Not Jumping On: Bandwagoning seen at SU with election and Rob’s death

A Real Bandwagon - Courtesy of Google Images
Written by Brennan K. Peel
We are critical thinkers. Each of us, regardless of identifiable variables, surely considers ourselves as logical, rational beings fully capable of similar thought processes. We are an elite group of college students, faculty, family and community members. Yet many of us fall victim to a foe of our own antithesis, one that entangles smart folks like us frequently: the bandwagon.The bandwagon, as we all know, is where all of those whose fidelity to others and critical faculties for examination are blindly discarded. Joiners are welcomed with open arms. Bandwagoners are swayed by rhetoric and, after hopping on, spout the same rhetorical rubbish as their brethren.

Jumping on the bandwagon is lazy. To join, one must not be fully aware of the costs, risks or consequences of doing so, and one needn’t endure the time and effort to research such effects. Bandwagoners are lazy because, by joining the bandwagon, they don’t have to put any exertion into researching the validity of anything. They can just go along with the crowd, deafly agreeing to the rhetoric and defending that rhetoric against non-members and critical examiners.

Jumping on the bandwagon shows a lack of personality. To have no fidelity for a cause, person or event evinces a lack of developed opinion. Personality requires individuals to make judgment calls between different things: meat or vegetables, red or blue, Republican or Democrat. These choices – some small, others indelibly large and important – serve as staple points in defining our personality. Wish-washy, topsy-turvy and otherwise ambivalent persons show a lack of personality when jumping on a bandwagon because they don’t show what they truly feel. They do what seems cool, popular and fun.
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Battle of the Journalists

Written by Lori Higginbotham
Opinions Editor

Steve Blow is one of the biggest reasons I decided to become a journalist.

For those not from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, or those without the daily subscription to the “Dallas Morning News,” (Sunday-only subscribers should rethink: the weekday paper is also large enough to function effectively as a doorstop, and the plastic bag covering the paper is perfect for picking up after Fido in the park), Steve Blow is Thursday’s Opinions columnist. He writes witty and insightful columns about the goings-on in the Dallas area. Thursday is always my favorite day in Dallas, because not only is it the day the Daily Living section is dedicated entirely to Fashion!Dallas, but it is the day Steve Blow will entrance me with another one of his articles. What also fascinates me is that he makes people talk—recently I heard two Dallasites in Kroger engrossed in a heated argument about one of Blow’s articles discussing the re-naming of a street downtown. Steve Blow, to me, is the ideal opinions columnist. He is funny without being silly, intelligent without being overly academic, and most importantly, he makes people think. Little kids always talk about what they want to be when they grow up—a firefighter, a writer, Superman. When I grow up, I want to be Steve Blow.

Three months ago, my fifteen-year-old sister called me with an announcement. She was starting a blog. Everyday, she was going to pour her angst-y, tragic, teenage heart out to MySpace, add a few smiley face graphics, and give the link to all her friends. They’d read it, comment, and write their own blogs. In theory, it sounded perfect to her. And in practice, unlike so many other things, it actually worked. Her friends are completely caught up in the virtual world of who dumped whom, who called Liz fat and who posted that hideous picture of the head cheerleader. It all started with an opinion and a few typed words.

Today, everyone is a “citizen journalist”, especially in the world of opinions and editorials. Anyone can think of an idea, an argument—however trivial or meaningless to the rest of the world—and publish in a blog. Anyone with a digital camera can capture a moment, however fuzzy and unfocused, and post it on Facebook. Anyone with a video camera can post the latest and greatest video on YouTube. As a college student, I am totally and completely engrossed in this Facebook-blog-YouTube world.
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Students Praise Building, Mourn Loss of Green Space

Written by Leslie Lube
News Editor

Last week, the staff of the admissions and financial aid offices moved into the Wilhelmina Cullen Admissions building. An official grand opening will take place Feb. 21 during Family Days. This special ceremony will honor Cullen’s donation, which will cover the cost of both the construction of the new building and the renovation of the old Cullen building.

Cullen’s death this past week saddened the SU community, but the buildings that bear her name will keep her memory alive as new generations of students benefit from her generosity. Her family will attend the opening on her behalf.

“I think the new building sets a nice image,” said Monty Curtis, associate vice president of enrollment services. “We don’t want to lose our tradition. We’re proud of being the oldest university in Texas, but we also want to show people that we have modern amenities. And the green aspect [of the building’s construction] shows the kinds of things we value.”

