In Defense of “The Star-Spangled Banner”/by Chance Easterling

It is remarkable the uproar that occurs when two worlds collide, which is precisely what happens when political agendas enter the arenas – or should I say courts and stadiums – of professional athletics. 

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, announced recently that the national anthem would no longer be played before their games because the tradition did not represent all of its team members. This policy was short-lived. Not long after the announcement, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass released a statement saying the national anthem is to be played at all NBA games, and I quite agree. 

“The Star-Spangled Banner” has represented unity and inspired Americans since former President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order in 1916 declaring it the United States’ national anthem. In 1931, Congress passed Wilson’s executive order, and the song became the official anthem. Francis Scott Key, a Maryland lawyer and amateur poet, wrote the lyrics during the battle of Fort McHenry in 1812, where he watched the British fleet unload its shells and rockets on the American fort with the “star-spangled banner” flying high through it all.

Now it must be confessed here and now that Key was not an innocent fellow. He was a lifelong slaveholder who fought avidly against the abolitionists’ cause while penning the phrase “home of the brave, land of the free.” Many people in the United States feel that for this reason they are unable to continue to support “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem. 

I see their point. However, we must hold words to a higher standard than we hold the people who either spoke or wrote them. Just because Key does not align with the ideals that we have about race and society today does not mean that his words do not. 

Thomas Jefferson, when writing the Declaration of Independence, declared that “all men are created equal.” Despite being a slaveholder of Virginia, Jefferson’s words are still revered today because they are true. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even used Jefferson’s very words in a multitude of his speeches fighting for racial equality during the Civil Rights era. 

We cannot discount true words and ideals simply because their writer did not practice them accurately. That is up to us: we are challenged with taking up the gauntlet of the ideals of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Declaration of Independence and living them out in our daily lives. Banishing these inspirational texts can create nothing more than more division. 

Sure, it is certainly one thing to take an activist’s stance by kneeling during the national anthem, but it is an entirely different situation when one removes the anthem itself and the inspiration it gives others. While many feel “The Star-Spangled Banner” does not represent them appropriately, there are quite a few who feel that it does. By removing the anthem altogether, Cuban would be robbing those fans who feel that it is their duty to stand and salute the United States for all of the liberties it provides its citizens. The NBA has allowed its players to kneel in protest, so it is only right to allow those who wish to salute their country the opportunity to do so before a game as well.

Unprecedented: The Mythos of a Nation/by Katherine Parker

Hey y’all, and welcome to my little corner of the paper. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the future and what it holds both as we begin a new year and as I begin my last semester of my undergraduate career. I want to say the future looks bright, and it does, but as a humanities student, I’m also compelled to address the context that will shape the next year. One of the ways I do this is by reflecting upon the past year. Reflection is a crucial aspect to understanding; I don’t think I can know where I’m going if I don’t know where I’ve been, and I think the same is true for us as a college community and a nation at large. 

The national rhetoric this past year has subsisted on the idea of unprecedented events. On one hand, this is understandable because we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that wasn’t wholly predictable. On the other hand, using the phrase “unprecedented event” for the entirety of 2020 removes responsibility for the occurrences that were and continue to be preventable. The past month has unveiled some of the basis for this argument, so let’s dig in. 

2020 started like any other year, but better because we had an excuse to throw Gatsby-themed parties and internalize the carefree spirit of the new (20)20s. Most people weren’t necessarily anticipating a year full of extraneous stressors, but the fact remains that we have gone through the collective trauma of hundreds of thousands of deaths while simultaneously witnessing the consequences of both selectively impressed and nationally repressed trauma. 

To unpack that statement, we’ve concurrently witnessed national mourning as well as an unraveling of dominant national narratives. The escalation of this realization hit its peak (hopefully) with the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol building, where U. S. citizens invaded the Capitol building with weapons and hate symbols under the banners of lost causes. Clearly, the past is still prescient. 

