Ohio State Students Reduce Food Waste, Increase Food Security

Last fall, I proposed the idea of a composting project on campus through my Learning Community, SUSTAINS (Students Understanding Sustainability and Taking Action to Improve Nature and Society). As members of SUSTAINS, we must come up with a project to improve sustainability on campus, and I thought composting would be a great place to start. A group of SUSTAINS members, including myself, Sarah Gabel and Sophie Pawlak, worked to implement composting in several dorms on North Campus.

We began working with Dr. Brian Roe of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) to collect research on the success of composting in dorms, specifically how much and what types of compost we were able to collect. Dr. Roe also heads the OSU Food Waste Collaborative (FWC), which is a group of researchers, practitioners, and students working to improve food sustainability. The FWC promotes the reduction and redirection of food waste as an integral part of a healthy and sustainable food system. Dr. Roe and the FWC helped us get our research project started, and we reported back to them after compost collections. Compost bins were placed on every floor of three dorms on North Campus and the compost was collected weekly. We were able to divert just shy of 400 pounds of compost!

I care so much about compost because it is both an environmental issue and a justice issue. Research suggests that 40% of our food is wasted, and this comes not only as an economic loss, but also creates unnecessary food insecurity and other environmental issues. Wasted food could feed hungry mouths, but instead we send this food to landfills that disproportionately pollute different regions. Compost can be used to fertilize crops or on local farms, and it doesn’t release methane emissions as it would in a landfill. I don’t want to see pollution disproportionately affecting some communities, nor do I want to see people go hungry when we produce plenty of food to feed everyone. Wasting food not only makes more people food insecure, but also discards all of the resources that go into food production, such as water, fertilizers, carbon, etc., giving us an even larger carbon footprint. I study all of these things, as an Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability major, and the environmental issue that I am most concerned with is definitely environmental justice.

Compost helps draw attention to our wastefulness, and holds people accountable for the food they choose to throw away. I hope that we can make people more cognizant of their waste, and encourage them to compost food not only for environmental purposes, but also in hopes of changing consumption patterns for a more sustainable society. We need sustainability for people as much as we do for the environment, and my goal through this project is to make people aware of their environmental impacts and improve environmental justice by improving food security.

Sarah Grossman is a student in the Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability program in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University.

Banner Up Ohio State Increases Awareness of Sexual Violence On Campus

Banner Up Ohio State

1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men is a statistic that most students are undoubtedly familiar with. It does not take much to admit that rape and sexual assault are transnational problems, especially across college campuses. The question is, however, in what ways can this be stopped? Although it is down to the will of the individual, there is also accountability at a societal level; we must ask ourselves how as a society we may be fueling a certain problem. In this case, the problem is sexual violence.

Rape culture can take on obvious or discrete forms. It stems from an environmental rhetoric which directly or indirectly normalizes sexual violence by trivializing the issue and diverting blame from the perpetrator. It is prevalent through the media, dress codes, popular culture, and is even fueled by negligence to hold perpetrators legally accountable.

An example of the normalization of rape culture is the banners that are commonly hung on off- campus housing during welcome week. While welcome week is a fast-paced and exciting time for both new and returning students, it is also a time susceptible to incidents of sexual violence.
For instance, in 2015 a Virginia fraternity was suspended over a banner displayed with the phrase “Freshman Daughter Drop Off.” Needless to say, such banners are derogatory, offensive, and directly contribute to the normalization of rape culture on college campuses.

Banner Up Ohio State is an initiative brought to campus by Advocates for Women of the World, a student organization founded by seniors Nicole Haddad and Jenny Kim that champions local and global women’s rights. This organization pursues its mission through action-based efforts and awareness campaigns on a variety of issues, such as girls’ education, sexual violence, refugee rights, and much more. Inspired by an Indiana University IFC initiative, whose effort can be viewed here  this campaign was brought to Ohio State’s campus to fuel the counter culture. Participating Greek chapters and student organizations are given a banner displaying a message of support for survivors of sexual violence or a phrase depicting the importance of consent. The banners are then displayed on off-campus housing or chapter facilities for the first week of classes.

