Rebranding Facebook

by Anna Augart-Welwood

News

November 23, 2021

Facebook is a popular social media platform that has grown and succeeded for almost two decades. The company recently initiated a rebranding and announced the company’s new name, Meta. The CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wants to add an element of augmented reality to his company. People will be able to do things such as playing games, seeing concerts, and attending work meetings, all through the use of virtual reality.

During Facebook Connect, the company’s virtual event, Zuckerberg said, “It is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything we do.” It’s possible, however, that Zuckerberg is employing a tactic many other business leaders use: altering the external appearance of a company to reposition their values in the eyes of users. Some believe that Zuckerberg initiated the rebranding of Facebook to distract people from the recent criticism of the platform; he introduced Meta without any significant change to the company. Another possible reason for the rebranding is that Facebook’s main demographic includes older people, and the platform is losing younger users to more popular apps, such as TikTok. If Facebook’s “metaverse” becomes popular among younger generations, it could fix their impending financial crisis from loss of users. This metaverse (a term originally coined by cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson in 1992) could also fix another problem currently facing the company, namely that Facebook’s mobile apps are dependent on Apple and Google, which limits the company’s ability to collect data about the mobile activity of its users. The metaverse could allow the company to obtain data from users who spend more time on Facebook-owned platforms.

Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, has spoken out about the unethical practices of the company. She studied how Facebook’s algorithm contributed to the spread of misinformation and told Congress that Facebook maximizes its growth instead of implementing safeguards on its platforms. Before leaving the company, Haugen copied thousands of pages of confidential information and published and shared them with lawmakers. One of the studies she leaked found that 13.5% of teenage girls from the United Kingdom experienced more frequent suicidal thoughts after using Instagram. Another study showed that 17% of teenage girls said their eating disorders got worse after using the platform, and about 32% of teenage girls reported feeling worse about their bodies after using Instagram. Haugen told Congress, “During my time at Facebook, I came to realize a devastating truth: almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook. The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the US government, and from governments around the world.” Haugen’s legal team stated that Facebook executives misrepresented information about the capacity of Facebook and Instagram to cause harm to its uninformed users. Moreover, Haugen’s attorneys accused Facebook of violating US security laws by lying to investors. They have also filed eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding Facebook’s public statements on what they knew about how the organizers of the January 6 Capitol riot used their platform.

Considering that BUA students are teenagers and many use Instagram, we should be careful, informed, and educated about the types of content we allow to impact us. BUA students are among the age groups most affected by toxic content on Instagram, and this issue could continue to prevail if Zuckerberg’s metaverse distracts people enough from their harmful practices. The rebranding may be merely an attempt to shift the objective of the company and a method of escape from the exposure of their dark secrets and possible financial demise.


Allyn, Bobby. “Here are 4 key points from the Facebook whistleblower’s testimony on Capitol Hill.” NPR, October 5, 2021.
https://www.npr.org/2021/10/05/1043377310/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen-congress.

Lee Yohn, Denise. “Facebook’s Rebrand Has a Fundamental Problem.” Harvard Business Review, November 2, 2021.
https://hbr.org/2021/11/facebooks-rebrand-has-a-fundamental-problem.

Roose, Kevin. “The Metaverse is Mark Zuckerberg’s Escape Hatch.” The New York Times, October 29, 2021.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/29/technology/meta-facebook-zuckerberg.html.

US Relations With Afghanistan: What Happened?

by Therese Askarbek

News

October 30, 2021

On August 30, 2021, the last of the US troops departed from Kabul International Airport, marking the end of the twenty-year “War on Terror” between the US and Afghanistan. After the peace deal between former President Trump and the Taliban in February 2020, President Biden finally decided to pull the American troops out. In a press conference days after, he explained the motives behind his decision, saying that: “After twenty years I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces…We gave [the Afghans] every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future.” Biden’s hasty move, criticized by many journalists and politicians, left the citizens of Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban, who rapidly took over the country after the removal of American troops. The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic militia, are committing the same abuses they have been committing for decades. They are known for their harsh punishments, from chopping the hands off convicted thieves, to floggings for adultery, to even public executions for convicted murderers. Women especially have been targeted and repressed by the Taliban. They have been forcibly married, not allowed out of the house without a male escort, denied the right to an education, and forced to wear a hijab. The list goes on. The future of Afghanistan, now that the US has cut off military and most monetary support, is being disputed among many, but as of now, it is clear that a humanitarian rights crisis is unfolding. To truly understand why this crisis is unfolding and what the US has to do with it, it is necessary to know the history of Afghanistan, and more specifically, our history with Afghanistan.  

In the mid-nineteenth century, Afghanistan was caught in a power dispute known as “The Great Game” between Britain and Russia. Britain suffered a defeat in its first war with Afghanistan in 1842 but eventually gained much of Afghanistan’s territory by the 1860s. Britain gained control over the Afghan rulers and gave subsidies and weapons to them until 1921, when Afghanistan regained its political control. It is important to note that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, what we know as the modern state of Afghanistan was conceived. That can be attributed to Abdur Rahman Khan, the emir of Afghanistan, who created a centralized government and bureaucracy through tactics such as brutal internal wars, forced mass migrations, and economic incentives. He built a state where Pashtuns, the current largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, had authority, and where the only interpretation of Islam allowed was Sunni Islam. He passed his power to his son, Habib Allah, who began to establish more progressive policies. But generally, the monarchy remained more or less the same. 

In contrast to Khan’s conservatism, the vision of Afghanistan as a “multinational state with a progressive outlook on science and technology” found an advocate in an important Afghan figure, Mahmud Tarzi, who was previously exiled and brought back in the 1930s. Tarzi’s lifelong goal was to modernize the country within inclusive and progressive Islam. The failure of his reforms is largely attributed to British policies, although the largely illiterate and rural masses and the conservative elite and clergy are acknowledged as major contributors as well. The importance of Tarzi’s ideals and actions with his group of supporters is that they provide somewhat of a precedent for possible future progressivism in Afghanistan. To acknowledge the efforts of Afghans, hindered by world powers throughout their history to reform their ideals and policies, is to deconstruct the misconceptions we may have about Islam in the Middle East, and to reflect on the culpability of foreign occupations and interventions. 

