Attempts to Stifle Students’ Voice (Opinion)

The board meeting on March 23rd, 2016 goes differently than planned when the meeting, originally scheduled as an open meeting, was closed at the last minute. Student leaders showed up early to  the meeting, excited to share in the conversation about unionization, when they were met by several public safety officers. Officers first asked the students about the possibility of them carrying weapons (specifically guns), and attempted to stop the students from  reaching the front of Taube Hall (where board members, president, deans, and provosts gathered before the meeting). Students, confused by such aggressive measures, walked to the front parking lot anyway where they were told the meeting had been closed, and they would no longer be allowed to enter the building.

In response to such actions, student leaders began Facebooking, texting, and calling students to get their support in the parking lot of Taube. Soon, what started as a party of two grew into a group of almost 20 students holding signs and chanting in support of their faculty. Despite efforts to keep student voices from being heard, students gathered in the parking lot for the duration of the board meeting, and met board members as they exited from the meeting. Several board members approached students to show their support for student activism and creating better conditions for NDNU faculty.

The University’s President, Judith Greig, did come out and meet students in the parking lot, as an attempt to hear student voices [videos of which can be found online]. Students announced several concerns including, upholding NDNU Hallmarks and mission, honoring our faculty, quality of education, where tuition dollars are going, and how the Administration is going to address these concerns. As one of the students at the event on Wednesday, I must say it was unbelievable that a school founded on social activism would respond so aggressively towards students peacefully supporting their faculty. We can only hope that our voices will be better received in the future.

Author: Melinda Jones

Edited By: Johanna Anaya

Published By: Felicia Oakmon

Blue Mountain State was said to have ruined college forever because it’s the epitome of everything students look for in a school. It’s almost like they advertise the college lifestyle in a way that seems impossible to replicate here at Notre Dame de Namur University. As a student body, NDNU lacks the motivation and enthusiasm to generate a comparable environment. Something we as students could be proud of, a legacy to leave for future graduates to hold on to and pass on. It’s a dream that is definitely obtainable, but seemingly too far in the distance to actually achieve.

The Internet defines school spirit as the emotional support people show towards their specific institution. School spirit can be shown through a few different ways such as attending your school’s sporting events, “repping” your school colors and attire, and even attending different school functions.

The sad reality is that a lot student’s are bored, and feel like they have nothing to look forward too. College is often looked upon as the time of your life. When you’re in high school and you see the movies, and all of these viral videos that come across your Twitter and Instagram, you can’t wait to get to college and experience it first hand. The parties, the atmosphere, but here at NDNU we have little, if none, of these things. This isn’t an article bashing on the school or the Programming Board. Something has to change;

“I think the school needs a mascot, someone to help give the students here a boost and encourage them to support our events around campus,” said freshman Marquise Williams. Mascots are important to a school spiritual identity; they bring a positive attitude and contagious morale to the school.

A few years ago, this wasn’t an issue. Programming Board held about 3 different dances balanced out throughout the year, and the biggest one was the end of the year boat party. That event was pretty hard to top, which is probably why we haven’t seen a school dance since the fall of 2014. “Between budget cuts and venue availability, it’s been hard to get something together”, said Korey Serna of the Programming Board.

“There isn’t a lot to do around here, especially if you’re not 21. Sure we can go to San Francisco every once and a while, but without a car it’s hard” said sophomore Alaka’i Freitas.

Students without personal transportation also have the option to rent cars through the school due to their relationship between the University and a company known as Zipcar. Zipcar provides access to cars for all eligible drives 18+. Students can also travel by Caltrain, the commuter train, as well as local bus services.

The attendance at sporting events is a big area lacking in school spirit. “It’d be really cool if we had pep rallies in front of the gym before games; with face paint, trumpet horns, you know the works”, said junior Ashley Robinson. Could you imagine that; an army of Argonauts marching down to the soccer and softball fields, and storming into the gym to support our volleyball and basketball teams? “To build a diverse, collaborative, open and student-centered community”, celebrating the values that this school holds so close to its core.

