What to Do, What to Do? A Few Suggestions on How to Spend Our Tution Money

Written by Caitlyn Buckley
Megaphone Staff Writer

As we all know by now, much to the dismay of whoever is paying for our education, tuition is increasing again by 7.7 percent. We are reminded by the administration that our tuition dollars have not gone and will not go towards the renovation of buildings like the Fine Arts Center or construction of the Center for Lifelong Learning.

This is a relief to me, since I don’t like to think of my money going towards buildings I probably won’t spend much time in over the next two years before I graduate. I’ve talked to many fellow students about how confused we are by the information that our tuition money isn’t going towards the construction or renovation of campus buildings. Since our money isn’t going to these buildings, a popular conversation topic among SU students turns towards what we think the money generated by tuition increases should do on campus. Many of us have collaborated and discussed different improvements we want to see around campus, improvements that we would like our money going towards. Hopefully, if some of these ideas aren’t already being considered, they will be now.

First of all, many of my friends and neighbors in the Moody-Shearn and Herman Brown dorms would like to have more lighting around the area, since the lack of working street and sidewalk lights makes us nervous walking around when it’s dark. This improvement would particularly be appreciated in light of all the violence taking place on campuses nationwide, not to mention the few campus security scares this year. Lighting could potentially serve to discourage crime and loitering around our dorms, which would be welcomed by those of us living here.
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Health Obsession is Really Fat Hate

Written by Courtney Stoker
Megaphone Staff Writer

An article in the last issue of “The Megaphone” suggested in the sub-headline that the Mississippi House Bill 282, which would not allow restaurants to serve people considered “obese” by the State Health Department, had merit despite its grievous disregard for bodily autonomy.

Bills like this are often introduced to raise awareness of an issue. But no bill, even one not expected to pass, that suggests we regard a category of people as second-class human beings deserves to be treated with anything other than indignation.

This bill represents a common attitude toward fat people in the wake of the “obesity crisis,” namely, that fat people don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else.
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The Honor Code: Outdated or Not?

Written by Mariah Arispe
Megaphone Staff Writer

“I have neither given nor received aid on this examination nor have I seen anyone else do so.”

Sound familiar? It should because that is what we are told, if not required, to put on every test, major paper, research project, quiz and homework assignment that we turn in. Some professors are somewhat relaxed about the enforcement of the Honor Code while others are quite strict and expect those words, verbatim, to show up on everything turned into them.

Since I have been at Southwestern, I have had an on-going inner conflict with the Honor Code. On one hand, I think putting the Honor Pledge on my paper signifies my honesty and dignity for work I put time and energy into. On the other hand, I think there is incorrect, irrelevant and outdated language within it. Continue reading

Obama & McCain Maintain Leads After Potomic Primaries

Written by William Thomas
Megaphone Staff Writer

The last couple of weeks have seen a tremendous amount of excitement in the presidential race. Barack Obama has won all of the Democratic primaries or caucuses that have been held since Super Tuesday, earning a total of 187 delegates.

While Mike Huckabee has won two of the six Republican primaries or caucuses, John McCain has held onto his strong lead. At this point, one might wonder if there is any reason left to keep an eye on the presidential primaries with two possible leaders emerging on each side. Rest assured – the race is far from over.

In the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama has taken a slight lead over Hillary Clinton. According to CNN, Clinton trails Obama by 69 delegates (Obama currently has 1,319 delegates and Clinton has 1,250 delegates).
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Ron Paul Holds His Own In This Election

Written by Sam Marsh
Megaphone Staff Writer

If you drive through the southern part of this country looking for campaign signs, there is little chance that you will see anything but than Ron Paul signs. This is strange, considering any poll or the results of the primaries.

So why does he seem to get moral support, but not the votes?

And another question I hear a lot: Who is Ron Paul anyway?
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Super Tuesday 2008

Written by William Thomas
Megaphone Staff Writer

When I volunteered to write an article on Super Tuesday that was to be published on the following Thursday, I admit that I was slightly worried.

I could not imagine how I was going to accurately portray an event that had not yet happened to readers who would be reading the article after the fact.
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Center of Academic Success Tries to Aid, but Falls Short

Written by Jessica Espinoza
Megaphone Staff Writer

It is a rather ironic state of affairs when an office referred to as the Center for Academic Success is, in fact, impeding the success of students at every turn, especially those with disabilities.

The employees of the CAS claim to support ideals of empowerment and independence yet are actually taking power and confining independence by creating a web of bureaucracy so convoluted that it would put the legal system to shame.
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Bookstore Takes the Cake & Your Money

Written by Hannah Yterdal
Megaphone Staff Writer

I stared at the little plaque-thing stuck under the stack of books. I’d sort of lost the feeling in my face, but I was pretty sure I looked ill. I felt in my back pocket for my wallet, opened it, and stared sadly at my debit card. I glanced back at the price.

35 dollars? For that little book? Were they kidding?

Unfortunately, as we Southwestern students know all too well, they weren’t kidding. Our trusty SU Bookstore had, as usual, marked up the price of our textbooks by several dollars. Why on earth do they do that? Don’t they know we are starving college students?

