Category: Opinion

Why We Need Love, Simon.

When I first realized I liked girls, I was only ten years old. I had been watching Teen Titans, a show on the Cartoon Network one Saturday morning when the character Starfire came on screen. She had bright red hair and an outrageously animated body, but the way her character spoke had made my chest feel warm.

Being a child, I shoved the feeling away to analyze at a later date, unable to recognize how much that moment would shape my young life. The time for analysis never came. Instead, I worked my way through middle school, developing crushes on girls in my grade, but all the same shoving the infatuation away because of course, it was wrong. Unnatural. After all, it was Rose that fell in love with Jack, and it was Edward that fell in love with Bella, and that was just the way things were.

The way everything was.

download.jpegRecently, however, the film Love, Simon has challenged this heterosexual status quo, the movie hitting theaters internationally, acting as a shock to the largely straight system of cinema. The film has earned mixed reviews from people both within and outside of the LGBT+ community. A majority of the reactions have been positive, celebrating the success of one of the first, widely released young adult films that features a gay protagonist.

However, some critics have picked the film apart, discrediting every cliche and dismissing every cheesy one liner, all the while posing the question of whether Love, Simon was necessary.



In a society completely saturated with films based around teen stereotypes, it surprises me that only now is the necessity of high school rom coms called into question. Films such as Fault in Our Stars, Twilight, and Ten Things I Hate About You, which all feature heterosexual, high school couples, have had the honor of becoming classics among the millennial generation.

Yet, now that a film of the same formula has taken the box office by storm with a gay main character, Hollywood has suddenly “run out of ideas,” repeating the same narrative and pandering to “PC culture.”

I understand the frustration with Hollywood’s monotony. Love, Simon is by no means a cinematic masterpiece. At times, the writing heavily relies on stereotypes audiences may be tired of, and the use of clichés sometimes pushes the narrative right over the line of cheesy. But that’s what makes Love, Simon so crucial in the fight for representation. Finally, the LGBT+ community has gotten their own Twilight, just… with less vampires and more rainbow motifs.

Image from Trailer Addict:

To give context to why a film like Love, Simon is so important, it’s necessary to understand the current state of LGBT+ cinema. One of the most popular movies ever to feature a gay couple is the French film Blue is the Warmest Color. The movie illustrates a relationship between a nervous 18-year-old named Adèle and an older, free spirited woman named Emma, who is implied to be in her 30’s. Their relationship is taboo and secretive, which eventually causes a rift between them. Eventually, Adèle is left behind by Emma, and, with the love of her life gone, Adèle spirals into depression while her ex moves on to a more mature, stable relationship. To make matters, and the film as a whole, even worse, spliced between scenes of emotional manipulation and angst are vulgar, bordering on pornographic sex scenes between Adèle and Emma.


These distressing themes are commonplace within LGBT+ films. Characters tend to either be hypersexualized or broken apart, a happy ending out of the question. For a young member of the LGBT+ community, it can be frightening to look towards media for reassurance, only to be told that the kinds of relationships you may be looking for can only end in tragedy. Love, Simon takes these thematic elements, these pornographic scenes, and flips them on their head, instead creating a sweet but inspiring tale that seeks to empower teenagers who are just starting to explore their identities and sexualities.



In fact, even members of the cast of Love, Simon themselves have been inspired by the film, the lead actor Keiynan Lonsdale (pictured right) coming out as queer just after shooting for the movie was wrapped. Reflecting on what it was like to play a closeted gay character, Lonsdale said to the Hollywood Reporter on March 16th, “Representation matters, and it’s just the truth. You watch something, and depending on how the story is told and how these characters feel to you, it influences your life, it influences how you feel about yourself and people that you meet.”*

Stories like Lonsdale’s unfold every day– kids coming out to their families and friends all the while never knowing exactly what kind of reaction they’ll get. Lonsdale acknowledges that he was lucky to come out in an environment that was so immediately accepting, though he admits that, regardless of knowing he’d be met with nothing but support, it was still a terrifying experience. Love, Simon was created with the purpose of quelling some of that inherent fear. By giving an honest, yet lighthearted look into the life of a gay teenager, Love, Simon has become an invaluable resource for queer kids who are terrified of making themselves known. Seeing the main character find peace in his own skin gives kids within the LGBT+ community an example to look towards, letting them hope for their own happy ending.

By Mimi Ottavi


Taking Our Schools Back One Step at a Time

Are our schools safe anymore?

Not only grade schools, but also colleges and universities are at risk every day for violence. We have to find a solution. The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to help find and implement new ways to keep children and teachers safe at school. This act is called STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and will authorize $500 million over 10 years for grants to improve training and coordination between schools and local law enforcement. It will also help identify signs of potential violence before they occur.

