Facebook Should Address Privacy Concerns: Online Communities Need Better Protection and Online Education

By Carly Banner
Facebook users often face privacy concerns due to the amount of personal data the website is entrusted with. Facebook users’ ability to keep their data protected is often complicated by the company’s constant reformatting. Due to the website’s constant changes, it is vital for a website like Facebook to encourage learning of their privacy systems and to make users aware of the risks they are facing by posting information.
On Facebook, privacy settings is the third option on the drop down menu to the right of the home tab. This displays a sample image of a status update, pointing out that the privacy of each individual status can be tailored to be seen by all of the user’s friends or only a select few. The page goes on to point out that “the people you share with can always share your information with others,” which is of course one of the biggest problems with online privacy. Information can only be as secure as the people it is given to.

One of the most important, and overlooked strategies of Facebook security is only adding people who can be trusted with private information. Facebook could add a discreet reminder next to the confirm friendship button that the person in question will have access to personal information.

If a user hasn’t recently adjusted their privacy settings, their personal information such as religion or relationship status can only be seen by friends. However under the default settings hometown, current location, and all work and education information is available to any member of the public who searches the user’s name.

On one level this is logical, as this is the information that would matter to potential employers or business contacts, but this is also vital information to predators and stalkers.

Users who aren’t aware of recent changes to privacy settings or who assume that this type of information was automatically kept private could be vulnerable. Facebook often advises users to examine the new privacy settings when they are changed, but these notifications would have more of an impact if they explicitly stated the information that was currently public.
The “learn more” option goes into more detail about adjusting who can see each status update. There is the choice to publish where the user is, tag who the user is with, and manage who can see the status. Many people don’t consider or know that it is possible to exclude certain people from seeing their statuses, or posts that others make on their walls.

Often features such as these are not put into use until a problem has already occurred. Facebook could add a feature asking if the user wants all of their friends to see their status each time they post. Many may disable this question due to the hassle, but at least it would bring the different privacy options to users’ attentions.
There have also been concerns about Facebook being given more leeway to distribute its users’ information to advertisers. One needs to look no further than ads in the margins of Facebook that often correlate with the user’s interests to see the reality of this issue. In June, Facebook allowed users to vote on different aspects of privacy through comments, but again, this was not as widely publicized as it should have been.
Facebook has stated that it strives for “greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness.” If this is really the case, Facebook needs to advertise its new features and their implications much more prevalently. If Facebook intends to continue changing its layout and privacy features so often, it has a responsibility to keep its users up to speed.

Where Should I Live? : On-Campus vs. Off Campus

On-Campus
By Kavita Singh
The monetary commitment to live on-campus can be daunting, even considering most financial aid packages. However, the troubles from living off-campus far outweigh that financial gain. Especially in the long-run, the isolation from a close-knit campus community may be too great of a sacrifice for that short-term financial gain.

According to the Southwestern Office of Residence Life, 83% of students (not just first-years) choose to live on-campus. This is overwhelmingly evidence that students have chosen to make a long-term investment to remain in the campus community.

Residence life plays a major role in the overall university experience, and everything from borrowing a calculator to having late-night philosophical discussions down the hall becomes a little more available when living close to your peers.

For students who haven’t lived away from home before, it also provides an opportunity to transition to adulthood, taking steps along the way to learn about laundry detergent, roommate relationships, and the life stories of others.

Academics have raved for decades about the cultural, historic, and economic implications of spatial proximity, and the college experience can be seen as a kind of miniature testing grounds to explore.

Resident Assistants on-campus facilitate this experience, reaching out by hosting events and offering guidance and support to residents. Obviously, how much a student takes advantage of the services offered is their own decision, but these amenities can’t be found outside the university. The residential experience and the services that come with it are a truly unique aspect of the college experience.

Living among your peers in a “virtual bubble” may seem like an unrealistic view of the world, but that space is an interesting place to view the world from and learn from. Building that community, especially at a university like Southwestern, requires just the right conditions to strike a balance between awkwardly close and forlornly distant. The residence life experience only enhances this benefit by helping those in-between times become moments for building great relationships with one another.

While relationships with peers can be built off-campus, doing so on-campus is considerably easier. Working on projects together, meeting up, cooking together, and generally hanging out are activities facilitated by common spaces on-campus.

On-campus housing offers a unique opportunity to become part of a campus community, something especially true of small liberal arts colleges that structure themselves around the residential life experience.

Off-Campus
By Kylie Chesser

After their first two years, students have to make a decision that will affect their lives for some time: whether to live on-campus or off-campus. Options at the university include residence halls, fraternity house living, or various apartments. Off-campus, however, is literally a world of opportunity. Renting is clearly the way to go, considering the benefits of cheaper living, freedom to live how one wants, and gaining real-world experience.

According to the Student Life website, housing costs anywhere between McCombs Residential Center’s and Martin Ruter Hall’s $4,320 per year to the Lord Center’s $12,010 per year. This does not include the meal plan, which ranges from $2,040 to $5,834 annually. The cheapest meal plan, including only five meals, is further restricted to those who live in housing with a kitchen. Considering these costs, the cheapest option for any student to live and eat on-campus would be $4,514 per semester.

