Operation Achievement All-Campus Day

By Arianna Haradon

On April 11, Southwestern’s Operation Achievement hosted “All-Campus Day”, which brought a large group of middle school students to the university.

“Operation Achievement is a mentoring program that partners local middle school students with Southwestern students for a tutoring kind of experience and also a chance to get involved on campus,” staff supervisor and Southwestern student Melissa Nelson said.

Georgetown middle school students that are part of the Operation Achievement program visited campus from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

“All-Campus Day is… where we bring all of the students that are involved in our program to campus and they just kind of get to shadow a student… they go to a class in the morning, have lunch in the Commons and go on a tour in the afternoon. It is a really cool experience for them to be involved on campus and learn more of what it’s like to be a college student,” Nelson said.

Operation Achievement is an important program that educates both Southwestern and local middle school students.  Esmeralda Palacios, a seventh grader from Tippit Middle School, joined Operation Achievement because her sister had been involved two years before and recommended the program.
“[Operation Achievement] helps me [because] the mentors help me do my homework,” Palacios said.
First year Andree White is Palacios’ Operation Achievement mentor.
“I’m considering going into education later on, so its been a good involvement with the middle school age group, in interacting and understanding where they are and what they are doing. I really enjoy spending time with Esmeralda every Tuesday,” White said.
Southwestern students that want to get involved with Operation Achievement next year can contact Director of Operation Achievement Joni Ragle or find information about the program on Southwestern’s website.
“I love this program. It helps give a lot of students who may not have the opportunity a chance to learn what a college experience is like and what higher level education can really do for your life, [like] how you can get awesome jobs [because of higher education]. It’s a really great experience,” Nelson said.

Kony 2012 Campaign: Effective Advocacy or Misguided Militarism


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.

SlutWalk to Protest Rape Culture in Society

Today, the first ever campus-wide SlutWalk will take place, rallying students of all genders and identity to protest the rape culture evident in society today.

“The basic part of SlutWalk is to make people see it exists, that it’s here, and that we want it gone,” first year Genna Davis said.

Davis is organizing SlutWalk SU as part of her activism project for her Introduction to Feminist Studies course, but she also is very passionate about creating awareness about rapeculture.“I’ve seen examples [of rape culture] here at Southwestern. Like when people refer to the parking lot near the soccer field as ‘rape lot’. I really just want to get a dialogue started on campus,” Davis said.

Rape culture is not just limited to campuses, but is also play a part in how cases and trials about rape are approached.

“Chief Brown came into my Intro to Feminist Studies class and gave a presentation about the sexual assault policies on campus,” Davis said. “She told us that when she went to some trials and they put her on trial and treated it like it was her fault and the victim’s fault: her fault for allowing drinking [on campus] and the victim’s fault for drinking.”

The belief that women can somehow predict and prevent their own rape is the kind of attitude that SlutWalk SU hopes to take a stance against. SlutWalk began when a representative of the Toronto police department told students at asafety forum at a New York University that women should ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ (huffingtonpost.com on slutwalk) in order to prevent from being raped.

“This is a prime example of victim blaming. They held the first SlutWalk in Feburary and it just spread from there,” Davis said.

SlutWalk has now become a ‘global, viral, grassroots movement’ according to the officialwebsite, slutwalknyc.com. It has also gained a lot of media attention due to their name and the clothing choices of many people who march in it.

“A lot of emphasis by the media is on what we wear. People dress provocatively and hold signs and megaphones and yell. What’s really important are the signs and what they wear. Many victims wear what they wore when they were raped, which are usually jeans and a hoodie. That’s the real uniform [of SlutWalk],” Davis said.

There is also an undercurrent of controversy to the whole idea of SlutWalk, stemming from the use of the word ‘Slut’ in their name.

“A lot of emphasis has been put on the reclaiming of the word ‘slut’ and diffusing it, but that’s not a part of SlutWalk I identify with,” Davis said. “I feel like ‘slut’ is a word full of hate and negativity and I don’t want that word to exist. It is meaningless as a concept. What is a slut?…Who decides?”