The monarchical system in Afghanistan remained until the 1970s, during which time Mohammed Dauod Khan, attempted to modernize Afghanistan. Khan became the first president of Afghanistan. The USSR and the US were both trying to become involved with Afghanistan through building infrastructures and agriculture which funneled money to both superpowers during the 1950s and 1960s. Soviet imperialism over Afghanistan and the USSR’s invasion in the 1970s caused a lot of political unrest, in which Afghan guerrillas gained control of rural areas, and Soviet troops held urban areas. In 1978, Khan was overthrown by the PDPA, a Marxist-Leninist party, and the US began to fund and train anti-communist groups, the mujahideen. The US made a major misstep in supporting extremely reactionary groups without truly understanding how to deal with the conflict. They brought in Arab mujahideen from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who went on to form Al-Qaeda. Throughout this conflict, the US funded Pakistan, who, if indirectly, funded the foreign fighters allied with the mujahideen. In the 1980s, the Soviet puppet government was toppled, and in 1989, the Geneva Peace Accords were signed, stating that all Soviet troops were to leave Afghanistan. Both the US and the USSR mostly pulled out and stopped their funding to Afghanistan, and the country fell into chaos, with rival Afghan groups fighting for power. The US completely withdrew from the fighters it had trained and supported, similar to what has happened recently, and the resulting civil war led to the birth of the Taliban.  

In the 1990s, former mujahideen, many of whom were students disillusioned with the results of their victory, created a group called the Taliban, which took advantage of the war-torn state of Afghanistan and the weariness of its citizens by promising peace. They took over Kandahar first in 1994, and eventually the entire country. During this time, a new “Great Game,” a name revived by some journalists, arose. The West had a sudden strong interest in the Central Asia region because of its oil resources. A large American oil company, Unocal, had negotiated with the Taliban to create an oil pipeline running from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The Bush administration ignored the United Nation sanctions against the Taliban, and Unocal began the process of making the pipeline. The US wasn’t very interested in the atrocities being committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban until the attacks of September 11, 2001. The US, hoping to gain security of the pipelines through the Taliban, allowed Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to support the Taliban and had not condemned them until the War on Terror. In fact, one of the early foreign mujaheed fighters funded and trained by the US was Osama bin Laden, who created the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

The Northern Alliance, an Afghan group who arose during the instability of the 1990s, backed by the US government, overthrew the Taliban in 2001. The US spent over five trillion dollars in the war with Afghanistan, and because they had little idea about how to instate a democratic government, most of the money fell into the hands of corrupt people, such as warlords. Now, the US has frozen the monetary assets in Afghanistan so as not to let it fall into the wrong hands. 

Throughout the US’ “War on Terror,” a main criticism has been their constant bombings, or at least lack of precision in their drone attacks. Starting in 1998, after suspecting that Bin Laden had been responsible for the attack in the East African US Embassy, the US sent about seventy cruise missiles to three suspected training camps, and ended up killing twenty-four people. Although Osama bin Laden was not killed, a nightwatchman was. The justification for the bombings has been called questionable. This pattern of bombings, drone strikes, and violence committed by the US continued for the next twenty years. In 2012, for instance, President Hamid Karzai called for American forces to leave Afghan villages and pull back to their bases after a US soldier killed sixteen Afghan civilians inside their homes. Though President Biden has withdrawn US troops and said that he will uphold the peace treaty, he is still planning to use the Air Force to “degrade the terrorists,” which can be inferred to mean drone warfare. 

Currently, aside from sending money directly through humanitarian aid groups, the means taken by the Biden administration are considered by many to be ineffective in safely helping Afghan refugees seek asylum here. Afghan refugees are allowed to come to America, but only on their own without the help of the US. This poses a problem, as they cannot safely get through Kabul Airport, which is now under Taliban control, and many do not have access to the internet. “The United States owes a unique duty to the people of Afghanistan given not only the events of the last year, but the last few decades in the region,” said Wogai Mohmand, an attorney for the Afghan Network for Advocacy and Resources Project. “The least our government can do is act in good faith in responding to this community-led effort to provide critical support to Afghans.” Many are hoping that the proposals and policies in the works to aid refugees will be approved by the government and that as many Afghans as possible can find refuge. 

From the Nixon administration, to Reagan, to Bush, to the Biden administration, and more, there have been many instances of unwanted foreign intervention, careless slip-ups, and unnecessary violence on the part of the US. Now, as the future of Afghanistan and Afghans is so uncertain, it is important for us to reflect on our past mistakes so that we do not make them again. Effort on our part is vital. From listening to and supporting Afghan activists and journalists, to actively spreading awareness, to donating to relief organizations, to making sure the government does its part, there are many ways for us to help make Tarzi’s progressive visions a reality.


“A Brief History of Afghanistan.” New Internationalist, November 2, 2008. 
https://newint.org/features/2008/11/01/afghanistan-history.

“Backgrounder on Afghanistan: History of the War.” Human Rights Watch.
https://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/asia/afghan-bck1023.pdf.

Block, Hannah. “A Look At Afghanistan’s 40 Years Of Crisis — From The Soviet War To Taliban Recapture.” NPR, August 13, 2021. 
https://www.npr.org/2021/08/19/1028472005/afghanistan-conflict-timeline.

Brechenmacher, Saskia. “Afghanistan Under the Taliban.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 18, 2021. 
https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/08/18/afghanistan-under-taliban-pub-85168.

Ching, Nike. “Blinken: US Will Not Lift Sanctions, Will Ensure Aid to Afghans.” VOA, September 14, 2021.
https://www.voanews.com/a/6227349.html.

de Groot, Kristen. “Afghanistan’s future after the U.S. withdrawal.” Penn Today, September 16, 2021.
https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/afghanistans-future-after-us-withdrawal.

Franck, Thomas. “U.S. won’t let Taliban access Afghanistan’s financial assets held in America.” CNBC, August 18, 2021. 
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/18/us-wont-let-taliban-access-afghanistans-financial-assets-held-in-america.html.

Gammage, Jeff. “Groups say Biden administration not helping their effort to get endangered Afghans out of Afghanistan.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, October 21, 2021.
https://www.inquirer.com/news/afghanistan-evacuees-anar-citizenship-biden-20211021.html.

Lee, Matthew and Tucker, Erik. “Was Biden handcuffed by Trump’s Taliban deal in Doha?” AP News, August 19, 2021. 
https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-middle-east-taliban-doha-e6f48507848aef2ee849154604aa11be.

News Desk, “A Historical Timeline of Afghanistan.” PBS News Hour, August 30, 2021. 
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/asia-jan-june11-timeline-afghanistan.

Stewart, Emily. “The history of US intervention in Afghanistan, from the Cold War to 9/11.” Vox, August 21, 2021. 
https://www.vox.com/world/22634008/us-troops-afghanistan-cold-war-bush-bin-laden.

Synovitz, Ron. “Public Executions, Floggings ‘Inevitable’ Under Taliban Court Rulings, Says Scholar.” Ganhara, September 8, 2021. 
https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/taliban-courts-public-executions/31449392.html.

