, 17, is in ninth grade – for the third time. He thinks that school is a waste of time for him.  He has no plans to graduate.

“School is boring,” Brent said. “I am going to drop out of school soon, get a job and get my own apartment.  I’ve already discussed it with my mother and she agrees.”

Brent is not considering the option of getting his GED and he certainly is not looking into obtaining a college degree. Continue reading STUDENTS’ APATHY – A GROWING CONCERN FOR EDUCATORS

New Students Set Sail for Academic Success

Feature Photo Caption: Ryan Shaw ready to take on the new academic year and next, the world. (Photo taken on St. Thomas courtesy of Adeola Adelekan, Orientation Leader)

By Alicia Taylor and Nathalie Trow-McDonald

IMG_0560Albert A. Sheen- St. Croix campus new student orientation island tour, August 20, at Point Udall. (Courtesy of Catey Mendoza, a National Student Exchange student from Alaska)

Albert A. Sheen – St. Croix Campus Orientation: Perspectives of An Exchange Student

Attending UVI is the beginning of our flight towards success. With the help of the orientation staff and student leaders, we were introduced to the flight attendants and captains that will assist in our navigation throughout the journey we call college.

Throughout our flight journey at UVI, we were instructed on safety precautions and instruments we can utilize to assist us. We were educated about campus security, dating and violence, sexual assault and physical and mental health concerns. Through counseling and health services, RAVE and a variety of other departments on campus, students can be reassured that the flight they are traveling on is a safe one.

The theme for orientation on the Albert A. Sheen campus on St. Croix was “Navigating Your Path to Academic Success,” hence all the flight metaphors.

Being a National Student Exchange (NSE) student, the Virgin Islands was an unknown territory waiting to be revealed to me. Attending orientation allowed me the opportunity to experience the university and the culture of St. Croix first hand.

The orientation staff and faculty made it their priority to make sure each student either learned or was reminded of the heritage of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. Meals were prepared with a variety of foods local to the Caribbean, including the introduction of two local food trucks for students to try at lunch.

The St. Croix campus offered orientation students to take part in a movie night at the Caribbean Cinema, an island tour, bowling at Ten Pins and snorkeling lessons.

Of all the organized activities and events, the New Student Convocation and Buccaneer Welcome Reception was my favorite. Specifically, President Hall’s address to the students.

“He was engaging, relatable and genuinely cared about each of us individually,” said Cassie (Cassandra) Glodowski, a NSE student from Wisconsin. “He didn’t just see us as a statistic, but rather as a student of UVI.”

After walking the stage and being bestowed the medal, I felt like an official member of the Buccaneer community. UVI is proud of each and every student, whether they are here for a semester or five years. The bond created here is unbreakable and each individual of this community will assist in navigating you towards the path of academic success.

Regardless of the destination, you have allowed UVI to provide a stamp on your passport of life. Continue reading New Students Set Sail for Academic Success

Blues in the Caribbean

Photo Credit: Noelle Olive Photography
Right to left: Estelle Andrews, Rubina Wade, Jada M. Lark, Mimi de Seda, and Christina Harper

Alayna Belshe |

ST.THOMAS – Five women and one man, a love story that is sure to break hearts, opened Friday night at the Pistarckle Theater.
The musical, Blues in the Night, created by Sheldon Epps, takes place in a rundown hotel in Chicago with classic blues from the 30’s and 40’s telling the story of one man’s relationships with five very different women.
The cast is made up of fan favorites from previous Pistarckle shows such as Rock of Ages and The Heidi Chronicles, as well as new talent.

This musical has limited dialog and relies on the lyrics and actors to tell its seductive and emotional story. Pistarckle’s intimately sized venue is a perfect showcase for these voices backed up by local musicians.
The show dates run through Valentine’s Day weekend and ticket costs range from $17 to $52. There are student discounts available, so please have your student email address or ID ready when you purchase your tickets.
The remaining show days are: Feb. 12, 13, 19 and 20. Please call the box office at 340-775-7877 or go online to pistarckletheater.com to make your purchase.

