Spring Semester Events Should Be Redesigned, Not Cancelled

by Aparna Deokar


February 22, 2021

Last March, schools and businesses all over the world shut down, cancelling many events and gatherings. Almost a year later, BUA and much of the world find ourselves in the same dilemma concerning events — school is open, but events are still socially distanced or remote. I believe that preventing the spread of COVID-19 is of the utmost importance and that therefore, having no gatherings is better than being exposed to the coronavirus. But, where we are safely able to hold events, I think that events should be redesigned rather than canceled.

Though COVID-19 safety comes first, BUA events are important too. Especially this year, underclassmen and upperclassmen don’t get many chances to interact except for clubs, and events help to build a sense of community. Mia Shapoval ’22 describes BUA’s Spring Concert as a “reward” for the hard work throughout the year — it is disappointing that there may not be a concert this year, given the way things are going. And she recalls meeting many upperclassmen at Field Day as a freshman and calls it a “bonding experience.” Where possible, I believe that outdoor events such as Field Day should be redesigned with restrictions, such as social distancing and wearing masks. For these events, not too much would need to be changed to adapt to coronavirus restrictions, since the events are already outdoors and relatively distant. It’s especially important to hold these events for seniors, who have already missed out on last year’s spring events. Elizabeth Brown ‘24 comments, “I think for smaller events, it’s probably possible; Fall Fest happened in a really fun way and the Valentine’s Day sales were still able to happen.” I agree with this statement; for in-person students, these small gatherings were still able to serve their purposes of community building.

Remote BUA students would not be able to participate in these in-person events, but ideally, enough remote events would be provided, such as Zoom Olympics, which was an alternative for Field Day last year. Even for in-person students, few events could plausibly be held without Zoom, so the other option, which I strongly support, being a fully remote student myself, is to hold more remote gatherings. Many students grumble about boring gatherings over Zoom, but we’re gaining more experience with Zoom, and events such as Trivia Night have been a huge success. However, even with restrictions, I believe that some events, such as Prom, might have to be canceled. Prom is regarded as a symbolic, memorable event for juniors and seniors, so it is unfortunate that this year’s senior class might have to miss out on Prom entirely. But dances are hard to recreate in a socially distanced way or remotely, since online Zoom activities just aren’t the same and an in-person Prom would put many of BUA’s students at risk. Elizabeth remarks, “I don’t think there would be any way that [the Valentine’s Day Cabaret] could have been redesigned to be a functional event, since it couldn’t happen over Zoom, and it would be really hard to do a dance in person.” Excluding dances, many events could potentially be redesigned using Zoom, and we at BUA should make an effort to redesign them.

America’s Political Divide Can Be Healed

by Anna Augart-Welwood


January 27, 2021

There is no doubt that the United States is a divided country, and with each day, the divide grows larger. Political polarization is a prominent issue in America, and recent events such as the storming of the Capitol building on January 6 induce a feeling that the country is beyond repair. But President Joe Biden has provided many Americans with a new hope that America can be healed.

The political divide in America began to widen during the 1990s. In 1994, the average Republican was more conservative than 70% of Democrats; by 2014, this number increased to 94%. The average Democrat went from more liberal than 64% of Republicans to more liberal than 92% of Republicans in the same time frame. Extreme partisans have false perceptions of members of the other party. According to a study by the More in Common Foundation, Republicans believe that only half of Democrats are proud to be American, and Democrats believe that only half of Republicans recognize that racism still exists in America. In actuality, 80% of Republicans acknowledge the existence of racism in America, and 80% of Democrats say they are proud to be American. According to a study from 2019, 42% of voters of both parties view the other as “downright evil.” The same study discovered that approximately one in five Americans believe that their political opponents “lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals.” Perhaps the most disturbing discovery of this study is that 20% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans think occasionally that the country would be better off if large numbers of the other party died. From these findings, there is no question that political polarization is tearing the country in half.

There are several explanations for the expanding divide in political views. A study by Carlee Beth Hawkins and Brian Nosek found that labeling policies as Democratic or Republican can influence support from the members of each party. Social media also plays a prominent role in political polarization. Social media algorithms are designed to show users content similar to content that they have previously “liked.” For example, if someone interacts with Democratic content on social media, they will be shown more Democratic content. This prevents social media users from seeing the perspective of the opposite party, increasing polarization. Additionally, news outlets have become increasingly partisan, and most people get information from outlets with the same views as themselves. And the political divide has widened during Donald Trump’s presidency because of his insensitivity towards Democratic customs. Trump consistently demonizes the Democratic Party, driving his supporters to view the Democrats as evil. Agreeing with this statement, Aster Gamarnik ‘23 says that “people no longer think about what’s best for the country, but [rather] blatantly accuse the other party, fill their ego on bigotry, and follow conspiracies that are fueled by this rage.” Aster believes that people are losing hope in America because “Americans no longer understand what this country stands for.” 

