Tag Archives: College

Why College Liberals Should Love Ronald Reagan

On liberal college campuses, Ronald Reagan is seen as someone who bullied women, the poor, minorities, and the LGBT community. Reagan, however, was no cold-hearted oppressor. His policies actually benefited marginalized groups, but this fact is often overshadowed by stubborn attempts to dress him up as an iconic white cis hetero male oppressor. I will debunk four of the biggest myths here. Continue reading

28 Scripps Professors Will Protest Madeleine Albright’s Commencement Speech

Yesterday’s issue of The Student Life contained an open letter, signed by twenty-eight Scripps faculty members, criticizing the selection of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to deliver the commencement speech at Scripps College this May.

“As concerned Scripps faculty members, we are outraged at the selection of Madeleine Albright as the 2016 Commencement speaker and will not participate in this year’s graduation ceremony,” the professors write. “Our opposition to her speaking at commencement, however, has to do with her record during her service as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of State.”

The professors condemn Albright for supporting sanctions on Iraq, for removing UN troops from Rwanda (Albright has stated, “My deepest regret from my years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes), and for advocating for the U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia.

The letter adds that, “As a member of the Clinton administration, Albright was crucial in the crafting of ‘Plan Colombia,’ which funneled billions of dollars in aid to the country, 80 percent of which took the form of military aid to security forces, during a time when those forces were linked to right-wing paramilitary organizations.”

The faculty members also oppose having Albright speak at graduation because they don’t feel she’s done enough over the course of her career that is in ideological accordance with the demands Scripps students came up with last semester to encourage “unlearning.”

“The selection of Albright as the 2016 Commencement speaker runs counter to the spirit of student activism during fall 2015, which resulted in the demand to address institutional racism, among other forms of barred access,” the professors write. “As a women’s liberal arts college, we should promote the advancement of women and transgender peoples broadly and not simply emulate and celebrate those individuals who participate in U.S. state power and wield its violence. Representing the category of ‘woman’ in this way evacuates feminism of its anti-racist, anti-paternalistic, and anti-imperialist potential to address those lives that are systematically made vulnerable to sickness and death.”

The professors conclude their email by demanding they be included in the commencement speaker selection process rather than leaving that decision up to students. “With respect to the process for commencement speaker selection, it is our understanding that the selection is currently left in the hands of the senior class leadership with no input from faculty or other community members,” the letter states. “Because the commencement speaker is representative not only of the current senior class but also of the broader Scripps community, the process of selection should be reconsidered to better reflect Scripps values and commitments. In consideration of Scripps values and of our commitments to students and the institution, we will not be walking in graduation this year in protest of Albright’s presence.”

Sexual Assault Accusations Enter the 21st Century

Sexual assault continues to be in the spotlight at the 5Cs, mostly as a result of the continued activism of Pomona College students and the proactivity of the administration. During the 2015 Pomona College Commencement ceremony, a majority of students graduating turned their backs to Pomona College president David Oxtoby to protest the allegedly poor treatment of sexual assault victims. In response to these protests, Oxtoby sent out a letter to students on June 3rd announcing new initiatives to improve the response to sexual assault reports, allegations, and prosecution.

One initiative in particular stands out: the adoption of Callisto, an online reporting system for sexual assault victims that serves as a complaint escrow. Simply put, this software allows sexual assault victims to record an incident’s details on a third-party device and safeguard it for future use. Callisto provides many features, including immediately reporting an incident, reporting the incident information when a second claim surfaces against the same attacker, or deleting the report if the victim decides against reporting the assault. The report includes any level of detail that the victim chooses to share, and has the option to submit reports to college administration and/or law enforcement. Only the parties involved in the case have access to the information which prevents mismanagement of student records. Falsified reports can also be prevented since suspicious reporting patterns and inconsistent information is kept on record once it is submitted.

Jessica Ladd (PO ’07) started development of Callisto in 2011 to reduce negative sexual assault reporting experiences and to collect details about sexual assault incidents. Since Callisto reduces contact with administration, the chances of a bad reporting experience are greatly reduced. This should lead to higher sexual assault reporting rates on college campuses.

