What's the news? Exploring students' reactions to summer news events

Story by Ishaani Dayal, Michelle Chen, Jayanti Jha, Shuvi Jha, and Sarah Young. Illustrations by Sarah Young.

The summer of 2019 began on a high note with the U.S. Women's National Team winning the FIFA World Cup for the fourth time. Then came the earthquakes on July 4 and 6, prompting concerns throughout the state of California. The Democratic Primaries, the first two in a series of 12 debates, showcased various candidates and their policies. Reports of climate change worsening due to irresponsible land and food management furthered the conversation on environmental change, and mass shootings across the U.S. highlighted the nation's need for comprehensive gun control policies.

The following story showcases MVHS students’ reactions to these events as an attempt to deconstruct, explain and highlight the contemporary issues of American society — from the perspective of the youth.

FIFA Women's World Cup

The eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup took place in France on June 7 and July 7, with approximately 14.3 million U.S. viewers tuning in for the final match between the U.S. and the Netherlands. The U.S. won the final game 2-0, providing an amplified platform for questions about the unjust pay gap of over $20,000 between the average U.S. male and female soccer players.

Sophomore Roma Hashemi, a MVHS soccer player, was among the millions watching the final. Although she noticed slight differences in the gameplay between the men’s and women’s teams, she notes that these variations were minor. As such, it is Hashemi’s belief that women, like men, should be paid based on their performance, not on their gender.

Team captain Megan Rapinoe echoed a similar sentiment, noting that for years female players have been denied the attention that their male counterparts receive. Noting this, she led the U.S. Women’s National Team in filing a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer over the gender pay disparity.

“If you really care, are you letting the gap grow?” Rapinoe said in a press conference referencing FIFA’s decision to schedule multiple events on the same day. “That's what I mean about the level of care. You need attention and detail and the best minds that we have in the women's game, [are] helping it grow every single day.”

Hashemi believes that Rapinoe’s anger is merited and the gender discrimination lawsuit is a step in the right direction.

“[The women’s teams] are really getting to a place where they deserve to be recognized, paid well and it was nice to see that they're finally improving,” Hashemi said. “It's not just a fight for the players. It's a fight for all the future players as well.”

Southern California Earthquakes

Two earthquakes reaching magnitudes of 6.4 and 7.1 rattled Southern California on July 4 and 6, respectively. While damage was minor, the aftershocks could be felt throughout the state. These earthquakes were some of the largest California has experienced in the past nine years, with the last major earthquake taking place in Baja in 2010. As news of these earthquakes traveled quickly, earthquake insurance ads popping up on television screens were reminders that the San Andreas Fault line runs through California.

Senior Trudie Ngo was visiting her grandma in Orange County when the second earthquake hit. Ngo and her family rushed out of the house as the ground lurched beneath them.

“The house was shaking quite a bit,” Ngo said. “It wasn’t too extreme. It was kind of like [when] you’re on water. I was actually kind of nervous because I wasn’t sure if it was going to get worse.”

Although the earthquake didn’t physically harm Ngo and her family, Ngo worries about her grandmother encountering future earthquakes. Senior Ellie Chen also felt this sense of unease after hearing the news from her parents.

“I wasn't super surprised that there was an earthquake, but the second one definitely took me by surprise, because two of them happened so close,” Chen said. “Those earthquakes definitely brought some awareness about [earthquake preparation], but I feel like I haven't really gotten to the point where I've actually done any preparation for it.”

Democratic Primaries

The race to secure the Democratic nomination for the 2020 Presidential Election began in late June as 20 diverse candidates shared their policies in the first two Democratic Primary debates. The topics of discussion revolved around health care, foreign policy and immigration reform, with several heated debates ensuing between different candidates.

For senior Ashvin Irrinki, who watched both Primaries, the most important subject was health care. He explained that the candidates all had liberal-leaning viewpoints with slightly different plans of execution.

“Everyone is either preserving Obamacare or trying to get the cost down for [rural America],” Irrinki said. “It’s interesting to see [candidates proposing] a lot of the same plans but with minute details that are being [attacked] by opposing sides.”

Irrinki credits the Democrats’ somewhat similar perspectives to their opposition against President Trump. In particular, he cites candidate Andrew Yang as an example, noting the former tech executive’s move to establish himself as Trump’s antithesis. Being from the Bay Area and holding the view that Artificial Intelligence poses a potential threat to American society, Irrinki leans towards Yang’s campaign.

Senior Ranya Pendayala also finds Yang’s policies compelling. But for her, the most important takeaway from the Democratic Primaries so far was the diversity of the candidates, both in terms of race and gender.

“Seeing all the women on the stage was the most memorable part because with Clinton, it wasn’t as prominent and people only really knew her as the woman candidate,” Pendayala said. “And now we have so many women running to become the Presidential Candidate and it’s very inspiring to me and to other girls.”

Climate Change Research

Recent advancements in climate change research pushed the United Nations to approve a report on the effect of climate change on land and food sustainability between August 2 and 7 during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 50th session. The report highlighted the dangerous cycle of harmful land management and disruption of food supply, and provided possible actions to take to minimize the harm.

Sophomore Sophia Liu recognizes the effects of climate change and believes everyone must take action, starting with those who have the greatest influence.

“[It would help] if the majority of our policymakers took it seriously and were taking action to stop many things that are contributing greatly to climate change,” Liu said. “They’re pretty much the only people that can actually do things.”

At the same time, Liu believes youth has the power to make a change, starting with simple actions that will draw attention to the issue.

“We have a bunch of teen activists [like] Greta Thomburg,” Liu said. “She’s not doing anything other than raising awareness among the population, which is good because if the population knows, the government has a higher chance of [doing] something.”

Mass Shootings

Within the span of two weeks, 35 people died in three separate mass shootings across the U.S. A shooter opened fire on a crowd of people attending the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California on July 28, and was killed by police shortly after killing three individuals. The El Paso shooting was the most fatal — a racially motivated attack that killed 22 people. A day later in Dayton, Ohio, another shooter killed nine people in a mall, and police killed the shooter on sight.

Freshman Joy Liu, whose friends nearly attended the Garlic Festival, passed by Gilroy frequently for her summer program. For Liu, the proximity of the attack was terrifying, to know how closely she and her friends escaped the shooting. Despite the severity of the issue, Liu doesn’t think any gun control will be implemented to prevent future shootings.

“I think the biggest reason that there hasn't been any change is because of our current political state because everyone's trying to argue against the other political party just for the sake of arguing,” Liu said. “At this point, we're not going to get anything done. We're moving to extremes and there's no way that we're getting any gun laws in place like this.”

The shootings brought up debates that have been put on temporary hold. Each of the weapons used were military grade: two AK-47s and an AR-15. Gun enthusiasts and 2nd Amendment supporters argue that gun control measures would be a punishment to law-abiding gun owners, while President Donald Trump’s response at a recent rally was to place the blame on mental health. Others continue to push for stricter gun control measures like universal background checks, banning the sale of bump stock and considering the need for military grade weaponry.

While legislation for universal background checks and restrictions have been reintroduced in Ohio, there haven’t been any other solid signs of change.

“I just think that we need to do something about it,” Liu said. “Even if that something doesn't really make change, we need to show that we as a society are committed to trying to end this problem.”


Created with an image by Tyler Nix - "untitled image"

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