While political polarization may seem to be past the point of no return, there is still hope. A study by the More in Common Foundation discovered that over three-fourths of Americans support both stricter gun laws and citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. Approximately the same amount of Americans agree that both parties can still come together despite their differences. Another glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel is Joe Biden’s presidency. Unlike Donald Trump, who has divided the country, Biden promotes a future of unity and bipartisanship. In his victory speech on November 7, he said, “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States…I ran as a proud Democrat. I will now be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as [for] those who did.” Showing compassion for Trump’s upset supporters, he said, “Let’s give each other a chance.” Biden went on to ask that the “grim era of demonization in America” end now. In his inauguration speech on January 20, President Biden stated his belief that unity can lead the country to greatness. He said, “I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new… unity is the path forward.” In the final sentences of his speech, the newly inaugurated president left listeners with a feeling of optimism, saying, “And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness.”

With this new hope in mind, we must take action to heal America’s political divide. A possible solution would be to establish an organization or service that allows people to have respectful and educational conversations with others who have different political views. This would allow partisans to see things from the perspective of the other party and possibly adopt less extreme views. More citizens’ assemblies could be held in which different groups discuss political and social issues, highlighting common ground that can be acted upon. Another possible solution would be to vote for policies, not parties. As previously mentioned, voters are more likely to support a policy put forth by their own party. But if policies were independent from parties, voters would be encouraged to support the policies that they believe in, which may not exactly agree with the ones that their party puts forth. Finally, research shows that people who have extreme views about certain political policies often don’t fully understand them. When asked to give an in-depth explanation of certain policies, extremists realized how little they understood of them and adopted less extreme views. Fully educating voters on policies can also help diminish the polarization.

There is no doubt that political polarization in America is worse than ever before. Some might even say that we are past the point of no return. Yet we don’t have any other choice but to try to fix this destructive issue; our democracy would be shattered otherwise. Keep in mind that there is still hope. After all, it’s not called the United States for nothing.

Avlon, John. “Polarization is poisoning America. Here’s an antidote.” CNN, November 1, 2019.

Blake, Aaron and Scott, Eugene. “Joe Biden’s inauguration speech transcript, annotated.” The Washington Post, January 20, 2020.

De-Wit, Lee, Van Der Linden, Sander, and Brick, Cameron. “What Are the Solutions to Political Polarization?” Greater Good Magazine, July 2, 2019.

Edsall, Thomas B. “No Hate Left Behind.” The New York Times, March 13, 2019.

“Extreme Political Attitudes May Stem From an Illusion of Understanding.” Association for Psychological Science, April 29, 2013.

“Transcript of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory speech.” The Associated Press, November 7, 2020.

Why the Humanities Matter

by Sally Jamrog


December 14, 2020
The Odyssey, Plato’s Republic, The Iliad, and The Norton Book of Classical Literature are among the texts read in BUA’s freshman English and history courses. Luke Hargrave for The Scarlet Letter

In a world where the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are increasingly overshadowing the humanities, some wonder whether humanities degrees are worth pursuing anymore. Our society is rapidly improving because of advances in science and technology, and consequently, it can be difficult to realize the importance of studying literature and history. In the United States, colleges have been facing steep declines in humanities majors, a phenomenon historians are labeling the “humanities crisis.” Though only recently getting the attention it deserves, the humanities crisis has been ongoing for fifty years: it began in the 1970s, when the dropping of enrollments in humanities curricula began to become noticeable.1

With college tuition prices rising annually, students today are often saddled with massive debt upon graduating and therefore face increased pressure to pursue a course of study that will ensure a lucrative job — this has become synonymous with pursuing a degree in STEM. The number of history majors has dropped 33% since 2011, while English, religion, and language majors have been in steady decline since the financial crisis in 2008.2 Students worry that a job procured from a humanities degree would not have a salary high enough to make a living and pay off college debt. A STEM degree seems to hold a more secure promise of a high-paying job. These beliefs could result from a misconception that the only career prospects for humanities students lie in academia. Teachers truly shape the future of our society by providing education for generations of students, but they are paid relatively little in comparison to other professions that require a college degree. Yet we see that some of the most financially successful people today do come from a humanities background: a survey done in 2012 found that of the 652 American CEOs and heads of product engineering who participated, almost 60% held degrees in the humanities.3 And there is not a lack of jobs that rely on skills cultivated by studying the humanities either. The critical and logical thinking developed by a humanities education has a multitude of applications, from partaking in activities in daily life to explaining data from a lab. The World Economic Forum states that some of the most sought-after skills in the career market are active listening, speaking, critical thinking, and reading comprehension, all skills that are developed through our studying the humanities.4

Surely, STEM is important to the development of the world around us. But humanities carry an equal, not lesser importance, simply because many of the challenges that humans face are multifaceted. “The big problems we face as a species and as a country, all of which are man-made, require interdisciplinary solutions,” says classics and history teacher Dr. Alonge. “Thanks to science we now have at least three COVID-19 vaccines, but understanding our catastrophically poor national response to the pandemic is a humanities question.” 