Callisto also allows for data collection on sexual assault incidents. Even with just two founding institutions adopting Callisto for the 2015-2016 school year, the software provides the opportunity to collect reliable statistics for sexual assaults on college campuses. Better statistics lead to better research and better problem-solving for campuses willing to address the problem. Access to reliable data in future studies can help colleges and universities assess the effects of Callisto and other sexual assault initiatives, keep track of sexual assault rates on campuses, and discover initiatives that prioritize the safety of students.

The Callisto interface has many benefits, but also exacerbates the flaws already present in the sexual assault reporting process. Falsified accusations can be submitted anonymously through thoughtful coordination without ever lying to an administrator’s face. Students could also submit reports on a whim against someone who offered a disappointing sexual experience or other various misgivings. Although falsified sexual assault reports are uncommon, the possibility of framing a student as part of a grudge and making them deal with the Title IX process for sexual assault accusations can be very burdensome for the accused, even if the student is found innocent.

On the other hand, Callisto can also be used to collect suspicious and deliberate attempts to unjustly incriminate students. Reports against a student that are all submitted to Callisto at the same time, for example, could be a scenario deemed as a falsified report. As mentioned earlier, inconsistent data from sexual assault reports is also compiled and can be used against malicious Callisto users. The actual effects of whether false reporting would change with Callisto are uncertain at best.

Pomona College is one of the most progressive college campuses in the country when it comes to addressing sexual assault. It is my hope that future data and analysis from Callisto will help us determine the magnitude of sexual assaults on campus and the steps necessary to address the problem across the nation. It is also my hope that we avoid the slippery slope of falsely accusing students of sexual assault based on a grudge or for a consensual but unpleasant time.

Students must also learn the difference between a sexual assault and a poor experience with intimate partners. Most students will go through experiences that they regret or undertake without proper judgement on both sides, but these experiences do not necessarily justify a sexual assault report. Even with very inefficient sexual assault reporting processes at colleges and the unfair treatment of victims through the Title IX process, Callisto can help streamline the process of sexual assault cases or even circumvent schools and go directly to law enforcement. The premise of “innocent until proven guilty” should be upheld throughout any type of adjudication by colleges and universities. Callisto will help maintain factual accuracy and give both the accuser and the accused an equal opportunity to present their cases.

Five Financial Tips for Freshmen

We all know that being on your own for the first time can lead to spending temptations. Whether through mismanaged bills or adventurous desires, it’s very easy to overspend while in college. With new opportunities and new costs, first-year students often find themselves exceeding their allotted budgets. However, there is good news. By following these five easy tips, I can guarantee your success as a new financially responsible adult!

First, for those who don’t live within driving distance of campus, your biggest expense will be plane tickets. These can range anywhere from $100 to $500 one-way (even higher for international students). You should absolutely book all flights you plan on taking well before the semester begins. Not only will this help solidify your schedule, but it will also drastically reduce your costs. Let’s say for example, that I planned on flying back to St. Louis for both Fall Break and Thanksgiving. If I booked all six of my necessary flights for the fall semester right now, my estimated cost would be around $900, but if I waited to buy the tickets until the month before each trip, I would be looking at an estimated total cost of $2,400. Therefore, by simply booking flights well in advance, you can more than halve the total cost.

The second largest expense you will incur are textbooks. For those of you who don’t know, all the necessary textbooks you’ll need for your classes can be found on your school’s portal. My first rule for textbook purchasing is to NEVER buy them from the on-campus bookstore. You are likely receiving the highest possible price by buying them in the 5C bookstore even though they may tell you that the rental program is a bargain. The cheapest alternative is to purchase the least expensive “used” option on Amazon well before the semester begins. While this may be difficult to do your first semester, this policy is definitely one to adopt in the future. The Pomona College financial packet that everyone receives describing the estimated net cost of attendance lists the average textbook cost to be about $900 for the academic year. To be frank, if you’re spending more than $200 a semester on textbooks, you’re being ripped off and throwing away money. By simply using the ISBN numbers provided by your teacher on the portal, you will be able to buy the books you need on Amazon, or other third-party sales companies, for a fraction of the cost. If you buy used, and buy early, you will be able to drastically reduce your total textbook costs.

Now that the basics have been covered, let’s delve into day-to-day money-saving opportunities. First and foremost, always use all the meals you have on your meal plan before paying for meals either on or off campus–remember, you have already paid for your meal plan through your room and board payment at the beginning of the year. Every meal you don’t use is money thrown away. Make sure to use all of your meals and take a piece of fruit or other small item on your way out of the dining hall, which will serve as a “free” snack later in the day. That way you’ve made the most of your pre-paid meal plan. This may seem like simple and common sense advice, but you would be amazed how many 5C students don’t fully utilize the meals they’re allotted.