Renting, by comparison, has many more benefits for the same amount of money. For example, an average student pays approximately $400 monthly for a sizable two-bedroom apartment with a roommate and $100 monthly for groceries. This brings the price of living from August-December, a semester of school, to $2,500. That’s $2,000 saved by living off-campus. The costs of driving for a semester is about $500. Even counting in gas expense, a vast amount of money is still saved.

Besides maintaining a bigger wallet, living away from the school allows a student to live how he or she wishes. On-campus, pets aren’t allowed. Renting opens up possibilities for dogs, cats, snakes, etc.

Besides all of these benefits, the experience a student gets from renting their own home away from campus is priceless. Paying bills and keeping a home clean are responsibilities of the real world outside of school, and it’s important that students know what to expect and how to take care of themselves when they leave college.

For example, residence halls employ housekeepers to empty students’ trash cans and clean their bathrooms on a regular basis. This is a ridiculous luxury; one should be responsible for their own living space and get used to cleaning. Once a student graduates and has to find a place to live, there isn’t going to be a maid to pick up after their messes. If they expect their parents to do it for them, they didn’t learn much in school about maturity.

Renting is part of growing up and being on your own; it is part of life nowadays. Having to pay bills and keep a job to keep your home teaches financial responsibility and definitely teaches students how to prioritize.
Renting may seem like a scary prospect, but it’s a great way for students to build their credit as well. The experience will pay off after graduation, when they will be thrown into the world, and knowing how to navigate it can mean the difference between living with parents or thriving on their own. In light of all these things, it’s an obvious choice. It’s hard to imagine how living on-campus under the eyes of RA’s would ever be worth the higher costs.

Declining Military Health: Americans Unfit to Serve

By Carly Banner
A recent study from Mission: Readiness found that 25% of Americans are too overweight to join the military. The United States is one of the few countries that face this problem.

When a quarter of a nation’s otherwise eligible citizens cannot reach a healthy enough weight to serve their country, it becomes clear that obesity is systemic threat in the United States.
If Americans are not healthy enough to join the army, they are not healthy enough to be Olympic stars or bankers or middle school teachers. Every job in America is important, and needs to be filled with energetic, capable people. For that to happen, the general conversation about food and healthy choices needs to change.

The military suggests putting healthier choices in school vending machines and cafeterias. While this would certainly help by influencing children early on, it is far from a perfect solution. Children do not eat all of their meals at school, and they grow into adults that must make their own nutrition decisions.
In order for children to grow into fit adults capable of serving their country, unhealthy food must be treated as a dangerous substance. Just as the increased coverage of the harmful health effects of cigarettes has gradually made them less socially acceptable, fatty foods need to enter the American psyche as “bad for you” at a young age in order to prevent obesity in children.

Implementing other changes, such as banning fast food companies from advertising geared specifically towards children and emphasizing proper nutrition and frequent exercise, would go a long way to prevent the 25% of Americans too fat to serve from becoming overweight in the first place.

By first recognizing this alarming trend in military fitness, Americans can work towards fixing the issue. A solution would necessitate a society-wide shift in the attitude toward food and exercise.

Obesity exists, on television, in the military, and at the store down the street. There is no sense in trying to hide it away or shame individuals who suffer from it. But before America can defend itself from outside threats, it has to make a greater effort to defend itself from the widespread acceptance of unhealthy food.

Guest Column: Embracing the Classics.Exploring the Future.

There is a discouraging trend afoot – that of declining interest in classical music. Many professional orchestras are facing musicians’ union disputes, financial troubles, declining audiences, and some have even folded entirely. It is not within the scope of my ability to proffer a comprehensive theory as to why this is happening (as Frank Zappa observed: “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”), but I would like to provide some discussion about what the Austin Civic Orchestra (ACO) is trying to do to help alter this troubling course.

One of the most important responsibilities conductors shoulder is to support, commission and publicly present new music. Music of our time. Much of the music that we consider to be “classic” was once new; it spoke directly to the people of the time and reflected the issues of that time. To this end, we’re moving in a different direction this season to try and draw some new and younger fans to our concerts. “Embracing the Classics. Exploring the Future” is the orchestra’s new motto.

On September 29th, we presented the Texas premiere of David Amram’s “Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie.” Guthrie, of course, wrote the folk song, “This Land is Your Land,” and we celebrate his 100th birthday anniversary in 2012. Amram, a composer, conductor, and author, is known in classical, jazz, and folk circles and for his collaborations with Jack Kerouac (together they helped form the Beat movement), Leonard Bernstein (Bernstein chose him to serve as the first composer-in-residence with the NY Philharmonic), Charlie Mingus, Oscar Peterson, Willie Nelson… the list could go on for gigabytes.

Amram’s tribute to Guthrie sets the famous melody in ten different styles, all of which reflect America’s rich and diverse musical heritage: blues, gospel, swing, Native American, Latino, Mexican, middle eastern, klezmer, a hoe-down, and even a nod to the Salvation Army Band. We were very honored to have Amram present for the premiere and also to have his input during the dress rehearsal. This man is a living part of American history and at 82 he shows no signs of slowing down!

