The border wall: not a national emergency, but a constitutional crisis

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

In this past week, Congress successfully passed a bill which permanently reopened the federal government for the fiscal year. Included in this bill is a portion of the money Donald Trump requested for a border wall. Unfortunately for him, the bill doesn’t have all the money his proposed wall would need. That’s how the government works– this isn’t the first time an initiative failed to gather sufficient funding.

Trump has decided that the allocations for the wall are not enough. As a result, he has planned to declare a national emergency. Technically, he has the authority to declare an emergency. In fact, the first president to declare an emergency was Woodrow Wilson and every president since Jimmy Carter has declared at least two emergencies. Some of those emergencies are still active– 31 to be exact (cnn.com).

But there’s a difference between these emergencies and the border wall. Some examples of past national emergencies include Hurricane Harvey, the Iran hostage crisis, 9/11, and the Swine Flu outbreak. Funding for an ineffective wall is not on par with crises America has experienced in the past.

Additionally, the border wall is not something Americans want– a Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans are against it. There are actual crises occurring in America. Opioid addiction is ravaging the country. Global warming is irreparably destroying the planet. Guns are in the hands of people that shouldn’t have guns. And the list goes on.

Perhaps the most mind-numbing piece of this story is the fact that Congress, which can revoke the national emergency declaration, might allow this blatant usurpation of power to happen. It seems that this will happen too, since Senator Mitch McConnell expressed his support directly after he announced the president’s plans to Congress.

The most important part of all of this, however, is the ethical implications of what the administration is doing. In his State of the Union speech, Donald Trump dedicated a portion of his time towards demonizing immigrants. And how could one forget the fact that the government separated families and lost track of 1,500 children. There’s the emergency.

What Trump has in mind is not an emergency, but maybe it’s a crisis– a constitutional one.

Being unapologetic: we deserve quality care

Kennedy Ryan – Anchor Staff

When we go to a restaurant, we expect to get the quality meal we pay for. If not, we complain to a waiter and make sure that our problem is fixed. When we go to the salon, we only pay for the highest quality haircuts and treatments. If not, we go to another salon. We demand the service that we know we deserve, because we are paying for it. Why then, are women receiving poor health care and not demanding better treatment?

When I began seeing a gynecologist, I did not receive the attention and treatment I deserved. My doctor did not listen to my concerns, prescribed medication without informing me about the side effects, and gave me an overall horrible experience. Despite this, I kept visiting her office for health concerns. Why did I put up with it?

Graphics courtesy of Tumblr.com

I asked others around me, and many women have experienced the same concerns. Painful side effects of medications, horrible treatment experiences, and rude interactions. We accept these conditions and don’t speak up for ourselves because we don’t realize we deserve better. We are paying for our medical treatments, yet we don’t demand excellent work.

For women, we often don’t speak up about our concerns, because they are not normally discussed in our society. We avoid talking about our painful birth control medications, our unheard problems, and daily challenges because society views them as taboo. Due to this, we continue to take these horrible medications and receive horrible care because we think it’s normal and unavoidable.

There could be several understandable reasons for avoiding a change in healthcare. Despite these challenges, people should speak up for what they want. Women deserve to receive comfortable and positive medical treatments. For me, having the courage to find a new doctor was not challenging. I was able to begin seeing doctors at Rhode Island College who listen to my opinions and give me the care I deserve.

Whatever the reason may be, people need to take a stand for what they deserve.

Why I think gap years rock 

Alexis Rapoza – Anchor Staff

When I told my family and friends that I was going to take a semester off and move to Orlando, Florida to do the Disney College Program, they were happy for me but also confused. “Don’t you want to finish your degree?” they would say. Of course I did, but I was feeling unmotivated and simply bored. If you’re feeling uninspired, maybe you need a semester off.

When I was accepted to participate in the College Program, I jumped at the chance. Before, I would wake up everyday and go to class with the same people and then go to work directly after that. It was everything but liberating. Move to Florida and work at Disney World? Sounds exciting, and it was. It was so much fun that I eventually ended up extending my program and staying down there for almost a full year.

Now I am definitely not recommending that everyone uproot their lives and go work for Mickey Mouse, but I am saying that taking a gap year, whether it be in the middle of college or between college and high school, could be something that benefits you.

There’s a sort of stigma about students not finishing their degree in the designated 4 years when in reality only about 30% of undergraduate students finish their degree on time. So why not do it at your own pace? College will always be there, but the ability to travel the world or move thousands of miles to fulfill childhood dreams is definitely not something that you’ll be able to do when you’re drowning in student loan repayments and have a full-time career.

My year away from school left me feeling more determined than ever to go to school and get good grades. When I came back, I realized I wanted to change my major and go to a different college. I felt exhilarated and had discovered a new independence inside myself that I didn’t know I possessed.