Advocates for Women of the World realizes that this campaign does not eliminate the overriding problem of sexual violence. We do not intend for it to be a mask for people to hide behind and subsequently ignore what is going on around them. Rather, we strive for it to be an educational and awareness tool, to offer an opportunity for individual self-reflection, and to emphasize that there is no sense of entitlement to other people’s bodies. Most importantly, we hope for this campaign to be an effective display of support for all survivors and to bring to the forefront a battle that so many people have endured. The more we can encourage visibility and conversation surrounding this issue, the more we can progress as a campus and a society.

On behalf of myself and the entire student organization, we sincerely appreciate the support this campaign has received. Between every single share, donation, and participating organization, every individual has been pivotal in bringing our initiative to life, and for that we are extremely grateful.

Karla Haddad is the VP  of Finance for Advocates for Women of the World.

The Columbus Crossing Borders Project Examines Refugee Experience via the Arts

There are 65 million displaced people in this world fleeing war, terror and persecution.  These are families being forced from their homes:   mothers, fathers, students,, lawyers, working class, middle class, store clerks and physicians — all walks of life seeking  the same safety that we all want and deserve.

Yet, what are the chances today’s refugees will be welcomed  into any new country with open arms?

In the US, we hear anti-immigration sentiments becoming more vocal. We see misunderstanding, intolerance, discrimination and racism dividing our communities.  Indeed, even before the recent travel bans and executive orders, targeting refugees and promoting fear of them, served to benefit a key political platform.

On the morning of November 9, last year, as I was watching TV, trying to process the results of the election, I received word that my father had died.   The void felt too complete — crushing —  with the helpless sense that I had lost my dad and my country at the same time.   But then something inside of me said don’t give in.

The Columbus Crossing Borders Project was born that day.

I am an artist.  So my instinct was to gather fellow artists, including a film crew, to utilize art as a means of instigating critical thinking, understanding and compassion for the refugees in our world.  In this way, The Columbus Crossing Borders Project became a travelling art exhibit and a documentary film.

To strengthen our mission, a partnership was formed with the Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) of Columbus, Ohio.  Through this partnership we met with refugees who were willing to share their stories on film — these being the stories to inspire the Columbus Crossing Borders artists.   Responding to these stories, the artists created paintings as tributes.  Then as the exhibit moves from left to right, each painting contains an element that reaches into the painting that follows it.  In other words, these artists were asked  to ‘cross borders’ into each other’s paintings.  They were asked not to be territorial with their work, needing to cooperate in order to resolve challenges that might arise when crossing into someone else’s space.  Perhaps a hand reaches from one painting into another.  Maybe a figure is running from one painting into the next.  In some cases, the connecting factor might be an adjacent sky or a patch of grass.

Regardless of how these artists cross each other’s borders, they have ultimately created spaces that allow their works to overlap and integrate harmoniously.  And throughout the exhibit, as paintings and diversities flow in combined efforts, what emerges is a bigger more beautiful outcome resulting in a cooperative community.

 The Columbus Crossing Borders travelling art exhibit opened in May 2017 at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center to a reception of 400 people.  It will now travel until the end of 2018.  The documentary film, titled “Breathe Free”,  directed by Doug Swift, premieres at The Drexel Theatre in Bexley, Ohio on Thursday, August 10.  This film spotlights the refugees’ stories against the backdrop of the art project inspired by those stories.

Taking this project on the road to a diverse range of demographics and communities supports our goal to get past the toxic discourse that divides people.  We invite those who may not be educated about the plight of refugees, or those who may be unsure about their feelings toward refugees, or those who may harbor suspicion or ill will toward refugees. By providing an up-close,  intimate look into personal human struggle and strength, our audience has the opportunity to observe, integrate and hopefully make a connection.