The experience of working with a living composer is always very exciting because the collaborative effort is extremely rewarding for all parties involved. The excitement of “giving birth” to a new work of art, especially in the presence of the creative force behind it, is truly unique to this environment and I am always privileged to serve as the midwife.

The most important outcome for this concert and for all programs in which we’ve been able to feature new music, is that we were able to bring in some new and younger audience members and to blur the boundaries between musical genres. There was an almost giddy sense of excitement in the air after the performance, something promising and immediately passionate, something one cannot get from an iPod or YouTube.

Dr. Lois Ferrari
Professor of Music
Music Director, Austin Civic Orchestra

http://www.austincivicorchestra.org

Voter ID: Reasonable Request vs. Discriminatory Law


Reasonable
By Jeffrey McKenzie
Pennsylvania and many other states have implemented or are attempting to implement voter ID laws. However, opponents are now complaining that such requests for identification are discriminatory, racist, or on par with a poll tax.
The overwhelming majority of potential voters have government-issued identification. Many of the simplest transactions involve an ID card, such as boarding an airplane. In addition, states that are passing these measures are creating ways for people without a driver’s license to obtain a free ID. Therefore, this legislation bears no resemblance to a poll tax, which is a flat fee charged to every voter.
Any interaction with government bureaucracy is a hassle, but getting an ID is no more demanding than registering to vote in the first place. Election officials have a right to ask that people prove their identity, place of residence, or citizenship in order to prevent those who are be ineligible from being able to vote. Further, the majority of people without identification are not registered to vote, and if they are, they are unlikely to turn out.
A main point of opposition is the claim there is virtually no cheating in elections. However, voter fraud would be impossible to measure because many unregistered voters could vote and not get caught. The controversy surrounding Florida’s counting of votes in the 2000 election suggests that even slight amounts of voter fraud are powerful enough to influence the outcome of an election.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett stated that a number of election precincts in Philadelphia that are reliably Democratic have produced results showing that more than 100 percent of registered voters cast ballots certain years in districts where turnout is low. It seems likely, even inevitable, that such examples of voter fraud are being repeated in cities across the country.
In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law requiring voter ID, with the majority opinion given by Justice John Paul Stevens: “Not only is the risk of voter fraud real but . . . it could affect the outcome of a close election.”
The honesty of the electoral process should not be made a partisan issue. States can do a better job promoting voter registration or the process by which non-drivers get an ID, but equating this measure with a poll tax or Jim Crow laws in false and disrespectful to civil rights. All citizens deserve the right to vote, and it is therefore constitutional that they be able to prove their citizenship with a government-issued ID.


Discriminatory
By Joana Moreno
As of September 24, Voter ID laws are now effective throughout twenty-three states in America. These laws vary from state to state but have one general requirement: photo identification in order to cast a vote.

For most Americans this new requirement can be fulfilled by simply using a driver’s license or state identification card, yet it can be problematic for the population of Americans without a photo ID.

According to the Voting Rights Institute, 11% of Americans lack proper identification. Many Americans in that group are minorities and working poor, two groups known to traditionally vote Democratic. By making it almost impossible for them to vote in the upcoming elections, these laws discriminate against various highly democratic minority populations within the United States.

Voter ID laws do offer the option of a free election identification certificate, yet this option only pays lip service toward making the laws fair to all Americans. Obtaining an election certificate requires travelling to a Department of Public Safety and a certified copy of your birth certificate.

Both of these seem simple, but they may not be to those adversely affected by the law. Those in rural areas would have to travel an extensive number of miles to a D.P.S, and the working-poor would be forced to pay up to twenty-two dollars for a certified copy of their birth certificate.

Proponents of the law claim that these measures are not meant to discriminate, but instead secure the election process in order to prevent electoral fraud. To reinforce their claim they also mention that requiring a photo ID is reasonable because it is required to fly or participate in other trivial activities.

Despite these statements, government officials are not blind to this form of discrimination. Attorney General Eric Holder referred to voter ID laws as modern Jim Crow-era poll taxes. In August, a federal court turned down Texas’ version of a voter ID law, Senate Bill 14, stating that it would cause “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” This bill blatantly violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization, refers to these attempts as “voter suppression policies” and even predicts that the voter ID laws in place to date could prevent 10 million Latinos from voting. A current poll from CNN Politics reports that 68% of registered Latino voters would support Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in the upcoming election. Preventing those 10 million Latino voters would be a significant boon for the Republican Party.

Every type of voter identification laws that has been presented in federal court this year has been in some way modified in order to prevent discriminatory effects. Yet, these weakened voter ID laws remain a threat. Penda D. Hair, co-director of Advancement Project, worries that Pennsylvania voters may become confused because election workers may still ask for photo identification even though it is now not required in ordered to vote.

The very people promoting these discriminatory laws are those in elected positions who we have entrusted to speak on our behalf. Elections are approaching; it’s time to elect worthy representatives who are against discrimination and against voter ID laws.

