Crypto guide for someone who knows nothing about crypto

Business

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor
Header Image: QuoteInspector

This will be my last article in the business section of my beloved school newspaper. Reflecting on my time spent editing this section for the past year, I have one regret: I wish we had talked about crypto more.

That’s not because I’m a crypto fanatic; I don’t own any Bitcoin or Ethereum or tokens. But I am about to complete my B.S. in finance and launch my art and design business. Given my background in finance coupled with my perspective as an artist, crypto clearly intersects with my interests.

I’ll admit: for the past two years or so, I would have groaned at the mere mention of the blockchain. What do you mean it’s digital money? Isn’t my money digital when I send it through Venmo? And what do you mean crypto is “decentralized…” where exactly is it? And what the f*ck is an NFT?

First, a few disclaimers:

  1. Crypto isn’t going anywhere. Whether you like it or not, it is part of the future of finance.
  2. There are strong arguments in favor of crypto. There are also strong arguments in opposition to crypto.
  3. I have not found a single, comprehensive guide to understanding cryptocurrency, probably for a few reasons:
    1. The field is constantly evolving.
    2. Part of its appeal is that it remains ambiguous; cryptic, if you will. Pun intended.
  4. It’s actually not that difficult to understand.

With those disclaimers in mind, let’s get into it. This guide heavily quotes the information provided by Cryptopedia.

  1. Cryptocurrency is a blockchain-based digital asset. There are two main blockchain-based digital assets: crypto and tokens. We’ll get to the blockchain later.
  2. “A digital asset is anything that is stored digitally and is uniquely identifiable that organizations can use to realize value.”
  3. The difference between crypto and tokens is that cryptocurrencies have their OWN blockchains, whereas tokens are built on EXISTING blockchains.
  4. Where does the term “crypto” come from?
    1. Cryptography: an advanced encryption technique that assures the authenticity of crypto by eliminating the possibility of counterfeiting or double-spending.
    2. Encryption: computer-speak for converting data from one form into another; more specifically, plaintext into ciphertext.
  5. What is the blockchain?
    1. Imagine a bank. Way back when, banks kept written records of all their transactions. Then computers came along, and they could print out data and store it in filing cabinets. All of this transaction data existed in real time and space, not just online. The blockchain is the digital “place” where transaction data is stored.
    2. Essentially, the blockchain is “a distributed ledger that connects a decentralized network on which users can send transactions and build applications without the need for a central authority or server” (Gemini).
      1. I implore you to look further into this and discover just how murky the “decentralization” truly is — basically, it is very difficult for any technology to not be centralized by one person or organization. Back to the basics.
    3. Bitcoin is the native cryptocurrency of its own blockchain. Ethereum is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain.
  6. When and where do these networks operate?
    1. Everywhere, all the time. These networks are called peer-to-peer, or P2P, meaning you can communicate from Philadelphia to Seoul almost instantaneously, without first passing through a dedicated server.
  7. So we understand the blockchain, and that the two biggest digital asset classes are crypto and tokens. What can you do with crypto?
    1. Trade it, use it as a medium of exchange, use it as a store of value.
  8. What is a token? What can you do with it?
    1. It’s easier to tell you what it’s not. It’s not the native, or main or flagship currency that accompanies a blockchain.
      1. For example, Ethereum (the blockchain) has ETH (the crypto), but it also has DAI, LINK, COMP and CryptoKitties.
    2. Like crypto, tokens hold value and can be exchanged. They can also represent physical assets. They are also used by users of certain blockchains to vote on actions/policies taken by the blockchain. In other words, users can use them to guide the course of their network.
  9. Is any of this stuff regulated?
    1. What a big question. I can’t answer it all in one guide. I can say, however, that tokens do follow sets of standards, known as ERC-20 and ERC-721. I cannot give you much more information on these standards than that. I never said I was an expert.
    2. Speaking strictly from a United States perspective, crypto is really hard to regulate from a governmental perspective. The age of the average Congressperson is around 61 years old. For context, I am 21 — I’ve had a Facebook account since age 8 — and even I don’t know where to begin with regulation.
  10. How do cryptocurrencies/tokens gain or lose value?
    1. There are many ways. One thing that heavily contributes to the rate of Bitcoin, the first and biggest cryptocurrency, for example, is hype. People “in the know” buy low and sell high, as one does in any stock market situation.
    2. Their value can fluctuate greatly and quickly — it is a volatile market.