Tying into this concept of the past is the prevalence of conversations we have begun to have more earnestly about race. Several flags that were flying at the Capitol on Jan. 6 represented ideals of the Confederacy and the proto-nationalist ideals of the former administration, with the implication that those people flying those flags are the people who belong in our Capitol building, and by extension, those ideals of racial superiority and militant patriotism are the ideals that belong in the heart of our nation. 

The inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20 indicated that this might not be the future we support nationally, but that the events of Jan. 6 ever happened indicate an ingrained problem in our society. As a nation, we have allowed (either actively or passively) what should be decrepit ideas of hate to have free range. The differences in response to protests for justice and the “riot” at the Capitol provide glaring examples of this, as do our responses to everyday disputes. Just Google it; the New York Times’ 2020: Year in Pictures is enlightening. 

My thought going into the New Year, then, is shaped as much by my wishes for my own future as it is by my hopes for the nation I call home, and that thought is this: We still have work to do. This past year has brought a lot of perhaps surprising but not unprecedented struggles both personally and nationally, but it is possible to grow from it. We have that opportunity, but only if we choose to create it for ourselves. 

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” is especially poignant for this sentiment. She says, “We’ve braved the belly of the beast. / We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. / And the norms and notions of what just is / isn’t always justice.” 

The concept of justice is one that sticks with us as Americans. We learn this as children from animated hero shows where they fight for “truth, justice, and the American way,” but the irony is that, to date, those three things have been incongruous. This has been the precedent, so to say that events over the past year have been unprecedented is a misnomer. This is where we have been, but where are we going to go?

To the Students of Mississippi College,

With Marquisha Mathis being promoted to News Reporter, I am now responsible for writing The Collegian’s Opinions section. In addition to writing an editorial in each issue, I will be soliciting Opinions pieces from students. 

These pieces can be on topics big or small, as long as they are well informed. The Collegian takes pride in amplifying student voices, but we cannot do that without your help. 

Though The Collegian reserves the right to publish or not to publish, I want to hear from you! Pitch your ideas to MC through my email: Opinions published will receive a $10 Amazon gift card as a reward.

-Kyle Hamrick, Editor in Chief

Student Check-Up/by Marquisha Mathis

What a semester it has been here at Mississippi College! From the time we started classes on Aug. 17, we have been working nonstop. The papers, projects, presentations, tests, and quizzes have taken a big toll on us. We are still working with few hours of sleep, trying to get this work done.

We’re constantly studying, and there’s not enough hours in the day to do everything. It’s overwhelming because when we finish one thing we find we have 10 more things to do, and we’re wondering where the break is. Luckily for some of us, our professors have checked in to see how we are doing.

The semester has been cut short due to COVID-19, and the university wants to keep us safe. However, we are cramming way more into our daily schedules than normal. The fall semester usually consists of a Labor Day break, a fall break, and a Thanksgiving break, before coming back for finals before Christmas.

However, there were no breaks, except for Wednesday, Oct. 21, when President Dr. Thompson gave students a day of rest, to use that time to study, sleep, and enjoy themselves. Instead of having all of the normal breaks, we will go home a day before Thanksgiving and won’t be back until January.

This is not a matter of complaining, but how are we doing in the semester as a whole? I didn’t know how much this semester was going to be with the little time that we have. When I would finish with one assignment, it was like a sigh of relief, but more and more came. I had projects, speeches, and newsletters sometimes all due in one week.

I didn’t think about it too much because I thought I would have the weekends to rest — not a chance. I do work seven days a week, and I’m lucky to get at least a two-hour break sometimes. 

MC students have really been through the ringer this semester, but it’s different for everyone. This has been a hard school year so far, and many students can relate.

Senior Takyia Wilson said, “This has been a rough semester for me. It’s finally starting to ease up, though.”

“The semester has started off well and at a good pace, but now I feel overwhelmed but motivated to end the semester right,” said senior J’Mya Wells.