Social Media Activism is Apathy

Americans don’t care about Paris. Not really. For most of us it’s an abstract concept glimpsed only in movies. For a few it’s a fond memory from a study abroad. For even fewer it’s actually a distinct place with a personal connection.

On Nov. 13, when approximately six separate attacks took place across the city, Americans were shocked not because they felt any real, unique sympathy for Paris, but rather because for the first time in 14 years, terror feels like it’s on the doorstep once again.

The impulse to make this criticism racially charged is tempting. How else might we explain why nearly 130 dead in Paris gets its own Facebook check-in widget, while the constant killing in the Middle East and northern Africa barely even makes the news anymore? That question answers itself to some degree. The violence in Syria and Iraq alone is so constant that Facebook would have to become a 365-day tragedy check-in service just to keep up.

Maybe then Facebook would do well to avoid sticking its finger in the tragedy-aid pie in the future. After all, it’s not as if individuals couldn’t already declare their safety simply by updating their own statuses like normal. Unless the site is prepared to update with a check-in widget for the tragedy de jeor of each week (which no one wants to see happen), then attempts to “help” will continue to come across as selective and motivated by Western hysteria.

What about Paris specifically should alarm us any more than any of the other horrors taking place daily across the globe?

Put somewhat less hostilely by fellow NDNU alumni Sasha Ratvitch, in a Facebook post, “My heart is with the world, no borders, no hierarchy; I hold every human’s life with value who is attacked by extremist beliefs whether they are based on religion, prejudice or profit!”

But I am willing to throw Americans a bone when it comes to wanting to examine the implications of ISIS being capable of so successfully executing a terror attack in a developed nation like France. After all, we are still the Western nation with the highest body count when it comes to Islamic terror attacks. As one of my close friends who is currently studying in Paris wrote to me after the attack, “Americans are more freaked out than the French are.”

Certainly, we should be dubious of any attempts to curtail terrorism through additional warfare. The current lack of stability in the Middle East is owed at least in part to constant interference from foreign governments, chiefly our own. If this is a war of ideologies, then it’s time to start fighting bad ideas with better ones.

We live in a world where the likes of Homeland Security, the CIA and NSA will continue to be an unfortunate necessity. But these institutions do not have to define America’s relationship with the rest of the world. Allowing Syrian refugees into the nation is the best place to start. What better way to prove an enemy’s ideology bankrupt than to accept thousands of its former citizens as our own? If Americans really wish to show they care for Paris and the lesson it taught the world, and work to defeat the enemy while they’re at it, then this is the path ahead, not changing your profile picture on Facebook.

Submerged into a culture of violence

As the NFL season approached there seemed to be the gradual buildup of anticipation of how well the teams were going to do with the trading and new additions of players. However, this season there was a shift in attention. Instead of focusing in on the game and the fundamentals of each team, attention was drawn towards the violence occurring.

It’s to no surprise that when athletes conduct these acts of violence, we as a society condone such happenings. What makes it acceptable for athletes to have a “get out of jail free” card? By having this system where we excuse others’ actions there becomes this state of mind for one who begins to understand that it is morally just to continue this violence – because there are no consequences.

It is well understood that the NFL is a rigorous industry that thrives on the commitment and dedication the players bring to the field. As all sports, the NFL pushes their athletes constantly through strenuous practices to the point of exhaustion. Because this is the lifestyle the athletes chose to take part in does not mean their families chose to take part in the violence that follows, in this case domestic.

The Argonaut had the opportunity of interviewing NDNU’s very own retired NFL player, Steven Kinney, also known as Professor Kinney. Having played for the Washington Redskins as well as the Chicago Bears, he is well versed in the culture. He currently is in the English department at NDNU as well as serves as a liaison between the athletic and Faculty departments. The three questions that Professor Kinney was prompted with were as follows:

§ What was it like being in the culture (the NFL culture, that is)?

§ How has it evolved? Why do you see this occurring?

§ What can the NDNU community do on our part?

Steven Kinney as Offensive Tackle for the Chicago Bears.
Taken from the NDNU Alumni Newsletter – Jan 2014