Katherine McCabe / Gavel Media

Behind the Bench: Episode 2

Welcome to The Gavel's new podcast series, Behind the Bench. Here you'll find commentary on hot-button issues, updates on campus happenings, and interviews with BC community members. This year's hosts include Gavel sophomores Gabby Levitt and Meghan Keefe. Follow us on Spotify for easy access to each episode!

Gabby: Hey guys. Welcome back. This is Gabby.

Meghan: This is Meghan, and this is episode two of Behind the bench. Thank you, guys, for tuning in, again.

G: We're so glad to have you .This week, we're going to be discussing the Kyle
Rittenhouse trial, the flawed college admissions process, and academic burnout
at Boston College.

M: Stay tuned!

M: The Kyle Rittenhouse trial took place this past week. And for those that
need a refresher: Kyle was 17 at the time and he went to a protest in Kenosha,
Wisconsin, and he shot three men and ended up killing two.

G: And injuring one. It was a protest against police brutality during summer of
2020. The jury found him not guilty. And his defense lawyers were making the
argument that he was acting in self-defense while prosecution was seeking to
show that he was acting criminally and recklessly. And by bringing a gun to the
protest was actually creating this dangerous situation. This trial has completely
divided the nation on questions about guns rights and violence at racial justice
protests.

M: Yeah. And definitely the key question here was self-defense I think if you
bring a gun into an intense and crowded, you know, scenario, I just don't think
that that would constitute...

G: You're creating a situation, bringing a gun to that environment. You're
creating a situation.
Well, to recap what happened based off of the video evidence used in the trial
August 25th, 2020. Protesters we're gathering against police brutality for the
shooting of Jacob Blake. And during the protest, there is video footage of
Rittenhouse getting into an altercation with people from the crowd. And
Rozenbaum one of the victims who passed away was unarmed. And he threw what looked to be a plastic bag-

M: It was like a plastic or paper-

G: Yeah. And it literally missed. But they got into an altercation and
Rozenbaum briefly chased Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse turned around and
discharged his weapon four times at Rozenbaum, fatally killing him. Then as
Rittenhouse walked away with his rifle through the streets, video footage shows
Anthony Huber, the other victim who was killed by Rittenhouse attempting to
grab his gun and Rittenhouse also fatally shot Huber. The last victim who was
only injured, because he was shot in the arm, was Gaige Grosskreutz who
attended the protest as a paramedic, offering medical care and he brought a
pistol. He regularly does this to protests with his medical supplies.

M: Yeah.

G: And he drove his pistol and then Rittenhouse shot him. So at the trial
Rittenhouse faced five charges

M: There were five charges, and there were two smaller counts. The first five
were first degree intentional homicide, which is, you know, you intend to kill
someone with your actions. There was first degree, reckless homicide, which
you don't intend to kill someone. There's first degree attempted intentional
homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. And the two
minor counts were possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18,
which, although Rittenhouse was being tried as an adult, would still apply
because he committed these acts when he was 17. And there was the failure to
comply with an emergency order from state or local government. And that was,
you know, he was out past the 8:00 PM curfew.
Obviously all of these were thrown out. He was found not guilty for any of
these charges.

G: Yeah. It took 27 hours over four days and they still threw out every single
charge.
There are questions about the impartiality of the judge. A judge, Bruce
Schroeder of Kenosha came into the trial saying it wouldn't be political, but it is.

M: Oh yeah. And there there's a lot of stuff saying that this Rittenhouse trial
was, you know, America's polarization personified and -

G: Through Kyle Rittenhouse-

M: Oh yeah. And it's just America is so

G: Polarized on these issues

M: Completely. And you know, no side, I don't think was going to be incredibly
satisfied, but this was definitely one of the worst outcomes.

G: Yeah. I mean, the judge, he's been criticized for imposing his bias and he
definitely has a reputation for being a pro defense jurist, which means he's
taking the side of the defendant quite frequently. And I mean, of course he was
acting within his legal boundaries of his position as a judge. He didn't
necessarily do anything wrong, but it's kind of calling it a question like, is this
how our criminal justice system should work? Like these established norms within the judicial system-

M: Yeah.

G: -Are flawed.