As apparent from the word, the term “humanities” describes the study of human beings and their  culture. It derives from how we think about human nature and self-expression.5 Without the humanities, we as humans would forget who we are. “It’s really the original question, or litany of questions: who am I? What makes me who I am? And then, by extension, who are you? What makes you who you are?” says English teacher Dr. Formichelli. The humanities are essential to understanding ourselves as a species and figuring out who we are as individuals. By studying the humanities, we create opportunities to empathize with each other; we find out what makes others who they are and how we can relate to them. “It is in humanities courses that students get a chance to explore the fundamental questions of human existence,” says Mr. Kolovos. “An education without that kind of exploration misses the mark, and our society would be worse off for it.” Without the humanities, we would lose our connection to the past and knowledge of past happenings that have made us who we are today. Just as a scientist would not dispose of knowledge from previous experiments, humans should look back to past advancements in the humanities in order to improve ourselves as a species and as a society.

With the humanities, we can recognize and address familiar patterns in human nature. “I am often reminded of a quote by Mark Twain that goes, ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,’” says Amelia Boudreau ‘23. “Studying humanities proves unceasingly that that quote rings true.” Fellow BUA students might recall reading The Divine Comedy in sophomore history, a poem in which Dante Alighieri diagnoses and prescribes solutions to the problematic “rule” of the papacy during his time. Although Alighieri wrote during the early fourteenth century, the problems he grapples with in his text are similar to the problems politicians and citizens are facing today: the same insatiable greed for power and authority that Dante describes as strangling the church in his time can be spotted within modern governments and responses to issues such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is in learning and thinking about past tendencies of human nature that we can fully understand and move forward in solving the problems of our present world.

We currently live in a society where misinformation and propaganda exist in abundance: because the modern world revolves around technology, people are continually bombarded with information by means of social media, advertisement campaigns, and news from around the world. In this whirlwind of facts and figures, we can not always rely on what we see online or what we read in the paper anymore. It becomes harder to discern fact from opinion. Hence, it is essential in this modern world to be able to think independently, to be able to sift through many sources of information and finally form one’s own opinion. Reading and analyzing literature and history teaches us to question — to question information, to take famous works off of pedestals and question their authors. Independent thinking is a mark of individuality; without this capability, we lose what makes us ourselves.

Humans write to spread ideas: to refer to a previous example, Dante wrote The Divine Comedy during his exile to spread awareness among the common populace. Amelia Boudreau ‘23 says, “Writing is one of humanity’s few mediums of untethered expression. It’s critical to study writing and literature, as it can teach us the obvious, how to express ourselves, as well as the less obvious, how to understand the behaviors and nuances of those around us.” We read to become exposed to new perspectives. Writing is then a medium through which we can express our ideas. And it is particularly effective for reaching a broader audience — this is of note, considering the nearly eight billion people inhabiting our world today. Most humanities curricula teach some form of analytical writing; that may comprise analyzing a historical document or a form of literature. It is through this practice of analytical writing that humans can communicate their ideas effectively and share them with a greater community. 

Thus, although some argue that the study of the humanities has limited relevance in modern education, where the push to study STEM is gaining more and more momentum, it is crucial that we do not forget the many ways in which the humanities matter and will continue to benefit humans as individuals and as a species. Alyssa Ahn ‘23 says, “As people, we need to have a fundamental understanding of what it means to be human… so that we can create a better future.” Studying the humanities has never ceased to be important; human beings will always benefit from the knowledge of people who have come before them. In the words of Dr. Alonge, “Empathy, communication, justice, beauty — as long as these things matter, the humanities will matter.”

1 Heidi Tworek, “The Real Reason the Humanities are ‘in Crisis,’” The Atlantic, December 18, 2013,

2 Beth McMurtie, “Can you get students interested in the humanities again?” University World News, November 9, 2019,

3 Lindsay Thomas, “Infographics Friday: Bachelor of Arts Degrees, 1988-2008,” 4Humanities, October 26, 2012,

4 Anna Moro, “The humanities are becoming more important. Here’s why.” World Economic Forum, June 14, 2018,

5 The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, “Humanities,” Britannica, July 20, 1998,

Representation Matters: A Look at Our Humanities Curricula

by Giselle Wu


December 14, 2020

We need to integrate books by a more diverse selection of authors into BUA’s English and history curricula. While BUA’s humanities program surely incorporates texts worth reading, introducing us to classical, European, and American literature over the course of three years, most of the books we study are written by white authors. As such, students of color are often unable to see their own identity and culture reflected in our humanities curriculum. The selection of literature at BUA has limited the lens through which students view our society and the world. 