Tarzi, Amin. “Transformative politics in 20th century Afghanistan: Lessons for today.” Conciliation Resources, June 2018.
https://www.c-r.org/accord/afghanistan/transformative-politics-20th-century-afghanistan-lessons-today.

The Associated Press, “Taliban Official Says Strict Punishment And Executions Will Return.” NPR, September 24, 2021.
https://www.npr.org/2021/09/24/1040339286/taliban-official-says-strict-punishment-and-executions-will-return.

Thomas, K.T. “The Economic Roots of US Intervention in Afghanistan.” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 68, no. 2 (2007): 1215-1224.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/44145636.

Wilkie, Christina and Macias, Amanda. “Biden says Afghanistan war was a lost cause, vows to continue aid and diplomacy.” CNBC, August 16, 2021.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/16/biden-will-give-a-speech-on-the-afghanistan-collapse-monday-afternoon-white-house-says.html.

Zill, Oriana. “The Controversial U.S. Retaliatory Missile Strikes.” PBS Frontline
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/bombings/retaliation.html.

Zucchino, David. “The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended.” The New York Times, October 7, 2021.  https://www.nytimes.com/article/afghanistan-war-us.html.

Interviews With the Class of 2021

by Ibukun Owolabi

News

May 31, 2021

One of the saddest parts of the school year is watching the seniors depart for college. Older brothers and sisters to many, the seniors are role models to all students in grades below them. Below are two interviews with seniors Benista Owusu-Amo and Rohan Prabhu in which they reflect on their time at BUA.

Benista was the treasurer of Student Council during her senior year, a member of the basketball team, a peer tutor, and a musician in Swamp Cats. Benista will be attending Harvard University in the fall. Rohan was a member of the basketball team, the soccer team, Futsal Club, and Math Team. Rohan will be attending Northeastern University in the fall. 

What stands out to you about your time at BUA?

Benista: The atmosphere of academia is something that is special at BUA. Students are genuinely interested in learning, and the faculty match that energy. And while there is this academic atmosphere, students are interested in so many other things, like music, drawing, and sports. BUA students have made my experience special because of the loving environment and how passionate students are. 

Rohan: What stands out to me the most about BUA is the experience I gained from being able to take BU classes in high school. I feel way more comfortable going into college [having done this] than if I had not done this.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a student at BUA?

Benista: Explore everything that you can. BUA, BU, and Boston have so much to offer in terms of classes, labs, events, and experiences, and I would encourage any student at BUA to make the most out of the time they have there. 

Rohan: One piece of advice I would give to a student is that you should always hold yourself to the highest standard. No one can keep you accountable more than yourself, and once you start putting in the work, the results will show.

Who is your favorite BUA teacher?

Benista: It’s really hard for me to pick a teacher that I like more than others because I’ve had so many great experiences with teachers that are unique to each of them. I will say that Dr. Proll is one of my favorites because I know her the best, and she has also been my advisor for two years. 

Rohan: My favorite BUA teacher would definitely have to be Dr. Formichelli. I have learned so much about writing and the world under her, most notably in her senior seminars Politics and Language and BLM Autobiographies.

What is your favorite BUA class?

Benista: Chemistry with Ms. Perrone was one of my favorites. I love chemistry in general and I thought that the structure of the class was fun. Tenth grade English with Dr. Proll was also great, and I discovered one of my favorite books of all time in that class! (It’s Frankenstein, by the way.)

How have your junior and senior years been affected by the pandemic?

Benista: The switch to remote learning and remote events was a large change, but I think that it was also an opportunity for me to reflect on and refocus myself. I picked up some new hobbies and also spent more time with my friends. Remote learning initially made it hard to get to see the seniors, but now with more in-person events, it has gotten much better.

Rohan: The pandemic has led to me becoming increasingly interested in medicine and epidemiology in particular. I have also started doing a lot more programming, since there are many internships open to high schoolers looking to become data scientists.

What are you looking forward to in college?

Benista: I’m looking forward to meeting professors and students from around the world who are interested in a variety of topics. I am also excited to explore interesting classes and eventually pinpoint what I not only enjoy, but could also use to best contribute to society.

Rohan: I’m looking forward to meeting new people and creating lifelong memories, just like in high school.

How do you imagine yourself using what you’ve learned at BUA in the future?

Benista: BUA taught me how to be a productive student and how to prioritize and manage my time. BUA also helped me with problem-solving and collaborative skills. All of these skills can definitely be applied to my college life and beyond.

Rohan: I imagine using what I’ve learned at BUA to get good grades in college.


Say your goodbyes to the seniors while you can. They may be leaving BUA, but they will never leave our BUA family. Good luck to the Class of 2021!

Classics Declamation Contest: Interviews With Declaimers and Dr. Alonge

by Ibukun Owolabi

News

April 25, 2021

While society becomes more modern every day, BUA has made classical studies a crucial part of the curriculum. All BUA students graduate with a rich knowledge of either Latin or Greek and ancient history. One of BUA’s proudest traditions is the Classics Declamation Contest, an annual contest in which contestants recite and act out a Latin or Greek passage.

The contest invites an international panel of three judges this year: classics professors Laura Gawlinski from Loyola University Chicago, Donald Lavigne from Texas Tech University, and Jack Mitchell from Dalhousie University. One of the greatest prizes BUA has to offer is the glory that comes with being the best declaimer at the school. BUA will also give the winner a book of their choice.

Before contestants declaim their passages, Dr. Alonge, a classics and history instructor and the host of the contest, will give some background information about each passage. The declaimers will recite their passages in chronological order; that is, beginning with the earliest Greek author and ending with the latest Latin author. After all have performed, the judges will pick a Latin and a Greek winner.

The contest will be held in a hybrid format this year: students and teachers are welcome to watch the declamations in person or via Zoom. In previous years, the entire BUA community attended the contest at an All-School Meeting. Dr. Alonge hopes that this year’s small in-person audience in the Black Box theater will have as much energy as an audience during a pre-coronavirus year.

The following are interviews with two declaimers and Dr. Alonge.

Madison Ho ‘24, Latin Declaimer

What passage are you reciting?

I am reciting an impromptu speech by Queen Elizabeth I in response to a disrespectful Polish ambassador.

Why did you choose the passage?

I chose to declaim this speech because I thought it was such an amazing comeback that demonstrated both the Queen’s oratorical skill and her no-nonsense policy towards the out-of-line ambassador.

Are you nervous at all? How have you been preparing for the contest?

Of course I’m nervous because I want to do the passage justice, but I also feel ready through practicing in front of my friends and teachers.

Jasper Millstein ‘24, Greek Declaimer

What passage are you reciting?

I’m doing a monologue from Antigone by Sophocles.

Why did you choose the passage?