New Semester, New Approach

NATHALIE TROW-MCDONALD AND CHE-RAINA WARNER

As the new semester starts, students here at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) have a lot on their minds. Our staff went around surveying local and exchange students to learn their thoughts and opinions for the Spring Semester of 2016.

 

davidbeavansDavid Beavans

first semester exchange student

What was your first reaction to St. Thomas and/or UVI? What surprised you the most?

My first reaction to UVI was kind of bad. This school is super tiny compared to my college back home. I arrived and my phone didn’t have service, hardly anyone was on campus, I didn’t have the code for the WiFi, and there were problems with my room. It was pretty tough for the entire afternoon. Then I met some other National Student Exchange students at dinner and everything changed completely.

 

What was your biggest mistake of last semester/something you want to improve this semester?

Last semester, I slacked off at the beginning of my classes. Thus, I dug a hole for myself and was forced to climb out of it by the end of the semester. This semester I’m going hard in the beginning so it will be easier at the end.

 

What are your goals for the end of the semester?

My goals by the end of the semester are to visit a lot of places, make lifelong friends, and become more cultured.

Continue reading New Semester, New Approach

College Graduation: the challenging downside

MARKIDA SCOTLAND |

ST. CROIX — Even though I knew it was coming, I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel.

I cried every day during the final semester of my undergraduate year. Between current expectations and the nearing future I realized that I wasn’t ready to graduate.

I wasn’t the only one.

Senior year is romanticized. Seniors are expected to have their lives planned out. This was what they have been preparing for the moment they left high school and entered institutions of higher learning.

These students are expected to be bold and brave, bearing smiles and excitement for the coming of May when it will all be over. Few realize that, while exciting, senior year is overwhelmingly stressful. After several years, their lives are summed up in a month.

May doesn’t mean the same thing anymore for graduating seniors. It is a month of changes.

Dr. Aletha Baumann, associate professor of psychology at the University of the Virgin Islands, recounted a situation where a student broke down in front of her.

via Life After Empty Nest
via Life After Empty Nest

“She wasn’t sad about going off on her own or finding a job,” Baumann said. “She cried because she just didn’t want to leave UVI. This was her home.”

Graduation is a big transition that often causes students to feel depressed or anxious.

Will they find a secure job right out of college?

What do they do with their degree?

Will they find a job within that degree?

After finding a job they must now budget, decide living arrangements, make new friends and say goodbye to old ones. It is a period of leaving the familiar and meeting the unfamiliar.

In a 2014 article by US Health News, Vicki Hays, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Michigan, said graduation depression is more common than many think.

“I think it’s much harder actually leaving college than it is coming to college,” she said. “Leaving is something completely new. For most people, they have not been without the structure of organized education ever in their lives.”

For some students, the problem wasn’t leaving college. The problem was the process in order to leave there.

Lorie Jeffers graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology last May.  According to her, there were personal points of depression for herself and her fellow classmates.

“I know there was not one person in my class who did not express their frustration with their final semester in one way or another,” Jeffers said.  “I remember tears from some, hopelessness from others.”

Jeffers also said that the stress levels among herself and her peers were unstable.

“In between our moments of despair and depression were lots of moments of triumphs and victories. However sometimes it felt like for every victory there was a setback,” she said.

A 2001 article in The Guardian stated that while one in four students suffer depression during their university years, there aren’t any official statistics for the post-graduation nor pre-graduation period.

In the article, Mike Burton, of the Sussex University Counseling service, said that this group “slips through the system.” These students become indivisible from any other adult going through transitions and even counselors are unaware of the problem.

Patricia Towal, director of counseling and career services at the University of the Virgin Islands, said that while students do come in for counseling, she wished there were more.

“A lot of students don’t understand what counseling can really do for them,” Towal said. ” I wish more students would seek out what they already paid for and it’s one of the few times you’ll get free counseling in your life.”

Baumann also agreed that students in their final semester need that extra counseling to cope with their difficulties.