“We can only be diverse as a community if our curriculum reflects our students,” a BUA student says in a response to Student Council’s anonymous Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) survey. The current curriculum does not manage to reflect the BUA community — there is a lack of non-Western literature. Black, Latinx, and Asian authors are largely absent in our humanities program. Yet, according to the DEI survey, more than half of BUA students are students of color. BUA’s curriculum then is not representative of more than half of our students’ identities and thus goes against our aim to diversify our community. Madison Ho ‘24 says, “Although I love the strong emphasis on Western classics, I often feel removed from many of the themes we discuss in class.” And Amelia Boudreau ’23 remarks, “It’s critical that person of color (POC) students see themselves represented in the ideas we appreciate and study at school.” The English and history departments need to consider adding texts with more diverse authors to the literature that we study.

The addition of multicultural literature would furthermore help us to broaden our perspectives and learn more about the world around us. In her 2006 thesis, Maria Boles, a student from Eastern Michigan University, argues that multicultural literature “helps to stimulate an understanding of diversity in the classroom and helps to build an understanding of and respect for people from other cultures” — this is precisely why we need to integrate literature written by a more diverse selection of authors into our curriculum at BUA. Claire Hsu ‘23 says, “I think we should be able to read things by authors with different voices and experiences in order to fully understand our history. For example, I loved that we were able to read a version of The Odyssey that was translated by Emily Wilson because it offered a fresh, new perspective of a woman.”

We cannot rely on a single narrative to accurately represent our history, our present, our future. Isaac Rajagopal ‘23 says, “There’s no excuse for the whole curriculum being taught by white people about books written by white people about white people.” BUA’s curriculum should not be defined by such a limited perspective. 

Our current curriculum does have its benefits. A student who wishes not to be named says that the overall humanities curriculum is good and that there is a fair amount of Black and Latinx history mentioned in the American history curriculum. Nandini Lal ‘23 notes, “I also still don’t think [the curriculum] is bad because the texts that we do read are different enough. Maybe we can just reduce those a bit and add some newer or fresher authors’ books.” The current curriculum, although limited, does offer some different perspectives. But we still need to add more perspectives, ones that can drive us to embrace and respect different cultures. 

And studying these different perspectives is vital to shaping a better future for ourselves. In order to bring our world together, we have to learn to understand, to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes, to respect one another. We then need to read books about the experiences of minorities. By diversifying the books that we read at school, we can broaden our own perspectives. Introducing more diverse texts into the humanities curriculum may not be an easy task, but it’s one that’s worth doing and needs to be done. 

Anderson, Jill. “Hooked on Classics.” Harvard Ed. Magazine, Fall 2019.

Boles, Maria. “The Effects of Multicultural Literature in the Classroom.” Eastern Michigan University, 2006.

Yes, Biden Is a Good Alternative to Trump

by Alyssa Ahn


November 23, 2020

In a few interviews with members of the BUA community, some people said that they feel “optimistic” Biden will make a good president, while others stated that they believe he’ll only be “mediocre” or “okay” as a “step toward progress in wake of the previous presidency.” I myself believe that Joe Biden will be a good president because he has experience, he offers the stability and support Americans desperately need during the pandemic, and he holds moderately Democratic views that I believe are favorable. 

Biden’s experience in politics and the United States government will serve him well in the highest position of power in the federal government, especially in times when we need a leader who is reliable and decisive. Biden’s political experience began in 1970. He served on the New Castle county council in Delaware until 1972, when he was elected to the Senate at the age of 29. He joined the Senate in 1973, just a year after a tragic car accident killed his wife and daughter.1 Biden went on to be re-elected six times, totaling thirty-six years as a senator, and then served as the 47th Vice President with then President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017.2 So before running for president, Joe Biden was involved in politics for about fifty years. He gained an in-depth understanding of the processes of the Senate and the problems facing America. He has had more experience in politics than almost any other 2020 presidential candidate, and the contrast between him and Donald Trump, who had no political experience prior to running for president, is especially striking.3

Biden’s views on important issues, such as the coronavirus, racial justice, and healthcare are favorable, as I and BUA students I interviewed believe. Some students whom I talked to were “optimistic” about Biden’s positions. Biden outlined his presidential goals in his November 7 acceptance speech, seeming to want to focus primarily on restoring America to health and financial stability, alongside working toward better health care, racial justice, and slowing climate change.4 Sally Jamrog ‘23 says, “I think he dreams big, and that’s really important especially now during a health crisis — I like what he’s proposing.” She supports Biden’s plans for coronavirus relief. And on Biden’s goals, Amelia Boudreau ‘23 remarks, “I’m really looking forward to [Biden’s] reversal of Trump administration policies, and [his] hopefully being able to soothe some of this country’s polarization.” But some BUA students do seem to only favor Biden because his positions are just a slight improvement from Trump’s. Jackson Phelps ‘23 says, “In terms of equal rights, I feel like we are not really taking any steps forward, but at least we are not taking any steps back, which would happen if Trump had been elected [again].” Biden’s approaches and aims are vastly different from Trump’s, and these differences are a key part of the reason he won the election against him.