I enjoyed reading the book in English during the fall semester, and I felt like this particular piece can be performed well and easily dramatized.

Are you nervous at all?

I don’t think I’m nervous. I’m looking forward to being able to recite it in person and hear everyone else’s passages too.

How have you been preparing for the contest?

I started by doing a full scansion of the passage in order to understand the meter, and since then I have been trying to memorize a few lines per day so that it’ll become fully ingrained in my memory.

Dr. Alonge, Host and Judge

How does it feel to have the contest virtual?

First of all, it won’t be entirely virtual. It will be like a hybrid class, essentially. The participants will perform in the Black Box Theater in front of a small in-person audience, and everyone else will be on Zoom watching via a camera. But some contestants who are remote students will be on Zoom, too. The logistics will be a little complicated, which goes with the territory of a hybrid format, but I wanted the declaimers to have the immediacy of an in-person audience — that’s something that last year’s participants said they really missed by doing their declamations by recording, especially those who had done it before when the whole school was in the GSU auditorium.

How are you helping students, whether it be with their recitals or their nerves?

I, along with Drs. Jewell and Larash, help students select their passages and provide them copies of the text and, if they choose something poetic, we help them learn the meter of their passage. I advise the students on memorization and delivery by sending helpful tips as well as advice about pacing their progress. As we get near the contest, I have every student do a run-through of their declamation for me, so I can give them any last-minute pointers (and so I know they’re ready). 

Nerves? Yeah, I always say I would never have participated in the Declamation Contest when I was in high school because of stage fright, so I can sympathize with their nerves. One of the best ways to deal with nerves is just to be really, really prepared (the same goes for tests, by the way). Another thing I stress is the importance of practicing and rehearsing in front of other people. If you’ve only practiced in your room or in front of the mirror to yourself, doing it for a crowd will have a very different feel, which can make people anxious. I also remind them that everyone in the audience is on their side and pulling for them. It’s a whole crowd of cheerleaders, and the atmosphere is always very supportive. That’s one of the things that makes it such a quintessential BUA moment. 

What will the judging of the contest be based on?

 Judging is based on accuracy, first and foremost: did you say all the words in the right order, and if poetry, in the right meter? But the judges’ decision comes down to delivery. Is there the right tone or feeling? Are important words emphasized to communicate the sense of the passage? Gestures are allowed, to reinforce the words, but no props. Again, there is one Latin winner and one Greek winner selected, but the decision is often really, really hard, because everybody does a great job. 

I will definitely be in the Black Box theater at 3:30 on Monday, April 26. Grab your popcorn and enjoy a wonderful day of Greek and Latin. Valete and χαίρετε!

The Classics Declamation Contest will be held at 3:30 on Monday, April 26. Limited in-person seating is available; if interested, please contact Dr. Alonge. A Zoom link for the contest can be found in an email from Dr. Alonge.

Dr. Horn and Ms. Brewster Reflect on Their Time at BUA

by Aparna Deokar

News

March 29, 2021

At the end of this school year, Dr. Horn, BUA’s American History teacher, and Dr. Harvey, BUA’s American Literature teacher, are retiring, and Ms. Brewster, Director of Operations and Finance, is leaving BUA for a startup. In the following interviews, Dr. Horn and Ms. Brewster reflect on their time at BUA.

What do you enjoy most about BUA?

Dr. Horn: I think what I enjoy most about BUA is that if you could really throw an intellectual red meat in front of the students, they would go at it. What I found over my long teaching career is that there’s a huge difference at every level between the people who really do the work and come prepared, and the people who don’t, and that first group is rarer than you might think. It’s probably, even in a place like Princeton, ten to twenty percent of the students in a given course. Generally, people take a course because of requirements, or because they want an easy course, and when you come to have a discussion with the class, only about three or four people really have much to say because they’re the only ones who’ve done the work. But at BUA, that has never been the case. Though not everybody does all the work all the time, most of the students do the work most of the time, and that’s the only place I’ve ever been where that’s the case, including places like Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, the College of New Jersey, the Brooks School, the Rivers School, and Phillips Academy. This is where that happens, and they do it with so much passion, enthusiasm, and joy, without the expected stress.

Ms. Brewster: I love getting a chance to work with students, especially being able to support students who have ideas. I also love the families I get to work with, who trust myself and all my coworkers with their students because the families are so kind, and the kids are so kind too. It’s also really exciting that we get to be part of Boston University too. We’re not really just a special small school, but a special small school that’s part of something really huge. And there’s amazing resources at BU that I’m going to really miss.

What do you enjoy about teaching? 

Dr. Horn: History is the field I’ve always loved because it’s so flexible and interesting. It really is an approach, rather than a subject, in looking at things organically rather than how they grew and changed. I particularly have always thought of history as the introduction to the liberal arts and to other fields. You can do the history of science or intellectual history, which, as the history of ideas and thinkers, is my favorite branch. I found it tremendous in college because I ran into so many thinkers and ideas I never would have in any other field. So for me, encountering the pragmatist philosophers William James, Charles Peirce, and John Dewey was a life-altering experience because I studied them for many years. I haven’t done much with that particular field at BUA because [tenth-grade history] is just a survey. But even in the “just a survey,” we read a whole day of debates from the Lincoln-Douglas debates. We get involved in discussions of Americans’ dedication to war and how it upsets democracy by reading the essays of Randolph Bourne. We get into ideas and thinking, and some of those ideas get into people’s heads and change their whole lives.

What do you enjoy about being the Director of Operations and Finance?

Ms. Brewster: I love that I get to learn about what the university is doing and the resources that it has and finding how BUA students can benefit from them. I use those opportunities and leverage those resources, so those are some of the things I love about my job because I get to be strategic and creative about the types of programs we might be able to offer. Though a lot of what I do is logistical and could be boring, it’s not because it’s in a school setting and I put the students and families at the center of what I do, and it’s all about trying to make their experience better.

What does being a teacher mean to you?

Dr. Horn: I never thought I was going to be a teacher. I never intended to be a teacher. I always hated school, at least until high school, and then I began to like it because we got into it and started reading interesting stuff. But now, I’ve had colleagues who say that they love interacting with students. I always tell my students, “I don’t love you at all” because first, it’s creepy, and second, I think it’s a little narcissistic to say that you love working with students and their attention, since it focuses on you rather than the subject matter. Instead, I come to love teaching when I and a student are talking about a third thing of intellectual interest and intensity, and that third thing is the subject. 

What was a memorable teaching moment of yours?