I hope this guide has clarified what cryptocurrency is. I invite any insight and/or corrections from those who are more well-versed in it than I. For further reading on the topic, I suggest:

Don’t let the finance bros gatekeep this knowledge from you. In fact, nobody should gatekeep financial knowledge of any sort — we all know the sayings, “knowledge is power” and “money is power,” so knowledge of money? Priceless.

I’m not saying crypto or finance in general are simple to understand; there are a lot of variables and context that you need to consider. In my research on crypto, I’m learning that there’s a lot more about coding that I’d like to know; information that would definitely enhance my understanding of digital finance.

But with this and with all new endeavors, remember to give yourself time. Nothing happens overnight, meaning you won’t wake up tomorrow with a full, clear understanding of the blockchain or how to invest. Just like investing, good things take time. 

You owe yourself the time it takes to understand how to function in our modern world. And you can do it. Perhaps I’m talking to myself here, or the handful of people who will read this article; either way, you can do it. In the words of Elle Woods, “What, like it’s hard?” Cryptocurrency in many ways needs to evolve before it is publicly accepted, especially due to its environmental impact, but it is the future of currency exchange and it’s here to stay.

Editor’s Note: There are many controversies surrounding cryptocurrency. For example, it is believed that one Bitcoin transaction, let alone mining, takes up the same amount of energy that a U.S. house uses in 42 days. 102.38 kilograms of CO2 is created from one Ethereum trade. 30,000 tons of electronic waste come from crypto a year. 35 percent of Bitcoin is mined in the U.S. and over 60 percent of the U.S. power grid runs on fossil fuels. NFTs can be used in pyramid schemes due to the public’s lack of understanding and pleasant nature of the images. The ethics of using NFTs to dodge copyright laws undermines the entertainment industry and art industry. Bitcoin is also used to fund criminal activity as it is difficult to track and regulate in many countries.

La Salle’s troubling lack of counseling services for fifth-year students

Uncategorized

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

La Salle boasts multiple 5-year programs. But they don’t offer free counseling services to students in their fifth year. Why?

Many students in their fifth, and final, year of their program — whether that be Communication Sciences and Disorders, Secondary Education or Social Work, to name a few — also attend La Salle for their undergrad. In other words, these students are used to utilizing services such as the counseling and health centers as means to cope with their ever-stressful lives in both academia and the workforce. Some of them build profound and valuable relationships with their counselors, meeting with them on a weekly basis.

These students continue paying tuition, obviously, and they also continue paying the university fee and student activities fee — but once they officially enter their fifth year, they can’t see their counselor anymore. Now, if their counselor has a private practice, they have to pay out-of-pocket to continue maintaining their mental health. If their counselor doesn’t have a private practice, students are met with a dead end. 

According to Thervo, an average therapy session in Philadelphia costs between $60-$120 per session. Say a student meets weekly with their counselor throughout the school year; based on two 16 week-long semesters, that rounds out to $1,920 to $3,840 spent out of pocket on therapy per year. For many of my out-of-state friends, their insurance won’t cover a dime of therapy costs. I don’t know a single college student who could manage that extra cost on top of everything we already pay to this university. 

So why doesn’t La Salle offer the same counseling and wellness services to its fifth year students that it does to its undergraduates? In September of 2018, La Salle received “a three-year Garret Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Systems Administration, worth over $300,000.” Those three years have passed, and I’m unclear on exactly how La Salle utilized this grant. I have researched and read the plans published by La Salle and the grant manager from 2017 and 2018, but I have yet to find any updates on the program since then.

All of that information on the grant is only supplementary to my point: that La Salle provides no public reason as to why fifth year students cannot access student counseling or wellness services. Instead, they tell students who utilize these services throughout their undergrad, “Good luck! We won’t be helping you anymore.” Or, at least, that’s the impression that one of the students entering her fifth year of the Communication Sciences and Disorders program is under. “I still pay all my fees; I’m actually paying more now than I ever have for school. I pay $1,050 per credit and for some reason, I can’t keep seeing my counselor. It’s beyond frustrating.”

And she’s right, it is beyond frustrating because it’s a liability. Is it really in La Salle’s best interest to not offer free counseling and wellness services to its overworked and underpaid (if at all) graduate students? Another student entering her final year of the five year Communication Sciences and Disorders program showed me her current balance. $9,450 in tuition for 9 credits, plus a $285 “general university fee.” What is that “general” fee going toward, if not a service to help manage depression, anxiety and all the stress that comes with being in an accelerated program?