All in all, Joe Biden will be a good president because of his incredible amount of experience in politics stemming from being a senator and a vice president, his plans for restoring and strengthening America, and his favorable, moderately Democratic opinions and goals. Although Biden is often viewed as just an alternative to Donald Trump, his reliability and the “wanting to do good” attitude that he demonstrates make him a dependable and caring leader and will make him a good president.

1 Nora Kelly Lee, “Joe Biden is Again Publicly Battling a Choice Weighted With Ambition and Tragedy,” The Atlantic, September 11, 2015,

2 The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, “Joe Biden,” Britannica,

3 Brian Duignan, “Donald Trump,” Britannica,

4 Amber Phillips, “Joe Biden’s Victory Speech, annotated,” The Washington Post, November 7, 2020,

No, Biden Is Better Than Trump but Still Not a Good Alternative to Him

by Anna Augart-Welwood


November 23, 2020

After the tense, drawn-out election process that began on November 3, Joe Biden has been declared the 46th President of the United States. This result was met with celebration from the multitude of people who want Donald Trump out of office, and it represents a step forward for women of color, seeing as Kamala Harris became the Vice President-elect. While it is important to celebrate and relax after the stress leading up to and during the election, it is also necessary to keep in mind that the existing issues in America have not been resolved and will not be resolved simply with Joe Biden’s becoming president. Biden will surely be more beneficial to this country than Trump was; however, the President-elect does have shortcomings that we must acknowledge and hold him accountable for.

Let us reiterate that Biden will be nowhere near as harmful to America as Donald Trump has been. For starters, he has already released a seven-point COVID-19 response plan that includes mask mandates and doubling testing sites throughout the country. He has also stated that he will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Unlike Trump, who divides America and demonizes the Democratic Party, Biden has been projecting a message of unity and bipartisanship. In his victory speech on November 7, the President-elect said, “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States… I’m a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.” Sympathizing with those who are disappointed at President Trump’s loss, he said, “Let’s give each other a chance.” Biden went on to ask that the “grim era of demonization in America” end now.

In recognizing the positive things that Joe Biden will do for the United States, it is essential to take notice of his flaws. While the President-elect wants to limit pollution from oil and gas operations, he has said that he will not ban fracking, which can release toxic and even cancer-causing chemicals into drinking water, as well as endangering wildlife, destroying natural landscapes, and using excessive amounts of water. On the topic of the environment, Biden said at the first presidential debate that while he has a plan for climate change, he does not support the Green New Deal. He also opposes Medicare, which would guarantee all Americans health insurance regardless of their financial status. Biden said that implementing Medicare for All would require getting rid of Obamacare, which he is not willing to do. Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, provides people with affordable health insurance, but it is by no means free. For these reasons, many Democrats reasonably believe that Biden is not progressive enough. And furthermore, Biden has been accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in his Senate office. While this one allegation is nowhere near the twenty-six against Donald Trump, someone who is guilty of sexual assault surely should not be leading a country.

Many BUA students have strong political views, especially about the presidency. Jonas Rajagopal ‘21 says, “Right now, what the country needs is a unifying president, not a divisive one.” He believes that Biden’s policies may not be progressive enough for many Democrats, but that this is a positive thing because he feels that “many progressive policies will have the effect of making [people who feel left behind] feel like they are being left behind even further.” Jonas believes that the President-elect’s greatest strength is his ability to empathize with middle-class workers, and that “Biden will focus on policies that will help these people — the dairy farmer in Michigan or the butcher in Nebraska, rather than the banker in New York.” An anonymous student appreciates that Biden agreed to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. In agreement with many Democrats, Joie Liu ‘23 says, regarding Biden, “He’s not good, but he’s better than Trump.” Condredge Currie ‘23 believes that power causes corruption. He says, “As a president, you’re forced to represent an entire nation, but especially with a nation so divided, you can’t always speak for everyone.”

It is true that America needs to heal from the Trump presidency and that Joe Biden will be an important step in repairing our democracy. But many people, myself included, believe that he isn’t progressive enough, which then raises the following question: would we still support Biden if he weren’t the alternative to Trump?

Berardelli, Jeff. “How Joe Biden’s climate plan compares to the Green New Deal.” CBS News, October 5, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC COVID Data Tracker.” Last modified November 15, 2020.

Ducharme, Jamie. “Here’s What We Know About Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Plan.” TIME, October 30, 2020.

Ember, Sydney and Lerer, Lisa. “Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden.” New York Times, April 12, 2020.