“This is the time people should be talking to counselors about life especially if you’ve never been stressed like this before,” Baumann said.

Many students, however, admit that they do not seek counseling in their final year and that is mostly because they handle the feelings of stress and anxiety on their own.

Deidre Dubois, senior psychology major at the university, said that rather than see a counselor, she took a day off.

“I was feeling very overwhelmed,” Dubois said. ” I did not go to class and I did not attend my internship for a week either. I was told to relax before I broke down.”

Dubois also said that between school, her daughter, and other personal struggles, she felt  like jumping off of a cliff.

Another psychology senior, Shanah Bannis, also didn’t see a counselor to handle her stress.

“I just got over it. I’m not at the point where I have breakdowns anymore,” Bannis said. “I used to freak out over not failing and I just went numb to it.”

However, despite the call for counseling, Aletha Baumann felt that many of the students were not at clinical levels of depression and anxiety, which is why there are very few studies on the topic.

According to Baumann, many students often use the word “depressed” as a way to express unfamiliar stress and sadness.

“The senior year of any program is really intense. You’ve got your internship, practicum, senior project, and all other classes you didn’t want to take,” Baumann said. ” Those extreme pressures can cause you to feel depressed, not clinically depressed, just very sad and overwhelmed.”

Towal agreed that many of the students appeared to show signs of stress rather than clinical depression or anxiety.

“For most graduates they don’t get that closure because even though their educational world has closed their professional world is beginning,” Towal said.”It’s actually ‘eustress,’ which is good stress, like starting a new job, or moving to a new place. It’s stressful because it’s new and there are a lot of decisions to make.”

“I think it’s that not knowing, that ‘what’s the best choice for me?’, ‘how can I optimize my money, time and effort to get the best degree I can?’ that causes stress because it’s open ended,” Towal said. “It is overwhelming because you have to live by your decision and the consequences.”

Where do you go from here?  Via Sexisoprano
Where do you go from here? Via Sexisoprano

However, while the students at the University of the Virgin Islands are overwhelmed, Baumann believes that they are the type of students that overcome easily.

“Students, particularly here, are very resilient,” Baumann said. “So, even when they say ‘This is it I’m not doing it,’ oftentimes what they need is just reassurance that they are on the right track and they can do it.”

With the help of great advisers and peers, the struggles of coursework and the nearing future become minuscule troubles.

If it weren’t for the constant reassurance and kind words from my professors I might have given into the pressures of my senior semester and crumbled.

Thanks to them I, and many of my peers, will not only be graduating in May, we will be evolving and becoming ready for the world after graduation.

Published in the Virgin Islands Daily News on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Old vs. New: The Tablet vs. The Textbook

By Shani Isaac

As fall arrives, so does the process of preparing for college courses. One of the many ways in which college students prepare for the year ahead of them is by purchasing textbooks in order to succeed in their courses, while trying not to break the bank.

The year of 2014 marks the year where the price of attending college has been at its highest, among other things. While room, board and tuition weigh heavily on people’s minds, it is sometimes the price of books that breaks the bank . According to CollegeData.com, the national average cost of textbooks is currently $1,207 in public institutions, and $1,253 at private institutions. Here at UVI, according to their website, however, the average cost of textbooks per year is $1,703.  This includes other supplies needed for school.

With the advent of the internet, textbooks have become available for purchase via ebooks which can be accessed via a phone or tablet, and even a computer. Much of the time, ebooks are up to 80 percent cheaper than their physical counterparts, and in a day and age where tablets can be purchased for just 70 dollars (the Kindle Touch being an example), it is an option to be considered.

Textbook VS Tablet (Via: Crazyengineers.com)
Textbook VS Tablet
(Via: Crazyengineers.com)

Investing in a tablet and simply purchasing or even renting, as Amazon and other sites will allow you to, seems to be the wave of the future, a concept that is taking hold quickly in the nation and across the world. According to multiple sources, including Procon.org, tablets contribute to a variety of health problems, including eye-strain, and can also be a distraction to the students in question. There is also the fact that not all college textbooks have been converted to e-book format.