On Sunday, May 1, I worked my last ever event as a tour guide. Before the admitted students arrived to submit their deposit and commit to La Salle University, my fellow ACEs and I went around the quad, putting up signs with various fun facts about our school. One of the signs reads, “La Salle offers multiple five-year programs.” But what we don’t tell incoming students is that we can’t offer them free counseling services during that rigorous fifth year for their mental wellbeing. We don’t tell them that they’ll reach their final year, feeling more overworked and exhausted than they’ve likely ever felt in their entire life, and that they’ll have to work that out on their own.

Why not?

Powell calls for regulations on digital currencies

Business

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

Header Image: The Washington Times

On Wednesday, March 23, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell discussed the need for consumer protection when it comes to digital currencies. The Bank for International Settlements, an organization that includes central bankers from around the world, organized the panel at which Powell spoke. There are two kinds of new technologies that Powell is concerned with: stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.

The former are a kind of cryptocurrency tied to a commodity or the dollar; the latter are government-issued digital forms of currencies, like the U.S. dollar. Back in Jan., the Fed released a study on stablecoins that identifies the form of currency as “a possible breakthrough innovation in the future of payments.” The Fed understands that stablecoins have the potential to significantly impact the banking system, both on traditional banking and credit provision. As for digital currencies, the Fed is researching the topic but has not decided whether to issue their own.

Although Powell did not provide much detail as to the content of these regulations, he did say that these digital transactions should be regulated the same as other transactions executed by banks. Powell is particularly concerned with the perceived lack of consumer awareness of the risk associated with cryptocurrency: many popular investments lack government protection of losses. The rate of adult Americans who invest in cryptocurrency is 16 percent and it seems that the hype is only growing, meaning that more Americans are going to be exposed to unregulated risk by investing in crypto in the coming years. That is, however, unless the government develops more robust laws and regulations concerning digital currencies.

Besides personal loss and privacy concerns, Powell discussed how cryptocurrency assets have been used for “illicit activity,” such as money laundering. On top of that, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has expressed concern regarding crypto use and evading sanctions on Russia.

You look so stupid with your mask on your chin

Commentary

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

Header image: Olmsted Medical Center

Make a decision: mask or no mask? I’m going to leave the science up to the public health experts and virologists; I’m not interested in making a case for masks (even though I will continue to wear mine until the data shows that I don’t have to). Why am I not interested in making that case? Because everyone is getting unique information. There is no guarantee that I am reading the same news as my neighbor, and doesn’t that fact take away from its legitimacy as news? We lack a shared reality these days, and when we’ve got a killer virus on our hands, that fact is terrifying. But that’s not why I’m writing; that’s fodder for a later article.

The purpose of this article is to ask my fellow Lasallians to make a choice. If you’re going to wear a mask, wear it properly; otherwise, what’s the point? I’m trying to understand. Everything we do and wear sends a message, and the message sent by wearing your mask around your chin is that you don’t, in that moment, care to avoid contracting an airborne virus. I can understand wearing a mask properly and then pulling it down on your chin to eat or drink, or when you’re struggling to communicate and you really need the added clarification provided by seeing your mouth. But why walk around, why teach a class with your mask around your chin? I genuinely don’t understand.

It can’t be a form of “virtue signaling,” to use a buzzer term as of late. It can’t be, because what virtue are you trying to communicate? People who choose not to wear masks may look at those who do as sheep; as people who lack the values of personal liberty that so dutifully reinforce our social, political and economic fabrics. Some people who choose not to wear masks look at those who do as performative and over-reactive. Some people who choose to wear masks (in spite of the university saying we don’t have to) view those who don’t as pig-headed and selfish. Individual liberty and the collective good. Those are the virtues at conflict.

But wearing it around your chin? Pick a side. Do you believe you and the community are safe enough without the added barrier provided by masks, or do you believe we have to keep this up indefinitely? Pick a side, make a decision. Your mask is doing nothing for you on your chin, except for prompting me to write this article.

Why you should doodle more

Commentary

Eliabeth McLaughlin, Editor

When was the last time you translated a thought into an object? An abstract idea into a tangible good? When was the last time you doodled? I hope the answer isn’t elementary school, or even last week — in my ideal world, the answer is as recent as yesterday. Contrary to popular belief, doodling should not be reserved for those with innate artistic talent. If we all doodled more, the world would be a happier place.

