Author: Jace Sheu

Hi! My name is Jace. I am a sophomore double-majoring in Computer Science and Political Science. I was raised with the values and customs of a typical kid from Georgia, but I have lived my entire life in Taipei, Taiwan. Hence, I am a third culture kid. I enjoy learning foreign languages, going on outdoor adventures, and listening to other people talk about their unique life experiences. In the future, I hope to travel the world and make a positive difference in people's lives.
A Night at the Museum of Contemporary Art

A Night at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Blog Post 59

Glamorous gowns, high heels, makeup, hairspray. Last Saturday, my friends, aka sisters, and I spent hours getting all dressed up, then danced the night away at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) for our sorority’s annual formal. This was my first time to attend a social event held at a museum, and it was an amazing experience. Strolling around the museum in a peacock blue—Pantone #2193, to be precise—chiffon cocktail dress featuring a lace-appliquéd corset, paired with nude 4” pumps, made me feel as though I had walked out of a gala that would be featured in the TV show Gossip Girl. Admittedly, it was borrowed, but, hey, what are big sisters for?

Unlike the prom-like setting one would expect to find at a typical formal, the MCA venue provided a memorable secondary experience: art. What a great surprise, to have had the opportunity to spend part of the night indulging in the artwork that was on display in the galleries on the second floor. It was refreshing and inspiring to revel in the various exhibits. One room featured Katheryn Andrew’s collection, Run for President, which “examines how image producers—such as artists, corporations, Hollywood studios, and politicians…mirror and shape social values at large.” Just for that night, the museum’s café space was turned into a dance floor featuring an intervention by Johnston Marklee’s Grid Is A Grid Is A Grid Is A Grid Is A Grid for the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial.

The artwork created a unique backdrop for all the photos that we took over the course of the evening, which added a special element to what, otherwise, would have been a typical formal. Alpha Delta Pi’s Starry, Starry Night dance at the Museum of Contemporary art was a first for the sorority. I would definitely call it a success and look forward to more city-venue events.

How Big Political Decisions Can Impact Our Lives

How Big Political Decisions Can Impact Our Lives

Image from: http://papyrus.greenville.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/12525136_1087844474600113_9021531263665752736_o-1024x379.jpg
Image from: http://papyrus.greenville.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/12525136_1087844474600113_9021531263665752736_o-1024×379.jpg

On February 19, Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois, vetoed Senate Bill 2043, which included an appropriation of $721 million for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and community colleges programs. Though a supporter of MAP Grants, Governor Rauner said in his veto that “SB 2043 would exacerbate our budget and cash flow deficits.” Last year, legislators promised 130,000 students and their families that the state would help pay for college so they could achieve a better life, but they have yet to come through.

State of Illinois universities have gone without this state money since July as Republican Governor Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly can’t agree on a budget. Though both parties support MAP, partisan politics is the reason MAP isn’t getting funding—and it is causing a lot of students and colleges, including Loyola, to suffer.

Nearly 2400 of Loyola students depend upon their MAP grants to stay enrolled each year. Furthermore, 96 percent of our Arrupe College students are able to attend only thanks to their MAP grants. Last year, Loyola made a decision that allowed for minimal impact on those affected, agreeing to cover MAP grants for the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters in “good faith,” which means awarding temporary loans to students, pending incoming MAP payments. Several weeks ago, Loyola again decided to continue covering MAP for the following semesters. However, this is costing $10 million, which means tightening current budgets in the different schools.

Governor Rauner points out that “House Bill 4539 and Senate Bill 2349 would appropriate $1.6 billion for higher education programs, while Senate Bill 2789 would authorize the Governor, Comptroller, and Treasurer to identify and implement funding by reallocating funds and reducing spending in other areas.” On the matter of MAP, he explains, “Together, these bills would fund MAP, community college programs, and our public universities, without exploding the deficit or exacerbating the State’s cash flow crisis.”  The governor contends, on what appears to be reasonable grounds, that his plan is “far more fiscally responsible – and constitutional – plan for funding higher education.”