Financial aid does not always cover the purchase of the textbooks needed to complete certain courses, as many UVI students have come to realize. Particularly when it comes to the texts required for upper level courses, prices can run into the upper 200s . Prices have always run slightly higher in the Virgin Islands due to import taxes, but should the student have to suffer even more, having to afford tuition and additional fees, not to mention in some cases, room and board.  Purchasing a tablet and purchasing e-books when available seems  to be a practical and affordable choice.

Another counterargument, particularly from conservatives, is that we are becoming entirely too dependent on technology. Liberals argue that it staunches the consumption of trees for paper, and is far more portable than 4 or 5 texts needing to be carried around all at once.

At the end of the day, while both sides have valid points, any students, new and returning, are searching for solutions to this pressing issue.

Role Models

 Some good, Some Bad, All Influential

SHANI ISAAC|

ST.CROIX – The actions of our children can be influenced by the environment in which they were raised. If they were raised in an unstable, unsafe environment, they are prone to be suspicious, angry, and even violent.

A role model, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is someone who another person admires and tries to emulate. A role model can influence impressionable youth to do right or wrong in their lives. Continue reading Role Models

Raised Lab Fee, Good or Bad?

With poor lab equipment, students question whether recent lab fee increase was best move.

SAMECA HENDRICKSON|

ST. THOMAS – On the University of the Virgin Islands St Thomas campus, students were left puzzled by the abrupt rise in their lab fee during the fall 2013 semester.

Students were sent an email in the middle of the fall 2013 semester indicating that they must pay the difference of $100  immediately, or their accounts would be subject to a hold. Continue reading Raised Lab Fee, Good or Bad?

Apathy faces dying species

With coral being dying species here in the Virgin Islands, should we care?

MAKIL BEDMINSTER|

ST. THOMAS – In the Virgin Islands, coral-bleaching– a striking, yet long-standing issue– crosses few minds, but affects the lives of millions worldwide. Especially here on St. Thomas.

This is not only a long-lasting problem, but also an issue that has become even more prevalent today.

Corals, despite their rocky or plant-like appearance, are living creatures, if not animals. Like all living organisms, they too have a life span that can be manipulated by both internal and external factors. Residents of a coastal city such as St. Thomas, are surrounded by water and responsible for sustaining corals and their ecosystems.

What internal and external problems occur to lead to coral decay? To name a few, fluctuating temperatures, changes in salinity levels and overall balance in chemicals within surrounding water are some causes.

Disturbances in  these marine organisms’s living conditions, may lead to the collapse of that single affected coral.  If disturbances continue, the entire coral community could then collapse.

This is why it is extremely important for  St. Thomas residents  to get involved to help restore these ecosystems that we depend on for tourism; an industry many people heavily rely on.

Even our most well known and friendly beaches are being affected. Photo Credit: Bedminster
Even our most well known and friendly beaches are affected.
Photo Credit: Bedminster

“Be careful how you manage your waste and trash,” Jashae Joseph, a dive instructor at St. Thomas Dive Club in Bolongo and UVI marine  and science program advanced open-water assistant teacher said.

“Over the past few years, I have seen the corals dramatically change and diminish,” Joseph said.”There is a lot to blame for these conditions but we must do our part and remain conscious of our action, habits and waste when interacting with these delicate ecosystems. I’ve told the students in my advanced open water class this everyday.”

Joseph emphasizes the fragile nature of these bio networks, and how the slightest change in living conditions, such as an increase in the amount of bacteria build up from trash, can be the beginning of the end for these organisms.

This issue of diminishing coastal marine wildlife is a big deal to people here in the Virgin Islands because our economy mainly depends upon it to thrive. However, due to the  level of inactivity to help restore these ecosystems, not many locals are aware of it.

John Carpenter, a St. Thomas  resident, daily water sport enthusiast and student at UVI, spends almost everyday of his life in or around the ocean waters.