Think about it: we all used to (or some of us still do) doodle in the margins of our notebooks or on scrap pieces of paper. We used to draw little stick figures, houses, dogs and misshapen faces with no regard for proportions. Put in other words, we used to have more fun. That’s what I keep thinking as I round out my college career, about how I used to have so much fun as a kid, doing kid things like playing on the playground and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Well, duh, Liz, of course kids have more fun… you’re an Adult with Real Responsibilities looming in the past, present and future. But I refuse to accept that we can’t hold onto our childlike wonder as we age. What better way to do that than to make crappy little doodles in the margins?

One thing I always hear from non-artists is some variation of, “I wish I could do that.” My answer? Same. You think I was born able to write calligraphy? Looking back on my childhood sketchbooks, it’s clear to me that my skills are mine because I was relentless in their pursuit, not because of some natural-born talent. (I’ll admit that this natural ability does come into play, but I think to a much smaller degree than one might believe.)

But my other answer to that quip is as follows: “Who cares?” The day I realized art doesn’t have to be good to be worth making, my entire perspective opened up. Once I broadened my outlook to one that validates crappy art, I started having way more fun. Let me give an example. I mainly use Strathmore 5.5” x 8.5” Mixed Media sketchbooks, and have been regularly doing so for about two years now. Prior to that, all my drawings were on loose leaf or in random notebooks. Anyway, once I committed to this format, I had this unwritten rule with myself that I couldn’t let any page go to waste. I had to finish the sketchbook in order, from front to back, not letting any page fall victim to crappy art.

Little did I know, that is a terrible way to approach art. Over time, I began realizing that I preferred to draw on the right hand page, so I began filling books by only ever drawing on the right hand page. And when I needed to, I’d use the left hand side to doodle or practice or gauge proportions; basically, to mess around. Or, I’d use the left side to provide context to the drawing on the right. Once I finished the sketchbook this way, I’d go back to any blank left hand pages and make more art. And perhaps the most important acquired element of my drawing process? My designated doodling page.

My doodle page where I experiment.

An example of a sketchbook page with context on the left.

An example of a sketchbook page with context on the left.

An example of a page where I didn’t care how it looked. I was curious as to how other people drew circles so I had my roommates draw circles.

One day, I realized that my arbitrary rule that I had to make every page count was counterintuitive and downright stupid. By prohibiting myself from doodling, I was negatively impacting the quality of my oeuvre. This doodling page, always the last one in my book, allows me to experiment with different colors and mediums; to see if I can draw a face that looks half decent or not (the answer is usually no… I’ve kind of let anatomy fall by the wayside. Oops.). My doodling page eliminates (some of) the anxiety and pressure associated with wanting to make good art.

After all, isn’t that why you don’t doodle? Because you don’t think it’ll look good? Well, yeah, with that attitude, you’re probably right. But so what? The act of doodling is worth as much as, if not more, than the end result. It’s therapy. A lot of my art is word-based. For example, when I’m anxious, I’ll write my thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness style in my black sketchbook. Sometimes I’ll alternate marker colors with each line, other times I’ll try to write as illegible as possible, a la graffiti hand style.

Lots of times, these doodles never see the light of day again, and that’s okay. Art doesn’t always have to be shared or evaluated. If that were true, then it would mean that art is only worth anything when someone else’s eyes are on it. It would negate the many benefits of the process of art-making itself. Having made both kinds of art, the kind to be seen (and worn) and the kind that hides in the corner of my closet, never to be viewed by anyone but me… I can definitively say that art is still worth making even when it doesn’t look good; even when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. At the end of the day, I’m convinced no artist actually knows what they’re doing. They just look like they do.

And at the end of the day, I hope you doodle more. I can’t tell you what you’ll get out of it because that’s subjective and unique to each individual. Maybe you’ll hate it. That’s cool, too. At least you can say you made something, not out of nothing but out of yourself. Think about it, it’s so simple but so amazing to me: you can just have a thought and then translate that thought onto a piece of paper using a bunch of markers and crayons?! I hope you read that in your inner child’s voice; they have way more fun, anyway. And, lastly, please send me your doodles, if you want. I would love to see what you create.

Men’s basketball narrowly defeats Dayton

Sports

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

On Feb. 26, senior day, La Salle men’s basketball narrowly defeated the Dayton Flyers. Kyle Thompson, Andrew Lafond, Clifton Moore and Jack Clark were recognized before the game as the team’s four seniors. For the first two seniors, it was their first start of their Explorer career. The win over Dayton marks the end of a five-game losing streak. The Explorers now stand at 8-18 on the year, increasing to 3-13 in the Atlantic 10. Dayton, on the other hand, falls to 20-29 and 12-4 in conference play.