So we must ask ourselves:  “Will our project be transformative?  Will it make a positive social impact that can help move the public toward compassionate action? ”   When we consider the tremendous amount of work going into it,   we certainly hope so.   However, if even just a fraction of our communities are inspired to let go of personal fear, misunderstanding and intolerance, the effort is worth it.

For more information:

Columbus Crossing Borders website:  www.columbuscrossingbordersproject.com 

Columbus Crossing Borders Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ColumbusCrossingBordersProject/

Laurie VanBalen is a visual artist from central Ohio. Her career in the arts spans 35 years of commissioned paintings and works in private collections, exhibits, book illustration and graphic design. She is the founder and director of Art Soup Studio, providing creative workshops and programs for schools, libraries and community centers, in addition to classes for all ages in her home studio.



Ohio’s Opioid Crisis Impacts Communities, Families

Photo by World News

We can no longer debate the harsh reality. The opioid crisis is real. Fentanyl and heroin overdoses continue to rise at an alarming rate. From 2003-2015 2,590 people unintentionally overdosed from opioids in the state of Ohio.  This is 84.9% of all accidental overdoses recorded over that time. Recovery supports are becoming more and more important with each passing day. Now more than ever, we need to build out the continuum of care and invest in recovery support services. Whether it’s the language we use, the way in which we view substance use disorders (SUD) in the court of law, or the gaps that we begin to fill, changes need to be made. 89% of people who need treatment are not getting the help they need. Work continues to be done on educating society on one simple message; recovery is possible.

Recovery language is vital to shifting the tides at work. What we say and how we say it has the power to help or hurt. This disease will continue to be viewed through a criminal justice lens as long as we continue to talk about it as such. Derogatory terms like “addict”, “drunk” and “junkie” have negative connotations that have been engrained in us for decades. We see this as criminal behavior because that is what we were taught. If we continue the work of shifting towards proper recovery language then together we can shift the culture towards healing our communities.

“People suffering from a SUD are not bad people trying to get good, they are sick people trying to get well.” Words that echo through recovery circles and treatment centers across the country. Yet incarceration still seems to be the go to for government spending. Studies show that if just 10% of drug related incarcerations were differed to treatment, lifetime societal net benefits reflect $8.5 billion relative to baseline. And if that percentage climbs to the still reasonable 40%, we could see net benefits of $22.5 billion dollars. Treatment is not only cheaper, it is also more effective. In New York state, they saw a 21% decrease in reconviction rates when people received a treatment alternative! While treatment is effective and results in cost savings, it isn’t the end of the continuum.

What we do after initial treatment is paramount to providing those with SUD a continuum of care. Studies show that the change of returning to use rates diminish the longer the individual maintains their recovery. After just five years of remission, return to use rates drop below 15%. The goal here is to ensure that individuals have access to a continuum of care and ongoing recovery supports so they can reach this critical five year mark. There are many ways to foster and develop SUD recovery. Whether its outpatient treatment programs, medically-assisted treatment (MAT) or collegiate recovery programs (CRP), all of these fall on the continuum of care for SUD, and all have been proven effective. Programs like the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HECAOD) and CRPs across the country look to foster an environment that promotes the expansion to the continuum of care for people recovering from SUD.

While this crisis may seem daunting, there are things we can do right now to make an impact. Firstly, we should incorporate recovery language in our lives in order to help destigmatize the jaded view of SUD. Treatment is not only more humane than incarceration, it’s more effective. Additionally, look to support legislation that encourages treatment over incarceration and taking a public health approach to ending this epidemic rather than a criminal justice approach. Lastly, we need to continue investing in recovery supports! Programs all across the country are making an impact into the opioid crisis. A SUD is a not a character problem, it’s a community problem. We rise and fall as one, and if we take the proper steps we can all recover, together.