After all, we’ve all spent the majority of our lives sitting in classrooms. Maybe all you need to regenerate your enthusiasm for your education is a change of scenery.  

Unchallenged oppressive behavior: Not at RIC?

Derek Sherlock – Anchor staff

Recently, there were incidents that took place on campus which caused a responsive email to be sent out by the president of the college. I must applaud that such an email was even sent out to address racism and oppressive behavior. However, the use of “Not at RIC” is perhaps not appropriate, since this behavior takes place on nearly a daily basis. Whether it is directed towards students of color or queer students, it happens here.

I personally have seen many acts of oppressive behavior going unchallenged, and have heard from students who have been victims here at RIC. While some changes are taking place, like the president’s letter condemning the behavior, the college should not say that it does not happen here when it does.

Since last spring semester, I have seen an uprise in the acts of oppressive behavior directed towards immigrants and the queer community with flyers being posted around campus calling for people to be deported or to be converted. Classrooms are a battleground in which some professors see nothing wrong with calling trans students by their dead name and misgendering them or allowing white students to display levels of microaggression towards Black and Latinx students here on campus.

Something that not many would know is that several students last semester sought to create a chapter of the right-wing organization known as Turning Point USA. It should be noted for those who are unaware of them, the organization in other locations have ties with alt-right/white nationalist groups such as the Proud Boys and known neo-Nazi group Traditionalist Worker Party to name a few. Such a presence on campus will cause more marginalized students to feel even more uncomfortable and unwelcomed than they do already.

I am glad that RIC is finally talking openly about oppressive behavior that is taking place on campus, but I feel that we as a college community should not dismiss it by saying that it is not RIC or that it does not happen here daily. We can truly counteract the oppressive behavior that takes place on campus by taking action against faculty or staff who do not respect any member of the RIC community, or the dismissal of a student who displays oppressive behavior. We need to take a hard stance on such behavior and cut it out of our community before it has time to grow into a bigger problem that could potentially lead to violence.

Once you make it clear that there are strict consequences to oppressive behavior, you can say “Not at RIC.”

Why alcohol ads should be banned

Kennedy Ryan – Anchor Contributor

Nearly 50 years ago, President Nixon banned cigarette advertisements. This law, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, prohibited cigarette campaigns from airing on television and radio stations. Why are we still being exposed to other unhealthy advertisement messages today?

It is believed that we are exposed to roughly 5,000 advertisement messages a day. Of those, there are many advertisements that I believe should be potentially banned, similar to those messages shared in cigarette ads. For example, alcohol advertisement is still legal in the United States, as well as other countries.

Graphic courtesy of Miller Brewing Company

While smoking cigarettes has an endless list of negative health complications, alcohol consumption arguably has its own lengthy list. For example, alcohol consumption can cause liver inflammation, a higher risk of cancer, impaired brain function, increased chance of depression, unsafe driving conditions and more. If alcohol has so many health complications, why are we allowed to see persuasive messages every day in the advertisement world?

Advertisements are infamous for persuading audiences. Television commercials, colorful billboards and flashy magazine advertisements can all sway an audience into purchasing a product. Alcohol commercials ranging from colorful cartoons to entertaining videos can easily influence the wrong audience. This can be a concern for young children and other vulnerable audiences that may be viewing an ad. These consumers can be easily swayed to believe that alcohol consumption is not only healthy, but cool and fun.

While alcohol consumption may not necessarily be harmful in moderation, what sets it apart from other substances that can be abused? In countries such as France, Norway, Russia, and Kenya, alcohol advertisements have been banned on television and billboards. For audiences in the U.S., it may be beneficial to ban these messages as well.

Unpaid internships are an example of privilege

Alexis Rapoza – Anchor Contributor

Internships are seen as a right of passage in college and most colleges encourage or require that their students participate in an internship for at least one semester, which I think is a good idea. I interned for a local radio station back in 2017 and it was one of the most educational and enlightening experiences. I was even lucky enough to be offered a job afterwards. Something I don’t agree with, however, is the fact that college students are forced to work at least part time for no pay.

Graphic courtesy of PNGTree

Unpaid internships are a hot button topic, especially considering the rise in the amount of full-time students working 40 hours a week. With living expenses and college tuition prices so high, students are forced to split their time between school and work. I now know firsthand how difficult that can be. You seem to not have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to accomplish. When you throw in an internship requirement, it’s nearly impossible.

Interns are often seen as the low man on the totem pole. It makes sense for an intern to be paid less than an employee who has been working at the same company for 25 years, but I believe that interns should be paid at least minimum wage. Unpaid internships are not accessible to everyone and that’s something I think needs to be discussed more.

