Home Blog

Prison, People and Paint


Written by Isaac Davis

Does our justice system work? Are we safe from the criminals once behind bars?

Within three years of release, around two thirds of ex-convicts go on to further violate the law, and most are within the first week of being released. Why, then, is there such a high rate of failure to state punishment? We must ask how an individual, already prone to anti-social behavior, can be expected to reform an ‘undesirable’ attitude toward life by more intimidation and violence. It does not require a genius to see the obvious flaws in this approach. After years of confinement and boredom, how can that not cultivate further unrest and build hatred for our governing system?

We must also consider our obligation to the criminals. They are people too. Don’t they deserve to be given the best opportunity to break the ‘prison cycle’? Today’s methods are failing the prisoners on this front. They are released impoverished and without any other option than a life of continued crime, creating an expensive cycle that no one benefits from.

Research suggests that most anti-social behavior in prison – and undoubtedly outside – stems from an environment that does not enable creativity, or room to express emotion. Essentially this leads to a bottling effect that accentuates a prisoner’s, or ex-convict’s, general criminal tendencies. At the annual conference of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, leading experts discussed the idea of prison ‘murdering the mind’ of inmates. To combat this failing ‘Art Therapy’ has been further developed and introduced into more institutions. However, improvements are clear to see there are still many prisons without such policies.

Art therapy focuses on allowing expression to be conveyed in a different medium than speech. For prisoners, creating an image is a way of letting out complex emotions in a positive and creative way. Through art, prisoners can visually portray their vulnerabilities without being judged, suffering abuse from inmates, or breaking any laws. Many have not had an educated background and often verbally articulating emotional issues is not easily achievable. The same barrier is met with literary work. The vast majority of cases have issues stemming from their schooling, which are the very memories we do not want to resurface. With art therapy, however, there are no such restrictions. The aims of imprisonment are to show law-breakers the consequences of their actions but equally to re-develop a person into a reformed and law-abiding citizen on their release.

The term art therapy in itself creates abstract connotations, and unfortunately the field is surrounded in a myriad of misconception. Admittedly, it has not been until recent years that this form of psychotherapy has begun to take root, despite the fact that art therapy has been around since the 1940s. Many initial ideas have had the time to be honed into an effective tool, and further research has created what the therapy is today. We are not dealing merely with an ‘outside the box’ idea, but a concrete, tried and tested method. Unlike conventional approaches, one cannot instantly see exterior improvement, but we must remember the brain and subconscious are a complex matter. As such, a personal action is taking place, its benefits can also be hard to witness in the short term. Statistics can provide concrete evidence of its value as inmates exposed to art therapy for a period of three months have been found to be twelve times less likely to be put in solitary confinement in the following year.

Globally, a great number of universities are running art therapy courses, and with more applicants come more professionals, and a greater chance of righting the wrongs of our justice system. Most importantly, we must raise awareness of the flaws of prison and the strengths and achievements of art therapy. This is an issue that affects all of us, and we must consider our obligation to prisoners and think about public vulnerability.

It’s Flu Season, Everyone


Written by Zoe Manoukian

A surprising amount of students have been reported as drinking hand sanitizer and holding in their sneezes in order to fend off potential colds, viruses, and maladies this November. STOP DOING THIS! Downing hand sanitizer by the gallon is no better than chowing down on Tide Pods or sucking on a juul all day long. I spoke with an unidentified school nurse on the matter in order to gain further insight.

“It’s really absurd the amount of students who step foot in my clinic, ill and reeking of antibacterial. What I have gathered is that students are under the impression that by drinking hand sanitizer, they are letting the disinfectant into their bloodstream, thus targeting any illnesses waiting to happen a little bit closer to their source. This couldn’t be farther from the truth!”

On the wall was a laminated poster with recommendations of how to effectively ward off ailment. As per the list, individuals should drink plenty of water, get Vitamin C, bundle up, and wash their hands, as well as their… phones?! The average cell phone is approximately 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat, according to time.com. So many germs and bacteria collect on a phone’s screen due to its frequent contact with various human hands that have been anywhere and everywhere, as well as frequent contact with environments that are dirty. Cell phone users think to wash their hands, but don’t think to clean their screen.

Beware the germs that manifest on your phone!

Leggo Her Jade Eggo

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Gwyneth Paltrow attends the goop pop Dallas Launch Party in Highland Park Village on November 20, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images for goop)

Written by Zoe Manoukian

It is now that time of year when exams are fast approaching, the weather is getting chilly, and students are at their wits’ ends. Many students finds themselves in a disposition of stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Of course, we all know that doctors recommend exercise in times such as these; however, few stressed students feel compelled to brave the breeze outside when they could curl up and cry in a bed of blankets, snacks, and Netflix. I spoke with sophomore Grace Du’Pré, who has a fascinating solution to this predicament.