Ultimately, the goal of SlutWalk SU is to raise an awareness of rape culture and the blaming and the shaming that go along with it. The march for SlutWalk will occur from 12 p.m.to 3 p.m. today.

“I mean it to raise awareness, as a catalyst for change. And change can’t happen until we’re aware,” Davis said. “So hopefully SlutWalk will accomplish these things.”

Tea Time


The rally from afar

I didn’t set out to write a partisan attack on a group of people.  As I walked to downtown Georgetown (so no one would see the “Bill White for Texas” bumper sticker prominently displayed on my car) I was genuinely interested in seeing a Tea Party rally firsthand.   I’ve seen the footage from the main-stream media that focused on bigots and idiots at rallies, but I’ve always hoped that this wasn’t the vast majority of tea-partiers.  After spending two hours in the on-again off-again rain with the tea-partiers, I’ve reached a very saddening conclusion: anger and fear have replaced intelligent discourse in America.  Maybe uncivil and threatening communication has always been the norm in this country, but after seeing the Tea Party firsthand, I have to agree with them on one point: “America is headed down the wrong path,” but it’s not the path of radical socialism. If we continue on our current trend, rational discourse will soon be a thing of the past.  One of the many speakers lamented the fact that the Tea Parties have been characterized as a group of “dumb, racist homophobes.”  While the members I interviewed were not blatantly dumb, racist, or homophobic, there were many things they said that skirted dangerously close to crossing the line.

For starters, I wouldn’t necessarily call the tea partiers dumb, but I would call them horribly misinformed.  I created an informal survey and posed three questions to various people at the rally.  Their answers didn’t inspire confidence.  The first question was “Compared to other nations, do you think that the US has a low tax rate, average tax rate, or a high tax rate?”  25% of respondents accurately said that the United States has a lower tax rate compared to other countries.  Another 12% said that the US has an average tax rate while 63% said that America has a high tax rate compared to other countries.  The tea partiers did a much better job answering the second question which asked them to identify Texas’ tax rate compared to other states.  88% correctly said that Texas has a lower tax rate compared to other states.  The remaining 12% thought it was either average or above-average.  The final question threw them for a loop.  “Since President Obama has been in office, do you think that taxes have been lowered, have stayed the same, or have been raised?”  A whopping 81% thought that Obama raised taxes.  This follows a national trend.  I don’t want to judge an entire group of people based on informal survey results, but the speakers at the rally continued to bring up the oppressive taxes.  Official polling data does indicate that large groups of people still incorrectly believe that President Obama has raised taxes and I saw that the tea partiers loved to cheer and jeer at any mention of taxes.  I can’t call them dumb, but they certainly don’t inspire any sort of confidence in me.

The tea partiers also weren’t racist…at least on the surface.  Instead, I’d characterize them as ignorant.  Stopping illegal immigration was an important topic of discussion for the tea-partiers.  Racism didn’t appear to take a major role at the rally, but under the surface things were murky.  There were loud cheers for the volunteers who patrolled our southern border.  While I expected that there would be support for these militias, I was taken-aback by the thunderous applause when one of the speakers valiantly proclaimed that the State language should be English.  A sentence that caught me off guard was when a speaker launched into an attack on President Obama’s character.  He asked the crowd if they thought Obama measured up to President Washington.  After an overwhelming “no,” he asked “Can you imagine Obama rowing across the Delaware?”  Clearly had Obama been alive back-then, he most likely wouldn’t have been one of the people to row across the Delaware because most likely would have been a slave.  This directly lead to a discussion about how the United States was conceived on freedom and how we don’t have that freedom anymore.  Yes, America was founded on freedom, but if you asked anyone who wasn’t a white-male who owned property they’d tell you a different story.  Even scarier was the speaker’s defiant ending when he bravely proclaimed that the 14th Amendment should be repealed.  Overtly racist?  No.  Dangerously close to the line?  Yes.