Moore started the game by scoring six points in the opening minutes. The Dayton Flyers employed full-court pressure on the Explorers, prompting them to get a 24-14 lead. Clark stepped in and cut the point deficit to seven by hitting a three pointer from right outside the 3-point line. Moore also helped spark a 7-0 spurt to cut the deficit to eight by the second half’s first timeout.

Both teams traded seven straight possessions and each move from the Flyers saw an effective counter move from the Explorers. Khalil Brantley helped the Explorers gain a healthy 61-55 advantage with 2:28 remaining in the game. Then, Dayton’s Koby Brea hit a three pointer and slashed La Salle’s lead to two. Then, the Explorer’s defense held out for over two minutes and their offense prompted the Flyers to force a shot clock violation on the final Explorer possession.

By the last 12 seconds, the Explorers were leading by 61-60 and called on their defense. Moore managed to block Brea’s three pointer, securing a win for the Explorers. A double-technical was assessed by both teams as well as a personal foul from Dayton; Moore went to the line for a one-and-one with 0.1 seconds remaining. The Flyers were unable to muster a win over the Explorers, ending the game at 62-60.

If the team can continue playing like they did against Dayton, many good games will follow suit.

Experiencing misogyny as a female student leader

Commentary

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

Header Image: Philosophy Talk

I’m no stranger to positions of leadership, which is a good thing. What’s not so good is that I’m also no stranger to my leadership being questioned, undervalued and undermined by virtue of my being female. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of my peers respect my guidance and opinions, but the truth of the matter is this: being taken seriously as a leader and a woman is one of the trickiest balancing acts I’ve ever encountered. The fact that I have to qualify that first statement with the disarming notion that it’s not all men who evaluate my leadership through a misogynistic lens is part of the problem, but it’s worth mentioning. Why?

Because although I have encountered sexism in my various leadership positions, I’ve also encountered overwhelming support in identifying and tackling said inequality. So before I get into my gripes, thank you to everyone who has supported me. Truly. You’re all part of the solution. And now, onto the problem.

As I mentioned before, I’m familiar with various leadership positions, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll zero in on the one to which I devote most of my time: La Salle Mock Trial Association (LMTA). To be clear, I am not zeroing in on this activity because it represents an isolated instance of misogyny in my life; rather, it serves as a useful illustration that can be extended far beyond the scope of mock trial. In other words, there is no need to attack or discard LMTA as a sexist institution, it’s not; I’m simply making observations that apply to other instances of female leadership.

I have been consumed by mock trial since fifth grade, and have formally competed on teams throughout high school and college. I truly wouldn’t be who I am without this activity. Each year, I have competed on the most competitive team offered by the organization. Back in the day, I was a much more timid attorney who had yet to fully realize the power of her voice and presence, and I’ve come a long way.

And I shouldn’t have to argue for my right to be respected by enumerating the various awards I’ve earned over the years, but perhaps it’ll provide some ethos to my argument. The American Mock Trial Association recognizes the top attorneys and witnesses at each tournament. I don’t keep track of how many I’ve won because, well, I don’t really care about those kinds of things. I care about performing well; any awards are borderline superfluous to me. (Not to mention that the awards themselves are gavels and, to be honest, a girl can only accrue so many gavels before it gets a little out of hand.)

You would think that the fact that I’ve won awards (as both attorney and witness) at all but one tournament I’ve competed in for the past three years would prompt any misogynist to respect me even just marginally more. These awards are data-driven, determined by the judges’ rankings on each ballot. But for some reason, even the data doesn’t seem to convince the most dedicated misogynists. And that’s frustrating.

As I stated before, mock trial is the activity to which I devote most of my time; it is essentially a third major at this point. I am not ashamed to admit I spend more time on mock trial than some of my classes (all of us do, we’re literally the biggest nerds ever). This is all to say I’ve invested a lot in this activity; I’ve been tournament director, president and captain. And still, the simple fact that I am a woman seems to affect others’ perception of me. Again, not all people; most of my teammates respect my contributions to the team. But why not all?

I can’t answer that, I’m not misogynistic. But I can discuss specific oddities that perhaps lead to an answer; oddities that I’ve experienced firsthand over the years. For example, I started scoring better when I started wearing glasses in trial. In the fall of my sophomore year, I developed this pesky eye condition that precluded me from wearing contacts; since then, I’ve worn glasses quite often. Perhaps they make me seem more competent or intelligent? By extension, I also wear less makeup. If you knew me in high school or freshman year, you’d expect my eyelids to be sponsored by Anastasia Beverly Hills any day of the week. As my use of makeup diminished, so too did my perceived femininity.