Next, limit your off-campus meals to at most one per week. I know it’s tempting to eat out frequently since the options are very enticing and the dining hall food can eventually get repetitive, but I implore you to resist. Eating out is the easiest way to see a planned budget disappear. If you allot about $10-15 per week for a meal off-campus, that sum is a very manageable monthly expense. However, even if you simply double that figure by going out twice a week, you’re looking at a monthly expense of close to $100. Use the dining halls to your advantage and make going out to eat an event to remember as opposed to simply another meal. That will augment both your experience and bank account.

Last but not least, keep a precise budget of your spending for the semester. Personally, I use an Excel spreadsheet to document my every cost, but I realize that’s probably overkill and too tedious for most college students. With that in mind, I recommend finding one of the hundreds of budgeting apps on your phone to keep track of your expenses. Just as keeping track of everything you eat will reduce the amount you consume, the same effect applies to spending. If you get into a habit of recording all your costs, you will naturally be more mindful of your budgetary needs.

These five tips will help you manage your college spending and create good habits for life outside of academia. Don’t fret if budgeting seems daunting at first. Just slowly try to implement as many of these tips as possible to reign in your costs. Using this advice, you can cut your total living expenses in half each semester and save upwards of $12,000 over the course of your undergraduate education.

 

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Image: Flickr.

How Campus Progressives Ruined Liberalism for the Rest of Us

I have some confessions to make: I am a liberal. I am pro-choice. I favor the legalization of gay marriage and marijuana. Given supreme authority, I would drastically cut our military budget and use the money to institute a single-payer healthcare system (certainly not something many of my colleagues at the Independent would agree with). I even voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, in the last presidential election. However, despite my overwhelmingly liberal political leanings, the progressive movement – particularly as I’ve seen it manifested on college campuses – has made me embarrassed to identify myself as a liberal.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that Fox News spends only 45 percent of its airtime on factual reporting, while it spends 55 percent of its airtime on opinion pieces and commentary. It was unsurprising that a news source frequently lampooned as opinion-driven and biased spends the majority of its time reporting opinion pieces. But why is Fox News considered such a horrible and untrustworthy network when the same study showed that the liberal MSNBC network spends a whopping 85 percent of its airtime on opinion segments and only 15 percent on factual reporting? If Fox’s penchant for focusing on opinion is worthy of criticism, doesn’t MSNBC’s more egregious example of the same sin merit even more? The contempt for Fox I hear coming from liberals coupled with a lack of criticism towards MSNBC suggests that many within the liberal movement don’t want factual journalism at all, but rather opinionated journalism with a liberal bent. In fact, though they would have you believe they merely support truth in journalism, many liberals openly disregard the truth – and criticize those who don’t – when it conflicts with their worldview.

The most recent example that comes to mind is the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. My fellow liberals decided from day one that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown, was in the wrong. Before autopsy results were released, without reading the eyewitness testimony, and with no regard for forensic evidence, the left prejudged Wilson as guilty. Although I personally prefer to hear evidence before forming an opinion, I can understand why –especially in light of the slanted media reporting on the case – many people would leap to the conclusion that Wilson was guilty. What was appalling to me, however, was that when the evidence that was released proved far from sufficient to suggest Wilson’s guilt, the vast majority of the left was still calling for Wilson to be punished. Protests predicated on the assumption of Wilson’s guilt, like the march to Claremont City Hall, were held nationwide after a grand jury failed to indict Wilson, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that the evidence against him was inconclusive at best.

Campus liberals acted similarly in the case of Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who has vowed to carry a mattress around campus with her until her alleged rapist leaves the school. Rallies in support of Sulkowicz were held at college campuses across the nation, including here in Claremont. Despite the fact that criminal charges were never filed and the man who ostensibly assaulted her was found not responsible by Columbia, supporters of Sulkowicz have continued to refer to him as her “rapist” and harass him on and off campus (have they never heard of the Scottsboro Boys?). The Columbia Spectator decided to print the name of the accused despite the fact that the university had not found him responsible for any wrongdoing (did the Spectator learn nothing from the media’s handling of the Duke Lacrosse case?). This uproar will affect the man for the remainder of his time at Columbia and will continue to follow him for the rest of his life. Because the alleged assault fit into campus liberals’ dominant narrative on sexual assault, the overwhelmingly liberal students of Columbia, the Claremont Colleges, and other elite institutions were eager to risk ruining a potentially innocent man’s life by naming him a rapist, even as new evidence emerges, all of which seems to support the alleged attacker’s innocence.