Phillips, Amber. “Joe Biden’s victory speech, annotated.” Washington Post, November 7, 2020.

Uhrmacher, Kevin and Muyskens, John. “Where 2020 Democrats stand on Climate Change.” Washington Post, April 8, 2020.

“The truth about fracking and the environment.” The Wilderness Society.

Yes, Spring Break Should Be Replaced With an Added Week of Winter Break

by Giselle Wu


November 23, 2020
A BUA classroom is without students until the next in-person school day. Luke Hargrave for The Scarlet Letter

I believe that BUA should follow BU in modifying school breaks to try to limit mid-semester travel. Such a discussion has become relevant recently. We’re already more than halfway through the fall semester, and school breaks are approaching quickly — Thanksgiving break and winter break are two to look forward to in the coming months. BUA is so far doing a great job of providing an enjoyable learning environment for students while ensuring their health and safety. But is it safe to allow students to return to school in the few weeks between Thanksgiving and winter recess? Surely precautions such as staying home and not traveling to see extended family are necessary at the very least.

As scientists and experts predicted, coronavirus cases are rising across America, and we are in the midst of a surge ourselves in Massachusetts. The state’s COVID-19 trends are headed “in the wrong direction and show no sign of changing,” says Governor Charlie Baker. The number of new cases daily has increased nearly sixfold from September, going from 460 new case counts per day to 2,648 per day. In just the week of November 16, Massachusetts reported two consecutive days with a daily total of over 2,500 new cases: there were 2,660 new cases on November 11 and 2,648 new cases on November 12. In light of the significant increase in new cases in Massachusetts, we need to consider whether it is still sensible to allow students to come back to in-person school after Thanksgiving break without taking heightened precautions. Over the upcoming break, it is inevitable that some families or close friends might get together and celebrate the holidays, which would lead to an increased risk of transmission in the BUA community.

BUA has taken some preliminary precautions: following Thanksgiving break, students who have had interactions with people beyond their households are required to “learn and participate in school activities remotely for a full week and have a negative COVID-19 test result from a test administered at BU on or after December 3 before returning to classes,” as stated in the Thanksgiving guidance issued by BUA. And for an indefinite amount of time after Thanksgiving break, all BUA students will be expected to receive coronavirus testing twice per week. By taking these precautionary measures, students are able to continue their studies on campus in a much safer environment.

But while these protocols limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus, they do not prevent unsafe interactions during the holidays. It is not only our duty to provide safe conditions for students in school, but it is also our responsibility to contribute to the safety of local communities, the state, and the country by reducing virus transmission. An effective way to achieve that is to reform school breaks, therefore restricting the majority of travel to one period of time. Similar to what BU has done, BUA can alter its school breaks this year by cancelling spring break and replacing it with one more week of winter break to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Although such an approach would diminish the amount of time that students have to relax in the middle of the semester, the health and safety of the greater community need to take first priority.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “Weekly COVID-19 Public Health Report.”

No, Spring Break Should Not Be Replaced With an Added Week of Winter Break

by Joie Liu


November 23, 2020
A BUA classroom is without students until the next in-person school day. Luke Hargrave for The Scarlet Letter

Throughout these unprecedented times, schools are in upheaval as new measures are being put into place, and students are forced to adapt to novel rules and restrictions that are in stark contrast to academic life pre-pandemic. A greater sense of normalcy is sorely needed, and having school breaks continue to follow a traditional schedule would contribute to such a sense. At and beyond BUA, a multitude of new rules have been implemented that while necessary, make school life so different and more difficult than previous years. Around the globe, teenagers are trying to do what they can in order to seek a new form of “normal,” to get back into a routine. According to the New York Times, many teenagers are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety, brought on by less social time with friends and the additional stress of the pandemic. Anything that can seem like a routine, even something as small as breaks occurring during the same times as normal, can bring a sense of stability that is greatly needed. As CNN put it, teenagers are “worry[ing] about an uncertain future.” And that’s not to mention an uncertain present — the coronavirus continues to upturn day-to-day life, and the definition of “normal” is always changing. Although school breaks may seem to be a small matter, they provide a set time to relax and carry with them a feeling of normalcy, as events that students could always count on to occur at the same times year after year.

Although we are not in “normal” times, part of the role of a school is to provide consistency for its students. Despite being a small change, moving breaks that are embedded into the routine of a school year would disrupt the mindsets of many students, creating yet another new development to adapt to in the already ever-changing conditions of this time. BUA should do what it can to maintain a sense of stability by continuing to hold school breaks, in particular spring break, at the normal times.

Andrew, Scottie. “Why Teens May Never Be the Same after the Pandemic.” CNN, April 16, 2020,

Goldberg, Emma. “Teens in Covid Isolation: ‘I Felt Like I Was Suffocating.” The New York Times, November 12, 2020.