Of course, this is nothing you haven’t thought or said before. The bookstore will unfailingly charge an outrageous amount for already outrageously expensive books. Some, if not most of us, have become practically indifferent to this fact – I mean, what’s forty more dollars out of my pocket and into SU’s? Others of us have simply grown accustomed to the nauseated feeling we get every time we step foot in the bookstore. And then there’s those of us who order our books online for much cheaper, even with shipping.

However, the bookstore seems to have started enforcing counter-measures against online book orders. We would usually go into the bookstore with paper and pen, find the books for our classes, write down the ISBN numbers, and then visit textbooks.com or Amazon. This semester, that has suddenly become much harder to do. In fact, the editor of the Opinions and Editorials section said that when she went into the bookstore to write down the ISBN numbers she needed, they stopped her from doing so. I managed to get away with it. I stealthily borrowed a pen from my friend (who, incidentally, wound up spending over 100 dollars on eight tiny little paperback books) and wrote down the information on my books on my hand and arm. How I managed to get away with this, I’m not entirely sure, seeing as how I had the evidence written all over my right arm, and it stayed there for a couple days.

But the point is, isn’t that a little extreme? I understand that the bookstore might prefer us to buy from them rather than someone else, but it is completely immoral and evil for them to expect all of us to be able to afford shiny, new, overpriced books every semester – and then force us to buy from them!

The other thing that is so maddening about the bookstore is that they have exclusive rights to the SU logo and merchandise. So if you’re ever in H.E.B. or Target and see all of the UT t-shirts and doggie jackets and wonder, “Don’t they know there’s another college right down the road?” – that’s why. They actually can’t sell Southwestern stuff. So if any Georgetown residents want to show pride in their little liberal arts college, they have to haul themselves all the way to the third floor of the McCombs center to purchase and overpriced and not very original sweatshirt.

By the way, have you ever looked at all the clothing in there? We’re the Pirates, for goodness sake! Have some fun with the design, if you’re going to make us pay as much for an SU t-shirt as an American Eagle one.

And in any case, couldn’t they use all that money they’re getting from us to buy some better food for the Commons? Don’t even get me started on that. It’s so not worth eight bucks…

Smoking Pot: The Best Illegal Past Time

Written by Michael Morgan
Megaphone Staff Writer

Peter McWilliams, author of the book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if you Do”, discovered he had both cancer and AIDS in 1996. He also was one of the many patients that experienced extreme nausea as a side effect to the medicines. Luckily, he lived in California where medical marijuana is legal. He called marijuana the “finest anti-nausea medication known to science.” He was very much against drug prohibition and was a very effective opponent. He was articulate and formed his arguments well. Partially because he was so outspoken about his use of medical marijuana, the government put him under investigation and charged him with violating federal drug laws. They took away his medical marijuana. Not long after, he was found dead in his apartment. He had choked to death on his own vomit.

Marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the United States. Fifty-four percent of young adults report having done pot at least once. These statistics and many others show that everyone really is doing it. The current situation we have now is worse than alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s and it is my personal belief that growing, selling, owning and using marijuana should be perfectly legal. I think it would reduce drug related crimes and violence, raise awareness about the potential risks of marijuana, and help our crippled economy.

Our crime rates would drop heavily if marijuana became legal. The large majority of drug crime is gang related. If pot were legal, the trafficking and organized crime surrounding the production would end. The crime world would lose their biggest crop and the millions of dollars that Americans spend on pot would go into our own economy. Also, the budget for the “War on Drugs” is huge. The government is spending billions of dollars on trying to stop the trafficking of drugs (mainly marijuana) that could go into our debt, education or health care budgets instead. Not to mention that our prisons are full of non-violent drug offenders—people who were simply caught with drugs and never hurt anyone but themselves. We pay millions to keep these people in jail instead of helping those who do obey the law.

Many marijuana supporters argue that the government keeps pot illegal because it is too hard to tax. I disagree. They say that marijuana is different from tobacco and alcohol because it is easily grown. Tobacco goes through a difficult process and brewing/distilling alcohol is expensive. My argument is that mint leaves, oregano and parsley are all easy to grow and yet few actually do. People have shown that they would rather pay extra to not do the work. I think that if the government taxed marijuana the same way it taxes alcohol and tobacco, marijuana could become a major source of revenue for our country.

Currently there are no consistent results on the effects of marijuana. No one really seems to know how harmful it is. I hear that it is five times as bad as tobacco. Considering the fact that nobody smokes a pack of joints a day, I’d say that tobacco addicts are still worse off. Furthermore, you cannot overdose on weed alone. Alcohol poisoning is considerably more dangerous and common than any weed related deaths or injuries. Some of the best-known effects of marijuana are the positive ones. McWilliams’s and others who have found the medicinal qualities of marijuana life saving are silenced in favor of hazy ideas of the dangers of marijuana. Marijuana is a plant that can provide great aid for those with glaucoma, cancer, and extreme nausea caused by vital medicines.