It seems that femininity and scores in trial have an inverse relationship. It seems that when I present myself in less feminine ways, people tend to take me more seriously. This isn’t a hunch — it’s evident in the data.

So that’s enough on physical appearance with respect to misogyny. What about communication? I’ve noticed that, around some men, us women have to be careful so as to not insult their intelligence. When advocating for ourselves, we mustn’t dare to broach territory that suggests they are in the wrong. We have to mince words and consider egos in ways that, it seems, men do not. Sometimes, we even have to go as far as convincing a misogynistic person that they were the one who came up with some great idea. It’s like an idea conceived by a woman carries less weight than if it were borne by a man. As a woman who witnesses her fellow women come up with intelligent ideas all the time, this observation is beyond frustrating.

Again, nothing I speak of here is exclusively endemic to LMTA — I love leading this organization and have confidence in myself to identify and correct misogynistic behavior using the tools I’ve developed over years of experience. I also have confidence in my peers to help me help us; LMTA will always have a special place in my heart. 

These are problems endemic to being a woman in leadership. Being a female leader means constant self-awareness and concern for others. It means watching your tone and curating your clothes so that those who evaluate your body have as little to judge as possible. It means minding your Ps and Qs and being careful to not step on anybody’s toes too much, or you’ll run the risk of being called a b***h. Being a female leader feels like constantly having to prove that you are good enough.

Here’s a message to all my fellow female leaders, aspiring and current: don’t listen to the noise. As women, we’re already particularly adept at listening; it’s part of the ancestral job description, in my opinion. Listening is our power. So continue doing that for those who call you their president, captain or whatever your title may be. But don’t listen to the noise. Don’t listen to shallow, empty jabs at your competence. Remember that your femaleness does not preclude you from being an effective leader. It’s quite the contrary, actually: being a woman makes you an extraordinarily effective leader!

It’s no secret that leadership positions have long been dominated by men, and LMTA is no exception — as far as I’m aware, I’m only the second female president and “A team” captain in its history. Mock trial has taken up a significant portion of my time for many years now; I am who I am because of this activity. As my time with it draws to a close, I reflect on my gratitude for every second of it, misogyny and all. Experiencing misogyny seems to be a very unfortunate but inevitable part of life as a woman. In a weird way, thank you to the misogynists for challenging me to identify their problematic perspectives and exceed their expectations of me. Believe it or not, in doubting my capabilities, you’ve given me the chance to prove you wrong, time and time again.

To all my fellow women in leadership, keep proving them wrong. Have these conversations with your peers. Misogyny is an uncomfortable topic of conversation that needs to be broached in order to eliminate it. Keep advocating for yourself, you have so much more power than you might be led to believe.

Dr. Mshomba gives back to his hometown via an invaluable library

News

Elizabeth McLauglin, Editor

Header Image: Madecha Education Association

The Durning-O’Halloran Library in Arusha, Tanzania, established by Dr. Richard and Elaine Mshomba.

On Feb. 16, Dr. Richard Mshomba, a professor of economics here at La Salle, discussed how he has given back to his hometown in Sinon, Arusha, a city in  Tanzania via a community library that serves more than 15 schools. Mshomba’s devotion to Lasallian values stems back to his undergraduate career, when he received a scholarship to La Salle and moved from Tanzania to Philadelphia to study economics. In the years since, he has demonstrated steadfast commitment to the very values that underpin a Lasallian education. With his wife, Mshomba established the Madecha Education Association, the organization that operates the library.

The Durning-O’Halloran Library

Mshomba explains that “the education system in Tanzania is different from that in the U.S.,” with one key difference being that students have to pass national exams in order to pass on to the next level of schooling. The library provides students with access to books, laptops, internet and sample exams, to name a few resources. Construction on the library began in 2008 and was completed in 2016; it has since doubled in size, representing an invaluable resource to members of his hometown community.

The Durning-O’Halloran Library is named after Mshomba’s American host family, Joan and Charles Durning, as well as Elaine Mshomba’s parents, Joan and Joseph O’Halloran. All four individuals provided support, both financially and faith-based, for the Mshombas’ project. Moreover, a La Salle College High School student named Matthew Hladczuk undertook a fundraising effort for the library’s expansion.

Through community effort, the Mshombas were able to “provide additional educational opportunities for the young people in the community, [and] a long-term goal is to build a facility for vocational training.” In Mshomba’s words, “it is amazing what can be accomplished when people work together for the common good.”