In-Person School During a Pandemic Is Still Better Than Virtual School

by Ibukun Owolabi


October 26, 2020
Students enjoy some time together in BUA’s art studio. Luke Hargrave for The Scarlet Letter

With schools globally having closed their doors in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, September 3 was the first time I saw the inside of a school in months. I’m an incoming freshman, and that made walking through the BUA halls feel all the more strange. It wasn’t my first time being a new student, but there was a level of unfamiliarity this year not present before: at least at schools in previous years, students could have a slight idea beforehand of what the environment would be like. The former sense of normalcy has all but disappeared.

Even though we’re already two months into the school year, the social experience is moving rather slowly for many students. In-person school is not normal school. The safety regulations, which include social distancing and wearing a mask, have hindered opportunities for students to make relationships and even participate in school activities. The protocols have caused socializing to come to somewhat of a halt. But that isn’t to say there are no advantages to interacting with others in person — even with the amazing virtual activities that BUA’s faculty has hosted, the spark that two people feel when meeting for the first time cannot be duplicated in any way. Although the old “shake their hand and introduce yourself” trick will not be an option for an indefinite amount of time, in-person school has made it easier to form connections with other students. 

Anais Kim ’24 wrote that she “[could] build relationships with peers and teachers” when going to school in person, which is a fundamental part of the “full experience” of attending school. While there is no doubt that students would prefer a normal year over a coronavirus-affected year, in-person school has a distinctive atmosphere in itself. In a show of resilience, students have adapted to the unprecedented situation. By taking a step into the gym that is now filled with desks spaced six feet apart, you will find a student body that is pursuing its desire to socialize in a safe manner. BUA has found a way to bring back sports and clubs, and while singing and instrument playing are not allowed in the building, musicians continue to pursue their passions safely in new ways. 

Another student, Therese Draper ’24, noted “being able to see friends and teachers” as a positive, and furthermore said, “it’s really hard… to focus online, and class discussions are much easier in person.” Students are noticing that being in person is even helpful with regard to academics. We no longer discuss the Iliad around seminar-style tables, but we have still found a way to make sure all the in-person students are heard. From what I’ve observed in class, the teachers are getting used to teaching both in-person and remote students at the same time. While the insightful teachers at BUA have been teaching for a number of years, they never before have had to simultaneously field questions from a student over Zoom and another ten students sitting in front of them, and so it is easier for students who are not physically present to be forgotten in an in-person class. BUA teachers are aware of this problem and are actively seeking better ways to incorporate remote students into in-person classes.

As a person who has some concerns about the coronavirus, I think an added benefit of in-person learning is that it ensures BUA students are frequently receiving testing in BU facilities. Though remote students may have a smaller chance of contracting the virus, they are uncertain about their COVID-19 status. I would still want to know if I had the coronavirus regardless of whether I were coming to BUA or staying at home everyday. 

More than ever before, we do not know what the future has in store for this chapter of our lives. But for now, we have found success in our in-person learning model, and we can say with certainty that we have managed to overcome the obstacles created by the pandemic as a school, and more generally, as a community.

The Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett: McConnell Is Wrong, Students Say

by Matthew Volfson


October 26, 2020

Editor’s Note: The recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court generated interest from the BUA student body. Here, Matthew Volfson presents his opinion of the proceedings, and two other students share their thoughts.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump are not justified in pushing to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Trump nominated Barrett on September 26, just about a month from Election Day on November 3, when voting in the presidential election most officially begins. Early voting and mail-in ballots are already prevalent in many states. Trying to appoint a justice during an election year further increases partisanship. In perhaps an ironic twist, the Republican party has instigated a fight split between party lines for a position on the highest court in America, the emblem of justice and impartiality. The seat on the Supreme Court is not elected but can still have the final say on some of the most important issues today, such as healthcare and the right to abortion. 

In 2016, McConnell refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. McConnell’s frantic push to confirm Barrett is an example of blatant hypocrisy down in Washington. Whether the Senate and presidency are held by the same party should not matter when deciding the capability of a person to serve in one of the most important institutions in the land. The history of the Supreme Court is one of nearly consistent automatic confirmations of Supreme Court justices. Only in recent times has the confirmation process become more contested.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision changed the role of the Supreme Court in the landscape of American politics. Roe v. Wade was, in brief, a case in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right of a person to abort a fetus.1 The Court’s landmark decision may be in danger of being overturned if Barrett’s confirmation goes through and thus shifts the power balance to six justices nominated by a Republican president and three nominated by a Democratic one. Republicans and Democrats both want only their own agenda to be passed within a supposedly unbiased body. They are establishing partisanship, and the Supreme Court ought not to be compromised by partisan politics, especially because these justices are appointed and not elected by the American people. The justices should vote how they deem best, and no one ought to jeopardize their actions through partisan haggling like what we are seeing today with Amy Coney Barrett. McConnell and Trump are acting the exact opposite from the way we expect our leaders to act. They wish to undermine the fairness of the Court through pushing an appointee at the worst possible time, a few weeks before election day. 

