From the Desk of the Editor

    By Laura Spencer, Editor-in-Chief I am excited to introduce myself as the Blue and Grey’s new editor-in-chief for the 2018-2019 academic year. Beginning with this issue, redesigned and reimagined, we will learn from one another what a school newspaper is, and what it can be, in our always- changing world. Technology efficiently delivers […]

Offensive Halloween Costumes: Is Your Costume Safe This Year?

By Kashif Masood

Halloween has arrived. For some college students, this means dressing up in their best costume and going to a costume party. Unfortunately, a few ruin the fun by wearing costumes that reinforce negative stereotypes. On October 29 of last year, the Sigma Tau Gamma national headquarters suspended its University of Central Arkansas chapter and expelled a student after he wore blackface to the fraternity’s Halloween party. Policy 55 prohibits creating “a hostile or offensive environment” in order to curb such behavior. However, in doing so, it also strips students of their free speech.

Think about it: How do you decide what’s offensive? Some of my classmates would point to last year’s Hood College Republican display. To students who want to censor hate speech: Where do you draw the line? Policy 55’s Bullying and Harassment clauses prohibits conduct that creates “a hostile or offensive environment” without using an objective, “reasonable person” standard.

In 2007, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, a student was accused of racial harassment after reading a historical book involving the KKK. The picture of the Klansmen and burning crosses on the book’s cover offended some of his coworkers. This shows that an otherwise innocent behavior could be punishable if someone finds an obscure aspect of it offensive.

It’s not only innocent behavior that suffers from politically correct campus speech codes. Civil discourse can also take a blow. In 2015 at Wesleyan University, outraged students began “recycling” their student newspaper. In addition, they wanted it to lose its funding until the demands were met. The newspaper’s crime? Allowing an Army veteran student to publish an opinion article criticizing Black Lives Matter’s approach to activism. Instead of a civil discourse approach, some Wesleyan students censored opinions they didn’t like by destroying newspapers.

The mission of Hood is to provide “an education that empowers students to use their hearts, minds and hands to meet personal, professional and global challenges and to lead purposeful lives of responsibility, leadership, service and civic engagement.” This cannot happen if students constantly fear punishment for expressing an otherwise mainstream view. If students aren’t willing to engage with speech they don’t like, how do you expect them to use their minds to meet challenges?

As a private institution, Hood College is not legally bound by the First Amendment. However, Policy 55 states that “Hood College is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression.” Hood is morally and contractually obligated to protect free speech.

The Perfect End of Summer Playlist

by Nailah Russell


Vacation is over, but the sounds of summer linger in the high-riding bass, romantic choruses, sun-soaked guitar harmonies, and laid-back flows of the songs in this playlist.
Here’s a list of music spanning the genres of Rap/Hip Hop, Indie, Pop, Electronica, and more. It’s filled with infectious beats that never get old and prove to be the perfect soundtrack for cruising, chilling, and partying.
16) “Now or Never” by HALSEY
The strength of music nowadays doesn’t just rely on the singer anymore. It’s almost all about production – how much the beat bumps and how much it makes you wanna turn the volume up to max when the chorus hits. Whoever produced this song, knew exactly what they were doing.
15) “New Scream” by Turnover
I don’t know a college student who doesn’t relate to this song. Not only are the lyrics about the times we all wish he had zero responsibilities, but its youthful and warm melody just makes you want to drive down an open road with all of your windows down….avoiding all of your responsibilities.
14) “III. Telegraph Ave.” (“Oakland” by Lloyd) by Childish Gambino
13) “You Got It” by Bryson Tiller
12) “Despacito” feat. Daddy Yankee by Luis Fonsi
All I’m gonna say is that Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee are all you need to make you wanna get up dance to this song, even when it’s not playing because it’s THAT catchy.
11) “LUV” by Tory Lanez
10) “LOYALTY” feat. Rihanna by Kendrick Lamar
9) “So Many Details” by Toro y Moi
8) “Ocean Drive” by Duke Dumont
7) “Pop Thieves” by Childish Gambino
Pop Thieves is practically made to listen to in the summer time. It’s off Gambino’s 2014 album Kauai, but its beachy feel makes it a timeless jam for every summer.
6) “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars
5) “Wild Thoughts” feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller by DJ Khaled
4) “Unforgettable” feat. Swae Lee by French Montana
3) “HUMBLE” by Kendrick Lamar
2) “LOVE” feat. Zacari by Kendrick Lamar
1) “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Other than this song being perfect because it’s actually about summer, when is a better time to appreciate a good throwback than summer? Summertime is one of those jams that can give you nostalgia about BBQs you’ve never been to, that one uncle in a polo everyone has, and fashions your cousins wore when they were young and free in the 90s. As the Fresh Prince puts it, this is the perfect song to play when you need a break from the heat of all that hardcore dancing. It’s a joint so cool, air conditioning is practically unnecessary.