“Gwyneth Paltrow’s Jade Egg changed my life!” said Du’Pré, inviting me into her room of incense, succulents, and indie film posters.

In 2008, Paltrow created Goop, a lifestyle company that aids consumers in understanding and nurturing their bodies and spirits. One of their products is the Jade Egg, which should be inserted into the vagina in order for the wearer to amplify their internal power. As per Goop’s website, the egg can be used to “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy in general.”

“At first, I was hesitant to buy into this whacky vagina egg situation, but once I realized that I had no time for exercise between finals and my work with the recent school play starring Lorin Brice Hall, I understood that I had no other option. I take this egg with me everywhere I go now, and my life has improved immeasurably by it! Everything I do has a built-in workout, and my libido has never been better!”

Though Du’Pré is a devout supporter of the Jade Egg hullabaloo, the product receives poor reviews and inordinate criticisms from most. Some take issue with the emergence of alternative products that appeal to crunchy young women through the promise of natural wellness with little to know scientific support.

“Have I lost a few friends after this lifestyle change? No. I lost all of my friends. But I don’t care that my peers and America’s modern doctors think of me as a fool for following Gwyneth’s steps! I stand by my Jade Egg ‘til the day I die!”

And Du’Pré meant it. Gynecologists found Du’Pré passed out on the ground floor of the Blue Ridge handicap bathroom after being hit by a cocktail of bacterial infection, toxic shock syndrome, and kegel overload. She is currently regaining strength at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. She asks for a week of privacy as she seeks guidance from her nurses and feminine energy.

Beauty is NOT Pain


Written by Zoe Manoukian

With Black Friday behind us and the gift-giving season ahead of us, we have now entered our annual period of crazed consumerism. Every storefront we pass seemingly bombards us with holiday sales, discounts, and BOGO opportunities. There is now talk in the air of this year’s “gifts for her”, “what to get him for the holidays”, and “10 Amazon products that you didn’t even know you needed for Christmas”. I, alongside many people, have a list of enthusiasms and grievances regarding the commercial hullabaloo that the winter season brings. One of which pertains specifically to make-up wearers, and calls me to ask: PLEASE opt for cruelty-free makeup brands this holiday season. According to Humane Society International, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, and mice are most often the chosen animals for testing. Testing entails a variety of harsh treatments, such as rubbing the chemicals that are used in beauty products onto a given animal’s shaved skin and into their eyes and force-feeding of chemicals. The results of this treatment are then analyzed, and used to determine the capacity of irritation or fatality that the chemicals maintain. Some animals die through this practice, and those who don’t are often left distressed and with severe, harmful side effects, and then killed. If you are interested in shopping exclusively cruelty-free makeup brands, or eradicating animal-testing products from your shopping list, refer to the following lists of cruelty-free and animal-tested products as gathered from PETA:


Alba, Aveda, Bare Minerals, Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop, Elf, Kiss My Face, Lush, Milani, NYX, Pacifica, Physicians Formula, Too Faced, Urban Decay, Wet n’ Wild


Avon, Benefit, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Mary Kay, Maybelline, Revlon, Victoria’s Secret

For a more exhaustive list, see PETA.org.



Written by Lorin Brice Hall

A mighty Opossum should be the mascot for Roanoke. I don’t really know why I believe this, but I do. I think the Opossum is a noble beast and really reflects the values I hold as a student.

I envision the Opossum as a desperate creature struggling to survive but is constantly thriving- an animal that is roadkill or king. I think that those two radical extremes characterize the ups and downs that is the college student experience. We all have ups and downs. I feel like most students see everything in their current lives as ridiculously intense. Everything is so intense. Opossums are intense. They feel deeply about everything, just like our student body.

Also, Opossum’s are real animals. They exist in the natural world. I am not entirely sure if Maroons exist. I also don’t know what a Maroon is. I know what an Opossum is. It is a tangible being. They are also fierce. If an Opossum has to fight then by golly they will battle. That intense sense of warrior valor is precisely what we need to invigorate school spirit.

Also, Opossums don’t abandon their young. They are nurturing parents, which represent the love that the Commons staff gives us on a daily basis. Opossums represent love and righteous anger. Go, those loving Marsupials.

Also, Opossums are adorable. Look at them- beautiful. They are distinctly American animals that are grounded in indigenous folklore. Honestly, I see no downsides to replacing the artificial Maroon with the noble and poetic Opossum. Speaking of Maroons and Roanoke College, Opossums have a much stronger presence on campus then some members of the student body. Thus, we, the students of Roanoke College, should make the elite governing forces of this institution listen to us and remove the Maroon and give us the Opossum goodness that we need.