Attempts by any party to push through a justice close to Election Day encourage both parties to advertise their own agenda during the televised confirmation hearings rather than look objectively at the judicial record and aptitude of the nominee. Senator McConnell and President Trump are hyping up fierce competition with this confirmation when what our country needs most is an unified message. McConnell and Trump lead the Republican Party by appointing a judge so close to an election. They divide the country when we want division the least. Americans are suffering and dragging themselves through a pandemic, the worst since the Spanish flu in 1919. 

Students want answers from their school, state, and national leaders on how to get through these times. It seems that uniting as a country would serve us best. Or perhaps students do believe partisanship is the right answer. Maybe we do need to turn the Supreme Court into an electoral contest because of the Court’s power to disrupt legislation created in Congress. In the following interview, two students have given their opinions on the issue of Barrett’s nomination.

Would you mind giving an introductory statement? What’s your political ideology? Can you give us a brief summary of your knowledge of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States?

Alia Jaeger ‘24 (AL):

I am pretty liberal; I don’t exactly know my ideology at the moment. I don’t exactly know much about it. I have done mostly research on what [Barrett] has believed in and what she has done in the past. 

Anne Jackson ‘22 (AN):

I mostly lean moderate, but I’m liberal on a few issues such as healthcare. 

From what source have you heard about the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett?


I think I read it in the New York Times. I don’t know the source exactly. I am pretty sure I read it on AP News. I don’t remember the other sources — I remember reading it on other news sites, but I don’t exactly remember which ones. 


I mostly heard about this from the New York Times.

What are your thoughts on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett? Are you in favor of how the Republican leadership in the Senate handled the situation?


I don’t think she should be confirmed. I don’t think it should happen, especially now. It’s a bit too soon in my opinion. 


From my understanding, Amy Coney Barrett is a conservative justice who Republicans are trying to get confirmed as the ninth member of the Supreme Court. I think that the Republican Senators should take their own advice from 2016 and not confirm a justice until after the inauguration. I think that their way of handling it is further proof that they are self-serving hypocrites.

How familiar are you with Amy Coney Barrett? How do her views compare with yours? 


She has different views than I do. She hasn’t said a lot about her views recently. She isn’t exactly telling how her opinions are. She is pro-life; she always says she isn’t in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but she doesn’t support abortion. She never directly said she is against gay marriage, but she lectured at places that are [hostile to] gay marriage. 


She has been very secretive on what [her] views actually are, so I don’t know what she thinks about a lot of major issues, and therefore I can’t give an accurate comparison of our ideologies.

How do you think a more conservative Supreme Court will affect our everyday life at BUA? How will our political action be altered with more conservative leaders? Will their rulings on healthcare, gun control, or abortion alter the landscape of Boston, the views of parents at our school, and our school? If so, how and why? 


I guess, starting with gun control. Republicans are not in favor of gun control. School shootings have happened in America, which is sad. With no laws on gun control, people might feel less safe at school. I don’t know if it will directly affect our school. I can’t think of anything else that will affect our school per se. I don’t think it will affect the landscape of our school very much. I don’t think having more conservative leaders will affect our students’ politics. Having more conservative leaders won’t really affect my political views. It could affect the views of other students. 


I think that one of the biggest ways a conservative Supreme Court could affect BUA is if the election results are contested and eventually wind up being heard by the Supreme Court. Considering that a lot of people in Boston work in the healthcare industry, I think that a court decision on the Affordable Care Act would definitely affect Boston more than other cities. In terms of gun control, Massachuesetts has far fewer guns than other states, and we also have stricter state gun control laws. While a conservative reading of gun control could increase the amount of gun owners in Massachusetts, I think it will affect us a lot less than more conservative states such as Florida or Texas, which are known for their high amount of gun owners.

Do you think that it is hypocritical that the Republican Senate under the leadership of Mitch McConnell accepted the confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett but not for Merrick Garland?


Yeah, I do think it’s hypocritical. [McConnell] accepted the nomination made by a Republican but not a nomination made by a Democrat. 


It is highly hypocritical. It really makes you stop and think about whether they are acting in the interests of the states they represent or for their own political gain.

What are your final thoughts on the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States, and how does it connect back to you and your political opinion?


Well, I don’t agree with her being nominated. She is a Catholic judge. I think there should be religious diversity on the Court. My political opinion is much different from hers.


I think that the arguments you make in 2016 should also apply to 2020. If you are against confirming a Democratic president’s appointee before an election, you should also be against a Republican appointee before an election. No confirmation before inauguration applies to everybody. Morals don’t change just when it’s convenient. 

1 Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, Jane ROE, et al., Appellants, v. Henry WAD,