A modern history of mass school shootings is a website that details some of the most recent shootings that have taken place in our schools. It is a scary fact that we have to worry about the public’s safety in institutions such as schools. Jenna Merrick, an 11th grader at Maquoketa schools says, “I feel safe at school depending on who I see.” She also stated, “Maquoketa Schools have phones to call up to the office and a camera to identify people entering the school.”

Fisher Bisinger, a senior at Midland Community Schools, stated, “I feel safe at school, but I do carry guns with me to protect our livestock and myself.” He also stated, “The school doors are locked at 8:00 am and visitors have to go through the office to enter the school.” He continued, saying, “We have a code that is put out over the intercom and if we hear it we are to leave school and go to the Calkin’s Barn to meet back up.” He wasn’t too sure about this plan, especially if there was more than one assailant.

This was a sample of how some area high schoolers felt about the safety of our schools.

Next, I wanted to hear from a Clarke student and see how she felt about safety on campus. Cassidy Derus stated, “I feel safer at Clarke than I did at the last school that I attended in Chicago, where there was no security.” She also stated “There was a person shot in the alley behind my apartment.” When asked what would help with download.jpgsecurity at Clarke she mentioned security cameras and locks for the interior of the classroom doors.

What is the solution for this violence to end? Gun control? Good luck fighting the NRA on that issue. I think we are heading in the right direction with the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and it will have to be a multi-faceted approach to be successful. Education and implementation of safety measures will be the key to safer schools for everyone. It’s not all about the guns! We have to take a look at the people that have the guns. Parents, the government, and teachers have to know the signs to look for and alert the proper authorities if they suspect a potential problem.

By: Ron Driscoll



Chicago 17 – Album Review


By Christian Perez


Imagine the perfect band.

For some, that might involve massive guitars, pounding percussion, and vocalists that hit astronomically high notes. Others may be picturing a traditional ensemble, draped in the velvety colors of the symphonic orchestra. You might even prefer the artist’s focus on songwriting instead of musical skill!

My idea of the perfect band comes in the form of Chicago. Not only is their individual musicianship excellent, but their collective knowledge and application of jazz sets them apart from other rock groups from the 60s-80s. They found a way to seamlessly blend the intricate harmonic devices of that genre with an accessible approach to songwriting and lyricism.

While Chicago 17 maintains that essential integrity, this album doesn’t always stay consistent in terms of re-imagining the 80s pop formula. Some songs fare better than others, but the overall vibe seems much more manufactured and produced than their earlier jazz-rock works (such as Chicago V).

The opening song of this album is a wonderful example of this supposition. “Stay The Night” sits in this strange middle ground for me. The guitars, synths, and drums hit harder than a brick wall, but the rather odd delivery of the lackluster lyrics brings the whole track down a couples of notches. There’s just not enough depth to this song to keep me engaged, and that tarnished the initial impression I got from the excellent instrumental track.

However, the album gets progressively better after the opening.

Take for example, one of my favorites off of the album, “We Can Stop The Hurtin'”. It directly proceeds “Stay The Night”, and immediately lifted my hopes for Chicago’s seventeenth collection. It opens with an arpeggiated synth bass, a funky clean guitar, and a bare drum beat. Robert Lamm starts his verse by describing the rather desolate condition of society, but transitions into the harmonically-dense chorus by admitting that “If we found a way to reconcile, we could stop the hurtin’ for a while”. I’d recommend that you give this track a listen!

I couldn’t really complete this review without mentioning the two hit ballads off of this album: “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re The Inspiration”. These are some of my favorite songs of all time, and I’d like to share why these stand out to me.

“Hard Habit to Break” is one of the most intricate power ballads I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In terms of the song’s composition, I find that Steve Kipner keeps the song interesting by changing the keys many times, as well as emphasizing his wonderful lyrical contributions. Of course, this song wouldn’t have been as successful and as poignant without the fantastic vocal performances provided by Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin! The unique timbre of both of these performers only supplement the excellence of their vocal abilities.

Performed at the Venetian Theatre in Las Vegas.

The song “You’re The Inspiration” follows a similar standard in performance. However, this song serves as a wonderful vehicle for showcasing Cetera’s vocal ability and his skills as songwriting (with a little bit of help from producer David Foster). I don’t believe I can properly explain to you all how great this song is, so here’s a link to a live performance of the song:

Peter Cetera performs this song, independent of Chicago, for the DVD Peter Cetera with Special Guest Amy Grant.