The Durning-O’Halloran Library

Editor’s Note: During my freshman year, I was lucky enough to have Mshomba for microeconomics. From the first day of class and throughout the entire semester, it was clear to me that Mshomba values education very highly and works with students, both in and out of the classroom, to ensure that they are provided with the tools and resources they need to succeed. 

The difference between $300 and $600k

Commentary

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

Header image: collegeconsensus.com

La Salle’s highest-paid employee doesn’t even work here anymore. In the spring of 2018, La Salle fired Dr. John Giannini, the former head coach of the men’s basketball team. Still, thanks to the fine print in his contract, La Salle has been paying his salary each year since his dismissal. According to the university’s IRS 990 form from 2020, he was paid at least $603,217, not including “other compensation.”

And on Jan. 7 of this year, La Salle charged a late fee to my account, clocking in at $150. And, of course, they had to charge me interest on that late fee, to the tune of $10.88. Fast forward to Feb. 7 — I was charged yet another late fee (+ interest). Dear La Salle: if I wasn’t able to make the base payment without any late fees back in January, what makes you think I’m suddenly in the financial position to shell out an additional (and I believe arbitrarily-determined) $321.76?

For brevity and simplicity, let’s round that out to $300. $300 in my pocket goes toward groceries and bills and occasionally funding my small business. But my two main concerns as a college student right now are food and shelter. And La Salle’s biggest expense is… paying someone they fired four years ago? It doesn’t match up.

At this point, perhaps you’re thinking, “Liz, do you have a job?” Yes, I did, in admissions. And then the university laid me off at the start of my senior year. Something about “not having it in the budget.” I’m glad Giannini is in the budget, though! Especially given La Salle’s dwindling admissions numbers, it is of the utmost importance that we lay off our student recruiters, right? Wrong. It’s no secret that La Salle is struggling, from both a financial perspective as well as an admissions perspective. So this is my question to the university: how do you justify laying off your budget workers — all of whom are very effective recruiters — while still wasting money elsewhere? I’m not a lawyer, I can’t pretend that I know the terms of Giannini’s contract — but has the university even explored getting out of it somehow? Or, did the university maybe consider not firing him back in 2018…at least get some labor out of him if you’re going to have to pay him regardless? Or was the performance of the basketball team the most important criteria in their decision-making?

I don’t know how the university makes its decisions, but I can say that after nearly four years here, I do know that they prioritize two key areas: its men’s basketball team and its business school. Everything else, I’ve learned, isn’t nearly as important as those two stalwarts. This isn’t an article interested in slandering the business school. Given the high job placement rates that come out of Founders’ Hall, La Salle is getting a really high return on investment on that front. My qualms lie with the team whose record is 40-65 (.381) since coach Ashley Howard was brought on.

My motivation for writing this article didn’t grow out of my personal, unique frustration with the university’s financial decisions; it grew out of the collective. All of my peers are beyond frustrated with the manners in which La Salle goes about squeezing money out of its students, only to turn around and spend it in foolish ways. If the basketball program was better, maybe this would be a different article, or maybe it wouldn’t even be written at all.

But, the fact of the matter is this: Giannini gets $600k while La Salle’s own students struggle to make ends meet. A man who hasn’t worked here for four years gets a yearly salary while student workers get laid off. La Salle’s admission numbers continue to drop to alarmingly low levels while the university focuses its efforts on a team with a bad record. Perhaps the worst part? My peers reading this article lose more and more faith each day in their university to make sound financial decisions. I love La Salle; I always have and always will. But allowing students to lose confidence in the very institution to which they entrust not only their education but also the trajectories of their careers is bad policy. And it doesn’t take a finance major to know that paying Giannini without receiving any services from him is bad practice; it’s bad for the financial statements and even worse for student morale.

Luckily, Financial Aid was able to waive one of my two late fees. I’m still trying to come up with the extra $160 that would otherwise go toward PECO, PGW or rent. I’ll figure it out. I just hope La Salle does, too.

Cory Anotado, ‘10: A career in digital arts and game shows

Features

Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor

Header Image: “Jeopardy!”

As a kid, his grandparents entertained a constant loop of game shows, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Needless to say, such exposure nurtured an infatuation with game shows for Cory Anotado, ‘10. Over time, the La Salle alum has explored his passion via his hit blog, BuzzerBlog, and has also appeared on numerous game shows, from “Wheel of Fortune” to “The Chase” to “Jeopardy!” Nowadays, Anotado works for Dreamscape Marketing, a creative agency based in Baltimore that specializes in connecting businesses in the addiction treatment industry with those who need help the most. He also does some freelance graphic design, and has even designed a card deck that enables users to play multiple different games.