Dr. Horn: There are a lot, but there’s one I sometimes cite. Years ago, I had a freshman history class, and at that time we were reading some Socratic dialogues. I had assigned a paper that I first wanted us to talk about in class to get people’s juices running, and the topic was, “Would you or would you not like to have Socrates as a dinner guest?” I figured some people would say, “That would be great, with those wonderful conversations,” and others would say, “He’s a pain, and he’s always talking people into impossible situations.” Then suddenly I realized that there seemed to be a serious shouting match going on between these two girls. One was from India, and the other was a classic Irish Catholic Bostonian, but they weren’t arguing because of an East vs. West argument or anything like that. One thought Socrates was great, and the other thought he was just a pain in the neck. But anyway, the argument ended in a hilarious moment where one girl said, “Don’t say that of him, he’s so hottie!” and the other girl [became] dumbfounded. The room erupted in laughter, and that’s why it was so great, because you couldn’t have planned that. Two people were having this terrific argument, really getting into it, but going up against a worthy opponent. It didn’t matter who won because they had a grand time.

Has BUA changed you?

Dr. Horn: I think it has, but it’s hard for me to say. Sometimes it gets me really angry because some of us tried so hard for so long to make changes we thought would help, and so many different people came through into the place with more power than we had and said no or had their own ideas. But that is the complaint of old people anywhere. I also think I became a better listener and became better at working people around different plans. I’m a loose cannon, always have been, so I say things that provoke others, and I have a foul mouth. I grew up on the working class side of Cambridge, and I use all of that when I teach. People get offended, and recently I have found the emphasis on trigger words and microaggressions to be really tiresome, though I’ve become better at this. 

Ms. Brewster: BUA has changed, and it’s changed me with it. The types of students that come to BUA [now] are very similar to the kids that came to BUA fifteen years ago, when I started, in terms of qualities like their curiosity. But I think we’re able to do more and expand to more parts of the university in terms of partnerships [now]. And we’ve grown a little bit, though BUA is still a really small school. This has enabled us to have more robust clubs and activities, and I think in that way the school has really matured, just thinking about how clubs like Student Council are so involved in the student experience. Even with Zoom now, we’ve been able to try and expand more opportunities for students and families who live really far away, and I hope that’ll continue.

What do you leave behind at BUA?

Dr. Horn: That’s a tough question, because we all think we leave behind more than we do, and in a place like BUA, memory is only about four years old. As soon as there are enough students in BUA who have never encountered me, nobody will know who the hell I am! Some of the faculty will, and I have some very good friends in faculty here at BUA, so I’ll be leaving it up to them. But if there’s anything I have left in this school, it’s the fact that BUA is here at all. There were some very rocky times, early on, when some of us took some big risks. I also think I contributed to the atmosphere of the school, and though you can change and destroy it, it’s hard to, and it was even harder to build up over time that this is a serious place where everybody is having fun. There’s no difference in our minds between working and having fun with joyful inquiry.

Ms. Brewster: I leave behind a lot of great partnerships that I manage at BU and a lot of folks who really see themselves as partners at BUA who, before my role was created, operated very separately (although we do need to operate separately in some cases because we have different-aged students). I leave behind a lot of relationships that I hope will be sustained, with the families and students who receive financial aid, in addition to some of the more logistical pieces of my job, and I’ll be sad to leave those. I also love getting emails from people asking for help, and I get to help them, and that’s a fun part of my job. But I know that there’s lots of other people at BUA who like helping people, and it feels good to know I’m leaving behind a team who’s just as committed as I am to making sure that students and families have a good experience.

What are you looking forward to in your next chapter?

Dr. Horn: It’s a little scary. I want to be able to read as much as I want because teaching is exhausting, and you spend many hours grading papers and also preparing for what comes next. So I definitely want to read, but I’m worried I won’t know what to do with it, and I want to be able to write some stuff. I also have some speeches I gave to the Academy over the years, and I want to see if I can dig them up and turn them into a little pamphlet, since it’s just nice to have something you worked on show up in print somewhere. I also have never traveled all over the United States by car, and one of the first things I want to do when I’m “out” is to get into the car with some camping gear and travel places, having vacation during September and October when the weather is great and the leaves are turning colors and there’s nobody on the road. It just seems great to me. I’m older than I’d like and heavier than I’d like, so I have to do a lot of walking and biking to get myself in shape. Besides that, I’ve been playing [timpani] in the orchestra for many, many years, and I’d like to continue, if I can still move all the drums around. It’s all wide open to me, and though it’s kind of scary, it’s time to do it. I could have taught a few more years, I suppose, but I was getting mentally and physically tired.

Ms. Brewster: I’m looking forward to the creativity of my new role and to challenging myself and to working with a new team to build software for schools. I’m also excited to have a little more time to be with my family because there’s more flexibility in my new job than at BUA. I know I’m going to really miss BUA!

Immigration Reform: The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

by Matthew Volfson

News

March 29, 2021

The United States Citizenship Act of 2021, sent to Congress by President Biden on January 20, 2021, attempts to make the U.S. immigration system easier for undocumented immigrants and immigrants generally. The legislation would give undocumented immigrants living in the United States a pathway to citizenship. It would also allow immigrants fleeing from natural disaster to be able to apply for and gain temporary green card visas to enter the United States. And the legislation would attempt to emphasize the United States’ commitment to immigration by raising the country’s immigration quotas and levelling the application field for entering the United States so that it is not biased against or in favor of any immigrant group. 

There are approximately 14.5 million undocumented immigrants within the United States. Experts say that it is difficult, if not impossible, to compute an exact number for the net cost of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. because of a lack of data on the undocumented population in America. Biden’s legislation would give all these immigrants the opportunity to “apply for temporary legal status… with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes.” The legislation could also allow immigrants from areas such as the Maldives, currently only four feet and eleven inches above sea level, to come to the United States in the future in case flooding becomes catastrophic. It could encourage more individuals from war-torn countries such as Somalia or dictatorships such as Venezuela seeking a better life to come to the United States. 

This legislation has already passed the House of Representatives because the Democrats have the majority there — the vote was largely based on party lines. The legislation’s passage through the Senate is less certain because the Senate filibuster would require a supermajority, or two thirds of the Senate, to shut down the protest against the bill. The Republican Party showed its opposition to the legislation in the House: only nine Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Senate Republicans are likely to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who believes the legislation would “exacerbate problems at the border.”

Many BUA students are the children of immigrants; then, it comes as no surprise that BUA students are interested in immigration. BUA students seem to have a positive reaction to Biden’s legislation. Rohan Biju ‘23, a BUA sophomore and immigrant from India, believes that “everyone [should deserve] an equal chance at trying to come to the U.S. Of course, a person’s chance of coming to the U.S. shouldn’t be based on their country’s population or something else.” He believes that undocumented immigrants “[shouldn’t] get deported back immediately.”