Rob Schilder, Ohio State Collegiate Recovery Community Student Assistant

Sarah Nerad, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery, Director of Recovery

It Takes A Community

Photo taken from www.patch.com

When we say modern-day slavery, we are referring to human trafficking. When anything is connected to slavery, we are talking about taking away one’s identity, dignity, and humanness. Women, men, and children are trafficked across the world. This is a global human rights problem. Human life is priceless, yet traffickers commodify it by placing a price tag on vulnerable individuals for customers to purchase. Human trafficking is a business for the trafficker, having a system of supply, demand, and distribution to keep the business thriving.

Through this inhumane crime, which includes sex and labor trafficking, victims experience abuse of all types, are manipulated, and falsely promised a better life. Victims are left to deal with long-term, lasting traumatic effects. The U.S. government calls on communities to “rescue and restore”. While “rescue” falls within the purview of law enforcement, “restoration” is the job of legal and social service agencies. Restoration moves beyond recovery, ultimately making accessible opportunities to potentially restore individuals to the level of mental, emotional, and physical well-being and economic stability they would have reached had they not been trafficked.

The Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute’s mission is to respond to human trafficking and social justice through teaching, research, and engagement. The Partners Against Trafficking in Humans (PATH) Project is a community-wide, coordinated, transparent, and data-driven research pilot, that is spearheaded by the Institute. The PATH Project draws on the experience of a focused healthcare, outcomes-based model, The Pathways Model, which has been proven to be very successful. The Pathways Model addresses the issue of Ohio’s overall infant mortality rate (babies dying before their 1st birthday), which is one of the worst out of all 50 states. [1] The Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, housed in Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, includes documented care coordination, links clients to evidence-based care, and measures the results.[2]

The PATH Project is a modified replica of The Pathways Model, applying the structure and techniques to address the care of individuals who are exploited through human trafficking. The vision for the PATH Project to become an evidence-based model, The PATH Model. PATH works to coordinate existing services moving victims along the continuum of care: victims to survivors, and survivors to thrivers. It is aimed at training the professional community, improving service delivery, and increasing collaboration to remove barriers and fill gaps in human trafficking-related services.

A significant component of The Pathways Model is incentives to support their clients through attaining needed services. With victims of human trafficking, the simple process of prioritizing what is most important for their well-being is curtailed by the absence of day-to-day necessities. The PATH Project sees incentives as a necessary support, at minimum, in the beginning of one’s journey of healing and restoration. Along with others, the Toledo Community Foundation is a generous funder in this effort to value and focus specifically on the victim’s betterment. Additional partners are the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, our Care Coordinating agencies, and our PATH Approved agencies.

It takes a community to work together in an organized manner to combat an issue while creating and sustaining positive change. Thank you to all of our partners for your hard work and dedication.

Fanell Williams, MSW, LSW is the Project Coordinator for The PATH (Partners Against Trafficking in Humans) Project at the University of Toledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. She coordinates the professional community and agencies on improving service delivery and moving victims to survivors and survivors to thrivers through The PATH Project. An active member of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and the Lucas County Trauma-Informed Care Coalition, Ms. Williams raises awareness, educates, and trains throughout the community. Ms. Williams has presented and volunteered at the Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference since 2014 at the University of Toledo. She can be reached at fanell.williams@utoledo.edu.

[1] http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2015/08/ohio_ranks_45th_nationally_on.html

[2] http://www.hcno.org/health-improvement-initiatives/pathways.html

The Empathy Project Seeks to Build Bridges, Promote Understanding

What is The Empathy Project?