Whichever way legislators decide to fund MAP, they are going to need to take action quickly. With no incoming money from the state in nearly seven months, several Illinois universities have nearly depleted their financial reserves, which portends bad news—for the schools who have generously footed MAP insufficiencies, and, for the students whose education, and futures, are vested in them.

 

Zootopia

Zootopia

Blog Post 57
Image from: http://i.imgur.com/VQCfAsu.gif

Disney’s new Pixar film, Zootopia, centers on the story of Judy Hopps, an idealistic “bunny” who dreams of being in law enforcement, to make the world a better place. The only problem: No bunny has ever become a police officer, because the world is divided into predator and prey, both of which have put aside their biological differences in an attempt to live in harmony.

Judy graduates at the top of her class from the police academy and ends up on “the force” in Zootopia, but she is relegated to parking-ticket duty while other officers investigate 14 missing-mammal cases. Throughout the movie, Judy is constantly underestimated and marginalized on the assumption that, because bunnies are small and defenseless creatures, they can never become good police officers. Judy may be a minority in her workplace, however, she belongs to the majority culture of Zootopia in another way: She’s “prey.” Just as in the animal kingdom, the city is 90 percent prey and 10 percent predators, hence, in this context, Judy and other prey-animals have a lot of unexamined presumptions about the predators in their midst, like the accepted notion that foxes are sneaky, selfish, and cunning.

Nick Wilde, a fox whom Judy meets in the city, empathizes with how she feels. As a nine-year-old pup, he wanted to be in the Boy Scouts. But when Nick showed up to his first meeting, the other members threw a muzzle on him, explaining that they would never let a “predator” join their group. “If the world’s only gonna see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there’s no point trying to be anything else,” he explains. Subsequently, Nick became a hustler, selling secondhand popsicles on the street for a living. Both Nick and Judy appear to epitomize the social outcast group, despite the fact that, for classification purposes, they belong to opposing sides of predator-prey divide.

Zootopia is a movie about adapting to challenges and coming together to advance toward the same goal, a topic that is very relevant today. The film’s underlying themes of prejudice, racism, and social stigma are exemplified when Nick is condescendingly referred to as “articulate,” a veiled reference to commentary on how “well-spoken” President Barack Obama is. Another example is when Judy warns Nick never to touch a sheep’s wool without asking, nodding to an old adage about black hair. Humorously, the Zootopia DMV is staffed entirely by slow-moving sloths.

Having such a diverse community also means having a varied environment, because animals have different needs. Zootopia is split into different sectors: big-city Savanna Central, miniature Little Rodentia, clearly cold Tundratown, and jungly Rainforest District, just to name a few.

Many liken Zootopia’s antagonist, who manipulates the public biases against a minority for her own political gain, to presidential candidate Donald Trump, but that can only be coincidental. Nevertheless, Zootopia itself seems explicitly America—a place where “anything can be anything” and can achieve anything (it sounds like the American dream) – and that the strife-filled history between predators and prey can easily be mapped onto black/white relations in America.

Zootopia conveys a message rarely heard in movies for children: Getting exactly what you hoped for isn’t the end of the journey. It’s only the beginning of the hard work of becoming the best, most open-minded bunny you can be.

The Valentine’s Day Monologues

The Valentine’s Day Monologues

Blog Post 56

When we hear “V-Day,” most of us think of Valentine’s Day. However, in a very modern and relevant way, it means much more than bouquets of roses and candy hearts. V-Day also signifies a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

On February 12 and 13, Loyola held its annual Vagina Monologues event. The Vagina Monologues is a lauded, ultra-progressive play that “introduces a wildly divergent gathering of female voices, including a six-year-old girl, a septuagenarian New Yorker, a vagina workshop participant, a woman who witnesses the birth of her granddaughter, a Bosnian survivor of rape, and a feminist ‘happy’ to have found a man who “liked to look at it.”” Author Eve Ensler conducted over 200 interviews with women and girls of all ages and ethnic backgrounds across the United States. She asked them questions, like “What would your vagina say if it could talk?” and “What would your vagina wear?”