Homophobia was a little harder to see.  Homosexuality was only mentioned by one speaker during her speech about rampant liberalism in Texas’ schools.  She was very coy over the upcoming “national day of silence for gay-rights” that would occur in schools.  The speaker said she doesn’t support bullying, but she was less enthusiastic about the silence of students when they “should be talking and learning.”  Based on her earlier statements about abortion, I find it hard to believe that she’d have a problem with a national day of silence if it were for abortion.  Based on this one event I can’t judge.

Two Southwestern students mocking the Tea Partiers

Southwestern students attempted a counter-protest

There were other things that bothered me about the rally.  One speaker looked-out at the crowd and said that he saw “every American.”  Last I checked, “every American” isn’t over 45 and white.  To be fair, I did spot two Hispanics in the crowd.  However, I could see no other minorities present.  The opening speaker started with a pledge to the flag and commented that the tea-party is different from “lefty loony flag-burners.”  In fact, the theme of patriotism was prevalent through the entire rally.  The tea partiers were constantly called “patriotic Americans” or “brave patriots.”  It was as-if you couldn’t be American without being a member of the tea-party.  One speaker even introduced herself as “an unapologetic American citizen.”  I have no issues in having ideological differences with people, but no ideology has a monopoly in being a true patriot.  One of my very favorite clips from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tackles the issues of patriotism and ideology. 

One speaker in particular stood-out to me.  She very well could have been a Sarah Palin impersonator, but she wasn’t.  She just happened to dress like her, share the same policy views, and talk like her.  From the glasses to the “you betcha,” she caught my attention.  One claim she made was that the Republican Party has always been the party of equality, from freeing the slaves to giving women the right to vote.  Armed with the knowledge that President Johnson (a Democrat) helped to create the Great Society and President Wilson (another Democrat) was President when women’s suffrage was achieved, I confronted Sarah Palin 2.0.  I was genuinely impressed; she said that while Johnson and Wilson were Democrats, Congress had vast Republican majorities during the time they were in office.  I conceded that I hadn’t thought of that and thanked her for bringing up an interesting point.  After some fact-checking, I’ve re-evaluated her claims.  President Lincoln and a Republican Congress freed the slaves.  Palin 2.0: one, Ethan: zero.  The Congress that approved the 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote) did indeed have a Republican majority, but congress failed to have the votes to pass it until President Wilson called a special session and pleaded for Congress to approve the legislation.  We’ll call this one a tie.  Palin 2.0: one-and-a-half, Ethan: one-half.  Unfortunately for Palin 2.0, LBJ had a large Democratic majority in Congress to approve his bills.  Palin 2.0: one-and-a-half, Ethan: one-and-a-half.  Not too shabby.

Until my confrontation with Palin 2.0, I made sure to blend in with the crowd.  I stayed put when a group of Southwestern students came to counter-protest.  As the tea partiers reacted it became clear they were reacting less to the presence of a counter-protest, but to the fact that they were college students.  One man loudly asked “You think they’ve ever had a job?”  The hostility didn’t end when the counter-protesters went home.  Upon introducing myself as a Southwestern student, one person said, “I’m sorry.”  I was completely taken aback but kept my composure.  He went on to talk about how he would “hate to be my age in this era.”  When framed as a generational issue, the Tea Party makes a little more sense to me.  The largely over 40 crowd isn’t taking kindly to the changes they are seeing in society.  Obama won 2/3rds of the youth vote, young people are more likely to support same-sex marriage, and our numbers continue to grow.  Demographics are not in the Tea Party’s favor.  As more young people hit 18 years of age, it’s clear to see who will have the advantage in a decade.