The Empathy Project is an evolving, multi-faceted art project in which people are the medium. It is a study of the shared experience of what it means to be human. Currently, there are two facets to the project: 1.) The box which consists of a wooden box 38 x 18 x 12 inches tall, long, and wide, respectively. On it are laser cut the instructions, “Share something that makes you feel vulnerable. It will be displayed but your identity will remain anonymous unless you choose otherwise.”[*] When/where/how will they be displayed, you ask? I do not know. I did not expect the volume of responses I’ve received and have had to reconfigure my plans for the exhibition. 2.) Strangers which is heavily inspired by the Touching Strangers project started by Richard Renaldi. However, I’ve taken my own spin on it.[†]

But, what is The Empathy Project?

The Empathy Project is the culmination of a series of thoughts that initi- and propagated my depression over approximately 8 years. Once I managed to distance myself from my depression, these thoughts became inspiration to change aspects of the world that robbed me of everything necessary for human life.

One idea behind The Empathy Project is that in the day-to-day picayune routine, it is easy – as in readily done as well as more convenient – to forget that what imbues life with meaning is connection; genuine, authentic interaction with others. This is forgotten because society both explicitly discourages such interactions and simply ignores the importance of connection. After all, capitalism does not run on the idea of people making themselves vulnerable to one another. Furthermore, much of our lives are lived on an unconscious level. To illustrate these points, take for example Thompson Library itself: Within such open architecture and inviting context for curiosity – albeit a library and people are studying – it is a given that no strangers will interact with one another unless someone has more prurient intentions. These barriers that we erect are not done so malignantly, but unconsciously; it is what has been done, it is what is expected to be done, so it is what I will continue to do. During the periods that the box has been installed on The Oval, even in such open, free space, this holds true as well (the one additional exception being petting dogs). No one questions it; it is done unconsciously, meaning without thought. However, through another aspect of The Empathy Project, I introduced two gentlemen – David and Kevin. An hour later, Kevin walked by as I was sitting on a bench on the other side of The Oval and thanked me because they are now friends. So, The Empathy Project foments a dialogue as to whether these barriers are beneficial or not and in what contexts?

The other idea behind The Empathy Project is that I believe one of the distinguishing characteristics of Homo sapiens is that we alone can understand how risky – and mildly idiotic – it is to love. Whether it be love of a parent, child, sibling, significant other, friend, or stranger, by making yourself that vulnerable, you are potentially opening yourself up to severe suffering. Despite knowing this, though, we continue to love in a myriad of ways every day. That is a beautiful thing. Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.” I think everyone would agree with me when I say that these are not the words of a coward. Perhaps strength, then, is best measured by your capacity to love. Related to this, I also believe there is a consummate form of love rooted in empathy – the ability to see the world as it exists outside of your head and to turn off the unconscious, default state of solipsism. Yet, empathy is a skill that when not utilized, is lost. We must practice it because our society is becoming inviable: The political climate, tension across socioeconomic, racial, sexual, religious, ethnic barriers, in conjunction with the raising rate of suicide and mental illness. At this point, it is not exaggeration to say that our culture is killing us. In many ways, literally, and in many more ways, figuratively. It almost killed me. But I persevered and now want to change the world. You may say that is naive, but, as David Foster Wallace said in his behemoth Infinite Jest, “[It is a] queerly persistent U.S. myth that cynicism and naiveté are mutually exclusive.” To believe in such a myth is reductio ad absurdum because if such ideas are those of children, why is it then, that human life, too, is queerly persistent?

[*] If you are curious as to the role of vulnerability, that will be expounded upon in future posts. For now, this will suffice: We all have these little, dark nuggets of ourselves that we keep hidden because we are ashamed of them. Every night, then, you ask yourself: Have I allowed myself to be seen? What if they knew the real me? Would they still like me? Obfuscating these parts of us inhibits connection, but the thing is, we all have them. So, no one must be ashamed, it’s simply a matter of non-judgement and, well, empathy.

[†] This cryptic sentence will also be expounded upon in future posts. However, the exegesis is rather abstract, so I’ll save it for later.