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would attempt to stem any budgetary losses by the United States and clear any possible backlog of immigration cases because of an increase in undocumented immigrants. The legislation would essentially aim to regulate the immigration flow of undocumented immigrants by giving them an easier opportunity to come into the country. The same would go for regular immigration: the legislation would seek to increase the number of regular immigrants and make sure the applicants for citizenship are on a level playing field.


“Fact Sheet: President Biden Sends Immigration Bill to Congress as Part of His Commitment to Modernize our Immigration System.” The White House, January 20, 2021.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/fact-sheet-president-biden-sends-immigration-bill-to-congress-as-part-of-his-commitment-to-modernize-our-immigration-system/.

Higgins, Tucker. “House passes two immigration bills that would establish path to citizenship for millions.” CNBC, March 18, 2021.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/18/house-passes-dream-and-promise-act-setting-up-path-to-citizenship.html.

Monroe, Annalee. “Does illegal immigration cost the U.S. more than $200 billion a year, as Trump claims?” The Arizona Republic, January 27, 2019.
https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/fact-check/2019/01/27/donald-trump-how-much-does-illegal-immigration-cost-united-states/2540512002/.

Singh, Maanvi. “US House passes bill that would give Dreamers a path to citizenship.” The Guardian, March 18, 2021.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/18/us-house-immigration-bill-dreamers-citizenship.

“The Maldives — The Land of Sun, Sea, and Sand.” The Maldives Expert, April 26, 2018.
https://www.themaldivesexpert.com/1594/the-maldives-the-land-of-sun-sea-and-sand/#:~:text=Lying%20between%20latitudes%201%C2%B0S%20and%208%C2%B0N%2C%20and%20longitudes,10%20inches%2C%20making%20it%20the%20world%E2%80%99s%20lowest%20country.

“The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.” Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, February 18, 2021.
https://lindasanchez.house.gov/uscitizenshipact.

“U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 Bill Summary.” National Immigration Forum, February 24, 2021.
https://immigrationforum.org/article/u-s-citizenship-act-of-2021-bill-summary/.

“US Immigration: House Passes Immigration Bill Giving Dreamers a Path to Citizenship.” Immigration and Migration UK, March 22, 2021.
https://immigrationandmigration.com/us-immigration-house-passes-immigration-bill-giving-dreamers-a-path-to-citizenship/.

Wolf, Zachary B. “What’s a filibuster? Democrats may finally ax a relic of our racist past.” CNN, March 20, 2021.
https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/20/politics/what-is-a-filibuster/index.html.

Taking the Market Back, Stock by Stock

by Christian Asdourian

News

February 22, 2021

Wall Street was recently taken by storm when a group of Redditors skyrocketed the stock value of the retail store Gamestop.

In January 2021, a group of everyday people from a community forum called “r/wallstreetbets” on the popular website Reddit took it upon themselves to help alleviate the financial stress placed on GameStop. Their actions were a response to the tactics used by professional Wall Street investors who were planning on profiting from the decline of GameStop’s stock value. If you’ve seen the movie The Big Short, you’ve probably heard of the term “short selling” and may or may not have pretended to understand what it means. In essence, short selling is when investors sell stocks from a company with the knowledge that their value is going to decrease. They can then buy back the stocks cheaper and keep the difference as profit. When Redditors such as u/DeepF-Value and u/Stonksflyingup realized that GameStop was being heavily shorted, they began encouraging private retail investors, or individual, “little-guy” investors, to purchase GameStop stock. Before long, the cost per share of stock shot up to a whopping $483 at its peak from a measly $17 earlier in January. 

Melvin Capital, one of the hedge funds that was shorting GameStop, was forced into a short squeeze and had to buy back stock to cover their losses. They eventually left their short position on GameStop, with a loss of over four billion dollars in assets last month. But Wall Street was not going to go down without a fight. Initially, investment apps like Robinhood were the primary means that private investors were using to buy up GameStop stock, until these apps placed trading restrictions on GameStop and over ten other companies because of “significant market volatility.” This caused a massive uproar among the public and users of the app because of allegations of market manipulation. Several politicians voiced criticism of Robinhood’s actions, including Representative (D-NY) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called for an investigation into why Robinhood acted to “block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit.” 

Given everything that took place, I asked Jonas Rajagopal ‘21, club leader of the Stock Market Club, to share his thoughts on these events.

How do you feel about this whole situation? 

I thought the situation was exciting. It is always fun to see Wall Street lose (though they made back most of their losses later in the saga). I think the main problem is not what happened on Reddit. It is that big hedge funds have been able to do this without punishments. They can donate to politicians to prevent the rules from changing. For example, companies like the Motley Fool can buy a stock, then invent phantom reasons to say it will rise, and their followers will buy the stock, and they make a ton of money.

Do you think the future of stock exchange is in jeopardy? Why?

I do not think the future of the stock exchange is in jeopardy. There may be some regulatory changes to prevent events like this from happening again, but anyone saying that this is the demise of the stock market is overreacting.

What do you think about the responses from companies like Robinhood and Wall Street itself? 

Initially, I thought the response from Robinhood was unacceptable. As I have learned more about the situation, I believe they had little choice. I also think their PR was a disaster and they could have handled it better. I think the system failed the “little-guy” investors. I also think trading should have been completely stopped by the NASDAQ, not just on Robinhood, and not just to prevent selling the shares. 


As of now, the massive increase in value for GameStop stock has plummeted back to earth. Although the company and stock value is in a better place than when it started, this saga has a bit of an unsatisfying conclusion, especially to those who were hoping that the stock’s price would keep on climbing. Regardless, what happened with GameStop is a historical moment for Wall Street. Even the little guys can influence the stock market if they work together, and GameStop is only the beginning. 


Aliaj, Ortenca, Mackenzie, Michael, and Fletcher, Laurence. “Melvin Capital, GameStop and the road to disaster.” Financial Times, February 13, 2021.
https://www.ft.com/content/3f6b47f9-70c7-4839-8bb4-6a62f1bd39e0.

Burbridge, Mark. “Redditors Vs Wall Street: The GameStop Situation Explained.” The University News, February 8, 2021.
https://unewsonline.com/2021/02/redditors-vs-wall-street-the-gamestop-situation-explained/.

Ingram, David and Bayly, Lucy. “GameStop? Reddit? Explaining what’s happening in the stock market.” NBC News, February 7, 2021.
https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/gamestop-reddit-explainer-what-s-happening-stock-market-n1255922.

