If I could ever travel back to the beginning of of my Freshmen year, the first thing I would tell myself back then is that this year will pass much faster than you could imagine. My first year was so fulfilled and exciting. I met so many great people, tried so many new things, and learned so much from all the successes and failures. When I looked at the reflection I wrote at the end of fall term, in which I wrote that I “left a lot of goals unachieved this semester” but also “see my improvement after reading the letter I wrote to myself earlier in September,” I felt proud of myself because of how much I’ve changed since then. I got better grades, continued stepping out of comfort zones and taking adventures. I learned from my first term’s experience and utilized my time much better for the past three months. I took a computer science class and decided to go deeper into that field, which I would not ever think of in fall. Again, I still have a long way to go and am still confused on a lot of things. But I would like to fully appreciate all the people I’ve met in HSSP and all the great memories I had here. They gave me the courage to proceed forward on the path of pursuing my academic and career goals and definitely helped me to become a better and more confident, self-disciplined person.
Willowbrook State School was a government-funded school for students with intellectual disability. It held 4,000 to 6,000 students from 1947 to 1987. Although being called as a school, this institution is indeed a “snake pit” which did not, or was not able to provide people there any help on developing their intelligence due to the lack of government funding and mismanagement. According to the video, many kids were running around naked without any company. They had to stay at the ward all day with nothing to do and no one to talk to, while at the same time kids like their age should be at school and receive whatever education that would be suitable for them.
The situation was caused by lack of enough people to take care of the patients. But those who managed the school also showed a careless, indifferent attitude. When the reporters asked for entering the institution, they were not given permission until several days later that the school was already “prepared”: the children were all put on clothes and taken care of well by staff. But when the reporters came back the next day, all things had been back to the same: naked people running around and living in dirty, filthy environment. The school was trying to cover the truth that they did not take the responsibility they were supposed to. Either they were happy with what they got from the institution or they were beneficial from the situation. I don’t know. But their attitude was definitely a cause to the horrible scene exposed by the video.
The school was established at 1947, and the video was taken at around 1970s. I think it is reasonable to infer that this kind of thing had been taken place for longer than a couple years. Why it was so easy to block the truth from public? The answer is quite simple: no one cared about the patients in the institution. Most of the patients in Willowbrook were abandoned by their family, foster system, or any other places that were supposed to take care of them. Being abandoned means no one would come check their living environment, no one would care if they got educated and lived happily. If it wasn’t Senator Kennedy who took the tour and questioned the situation in Willowbrook, I do not think this horrible case would be exposed that early. In the class we learned many horrible, inhumane medical experiments that victims were African Americans, the poor, young single mothers, etc. It is not hard to explain why vulnerable and underprivileged groups were easier to be the victims: they were not able to speak for themselves, or their voices were so weak that the society, the mainstream would not be able to hear them. For the Willowbrook case, the media and celebrities served a big role in exposing the truth to the society. But it is so sad that in a law-based society, people who are abused or treated poorly could only be saved when someone – someone with more power and strong voice – notices them. I believe that is also why settling mentally disabled people is still a significant issue in America.
Looking back to the past two months, it was still like a dream. I did not expect the time to be pass this fast though. Yesterday when I went to Adam’s professional autobiographies, he mentioned the first day of class, and I still felt like that was yesterday. But here we are, at the end of the first half of our freshmen year. I thought I left a lot of goals unachieved this semester, because so many unexpected things happened. College is completely different from what I expected it to be, no matter the heavy workload or the various opportunities. I hope I could have the chance to start over again so that I could utilize my first semester in a much better and efficiently.
However, I could also see my improvement after reading the letter I wrote to myself earlier in September. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and be more active than I was in high school. Although I am still a procrastinator right now, I am procrastinating less and less every day because there are always so many interesting things happening in HSSP and around the campus that I do not want to miss. I am most proud myself for being able to balance my social life and my academics. Although I still have a long way to go in time management and study skills, I think I find the best way to make friends, have fun, while also save time for studying.
With the 2016 Presidential Election getting closer, it is very important for HSSPers to get to know both candidates’ strategies and their strengths and weaknesses, especially in the health care aspect. Based on what we talked about in class on Thursday, I think one of the strengths of Hillary Clinton’s health care policy is that her plan is basically maintaining and building upon the Affordable Care Act, which means it is relatively secure comparing to Trump’s plan of replaceing ACA with a completely new health care plan. Since many people already know the content of ACA somehow and understand how it works, it might also be easier to improve it base on the strengths and weaknesses it has now. The weaknesses of Clinton’s plan might be drug importation. It is understandable that the intention of this policy is to make up the problem that some drugs could hardly be found in America. However, importing drugs abroad could be really risky if the safety and quality standard is not settled well enough. According to what I researched online, I did not see a very good way to solve this problem in Clinton’s health care plan. Thus, this is the weakness I am worried about the most.
One of the weaknesses in Trump’s plan is what I talked about before, that he wants to replace ACA with a completely new plan, which is kind of risky. Although there is a lot of criticisms about ACA, it still works fine right now and there is no guarantee that another health care plan could be just as good as it is. The strength of Trump’s plan might be his enforcement of getting rid of the state barrier and encouraging more competition. ACA is being criticized the most because of its high price, and free market strategy might be helpful to lower the price of health insurance.
What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates’ health care plans?