And there you have it! 16 songs with the soul of summer.
Whether you have last minute bashes, ocean-bound adventures, road trips, pool days, or plans to hit the mountains of Frederick, you’ll want to make sure to give these songs a play or seventeen on your loudest bass woofer sound system.
These are the tunes guaranteed to make the best season last forever.




“Logan” brings a trilogy to a satisfying, emotional conclusion

In the distant future, all traces of the old “X-Men” movies are gone, and Hugh Jackman is somehow still a huge, jacked man.

“Logan” is the third and final film in 20th Century Fox’s series of movies based on the comic book character Wolverine. Eschewing the quip-filled approach of generic superhero films, “Logan” instead focuses on interpersonal drama in a neo-western style.

Set in the year 2029, the movie follows an aged Logan “Wolverine” Howlett, played by Hugh Jackman, as he attempts to escape from hostile pursuers with two travelers in tow. Patrick Stewart returns as the now Alzheimer’s-ridden psychic Professor Xavier, and Dafne Keen makes her debut as Laura, a young mutant with powers similar to Wolverine’s.

From the get-go, “Logan” goes out of its way to show viewers that it will not pull any punches with its content. The language is harsher and more frequent than in any other “X-Men” movie, and the action scenes are unprecedented in their blood and brutality. Expect plenty of severed limbs and impaled villains before the movie comes to a close.

Unlike the bleakness of “Batman v Superman,” the uncompromising grittiness of “Logan” works well with its narrative and serves to draw the audience in further. The unflinching violence and gore compliment the mental state of Wolverine, who is in constant physical pain and left wandering without a purpose in life.

The lulls between action scenes provide excellent moments of character interaction and introspection. Though the movie may seem like a standard superhero romp on the surface, its main emphasis is on reflection and finding one’s way in an unfamiliar world. The themes of family and moving on from tragedies are explored through well-crafted dialogue.

The world-building in “Logan” is handled through subtle comments and details in the cinematography, creating a near-dystopia that feels natural without being forced. From the extinction of tigers to the implementation of self-driving trucks, viewers learn of unsettlingly-modern possibilities by reading between the lines of dialogue, rather than having it ham-handedly shoved in their faces.

Ultimately, “Logan” is not a superhero movie with city-destroying stakes and massive CGI effects. It is a story of what it means to be a family and what it means to be redeemed, albeit with super-powered individuals playing key roles in the plot. Rather than make its characters godlike beings, the movie portrays them as being tragically human with every flaw visible for the world to see.

Was “Logan” one of the best movies I have ever seen? I would hesitate to say something on that scale. I think the title of “best movie ever” sort of diminishes the accomplishments of films, as it weighs them against unrealistic standards.

However, I can easily give it a 10 out of 10, and I can safely say that it was one of my favorite Marvel movies to date. I would highly recommend it to all fans of cinema. Jackman and Stewart have ended their “X-Men” filmographies on high notes.

“Logan” is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, as well as brief nudity. Its runtime is two hours and 21 minutes.

Spring Break Woes

Spring break is here and for many seniors, this is our last spring break of our undergraduate career, and for many we don’t really have a break at all.


During this time, instead of vacationing and celebrating during Spring break, many seniors, like myself, go on interviews, look at potential graduate schools, and apply for post-graduation jobs.


My spring break started off to a fast start. Right after my night class on the Thursday before our week-long hiatus, I rushed home, packed and had to get ready for an 8 a.m. flight the next day. I traveled to Minneapolis, MN to tour the University of Minnesota School of Law. I was very excited and optimistic about Minneapolis. I arrived at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and was about to go through security when I realized that I forgot my driver’s license. Fortunately, I was finally able to board the plane, but I had to go through a longer vetting process.


“Welcome to Minneapolis, it is currently 8 degrees and we will be descending shortly,” the pilot announced. “Enjoy your weekend!” This weather was not ideal, certainly not like the warmth of Miami. However, like anyone who has ever traveled to a new place that could potentially be their new home, I got off the plane and was super excited to explore. I hurried to my hotel, put my luggage down, and went out to see the sights.


