The universities of our nation are wonderful places. They embody intellectual achievement, societal advancement and increased economic opportunity for their students. However, there is another public service for which our colleges are known, in some cases better than academics: athletics. Yes, our hallowed academic institutions also serve as focal points for fans of all sports to cheer for their school and their team.

Same-sex marriage is in the news a lot recently. From Utah to D.C. to Oklahoma, there are battles being fought in the courtrooms and capitol buildings across the country on the issue. So just why is it that this one group, who only comprises a small percentage of our population, is getting so much attention?

Last year many advancements were made in providing equality to the LGBT community across the country. More and more states now recognize marriages, regardless of the couples’ sex, and a federal ban on non-heterosexual marriages was lifted by the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act has many opponents for many reasons. If it seems as though the issue is being hashed and rehashed ad nauseam, that is only because it is. As the signature legislation of our current president, the health care law has become a source of division among our government and acts in many instances as a representation of our political differences.

Fall is well underway and that means one thing for many Iowans: hunting season is here. Whether they go dressed in camouflage or blaze orange, thousands of hunters have already started their yearly harvest. Many more are eagerly awaiting the final seasons of the year, namely, early and late shotgun season for deer.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Sexism, racism and any other unjust discrimination are ugly realities. No one can reasonably say — even in today’s age — that these are merely unpleasant memories. The truth of the matter is, there are still those out there who view others as intrinsically lesser because of gender, skin color and a host of other personal or outward descriptions.

The Obama administration has recently been under heavy fire from seemingly all sides for the debacle that the Affordable Care Act rollout has become. One of the more piercing commentaries on how the president and his office have mishandled the health insurance reform is his famous promise that “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.” This is contrasted sharply with the multitudes of Americans who are now being notified that they cannot, in fact, keep their insurance plans.

Last Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Geneva to attend talks between the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Zarif, and the foreign policy leaders of numerous world powers. The talks centered around the international sanctions levied against Iran for its nuclear program.

Oh, no. You are out to eat with a group of friends and someone you were just introduced to asks if the restaurant offers any good vegetarian dishes. You roll your eyes and wait for the inevitable. They are obviously about to go on a rant about the evils of eating meat that no one wants to hear... 

Advocates for the LGBT community have had quite a bit of good news recently. The Supreme Court has allowed for federal acknowledgment of same-sex marriages, states such as New Jersey and Illinois have legalized same-sex marriages, and just this past week the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has made advances. The act as it is commonly referred to, would place a federal ban on discrimination against workers because of their sexual orientation or identified gender.

The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has seen quite a lot of analysis in recent news. You may agree with President Barack Obama and many of his fellow Democrats that it was a comprehensive package of needed reforms. You may also think, as some individuals spanning the political spectrum do, that Obamacare is a train wreck of a law that was thrust upon an unsuspecting and unwilling American people.

We’ve all heard of the game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” If you haven’t, congratulations, I think that means you won a new car. While the show and its underlying premise are laughable (I mean come on, who doesn't like seeing adults look silly on television), it is only funny because the contestants are regular people and the questions are largely useless trivia.

The Republican Party has long been the party of America’s conservatives. From Abraham Lincoln, who held the conservative notion that states cannot secede; to Theodore Roosevelt, who (despite a healthy dose of progressive notions) displayed the distinctly conservative view that we should not devastate our nation’s natural resources; to modern presidents like Ronald Reagan, who believed in conserving America’s moral fiber; conservatism abounds in the Republican Party.

We the Businesses of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Market, establish currency, insure domestic Competition, provide for the individual defense, promote the corporate Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Money to ourselves and our Shareholders, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America, Inc.

If it’s “that time of the month” again, a woman’s boyfriend, husband or male friend is advised to run for cover for the duration of Aunt Flo’s visit. Though many women may not experience the physical and emotional stress commonly associated with PMS and menstruation, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that 85 percent of women experience, at minimum, one PMS symptom.

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

If you have been following world news at all in the last few weeks, one country has surely caught your attention: Syria. While this may just seem like another rebellion halfway around the world to be forgotten as soon as the next one pops up, it has afforded a unique view into how we here in the United States deal with such conflicts.

Many American conservatives, Republicans and conservative-leaning independents will say eagerly that they favor “smaller government.” This view of our government is simplistic at best, and only serves to shift blame towards an ill-defined group of citizens collectively known as “the government.”

Service to one’s country is a great achievement. It signifies one's willingness to sacrifice some part of one’s life and, in extreme cases, one’s life itself for a cause greater than any person. When serving a country, state or municipality, one serves all members and wards of such governments. That selfless service is the heart of patriotism in the United States.

Here in the United States, marijuana, also known as Cannabis sativa, is an illegal substance. Marijuana is banned for its ability to be used as a drug, and is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug. This classification means that marijuana is a highly addictive substance with no accepted medical uses.

Here at Iowa State, all of us students will be introduced at some point to one form or another of science. Whether it is a physical science such as chemistry, a social science like psychology or that pesky math requirement you cannot get your advisor to waive, science abounds at our university.

In our day-to-day lives, we all say things we do not mean. We throw around words like "amazing," "literally," and "starving," without referring to their true definitions. Most of the time these generalizations are irrelevant and go by unnoticed, but in some cases it does matter. One of the biggest examples of this is using the word "gay."

Here in the United States of America we tend to take our dominance in world affairs for granted. The United States is generally considered to be the most powerful and influential nation in the world, but that does not mean that we inherently deserve to be.

The theory of evolution carries a lot of baggage. While there were a few individuals to postulate some form of evolution was at work long before Charles Darwin, it was only with his "On the Origin of Species" that evolution as a scientific theory received much attention. Since its inception, the work of Darwin, and the work all of the evolutionary biologists to come after him, has been attacked by scientists and nonscientists alike.

Many people believe marriage is a celebration of love and devotion. Others think it is a sacred contract. Some consider it an exhilarating drunken activity (looking at you, Las Vegas), and still others think of it as a death sentence of sorts.

We are all assaulted with information constantly. Whether we realize it or not, we are affected by what we hear and see all of the time. It would be great, then, if we received every piece of information necessary, but that is just not something that happens.

In the next few weeks, those of us who are citizens of the United States of America are going to have a wonderful opportunity. We are going to be able to directly influence the running of our country, both on a national and local scale, with our votes.

Some things always seem to happen together. When the weather gets colder, everyone starts wearing long pants and jackets. When students study for tests, they get better scores. When ice cream sales go up, more people drown.

Last Sunday, a very unfortunate thing happened. The Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, Matt Cassel, was injured in the course of playing football against the Baltimore Ravens. But what is worse, cheering at this injury emerged around the stadium from some fans — Kansas City fans.

For many of us here at Iowa State, we can tend to think that college is the intermediate “waiting room” between being a young adult and getting a career as a full-fledged member of society. We are mostly on our own and now get to make choices about our lives, but college is rarely the highest aspiration for anyone seeking a degree. After graduation, students will be seeking to enter a new part of their life.

Ever since humans have been human, we have had to make choices in our lives. We have had to weigh the pros and cons of using different tools to make our lives better. Long ago, these choices could mean life or death, whether the choice was which rock to make into a spearhead or which animal skin to use as clothing.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States says a whole lot in few words. It establishes in writing that our government cannot and will not take away the rights to assemble, to worship freely, to petition our government and to be free from government censorship in our written and spoken words.

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