Junior Camryn Johnson said, “I’m glad we’re at the end. It’s been a long yet interesting semester. I need about a week of sleep.”

This semester has been short, sad, jam-packed, and filled with so much. We’re counting down the days until we can finally get a much-needed break away from school, and catch up on some rest and relaxation. 

We were so eager to get back, but now we see the reality that we’re dealing with when we don’t really have room to even take a break; nevertheless, we’re pushing through so that we can be done.

Farewell to December Graduates/by Austin LaBrot

Merry Thanksgiving! My present this year is a very expensive piece of paper put in a very expensive frame. What will I be doing with my present? Good question.  Besides looking at jobs on and profusely emailing Taylor Ormon in Career Services, I will hang it on a wall somewhere in my room at home. 

This year, myself and many others completed their 130 credit hours, took the Writing Proficiency Exam, and may or may not have gotten their ring by Thanksgiving. 

These past four years have taught me many things beyond the Oedipus Complex and hermeneutic loop. 

I have learned the importance of friendships, finding my identity in Christ, and seeking out help in all aspects of my life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social. 

FRIENDSHIPS: I found my best friends here at MC. I remember the day I met my first best friend my freshman year in the Hederman dorm lobby. Over the years, I became friends with those in my classes and acquired a great social circle that I am proud to have created. 

IDENTITY: The Enneagram, StrengthsFinder, Love Language, Spiritual Gift, and Myers-Briggs tests are real. I encourage everyone to take each of these tests (easily found online). Knowing how God created me has been a journey. I found myself asking God repeatedly, “Why did you make me the way that I am?” The answer: I don’t know. As I continue my life, I believe God will reveal to me the purposes He has for me; then, I will know why God made me how I am. 

HELP: If there is one major lesson I learned outside the classroom; it is asking for help. When I started feeling down my freshman year, I sought therapy. When I felt like my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling, I sought out my pastor. When I realized that my family is crazier than I originally thought, I went back to therapy. 

Many of us December graduates are all wondering the same thing: what’s next? The past twenty-ish years, our paths have usually been predetermined. Elementary school, junior high, high school, then undergrad. But what now? Do I attempt a master’s program? Do I go directly into the workforce? Do I get tested for COVID again just to be safe? Here’s the answer: I don’t know. 

This may not have been the most encouraging “farewell” you expected. So let me end with some hope, which I believe will lead to peace. 

Every answer I had to my problems is “I don’t know.” But you know who knows the answer you are searching for? God. 

Paul gives us almost-grads some encouragement in 2 Corinthians 12: “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

Let your anxieties about the future push you towards God. Let your worries deepen your faith. Let your uncertainty drive your passion for the Lord. 

These “thorns” have been given to us for a reason, and I believe that reason is to get us closer to God. Keep the faith. Run the race with perseverance. End strong. Sprint towards the Lord. 

Merry Thanksgiving, and welcome to the rest of your life.

Editorial: Looking Back, Looking Ahead/by Kyle Hamrick

As I realized last week that the term papers I usually submit in the middle of December are now due in the middle of November, I opened my calendar to scrawl out a plan for the semester’s premature end. Once I finished charting my course, the result resembling more of a conspiracy theorist’s chalkboard than an organized strategy for success, I decided to flip back to the opening pages of the leather-bound book, back to the start of the year 2020.

I bought the calendar in December 2019 as its predecessor ran out, and I copied my notes for the final month of the semester into the new book. I published the semester’s last Collegian on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and attended a formal in New Orleans the following weekend. The week after that I took four finals, and then went home for Christmas. 

January 2020 looks like the aftermath of a shotgun blast, with presentation topics, Collegian meetings, and other assignments due one after the other. February followed a similar scheme, only more hectic. I started to think about COVID-19 after the Pearl River unleashed its third highest flood in history around February 17. The ultimate irony is the headline of March 3’s Collegian, which read, “Coronavirus: Cause for Concern?”

