We hoped it would be better. As we watched the ball drop 12 months ago, we wished with crossed fingers that this year would be better than 2016. But let’s be honest — it wasn’t. From sexual assault accusations to violent protests, 2017 has taken a turn for the worse.
In June, Trump decided to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement, a coalition of 170 parties worldwide meant to attack climate change. The announcement shocked and disappointed many nations. Sophomore Andre Rodriguez highlights how the decision will not only counteract positive change, but also will remove the U.S. from the world spotlight, weakening its international power. He speculates that China will take the U.S.’ position, becoming the leader in the global fight against climate change.
“[Other countries] are going to look at the U.S. and say, ‘Look how behind they are,’” Rodriguez said. “This is a global issue, and I think it’s beneficial for us, being the last global superpower after the Cold War, to participate and for us to be a leader.”
Trump has signed more executive orders than any president in the last 50 years, with the total coming to a whopping 51 as of October. Many of his executive actions have sparked controversy, including his travel ban barring entry to people coming from six Muslim-majority countries and his memorandum banning transgender individuals from serving in the military and receiving funds from the military for sex-reassignment surgeries. The two pieces of legislation have outraged many, like sophomore Naomi Hahn, who believes these decisions don’t reflect the ideals the U.S. is supposed to represent.
“With the travel ban, you’re not letting these people into this country and we’re supposed to be this welcoming place for everyone,” Hahn said. “And with the whole transgender ban They’re willing to fight for this country and what it stands for, but by not letting them join it you kind of taint how this country is viewed and you don’t represent how the U.S. is supposed to be seen.”
Countless news organizations have coined 2017 as the deadliest year for mass shootings. The headlines, which spark outrage for gun control, continued to plague news and social media feeds two years in a row, something senior Pallavi Sripathi noticed.
“It’s abhorrent that it’s back again — shootings have made it onto the [worst of the year]list twice,” senior Pallavi Sripathi said. “That means we as a nation aren’t really doing our job to fix a problem.”
The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place just two months ago at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas with a total casualty count of 58, surpassing last year’s Pulse nightclub attack by nine casualties. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from his hotel room onto a country music festival down below — the motive is still unknown.
With the church shooting in Sutherland Springs on November 5 marking the 307th shooting of the year — almost as many shootings as days — Sripathi admits that it gets harder and harder to differentiate between each attack.
“They all blend in, and that’s really sad,” Sripathi said. “After the moment was gone, no one remembered these people anymore.”
2017 has seen a surge in sexual assault and harassment claims against big names following film producer Harvey Weinstein’s series of accusers. In just a two-month span, over a dozen influential celebrities, politicians, journalists and more like Ben Affleck, Russell Simmons, Bill O’Reilly, John Lasseter and Kevin Spacey have all been added to the list of powerful men called out for their actions. Name after name leaves people like junior Animesh Agrawal shocked as stars from multiple industries step down or are fired from their jobs.
“You rely on Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose for information and you trust them,” Agrawal said. “You have seen them interview people who have committed sexual assault and you have seen them condemn this behavior on the news and a week later, they’re accused of doing the exact same thing and it’s like, who can you even trust anymore?”
Protests became increasingly common this year, and while most have remained peaceful, some have ended in fires and fights. Both the Charlottesville protest in August and the protest against Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley in September turned violent, raised tensions and brought to light the argument over free speech. If not for violent, many peaceful protests, like the NFL players who knelt for injustice, further divided the nation. For junior Alex Logie, these protests are just another facet of the many violent outbursts that took place this year.
“I think overall it’s just been a really unnecessarily violent year,” Logie said. “Everyone’s kind of mad at one another for having different views.”
Logie feels this violence and anger is the result of increased tensions among those with differing views. While many protests this year hoped to further the acceptance of all in society, they have now shifted from peaceful events focusing on certain issues such as race or sexuality to chaotic riots fixated on bringing down opposing views.
“At the beginning of the year we were all like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to accept one another,’” Logie said. “And at the end of the year, it has just kind of gotten to this point where it’s like, no one knows what’s really going on.”
This year has proven to be one of the strangest years for weather and one of the most damaging for communities across the world. With Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria hitting North America within the last six months, numerous major earthquakes in places like Mexico, Iran and Iraq and the roaring fires that terrorized Northern California, the world has seen more than its fair share of natural disasters this year.
And while it has been devastating to see the damage these phenomenons have inflicted, it has also been uplifting for some, like freshman Skylar Ploshay, to see communities come together to survive and overcome these tragedies.
“I’m sad for all the families that lost lives,” Ploshay said. “[But] it was awesome to see all the people that gave and helped them in the disasters or these stories where kids are trapped underneath the rubble for a couple days and they survived.”
The U.S. hasn’t engaged with North Korea at a level this confrontational since the Korean War. While President Trump mocks the North Korean leader with nicknames like “little rocket man,” Kim Jong-Un is no joke — he has tested over 84 missiles throughout his six years in office, which is more than both of his recent predecessors. The issue of North Korea has and will continue to test Trump’s abilities, but for some, Trump’s responses so far have been less than satisfactory.
“North Korea is definitely a sensitive issue, and [Trump] riles people up about it but he doesn’t do anything,” senior Apoorva Sirigineedi, vice president of MVHS Politics Club, said. “The fact that he’s talking so much about it and riling people up is still, I think, harmful because [he’s] creating this negative image.”
While it seems like all talk, the threat of nuclear war still frightens many — the missiles tested this year pose dangerous threats, one being powerful enough to reach anywhere in the U.S. Hawaii is currently testing nuclear war sirens, something that hasn’t been done since the Cold War.
“There’s a possibility of a missile strike,” Sirigineedi said. “It’s happening. They have the power to attack us if they want to, so what exactly do we do?”