Overall, I think that this album deserves a listen, but keep in mind that the songwriting and 80s aesthetic can sometimes feel both underwhelming and overwhelming. The high points on this album are glorious, but the low points seem to bring you down as well.

Here’s the album on Spotify:

Final Score:



Additional Information

Chicago 17 came out on May 14, 1984 to massive sales (1). It became the group’s best selling album of all time, and cemented the aging group’s musical influence for years to come. The singles from this album include “Stay the Night”, “Hard Habit to Break”, “You’re The Inspiration”, and “Along Comes A Woman”.





Yesterday, I Walked Out.

I’m writing this because I’m mad.

On Tuesday morning at 10am, a group of us in the Clarke community stood outside in the 30 degree weather. I was surrounded by students, professors, staff, BVMs, and even local Dubuquers. I should feel a sense of happiness to see this group standing up. But I’m not. I’m mad.

I’m angry that this has to happen. I’m angry with myself that there are students my age and younger in fresh plots of grave and I am here complaining about the cold. I’m mad at you, the gunman. How could you?

I’m mad at those who won’t listen to us. I’m pissed at the people who won’t take a call to action. I’m angry that the crowd who showed up on campus was so small.

I’m mad because there have been 14 school shootings this year and it’s only March (CNN).

I’m done just “keeping the victims and families in my thoughts and prayers.” We need action. We need change now. This can’t keep happening.

You may be wondering, why did I even attend the Walkout if I’m so upset about needing one in the first place?

That’s exactly why I’m here. I can’t keep letting this get pushed into the nooks and crannies of my brain, feeling sad for a day and then moving on.  Did the victims get to move on?

I’m saddened that there were so few who joined this powerful moment, today. I know it’s cold. I know it’s midterms and we are overwhelmed and busy. I know we don’t have time to give. That’s the point. We don’t have the time, we have things to do, but we pause. We walk out anyway. We take a stand. I want my voice to be heard. I want all of our student voices heard. We are smart, fierce, passionate, and fearless.

I looked around the small crowd and I saw anger, I saw tears, I saw passion, and I saw fear. I hope this leads to something more. I don’t want another shooting to just become a dusted over book, a vague memory of what once was. I don’t want to forget. As one woman in the crowd reminded us, “It wasn’t always like this. It doesn’t have to be like this.” There was silence and then applause and understanding from the crowd.

After the walk out, some of us chose to join in a small group discussion in the Fabiano conference room. We were faced with the questions, “What do you think we should do about gun violence?” and, “How can we prevent gun violence here at Clarke University?”

I had plenty of thoughts, comments, stories, and examples to share. But, I had no answer. We all had great discussions and conversations, shared worries, views, and connected with each other…But, we had no answer. Maybe part of the answer we are looking for is to start talking and listening to each other. We need to take the time to check in with one another; don’t let people get lost in the crowd. We need to listen to others’ stories, concerns, and worries. We all have something to say, so please, listen to us.




By: Megan Kane

Can We Be Honest About Gun Control?


I feel like my world often revolves around them. I have never fired one, touched one, I haven’t even been in the same room as one, but they always appear in my world. 

<> on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.

Photo Credit: CNN 

I remember my roommate turning on the news about the high school shooting in Florida. My mind couldn’t help but think about those terrified kids, and the horror the parents faced, not knowing if their child was dead or alive.  Just a few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who had someone they care about in a similar situation. After that I had heard stories around Dubuque, the shooter at Senior high school and then the man at the women’s lacrosse game, threatening them with a gun. Guns just never seem to want to leave me alone.

All these stories, they just keep sending me back into images of when I thought my life was truly threatened and how lucky I have been. No one was harmed during the the threats that occurred at my schools but, the fear was real, and you don’t forget it.

To most people, my story would sound uneventful. No one was killed, even harmed for that matter. Heck the band kids were still practicing during lockdown. Even though the boy was in custody, we were unaware that the shooter was not out there, and that alone was enough to send several of us into a state of panic. The second time we experienced this, it was a bomb that may or may not go off. It’s not a gun but its a weapon and that’s enough for me to mention this.

It wasn’t brought to my attention about about how dramatizing these experiences until I told my story to a professor.I reassured them telling them that it was alright, but it really isn’t. No one should live with the fear of someone possibling walking into your class and taking a shot at you.

In response to recent events, I’ve been hearing a lot of chat that included  protests about gun control. In fact my brother was telling me about the silent protest at my high school, but then I heard that a similar protest is going to take place on campus.

Gun control. Not once has anyone asked me on my views of gun control after hearing my story. I can only assume that they believe that I think we need more control over how people get guns, but I never believed that to be true.