During my break, I also applied for jobs. I think finding a job after graduation is often portrayed as being easy. However, that is simply not the case. Searching for a job is overwhelming and it is nerve-wracking waiting for replies to the many cover letters and resumes sent out. I, like many other seniors, are stressing as I try to figure out my post-graduation plans and finish up my school work.


“Kong: Skull Island” pays homage to the classics

Well, I guess it is time for the yearly take on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This time, instead of war-torn Vietnam or sandstorm-blasted Dubai, we get an island full of giant monsters. Fair trade, if you ask me.

“Kong: Skull Island” is a reimagining/reboot of the original “King Kong,” with the 1930s traded for the closing days of the Vietnam War. It also serves as a semi-prequel to Legendary’s 2014 “Godzilla” reboot.

Starting off, it goes through the same notes as the original 1933 movie: a group of scientists and soldiers head to the uncharted Skull Island, get stranded there, and face wits with the local creatures along with the massive Kong himself. Even with the updated setting, everything feels predictable and safe. Then the real plot kicks in, and things get very interesting very quickly.

Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Colonel Packard, becomes obsessed with slaying Kong after his men suffer initial casualties at the beast’s hands. At the same time, the other survivors make uneasy alliances with one another and a stranded WW2 veteran, played by John C. Reilly, as they try to fight their way off the island. All the while, a breed of lizard-like creatures called “skullcrawlers” surface, battling both the humans and Kong as the latter two groups are forced to cooperate to survive.

The scenery for the movie is gorgeous, no doubt helped by the crew filming in lush portions of Vietnam and Hawaii. The imagery harkens back to the hazy, sun-drenched visions of the Vietnam War produced by ‘70s Hollywood. Even the soundtrack avoids the cliché of abusing popular songs like “Fortunate Son,” instead using a fitting selection of tracks from the era.

If there’s one thing the movie does not do well, it is subtly paying homage to its reference materials. A colonel who loses his mind to violence and war, a character called Conrad, and a trek into an exotic location that reveals the depths of human depravity? That checks off the obligatory Heart of Darkness references; how about “King Kong” references? The titular ape battling against monsters like dinosaurs, an introspective encounter with the female lead, and a fight with airborne vehicles? Yes, the movie is not exactly clever when it comes to references.

There are issues with the characters, while mostly enjoyable to watch, got mixed amounts of development. The names of most for the soldiers and scientists are easily forgotten, but can remember almost every line by John C. Reilly and Jackson clearly. There were some characters, like the biologist, that went underused when they could have better immersed the audience into the island’s strange ways.

“Kong: Skull Island” is a recommend watch for monster movie fans. The audience may not have been cheering like they did in “Godzilla,” but there were plenty of vocal reactions to the film. Laughter followed most jokes without fail, while quiet anticipation built up in the audience during the tense drama scenes.

The film has a post-credits scene that is relevant to the story, so make sure to stick around till the very end. “Kong: Skull Island” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and for brief strong language. Its runtime is two hours.

Rating: 7.5/10

Keanu Reeves kills it in John Wick: Chapter 2

Say what you want about Keanu Reeves’ acting chops, but the man knows how to commit to a role and own it.

“John Wick: Chapter 2” is the sequel to Reeves’ 2014 sleeper hit, “John Wick.” The original movie, about a retired hitman going on a manhunt for the Russian gangster that killed his dog, became a surprise success for its impressive cinematography and fantastic fight scenes.

My hopes were high for the sequel, so I was prepared to be let down. To my shock, “Chapter 2” did not merely match the original – it succeeded it in multiple ways.

“John Wick: Chapter 2,” takes place directly after the first movie’s events, where the titular character has ended his feud and wishes to settle down again. Unfortunately for him, an unpaid blood oath with an Italian crime lord forces him back into action, leading him to battle against mercenaries and assassins in the heart of Rome and New York City.

The film takes a while to get the plot rolling, but when it does, the action is nail-biting and the plot is peppered with enough twists and turns to keep viewers in suspense. Summer action movie fans will love the intense moments of Reeves breaking necks and landing headshots, while hardcore fans will relish the attention to detail put into the fight scenes. Like in the first film, the character still reloads weapons frequently and gets slowed down by injuries.

The audio had a strong “punch” to it, adding more emphasis to the movie’s scenes. The soundtrack boomed to raise the excitement in the frequent one-versus-many gunfights, while the sound effects hammered home just how hard each strike and slash would hit.