M: I mean, yeah, definitely not how it should work. I think it's just called so
many, you know, institutionalized positions of justice into question because
there's so many holes in the system and I don't- the bringing about justice in a
court is so difficult. I mean, maybe it always has been, but there are so many
flaws coming to light about America's judicial system through this case.

G: Yeah. I mean, I think when you had mentioned that when you're researching,
you read, there was a man crying on the courthouse steps saying that if Kyle had
been black, he would have been shot dead there at the scene. And that's 100%
true.

M: Oh yeah.

G: Like, if we've learned anything in the past two years regarding this call of
reckoning America's history of racism it's that the criminal justice system is
inherently racist and there is inherent white privilege given to people like Kyle
Rittenhouse when he's on trial. And that's how a guy like him gets away.

M: Oh, yeah. There's no doubt about that.

G: And it sets a precedent now.

M: Oh, completely. Okay. So, you know, any white male can go into a, you
know, heightened protest situation with a gun and kill people and have no consequences that, you know, to sum it up. I know that there are a lot of
specificities in this case, but that is kind of the precedent that's being set.

G: Yeah. And that's, it says a lot to America and people everywhere, not just in
our country, but globally, like what we stand for .

M: Completely.

G: And what we're okay with. And, you know, I think about Joe Biden's
statement. He said, "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans
feeling angry and concerned ,myself included, we must acknowledge that the
jury has spoken." Sorry, what?

M: Why say anything at that point? That-

G: It's insufficient. It's like neutral. There's no acknowledgement of the institutional flaws that as president making a comment on this, he's pretty much
complacent in .Yeah. Joe Biden, do better.

M: I mean, yeah.

G: Alrighty. I think that about wraps up our Kyle Rittenhouse segment.
We've done a lot of research from publications all across the political spectrum,
just to make sure we were getting all of our facts right.

M: And that's been the most beneficial.

G: We learned a lot and we hope you guys learned to.
---
G: Alrighty. And for our next segment, we are welcoming Dan Pacella for our
hat tip this week. For those of you who don't know a BC Gavel hat tip is a shout
out, a literal hat tip, for an article published that week that was just particularly
great. And welcome, Dan.

Dan: Yeah, thank you both for having me.

G: Thanks so much for being here.

M: Of course!

G: So why don't you tell us a little bit about your article titled "It's Time to
Reframe College Admissions"?

D: Yeah. So, when I was writing this article, I was kind of drawing from my
own experience and also that of peers and just what seems to be the general
sense of, you know, people in the United States, applying to colleges and
universities, like after their four years of high school.
Um, so I talked a little bit about just how the admissions process really just
turns into a battle of people putting things on their application that will please
somebody else who's reviewing the application rather than their applications
kind of serving as a genuine reflection of their own interests and personality and
character and all of that.
And I also got into a little bit how the cycle of admissions, um, in, in the 2020
to 21 school year, many schools were reporting that it was the most competitive
cycle of all time. And of course, that has to do with the COVID pandemic. And
also there are lots of implications there in terms of systemic issues like racism
and people having different access to taking standardized tests.
And there were lots of difficult questions about “Should I submit this
standardized test? Should I even take the test? “Right. And there's kind of lots to
be said there. It's a conversation I had, you know, I'm a senior in college. So, I
was applying, you know, during the 2017-18 cycle and a lot of peers of mine
from that year and I have kind of been saying, oh, we, we couldn't imagine
going through this process last year or so.

G: Yeah. I think this was also the most competitive cycle for BC. In fact, they,
they over admitted.

M: I heard they over admitted!

D: Yeah. I wonder where their housing, I think they ran into a housing issue

M: Yeah, where are they putting them?

G: Oh, Coro!

D: That's fun, nope.

G: Um, we have some questions for you. What do you think is the most
problematic part of the college admissions process, especially this past year?