As I sat in the Mundelein Auditorium listening to 28 Loyola women give their renditions of The Vagina Monologues, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. At times, the speeches were uncomfortable and awkward, yet at other times they were funny and completely relatable. Apart from the emotions, The Vagina Monologues push the audience to think critically about the lack of conversation on organs in the female anatomy and the social ethos of sexuality.

Over the years, the V-Day movement has raised over $100 million dollars and is performed in 167 countries. It campaigns to educate people about the issues of violence against women and highlights the efforts to end it.

Definitely don’t miss out on The Vagina Monologues when it returns to the Loyola stage next spring.

I Am…

I Am…

Blog Post 55 (1)

 

Two important events happened this past Sunday: the Super Bowl and the Student Government Mid-Year Training. The former may have had more impact on the general American population, but the latter meant more to me.

One of the first ideas introduced to us that day was the existence of multiple truths. My experiences have caused me to believe this to be true, while your experiences have caused you to believe that to be true. When we deliberate our disparate opinions, one is not right and the other is not wrong.

Our advisory displayed this quote on the projector: “You know my name, not my story. You’ve heard what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through.” Who am I? And who are you? How can we better learn about each other in order to become more understanding of each truth? Because without it, we cannot communicate effectively.

No one gets through life without having their beliefs questioned. Oftentimes, however, discussing contrasting viewpoints makes people uncomfortable or defensive, even aggressive. A conversation quickly turns into an argument. And we all know, confrontation rarely ends well.

Rollo May said, “Communication leads to community, that is, to underrating, intimacy and mutual valuing.” As senators, we would like the Student Government to be a small community healthily embedded within the larger Loyola community. Based on May’s quote, however, I think we are still in the process of moving toward that goal. Many people, myself included, claim to be good communicators. Yet, I have come to realize that possessing this skillset and adequately implementing them, is more difficult than one generally tends to assume. Effective communication requires listening, empathy, and patience. Open-mindedness is requisite. We must genuinely want to understand others.

As students, all of us are very good at identifying problems that need to be tackled and resolved. We are the first born-digital generation, we are skilled at voicing our opinions through social media. However, as agents of change, we are not very profound critical thinkers, not the most agile problem solvers. Rarely can we provide viable solutions to our identified problems. We also hate to compromise. We become so ingrained in our own opinions, we start believing that those who are not with us, are categorically against us.

As a student government senator, I hold myself to a higher standard, because I strive to be more open to the opinions of students, administration, and faculty, knowing that, without understanding, I cannot effectively communicate and make positive change.

Blog Post 55

Sisterhood is Forever

Sisterhood is Forever

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Sorority recruitment is like no other student experience in college, or, for that matter, in life. It’s like a mini-version of speed dating and interviewing, except without the guys. At Loyola, Official Panhellenic Recruitment is a 4-day event that begins on Thursday and concludes on Sunday.

This semester, instead of going through recruitment as a potential new member, I was on the other side. Throughout the past year, my sisters and I have attended countless workshops and presentations in order to prepare ourselves for this annual event. These procedural “SOPs” allow each generation of sisters to continue the Alpha Delta Pi legacy and to share with next-generation recruits the principles of sisterhood and the enduring traditions that our founders worked so ardently to establish.

This past weekend, through over twenty-five hours of conversations with more than thirty people, I was given a chance to interact with girls whom under any other circumstance I would not have had the chance to meet. In one conversation, I discovered a classmate—that the person to whom I was speaking was also one of the students in my political science class. In another, I met an ad/PR major who had just been elected in the Student Government internal elections, a process in which I took part.

On one Sunday, I gained almost seventy new sorority sisters, whom I am extremely excited to get to know. Whether through leadership, academic excellence, service, and friendship, being part of a sorority at Loyola offers a unique opportunity to succeed through personal growth. Membership in social fraternities as well as business and service fraternities can be one of the most significant components to the overall college experience, challenging students to be the best they can by taking advantage of the opportunities presented.

