Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

When assessing main issues facing humanity, it is important to look at the global aspect these issues have on citizens of every country. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals do assess international concerns, however they are too optimistic. The Sustainable Development Goals were preceded by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which failed miserably. While it is suitable to have such goals for the international community, the goals should be tackled one at a time as opposed to placing them all on a large list.

Launched in 2000, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals include eight goals: eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development. The goals were set to expire in 2015, with the hopes of achievement for each one. While it is obvious the goals were not fully achieved, progress had been made. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Fund, “The MDGs were revolutionary in providing a common language to reach global agreement. The 8 goals were realistic and easy to communicate, with a clear measurement/ monitoring mechanism”( Though the written goals were not achieved, the goals provided a platform for interaction, and eventually agreement, within the international community.

As the deadline for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals approached, the international community realized they needed new goals with a new deadline. While the initial goals were centered around an idealistic view in favor of development as a right, the Sustainable Development Goals are centered around people, meaning they are supposed to be more comprehensive and more universal. The goals went from eight to seventeen. The goals are a more detailed version of the Millennium development Goals. They include the basics, such as ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and also try to foster new ideas such as ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, reduce inequality within and among countries, make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss, promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, and strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development ( The rather lengthy list of goals set out to focus on the importance of humanity as well as the planet. An articled titled 7 reasons the SDGs will be better than the MDGs published by The Guardian, states “The sustainable development goals are more globally collaborative than the millennium development goals” (Clarke). The same article cites David Hlume,  director of the Global Development Institute; he states:
The MDGs were largely determined by OECD countries and international donor agencies. The SDGs have been produced by detailed international negotiations that have involved middle-income and low-income countries. The SDGs are universal – they apply to all countries and actors. The SDGs are holistic – they cover poverty reduction and inequality, sustainability and economic growth with job creation (Hlume).
While it is easy to say that a longer set of goals is more internationally oriented, it does not mean they will be achieved. Both sets of goals are unrealistic and broad. According to the article Africa’s Supposed Failure to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a number of African countries would have had to develop at an unattainable rate of seven percent. The article also states that out of the 153 countries who set out to achieve the goal of eradicating poverty, seven were able to succeed with only two African countries on that list.

Though the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals focus on people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership, they are still too idealistic. Rather than setting a large list of goals for a fifteen-year period, goals should try to be achieved one at a time. This way, issues can be better solved due to extensive focus. While some might argue that there have been lessons learned from the MDG’s, the SDG’s will be just as disappointing, if not more.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Path to the Draft

Anticipation for the NFL is something every NCAA Football Player experiences. For some, the nervousness comes with more worry than excitement.

This year, the top 330 athletes were invited to showcase their skills for all 32 professional teams at annual NFL Scouting Combine. 335 invitations were extended to the nation’s top athletes, five of whom were USC seniors.

USC had 16 seniors on its football team, but only five were invited to the scouting combine. For the 11 others, showcasing their talents at the school’s annual Pro-Day was their shot at impressing NFL scouts. Among the 11 was senior wide receiver Isaac Whitney.

Whitney ran the fastest 40-yard dash and the second highest vertical and long jumps of all 16 seniors on the football team. The process, he said, is about where you end up and not where you start.

“It’s a crazy process because you don’t know where you’re gonna end up, but you just have to have this mindset,” said Whitney. “You have to be strong, keep pushing and be persistent because sometimes it doesn’t go your way.”

As a transfer from a local junior college, Whitney only had two years of college playing eligibility. In his career at USC, he has 19 catches for 212 yards with two TDs, many tackles and a fumble recovery.

“You gotta put all your effort in it. If they [the teams] want you, they’ll draft you,” said Whitney.

In 2015, Whitney appeared in USC’s first 5 games. He had 8 catches for 112 yards with 2 TDs. That same season, Whitney broke his collarbone and missed USC’s last 9 games. In the spring of 2016, Whitney proved he was a versatile athlete while picking up another sport, track and field. While he only competed once, he ran the second leg on USC’s 400-meter relay team that was second at the Pac-12 Championships.

“He did really well,” said director of football operations, Todd Hewitt. “He really just proved he’s got what it takes and I hope he makes it [on a team].”

While his performance at Pro-Day proved to be NFL worthy, Whitney still faces hesitation and uncertainty. He expressed his optimism by mentioning he had showcased all he had to offer and the rest was up to fate.

“I feel like I didn’t have to go to the combine to prove to the coaches I have what it takes,” said Whitney. “I feel like my performance at Pro-Day was enough. At the end of the day, you just can’t give up. You have to believe in yourself and believe in your training.”

USC starting offensive tackle Zach Banner had a lot to prove on his path to the draft. According to USC Athletics, Banner was USC’s biggest player. He also played basketball at USC earlier in his career. Banner started for his third straight season and is an All-American candidate.