Reducing Employment: Degrees Add Advantage

By Jeffrey McKenzie

In August, the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 to 8.1 percent. Unemployment among the 20-24 age group stands at 14.6 percent. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of graduates that are unable to find full-time jobs in their field, instead having to take jobs which pay less and make no use of their skills.

Americans with college degrees are faring better in the depressed economy than those with high school degrees: 8.8 percent unemployment for those with a high school education versus 4.1 percent unemployment for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. This further demonstrates the value of having the financial resources to pursue a college education.

Although some politicians are calling for cuts in education spending and federal grant funding, this will harm new graduates who will be unable to afford degrees and will face difficulties finding employment. To counter this, the U.S. should stop cutbacks in education and consider implementing policies that increase the affordability of college.
During a speech to students at Otterbein University, Mitt Romney said, “Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents.” This advice is inconsistent with the reality most students face. Most students do not have parents with tens of thousands of dollars in disposable income to spend on a student’s education or jumpstart a student’s business or career. On a basic level, this reflects his disconnect with those who struggle to pay for their education.

While he suggests that they “get the education,” Romney does not explain how to do this. Tuition has skyrocketed across the country partly due to federal and state cuts in financial aid. Romney endorses Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would cut federal aid further and leave approximately a million students without federal grants.

Students therefore have to “get the education” by incurring lots of debt and graduate into an economy where jobs are scarce. What they need most is a better job market. Romney’s plan would cut taxes on corporations and the rich and cut spending on public services and welfare.

There are examples of this policy in practice. Conservatives used to praise Ireland’s economic policy. When the worldwide economic crisis began, further praise went to Ireland for cutting its spending, which many believed would lead it to a quick recovery.

Instead, a third of Irish graduates are unable to find jobs compared to half that in the U.S., according to the Department of Labor. In order to avoid that outcome, the U.S. should halt cutbacks at the state and local level which slash education budgets.

Although this approach will cost more money, it will provide the U.S. with a stable future tax base and improve graduate unemployment.

Kony 2012 Campaign: Effective Advocacy or Misguided Militarism

Advocacy

By Brooke Chatterton

Invisible Children, the makers of the Kony 2012 video, have a long history of using social media in order to bring an underexposed issue of their choice into light.  With such a viral video, many have begun to critique every aspect of and the organization that created it.  The Kony 2012 campaign, while not perfect, has exposed the barbarous action of Josef Kony to millions of active and impassioned people and been entirely consistent with the goals of Invisible Children.

The three goals of Invisible Children, as stated on their website are “ 1) Make the world aware of the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army]. This includes making documentary films and touring them around the world so that they are seen for free by millions of people. 2) Channel energy from viewers of IC films into large-scale advocacy campaigns to stop the LRA and protect civilians. 3) Operate programs on the ground in LRA-affected areas that provide protection, rehabilitation and development assistance.”

With upwards of 84 million views on Youtube, they have certainly attracted an audience to their expose.  And people are not only viewing, they are taking it to heart and becoming active in the fight against a brutal man.  The Cover the Night that has been gaining support is evidence of that.  In addition the widespread prominence of the Kony 2012 campaign has helped finance not only media programs but programs on the ground in Africa.  It allows those that cannot go to Africa to help to contribute something back, even if it just a few dollars or kind thoughts.

Critics of the campaign have come for people concerned that the Kony 2012 video is oversimplifying the issue and raise doubts to use of the financial contributions generously given by those who have seen the video.

The campaign, due to the viral video, has gained vast amounts of funds.  The Invisible Children website explains that they try to spend about one third of the funds on each of their three goals.  They also maintain financial transparency, allowing contributors to make sure that they have a good idea how much money will be spent in media and how much in direct aid.

They also respond to the issue of oversimplification.  The video was intended to be an introduction into the plight of those touched by the LRA, not a comprehensive history.  In order to gain the widespread recognition of Josef Kony, it necessitated a simplification of a complex situation to a level that would be compatible with those unfamiliar to the situation.

It all boils down to this:  the Kony 2012 campaign has exposed a villainous man to millions of people who now feel the draw to action.  It targeted a young technologically savvy audience which gave the issue exposure bringing into light in the mainstream media.  By creating this video, Kony has become visible as the brute he is, and as such, it has limited his power.  In addition, the plight of those affected by LRS has gained attention, and aid, due to Kony 2012.

Misguided Militarism

By Kavita Singh

When Invisible Children’s thirty-minute film “KONY 2012” was first publicly screened in Lira Town of northern Uganda, the reaction was pure outrage. Many attendees had been victims of the crimes of Joseph Kony, and looked at the film as hurtful and insensitive for wanting to make the man who shattered their lives famous by putting his name on bracelets and t-shirts.

Many viewers stormed out entirely, and further screenings were halted. The messages of this film, while calling attention to the problem of Joseph Kony, try to fit a complex issue into a simple message and create more issues by doing so.

Jack McDonald of the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London points to the difficult and complex situation in central Africa as a cause for concern. He argues that since the LRA have left Uganda since 2006 and have shifted to the three nations of the Central African Republic (CAR), Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), any attempt to pressure him would likely cause movement from one nation to another.