Jashae Joseph at work at St. Thomas Dive Club Photo Credit: Makil Bedminster
Jashae Joseph at work at St. Thomas Dive Club
Photo Credit: Makil Bedminster

“I am really big on water sports, so I kite board, surf, wake board and all of those quite often, but not to mention the casual snorkel,” Carpenter said. “But I’ll be honest, I did not know that the reefs were getting as badly damaged as they currently are.”

Despite having an active aquatic lifestyle, Carpenter like many were unaware of the extent of coral damage.

“It’s never the talk around town. No one ever mentions this stuff at skim meetings, or barbeques, or work. I guess it’s just not an important matter to most residents here. And now I see that’s a big problem.”

An issue facing one of the Caribbean’s main attractions and major sources of income  to people from around the world.

The coral bleaching phenomenon  is more so important to us Virgin Islanders than anyone else, because the problem is sitting in our living rooms.

For this reason, we as Virgin Islanders must, as a whole, recognize this issue, and strive to make innovations that will help restore life to these dying ecosystems. And  it can start with us here at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Facebook Addiction Disorder

Facebook Addiction

VICTORIA SMITH|

ST.CROIX- Facebook Addiction Disorder is a real disorder affecting Facebook users. Since Facebook has 350 million members who spend 10 billion minutes on the site each day. Many are developing Facebook Addiction Disorder and find it difficult to defeat.

Facebook Addiction Disorder is not officially a diagnosed medical treatment but it is recognized by psychologists as a new mental health disorder. At the University of the Virgin Islands, there are many students who use social media like Facebook.

According to Psych Central website, a mental health social network, over 95 percent of graduate students and undergraduate students have a Facebook account.

It is a major issue with college students mainly because of the growing addiction involved with it. Two UVI counselors plus a UVI student were interviewed about Facebook Addiction Disorder and the growing problem.

Shanice Rawlins is a nursing major at UVI and avid Facebook user. Rawlins admits that she is an abnormal Facebook user and spends more than six hours on social media every chance she gets, which is almost every day.

“It’s all about control and balance. [Facebook] is both light and dark and serves its purpose but it all depends on the user,” she said.

Facing reality: A happy user offline and living life
Facing reality: A happy user offline and living life

Rawlins defines Facebook as a way to connect to friends and relatives that are in distant places, including those she can not communicate with via phone. Although Rawlins considers herself a regular Facebook user, she says she is not an addict.

“If Facebook shuts down I would be happy, because it usually leads me to procrastinate,” she said. Rawlins realizes procrastination affects her work progress in completing assignments.

“I use Facebook to talk to people that I cannot call and leave a message for,” Rawlins said. “On the Facebook activity which takes up most of my time, I’d say games.”

When given the choice between Facebook and Twitter, Rawlins preferred Facebook.

“I prefer Facebook because although you can do a lot of stuff with Twitter, it turns into a boring routine,” she said.”However, with Facebook, you can always find something interesting and new happening on your page or another user’s page.”

For students struggling with F.A.D, Rawlins offers advice.

“Facebook Addiction can be helped if a person finds help from someone they trust,” she said.” Find professional sources out there that can help the addiction. Try to lessen the hours spent on Facebook or do a Facebook fast and go on a diet.”

Although Rawlins admits control any addiction can be hard, reiterates an earlier point.

“It’s not easy but with time, faith, and patience, it can be cured,” she said. ” I believe that [Facebook] Addiction can be cured. It’s all about control and balance.”

Students can find help from faculty members on campus.

Mrs. Sherrayn Garcia, a UVI counselor and Academic advisor, is a Facebook user who spends less than three hours a week on the site. Despite ever meeting a student who is a self-proclaimed Facebook addict or anyone clinically diagnosed as a Facebook Addict,  she has worked in the field of addiction and is aware that Facebook can become one.

“Facebook is a medium in which people all over the world can connect on a personal and professional basis,” Garcia said. However she states it has both its advantages and disadvantages.

