President Sanchez states “#NOTAtRIC” in response to recent incidents on campus

Samantha Scetta – Editor-in-Chief

In emails from The Office of The President, two incidents regarding students being harassed on campus were addressed. The perpetrators are allegedly not members of the Rhode Island College Community.

President Sanchez also informed the college community that campus security will be heightened, by the use of increased police forces and patrols.

The first email, sent out last Thursday, Feb. 7,  informed the student body that “we have been reminded once again that Rhode Island College is not immune from people who seek to disrupt our educational mission by sowing seeds of hatred, racism and bigotry”, as students walking across campus reported racial slurs being “hurled at them over the past two days.”

The second email that was sent to students last Friday, Feb. 8, informed students that obscenities that were not racially influenced were yelled at female students walking across campus on Thursday night.

In response to these incidents, President Sanchez states that the patrols on campus will be doubled, and police forces from Providence and North Providence will also be involved.

The Anchor spoke with a few RIC students who are active members of the campus community regarding their thoughts and concerns surrounding these incidents and the increased patrols on campus.

Raquel Villot, a sophomore at RIC who is majoring in biology says that she has always had a positive experience with campus police.

However, she does have some concerns. Villot said, “Because we have an open campus, I feel that doubling patrol is the college’s only option. However, I wouldn’t want the increased patrol to be permanent, only lasting until the perpetrators realize the increase and stop. But this doubling of patrol does make me feel slightly uneasy because I have heard rumors and stories about minorities being treated poorly by campus police”

Nick Duhamel, who is majoring in Social Work and is a grief facilitator at FRIENDSWAY, Rhode Island’s only child bereavement center,  also gave The Anchor a statement regarding his thoughts on the matter:

“Because of the incident that transpired the other day, I have noticed an increase in patrol on campus. It was just last night that a providence police officer slowly drove by me, his eyes locked on mine to almost say “you aren’t causing trouble are you”. I feel that an increase in patrol on campus is not the answer, rather this situation should call students together to rally for equality and the vanquishment of any type of discriminatory behavior filled with hate. Though I am happy with the school responding serious to this matter, I feel it Is only breaking the surface of action. Students need to feel safe, and Police Presence does not always accomplish that.”

Luckily, our campus has resources aplenty for students to turn to in times when they feel safety is compromised.

You can make an online appointment with the RIC Counseling Center by visiting www.ric.edu/counseling-center, or call the Rhode Island College HOPE line at 401-456-HOPE (4673) for 24/7 support. The Unity Center is also open Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., and Friday until 4:00 p.m.

Also, keep your student media groups in mind and reach out to editorinchief@anchorweb.org if you or someone you know has information regarding incidents of harassment on campus that you would like publicized.  

Supreme Court Approves Transgender Military Ban

Alison Darmetko – Anchor Staff

In recent years, many strides being made towards equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community have instead changed direction under our current administration. While some may think of the efforts by the Trump administration to dial back the Title IX protections in schools, the transgender community came to another hurdle on January 22 when the Supreme Court of the United States granted a request by the Trump administration to renew one of its more controversial policies: the transgender military ban.

For those unaware of what this policy entails, on July 26 in 2017, President Trump sent out a series of Tweets stating that transgender individuals would no longer be permitted to serve in the United States military in any capacity. Claiming he spoke with his generals on the subject, President Trump justified his policy citing the costs to the military in providing medical care to assist in gender reassignment surgery as being too great of a burden to the military budget. This was a drastic juxtaposition to a 2016 policy under President Obama allowing transgender citizens to serve openly in the military without needing to lie about their gender identities.

This policy, which was previously blocked by courts on the grounds of discrimination, largely faded from the public eye following President Trump’s constant controversial statements. The policy made its return when the Supreme Court voted five to four, with the court’s five conservative judges in the majority, on January 22 to stay two different injunctions from district courts that were blocking the policy from taking effect while also allowing the policy to temporarily go into effect. While it is important to note that the policy does not technically immediately force soldiers from the military for identifying as transgender, the policy does put those who seek to transition or wish to serve openly after beginning their transition at a risk for being discharged from the military.    

While this policy only restricts transgender citizens from serving in the military, the environment that created the policy is something to take note of. President Trump is known for associating with individuals who support very conservative agendas who are not friendly to the political ideals of the LGBTQ community. Vice President Mike Pence is well known for his efforts to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act during his time as governor, a law that has been criticized as an effort to condone discrimination against LGBTQ individuals by permitting private businesses to refuse service to any individuals on the grounds of religious beliefs. The law states “a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion… [unless it] (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” Additionally, with a majority of the current Supreme Court justices being conservative in their political ideals, only time will tell what will follow the transgender military ban.