The power politics of these regions, he argues, cannot simply be solved with one more nation exerting their force on the matter (or at least not without unintended consequences).

This doesn’t mean that there have been no previous attempts to capture Joseph Kony. Former LRA child soldier Anywar Ricky Richard points out that military operations launched by the government of Uganda have tried and failed since 1989.

Even the 2008-2009 campaign of Operation Lightning Thunder, which combined the forces of Uganda, the DRC, South Sudan and even the technical support of the United States, not only failed to capture Kony but also spread the terror to the CAR where the LRA relocated.

Even more complex, the IC’s psychological tactic of metonymy (using a singular figure like Kony to represent a very large issue) has focused in to the point where the simple targeting of an individual becomes enough. McDonald warns that this tactic of Facebook-friendly simplicity is a dangerous way to run a nation’s foreign policy.

The main goal of Invisible Children has never been aid, and has always been, as co-creator of the film Jedidiah Jenkins states, advocacy and awareness. Jenkins argues that the IC films target a high school audience and are made to inspire, but such vast generalizations should not over-simplify such a complex issue, placing agency where it cannot exist.

Like many Africans who have commented on the matter, Richard believes that the horrific portrayals of Uganda in “KONY 2012” are a picture of the past, something that might have been seen in 2004 but certainly not today.

Instead of more guns on the issue, a paradigm shift is needed in how the West views Africa. The portrayal of clear good and evil reduces all Africans to passive victims waiting to be saved by, well, a bunch of t-shirt wearing college students.

TMS Ruge, co-founder of the organization Project Diaspora which works to have Africans drive their own development, exclaims in outrage that Africans want respect and business just like people in the West. Many of them want to forgive, forget and rebuild their lives. He also points out that there are more pressing issues than the LRA attacks, which have killed only 2400 central Africans in three years, compared with the 2838 Ugandans that die in road accidents every year.

While the hype may capture the hearts and minds of those of us in the West, many Ugandans cry for the West to treat them as business partners instead of donor recipients. Horrific events have taken place in most every community, but this film that portrays vestiges of the past refuses to acknowledge the progress as well as the pressing needs of today.



Iran

By Brooke Chatterton

Recently, tensions in the Middle East have skyrocketed when Israel blamed Iran for two separate attacks on February the 13th and 14th. The first was a join attack perpetrated against the capitals of India and Georgia against Israeli Embassy personal, the second in a residential neighborhood in Bangkok, Thailand. While it is impossible to be 100 percent certain that Iran was behind the attacks, rumors are just as powerful as truth when it comes to matters of international diplomacy.

This escalation of tension comes at a time when Iran has pushed forward on its nuclear program despite fresh rounds of sanctions and international condemnation. Iran in one word is unpredictable. They engage in talks to stop nuclear talks when beneficial, threaten to cut off oil production when beneficial, and then turn around and trumpet their nuclear progress at every opportunity.

Due to the rising tensions between Iran and the United States’ ally Israel and due to Iran’s game of nuclear chicken, the debate of how the United States should proceed in relation to Iran has become a more and more contentious topic. If Israel were to retaliate and precipitate a game of murderous one-ups-man-ship with Iran, the United States could be dragged into another war. Some say that the Iran threat is overblown, but in a post 9/11 United States, any threat is magnified to the American people, and the American government should act according to the interests of the people.

Some advocate outright war or covert action. To an America that is finally managing to disentangle itself from previous engagements, that solution to the problem is overblown to a war weary country. Covert action faces the problem that while the action may be covert, the results are very public. It is hard to disguise a burnt out building or a murdered diplomat, and with the current state of relations, no matter how covert the action, the United States, or Israel, would be blamed by Iran. War would soon follow.

The optimal solution lies somewhere in the center. Not lying down and taking it as Iran manipulates oil prices and pushes forward on its nuclear program, but short of hostile action.

The action taken should be suitable to cause Iran to deviate from its current path of bold defiance.

The naturally solution is comprehensive sanctions by the majority of the countries that Iran exports to. The problem with that is that the last round of sanctions, so far, has not caused
Iran to back down. But these sanctions were not comprehensive enough. Russia, India, China,
and Turkey have not signed on, leaving Iran with willing consumers of its main export, oil.

Japan and South Korea has indicated willingness to impose more sanctions, on the condition that the economic repercussions are further investigated.

The first step of action is for the United States to convince Japan and South Korea to sign on and then for the United States to evaluate the impact of the sanctions after they have
had a few months to affect the Iranian economy. If Iran has not acquiesced to the nuclear
restrictions imposed on it and halted its actions against Israel, other options, including UN co-
sponsored action against Iranian nuclear facilities should be considered.