D: Yeah, I think the hardest and the most problematic part is for people to just
figure out how to navigate the whole process and to figure out sort of what is
like the key or the holy grail for admissions.
And of course, there are socioeconomic and racial barriers to this key of
figuring out what will be the best application that I can put forth to a school.
And what is it that will grant me admissions. And what is it that will appeal to
the person who's reading my application the most. Right. And this is something,
you know, I've noticed before.
I remember when I was applying to college, every single admissions counselor
and Dean and whatnot, and you know, and videos and, you know, little blurbs
that they write. They'll say though, there's no one key. There's no one, there's no
one specific way of getting in. And while that might be true, I think it is
important to remember that there are many times, tens of thousands of people
who are not getting in. And they're only a small amount who are getting in.
Right. So there definitely is something that, that they're looking for that, you
know, might be kept a secret. And it puts a lot of stress on people.

G: Even like access to a college admissions counselor is a total game changer
that could be, make or break.

M: ACT, SAT tutors are huge.

G: Exactly. And not everybody has access to those. So, do you think? Yeah. So
many implications. So, do you think that we take that checklist mindset that you
mentioned in your article into our routines at college here at BC for example?

D: Yeah. I, I definitely think so. I think a lot of people at our [00:12:00] school
for better or worse are definitely, you know, they're geared toward a particular
profession or a particular goal, and they just have that in mind and you know,
myself included. It's just, you find yourself kind of coming up with a list of
things you need to get done. Oh, I need to take this class. I need to join this
club. I need to get involved in this and that. And it definitely is sort of a
checklist mindset.
I feel like what differentiates the college checklists from a high school checklist
is I guess in college you're much more focused on, or at least I find that people
are much more focused on the bigger picture and it becomes a little more real.

Okay. This is what I'm thinking of doing in the future. This is one of the things
I'm doing after college, which is going to, uh, play a bigger part or take up more
time in my life. And so this is just more, um, big picture involved.

M: Yeah. And, um, we're going to talk about burnout a little later in the podcast,
but do you think the, I mean, we talked about the checklist mindset. Do you
think that kind of plays into early onset burnout for college students?

D: I, I definitely think so. I'd say that some of the burnout that is kind of
experienced in college, right? Studying a lot, lots of pressure put on you, you
know, you're joining lots of clubs and activities and doing things that are just
taking up your entire schedule, right? Like that isn't isolated, right. That isn't
just happening in college. If it were, maybe you'd be like more energized than
ever or something to continue it and be like, wow, like, look at all of this. Like,
I'll just keep this up. But I think, you know, the fact that we've, or at least, you
know, us, at this school, like we're all probably pretty similar in high school in
terms of our involvements, in terms of us wanting to take the hardest classes
possible and that sort of thing.
And it's just kind of like what you need to get into a school like BC. Right?
Like, and so, you know, it just is kind of a long, um, train, I guess, which I
definitely think would contribute to burnout. And I, I feel bad. I feel like this is
also a negative. I don't want to be like, you know, a big pessimist over here or
something like that, but there are definitely ways of, of combating this, but it's
more just like, think it's a, it's an important conversation to have for sure.

G: Given that, do you think that higher education can change?

D: Yes, I do.

G: I hope.

D: Yeah. I hope that there's some sort of metric or there's some sort of platform
where people can put forth like a more genuine portfolio if you will, of their
character, of their personality, of, of their mental and emotional state and all of
that, and kind of where they are with everything, rather than just putting forth
statistics of some sort of, you know, from their academics or their test scores, et
cetera.
So, I'd say just some sort of humanistic change is kind of where I see progress
being made here. And you know, this is already seen with optional test scores, right? That's kind of one step. Maybe just more of an emphasis on like an
interview process. Right.

G: Getting to know people not on paper and just check .

D: Exactly.

G: They're more than a checklist of boxes.

D: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I think there's definitely a lot more, but this is just something, something that's a little bit more all-encompassing and all-
encompassing not meaning: okay you submit the test score, your grades, and your involvements or something. All-encompassing, meaning, you know, your
mental, emotional, spiritual, physical state.

G: Yeah. I mean, we talked about it later, but like we, as people are not a sum of
a number grade. Exactly. You know, we forget that, especially when we're
under so much pressure as kids and, you know, taking tests.

M: And it's very easy coming from this college admissions process to a school
like BC to be so concerned with stuff like that.