Democratic hopefuls begin to stack up for 2020 bid

Tim Caplan – News editor

Just as the Republican primary candidates came out in droves for their 2016 nomination, the Democratic party has a plethora of individuals who have announced their campaigns and even more who are expected to announce for the party’s 2020 presidential bid.

On Dec. 31, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for a potential 2020 run. Warren released a YouTube video shortly after in which she describes her platform as fighting for a middle class that is “under attack,” pursuing economic reforms and going after Wall Street and large oil companies, who she claims have ruined the American economy.

Warren is generally considered as being part of the progressive wing of the democratic party, a group farther away from the establishment ideals of the traditional Democrats. Progressives in today’s Democratic party are working toward a Medicare-for-all system, a “Green New Deal” (having to do with lower emissions and fixing the environment through federally funded jobs) and using the socio-economic models of countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway as templates of the kind of America that they would like to see.

Kamala Harris has also made her progressive ideals well known as she announced her 2020 campaign on Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day utilizing the platform of Good Morning America. She followed up her announcement with her first campaign rally in her home city of Oakland, California. Harris is the Junior Senator from California, as well as the former District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, and the former Attorney General of California. Similar to Warren, Harris has centered her campaign around environmental reforms and Medicare-for-all. Harris even went so far as to say she wanted to abolish private medical insurance companies in a CNN town hall on Jan. 28, a statement which her campaign spokespeople have slightly backtracked on.

The third major player in the 2020 Democratic race so far is New Jersey Junior Senator Corey Booker. Booker announced his primary run on Feb. 1. In a statement to the press in Newark, he talked about his record on education reforms, and declared to Politico how his intention was not to focus on Republicans or his opponents, but to “Unite” Americans from all walks of life.

All three candidates were members of the “Hell No” caucus, a group of senators in 2016 who opposed the cabinet nominations of President Trump including Mike Pompeo and Rex Tillerson.

When it comes to the progressive political sphere in which these three potential candidates occupy, Booker is the perceived frontrunner. Elizabeth Warren has received criticisms from both sides of the aisle after an attempt to prove her Native American ancestry through a DNA test was seen as offensive. Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Secretary of State released a public statement referring to the incident “Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens…”

A major issue on the progressive agenda is criminal justice reform. Senator Harris has a prosecutorial record that has come under fire by progressive activists like Phelicia Jones. According to The Washington Times, Jones claimed  “San Francisco has always incarcerated more black men than anywhere else, and it didn’t really change under her leadership. Now she wants to do criminal justice reform?” Jones said. “She never did say anything about the police brutality of African-Americans and just the outright harassment and racial profiling of black and brown people here in San Francisco. Now those are huge issues.”

Some of the less well-known candidates who have announced their campaigns are Hawaiian  Representative Tulsi Gabbard, former Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro, and Maryland Representative John Delaney.

A series of Democrats are expected to announce their candidacies in the near future, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Vice President Joe Biden. For now, the Democrats have a large pool of candidates to choose from, but will they be able to garner enough support to beat the Trump reelection effort? That answer is not yet clear.

From the archives

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

This archived article is from the April 11, 1989 issue of The Anchor.

There are just some issues that will always be hot button issues–Democrat or Republicans? Pro-life or Pro-choice? Pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine? And, of course, Coca-Cola versus Pepsi, which was the hot button issue up for debate in The Anchor 30 years ago.

The school decided they were going to change things up with a Pepsi contract instead of Coke, and The Anchor thought this was front-page worthy news. In a poll The Anchor conducted, Coca-Cola was favored by 73 out of 75 students polled.

An interesting part about this 30 year old story is the fact that history has repeated itself. Just this fall, Pepsi invaded RIC as it did in 1989. However, perhaps it isn’t as big a deal as it was in 1989. Americans aren’t drinking as much soda as they have in the past. Soda consumption has declined in recent years, with people opting for bottled water or coffee instead and the campus hasn’t gotten rid of either of those.

Even if soda consumption was at the same level as it was 30 years ago, maybe people’s priorities have just changed. After all, there are more important matters to deal with as students, like the prospect of free tuition, the upgrading of decrepit campus buildings, and, of course, staying on top of classes. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles. The battle The Anchor chose in this 1989 issue just happened to be about soda.

Protestors at state capital represent both sides of abortion debate

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Pro-life and Pro-choice advocates of the newly proposed opposing Rhode Island abortion bills showed up to the State Capital to let their voices be heard on Tuesday, Jan 29.

