Thursday, September 27, 2007

Collegian says, "Taser this."

By now you’ve probably heard about the editorial in the Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University in response to the tasering of Andrew Myer at the University of Florida that has sparked another debate over free speech.

The editorial, which appeared in Friday’s edition of Collegian contained four word: “Taser this. F--- Bush.” The paper’s already lost $50,000 in advertising and many are calling for editor David McSwane to step down, which he has refused to do, defending his actions as freedom of speech.

McSwane said he and his staff were trying to spark a debate with this editorial and they certainly have, but never expected the kind of response they’ve received. (Though I suppose McSwane probably wouldn’t have sanctioned the editorial had he known people would be calling for his head).

I’ve been on an editorial board that’s trying to make decisions about what to write for the week’s editorial and can understand how it might have seemed good like a good idea at the time. I do, however, think it was an unintelligent move, as using expletives to get your point across makes you sound uneducated. Smart people should be able to express themselves in a compelling way other than using profanity.

That being said, I still don’t think McSwane should be forced to resign or asked to step down. Just because he is the editor doesn’t mean the blame should fall solely on him and though what the paper printer was ill-advised, it’s still an issue of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

It’s not exactly a secret that Bush isn’t well liked by the majority of citizens these days and if the Collegian editorial board wants to write something like that to express themselves, they should be able to. I think they should have done it in a classier way, but the issue of freedom of speech still stands.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Credit cards equal cash for some Iowa Universities

I read in the Chronicle of Education news blog that the Des Moines Register reported last week that Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have been marketing credit card companies to students in order to produce millions of dollars for the universities’ private alumni organizations.

The university officials said the money they collect through these business dealings benefit the institutions and the students, but some universities have come under fire for this practice recently in investigations looking into the relationships between colleges and their dealings with loan companies.

I don’t have a problem with this kind of business scheme because college students are old enough to make decisions about credit cards and how often, if ever, they should use them. Here at Northeastern, credit card companies are not allowed to set up booths on campus to try and recruit potential users.

I appreciate that Northeastern officials are trying to protect their students and think this policy is fine, but also think the policies used at the Iowa Universities is fine too. If they want to market credit cards to their students in order to generate money for the university, go for it. Students have the choice of opening that piece of mail with a credit card offer or signing up for one at a booth on campus and need to learn how to be responsible with their money.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rider needs a reality check

Rider University in Lawrence, New Jersey, has implemented a new alcohol policy this fall after the death of freshman Gary DeVercelly last spring. The university has made many changes to its previous policy that I doubt will have any real effect on binge and under-age drinking.

DeVercelly died from alcohol poisoning after attending a party at the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. As part of the new policy, freshman must attend a 90-minute seminar on the dangers of drinking, alcohol has been banned on campus except for a few choice places, there are harsher penalties for those who break the rules, and “watchdogs” have been placed in sorority and fraternity houses.

Rider needs a reality check. These new rules and penalties are not going to help curb under-age and binge drinking; all they do is protect the university from liability. College kids are going to drink, whether it’s legal or illegal, and making freshman attend a 90-minute seminar on the dangers of drinking is going to do nothing more than make their eyes roll to the back of their heads.

When I was a freshman at Northeastern we had to complete an online course in alcohol education that absolutely no one took seriously; it was just seen more as a boring waste of time. We’ve had that information drummed into our brains since middle and high school.

The only way there is going to be a substantial change in college students’ attitudes and behaviors toward alcohol is if there is a societal shift that stops glamorizing it, which I doubt will ever happen. All that’s going to result from these new policies is more rule-breaking and perhaps an even heightened desire to drink illegally (the whole forbidden fruit syndrome).

Now, students’ parents will be immediately notified for illegal possession or intoxication instead of after two warnings, and students will have to go to an alcohol education program or face expulsion. Rider officials will nab some kids on this, but my guess is that partying will be taken off campus, as shown here in a quote by Rider freshman David Kraus:

“I was looking forward to partying. But now I don’t think I will. At least not on campus.”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jena 6 protests

Last week hundreds of students from historically black colleges and universities held peaceful protests to draw attention to the injustice of the Jena 6 case. The case is somewhat complicated and would take too long to explain, so I’ll let you read the story for yourself.

Many are calling the protests the “Montgomery bus boycott of this generation.” In Atlanta, hundreds of students from Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College marched through downtown traffic to support their cause before heading down to Jena on buses. Many wore shirts that said “Free the Jena 6” and sang as they marched. Broderick McBride, a Morehouse freshman led the singing as his group marched into downtown Jena and told Diverse Education magazine:

“This march is bigger than the Jena 6. This is the start of a movement that will liberate our people.”
This march is hopefully just the start of something big and it seems that college campuses are where this movement is going to find its roots, leaders and supporters and continue to grow. There are still enormous problems of racial bias in this country, especially in the South, and the charges brought against the six students are completely excessive and unfair. I commend the students leading the protests for taking a non-violent approach.

I don’t feel like violence should go unpunished, but this fight was just one of a series of many white and black fights that happened after the noose incident. Singling out this group and this specific brawl is not right. I’d be willing to bet if six white teenagers beat up a black one in Jena the most they would get is a slap on the wrist.

This is an exciting time for those involved in civil rights and it will be interesting to watch the development of the case and the development of this movement as it comes out of college campuses. Add Seymour Jr., who covered the protests for Diverse Education magazine closed his article with a quote from Spelman College freshman Markieta Woods, which I would like to close with as well because I like it.

“We want them to see that our generation isn’t stagnant and we do want to make change.”