Conservatism: Christianity

This sign scared me the most

Everyone has a right to their own opinions, but no one has a right to their own facts.  The tea partiers truly believe that our president is a Socialist bent on creating some-sort of utopia where everyone is equally miserable.  How this differs from the Tea Party’s own vision of an America where everyone speaks English and no one is gay is beyond me.  I left the rally feeling depressed.  These were genuinely good people who just happened to listen to a little too much Glenn Beck.  In the end, I’m not discouraged.  Even if my candidates lose in 2010, that won’t stop me from voting again in 2012.  My persistence in voting for what I believe is my way of fighting back.  Those of us who once were marginalized are now demanding our rights and creating thoughtful change.  This is a new America, and try as they may, the Tea Partiers will not be successful in returning this country to a time when only white Christian males were the only ones with power.

Ill-conceived protest held

Protest!  Protest!  Protest!

Protest! Protest! Protest! Courtesy of Google.

The Students for Sensible Drug Policy ineffectively attempted to disrupt the day-to-day business of Southwestern University by staging a sit-in at the Debbie Ellis Writing Center last Thursday. According to SSDP spokesperson Beau Konger, the sit-in was meant to “serve as an expression of our frustration at the Administration’s ill-conceived policy change as well as to bring attention to our rights as individuals who have a voice within this institution.” The demonstration, which began at 4:20 p.m. and lasted until midnight, was described as “mildly annoying” and “somewhat inconvenient” by the two students who visited the center during those hours. One of the students, sophomore Kera Kingsley, was on her way to edit the final draft of a paper when she witnessed the demonstration. “It was odd to see so many people in the Writing Center. It was somewhat upsetting because I thought I would have to wait a while to have somebody look over my paper, and then I realized I was the only one in line.” Kingsley added, “It was kind of irritating to have to step over people, though.”

The group, which was formed in response to the now-infamous “drug scare” incident earlier in the month, is part of a nationwide organization that advocates drug legislation reform, focusing on  college campuses as both a place for recruitment and a “proving ground” for policy implementation.

According to the group’s president, Amie Wolfenkreneck, a number of places were considered before the students reached the ill-advised decision to demonstrate at the DEWC.

“At first we wanted to sit-in at the Business Office,” stated Wolfenkreneck, “but we were all scared of the two ladies who work the desk. Then we thought about staging it at Korouva, but we realized that everyone already did that anyways. Finally, we decided to do it at the Debbie Ellis Writing Center because Ian wanted to work on his paper, and then that moron forgot it!” DEWC proctor, James Allen, praised the demonstration, claiming that he “finally had something to do.” Allen described chatting with group members, a number of whom were in his Intro. to Anthropology class, as well as partaking in a rousing game of Uno with SSDP Vice-President Bill Maplewood. “The demonstration didn’t really disrupt much of anything,” Allen said. “In fact, it made my job a little bit more tolerable. I was thinking about quitting so that I could get a serving job at Applebee’s, but all of the excitement last Thursday has inspired me to stick it through until the end of the semester.” When asked for a comment about the sit-in, Dean of Students Mike Leese expressed mild surprise, stated, “Huh, nobody had really said anything about that. I guess I can look into it, if you want.”

Angela Davis Well Received


Jan. 21, the McCombs ballroom hosted a lecture given by Dr. Angela Davis. Almost every member of the audience stood to greet Davis with a torrent of applause as she made her way across the room to the podium.

E.B.O.N.Y. students began the lecture by giving a brief biography of Davis and her contributions to not only the Civil Rights of African-Americans, but those of African-American women as well. It was at this time that the student organization announced a Black History Month lecture series that will take place every Wednesday of this upcoming February in the McCombs ballroom.

After one final introduction, Davis ascended the pulpit and asked the audience a single question, “What is the history of Black History month?” When no one provided an answer, Davis began a lecture which covered politics, human relations and the meaning of freedom. Two particularly well-received moments of the lecture were when Davis drew attention the relationship between Haiti and black history, as it is the first independent black republic and the site of the world’s only successful slave rebellion; and her commentary on feminism, which she “had heard was important on the Southwestern campus.”