The debate about abortion is a very polarized subject in American life, and that showed this week on Smith Hill. Hundreds of people came to protest and testify to the House Judiciary Committee for both the pro-abortion and anti-abortion bills being proposed.

The Rhode Island Reproductive Healthcare act is a bill proposed by Democratic Representative Edith Ajello, and co-sponsored by 39 other representatives. Governor Gina Raimondo Tweeted a letter to Chairman Robert Craven in which she expressed her “strong support” of the bill, stating that she “support(s) efforts to protect Rhode Island women’s rights to reproductive health care.”

The bill would get rid of abortion restrictions in the state of Rhode Island. It would repeal a law about spousal notice during an abortion procedure (forcing the mother to tell the father about the abortion) as well as a repeal of Rhode Island General Law Chapter 24 section 4.12 concerning “partial birth abortion.” The law banned the action of a partial birth abortion, which, according to the law is “an abortion in which the person performing the abortion…delivers a living human fetus before killing the infant and completing the delivery.”

One of the two opposing bills is called the Rhode Island Right to Life Act, which is only one page long and bans the abortion of a child outright. The bill states that “the right to life is guaranteed by the State of Rhode Island and vested to each person at fertilization.” This bill was introduced by Rhode Island state Representatives Mclaughlin, Hull, Corvese, Serodio, and Vella-Wilkinson. Another bill proposed by Representatives Corvese, Azzinaro, Vella-Wilkinson, Fellela, and Costantino would ban “Dismemberment Abortions” in Rhode Island.

This is a very hotly contested subject and that manifested itself in the emotional testimonies at the capital. Pro-choice advocates believe that abortion is a fundamental right of privacy and taking it away would be a violation of the rights of a woman to make choices about her body. Pro-life advocates believe that abortion is the killing of an innocent child.

These strongly opposed views were apparent throughout the proceedings, when Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus Secretary Melanie Dupont proposed an amendment, she stated that the members of her party who didn’t support abortion should be “ashamed” to call themselves democrats. Dupont also made a statement during her proposal to fellow Democratic Representative Gregory J. Constantino in which she said “I contend that, anytime Gregory J. Constantino tries to abridge my rights as a woman, and endanger my life, I… should return the favor and abridge his rights as a man and endanger his life.” This comment was seen as a threat on his by Representative Constantino and he preceded by contacting the Rhode Island state Police, who are investigating the incident according to NBC 10.   

House members are still considering the bills and have yet to bring them to a vote.

Government Shutdown: Will history repeat itself?

Aaron Isaac – Anchor Staff

In the whirlwind of media coverage it can be difficult to understand the whys and hows of the government shutdown. Never fear! That’s why The Anchor is here.

On Dec. 22, the Senate failed to pass a spending bill after President Donald Trump insisted on including $5.7 billion to add fencing to the US-Mexico border. This resulted in the most recent shutdown. However, because some other spending bills had already passed and other programs are legally protected, like Social Security, only about a quarter of government operations shut down. National parks, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration were all defunded as a result of the shutdown and cutback on their inspections.

After the Democrats officially claimed the majority in the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, they offered a spending package with $1.3 billion for border security, but not for Trump’s proposed fencing.

The next day, after rejecting the spending package, Trump said he would declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress to fund the fencing. Democratic leadership later accused Trump of using “fear, not facts” over funding. Some Republicans had blamed Democrats for not addressing the issues at the southern border.

In the Senate, Democrats called for opening parts of the government which were not involved in the fencing negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take those bills to a vote because Trump would not sign them. McConnell said the votes were “absolutely pointless.”

After Jan. 12, this shutdown became the longest in history. Approximately 800,000 federal employees missed their paychecks. According to The New Yorker, thousands of government employees went to food banks to get their next meal, and even formed a protest against the shutdown in the halls of the U.S Senate. Agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, began to consider not paying their workers until the government reopened.

On Jan. 13, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested Trump should temporarily reopen the government without the border funding. Trump rejected that offer, but later offered to extend temporary protections to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients in exchange for the border fencing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the deal and Democrats criticized Trump for offer protections he had previously revoked.

Under increasing pressure from Congress, federal employees, who were on track to miss their second paycheck, and hours after air traffic controllers called in sick in mass, effectively shutting down airlines, the government was reopened.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the shutdown slowed down economic growth. Much of the lost output will be recovered over time, and although workers are set to receive back pay, the CBO estimates around $3 billion, 0.02 percent of Gross Domestic Product, will not be recovered.

There was a also a political cost to the shutdown as well. A Gallup poll shows Republican favorability has dropped from 45 percent in September to 37 percent near the end of January. Meanwhile, support for Democrats remained still (from 44 to 45 points).

