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Brookdale Community College conducted a faculty discussion via Zoom on Thursday, April 14. The meeting, titled “Education at the Intersections” followed a banned book read-in at the library from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During the read-in, students, faculty, and staff read 15-minute increments of books that were deemed banned and challenged according to the American Library Association.

Panelists at the 7 p.m. evening program included Professor Roseanne Alvarez, English; Professor Kathleen Kennedy, English; Associate Professor Diditi Mitra, Sociology; Professor Brian Oland, Psychology; Professor Jane Scimeca, History; Assistant Professor Judi Ungar, Library; Shayla Ward, English Instructor.

The panel began by discussing the roots of the widespread book banning.

They all seemed to agree that this stems from political and even religious powers purporting that these books are a threat.

The panelists seemed to also agree that this is an attempt to silence the experiences of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ communities.

“It’s a group of people that may not have any relation to a school. They have an agenda. It’s a very different kind of banned books cycle than what I have seen before. This movement is very organized with a political agenda. People need to vote,” Ungar said.

“Fear of change in society. Very few women authors in English class. It’s as if women didn’t exist. More women were being included in the curriculum because women with PhDs wanted more women. As things are changing, it’s freaking people out. They’re trying to change it. The orthodox Christian churches are the ones particularly behind these bans in my opinion,” Scimeca said.

Some of the panelists expressed their concern over the people in power. They wondered why these politicians and religious leaders tend to keep their grip of power very tight.

“What is the big threat? It’s a small group of people trying to hang onto power. They’re using scare tactics and coming up with buzzwords to get people to be afraid. And then do the dirty work. Let us have our power, it’s not going to detract from your power,” Kennedy said.

“When you’re fearful and ignorant and won’t let people be who they are. There’s a certain level of discomfort. Are they being bothered by these individuals? I don’t see a lot of that,” Ward said.

As the meeting came to a close, they discussed one more question: What can people do to fight against this? “Run for office and write a ban-able book. Be vigilant and spread the truth. Keep countering it with the truth,” Kennedy said.

“Literature is a form of expression. We’re trying to silence people’s abilities to express their lived experiences. We have to fight the fight. I’m going to sit down and think about what it is that I want people to gauge from African Americans. People who were forced here to express their lived experiences,” Ward said.

Original article published in The Current.

“We lost about 40 percent of our honeybee colonies last year,” said Sammy Ramsey, a honeybee researcher at the United States Department of Agriculture. Every year, homeowners spray their yards with herbicides and pesticides to keep weeds and pests at bay. Unfortunately, pesticides and herbicides are toxic to bees, insects, birds and other animals.

The dandelion is the most familiar of the frequently sprayed plants in the U.S. One of the first plants to emerge in early spring, bees rely on dandelions as a source of nectar when most flowers are not yet in bloom. Unfortunately, when bees visit sprayed dandelions and gather the nectar, they also consume the pesticides, which can be deadly.

The use of chemicals on lawns is a big industry. In fact, U.S. homeowners use up to 10 times more of these chemicals per acre to treat their lawns then farmers use on their crops, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Roundup is a commonly used pesticide. Glyphosate is the most widely sprayed herbicide in the world. Both kill millions of bees every year around the globe.

Lawn care products are heavily advertised and promoted as the solution to achieve a perfectly manicured lawn, free of dandelions and other weeds. Lawn “treatments,” i.e. pesticides and herbicides, kill dandelions and other vital wildflowers, all important food sources for bees, especially in early spring.

Dandelions were not always seen as destructive. They are a highly nutritious vegetable and herb, and for thousands of years dandelions were regarded as a staple, cultivated to be used as food, herbal remedies, and medicines. All parts of the plant can be eaten.

The chemical lawn industry began demonizing dandelions and other wildflowers in the 1950’s, convincing homeowners of the need for a dandelion-free, ultra-green lawn. The advertising campaign worked, and the environmental impact of these chemicals on pets, children, wildlife and the water supply has been disastrous.

According to the University of Georgia Honeybee Program, there are several ways honeybees are killed by insecticides:“One is direct contact of the insecticide on the bee while it is foraging in the field. The bee immediately dies and does not return to the hive. In this case the queen, brood, and nurse bees are not contaminated, and the colony survives.

The second, more deadly way, is when the bee comes in contact with an insecticide and transports it back to the colony, either as contaminated pollen or nectar or on its body. Honeybees killed by this type of pesticide contamination causes large numbers of dead bees in front of the hives, and the colony does not survive.”

Bees are vital to society’s very existence. Most plant species – almost 90 percent, rely on pollinators to reproduce. A single bee can pollinate up to 5,000 flowers a day. “In the United States, honeybees are responsible for about $20 billion in food production and are necessary for pollinating many important crops,” according to the American Beekeeping Federation.

Currently, the chemical lawn industry’s front group, “Project Evergreen,” is attempting to change its image by “Greenwashing,” an advertising effort to create a positive public image to environmentally unsound practices. Curiously, this new “green” industry does not mention the word “pesticide” in its advertising campaign.

The best way to help bees is to eliminate or limit the use of weed-killing herbicides on lawns. According to Project Honeybees, if you must use these chemicals, consider doing so in the evening, because bees typically eat only during daylight hours. For more information:

Winning clubs The Innovation Network and Women in Learning & Leadership are awarded GOLD STAR honors

Most Successful On Campus Event:

The Innovation Network and Women in Learning and Leadership

Most Successful Virtual Event:

The Innovation Network

Best Leader:

Jeanette Falotico, The Innovation Network

Best Leader:

Amanda Zelevansky, Women in Learning & Leadership

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