After the event, Davis took time to answer three questions, one being about her experiences with the FBI (which made her famous) and her organization “Critical Resistance,” which is dedicated to prison abolition.

“Allow me to make clear,” Davis said, “I am not saying ‘open the doors and let all the prisoners out’.”

One of Davis’ main points was that prison was not a “one size fits all” solution.

The lecture made students look at themselves critically and overall fulfilled its aim to simply make students think.

“Well, I’d never thought about prison abolition before. I now think there should be more security in prisons to prevent sexual violence from happening inside prisons. Aside from that, there should be punishments more effective in preventing crimes than simply going to prison,” first-year Tom Murphy said.

SS or SU? What has this debate come to?

Like many Southwestern students, I was surprised to see an e-mail from Dr. Leese announcing that Southwestern would be bringing a drug-sniffing dog onto campus.  SUPD has a record of allowing students to feel safe on campus while still maintaining a police presence.  It was not surprising that there was a backlash against this announcement.  Within hours, a message was sent across the SU listserv and posted on Facebook which decried the invasion of privacy that this action represented.  I firmly believe that public debate and discussion of issues is one of the best things that college has to offer, but I was completely taken aback by the title of the memo, “SS or SU?” Students clearly have a right to raise questions about school policy, but invoking Nazis doesn’t seem like the right way to go about this.  In fact, it’s offensive.

The allusions to the Nazis and the Holocaust don’t just end in the title of the message; in fact, they become more overt and in-your-face.  The opening paragraph states that SU students were probably “too stunned and scared by the SS invading our campus” to act sooner.  Another protester posted a status update on Facebook asking if anyone was “down for a protest against SU Gestapo?” and yet another group member changed his profile picture to that of a Nazi officer carrying the Nazi flag.  This person replaced the flag’s swastika and the officer’s red armband with the Southwestern University pirate logo and brazenly declared in all caps that “It’s not Fascism when we do it.”  That’s great to know; I suppose it’s also not distasteful when you do it.

If we believe the perspective painted by the reactionary members of this movement, Southwestern will soon have its very own concentration camp on the academic mall.   Or perhaps they are implying that a stay in a Georgetown jail for a short while compares to the years that countless numbers of people were forced to endure at labor camps like Auschwitz.  Perhaps we should post a sign on campus similar to Auschwitz’s famous “Work makes you free.”

I’ve been Jewish since birth.  While I am not very religious or observant of holidays, I have always been proud of my heritage and the history that comes with it.  Being Jewish is an important part of my identity.  The laws against possession of drugs can seem extreme sometimes, but is it really on the same level of the Holocaust?  It’s extremely unsettling that Southwestern’s push is being compared to Nazi atrocities such as the merciless slaughter of over six million Jews and millions of others that Nazi Germany deemed to be undesirable.  These hurtful comments do not just target Jewish victims of the Holocaust, but the myriad of other victims. Southwestern student and theatre major Jessica Espinoza was just as upset as I was over the language that was being thrown around in the rancor.  “Using rhetoric comparing a university squabble to genocide is not activism.  With the world reeling from tragedy, disaster, war, disease, I don’t need to name off atrocities, is this really what we think injustice is?”  The distaste for this language extends to the faculty as well.  On hearing about comments that were being used on campus, Dr. Eric Selbin told me that “as the child of a refugee from Nazi Germany whose grandfather and great-grandfather were brutalized by the SS, I think that [these people ought] to either read a little history or pick their comparisons more aptly.”