To question the guilt of Darren Wilson was to be a racist, and to question the veracity of Sulkowicz’s story was to be a sexist rape apologist. Doing either of these things would almost certainly get you branded as a conservative. As a liberal who did both of these things, I have been appalled by the irrational mob mentality displayed by my fellow liberal students at events like the Ferguson protest and the “Carry That Weight” march in support of Sulkowicz. I am struggling to come to terms with this new reality wherein sticking to an objective view of the facts is considered a conservative trait. The campus left’s complete unwillingness to adjust their opinions of these cases to fit with the facts shows a thought process completely devoid of reason. Facts are apolitical. To question prevailing liberal thought on Ferguson and Columbia because of the evidence (or lack thereof) is not a conservative position. It is a realistic one. To question prevailing liberal thought on Ferguson and Columbia is not to deny the existence of racism in law enforcement or sexual assault on college campuses, but to acknowledge that not every individual case fits those patterns.

Ferguson and Columbia are unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to college liberals privileging (if I may appropriate one of their favorite words) narrative over evidence: As it turns out, trigger warnings (well-intentioned though they may be) actually do more harm than good, and controlled exposure to trauma can lead to a quicker recovery from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder than complete avoidance. According to the founder of the Trauma Studies program at King’s College, London: “You cannot get a person to avoid triggers in their day-to-day lives. It would be impossible…Instead of encouraging a culture of avoidance, [the media] should be encouraging exposure…Most trauma survivors avoid situations that remind them of the experience. Avoidance means helplessness and helplessness means depression. That’s not good.”

Women do not make $0.77 for every dollar men earn for the same work. When controlling relevant variables such as profession and hours worked (seemingly obvious measures conspicuously missing from the original $0.77 study), the wage gap almost completely disappears. Childless women in their 20s actually make as much as 8 percent more than their male counterparts.

President Obama hesitates to refer to the Islamic State as an Islamic extremist group and makes an effort to downplay what are actually alarmingly high levels of sympathy for extremist movements in Muslim communities worldwide.

It is most likely untrue that 1 in 5 female college students is sexually assaulted. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number may be closer to 6 in 1000 . This data, collected over the course of 18 years and with a response rate of 74 percent, is much more reliable than the 1 in 5 study, which sourced its data only from two large schools, had a response rate of 43 percent, and did not even take into account whether or not the people being surveyed felt that they had been assaulted (a similar study found that 49 percent of women classified as having been raped did not think they had been, while only 47 percent did). The author of the 1 in 5 study himself said “We don’t think one in five is a nationally representative statistic.” The list goes on and on.

The fact that my fellow liberals seem so unconcerned with evidence makes it hard for me to sympathize with their cause. Although I may agree with them on many issues, the way in which we arrive at those conclusions differs drastically. I thoroughly believe that most of the liberals here at the Claremont Colleges do what they do with good intentions; as liberals we should help the disadvantaged and strive to create positive social and political change. However, what is stereotypically “liberal” is not always right, and what fits most cleanly into our belief systems is not always true. Unwillingness to listen to opinions differing from the mainstream and attempting to silence opposing viewpoints (including the destruction of print issues of the Independent around campus) is completely illiberal and is an insult to the campus Free Speech Movement that liberal students championed 50 years ago. Silencing minority viewpoints does not prove them wrong and says more about those doing the silencing than those being silenced.

The only rational way to approach divisive political issues is to base your opinions off of the facts that are available to you. Liberals and conservatives have always disagreed on how those facts are to be interpreted, and we should be glad for it. Neither conservatives nor liberals are correct 100 percent of the time. However, it seems lately that evidence has become a nonissue for many on the left.

Unless my fellow liberals learn to stop shoehorning every situation to fit the narrative they are trying to construct, the left of tomorrow will be made up of individuals who are unable to distinguish their beliefs from reality. Those of us who can make this distinction will not want to associate with the liberal movement any longer. Where will we go?