Currently Congress is continuing negotiations, until Feb. 15th to keep government open. However, Trump continues to threaten a national emergency if a settlement cannot be reached and Democrats do not seem willing to provide the funds for the fencing. What happens next is uncertain, but it is possible we see another shutdown after Feb. 15th.

The hard hits of tax return season in a Trump driven nation

Erica Clark – Assistant News Editor

As Americans start to file taxes, they may consider: How will the government shutdown affect tax returns and refunds?

For starters, President Trump is refusing to sign a spending deal that doesn’t agree to include five billion dollars for a wall at the US-Mexico border. This resulted in the month-long government shutdown. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) planned to keep 12.5 percent of its employers, which is lower than 10,000 workers. While 46,000 employees were being called back to work without pay, many did not show up. The tens of thousands of additional IRS employees were disallowed, so they were no longer getting paid or obligated to show up to work for the time being. Many taxpayers calling with concerns faced delays of over an hour.  

While many employees returned to their jobs this past Monday morning, it will take time to get parts of the IRS running smoothly again. Many workers’ time on the clock could be brief, with this shutdown being a temporary measure funding the government expires in just two weeks.

If Republicans and Democrats are unable to reach an agreement by Feb. 15, President Trump indicated that he, without doubt, would shutdown the government once again, or declare a national emergency, which the White House argues is necessary for the security of America.

A lot of big questions emerged about the 2019 tax season.  The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that took part in 2018 lowered individual income tax rates and capped many tax breaks, such as both the state and a local tax deduction.

Overall, this overhaul causes a vast amount of confusion over the exact amount to withhold in advance from workers’ paychecks.

The actual impact of those changes will only be confirmed once the returns are processed. The bank’s economists expect an approximate $62 billion in additional tax refunds attributable to change from the tax overhaul. This, in total, would be a 26 percent increase over the last year.

Usually, three-quarters of tax filers receive refunds. Last year, more than 102 million tax filers got money back.

The refunds totaled roughly $285 billion, with an average refund being $2,800. This is the money most citizens use to get through the last cold months of winter.

If you are to receive a lower refund, with the new tax code, companies and taxpayers made better assumptions on how much they owe the government. Though, some Republicans in Washington are concerned taxpayers might not see it from that perspective, and that smaller refunds will cause many Americans to think they were scolded, not assisted, by the new tax code. Opinion polls show the law has struggled to attract support from a majority of voters.

High-income taxpayers in states including New York, New Jersey and California could be at high risk for unexpected tax liability. This is because those taxpayers are more likely to have claimed a larger amount of deductions on their federal returns. President Trump’s law capped that deduction, known as S.A.L.T. (State and Local Tax), at $10,000 per household each year.

You should also be expecting a large tax cut if you’re among the country’s highest earners, carrying 37% kick in at $500,001 for single people and $600,001 for married couples, according to smartasset.com.

The government shutdown is also expected to sap economic growth in the first quarter since workers and contractors were left without pay and vast amounts of government work went undone.

The government’s unfulfilled duty of paying their workers had a large scale impact on significant consumers pending in the economy.  Contractors and business owners that cater to government employees have suffered a large loss. Many economists analysts agree that first-quarter growth will be several tenths of a percentage point lower than they had predicted.  

The government shutdown made a lot of Americans confused about possible setbacks in paying deserved refunds.  

The new Trump tax brackets didn’t apply until the 2018 tax year, which you will file by April 2019.  The brackets will stay the same, but the income thresholds will change slightly to keep up with inflation.

If you’re wondering how the tax changes affect your specific tax situation, there are various sources to estimate what you can expect to pay under the new plan.  

There are various resources online that can assist you to navigate your taxes this year, such as TurboTax’s tax reform calculator.  If online tools aren’t enough, there is always the option to speak with an accountant to make sure you know what to expect and how to prepare for this tax season.

U.S. and Taliban begin negotiations for peace

Sean Richer – Anchor Staff

After 17 years, America’s longest overseas conflict may be showing signs of an end, as American and Taliban envoys met in Doha, Qatar last week. The negotiations are being led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. diplomat to Afghanistan. After four days of communication, a draft for the framework to peace has been established.

The Taliban is a radical Islamic extremist group who have been accused of brutal human rights violations by numerous human rights groups and journalists. These include using child soldiers, committing suicide bombings, and the repression of women.