Curtis’s statement highlights the conflicting feelings held by members of the campus community. While they appreciate progress, some students worry that recent construction will threaten SU’s natural character.
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Symposium Tackles Faith & Science

 The Brown Symposium poster - Courtesy of Southwestern University

Written by Giulia Giuffre
Next week, Southwestern University will host the 31st annual Brown Symposium, Science and Religion: Conflict or Convergence, in the Alma Thomas Theater.

Science and religion address the most fundamental questions of origin, purpose and place and yet are often seen as conflicting world views.

“The relationship between science and religion has many practical consequences. How people view this relationship can influence what is taught in schools and affect the type of research the government supports,” Benjamin Pierce, professor of biology and holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair, said. “Recently, the topic of science and religion, especially the conflict between evolution and schools, has been in the news. For instance, the State Board of Education met to set the Texas Science Standards. These standards determine what teachers cover in public school. During the meeting, there was a lot of debate and discussion of evolution.”
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Weekend Proves Successful for Pirates

 The men’s basketball team does well.  -Courtesy of Bernardo Schrimer
Written by Kayla Bogs

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are coming out of an exciting weekend of play here at Southwestern. The teams battled Sewanee and Ogelthorpe to make for four exciting games.

“This year has definitely been a learning season, since we had a lot of people leave the program in the past two year,” senior Natasha Azizi said. “Every day people are learning more and more how we want to play Southwestern basketball.”
This proves true for the women’s basketball here at Southwestern. Now with a 5-13 overall record, the women had a bittersweet weekend. They started out with a match against the number fifth ranked team in the nation, Ogelthorpe. After a tough half, the Pirates were down by only one point at halftime.

“We knew we could compete with them if we played with heart,” sophomore guard Jennifer Tindle said. “Our strategy was to use our size advantage in the post and keep the tempo slow which targeted both of their weaknesses.”
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Angry and scared senseless over impending economic apocalypse

Written by Whitney Laas 

I was making myself some ramen noodles Monday night and I knocked on my roommate’s door to let her know about the latest atrocity in the news. 

“So… you know Citigroup?  One of the companies that received bailout money?  They just bought a 50 million dollar jet*,” I said as I turned the dial on our archaic McCombs apartment microwave. 

Once Sarah confirmed my assertion via the all-knowing, all-powerful New York Times, we went on to discuss the absurdity of the matter and eventually launched into a full-scale freak-out about the future of our world.  In essence, this is how our conversation progressed – minus the copious amounts of cursing and grunts of general frustration: 

On what planet would it have seemed like a good idea for Citigroup to throw away millions of dollars on a luxury jet when they just received a government handout and are hoping to receive more in the future?  At least Chrysler pouring millions into the sure-to-fail Terminator 4 movie has the façade of attempting to boost revenue by means of self-promotion (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,481164,00.html).  Forgive me if I’m completely ignorant and fail to see how a fancy plane for CEOs could, in fact, help out a struggling company (http://www.nypost.com/seven/01262009/news/nationalnews/just_plane_despicable_152033.htm), but I’m fairly certain it can’t.  Even if this is some sort of attempt to show the world that they’re still a powerful company their efforts are clearly futile.  The name of your company and its use of our tax dollars has already been plastered over the news.  There’s no fooling anyone Citigroup; we know you’re broke!  Try using the few remaining dollars you have left for something that at least gives the illusion that you want to save your company. 

It’s just so discouraging to see people you care about losing their jobs as part of mass corporate layoffs – done on the day of inauguration in an effort to deflect negative media coverage no less (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/technology/21clear.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink) – and to see that many of the people on this lowly newpaper’s staff can’t get internships because every major paper in the country is struggling for their last breath, yet companies like Citigroup still have the audacity to throw away millions on luxury items. 

The returns on every university’s endowments are shrinking.  New students can’t get loans.  The job market is only getting smaller.  At this rate we’re all going to be stupid and jobless.  What happens when we can’t get jobs with our exorbitantly pricey, private school educations?  What good does a bachelor’s degree – or a PhD for that matter – do when there aren’t any jobs out there?  I have ZERO useful skills for the impending apocalypse!  I can’t fix my own car or build a shelter or trap small edible mammals; I can barely boil water for my ramen noodles.  How are we supposed to survive an economic depression? 

And I’m not being sensational or dramatic when I use the word “depression;” it’s a real possibility whether we want to think about it or not.  Honestly, if we were in a depression would they even tell us?  That was one of the exacerbating factors of the Great Depression – panic induced by the media – so it seems entirely feasible that if we were headed for one, they wouldn’t tell us anyhow! 