Guns were designed to kill, but they are only a tool. They’re like a knife, if miss used they can cause serious damage and harm, but we don’t get mad at knives. It’s how the person uses that tool, thats what causes the damage.

I’m sure a lot of you reading this are disagreeing with what I’m saying. I bet some of you have been in similar situations like me and think the opposite of me, and that’s fine, I understand why but I just need someone to understand where I’m coming from.

When I sat in fear during my lockdown, I wasn’t terrified of the .25 caliber handgun that could possibly shoot me. I was terrified of the boy holding the gun that could possibly shoot me.

*Submitted Anonymously to Contact Allie or Megan with any comments or concerns.

Taking Chances

What is it like walking away from everything you’ve ever known? What happens when we leave behind the people, the places, and everything else that once composed the entirety of your life? What does it take to break out of your comfort zone? How do you take the next step?

I kept asking myself these questions. I was so puzzled by the idea that an 18-year-old girl, like myself, was expected to just up and leave everything I have ever known to move to a new state, with new people, new classes—new everything.

How does one prepare for this journey? I suppose you could say, “You just box up your things, say your goodbyes, and bring along the memories.”

So that’s exactly what I did. I boxed my things, said my goodbyes, boxed more things, made the drive, and held tight to my memories. I moved out into a whole new world and away from everything I have ever known. I crossed the Iowa border, leaving behind my home and shattering my comfort zone in the process.

Weeks later, I sit writing to you alone in my new dorm room, at a new school, with new friends, and essentially, a new life. I don’t think I can say I was prepared for all of this. I mean, I knew it was coming, and I was okay with it. At least, as okay as a person can be under the circumstances and with the knowledge of the obvious challenges to come.

Here is what I have learned thus far.

Life isn’t like the ACT. There is no preparation for the hard parts, there are no direct answers to the problems, and there is no structured format to what it will be like. You simply just have to face it as it comes and learn as you go.

So, what is it like walking away? What does it take to break out of your comfort zone? How do you take the next step?

For me, it was all in the first step. It took everything in me to make that first step.

Change is hard, but it is only as hard as you make it. It is all in making that first step. Once you have, you get to decide whether you go from there or stay in the same place. You can be angered, confused, and saddened by all of the things that are changing, or you can embrace the beauty of the newness of everything in your life.

So that is what I did. The first step was taken which led me here. It isn’t easy, the phone calls have become more than many, the memories sometimes linger, but the adventures, the newness, the laughter, challenges, the constant ice cream, independence, new memories, the abounding love, the messiness of life—all of this makes it worth it.

All of the struggles that were put into this now ever-so-changing period of my life has opened my eyes and allows me to love the new life I have been blessed with. Over the past few weeks I have faced many changes that come along with my new life as a college student. With the difficulties change brings, I have caught a quick glimpse of how great this new life is going to be. I have learned all over again how to embrace new experiences with open arms, how great it is to welcome new people into my life, and most importantly how to love life even when it is different from the “normal” you are used to.

I know that we all face adversities in our life and we all have to deal with change as time goes on.

Nothing can prepare you for change, but how you candle the change is everything. So embrace it, look past the difficult parts and find the beauty in it. Just take the step, move forward, reach out of your comfort zone, and go for it. It won’t always be easy but change is a beautiful thing. It helps you learn and grow into the person you are called to become. Walk towards the unknown with a heart filled with optimism and a soul filled with trust. Take the leap, accepting that you do not know what will be on the other side, but trust it will all be okay.

By: Mariah Pellino

The Need for Student Media

For the Students, By the Students

The world is rapidly advancing in technology and in improving the ways of creating news media. The merging from print media to a unique hybrid of both print and digital media has highly influenced how we receive our news. We are lucky to live in a time where news media is so interactive, creative, and unique compared to the years of strict print media.

Clarke University has also been through many changes in the last few years. Including the discontinuation of the old student newspaper. Many students, faculty, and staff, including Allison and I, felt that student media at Clarke was still necessary and a missing part of the Clarke community. This absence of student media left the need for student’s voice, student culture, and student perspective.

The idea of The Crux was then created. From an idea, to discussion, to planning, to creation, and now to the launch of The Crux website. It is to be for the students, by the students, and will be a new and improved way of obtaining news in the Clarke community.

We want The Crux to become a place for Clarke students to express themselves and grow closer together through the sharing and reading of student content. We want to showcase what awesome things Clarke students are doing while encouraging them to grow their skills and talents. Of course, while the readers are learning about the cool things their classmates are doing, we would also love to encourage them to seek out the local, global, and campus news content that we provide.