D: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Like we're all, it's hard because you know, it's just
the truth. I don't, I don't mean to be, you know, like- when I say, like, we, we're
all like kind of people who like to do a lot of things and be involved in a lot of
things. That's just kind of, that's the case because you know, we are here and we
had to kind of be like that in order to get here. And so, like, we all definitely
have an experience. I think when we're having this conversation, we should
remember that it's, we'd be having a different conversation with people who are
not at BC, for example.

M: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on, Dan! It's great talking with you.

D: Thank you both for having me. It was great talking to you both thank you so
much for that.

G: Thank you so much for being on.
Awesome. That wraps up this segment.

---

M: I mean, after speaking with Dan about, you know, every college's
competitive admissions process, but, you know, especially BC, there's
something to be said for this continuing on into college.

G: Yeah, BC has a super competitive academic culture as with any prestigious
institution. Um, but there's so much pressure to be perfect all the time, get
straight A's, be in a million different clubs, you know?

M: Oh my God, yeah.

G: Start a podcast, do it all! But it's really not sustainable. And people end up
getting burnt out.

M: Yeah. And I think this was really interesting to find this year because last
year, I, I didn't get burnt out I don't think, you know, I, there was nothing to do
besides work.

G: Yeah.

M: And I, I didn't, I didn't have a social battery because I couldn't see anyone.
And I think the balance between- BC’s unofficial yet very official slogan is
“work hard, play hard”. The amount of times I've heard that on tours from other
students, you know, for a while, I liked it. I was like, you know, work hard, get
good grades, but you know, play hard, go out on the weekends.

G: But it's a very precarious balance.

M: Oh yeah. I can't, I can't do both!

G: I'm burnt out!

M: I’m very burn out!

G: And I don't care what anybody says, Marathon Monday was not a break.

M: No.

G: I literally felt like I ran a marathon.

M: That was, that was, that was a different sort of work. Getting up that early-
Oh, I can't even think about it.

G: I’m getting chills thinking about it! I mean, I mean, everybody's struggling.
Like it's not just us. I've been talking to people who contact UCS, the University
Counseling Services, and there are waits to see people for like a month plus.
Like people are just not able to take care of themselves with these incredibly
high academic expectations and even like getting sick. You know, we joke
about the BC throat tickle, but people are getting seriously sick because they’re not-

M: I think that’s bronchitis! I think the BC throat tickle is bronchitis.

G: Literally! But people are getting so sick and UHS is also completely
overwhelmed. So it’s like one, we're not getting breaks, two there's no like
physical or mental health support, no mechanism on campus for students trying
to use their resources. You literally can't.

M: Well because all busy students are perfect!

G: That’s right.

M: And how could anyone need mental health assistance?

G: Yeah, of course. But clearly there are some issues of burnout on campus and
we wanted to give advice to all of our listeners.

M: Yeah. I mean, honestly, the first thing is it's not just you.

G: It's not.

M: I- sometimes I open my computer and immediately close it. Okay wait. To
my parents listening. My grades are fine. They're no, they're, they're better than fine! They- we’re doing fine. I'm doing my work and everything is fine-

G: But it's hard.

M: It's hard!

G: Yeah like, to be completely candid. It's just a very difficult semester,
especially- I underestimated how hard it was going to be to come back from
online classes to in-person classes.

M: Wow, yeah.

G: The different level of mental exhaustion that you get from not just like sitting
on a laptop, but now going into person, like, I can't even find time to eat meals,
you know?

M: Oh, completely. And it's also, I, coming into this year, I couldn't imagine
any negatives. I was just so excited. I mean, if people, if you don't know Gabby
and I are both sophomores, so freshman year was a bit non-existent. I spent a lot
of money on Ubers.

G: Yup.

M: So, I mean, yeah, that's a plus that I don't have to do that this year, but I
mean, God, I, there- I feel like there's no time to do both.

G: Yeah.

M: And I, you know, if I, if I work too hard, then I lose a social life and if I, you
know, go out too much, then my grades suffer. So, finding that balance is so
difficult.

G: And it feels impossible.

M: Oh yeah. I am working hard and I am playing hard and everything is so
hard.

G: Yeah, but my, I think my first advice to everybody that's listening, who
maybe feels similar is to just give yourself grace. It's, it's a very difficult period,
and go easy on yourself. Like there are things that you can do, as impossible as
it feels to make this easy on yourself. And sometimes that means, sometimes it
means putting school on the back burner. Prioritize your physical and mental
health. The BC throat tickle is no joke. It is literally bronchitis.