As one of the five seniors invited to the scouting combine, Banner felt more prepared for Pro-Day. He said his weight was one of the main struggles while preparing for the draft

“One thing that I have learned that has ‘hurt my draft stock is my weight,” said Banner. “I let it fluctuate up and down throughout my college career. But at the same time, I’m glad I learned because I’m learning my body and I’m learning it now before it’s at a business level and I can be fired.”

One thing Banner emphasized is keeping your ego in ego in check, otherwise, he said, a player could make mistakes and lose an opportunity of a lifetime.

“It was a very humbling experience to get everything that I’ve gotten,” said Banner. “Show up humble, show up very appreciative of everything that you get because there are guys who don’t sign with agencies, there are some guys who don’t get sponsors by Nike like I have, and there’s people who don’t get invited to the combine.”

Banner had peace of mind on Pro-Day, knowing he had already impressed these scouts during the combine. His fellow teammate, however, did not have the same certainty. Though Whitney was not one of the five seniors representing USC at the NFL Combine his performance at USC’s Pro-Day proved his capabilities of handling football at the professional level.

The 82nd Annual NFL Draft is set to begin on April 27th and end on April 29th in Philadelphia. USC finished the season with a record of 10-, coming in 2nd in the PAC-12 South. With another Rose Bowl victory under its belt, USC Football is expected to perform exceptionally during the 2017 season.

Monday, April 10, 2017

OpEd: The Norms of Style for Muslim Women

Style can be defined as a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed. To each individual, style is something that is unique and self-expressive. But what happens when beliefs or ideals are part of your style? The growth of racism in the West has made it difficult for individuals to be entirely self-expressive. Certain faiths, such as Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism, have standards for modesty and covering of the body. In the 21st century, women and men of faith receive stares filled with xenophobia and uncertainty. But how are the stares different from those received by individuals with “out of the ordinary” styles such as colored hair?

For this particular piece, I will be elaborating on religious attire, particularly that of Muslim women. In light of recent world events, you could argue that some freedoms of self-expression have been limited in a self-censored type of way. From my own experience, I have seen Muslim women try and become more “trendy” by wearing their hijabs like bandanas or head wraps, exposing their necks and making them look less foreign. As a member of the Muslim community, this is obviously so upsetting to see.

Perhaps the most upsetting are the women who chose to remove their religious covering entirely. Why is it that we think this happened? And what can we do as a society to provide people of a safe space for all forms of self-expression? To start, we can educate ourselves and help those around us. Xenophobia is prominent, and at the root of it is ignorance. if you know the truth and understand where others come from, it leaves almost no room for discrimination.

As part of a sort of “Muslim acceptance movement”, a few higher end brands and designers have made Muslim collections. Here is the reasoning: in the Gulf Region, excessive spending isn’t uncommon. Women want to feel beautiful and want clothes and accessories to make them feel that way. The only issue they faced with these higher end brands and designers was modesty. It is customary for a Muslim woman to be covered. Usually, they wear abayas, which are long flowy dresses with sleeves that go down to the ankle. Accompanied with the abaya is a headscarf, which covers the neck and hair but shows the face, or a burqa, which covers everything but the eyes.

In 2016, Dolce and Gabbana made headlines by joining Oscar de la Renta and Tommy Hilfiger in the introduction of a Muslim collection. The line was received pretty well by Muslim women in the area, with some backlash in the Western parts of the world. In an article released by Cosmopolitan Magazine, five women were asked what they thought about the collection.

One woman expressed her appreciation and said: “To be honest, my appreciation for it is largely due to the implicit statement D&G made by releasing this line more so than
the fashions themselves. Don't get me wrong, I loved the line, but the fact that
they are catering to Muslim women and released it during a time where anti-Muslim sentiment pervades most public discourses had me sold in more ways
than one.”

With every fan comes a critic. One woman was less amused with the collection of clothing, relating it to a marketing ploy. She said: “It is interesting to look at from a social perspective, in that a bigger company has finally prioritized profit over excluding Muslim women from its market. But at the end of the day, what does a big brand appealing to Muslim clothing mean? For many it seems to infer the "inclusion" of Muslim women into Western culture, an acceptance of sorts, but what does it mean that Muslim women need to be recognized by a major fashion house in the first place? Does adding design and lace onto an abaya change what it fundamentally means? It seems like a shame that it takes this sort of thinking in order to convey "acceptance" and "tolerance" (and, of course, make a profit).”

Now some of you might be thinking “no one cares about what people wear,” but you are mistaken. People are constantly judged and looked down upon for appearances that are “not of the norm”. So I leave you with this question: will we be able to accept different styles that we’ve never seen before, or will we continue to judge and ostracize?