Protected Time Proposal: Benefits Students or Limits Choices

Benefits

By: Brooke Chatterton

Faculty and staff at Southwestern have attempted to respond to student needs by proposing a new policy that would help ease the amount of class and extracurricular conflicts in the evenings by providing a Protected Time to students.
Currently, the classes that take place during those hours are required to be either offered at other times during the day or to be not required by any major. The implementation of protected time would further supplement the policies already in place to aid students who experience evening conflicts.
With the addition of this policy, which is still under development, the hours of approximately 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. would be reserved for the students. If tests or other class work, such as mandatory lectures, were scheduled during those hours, students who were unable to attend would not have their grade penalized. An alternate option would have to be provided by the faculty or the requirements would become suggested rather than mandatory for your grade.
The policy will come as a relief to anyone who often has obligations in the evenings that they must sacrifice for a lecture or a night exam, especially student athletes.
Many athletes expressed supported for the policy at the student body forum. The adoption of protected time would be a major relief for athletes who are currently forced to deal with class and practice conflicts in the evenings.
Athletes are forced to cut down on extracurriculars and are sometime forced out of classes they wished to take simply because they are unable to meet the time obligations. Even if they are able to squeeze in all of their obligations, athletes are forced to run on a schedule where they work themselves to the bone attempting to run a hectic schedule that leaves them harried and stressed.
With Southwestern’s increasing number of students in athletics due to the formation of the varsity women’s lacrosse and football teams, it shows great foresight by the Southwestern administration to fix the problem now before the population of student athletes increases on campus.
This policy change would also impart benefits to students who are required to take the night exams that are prevalent among the science majors. To be clear, this policy would not eliminate night exams or force professors to stop suggesting lectures or events to attend. Rather, if an exam were to fall during protected time, an alternate would have to be offered for those who are unable to attend. It grants a subsection of the class, who would have been forced to miss the exam, practice or a treasured extracurricular, another option.
Protected time gives big benefits to athletes, students with night exams and students who are required to attend various lectures and events at no cost to other Southwestern students. This policy is all about giving options. Protected time aims to protect a selection of students in the Southwestern student body, to ensure they get the best education possible and to make their learning experience more satisfying and enjoyable.

Limits
By Arianna Haradon

The “Protected Time Legislation,” also know as the “Non-schedule Policy,” and alternatively, the “Schedule and Activity Policies” is legislation currently being written and discussed by the university. The objective is to give students freedom to schedule their evenings without being restricted by mandatory class activities. While this may sound harmless, the proposed legislation could actually restrict students more and inconvenience faculty.
There is currently no clear policy restricting when professors can give mandatory night exams, labs, or other events. The legislation is still being discussed, but the proposed policy would limit the types of activities that could be given between roughly 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on weeknights. The exception to this rule would be Choral and Ensemble, which would be scheduled in their current time slots. Athletic practices would also be scheduled as normal.
One of the most important skills a student learns in college is how to effectively schedule their time. Time management is a skill that is imperative throughout one’s life. The evening activity system in which students must schedule their athletic practices, mandatory class events, jobs, and extracurriculars forces students to finely hone their time management and scheduling skills. Thus, the current system provides students with lifelong benefits.
A period of time in the evening in which practically nothing can be scheduled has the potential to hurt students more than just having to juggling several evening obligations. If professors were unable to have out of class review sessions, as is currently common, professors would be forced to give a review in class. This could result in the material being covered inadequately in order to fit it into the schedule along with the other curriculum. This would also inconvenience professors already struggling to fit a lot of material into only 15 weeks, forcing them to assign more reading each night and skim over the subject matter in class instead of going through it thoroughly. In this situation, both students and faculty lose.
On the other hand, having required class activities during the evening can cause chaos in a student’s life. While the juggling may be difficult for some, this could easily be remedied by a policy requiring professors to publish the dates and times of all required outside events in the syllabus. This way students would still learn how to manage their time, and would also have a better opportunity to participate in all the events that they want and need to by scheduling ahead. This is a much simpler solution to students scheduling woes than carving out a block of “no schedule” time.
Instead of creating steadfast rules limiting scheduling, the university should require that professors tell students upfront in the syllabus what is required outside of class and facilitate more communication between professors and their students. This would save a lot of time and energy for everyone involved in the legislation process. Additionally, the university should host several time management seminars throughout the year in order to ensure that students are properly developing the skill.
In conclusion, there are several ways that would help alleviate some of the stress felt by students with mandatory outside of class activities, without wasting the university’s time and energy, or inconveniencing professors. It is essential that the university look at these strategies before going forward with rigid rules restricting mandatory evening activities. Despite good intentions, the proposed legislation should not be passed.

New Pet Policy Would Benefit All

By Sadie Pass

In the past couple of years, more students than ever before have brought their pets to live on campus. From Moody-Shearn Hall to the Lord Residential Center Apartments, pets are all around. However, Southwestern does not have an effective policy that outlines who gets pets and how pets are handled on campus.
Southwestern needs a coherent pet policy that will explicitly state the rules, regulations, and procedures of bringing a pet to live on campus. Pets can help students mental and physical health and at a small school with an active student congress, there should be no problems in implementing such a policy. A policy in the works now that designates one dorm building specifically for pet owners will benefit both students who have and do not have pets, as well as create actual guidelines to clarify the pet policy for the university when faced with making pet related decisions.
According to Dean of Students Leese, the current policy is technically a “no pets allowed on campus” policy though there are exceptions for students who provide doctor’s notes explaining a physical or mental condition that would be helped by living with a pet. There is no debate that a policy is needed, and Student Congress, Leese, individual students, and Physical Plant are currently working together to come up with a consistent pet policy.
About five years ago, a pet policy was voted down by Physical Plant and the housekeeping staff because of the potential damage to floors and furniture and the mess that pets may create. The important considerations of the sanitation and safety of theuniversity’s buildings make the task of writing a policy an extremely delicate one.
Despite this first failure, Student Congress is again working towards a policy. While little headway has been made towards voting on a policy, some students have submitted their own ideas. The leading idea now is for a policy that designates one of the Lord Center buildings as a pet-friendly dorm. The first students to sign up for housing and mark that they want to bring their pet to school will move into the approved pet dorm.