About the Author:  My name is Edwin. In many ways, I’m an average guy: I leave Venn diagrams on most chairs I sit on which depict the finite collection of sudoriparous glands on my left and right ass cheeks and suffer from non-life-threatening heart palpitations speaking with most women. I’m a recent alumni having majored in molecular genetics and Spanish. When not formulating elegant manners of saying I perspire heavily or proselytizing about empathy, I’m probably either reading or rock-climbing. If you want to talk, shoot me an email at edwinricethe4th@gmail.com.

Follow The Empathy Project on Twitter @cultivateempathy

In Times of Globalism, in Times of Nationalism: Foreign language education is my tool of choice


Photo from pinterest.com

I was twelve years old when I started learning German, my second language, and I was sixteen years old when I studied abroad for the first time. In the summer before my junior year of high school, I traveled to southern Germany to live with a host family and attend school, and for the entirety of those weeks, I spoke only German.

During my time as an exchange student at a German high school, I noticed that all students took several hours of world language classes per day; some were enrolled in as many as four languages at once. To all of my German friends, learning and mastering English, French, and Spanish seemed to be a very high priority. When I asked why, they replied that an advanced knowledge of multiple languages would be absolutely vital if they were to achieve their goals, an idea that I, as an American, had never even considered. I had always thought that German was fun, but I had never viewed my proficiency in this language as the skill that could make or break my chances of success.

Around the world, children are taught the basics of languages and dialects from the time they first step through the doors of a school. There’s a noticeable global pattern of exposing young people to foreign languages at early ages, while in the United States, students typically don’t begin the process until middle school or high school. First comes math and reading, then science and social studies. World language is often left as an afterthought in the American education curriculum. American society has evolved to the point where we see the simple ability to communicate with people from around the world as a side skill, something that may enhance a person’s future, but never advance it. I believe that many Americans’ tendencies to treat foreign languages as nothing more than credit hours are a display of the privilege we have in this country.

Too many Americans rely on the idea that the rest of the world will “just learn English.” While it is an idea they can trust – English is the most popular, if not, one of the most popular languages to teach children in schools abroad – it is an idea they should hope to change. Education systems around the world are dedicated to the students’ success in an era of globalization, information and communication, and learning multiple foreign languages is seen as essential if young people hope to get a leg up in the economy. Having a holistic world view is valued immensely overseas, and we must begin to see the value in it in the United States if we are to maintain peaceful relationships around the globe in the years to come.

Like most Americans, my great, great grandparents were immigrants. I did not grow up in a bilingual or multicultural family. Throughout my childhood, no one told me I had to start learning a second language. I made my own decision to place a very high value on my foreign language studies when I started learning German at age twelve, but through this decision, I learned so much more about human connection, interaction, and the world in all of its stunning diversity than I ever could have by completing the minimum requirements to graduate.

In this bilateral age of both globalism and nationalism, America must start viewing foreign language education as the tool with which we can build better understanding and awareness in the world. It has the ability to open doors of compassion and tolerance between people from vastly different lifestyles. By studying second and third languages, by committing ourselves to learning about and experiencing other cultures, American individuals can express their respect for other countries and their desire to work together towards greater cultural insights and diplomatic solutions. After all, solving the world’s problems begins with communication. Changing American views on learning languages and collectively reforming foreign language education will certainly take time, but the process of reversing the current narrative begins on an individual scale by each of us making our own commitment to take language and cultural studies seriously.

Kate Greer is a first-year history and German language double major at The Ohio State University who testified to the Ohio House Education Committee on the importance of foreign language education and the implementation of a Seal of Biliteracy on high school diplomas. When she is not busy with her studies, Kate is active on campus as a member of International Affairs Scholars, the German Club at OSU, and the Undergraduate Student Government academic affairs committee and interns program. She can be contacted at greer.219@buckeyemail.osu.edu.

A Call to Action: Solidarity in a Time of Islamophobia

The views expressed below reflect only those of the author.