Though “Chapter 2” might appear to be a brainless action movie, it does have some amount of self-awareness and clever world building. The Continental, the shadowy assassins’ guild that appeared in the first film, gets more screen time and development here. Audiences get a closer look at the inner workings of their code of honor, along with the consequences of violating it.

While the movie may sound perfect, it did have some problems with it. The buildup to the main plot felt excessively-delayed, and the stakes get somewhat absurd by the climax. Just how many would seriously be willing to take out John Wick, an assassin with a body count in the hundreds who is most known for killing three men with a pencil? A great deal of people, according to the film. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is rated R for strong violence, some language, and brief nudity. Its runtime is slightly over two hours.

Unless you’re squeamish about blood and violence, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is a must see. It is a rare action film that drops shaky cam and confusing camera angles in favor of fluid sequences and real-life fighting techniques.

Rating: 9/10

Media suppressions: A two-sided issue

President Donald Trump’s ban of news outlets like CNN at White House Press Briefings sent shock-waves through legacy and social media, with commentators questioning the authority and ethical merits of his decision.
From a distance, this would seem to be an isolated incident. This kind of resistance to journalists is unprecedented and extremely uncommon, and occurrences of it only apply to the Republican side of the aisle, right? After all, Nixon also declared the press to be an enemy.
Unfortunately, history has shown that both political wings will turn on journalists if things do not go their way. Even organizations as small as campus newspapers can feel the cold grip of censorship if they stumble across information they were not supposed to hear.
A recent instance of this happened to me during my post-election coverage of Hood Democrats and Hood Republicans. While I attended the Jan. 25 meeting of Hood Democrats, Sam Kebede, the club president and a junior at Hood, off-handedly mentioned during a section on election trauma that a colleague of his was reduced to inconsolable sobbing for an extended period of time.
A few moments later, it was demanded that I stop writing and that I cut that part of the discussion out of my notes. It was insisted that what I wrote was not newsworthy and said that I had no right to cover it, even though I had not probed any further about the person.
I internally agreed that the colleague’s name and incident were not relevant to the subject matter, but I could not abide his blatant attempt at censorship. I attempted to explain journalistic ethics to him, pointing out that one cannot simply tell a journalist to stop covering an event, especially when said journalist was invited to the event.
I waited for the other Democrats to step in, though no one spoke up to defend my right to attend and cover their meeting. In spite of their opposition to Trump, they failed to notice when their leader adopted his attitude and tactics towards the media.
Though I was later apologized to for the actions at the meeting, the reaction of hostility when I broached this editorial topic to Kebede, asking if he had any questions about it over an email. Rather than share any concerns he had with me, he attempted to have the article pulled by contacting another member of The Blue & Grey. When that failed, he threatened the paper and me with a libel lawsuit, only backing down when it became apparent that it would be costly and he had no case.
Sadly, this is how partisan politics works: one side will vigorously defend an idea like freedom of the press for a while, then turn on it the instant it works against them. The incident I faced was only one of many political crackdown attempts on student reporters.
In 2015, a University of Missouri professor, Melissa Click was caught on video attempting to remove a student reporter from a left-wing protest, demanding “some muscle” to force him away. The following year, Concerned Student 1950 activists at the college attempted to bar student journalists from covering one of their town hall meetings, then called the police on a reporter who refused to leave.
On the other end of the spectrum, a student reporter was harassed and intimidated by several members of Michigan State University College Republicans on the night of the 2016 election. Rachel Fradette, the campus editor for The State News, came out in condemnation of the event, promising to not tolerate abusive behavior and to never back down against people who attempt to suppress journalists.
Opposition can arise from not just students, but administrators as well. The former president of Mt. St. Mary’s, Simon Newman, came under fire in early 2016 for his treatment of student journalists covering his leaked emails, forcing him to resign that February.
The point is that muffling the press is not an entirely democratic, republican, liberal, conservative, libertarian, or moderate idea. Every ideology embraces it at some point, typically when tensions are high and journalists are not saying what one faction wants to hear.
People need to be willing to stand up for media outlets of all sizes and beliefs, even the ones they do not care for. If CNN gets banned now, then it sets a precedent for Fox News or The Christian Science Monitor to be banned in the next presidency.
The greatest threat to an open and ethical press is an apathetic population. If people tolerate the suppression of journalists from any political spectrum – or, even worse, try to shut it down themselves under some misguided belief of righteousness – then they are laying the foundation for future censorship and suppression of their own beliefs.
The rabid polarization of American politics is producing casualties from all walks of life. I sincerely hope that students will look past their own beliefs and defend the freedom of the press, even if it conflicts with their political views.
If student journalists cannot report on controversial issues without worrying about backlash from administrators or fellow students, then their college is anything but a place for higher learning.