We are aiming to provide the students with a source to find news that is important to them. Updates about our campus, information about changes in departments, and about events happening on campus and in the Dubuque community will be included in The Crux.

The Crux not only will be a place to inform, but to investigate and seek out the truth in all situations. We are a place of openness, seeing both sides to the story, and finding out the underlying meanings behind headlines. We welcome differing points of view and the student press is a place where we are all welcome to express our opinions. We highly encourage it here.

In this first edition of The Crux, we are still a work in progress. We look forward to an official launch in the Fall of 2017, but encourage each of you to look at the different stories we have, now. This edition focuses mainly on changes occurring on Clarke’s Campus, places to explore around Dubuque, and more. Feel free to leave us a comment, share our website, and spread the word about The Crux. This couldn’t be a successful site without your support, Clarke Pride.

Overall, we want this to be an open, expressive place for the Clarke Community to come together, learn, create, and support one another, and support the importance of student media in today’s world. This was made for you and we truly hope you enjoy it. Thank you.


The Crux Editors,

Allie Evans & Megan Kane



Millennials and News Consumption

Although Clarke students believe staying up to date with current events is important, the student body is generally apathetic about actively seeking out news. For Millennials, accessing news about current events, even during the current shift in our federal administration, remains easy. Newspapers, social media, and built-in phone apps all allow for immediate access to news outlets. Yet, Clarke students may not be taking advantage of their digital access to news and current events.

The reason why Clarke students are resistant to following the news may not be due to apathy – a common complaint about our generation. Instead, it may be because Clarkies are too busy with extracurricular activities. Of the Clarke student population, 40% of students are athletes. Being a student-athlete requires much time and dedication. It is possible that because of this time requirement student-athletes have less time to focus on outside events.

Some students feel as though academics also compete with their time to consume news. Bernadette Brehm and Taylor Prier are both seniors at Clarke majoring in Nursing. They are both active in the Clarke Association of Nursing Students (CANS), a student organization. Brehm stated that between completing coursework and participating in CANS they feel as though they are “weighed down with too much to seek out the news.”

Many students at Clarke claim they do not consume the news regularly, however, when asked how they get their news, they often suggest social media. When asked if she consumes the news, Rachel Summers, a Clarke freshman responded, “Nope, at home I do but not at college.” Summers is on Clarke’s volleyball team and majors in Physical Therapy. When she does consume the news, Summers states that she accesses it through Snapchat or Facebook.

The idea of being well informed but not actively pursuing all types of news is something with which Emma Mentley struggles. Mentley is the Assistant Director of Engagement and Intercultural Programs at Clarke University. Mentley feels bombarded by the news, especially when using social media. Most days she will “see a story on social media and then follow up with journalistic sites.” She chooses the news that she wishes to view. Mentley seeks out information relating to advocacy and schools. While she says that she is not well informed about world news, she understands its importance.

The idea that keeping up with current events and consuming news is important is common among other students at Clarke University. Of the 5 students interviewed at random for this story, all 5 replied that having knowledge of current events locally and internationally is extremely important. Yet, only 1 out of 5 students interviewed consistently sought out news sources. All of the students interviewed shared that they read news sources on social media, but generally only read the headlines. Most students are consuming news on social media without realizing they are news consumers. That said, because students are frequently only browsing headlines, they may often lack an in-depth understanding of current events or the news literacy skills to determine when a news source is reputable or not.

In 2016, Clarke Communication Professor and department chair, David Deifell conducted a survey of Clarke Students via e-mail.  69 students responded to the survey. Survey questions asked about student’s feelings regarding the idea of a student-run medium covering Clarke University news, as well as regional and national news. The respondents were in favor of adding a student media outlet.  Clarke students responded they received the majority of news from Facebook, word of mouth, in-class, Twitter, and Mary Ellen’s desk. When asked about students who do not actively consume news media, Dr. Deifell explained, “They were certainly interested in Clarke news and campus activities, but the next [most important topics] were sports, popular culture, and in similar amounts, the arts and movie/music reviews. They were less interested in politics. These were the folks who bothered to fill out the survey. In fact, only 50 of the original 69 even answered [the] question about what they’d be interested in. I would guess that this difference would be wider among those who didn’t respond.”

Clarke students are generally apathetic about actively seeking out the news. While they know it is important to consume the news on a regular basis, they are busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Their news consumption is not a top priority at this time in their lives.

While it appears as though Clarke students are apathetic about news consumption, many are consuming the news frequently on social media sties, perhaps without realizing it. Given this new digital behavior, it will be important for students to become more media literate as news continues to move to social, digital outlets.

-Sara Albertson