In short, the times ahead of us are sure to be rather rocky ones.  I’m not smart enough to even begin to know how to fix it all, but I sure as hell hope someone can.  I just wish it were possible to eat my ramen in peace without being incensed or scared out of my mind every time I consume the news. *Just after writing this blog Citigroup announced that they would NOT be buying their multimillion dollar jet after all.  Smart move Citigroup.

The 2009 Oscars A Close Race For Frontrunners

 A picture of three oscar statues - Courtesy of Google Images
Written by Claire Booher
Sports Editor 
The year of 2008 was an interesting year for movies. On February 22, Hugh Jackman will host the 81st Academy Award in what will be an exciting night for all the nominees.

Leading the way this year with 13 Oscar nominations is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” written by Eric Roth. While “Benjamin Button” was a unique story, the movie dragged on about 45 minutes too long. The visual effects in the movie were of course stunning, making the 46 year old Brad Pitt’s looks range from those of an 86 year old to those of a 16 year old.
Despite these visual effects captivating the audience from start to finish, Pitt spoke very little in the movie and seemed emotionally static throughout the film. Pitt so far has not captured the best leading man award.

The Golden Globe went to Mickey Rourke for “The Wrestler” and the Screen Actor’s Guild went to Sean Penn for “Milk.”The Academy Award likely will go to either of the two, each of whom took on tragic characters this year.
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Student Recaps Inauguration Experience

Written by William Thomas

It’s difficult to put into words the atmosphere that descended upon Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2009, the day that—as the United States of America has done for centuries now—a peaceful exchange of power took place.

In electing Barack Obama to be their 44th president, the American people blazed a trail for their country’s future over the next four years. While this path may diverge and encounter difficult terrain at times, it still stands that such a diverse culture as that which makes up the U.S. can unite under the flag of hope.

The day Barack Obama was sworn into office was the beginning of this American Dream, and like so many visionaries before him, the President was met with a resounding chorus of cheers. But like his predecessors, no matter how great the plans of one man, it takes the strength of a nation to see those plans to fruition.

This writer was fortunate enough to be standing in D.C. on the day that the U.S. turned a new page in history. This is a glimpse of what I saw in a city where, despite all their differences, Americans were brought together for the common purpose of a brighter future.

I had been invited to the Presidential Inauguration because of my involvement with a student leadership program that I attended fall of my senior year of high school. When I first received my invitation, I had not fully realized the importance of the event. But I accepted, and ten months later I found myself standing in D.C.’s Reagan National Airport, about to embark on what I believe will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

I think it was at this moment, when I was standing in the airport with other students who had been invited, that the gravity of this momentous event began to sink in.

The following day, I arrived at the University of Maryland to hear General Colin Powell speak. I found myself placed in the front row, to the left of the stage where Powell would be speaking. Already, I was astounded by the sheer number of students filling the auditorium, all there for the same reason: to hear a great leader’s words on the country’s future.

When the General stepped onto the stage and began to speak, I was overpowered. His commanding but sincere voice calmly rolled like thunder to every student in their seat. He reminded everyone present that any great leader can have a vision, but must surround him or herself with devoted companions who believe in that vision too. Powell served under four presidents, and offered all those gathered at the university a glance at the world through the eyes of experience.

Later that afternoon, I attended the Inaugural Celebration, and met with a sea of people already gathered out on the Mall to celebrate this historic event. Amidst all the individuals crowded out on the ground between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, there was a sense of unbridled joy unlike anything I had experienced before. These people were not out for themselves; they were there to celebrate.

The following day, I returned to the University of Maryland to hear Vice President Al Gore speak. While he mentioned his work in combating the climate crisis, Gore also focused on this generation taking a lead on issues like global warming, encouraging students to take control of their future. A very appropriate statement, I felt, considering the great youth turnout of the recent election.

The next day, I found myself out on the Mall again, except this time it was 5:00 a.m. As I worked my way up to a spot at 4th Street, where I would stand for the next several hours, my head began to spin as I took in the day.
As the crowd grew larger and more tightly packed, I noticed something curious. Instead of the confusion and short tempers found in most large crowds, there was a sense of unity and pride.

These were not war-weary people or individuals in tough economic times. These were simply Americans, joined together with one another ushering in a new beginning for their country and themselves.

Complete strangers took each others’ pictures with the Capitol glistening in the background and, around 12:30 p.m. on that day, Americans from all around the country had their voices answered.

Barack Obama is now the 44th President of the United States of America. While he has great hopes and ideas for the country, he needs the help of the people who elected him to office to put those thoughts into practice.

I understand now what a momentous day that was, but I believe it is only a preview of more momentous days to come.