This plan allows students who want their pets at school to bring them, even if they don’t have a doctor’s note, and it insures that students who are allergic to or don’t like animals will not be living around the pets on campus.

It does, however, limit the number of pets allowed on campus, and the plan may also include special fees and costs for pet owners because of the extra maintenance and possibility of damage to the building.

While the limited space may be a problem when the policy is first implemented, the administration can gauge the number of pets and possibly create another pet friendly dorm if the need arises. The extra cost will cover some of Physical Plant’s concerns of damage so they will be less hesitant to allow pets into the buildings they maintain.

Even if a policy may be hard to agree upon, the importance of allowing students to live with their pets on campus is not overlooked by students and staff. This pet policy will not be agreed upon unless Student Congress, Physical Plant, and the administration can agree on the parameters of such a policy. The work currently being done is a step in the right direction. A separate pet dorm provides options and even if there is a small cost involved, it insures that students will be allowed to live with their pets in the upcoming years.

Health Care Reform: Individual Mandate Helps Country OR Madate Threatens American Values

Helps

On Nov. 14 the Supreme Court agreed to judge the constitutionality of the recent mandate to buy health insurance. Opponents of the mandate claim that the constitutional power of Congress to regulate commerce does not permit Congress to force people to buy insurance or anything else.

However, there is support for the mandate both in the Constitution and from precedent. Americans have long had to pay for Medicare regardless of whether they want it or not. The only difference between the mandate to pay for Medicare and the mandate to buy health insurance is that people pay for Medicare only after willingly entering employment. Mandating insurance for employment, though, is established by the commerce clause. So opponents are therefore arguing not over the substance of the mandate, but instead over the context in which it is imposed.

There are several groups of people who have been mentioned as being affected negatively by the new mandate. Mainly, there are people who are either ill or have other risk factors which would cause increased premiums, and there are people who simply can’t afford health insurance even though they are healthy. However, the health care reform law in general addresses these groups of people through reforming premiums, expanding the Medicaid program, subsidizing the purchase of insurance, and entirely exempting some people from the requirement in some cases. Therefore, the law will allow these people to have access to affordable insurance or to have no penalties for not purchasing insurance.

Regulatory requirements on commerce are entirely constitutional. Cars are required to have air bags, people are required to have pensions for retirement, nutritional facts are required to be printed on food products, etc. A requirement for people to buy health insurance to lessen the level of strain that uninsured people place on the state would only be regulating commerce to the same extent as these other requirements.

Ultimately, the cost of people who have no insurance but need health care which they cannot afford shifts the cost instead to taxpayers who have bought insurance. Further, doctors then charge more for insured people because the uninsured are unable to pay.

The argument that the commerce clause renders the health insurance mandate unconstitutional is therefore invalid. The mandate is permitted by the necessary and proper clause which gives Congress the power to pass laws which facilitate the execution of constitutional powers.

Without the mandate, provisions that insurance companies insure sick people and reduce premiums would become ineffective because it would encourage healthy people to avoid buying health insurance until they become sick. If only the sick are buying insurance, then prices would go up enormously and the entire health insurance market could collapse. Therefore, under the necessary and proper clause, the mandate would facilitate the provisions for insuring sick people, making it equally constitutional.

The mandate does not require people to subject themselves to health care, but rather to pay for any care that they may get. Even if the commerce clause did not permit it, the necessary and proper clause authorizes Congress to pass the mandate in order to regulate premiums and prevent rejecting sick people from being insured.

Threatens

The United States Senate voted to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on Dec. 24, 2009 by a vote of 60-39. The PPACA passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 23, 2010. Also known as ‘Obamacare’, the PPACA is being sued by 28 of the 50 states in the U.S., some together, some individually, against the constitutionality of the bill.

These states are taking issue with a particular part of this healthcare legislation known as the individual mandate. Tucked in the 2,700 pages of the healthcare legislation, the individual mandate is the term used to describe the requirement within the PPACA to require all Americans, barring financial hardship or religious beliefs, to have some form of health insurance by 2014.

On Dec. 13, 2010, Virginia Federal District Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled the individual mandate not just unconstitutional but also dangerous, stating, “It would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”

On Jan. 31, Roger Vinson, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Florida, struck down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. Judge Vinson, who took issue with the individual mandate, struck down the whole piece of legislation, citing a lack of severability, a clause in a piece of legislation that allows for certain terms of the legislation to be independent of one another.