From the Desk of the Editor: March 20

At a small school like Hood, I never would have expected to be in the position that I have been in this week. To round out our diminishing staff and lack of enthusiasm surrounding the paper, this week, I caught wind of the possibility of a libel suit.
This past week, I had to defend one of my staff members to a degree of people. As far as outsiders of the paper go, I would expect that it might happen every now and again, however, I had to defend the member to several other people on staff for the newspaper.
We are in a college setting and not everyone is aware of exactly how the media operates. For example, having to say “off the record” prior to exposing information that is to be, as the phrase states, “off the record” and the bare essentails of what one might need to know when talking to a reporter. Personally, I find it interesting that as communication students we are aware of what you can and cannot do, but others are not given instruction on how to interact with the media.
However, what I did not expect was the number of times I had to talk to other staff members about defending the staff member. At the end of the day, I would make the same decision no matter who on the staff it was regarding, and that seemed to be the problem.
I want to do this job to the best of my ability, and I think that’s how all student leaders should view their clubs. Not only do I need to protect my staff, but I also need to keep them together as a group.
It’s not a good dynamic to have people question the leader, or even other members. A debate or discussion is different than openly disagreeing and stating that someone is flat out wrong.
It is an interesting situation to be in a place where people aren’t happy with your club but it has nothing to do with you. I’ve been in a situation where my own writing put me in a tricky place, but it is a different experience trying to defend and protect the organization, not just myself.
As editor-in-chief, I take my job seriously. It is something I want to leave as my legacy at Hood and I want everyone to see me as a good leader, or at least someone who tries.
This includes protecting my staff and the legacy of “The Blue and Grey.”
Just to further address the issue, if you or someone you know has a problem with the content of the paper, please let me know. I would also invite anyone to email me letters to the editor with any comments or concerns.
If a member of the staff is causing trouble, please do not go to any other staff members, talk to the person directly, or myself.
I can be contacted by email at any time at


Memes become a way to commuicate

Meme from "The Office" Photo courtesy of ShruteFacts

Meme from “The Office”
Photo courtesy of ShruteFacts

“[A]n idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture,” that is how Wikipedia defines “meme.”
You know, a meme – those things that circulate the internet that everyone knows about if they spend more than 5 minutes on Facebook or Tumblr, the supreme meme realm, but can never quite explain to someone who hasn’t experienced the fluid joke flood.
When my mom asked me what a meme was, I struggled to explain it. Some years back, my brother referred to them as internet comics (boy, was he misguided) mostly because of the generic Impact font that gets slapped over a popular picture.
Probably the most popular memes as of late are Salt Bae: the guy who’s been compared to Juandissimo from Fairly Oddparents (rightfully so) that prepares dinner meat in a rather…unique fashion, topping it off with some salt that barely reaches the meat because his elbow is in the way; Danielle, the “cash me ousside how bou dah” girl who isn’t even old enough to know that Dr. Phil, along with every TV judge ever, is the god of daytime television (television viewing is polytheistic); and a guy who sort of looks like Eddie Murphy in Coming to America aka the Safe Roller dude (pictured below).
The common link between all of these is that typically people in our generation and younger use catchphrases and pictures to depict one’s own reaction to a situation other people can relate to.
So, in a sense, memes are like a legit cultural thing.
Just ask Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and hardcore atheist who coined the term “meme” back in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene. In it, he defines the cultural significance that memes have in how they transmit ideas and cultural phenomena that help culture to evolve.
Don’t tell him I said this, but Richard Dawkins just might be the meme God.
But don’t fear! I highly doubt (or rather hope) that American culture will not only be about meat poorly salted by cartoon men and Eddie Murphy impersonators. Nay, I see something else important.
What if I told you (claps if you caught that Matrix meme reference) that memes could be the new political cartoon?
It’s plausible. No, I’m not talking about sick Obama-Biden memes or Putin puns. I mean all the memes that throw massive shade at heads of state and their political decisions, or address the threat of a nuclear war.
What if memes, in all their comedic glory for telling what could be decade’s worth of history in a single photo, are our generation’s way of coping with their qualms about the state of foreign politics or the political legacy we are likely to leave behind?
What if someone photoshopping the face of Shrek onto President Trump saying “get out of my swamp!” is a way someone chooses to communicate their fear of alienation and heightened bigotry?
We all have our methods of expression. So…what if?