Whoever said journalism is the rough draft of history is laughing right now.

The late spring and summer seemed much longer than four months. Every day felt like a year, and every minute felt like a day. The disappointment and depression that marked those long months will never be forgotten. There were good times that came from being home to be sure, but the overall sensation was one of longing and anxiety. We wondered what the future would hold, and if classes and jobs would resume. 

And though I would like for this to be an obituary for the year 2020, there are still 58 days standing between us and what we hope is a brighter new year. 2021 could be just as bad, even worse, or better than its predecessor. I do not know; no one knows.

Though it is easy to give in to fear and worry, I say we adopt a more optimistic perspective. We made it through a global pandemic, the destruction of a soaring economy, the narrowing of a wide job market, masks, online or socially distanced classes, riots and protests, a polarizing and hard-to-watch election, and murder hornets to name a few. As of right now, students of MC will return to campus next semester for on-campus classes. We can do this. We are strong, resilient, enterprising, endeavoring, daring, brave, and history will record this generation among the greats. 

This holiday season, I encourage you to eat enough, get some bigger britches, and rest, because the new year is coming whether we are ready or not. As Winston Churchill told the students of Harrow School in October 1941, “We have only to persevere to conquer.” 162 years earlier at the Battle of Flamborough Head, the American naval commander John Paul Jones famously said, “I have not yet begun to fight!” 

Time goes on, readers, so must we; and by the grace of God, we will. 

Editorial: “Every Day is Election Day”/by Kyle Hamrick

One might say it’s all been building up to this. This is the last editorial you will read from me before the Election of 2020. I make no pretense toward profundity; I want only to give my perspective. 

I am no oracle, but I believe the sun will rise and the world will continue to spin on Nov. 4 regardless of who this country elects. America will still be governed according to a constitution that guarantees and protects our ability to think and speak our minds. We have experienced 45 exchanges of political power in 244 years. We’ve endured many social maelstroms through the years, even a civil war. The country is divided now in a way that hasn’t been seen in a long time. No matter what happens on Nov. 3, what we as individuals do matters more than what the White House does.

This is not to say a vote doesn’t matter. A vote does matter. Our system would not exist without a vote. However, we vote for a president once every four years. Do we only get to speak one day out of 1,460 days? Absolutely not! We should be speaking up and speaking out every day of the year for our rights and the rights of our neighbors. Every day we should test the boundaries of the First Amendment. Every day we should be advocates for equity and justice. And the day we don’t is one step further away from the values expressed in our founding documents. Every day is election day.

Democracy is a daily exercise in thought and discussion. It’s forming an opinion and running it by a friend or someone whose perspective you don’t know. It’s disagreeing with grace, and explaining why an opinion needs reworking. If democracy is a government by the people, then its processes should reflect the mental development of a person. We learn things and change our behaviors. We grow in maturity and wisdom. Our elected officials should represent this, and should not pander to our passions or vices.

If you read this far to find the perfect candidate, then please accept my apologies. I can’t tell you who to vote for; that is not up to me. But I can give you a few prompts to guide your decision. 

Vote for the person you think will best serve this country. 

Vote for the person you think will best improve the sorry state of conversations. 

Vote for the rights of the downtrodden, and amplify the voice of the minority.

Vote for someone who will protect the freedom of speech, our right to protest, and our ability to speak our minds.

Vote for someone who knows the sins of our history and has a plan to heal old wounds.

Vote for someone who wants to take the country forward, who is for progress and development.

Vote for who you want to vote for, because I don’t know who that is.

Once you’ve voted, prepare to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser, and regardless of the results, treat each other with decency and respect.The election will anger some and please others, but our rights do not end at the feet of a president. No matter who wins, we can and will still speak our minds.

Every day is election day. 

