Backslash Magazine: Article Collection



Book Review: The Historian

“To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history.”

Elizabeth Kostova’s mammoth tome The Historian is a book unlike many books lining the shelves of today’s bookstores. It is a vampire novel, yes, but it is told in letters and flashbacks in sprawling, eloquent and accessible prose. The tale follows and unnamed heroine into whose shoes the reader steps upon reading the first page as she follows after her father, a man whose entire life has been intertwined with the myth or reality of Vlad the Impaler – Dracula himself. With the help of clues from the past, she travels across Eastern Europe in her search, and finds herself trapped in the very history her father had protected her from. Dusted with vicious vampires and steeped in history, The Historian is a must-read for any fantasy lover who misses the sense that there is, in fact, something in the dark watching still.



Book Review: Loose Girl – A Memoir of Promiscuity 

Teenage curiosity grows into sexual indiscretion in Kerry Cohen’s real-life tale of promiscuity. She details her encounters with men throughout her youth, speaking of her relationships and need to feel wanted in an honest voice that all women can relate to, even if their sexual past does not mirror Cohen’s. Detailing her evolution from an eleven year-old girl discovering the power of her sexuality to a grown women facing her demons and finding herself, Cohen tells a truly American tale of finding one’s self through mistakes, trials and triumphs. This is a book “for everyone who was that girl, for everyone who knew that girl,” and “for everyone who wondered who that girl was.” This memoir is best read all at once, because you won’t be able to put it down.



Prescription Painkiller Abuse Plagues College Campuses

Fatal oxycodone overdoses killed more than 1,000 Floridians last year, and more than 300 of those deaths were in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties alone. With no state agency to monitor prescriptions, it’s no wonder that Tampa Bay has become a hotspot for prescription drug abuse.  Florida is the largest of the several states that lack a monitoring system for prescription drugs, and only Floridian physicians’ activities are monitored, not the practices of facilities as a whole.

According to recent data, the decade from 1998 to 2008 saw a 400% increase in prescription painkiller abuse admissions, with females being more prone to addiction than males. This problem  has manifested its self on college campuses, including the Ivy League’s Columbia University, where five students were arrested for selling drugs on campus following a five month investigation.

This epidemic has spread into the University of South Florida campus as well, where several students admitted to a classroom of undercover cops that they had, in fact, been illegally abusing prescription painkillers to alleviate college stress.

“ It’s so sad,” says Farzana Shaik, a biochemistry major at USF, “watching other students ruin their lives over pills they shouldn’t have.”

With “pill mill” clinics dotting the Bay Area atmosphere and easy access to prescription drugs via the internet, students are finding it easier than ever to find an escape through pain killers.  Perhaps USF should take a page from Columbia’s book and beg students to seek help if they are battling a drug or alcohol problem.



USF Young Inventors Competition

On February 11, 2011, the University of South Florida renewed its commitment to innovation, invention and progress by hosting the USF Young Innovators Competition. 15 semi-finalists were selected from a pool of applicants ranging from elementary to high school with differing inventions to be judged. Semi-finalists went before a panel of local judges, and the most useful and plausible inventions were selected as winners from each age group: grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. The Grand Prize Winner – recipient of the Outback Top Trademark Award, was Marissa Streng of St. Paul’s School for her Puff-N-Fluff Dog Dying System, which is a suit designed to fit over a dog and circulate warm air from a hair dryer around the pet, drying it quicker. All of the applicants presented their inventions both with a poster and a sales pitch, proving that Tampa’s children are talented in many ways.



Bulls Boycott Chick-Fil-A 

On a campus with strong opinions about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, it’s not shocking to find that Chick-Fil-A is being boycotted. University of South Florida students are currently skipping their chicken sandwich fixes in the Marshall Center after learning that the chain has donated more than $1.1 million to organizations that have anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender agendas.

Kindell Workman, president of P.R.I.D.E Alliance, the largest LGBT on-campus organization, feels that it is against USF’s policy of nondiscrimination to support Chick-Fil-A by keeping it in the Marshall Center. “USF is one of the most phenomenal universities when it comes to the LGBT community,” she says, and questions how this is politically correct.

Despite the fact that Don Perry, vice president of corporate relations for the chain, says that Chick-Fil-A is not “anti-anything,” many students hope that USF will stand as an example for other universities to boycott.



Gender-Neutral Dorms at USF

The University of South Florida is not only on the cutting-edge of technology and development – it’s also pushing the limits with social reform in a changing world.

With the introduction of gender-neutral dorms, USF has made provisions for transgender students to identify themselves in applications without being forced to chose male or female, and will soon be able to share a room with someone whose gender does not make them uncomfortable.

The option to cohabitate with someone of the opposite sex will only be available in four or five campus dorms, and students wishing to partake must identify their roommate prior to moving in, meaning roommate matching will not be available in these cases.

Senior Alan Ableson states that this move is “incredibly controversial,” but likes that students will be given more options.

“I like giving transgender students the ability to freely say what they are,” he says.  “However, I wouldn’t want USF to group them all in the same building. Knowing college students, there would always be a handful of people that would refer to that building as the one where the “freaks” live.”

Though no Florida schools yet offer this, USF has footsteps to follow in. Over 75 schools across the nation offer gender-neutral campus housing, with the promise of more to come.



USF’s Green and Gold Party Rises

The University of South Florida has never been known for its active political scene where the student body is concerned. Elections are advertised and mass emails are deployed to try and get students out to the polls, but in recent years efforts have been by and large ineffective.

“I hate the fact that it is difficult to find the candidates’ platforms, and how losing candidates revert to filing complaints against the winner,” says Niko Mackey, who feels that the school needs “less ‘politics’ and better quality governing.”

Enter the upstart Green and Gold party, lead by Matthew Smallbach – a man with a mission to unite the student voice at USF. “

With 120 members even in its infancy, the Green and Gold party aims to show students that campus life can be better.  “The way things are can definitely be improved,” tells Michael Miglio, Smallbach’s co-founder, to the Oracle. “With a political party, you’re going to have to have a platform and you’re going to have to be the best to win.  That’s going to change things.”

The Green and Gold party challenges competitors to beat their platform, which aims for change.

“We want students to have passion and be involved with who heads our university because they’re going to be the face of it.”


Entrepreneur Profile: Alex Monroe

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, and one can assume that Alex Monroe, founder of That’, would agree. Upon realizing no hub for developments in trending topics, entertainment news, and information relevant to people ages 17-25, Monroe decided to fill the void himself.

“Plain and simple, the Internet is filled with nonsense and tomfoolery,” reads an introduction to the site. “After spending the last however many years searching for the content we wanted to see all in one place, we gave up. Instead, we’re doing it ourselves.”

“I wanted to provide a source for people like myself born in the 80s and 90s,” Monroe says, which is why he has assembled the hodge-podge of information on

The site, which boasts that “if you’re looking for simple or boring, you’ve come to the wrong place,” offers free downloads, links to daily deals across the internet, challenges, technical news, as well as humor and general banter.

Monroe, a student from the University of Tampa, majored in management, which played into his passion for entrepreneurship. He hopes that will grow into a full-time project for him.

“I really want this site to be the premier source,” he says.

With Monroe at the helm, it’s clear that ThatsGlitchy, which launched July 18, 2011, has a bright future.