Offline: Mrs. Garcia’s take on Facebook Addiction
Offline: Mrs. Garcia’s take on Facebook Addiction

“While many people use it to either connect to their family and friends by sharing recent pictures and stories, promoting a product and connecting to a wider market, or police investigators  using it to solve crimes; many people use it as a tool to commit crimes such as identity theft, stalking, assault and even murder,” she said.

Though not directly linked to Facebook addiction, Garcia mentions accounts of cyber bullying.

“I have dealt with students who have been victims of cyber bullying via Facebook, which has turned physically violent right here on campus, all because of what was posted on Facebook the night before,” she said.

This is why she educates her students on Facebook etiquette.

“I educate my students of the appropriate use as well as the dangers of Facebook in hopes that they will listen and use caution while they are on Facebook.”

Garcia encourages her students to reduce the amount of time spent on the site, especially when spending more time on the site than on studying for class assignments.

In addition, Garcia states that self-acknowledgement and willingness to get help for an addiction are key steps, an addict can take.

“While there are only programs for drug, alcohol, and sex addiction I am not sure about a program for Facebook Addiction,” Garcia said. “However, individuals can seek support from family and friends who are not addicted to Facebook themselves.”

Mrs. Patricia Towal, UVI Career Services Supervisor and  guidance counselor, has experience in helping students overcome social media problems, including that of Facebook.

Face to Face: Patricia Patricia Towal provides information about Facebook Addiction
Face to Face: Patricia Patricia Towal provides information about Facebook Addiction

“Yes, I have dealt with students on the problem of Facebook Addiction,” Towal said. “In fact, the faculty has discussed the matter of students spending too much time on Facebook.”

Towal mentions it can me tempting and distracting.

Referencing an episode of Star Trek, Towal recounts when two members of the crew were fascinated in playing a game and when more crew members became involved, nothing else was done.

Despite not having a Facebook account, Towal believes Facebook has many uses and can be an asset, yet says that it can be destructive when out of control and unsupervised.

“In general, social media is so comfortable that people develop an alter ego doing stuff regrettably and unusual– not normal,” Towal said.

Towal, like others, shared tips to overcoming Facebook Addiction.

“First, a person has to realize their awkwardness with the quantity of time spent on Facebook,” Towal said. “Second, once awareness of addiction has been realized, set a plan.” A plan which may include a limit or bar of oneself from Facebook.

“Finally, be disciplined and firm on going through with the plan.”

If one follows the advice mentioned, he or she can begin to live a healthier life without the constraint of social networking.

WAPA Creating “Fight or Flight” Situation in VI

WAPA making living conditions a “fight or flight” situation for residents and businesses

KHADIJAH LEE|

ST. THOMAS- It is in our best interest to resort back to candle-lit houses instead of dealing with the ever rising cost of Virgin Islands electricity. The Water and Power Authority, or WAPA, has made and continues to make living conditions in the Virgin Islands a “fight or flight” situation. Many businesses have closed because of their WAPA bill.

According to a Virgin Islands Daily News article published in June, “The V.I. Senate is finally seeking WAPA alternatives, but only after years of what many view as financial extortion.”

Not only businesses, but residents of the Virgin Islands have chosen the “flight” option in order to escape the heart wrenching WAPA bill. If only the Virgin Islands government had taken up the offer to sell it years ago, we may have been in a better position financially.

Many government officials rejected the sale of WAPA due to their inadequate ability to keep up with the current power bills.

According to a WAPA press release from the St. Thomas Source, “If WAPA were purchased by a private business, the V.I. government would actually have to pay their own power bills and would not be allowed to rack up millions of dollars in arrears and then stick us – we, the people – with their bill.”

The government has outstanding balances owed to WAPA. “The government owes approximately $20. 7 million, which is $6.4 million more than the balance owed at the same time last year. A normal paying resident who neglects paying their dues to WAPA would result in the cutting of power,” the St. Thomas Source said.

While WAPA rates continue to rise, salaries continue to stay the same at least according to us regular people.