Like many members of my community, I woke up the morning after the election feeling scared and abandoned by my countrymen. How could so many have voted for someone actively preaching hatred against my community? Against Muslims, and someone well known for taking advantage of women? I was crushed not by the thought of the bigots and their hatred but of the many who were not compelled by their hate but by their indifference. These voters voted for Trump based on his economic policy and the change they felt it promised them, but that choice meant overlooking his divisive, hateful rhetoric, and its potential for terrible consequences. Not even a week after the election, there have been reports across the country of fear and intimidation being spread across college campuses.1

Living with Islamophobia is hard. Each reported incident of a shooting of a religious leader, a sister whose hijab is ripped off, a child who is bullied in school and called a terrorist, sends shock waves through our community. These are the strongest, most obvious threats against us. But the underlying, insidious current that runs beneath this is the sense that no matter what we do, we will never belong here. Many of us are immigrants or refugees, or the children of immigrants and refugees; our parents left their homes and uprooted their lives to find something better, only to have settled in a new land to realize that we are not wanted here. Many of us are descendants of slaves, who can trace our lineage back generation after generation, further back than most Americans. And yet, we will always be seen as the “other,” an alien threat to the lives of “ordinary” Americans.

Columbus is a city called home by thousands of Muslims, many of whom are refugees. Last week, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution against Islamophobia, announcing support of the Muslim community in Columbus. The Columbus Muslim community is grateful to the Jewish Voice for Peace, the sponsors of the resolution, and the CCC for getting this resolution passed, as many communities call Columbus home. This gesture was a good first step to addressing that sense of exclusion — but this resolution is not enough, it must be catalyzed into action to make this city a safer, more welcoming place for all who live here. The only way for us to move forward and above the divisive language of Islamophobia, and every other form of discrimination, is to recognize that the good in this city (and this country) will be in acknowledging that the Muslim community, the black community, the LGBT community, the disabled community — that every community is OUR community, that their struggles are ours and their fears are ours.

The question now is what are we going to do to ensure that Muslim sisters wearing headscarves feel safe walking in its streets? What are we going to do to ensure that workplace discrimination does not occur in this city simply because of a person’s hairstyle? What other measures will we take to protect those in this city who may become targets of the hate crimes being reported across the nation? What kind of example are we going to set, especially in this post-election environment, that bigotry and divisiveness will not be accepted?

We must condemn bigotry yes, but even more, we must be allies to each other’s “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.”

1. See “Reports of Hate Crimes Rise After Donald Trump Victory”.
2. See “New York Imam Shooting”
3. See “Woman Wearing Hijab attacked at San Jose State”.
4. See “Seven-year Old Boy Beaten on North Carolina School Bus for being Muslim”
5. See “Donald Trump has unleashed a new wave of bullying in schools”

Adeeba Arastu is a Muslim- and Indian-American student at the Ohio State University, studying architecture and geography. She is the Editor of the Muslim Students’ Association blog, IQRA, as well as an active member of Unchained, an organization that works to raise awareness for human trafficking. She can be contacted at arastu.2@osu.edu.

Imagine Not Knowing…

Imagine Not Knowing … that there are 1.2 million people in the United States that are living with HIV.

Imagine Not Knowing …that 1 in 8 people living with HIV do not know their status.

Imagine Not Knowing…that YOU can make a difference in these numbers.

Project INK, or “Project: Imagine Not Knowing…” is a comprehensive HIV prevention program designed to educate, and provide access to care for the community. Project INK strives to enable the community through opportunities to receive testing, counseling, linkage to care services, and other resources for health. We use a peer advocacy strategy, in which community members are empowered to take charge of their status, their lives, and their health by sharing “role model stories”. These stories are disbursed through members of the focus community that we serve and through our various pages. Our specific focus is on testing men who have sex with other men between the ages of 17-39, as this community has the highest rates of HIV transmission disparities throughout the nation.