The most important thing to consider in the battle over pot is the fact that we are all adults. We should have the right to choose. Argument on the basis that marijuana is harmful is ridiculous. Millions of things from junk food to alcohol to tobacco have been proven to be harmful. No one forces these things upon anyone. As responsible adults we weigh the pros and cons and make our decisions—whether or not those decisions are good for us.

Furthermore, if pot was legalized then any harm that came as a result of using it would be dealt with in a safer and healthier way. For example, if people used pot that was laced with something more dangerous then the users wouldn’t fear getting medical help and legal action could be taken against the person who laced or sold the dangerous item. If a person drove while under the influence of marijuana then the consequences could be much heavier since prison overcrowding would not be an issue and the person had misused their responsibility. Right now if someone gets sick or gets sold something dangerous there are no safe routes to take for their safety and for the safety of others.

The problem is that people are not being informed on the real risks and consequences of pot. By far, the worst consequences of smoking pot are the legal ones. One of the worst things that can happen to a pot smoker is to have it on his or her record. The anti-drug propaganda may tell us that smoking pot will screw you out of getting a good education or having a life. They don’t say that getting caught smoking pot will get you screwed out of financial aid and jobs by the government. If smoking pot is going to remain illegal (which, let’s face it is likely) then the real consequences for being caught with illegal substances should be made more known.

People need to see the harm in keeping pot illegal and need to be willing to have a discussion about it that revolves around the political, legal, and economic ramifications of it remaining illegal. We are hurting our people and our economy by not having these discussions and I personally believe that we should legalize it in order to save lives and the economy of America.

If you are interested in discussing the legalization of weed or other topics like this, SU Libertarians and SU NORML are two organizations that frequently examine these issues.

Humor Belongs on the Back Page

Written by Hannah Adkinson

The majority of the editorials in last week’s issue of The Megaphone (Issue 10) demonstrated an unfortunate increase in the use of a sarcastic, dismissive writing style that makes light of serious issues and appears to be a poorly placed attempt at humor. As a result, four of the six editorials read like a crowd of back-page hopefuls who, assigned to tackling more serious subject matter, have used inappropriately sarcastic writing styles in an attempt to prove that they do, in fact, belong in the “Humor and Satire” section. I find these sarcasm levels inappropriate for a serious, collegiate publication that, as editors Brennan Peel and Lori Higginbotham recently noted, is a century-long Southwestern tradition that reaches a wider audience in the Georgetown community than just our campus, and helps shape outside opinion of our university.

Notable exceptions are Regan Lemley’s well-reasoned critical examination of the practice of supplying contraception to middle school students and Vickie Valadez’s provocative piece on racism at Southwestern. Valadez is a skilled satirist who produces quality writing, humorous and otherwise, and has a clear idea of the boundary between clever, witty back-page articles and the more serious tone required for a weighty editorial about the sensitive issue of race.

Unfortunately, the four remaining articles in this issue’s editorial section do not live up the impressive standard set by Valadez and Lemley. The editorials by Sam Marsh and Joshua A. Hughes, concerning wealthy Americans and liberal arts education respectively, are so fraught with contradictory statements and apparent attempts at sarcasm that their messages are lost in the chaos; even after a second reading, I was left with no clear sense of what they intended to convey.

Additionally, I felt that the photograph accompanying Caitlyn Buckley’s editorial on the recent abduction attempts—a photograph showing a female SU student “cowering under her desk”—was intended to bring humor to the issue. As a female SU student who has felt vulnerable since the attacks, I do not see the humor in a caricature of female fear and vulnerability. The issue has affected both male and female students on campus, has, as Buckley noted, decreased the overall feeling of safety, and therefore deserves a more serious treatment.

I take particular issue with the editorial “Technology will keep us together”, by Hannah Yterdal. Aside from her consistently unprofessional diction—“mommy hug”, “stupid”, “butts”, —the article is unorganized and shallow in its analysis. She glosses over the arguments she wishes to counter with an immature “blah, blah, blah” rather than taking the time to examine them in greater detail. She alludes to “these anti-development people” without providing a clear idea of to whom she refers, and gives no concrete example of this supposedly rampant ideology anywhere in her piece.

Most disturbing in Yterdal’s editorial is her bizarre side-note stating that, “English is ‘butchered’ the most by communities with little or no access” to technology and resources. She does not explain this disturbing comment any further, and the reader is left to conclude that she is referring to the “Harlem ghetto-speak” she mentioned in the previous paragraph. I found this statement very problematic and inconsistent with her previous assertion that “no matter where our language goes… it will still be beautiful.” It is clear that Yterdal does not consider the speech patterns of the lower classes to be beautiful, but rather “butchered” and worthy only of scorn. Racism—and classism, for that matter—are indeed alive and well at SU.

If The Megaphone is interested in regaining its ever-declining readership and credibility as the official student newspaper, the editors should require that the content of its opinion section be more serious and less sarcastic. If not, readers with a thirst for more thoughtful coverage will continue to turn to alternative publications such as the Kazoo, and The Megaphone will largely a remain a source of derisive laughs and disappointing journalism.