In my search for various opinions, I stopped by the office of Dr. Michael Saenger (faculty sponsor of the Jewish Student Association here at Southwestern.)  He had heard that there was a debate brewing over Dr. Leese’s e-mail and had heard that there are some rather questionable comparisons being made, but it was not until I sat with him and showed him some of the things being posted online that he saw the extent to which these words and images are being used.  “I would say that on the one hand I understand why it happens, sometimes in our culture people use words; Everything from Rush Limbaugh talking about ‘Feminazis’ to Jerry Seinfeld talking about the Soup Nazi.  Jerry Seinfeld is Jewish.  I understand there is a little ambiguity to someone who isn’t comfortable with these terms, however, that doesn’t make it right.”  Dr. Saenger went on to comment on the role that political correctness plays in debates like this.  “I understand the irritation that people have from the sense of terribly overwhelming political correctness.  And I do think that it is incredibly important that we relax a little bit.  It’s fun to tease people once in a while.  We don’t have to be dreadfully serious and moralistic all the time.  On the other hand we need to confront ignorance.”

It is true that there have been people who have confronted the author of the initial e-mail and Facebook event.  When a Facebook member asked whether the name of this event is “slightly inflammatory,” the group’s creator responded: “No, I don’t think that it is. This is a matter of fundamental rights. Also, it is a headline meant to catch attention to the subject. Worked for you, didn’t it? Ha.” It’s easy to see how the right to get high on weekends is comparable to the rights of millions to not be evicted from their homes and be executed.  I attended the counter-protest on the mall today and was fortunate enough to be able to talk to several of the members of the movement.  A majority expressed disdain over the comments and apologized for them, but the fact remains that the original author has vehemently defended her choice with no remorse.  Even after I pulled her aside and talked with her one-on-one, she defended her actions by saying that they were “used to illicit an emotional response.”  Dr. Saenger offered a different perspective.  “The notion that it was meant to provoke an emotional response is simplistic.  It’s saying that you did what you were intending to do.  Whether it is right or not is a separate question.    Not all attempts to illicit an emotional response are right.  There is a right and wrong.”

At the conclusion of our interview, Dr. Saenger offered an outlook on the future of this debate.  “Anyone who is on a variety of sides on this issue should be challenged to either defend that image or really address it for its offensive nature.  I would challenge people to not be indifferent to that.  Not to shrug and say that just went out or that’s just an image.  This is far too important for anyone to be indifferent about it.  And I think that I would challenge those who are against the drug sniffing dogs to forcefully take a position.  Not to casually say ‘that wasn’t okay,’ but to say that ‘I don’t want to be associated with anything that trivially associates to pure evil or associates Hitler to SU.’”

Next Wednesday (January 27th) marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  Would the survivors, and more importantly the families and friends of those who were not survivors, be proud to know that their stories of unimaginable suffering are being used as a headline meant to catch attention?  I don’t think so.  Dr. Saenger agreed too.  “I just really want for this to be an issue about decency.  There are a lot of people on campus.  There are a lot of Christians who gave their lives fighting in France [during World War II].  This should not be an ‘us vs. them’ debate.  Everyone should be offended by that image, not just a few Jews.”

A Preview Of The Upcoming Angela Davis Talk

Angela Davis

Picture of Angela Davis, courtesy of Google.

American democratic socialist, political activist, former Black Panther, Civil Rights Movement activist, twice Vice Presidential Communist Party USA candidate, founder of Critical Resistance, feminist and retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Angela Davis will be kicking off Black History Month here at Southwestern University at 5:30 p.m. in the ballrooms on Thursday, Jan. 21.
That’s right, Angela Davis will be speaking here. Laura Burrow, former Senior Advisor for Encouraging Blacks and Others to Never Yield (E.B.O.N.Y.) and ’09 Southwestern graduate, worked with Mary Gonzalez and many other activists on campus to bring someone as influential as Davis to speak at the annual Black History Month Lecture Series.
Burrow resonated that “having [Davis] as our guest speaker will inspire us to further understand what it means to ‘never yield.’ As we work to make Southwestern University a more socially just and culturally aware campus community, we feel [Davis] can offer us guidance and empowerment.”
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis was awarded a scholarship to Brandeis University in Massachusetts in the early 60s and was one of three black students in her freshman class. Quickly befriending several young international activists, Davis decided to major in French and study in Europe for a few years. She graduated magna cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. Davis then went on to study philosophy at Humboldt University in East Berlin, where she received her doctorate.
While working as a philosophy professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Davis established herself as an iconic radical feminist and social activist – leading to her termination from the university pressured by then-Governor Ronald Reagan, to be reinstated as director of the Feminist Studies department years later after legal action. Not one to shy away from controversy, Davis was arrested in 1970 and  was the third woman to appear on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List following the abduction and murder of a California judge, though she was acquitted and released two years later.

