GROSKAUFMANIS | Framing History

This September, students in my old school district in Virginia returned to a newly named Justice High School — previously J.E.B. Stuart High. Same walls and infrastructure; new decorations, sports uniforms and absence of Confederate memorialization. Stuart, the dethroned-honoree-in-question, was a Confederate general who fought to maintain slavery. The name change, which neutralizes the school’s explicit nod to Confederate history, was the subject of a long, arduous debate that is still ongoing, according to the nearly 200 comments on the Washington Post’s most recent coverage. From one end, this name adjustment is read as an attempt to rewrite history, a pandering to political correctness.

GROSKAUFMANIS | Doing the Most

Last Thursday at Thanksgiving dinner, a few of my cousins and I spent a solid 30 minutes trying to explain the evolution of the meaning of the word “extra” to one of our aunts. Traditionally, the word just means “more than is due, usual or necessary.” But recently, we — meaning mostly young people — have adopted it to describe something (or someone) that is over-the-top, excessive and usually kind of annoying. Uses of the word can be benign; the other day I was shopping with a friend, and she asked me if the skirt she was trying on was “too extra to wear to class.”

But other times, the word, and the sentiment behind it, is used to criticize effort and sincerity, like the girl who raises her hand “too often” in class or the guy who posts “too openly” about his life on Facebook. While we tried to explain this to our aunt, she kept getting caught up on what she perceived to be the neutral nature of the word. “Doesn’t extra just mean more?” Well, yes and no.

GROSKAUFMANIS | An Audience of One

I know exactly what happened on this day last year, and the year before that, and five years before that. Since 2010, I’ve been keeping up with twelve notebooks: one for each month. Each year, I work my way through all twelve of them, returning to them month by month, writing and comparing. What started out as a random project in middle school has evolved into a way for me to keep record, and to keep a running conversation with myself between the years. I can flip through pages from 2011 and remember what my world looked like (hint: not great, considering it was middle school).

GROSKAUFMANIS | The Trendiness of Activism

It’s no secret that activism is becoming trendy. In today’s day and age, famous comedians are taking stances on the Affordable Care Act, supermodels are posting their opinions about gun control, and The New York Times just published an in-depth piece on how “wokeness” is the new cool. As a partial consequence of this, many people’s personal and political identities have become inextricably linked. A lot of people today seem to be creating personal “brands” that reflect their penchant for social justice — whether they are celebrities or students. For the most part, I honestly think this is fine.

GROSKAUFMANIS | In Defense of Commentary

In the fall of my freshman year, I thought it would be a sane idea to write about gun control for The Sun. As an 18-year-old barely moved into my first-year dorm, I looked at a topic that has caused intense political conflict for decades and thought, yup, time to take a stab at that. Needless to say I got absolutely flamed in the comments section. At the time, each one felt so personal. Reading through the comments now, some have a bit more meat to them than I had originally thought.

GROSKAUFMANIS | Who Pays the Price of an Unpaid Internship?

Sometimes I wonder why students who want to go into government, advocacy work or international relations are running around campus in suits for recruiting, bending over backwards for jobs that many openly admit that they have no interest in pursuing. I’m then  reminded these corporate jobs actually pay, and they pay well — and that alone is more than can be said for many internships in government, advocacy, or international relations. About 50 percent of college students work at an internship or co-op position at some point during their college careers. Of those students, 47 percent find experience in positions that are unpaid. To us, this may sound innocuous, but it is worth noting that among those students who worked at for-profit companies, one-third weren’t paid, raising a tricky issue of compensation.

GROSKAUFMANIS | More Than Orientation

When I was a freshman, every reputable national newspaper had a 40 year-old writing about how to “do college” correctly and effectively. And while crumbs of their advice were useful, I also felt like the prescriptions for how to act and perform were more stressful than anything else.

GROSKAUFMANIS | Learning to Quit

When I was seven, I thought it would be a cool idea to try going off of the highest diving board at the pool. I don’t like heights and didn’t really know how to “dive” at that point. But my siblings were doing it, so I was going to do it too. But when my turn came to jump the however-many-feet, I froze. I climbed all the way up the ladder, walked to the very edge of the board, and realized I just wanted to climb back down.

GROSKAUFMANIS | Rewriting the News

One of my favorite columnists, Jonathan Capehart, wrote a piece last Friday on President Trump’s first 100 days in office, titled “An Appreciation.” In it, Capehart says that Trump’s presidency hasn’t been as bad as he expected, and states that “[Trump] is responsible for the greatest surge in civic participation in half a century.” And while I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that exchanging Trump’s leadership for civic participation is a worthy trade, I think Capehart is spot-on in identifying the growth those who didn’t get what they wanted last November. We’re coming together now because we have to. I wish we didn’t have to, but at least we are.

GROSKAUFMANIS | Flagging What Is Important

In a world where every breaking news alert seems to be another addition to the garbage fire that is our political climate, I think it’s impossible to delegate our attention perfectly. Pay attention to things that matter to you, pay attention to things that matter to other people, and pay attention to as many things as you possibly can.