Blog Post 54

Life and Relationships in the Digital Age

Life and Relationships in the Digital Age

Blog Post 53

Every college student with a smartphone and a potential romantic life knows how quickly the phone, a seemingly innocent communication device, can become a toxic incubator for second-guessing and unnecessary stress. You think you’re a reasonable person, but then you find yourself obsessing over a message marked “read,” wondering why you haven’t received a reply.

Stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari feels your pain. He knows how unpleasant it is to stare impotently at a screen waiting for a message that never arrives. He writes in his book, Modern Romance, “Do I call? Do I text? Do I send a Facebook message? Do I send up a smoke signal? How does one do that? Will I set my rented house on fire? How embarrassed will I be when I have to tell the home’s owner, actor James Earl Jones, that I burned his house down trying to send a smoke signal?”

Technology has changed our lives and the way we interact with one another. Whether it’s for the better, I’m not quite sure. “Social media and the internet are introducing all kinds of new options into social and romantic life. And while it’s exciting, sometimes even exhilarating, to have more choices, it’s not necessarily making life easier,” writes Ansari.

“We live in a culture that tells us we want and deserve the best, and now we have the technology to get.” This perfect thing we’re looking for applies to every aspect of our lives. Unlike in previous generations, where girls married their high school sweetheart, or found a gentleman who was capable of providing for a middle class lifestyle, now, millennials refuse to settle for anything less than someone who is their soulmate, together with whom they can create some sort of perfect harmony. This also applies to something as seemingly simple as looking for a place to have dinner. Let’s say you’re feeling Mexican food. As opposed to just going to the closest place or the first recommendation, you instinctively traverse Yelp, reading all the various reviews, driven to find “something better.” By the time you get through the list and decide on a place, they’re either already closed or completely booked, so you repeat the process to choose another restaurant. You end up being either hungry, because you took too long and everything closed, or, unsatisfied, because you ran out time or simply gave up, and settled for something less than ideal.

So, does technology empower us by giving us access to practically all the possibilities in the world? Or does it overwhelm us and make our lives harder by making everything more complicated? I’m not quite sure. But Aziz Ansari presents a hilarious investigation of this phenomenon in his book.

Countdown time again. 10, 9, 8, 7…

Countdown time again. 10, 9, 8, 7…

Can you believe that there is only one week of classes left, with final exams looming, then the semester is over? Where did the time go? It seems as though it was just August yesterday.

If you’re like me, you’re undergoing a somewhat turbo-charged version of the kind of healthy reflection Loyola instills, except in a microwave package at times like this. Inhale. Did I accomplish everything I set out to do, back when these past four months were clean pages in my planner? Did I carve out a moment to share a warm conversation with that one friend who I promised to catch up with? Maybe not, but not to worry—yet. Two weeks remain in which to complete every line item that is still pending on my list of “things to do.” Yet, there are plenty of activities that I did get the chance to enjoy. Exhale.

Going back to the last week of August. I started off the semester doing well by doing good, by volunteering to help move in hundreds, of the thousands, of students living on campus. Fifteen hours well spent provided a memorable opportunity to greet and meet new first-year students. Although talking to them made me feel “old,” I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about how I felt as I first moved in, only a year before, with my life in tow.

In September, I started a new job—working on Michigan Avenue. Without a doubt, juggling classes and work has been strenuous and sometimes overwhelming, but, recognizing that part-time work experience if often limited to undergraduate days, I would not have wished it any differently. Having become friends with many of my co-workers, it would have been a shame to miss out on this facet of my college experience, like having a cup of dark hot cocoa without whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Several weeks ago, I attended my sorority’s semi-formal, which was held at the Library, inside the Chicago Board of Trade building. My “date” was a friend from work who attends DePaul and is in Phi Mu, the sister sorority of Alpha Delta Pi. I know I will one day look back on these special events with nostalgia, wishing there had been more of them. It’s so hard to squeeze in more fun things and not cause chaos with time management or wreak havoc on your GPA, but it’s important to try and achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Next week is the Department of Programming’s Colossus Reveal Party, where the lineup for a stand-up comedian and performance by a well-known musical artist will be revealed. Last year’s surprise entertainers were Jason Derulo and Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias. Rumors have it that this year’s musician is “even more famous than Nick Jonas.”