Takeaways from the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates/by Marquisha Mathis

The presidential and vice presidential debates took place beginning on Sept. 30, 2020, with President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden demonstrating their policy views and campaign goals. Their vice presidents debated, too, with Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris sounding off their views as well.

I was really excited for the presidential debate and eager to hear some really great answers from both parties. The debate consisted of several questions dealing with the Supreme Court, economy, pandemic, and more. 

During this debate, the moderator, Chris Wallace, stated that each opponent would have two minutes to make their argument, and they needed to respect the other party while they did it. However, what happened next took the entire nation on a roller coaster, leaving everyone to think about the responses the candidates gave.

Takeaways from the Presidential Debate:

Supreme Court– Donald Trump said that being president of the United States right now, he has the right to choose the next Supreme Court Justice. However, Joe Biden believed that people have a right in choosing who is on the Supreme Court. What will happen in the end remains to be seen.

The Economy– Joe Biden asked Trump if he only paid $750 in taxes. Biden kept pressing him on the matter, and Trump’s response was, “I spent millions.” This began trending on Twitter as people from around the world really wanted an answer to that question. Everyone had their predictions. I was just sitting there listening to the back and forth wondering if we were ever going to specifically discuss the economy.

Race Issues Surrounding Systematic Racism– Biden blamed Trump for racial divides involving protests. They were asked if they believed there is unequal justice among Black people. I’m not certain if they really answered it with all the bickering. However, the question remains: What will they do to make change?

Unnecessary Mayhem– One of the important takeaways I got out of this debate was how both Trump and Biden talked about one another. Using the words “clown,” “liar,” and talking about each other’s families was awful to watch.

After this debate was over, I just couldn’t understand why they had to do all that. It was far from civil, and there was no respect involved. I patiently waited for the vice presidential debate between Harris and Pence which I hoped would help Americans determine their vote.

The vice presidential debate took place on Oct. 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Takeaways from the Vice Presidential Debate:

The Coronavirus– Harris believed that Trump’s handling of the virus “was the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of the country.” She saw this as a way that the president couldn’t control the disease at hand. Pence said that Trump took this seriously, and the way Harris and Biden went about it was already done; he called it plagiarism. They both were defending their party even if that meant having a talk about how the other candidate has let the American people down. According to Kamala Harris, one in five businesses closed, 210,000 had the virus, and millions of people filed for unemployment with no plan. Pence said that “Trump put the health of America first.” Clearly each candidate had a strong defense. However, some things should have been made clearer because there are so many things being said online about COVID.

There was a debate, but also interruption– Moderator Susan Page from USA Today was in charge of making sure things were civil between the candidates, and that each one had two minutes to answer their question without any interruptions. However, there were moments when Harris would say something, and then Pence would respond, but she wanted to set the record straight, so she would tell the moderator, “I need to answer this.” This was a reaction when Pence would step on her answer, or take away from her time.
The fly on Pence’s head was the greatest remembrance of all– The debate was better among both the presidents and vice presidents. However, what was trending all over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram was the fly on Pence’s head. As I was watching the debate, I thought it looked like one, but couldn’t be sure. All across social media, people made jokes and assumptions. Many wondered from where the insect came. It was difficult to ignore.

Time for a Cross-Cultural Understanding Class/by Marquisha Mathis

Mississippi College is a great university that offers some very unique classes for students to take over the course of four years.

However, it’s important that students really take classes that will shape their future and give them the knowledge they will need when they graduate.

In the course catalog at MC, it was previously required that a student take six hours of social sciences. Of those six hours, you could either take Business Skills for Life, American National Government, Introduction to Psychology, Cross-Cultural Understanding, Sociology, Principles of Macroeconomics, or any philosophy course. 

Many students don’t focus excessively about particular classes except what is required to graduate in their subject fields.

If you’re a biology major, you really want to focus on your science classes.  For your social science classes, you may choose to take psychology or sociology rather than government or Cross-Cultural Understanding because it may make more sense for your major.