The Laramie Project: Interviews With the Cast and Crew

by Ibukun Owolabi

News

February 22, 2021
Members of Drama Club perform The Laramie Project. Dr. Larash for The Scarlet Letter

On October 6, 1998, there was a horrific attack on the life of a young man by the name of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The suspects, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, kidnapped Matthew and viciously beat him because Matthew identified as gay. Six days after the brutal attack, Matthew Shepard passed away in Poudre Valley Hospital, leaving the world in shock. Henderson and McKinney were both found guilty of first-degree murder and were sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. 

The death of Matthew Shepard sparked protests across the nation and was a catalyst for change. Many people in Laramie felt that no person should have to go through what Shepard went through because of their identity, a belief that was amplified by the countless protests in cities across America. On October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to “strengthen the protection against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth… add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”1

This year, Boston University Academy’s winter play, directed by Mr. Gardiner, shown on January 30, was The Laramie Project. The play, written by Moisés Kaufman in 2000, comprises a series of interviews with the townspeople of Laramie, Wyoming. The dozen or so members of Drama Club played over sixty townspeople, all playing multiple roles. 

This year, many clubs and sports had to adapt all that they were doing before to the “new normal.” Drama Club had the complicated task of producing an entire play in a Zoom room. As a new member of Drama Club, I asked my fellow cast and crew members to reflect on the making of the beautiful play. The following are interviews with members of the BUA cast and crew of The Laramie Project.

Mr. Gardiner, Director

What was it like to produce a play that would be performed online?

Exciting and challenging on many levels. Whenever you produce/direct a play, one of the questions is the style or look of the production. Producing a play online added a lot of new things to consider. How do you honor that this is a play, not a film, that’s presented virtually? Is there a constant look across the board? How do you differentiate locations, characters, passage of time, act breaks? How do you deal with the wide range of devices that people are using to rehearse and record? What platform do you use for presentations?  Yea. The list goes on…

How was the production process this year different from previous years?  

Rehearsals took place later in the day, since it was better to have actors home on a computer without a mask than at school masked and socially distanced. The performances had to be recorded at the beginning of the winter break so that we had time to edit the recordings together into a coherent whole by broadcast date. The actors had to be ready for performance earlier. In a normal year we’d have at least a couple of weeks after winter break to put the pieces of the play together. Those are just a few of the differences in the process this year.

In the process of putting the play together, what were some things you enjoyed and some challenges you encountered?

I was grateful to introduce students to a play and story that few of them had heard of before our production. The story of Matthew Shepard was a story of national significance and one I followed closely and was impacted by — and the play was and is an important landmark in American theatre. I also enjoyed meeting new actors and learning what they can do. [I’ve also enjoyed] seeing other actors I’ve worked with before stretch and grow as artists in ways that sometimes surprised me.

Challenges — hoo boy — just the technical difficulties, all of which had to be dealt with remotely, from “unstable internet connection” to not enough space for the actor to set up their backdrop comfortably. And of course, scheduling any after-school activity at BUA is always challenging. There was literally only one day I had the entire cast together.

Suzie Marcus ‘22, Stage Manager

What got you interested in being involved in the play?

I’ve always loved stage crew and was stage manager at my old school last year, so I knew I wanted to be involved again here. I knew the story beforehand. I had heard of the play and the real event. 

What were some things that you enjoyed about performing the play?

I enjoyed seeing people both remote and in person be able to come together to work on the play. I also loved the story and how everyone took it seriously and cared deeply about the subject matter.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

Challenges were probably just related to communications and scheduling in general (for everyone), but for me personally, just remembering who played who off the top of my head was super difficult.

Jasper Milstein ‘24, Actress

What were your roles in the play?

I played multiple characters; my recurring role was Reggie Fluty. 

What got you interested in performing the play?

I’ve been acting for upwards of ten years, so any opportunity to be in a show I’ll take. 

Was there anything about the story that interested you in particular?

I think it’s an incredibly captivating and touching show. Obviously, it’s a tragic story, but I think that makes it even more important to keep sharing because hate crimes are still far too prevalent to this day. By sharing the story, [we’re] spreading more knowledge and bringing more attention to the issue. 

What were some things that you enjoyed about performing the play?

I think being able to dive into some of the more complex scenes and monologues was a lot of fun and provided challenges as an actor.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

The remote aspect definitely provided some challenges in terms of communication and joint scene work but overall was not too bad to work around. 

Elizabeth Brown ‘24, Actress

What were your roles in the play?

I played a variety of roles throughout the show. All of the members of the cast played more than one role because of the nature of the show, which has around sixty-four parts. More specifically, I played Rebecca Hilliker, the Head of the Theater Department at the University of Wyoming; Father Roger Schmit, a Catholic priest; Aaron Kreifels, a college student who found Matthew Shepard; and Shannon, a friend of Aaron McKinney. 

What got you interested in performing the play?

I have loved performing since sixth grade, when I was in my first musical. Before I came to BUA, I had seen my siblings perform in a couple different shows, and I liked what I saw, so I decided to participate in this play.

Was there anything about the story that interested you in particular?

Before this show, I had never heard about the hate crime against Matthew Shepard, so the whole show was educational for me and very interesting. I also was fascinated by the close relationships that the members of the theater company were able to build with the people of Laramie.

What were some things that you enjoyed about performing the play?

I loved working with Mr. Gardiner, Kayleigha Zawacki, our video editor, and the rest of the cast on this play. Everyone was great and amazing to work with. It was also kind of cool to learn how to record a whole show from the comfort of my home.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

It was of course very different doing a production on Zoom, and there were some kinks to work out because of that. Also, scheduling is always an issue, regardless of whether it is in person or on Zoom. 

Kasia Perks ’21, Actress

What were your roles in the play?

My roles in the play were Doc O’Connor, Zubaida Ula, Narrator, and Mormon Home Teacher.

What got you interested in performing the play?

I miss theater because it’s not as easy to do now, so I wanted to perform in this play. I’ve been in every production since freshman year, so it seemed like an obvious continuation.

What were some things that you enjoyed about performing the play? What were some of the challenges?

I enjoyed being able to act again and engage with a script, but it was hard to stay as focused as I would usually be in person.


While the recording is no longer available to the public, Drama Club did a spectacular job in carrying out the duty of bringing awareness to what happened to Matthew Shepard. In case you don’t believe me, I’ll leave you with the words of Mr. Kolovos himself: “I was struck not only by how well our cast handled the mature material, but also with how well they translated the experience to the screen. Within a few minutes, I forgot that I was in my living room watching a teenage cast.”


1 The entire speech was delivered at the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and is on Youtube under the title President Obama Commemorates Enactment of Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Double Masking Advised: The Increase in Coronavirus Variants

by Anna Augart-Welwood

News

February 22, 2021

It has been almost a year since the coronavirus was officially declared to be a pandemic, and many people are growing tired of social distancing. However, new variants of the virus have been discovered, sparking concern among public health experts. These mutations can possibly affect how contagious the virus is and the severity of the symptoms.

