Welcome back to school, everybody. It’s an exciting time to be alive and you’re in college to experience it. What luck! So get involved. Join a club, get politically active or — and this is the big one — pick up a (print!) copy of the Aggie. Particularly for the opinion section.
Entering my fourth year on the opinion desk, I can say with complete objectivity that this quarter has the deepest bench of opinion columnists in at least that many years. The Aggie hired seven writers with voices that are uniquely their own. With an eye for both national and local trends, they are informed on their unique subjects, which range from study abroad to the role of comedy in social and political discourse. It’s an exciting time to be alive and these writers exemplify why.
As a note: Columnists alone do not determine the quality of an opinion section. That depends on editorials, cartoons, humor and, most importantly, guest opinions. We want to hear from you, the community, on issues that are personal to you and that you find important. We want letters. If the press is to remain an essential part of democracy, it requires the active participation of readers.
Here are your Fall Quarter Columnists:
Davis wouldn’t be Davis without a strong focus on agriculture. Alice Rocha, a third-year animal science major, will bring that focus to the Aggie with a column on sustainable animal agriculture and how it impacts the food system today. This paper ran a column last year on ethical consumption, which was partly concerned with the potential downsides of our eating habits. Rocha will expand upon those concerns, using her own experience working in a lab to inform her takes on some of the most pressing issues we need to start working through today, including how to feed nine billion people by 2050.
Michael Clogston will be the Aggie’s foreign correspondent this quarter. Writing from Sydney, Australia, he plans on redefining the study abroad column as something that can be used a tool for both students interested in travel and not. An Aggie veteran, Clogston previously wrote a column on the role of the superhero in modern society. He’s going to parlay that experience to effectively communicate what it means to be an American student abroad today.
There are few genres of art that can strike a nerve as profoundly as comedy at its best. That’s what Stella Sappington, a first-year undeclared student, hopes to examine in her column on the role that comedy plays in the current political and social climate. Students have notably tried to disinvite guest speakers like the sharp-tongued Bill Maher from campus for what they perceive as threatening speech. How to reconcile words that may be offensive with principles of free speech is among many topics Sappington hopes to address head on.
Finding the intersection between the sciences and the humanities has long been an aim of academics and professionals alike. Taryn DeOilers, a second-year comparative literature and political science double major, plans to interrogate how these two fields have inspired, challenged and uplifted one another — using examples as unlikely as Iceland’s perennial singer-songwriter Björk. At a time when it’s not enough to consider an issue through the lens of just one discipline, DeOilers’ column carries a special weight.
UC Davis is just about as liberal as college campuses come. It’s hard to find a single student who doesn’t stake their political beliefs somewhere left of center. We found one in Nick Irvin, a second-year international relations major, who plans to go against the grain here at Davis and offer moderate to conservative opinions on the matters most pressing to the campus and the country at large. From the fallout of Linda Katehi’s resignation as Chancellor to the rise of Trump, no topic will be off the table for Irvin.
Few contemporary problems strike a chord among college students like that of gun violence. Tamanna Ahluwalia, a second-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, wants to take a critical, nuanced approach to an issue which often sees flaming rhetoric dominating the conversation. She will consider the role this nation’s lack of gun control regulation plays in creating a culture of violence, misogyny and instant gratification. Her column is the latest to weigh in on a topic that requires more urgency since the gun-related tragedies in Sandy Hook, Dallas and Orlando.
Understanding that when minority groups are put at a disadvantage, we are all affected, third-year communications and psychology double major Jeanette Yue will be taking a hard look at issues affecting minorities today. From privilege to poverty, Yue hopes to show that issues affecting disadvantaged communities are not as black and white as often portrayed in the news and even in everyday discussion. Look for her column, titled “The Minority Report,” to bring otherwise ignored problems to light.