 

“V.I. government and WAPA officials have known for many years that the diesel-gobbling, antiquated generators have needed attention, but what has been done – other than frequently raising our rates and raising the LEAC while we, the public, pay their salaries for their inept job performance,” a Daily News editorial said.

Matthias_stom_young_man_reading_by_candlelightMatthias Stom (fl. 1615–1649) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We, as the people, should come up with ideas to solve this money draining issue and put them in action. Luckily, some people already have implemented solutions such as solar panel installations.

Meanwhile, the University of the Virgin Islands also struggles with the ever increasing WAPA bills.”The university pays 51 cents per kilowatt hour, which in result adds up to $1.5 million a year,” UVI Energy Manager Courtney Mayes said. “We don’t get any outside funding and so we find ourselves using money from other departments.”

UVI has found small solutions  helping to decrease electricity spending such as solar water heaters and light installations in every building, chillers and LED lighting. The West Hall Dorm also includes occupancy sensors that save energy by shutting off lights and air conditioning when the room is “empty.”

“Since we have gone green, we were able to use 479 kilowatt hours instead of 675 kilowatt hours,” Mayes said. “We have saved at least $99,000.”

Other solutions we can propose is to invest in another company that can give WAPA competition. This approach results in companies striving to have better prices to attract more customers. It may result in any other energy companies and WAPA competing for better rates and WAPA being eliminated.

“A total of 27 companies submitted bids in response to the utility’s request for proposals which was issued in May,” Jean Greaux, Government House spokesperson said. “The RFP sought bids from independent solar power producers.”

Until a solution that works to end WAPA’s financial hold on us is found, “last one out, turn off the lights” According to a letter written to the Daily News by Donna Pagano.

College life got you down?

The Struggles of Being a College Student

Denae Fleming|

ST.CROIX— College students face the struggles of dealing with finances, personal life and staying focused through the different types of stress.

There is a lot that has to be considered when it comes to making those decisions to acquire a higher level of education to better one’s future. No doubt everyone would and should want to achieve educational heights, but for many, there are some obstacles that can get in the way and cause the journey to become quite a challenge.

Finances are one of the top reasons for students quitting or taking a break from college, especially for the vast majority of students who are low income African Americans and Hispanics.

Even with numerous announcements of financial aid that are being advertised and spread, some students find it difficult to really handle the demands of school.

“There were times when I literally ate nothing but Easy Mac and Ramen Noodle,” Marcos Castillo said.

Castillo was one of the many who left the island of St. Croix for the mainland in hopes of pursuing a degree that he was passionate about. He has now graduated from Columbus College for Arts and Design with his bachelor’s degree.

“Some kids don’t think about the other stuff. They just want to go to college and experience the fun aspects of college life, but don’t ever really think about the scary parts,” Castillo said.

Castillo had to deal with living in a place that was completely new to him. He had to deal with different personalities, find means of transportation, figure out how he would eat every day, earn funds for necessities we normally take for granted when we don’t have to get them on our own.

He had to deal with those factors along with studying for school and dealing with his personal life.

One might read this example and say, “Oh that comes with the territory of college life.” But, do we ever stop to think how overwhelming it might be for some individuals?

Code Red! Work Overload!  Photo credit: www.plymouthsouth.com, Tis the Season to be Stressed.
Code Red! Work Overload!
Photo credit: http://www.plymouthsouth.com, Tis the Season to be Stressed.

People go through life changing events that occur around their college years, especially those that go straight from high school into college. Many take on relationships, part-time jobs, and go through a period of figuring out who they are. They are just finding out what’s important, maybe discovering their spirituality, and even who they are able to trust.

These are normal processes until they go wrong for some students.

The relationship that was once beautiful turned sour and has an emotional toll on both parties.

The job that was okay in the beginning is becoming demanding and overwhelming on top of school work.

You start to question your choice in major and worry if this is the direction you really want to take.