Federal Judge Roger Vinson wrote, “It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. … It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place… Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States.”

Vinson also wrote, “If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a transaction … it is not hyperbolic to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.”

Historically, Congress has used the commerce clause to expand their power through legislation. James Madison, the ‘father of the Constitution’, wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

For the first time in our nation’s history, Congress is trying to force each individual American to enter into a contract with a private company or face a penalty from the federal government. Members of Congress, who make $174,000/year, have access to the health plan and life insurance policy available to other federal workers and will also draw money from Social Security, their Congressional 401(k) plan, and a pension plan, are now telling you that you have to own a product.

As Americans, we are inherently a group of consumers. We enjoy shopping for different products. Americans also enjoy saving money by not purchasing a product or enjoy spending their money on products that they don’t need.


Occuppy Wall Street: Occupy Movement Battles Injustice or Protestors’ Anger Misdirected

Injustice

What began on Sept. 17, when the anti-consumerist organization AdBusters called for the occupation of Wall Street, has expanded to a global movement with similar protests advocating everything from holding corrupt speculators accountable for the gamble of investment banking to advocating more environmental protection, to placing limits on lobbyists’ monetary influence on representatives, and to equal opportunities for women.

For most people, the Occupy Wall Street movement appears to have sprung seemingly from nowhere, with sudden widespread protests against the corporate influence in American politics and the level with which Wall Street bankers can gamble with depositors’ money, and to a larger extent, with the entire economy.

Although police thought the protestors would quickly leave, that has not been the case, and there have been many conflicts between protesters and police wishing to at least temporarily clear them out of public areas.

However, despite all of the excitement surrounding the sudden emergence of these protesters and the polarizing reactions to them, there still remains a great deal of confusion both in commentators’ remarks about them and within the movement itself as to what goals the movement is working towards. This is because, one month after it caught the country by surprise, the Occupy Wall Street protest is still entirely leaderless despite being on the threshold of becoming what many commentators refer to as a political force similar in magnitude to the Tea Party of 2009.

It would seem that if there is any common thread to the erratic protests, it would be that protesters are upset that the divisive political rhetoric in this country has aligned people against each other, and that people who are upset with the political system in this country should begin to speak for themselves instead of having politicians speak for them.

It has also allowed people of differing political ideologies, such as socialists and libertarians, to begin discussing possible solutions to the corruption in American politics and economics instead of only apathetically accepting the corruption.
Public figures have found that it is both convenient and undemanding to apply divisive labels against each other. Politicians have tapped into this broad anger to ensure re-election, which keeps people attacking each other instead of addressing any of the issues at hand.

Ever since the general de-regulation of the financial market in the 1980’s and especially with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, Wall Street investment firms began to gamble with depositors’ money that was formerly held in commercial banks. Many economists attribute this to be the cause of the severity of the financial downturns since 2007.

It is necessary to open up respectful discussion in this country in order to fashion a better future. People have a right to stand up for what they believe in, and, if it means bringing attention to a corrupt oligarchy in which the wealthiest Americans are protected by corporate greed and lobbyists who ensure that the political barricade is held up by money, then by all means, people must fight and continue to fight against oppression.

From this simple cause, to eliminate the influence of money in politics, an entirely new country can be born.

Anger
The Occupy Wall Street protest that originally began in New York City to little media attention has quickly ballooned into a media spectacle with protests across the globe, fueled largely in part by such online networking sites as Twitter and Facebook. Some have even compared this protest against the economy to recent revolutions, such as the one in Egypt.

Capturing the attention of people nationwide, Occupy Wall Street has been hailed as the movement of the decade. But despite all of the hype, it has not accomplished anything.

Business owners are the foundation of America. The feared one percent is simply a misunderstood parent; a martyr for the common good that must suffer so that the 99 percent can vent their misunderstood anxiety.

The banks and traders making their living on Wall Street not only create wealth for themselves, but they also provide an opportunity for wealth for many middle-class families. In the panic caused by the collapse of the financial market, these families have forgotten where the banks got the money in the first place: the public.

There were not any Occupy Wall Street movements when college tuition was being paid by these sleazy economic tactics, and it is only after it has failed that people are upset. These protestors have only themselves to blame.

In addition to misplacing blame, this movement also misplaces its purpose. The Occupy Wall Street protests have no goals. They have nothing that they are trying to accomplish. It seems that all they want to do is get attention.

Pictures and videos of stories from behind the lines tell tales not of change, but of unruly behavior and public displays of aggression against police cars.
Many people wonder where this movement started. It appears to be a great story: a grass roots American movement to demand corporate responsibility; a liberal response to the conservative Tea Party that will save America.

The truth is far less romantic. Occupy Wall Street was started by Canadian Political Action Committee Adbusters., whose tactics of lobbying, public manipulation, and dirty election money are the same practices that the movement is protesting against.
The protests have accomplished nothing, and they will continue to accomplish nothing as long as they protest to people who have no control.

A few bankers cannot be held responsible for the problems of the entire economy. The actions of a few bankers cannot derail the entire economy. If these protestors want reform, then that reform must come from the government, not the tycoons.