Radical Angela

Picture of Angela Davis, courtesy of Google.

With a strong network of radical social activists, Davis ran as Vice President to Gus Hall on the Communist Party USA ticket in 1980 and 1984.Although unsuccessful in the pursuit of the executive branch, Davis won the Lenin Peace Prize for her civil rights activism and helped found Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement to abolish the current penile prison system in the United States. Focusing her activism on the abolition, not reform, she will be quick to clarify, of the prison-industrial complex, Davis encourages instead education and building engaged communities to solve various social issues currently handled through state punishment.
Davis has written several books and articles on race, class, and gender, as well as the abolition of democracy and the current prison system. She is also a popular international keynote speaker, having lectured in all 50 states, as well as in Africa, Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Burrows concluded that Davis’s lecture is “particularly significant and empowering for E.B.O.N.Y. … but will undoubtedly resonate with students, faculty and staff as a whole.”

Web Ed: It is now our pleasure to present you with a a video of Angela Davis speaking at the University of California.

Uncultured Project Aims To Absolve World Poverty

A screencap of a scene from the original Uncultured Project video, below.  Courtesy of Google Images.

A screencap of a scene from the original Uncultured Project video, below. Courtesy of Google Images.

Theories concerning ways to end global poverty seem to overwhelm us and often tend to be temporal, unreliable or too complicated to understand. With the help of the YouTube community, people have tried to come up with different ways to tackle what they believe in: Meet Shawn.

Shawn is 28 years old and grew up in Toronto, Canada, before heading to graduate school at Notre Dame. After meeting Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, author of “The End of Poverty,” he immediately withdrew from grad school and decided to try to make the world a better place – one meaningful difference at a time.

He headed straight for Bangladesh and decided to embark on a mission called the Uncultured Project.

“It’s about inspiring others to believe that we can be the generation that ends extreme poverty,” Shawn said. “Hopefully, this project can also show the big multinational organizations that there is a better way to engage people on the issue of global poverty.”

This is not a charity, nor is it an organization. The funds are raised through the awareness spread by YouTube and through donations from people who have seen these videos and desire to give out of their own pocket.

“What strikes me as so amazing about Shawn is that he realizes that poverty isn’t about them, it’s about us,” supporter and best-seller author John Greene said.

After starting the Uncultured Project, Shawn heard about the Davos Debate. This debate began with individuals entering their ideas on tackling global issues. The voting ended Friday, Jan. 15, regarding the five finalists, Shawn being one of them.

Blankets that are donated in aid to the Uncultured project.  Click for more information.

Blankets that are donated in aid to the Uncultured project. Click for more information.

“The conversation of global poverty is not as black and white as we make it out to be in the classroom and mainstream media,” Shawn said.

The first project he set out on because of Facebook video requests to provide the village of Baros with clean drinking water. The contaminated pond water there caused stomach illness and skin disease or required that the people of Baros walk long distances for more potable sources. They simply did not have the means to implement clean drinking water.

The YouTube community voted that they should be provided with a pond-sand filter, which does just what it implies: It filters sand and other contaminated materials out of the water. After raising money from online donations and donations given to Save the Children, a pond-sand filter was provided.

“This is not a charity, it is an experiment in community,” Greene said.

Shawn is interested in the individual. He wants people to realize that it is the small things adding up and people taking the initiative to help that will make the greatest impact on global poverty.

“It won’t take a radical change like becoming communist or Mother Teresa to make that happen,” Shawn said. “Simple changes in our global priorities can have a huge impact around the world.”