Every year, vaccine makers release a different flu vaccine that targets the mutation that was most common the previous year. It is unclear whether the same will happen with COVID-19. While viruses are constantly evolving, the new strains of coronavirus are more concerning because the mutations improve the virus’ so-called “spike protein,” a protein that penetrates host cells and gives the coronavirus its spiky surface. If this protein continues to evolve, the virus may eventually be able to reinfect people who have previously contracted it or have been vaccinated against it. This is because antibodies have more trouble binding to certain spike proteins, causing the virus to stay in the body longer. Similarly, certain mutations fit better into cell receptors, much like a key and a lock, causing the virus to be more contagious. For example, the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom is thought to be up to 70% more contagious than the original strain.

Researchers are unsure whether the recent increase in variants is because the mutations are more contagious, or due to holiday travel and superspreader events. Recent evidence suggests that these new strains are more dangerous. For example, the B.1.1.7 variant is thought to be 50% deadlier than the original strain; that is, the symptoms it causes are thought to be more severe. Pfizer has stated that their vaccine will be slightly less effective against the B.1.351 variant found in South Africa. Moderna believes that their vaccine will be effective against the B.1.351 variant, but not as much against others, so they are working on a booster vaccine.

While this discovery seems discouraging, there are still ways you can continue to protect yourself. Many people have begun to wear two masks after Dr. Anthony Fauci advised this practice on the Today show. According to the CDC, wearing a cloth mask over a well-fitting surgical mask can reduce up to 95% of exposure from possible COVID-containing respiratory droplets. The CDC also recommends a method that includes tying knots in the ear loops of a surgical mask and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face, which makes the mask better fitting. Regardless of these new masking techniques and vaccines, people need to be more careful than ever. This could include allowing fewer people in certain spaces, including schools, along with increased vigilance and strict social distancing. Joie Liu ‘23 agrees that people need to act with more caution, or even just the same amount as everyone had at the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020.

Many people are feeling the pandemic fatigue that weighs us all down, and others have stopped following social distancing guidelines altogether. However, the vaccine is providing a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is important to remember not to lose hope. The best way to fight the virus is to continue social distancing and wearing your mask(s).


Brooks, John T., MD; Donald H. Beezhold, PhD; John D. Noti, PhD; Jayme P. Coyle, PhD; Raymond C. Derk, MS; Francoise M. Blachere, MS; and William G. Lindsley, PhD. “Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure, 2021.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 10, 2021.
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7007e1.htm.

Crouch, Michelle. “Most Common Symptoms of the U.K. Coronavirus Variant.” AARP, January 29, 2021.
https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/coronavirus-variant-symptoms.html.

Nirappil, Fenit. “Time to double or upgrade masks as coronavirus variants emerge, experts say.” The Washington Post, January 28, 2021.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/27/double-mask-variants-guidance/.

Reardon, Sara and Smith, Dominic. “A Visual Guide to the New Coronavirus Variants.” Scientific American, February 11, 2021.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/video/a-visual-guide-to-the-new-coronavirus-variants/.

“The Coronavirus is Mutating: What We Know About the New Variants.” Healthline.
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/the-coronavirus-is-mutating-what-we-know-about-the-new-variants.

Zimmer, Carl. “7 Virus Variants Found in U.S. Carrying the Same Mutation.” The New York Times, February 14, 2021.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/14/health/coronavirus-variants-evolution.html.

How Clubs Have Adapted to Coronavirus Restrictions

by Joie Liu

News

February 22, 2021

Across the globe, the coronavirus has upheaved the lives of billions. It has torn apart families and forced many to transition to a world online. Schools and extracurriculars have had to conduct education via a digital screen. Although Boston University Academy is extremely lucky to have the opportunity to have their students be in person for their classes, it is still no exception to the larger developments, and many of its extracurriculars have been hit hard. Most notably, in order to continue meeting, many clubs have needed to use online resources, though there are still a few clubs that have managed to find new ways to meet in person. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, Zoom has become one of the most powerful tools, allowing anyone to connect with others using only a computer. BUA clubs have taken advantage of Zoom and all of its features. Using Zoom, clubs have thought of creative solutions to problems, from breakout rooms to polls and even emoji reactions. In some ways, each club has had to forge its own path. Some, such as Mock Trial, Sustainability Club, and Computer Science Club, have taken routes that involve once-a-week online meetings. Others, such as Bullet Journal Club, have taken an approach with meeting times that vary. Larger clubs, such as Student Council, have also worked creatively to try to find ways to keep up with their duties. Representative Lizzie Seward ‘23 said that the climate has increased the motivation of Student Council members and that representatives are working harder this year to overcome the additional challenges and struggles that COVID-19 has brought. But although Zoom meetings are the best alternative, many still feel that they do not completely replace in-person meetings. Many students think that online communication changes the club dynamic, making it harder to connect and coordinate meetings. It is impossible to ignore these new problems. 

Although the large majority of clubs have chosen to hold meetings online, some have still found ways to physically meet. Most sports have tried to resume athletics with some alterations. All have been forced to have athletes maintain a distance of six feet apart from each other, and many have had to take extra precautions to follow rules surrounding multiple people touching a single object. Although students are happy to get any chance to play the sport that they love, these adjustments have changed the very nature of many sports, leaving students feeling unsatisfied and longing for more. This in turn has led to a lessened interest in playing sports and arguably less commitment from many players. However, after a long spring and summer without sports, many are excited to have the chance to pick up their favorite sport once again. 

Other clubs, such as Robotics Club and Fashion Club, have managed to find ways to continue their work in person. Taking over an empty classroom, Robotics Club has been able to meet most days to work on their creations. However, despite being able to meet in person, they have also had to face their own share of problems. Similar to sports, cancellations to competitions have lowered interest among both experienced and newer members, and because of restrictions, they have had to adapt to have only six people in a workroom at a time. Although they have had to deal with major setbacks, member Gabriel Romualdo ‘23 said that the situation has helped to “strengthen the team’s organization, communication, and productivity” and that many are “looking forward to a successful season ahead.” Fashion Club has also found creative ways to continue their work. Meeting in person in the art room to work on creations, founder Claire Hsu ‘23 says that the coronavirus hasn’t affected her club a lot. Instead, the club has found new ways to contribute to the climate, creating masks to sell and then donating the profits to charities in an effort to help others.

Whether holding meetings online or in person, clubs have adapted well to the pandemic, though the difficulties that have arisen from coronavirus restrictions must be noted. Clubs help bring the BUA community together at a time when it’s harder to come together, easier to become disconnected — that too must be noted.