Project INK is a CDC funded and evidence-based program, which means these strategies have been proven to improve health outcomes for those who are HIV negative by increasing testing, linking to PrEP (the once daily pill that is over 90% effective at preventing HIV transmission), and has been proven to have positive, powerful impacts for those living with HIV by linking them to care, and increasing medical adherence.

Our program is just one of many avenues that people in Columbus can navigate to learn more about HIV and advocate for their health, and the health of those around them. Programs like this, make the end of HIV a foreseeable and realistic goal. However, in order to end HIV transmission we must continue to advocate for those who are living with HIV and continue to provide education and preventative measures to those most at risk. Even if you find yourself outside of the “high –risk” population there are still ways to support the movement; learning about HIV and HIV transmission helps reduce stigma, which plays a large part in the way our society interacts with HIV, and ending the stigma surrounding the virus plays an essential part in us finding a cure.

If you couldn’t “Imagine Not Knowing… the feeling of making a difference,” then help support Project INK. Showing support can be as simple as liking us on Facebook and Instagram. Or if you or anyone you know are interested in getting involved then email: projectinkcolumbus@equitashealth.com for more information.


Facebook: www.facebook.com/projectinkcolumbus

IG: project_ink_columbus


#SuicidePreventionMonth – What You Need to Know

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2015), as well as one of the leading causes of death for college-age students (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2014).  In a representative year, over 42,000 people die by suicide, which equates to approximately 115 each day.  Not only is this a tragic loss of life, but research indicates that the ripple effect on campuses and communities can be equally devastating.  Consider that for every suicide there are approximately 147 people who are exposed to the death, including 18 who experience a major disruption as a result of the suicide (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2015).   When the impact of each suicide is considered in this way — approximately 750,000 people deeply impacted each year, as well as 6.3 million exposed in a year — it is no wonder why suicide is considered a significant public health problem among campuses and communities across the country.

In spite of the magnitude of this problem, suicide is preventable.  In fact, the state of Ohio recently invested in statewide prevention efforts beginning with House Bill 28, which requires all public institutions of higher education to provide suicide prevention programming on their campuses.  The best suicide prevention practices occur when campuses align strategies to identify at-risk students, increase help-seeking behavior, provide mental health services, promote social connectedness, and develop sound policies related to crisis management and restricting access to lethal means (The Jed Foundation, 2016).  When administrators, staff, faculty, and students possess a shared vision to prevent suicide by promoting mental health and eliminating stigma around help-seeking, the likelihood of preventing suicide increases markedly.

The Ohio State University is one of a select number of campuses nationwide to house a standalone suicide prevention program.  The OSU Suicide Prevention Program was originally founded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and it is currently funded through a partnership between the College of Education and Human Ecology and the Office of Student Life.  The program works closely with other offices on campus to ensure that the mental health needs of our entire campus community are prioritized.  We have collaborated on initiatives to improve the mental health and well-being of groups with an elevated risk of suicide, including male students, graduate and professional students, international students, and student veterans.

We believe that preventing suicide is a responsibility shared by the entire campus community.  If you are interested in learning more about how to prevent suicide on campus and within our local community, consider attending a REACH training.  REACH is an educational training in which participants learn how to Recognize warning signs, Engage a distressed individual with empathy, Ask directly about suicide, Communicate hope, and Help the individual access mental health resources.  Nearly 10,000 individuals have been trained in REACH.  To sign up, visit reach.osu.edu.

To learn more about what we are doing at OSU, or if you would like to get involved in other ways, please visit our website (suicideprevention.osu.edu) or email us at osusuicideprevention@osu.edu.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@OSUREACH).


Matthew Fullen, M.A., M.Div., LPCC is an independently licensed counselor and doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University.  He serves as Program Manager of The Ohio State University Suicide Prevention Program, which is now in its 10th year.  Matthew has presented and published on community suicide prevention efforts for people of various ages.  He can be reached at fullen.33@osu.edu.