Within this framework, American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. In exchange, The Taliban would agree to not allow other militant groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL from using the country as a staging ground. However, exact specifications as to how many troops or supplies would be withdrawn, or if support for the current Afghan government would be withdrawn, remain unclear. Along with these prospective conditions, the framework also includes an exchange of POW’s (Prisoners of war), as well as a ceasefire between American and Taliban forces. Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, an Afghani political analyst said, “The discussions have been focused on two issues…the withdrawal of the troops and that the soil of Afghanistan will not be used against anyone.” Currently, the negotiations have been held exclusively between the Taliban and the United States.  While the current Afghan government has not been included within this framework, officials said that all final terms must be concluded between the current regime and the Taliban. However, the Taliban insurgents have since rejected this idea, since President Ashraf Ghani’s administration has not been recognized by the militia.

The deal is not without its critics, however. Many consider the act of negotiating with the Taliban un-American, and many believe that leaving the country so rapidly, is a betrayal of the Afghan Central government and surrender for the United States. Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and opinion contributor for the Washington Post wrote, “This current process bears an unfortunate resemblance to the Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War.”     

Many also believe Pakistan has the right to participate as well, as the Taliban have been operating there for years as well. However, no concrete agreement has been reached, and there are still many variables to be addressed between the negotiators.

US recognizes Juan Guaidó as Venezuelan President, Maduro calls back diplomats from US

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Opposition to the regime of Nicolas Maduro came to a boil this Wednesday when tens of thousands of protestors marched the streets of Caracas and witnessed Juan Guaido declare himself interim president.

Juan Guaido is a 35 year old National Assembly member from the state of Vargas who has served since 2011. Guaido was quickly recognized by a series of Latin American countries as well as the U.S. and Canada as the president of Venezuela. This all occurred as the result of an alleged series of human rights violations.

Photo courtesy of Channel News Asia

According to Amnesty International, 8,200 extrajudicial killings have occurred under the Maduro regime since 2015,  with a homicide rate of 89 per 100,000 people in 2017. There has also been a crisis of mass starvation in recent years. According to Reuters, the average Venezuelan citizen had lost 24 pounds from the beginning of 2017 to the beginning of 2018. The inflation rate in Venezuela has also skyrocketed 80,000% according to Forbes.  

The Trump Administration was quick to recognize Guaido as interim president. President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday “The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

Nicolas Maduro has served as President of Venezuela since 2013, when his predecessor Hugo Chavez passed away. Maduro is a member of The United Socialist Party of Venezuela. In May of 2018 there was a presidential election in which Maduro announced himself victorious, but publications like The Atlantic Council and the Financial Times called it a “farce” and a “sham election.”

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Maduro had called back all foreign diplomats from The United States, claiming that America doesn’t have a “colonial hold” on Venezuela, and with backing from the military, he does not seem to be willing to hand over power to Guaido.

The whereabouts of Guaido are unknown currently, when he declared his interim presidency he stated the he knew “There would be consequences.” Guaido has stated that he needs the support of the citizens of Venezuela, the military, and other countries to take power back from “usurper” Maduro.

As of now both sides have yet to budge on their convictions.

Migration and immigration: a new course

Aaron Isaac – Anchor Staff

Migration at the border is at the center of political debate in America today. It is an issue so polarizing that disagreements about solutions caused the government to shut down. Here at Rhode Island College, a new course about that very topic will now be offered.

“Border Crossings: Migration and Immigration in the 21st Century” will be a Liberal Arts, pass or fail, class. The course runs ten classes throughout the semester and students must attend at least eight of them. Enrolled students must write three 300 word papers related to the source materials.

The goal of the course is to answer questions about migration regarding the United States. Why do people migrate and what are the impacts of migration? However, this class is unique because it pulls together different schools of thought and focuses them on this single topic.

Each class will have different professors from different departments, such as geography, philosophy, and psychology, who will talk about the topic through the lens of their own discipline. Political Science Professor Thomas Schmeling, Sociology Chair Mikaila Arthur and Anthropology Professor Praveena Gullapalli are the three faculty members who are coordinating the course.

The Anchor spoke to Dr. Schmeling, who emphasized the importance of introducing students to new disciplines when confronting a topic as complex as migration. He believes to understand migration fully students should explore, not just political science, but economics and history as well.

This one-credit course is an extension of Liberal Arts Studies which is a relatively new major with only a handful of students in it. The major focus on multiple disciplines to complete a project that can tie those fields together. For instance Dr. Schemling said that “geography, economics, and political science might be used to study the infrastructure crisis.” The course begins Jan. 29 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. in Gaige 100. Even if you don’t enroll in the class you can show up to any class which interests you and won’t have to complete any assignments. If you are interested in the class you can go to ric.edu/libs150 to get the schedule, syllabus, and other readings. Also, contact Dr. Schmeling at tschmeling@ric.edu if you are interested in either the class or in becoming a Liberal Arts Major.