My Strengths. My Quest. My Happiness.

My Strengths. My Quest. My Happiness.

Growing up, I had a plan. At a young age, I had conjured a future that was bright and elaborately decorated with success. Everything seemed so simple, I plain forgot that rarely anything in real life goes according to plan.

As a logistical thinker with a penchant for planning and a love of Post-It notes, it’s a constant struggle, knowing in the back of your mind that things probably won’t turn out the way you want them to, yet hanging on to the optimism that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it. According to a StrengthsQuest test, I am good at being an “achiever.” This means that, in planning my life, I failed to anticipate needing time to relax and be happy, because I was too focused on fitting everything I wanted to achieve into the little squares on my calendar. Their customized report listed my top five “talent themes,” along with “action items for development” and gave me suggestions for maximize my talents “to achieve academic, career, and personal success.” Their popular online assessment, called the Clifton StrengthsFinder was designed by the famous polling company, Gallup. The site claims to have helped more than 12 million people around the world “discover their talents.”

Several days ago, I gave myself the afternoon off and walked about a mile down Sheridan—to the beach. I felt at peace there. It was a refreshing, and pretty badly needed, mental break. I realized how easy it is to get wrapped up in trying to force your life to go in “right” direction. My conclusion? Things usually start going the way you want them to when you give up and stop trying, when you learn to see beauty in imperfection, when you finally “let it go” and start enjoying the challenge of navigating a path wrought with little hiccups along the way.

Yes, life is sometimes a chaotic mess, yet I still love trying to plan it out, knowing curve balls will be thrown my way, making everything a little more unpredictable and interesting.

Full-time Everything, All the Time

Full-time Everything, All the Time

Growing up as millennials, we were taught that hard work is the only way to achieve our goals and get ahead. The pressure to fight for what we want is all we know. For us, there is no other option besides giving 110 percent to be The Best. So, every semester, I, like so many of my peers, fill my plate to the brim with classes and extracurricular activities, striving to create a portfolio that showcases me in a stellar nutshell. The most recent, and one of my favorite, additions to my long list of activities is my new job: working at a global clothing retail chain that has 1,600 stores worldwide and more than 40 stores in the U.S., but is new to the Mid-West.

 

Joining the Mag-Mile Uniqlo team as a sales associate is arguably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am lucky to have trained as a member of the new flagship store’s grand opening crew. Seeing many of the in’s and out’s that go into launching a 60,000-square-foot, three-floor store ‘from scratch’ allowed me a rare glance into the incredible effort that goes into creating a successful business, down to the finest nuances of customer service.

 

In line with the millennial theme that “nothing good comes without hard work,” founder Tadashi Yanai is dead set on making Uniqlo the number one clothing brand in the world by the year 2020. Hence, every employee is pushed to give 100 percent in everything that they do. The new showcase location is so expansive, it takes 85 seconds to ride the giant escalator from bottom to top. Not surprisingly, we employees have been given a directive to walk with a sense of urgency while completing tasks.

 

In addition to taking eighteen credits, attending senate meetings for student government and chapter meetings for my sorority, plus working twenty hours week, takes toll on one’s body very quickly. Yet, I love working, especially at a store that is the epitome of the way I want to live my life: clean, efficient, and organized down to a T. Despite the long hours, I always look forward to going into work, even when I worked thirty hours in three days during opening weekend.

 

All things considered, life isn’t so bad. When I roll out of bed at 5am every Thursday morning and put on my ROTC uniform in preparation for the day, I merely need to remind myself that anything less than everything is not enough.