Anotado started BuzzerBlog in early 2005, before he started as a freshman at La Salle. His motivation was to create something that “reflected the modern game show fan’s sensibilities.” Anotado found that all of the game show news online was “written by a person who had an undying loyalty to old-school game shows, and who treated newer game shows with a haughty sense of disdain.” As the avid game show lover he is, he saw an underserved market — and opted to serve it himself. Since then, the blog has grown into an impressive, living artifact of the game show industry, employing a staff of writers who share Anotado’s passion. The staff includes Alex Davis, an old friend whom Anotado met through the game show fandom. Other staff members are Christian Carrion and Bob Hagh, two of Anotado’s closest and oldest friends. According to Anotado, his staff share similar visions for their blog, but each member carries their own unique sensibilities and viewpoints that enrich the site.

BuzzerBlog has grown to serve millions of viewers interested in the game show industry and culture. Over time, Anotado and his staff have had to adjust to their growing following. “As our audience has grown, so has our obligations — we understand that we’re speaking to a larger audience. It’s never changed our core emotions, just taught us empathy and wisdom.”

In addition to running a blog on the industry, Anotado has ample first hand experience being on game shows. He recalls filming “Wheel of Fortune” at the Wells Fargo (then Wachovia) Center, right in his backyard. He also appeared on “The Chase,” setting the record for the highest single-day winnings at $180,000. But it wasn’t easy; Anotado was paired with “two of the smartest people [he knows,]” a circumstance he recalls as “absolute kismet.” Most recently, he appeared on “Jeopardy!” alongside record-breaker Amy Schneider.

“Jeopardy!”

With all of his experience writing game show literature and competing on the shows themselves, Anotado has developed some hot takes on the industry as a whole. For one, “‘Wheel of Fortune’ has been boring for about 15 years.” (I couldn’t agree more.) He says that they need to do something; he suggests putting a video screen in the Wheel. Anotado also mentions that Bob Barker was way creepier than you remember; as someone who is only familiar with Drew Carey’s “The Price Is Right,” I’ll take his word for it. In fact, I was a HUGE fan of “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal” — I’ll admit that I even played hooky once or twice just to watch them live. But Anotado insists that most of the game shows you liked as a kid are actually not as good as you think they were… all those “sick” days for mediocre TV…

Lastly, Anotado opines that the absolute best video game versions of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” were for the Wii. I cannot argue with him here; I stand by virtually everything that was ever made for the Wii.

Through it all, Anotado has kept in mind the Lasallian values that are so thoroughly instilled in our community here at 20th and Olney. His communication classes taught him the ins and outs of video editing; English classes gave him the writing background he needed “to become an actual real-live New York Times and Wall Street Journal-quoted journalist.” He stresses that without the digital art department, he wouldn’t be where he is today. The classes he took in that department taught him not only the technical and artistic skills he uses in his career, but also gave him the experience to deal with real-world art and design situations.

He also recalls his time as our very own Kicks editor of The La Salle Collegian, a position currently held by my good friend, Claire Kunzier. As the Kicks editor, Anotado once made a free version of La Salle “Monopoly,” where readers could cut the board out of the paper and then go to the myLaSalle server space to download money and cards to print out.

His advice to his fellow creatives: you are your biggest asset; specifically, the way you view the world is different from anyone else. “There’s no one who sees the world exactly like you. Design, especially — it’s art doing work. You get to make the art, and then you get to make it do the work.” It’s clear that Anotado is a master at making art do the work, as evidenced by his work for chalkboards at local bars to large interactive installations for Airbnb and video games for MTV. What’s more, Anotado encourages young creatives to find their motivation and stamina. For him and his friends at BuzzerBlog, what keeps them going is their fans and core audience, as well as the industry professionals who respect and admire what they do. Speaking of industry professionals, Ken Jennings once interviewed Anotado for his book, “Brainiac;” an interview Anotado conducted from La Salle’s very own WEXP studio in the Union.

To game show experts and those entirely unfamiliar with the industry, it is clear that Anotado has built an impressively creative career for himself, a career which started before he even stepped foot on La Salle’s campus. It was Anotado’s innate love for game shows that planted the seed for his fascinating career; La Salle nurtured this passion and helped Anotado build a creative, rewarding life for himself and his community.