M: Yes, for sure. And I think, I mean, like, I'll be the first to say I'm my own
worst critic, but giving yourself grace is so big, especially at, you know, a
school like this, where the culture is, you know, no sleep, stay at the library
until you can't even keep your eyes open. And still manage to be able to go to
the gym and tailgate at 8:30 in the morning. It's impossible! I mean, if you do it,
are you okay?

G: I’m not. I mean, it's not sustainable.

M: No, it's not.

G: And you need to be okay with taking it easy. Sometimes spending a night in
or skipping class, you know. It's okay to ask for extensions. Your professors are
way more understanding than you think.

M: Yes.

G: They don't want to see you fail. They want to see you succeed.

M: Oh, completely. Not that I've ever skipped class.

G: No, I don't skip class.

M: I’ve never

G: Mom and dad-

M: Yeah, never don’t that.

G: Um, but also like self-care and self-care looks different to everybody. It doesn't have to be-

M: It's not a one size fits all thing.

G: Exactly. Like, self-care for me, sometimes it's crying on the phone with my
mom and that's, that's completely fine.

M: The amount of- I mean, there's such like an assess-
G: A self-care aesthetic?

M: Yes, thank you. And it's, you know, fuzzy socks and warm face masks, I
just, and oatmeal bowls. The amount of times I've seen oatmeal bowl on my Instagram, they need to leave. I mean, okay, if you like it, it's fine-

G: But it's not always pretty.

M: No, it's not. It, it just, sometimes you have to cry, sometimes you have to
skip class. Sometimes you can't do your homework. You're going to get it all
done in time, but your brain needs a break.

G: Yeah.

M: I just think, and you know, by the time you guys will be hearing this, it will
be the Friday after Thanksgiving, if you celebrate Thanksgiving. And, you
know, I hope that people are taking this time to take a break. I will be.

G: Right. Me too. And especially with Winter break around the corner, you
know, like I've, I've been saying a lot lately and it's been really helping to
protect your peace, you know, long-term set yourself up for success. Don't,
don't get into unsustainable routines and behaviors because you're really just
going to screw yourself over in the long run, for sure.

M: For sure.

G: Like it's, it's okay to be imperfect. Grades aren’t an end all be all, even
though it feels like that at BC. Be kind to yourself, you know?

M: Yeah, you don't sprint a marathon.

G: Exactly.

M: Which is what I feel like a lot of us, I don't want to speak for people, but
that's definitely what I've been trying to do with

G: Me too. You just, you can't do it all. It's impossible. Yeah. So this break, make sure to ask yourself what you need-

M: Going into finals week. I forgot about that a little bit.

G: Don't remind me! But long-term you can't prioritize school without
prioritizing yourself first.

M: Completely.

G: And if you, you know, need a playlist, a music pick me up, of course, head to
the Gavel Groove on Spotify.

M: Yes! Good one!

G: We have some good ones up right now. There’s holidays, but it's not the
holidays playlist.

M: See, I'm a big Christmas music on December 1st and no earlier.

G: Interesting.

M: Um, I will, I'll be playing that December 1st, but

G: Yeah, well, I, you know, I always love the Gavel Groove play lists. I can't
say that I agree with you. I don't even celebrate Christmas, but Christmas music
is on after Halloween.
If any of our listeners are looking for more Gavel content, as always head to the
gavel website at bcgavel.com.

M: Very simple, very straightforward. Easy to find.

G: Yeah! There all of our most recent articles are posted: News, Features,
Culture, Opinions, Sports.

M: Behind the bench!

G: Behind the Bench is also posted on there.

M: There's transcripts on there for whoever wants them.

G: Of course. So, yeah. Check out our website and we can't wait to see you guys
next episode.

M: Bye guys, happy Thanksgiving break!

G: As always, this is Gabby.

M: This is Meghan, and you've been behind the bench.

Lover of brunch and the O.C. Cannot spell the word defeiently to save my life.

Environmental Studies and Political Science major. Texas girl that loves listening to Taylor Swift on long walks.

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