There's much more than school work that is going on in the life of students. Photo credit: theprgirlblog.wordpress.com,  Stress | The PR Girl
There’s much more than school work that is going on in the life of students.
Photo credit: theprgirlblog.wordpress.com, Stress | The PR Girl

You are pressured by “friends” to do things you’re not too comfortable doing, like drugs and alcohol. For those who already got caught up in drugs and alcohol, it’s a distraction in school and you find a hard time pulling away from it.

There are many factors that contribute to the stress that college students go through. How they handle is what is important because stress will always be a factor in life, whether you are in school or not.

I created a random question survey on the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. When asked, 11 out of 20 students said they listen to music if they are feeling overly stressed out. Four out of the 20 said they stop whatever they are doing and go for a walk or some form of physical activity. Three out of 20 said they go for drinks and two out of the 20 said they simply break down and cry depending on how severe the situation.

There are healthy ways to cope with stressful things regardless of whether or not you are a student.

It’s always great to find a positive hobby that involves physical movements. You should have at least one person you can trust to vent your problems to and maybe even get positive advice from. Make sure the crowd you hang around or affiliate with is comprised of uplifting, motivating and positive people; if this is not so, you might need to reevaluate who you consider friends.

It’s okay to take time off when you are overworked. Your mental health and overall well-being is more important than any other factor that contributes to your life.

Relax.

Yes, it’s college and it should be taken seriously, but you need to give yourself permission to chill out. This only one of the many chapters in your life.

Galaxy quickly surpassing iPhone in popularity

FELICIA EMMANUEL|

ST. CROIX – It was a peaceful afternoon outside the cafeteria, as students gathered around the tables for small banter. However, casual conversation shifted when debate started on whether or not the Samsung Galaxy or the Apple iPhone was the best phone of all time.

As teams Galaxy and iPhone defended their respective sides, specs such as affordability, durability and personalization came up, equally influencing the user’s phone choice.

According to Forbes list, Samsung rose through the ranks in 2012, eventually dominating the current cellphone market. This is due largely to its success within markets outside the U.S., good relationships with carriers and varied price ranges for their Android products.

The Galaxy offers a level of personalization that iPhone does not, easily becoming a popular device among students.

Baasil Abdurrasheed is pictured texting a friend while using his iPhone.
Baasil Abdurrasheed is pictured texting a friend while using his iPhone.

Yessenia Sued, a 20-year-old biology major on the St. Thomas campus owned an iPhone prior to switching to a Galaxy.

“Androids have better quality,” she said. “With iPhones the pictures used to come out blurry, especially at night.”

She also believed in order for her to enjoy the Apple experience, she had to purchase additional supplies and that was a big turn off for her. However, she doesn’t write off the company completely.

“I wouldn’t mind any other apple products besides the phone,” she said.
Another reason why consumers like Androids is due to its ability to manage work schedules.

St. Croix Business major, Denver Mike,  works with a local construction company and views his phone as being an asset to his job.

“It’s vital,” he said. “That is how I am able to track orders and keep in contact with my boss and vendors.”

Photo credit: Felicia emmanuel Iphone vs Galaxy
Photo credit: Felicia emmanuel
Iphone vs Galaxy

On the other hand, Rhys Barzey, a 19-year-old applied math major, uses his phone to access Instagram, Facebook and play music and games.

Barzey owns an iPhone 4s. He likes his phone because, “First it’s a phone. Second, already had an iPhone 3 so made sense- music, apps, contacts were all transferred.”

Although he rates the display and camera quality at a six and eight, respectively, he likes that the phone does what it is supposed to do.

“Pretty straight forward,” Barzey said. ” Music brings up music, phone brings up the phone.”

20-year-old accounting major, Juanita Almestica also owns an iPhone 4s. Unlike Rhys,  she believes the picture and photo quality of her phone is good.

“The small size and design allows the iPhone to fit easily in my pocket without fear of cracking the screen,” Almestica said. Which is a downside to the Galaxy.

Another feature that comes with the iPhone is Siri.

“Siri sends texts, does searches, and even remembers who your family members are,” Almestica said.

Despite the rising popularity of the Galaxy, when it comes to choosing a phone, personal preference typically wins over marketing and financial aspects.