You may be a communication major, so you may take psychology or Business Skills for Life mainly because you’re interested in the marketing route or may be minoring in psychology.

There were six hours worth of the social sciences where students could choose from a range of options, but the same classes are being taken every semester. Why is that? 

And what makes it even harder to think about the other classes that are offered is that now MC has taken away a number of hours that used to be required. Social sciences comprised six hours, and now it’s down to three hours.

Freshmen and transfers come in ready to start college, and more importantly looking to create their schedule and sit in class. The first two years consist of core classes, which are usually chosen based on how easy they are or having conversations with upperclassmen who may have taken something else. This may sway their decision in some way.

However, what about a class where you can learn more about other cultures? That would be very important in the society in which we live.

Think about taking Cross-Cultural Understanding as your social science course. It’s one that always seems to get overlooked in the catalog because you don’t think about it too much if you’re not a modern languages major.

But this class gives students the chance to meet other students from all walks of life. And if you think about it, we are already learning more as a nation.

A number of students that have taken this cross-cultural class who are not part of that major include Solomon Zinn, who’s a history major; Cranesha Roberson, a social work major; and Taylor Milligan, a nursing major.

MC is doing their part in providing these courses to us. We have to be willing to want to take them. Many of us come in focused so much more on the degree rather than the experience. However, these are the classes that give us some sense of what we see every day in our lives.

Being a student at MC, I always knew I wanted to take Cross-Cultural Understanding by the time I reached my sophomore year of college. It was important for me to know more about the world around me, as well as the different types of cultures that exist.

Professor Ashley Krason, who currently teaches Cross-Cultural Understanding said, “No matter your degree, you will meet people who are not like you.”

Cross-Cultural Understanding is a class that allows you to think critically, to look at things from every perspective. We all have opinions that we need to express. What makes it even more fascinating is that if we have the opportunity to hear what others have to say, we get to share in that company with them.

Many of us want classes that will allow us to see diversity happening on this campus. However, it’s important to note that this class is in the core curriculum for us to see.

Don’t think about your major. Take the class because when you leave MC, you will be interacting cross-culturally with everyone you meet.

A Midterm Check-in with MC’s Nursing Students/by Meredith Stratmann

We’ve made it to the point of the semester where people are frantically studying and scurrying to class. There’s no time for socialization. The commons are packed with people bent over books or at least trying to while their friends distract them. That’s right–it’s midterms.

This can be a stressful time for all students, and the nursing school is no exception. Nursing is widely regarded as one of the most difficult undergraduate majors. As a nursing student myself, let me assure you that it is. I’m not just saying that to complain or try to get your pity. Nursing school is just a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. This semester, I have 18 hours of coursework over seven classes. A small portion of those hours count for the 18 hours I actually spend in clinicals weekly. Combined with organizations, jobs, and a social life, and long story short–I’m overwhelmed. 

When I asked my fellow classmates their feelings regarding how the semester is going so far, I got responses such as “we are drowning,” and “sobbing.” Senior Lane Oxner said, “Every test in nursing school is like a midterm. We struggle on all of them.” Given that it’s after midnight and I took a break from studying to write this article, I have to agree. 

Not only is the array of content difficult, but the questions themselves are challenging. Many ask what the nursing priority is or describe a set of symptoms and then expect you to know the proper intervention. Since we’re still developing nursing critical thinking, what we would do is not always right. 

Even still, the nursing school is a family that binds together to get through. Having clinicals in the hospital and on a behavioral health unit can lead to some crazy times. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my classmates there with me. 

Senior Natalie Russell remains a source of encouragement, saying “For all the nursing students out there, we made it to midterms! Whether you are in your first or fourth semester, this is an accomplishment. We are halfway to the finish line. Stay motivated and keep up the good work.” 

While nursing school can be a trying time full of papers, tests, and clinicals, at least we have our classmates to struggle through it with us.