The United States Department of Labor offers six rules companies need to follow in order to not have to pay interns: “The internship must be for academic credit. The intern and the company must both understand that the intern won’t be compensated monetarily for their work. Interns can not replace employees but instead must be there to help and learn from them. The internship must be an educational experience. Internships can only last for the amount of time the student will be receiving credit for it. The intern must understand that they are not entitled to a job after.”

As you can see, the rules for companies providing these unpaid internships are vague, if anything, and usually are not enforced. Recently, there has been a development of unpaid interns suing companies for doing what they believe should be paid work. The hiring rate of people who participated in unpaid internships is also significantly lower than that of those who were paid.

I think all around unpaid internships are just not a great idea. Generally, unpaid internships do not provide the same amount of weight on a resume that a paid internship does. They also continue to enforce classism that is ever so present in the college scene, which is an example of privilege. In simple terms, students from lower income families can simply not afford to participate in unpaid internships and I believe that education should be accessible to everyone, not just people who can afford it.

Politicians need to stop endorsing hatred

Derek Sherlock – Anchor staff

Recently, a video has gone viral in which famed actress Ellen Page, called out Vice President Mike Pence on his stances on the LGBTQ+ community. As someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, what she said rang true for me and so many within the community. When you are given a powerful platform such as the Vice Presidency or the Governor of Indiana, and you create (or attempt to create) policies that do harm to a group of people, you should not be allowed to hold any sort office. This includes both Pence and Trump––who have put forth policies into effect have been damaging to everyone within the LGBTQ+ community.

Page states that Vice President Pence is a believer in conversion therapy, which many health organizations around the world have denounced as ineffective and risky. The current administration has rolled back on many protections for LGBTQ+ people that were established by Obama. Trump has also tweeted that he will not allow transgender people to serve in the military, which has gone into effect earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of Bustle

To top it all off, back in October, the Trump administration was considering a definition of a person’s gender as based on their genitalia at birth and not changeable later in life. Ultimately, it would define transgender people out of existence causing gender to be a binary concept. Pence and Trump, along with many other local officials, are fighting hard to create laws and bills that make it illegal for trans people to use the bathroom they feel comfortable using. There are still officials that are trying like hell to still make same-sex marriages a difficult task to obtain in many parts of the country.

So, let’s look at the evidence presented: This administration, as well as many local officials, are telling the country that queer people do not matter. As Ellen Page said, “If you are in a position of power, and you hate people… what do you think is going to happen? Kids are going to be abused, and they’re going to kill themselves, and people are going to be beaten on the street.” That is what will happen. I have met so many smiling queers and trans people with scars both on their wrists from attempting to take their lives but also the scars of being thrown out of their homes for being who they are. I have tried once before to take my own life because of my gender and sexual identity. This abuse of power needs to end.

2020: The (de-)evolution of politics

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

Election day, November 3, 2020, is not that far away. Like a typical presidential election, a slew of candidates have announced their candidacy for the Oval Office already. But this is not a typical presidential election. This is the election after THAT election– after what happened in 2016.

The midterm elections last year were eerily typical (in terms of what politics has been like the past few years) and there were no races as extreme as the Trump vs. Clinton showdown. Now, 2020 is creeping up on us and we should know what to expect. But it seems like the Democrats have not gotten that message yet.

Trump won the 2016 election in part by appealing to those who don’t like politics and don’t normally vote. And although it’s very early in the election season to judge how candidates are performing, it’s important to keep in mind the idea that politics has changed.

Though some of the Democrats that have announced their candidacy are not unknown politicians, they are still politicians. None stand out from the crowd. That’s not to say that these politicians aren’t highly-qualified, eloquent and intelligent people. Clinton was all of those things and she isn’t the president. But she, apparently, represented what America doesn’t want (not entirely, though, since she won the popular vote).

Trump has been holding non-stop rallies and has essentially been campaigning since day one. Whether you like the President or not, he has revolutionized running for political office. He defied every “rule” for running a campaign and still won. As a result, his “base” is untouchable– if they haven’t been appalled by his blatant disrespect for the office, they’re not going to ever be appalled.

So the Democrats running have all of these new “rules” of campaigning to keep in mind, but it seems as if they’re all running with the old “rules.” In the following months, something revolutionary needs to happen for these politicians to capture the hearts of Americans — or at least the ones that aren’t Trump fans.

No more millionaires for 2020

Alison Macbeth – Assistant Opinions Editor

With the former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, hinting at a presidential campaign, Americans are left wondering if our open campaigns are a joke. First, it was Donald Trump who was followed by an influx of millionaires in the executive branch. Then Kanye West’s presidential proclamations. Then the CEO of Disney, Robert Igner, hinted at the political race. Now it’s Howard Schultz. Is it just me or have the millionaires decided to come out of the woodwork and are now racing to become president?

Historically speaking, the forefathers didn’t want the United States to be ruled by the elite, but they were also fearful of an ignorant majority that would hinder the country’s success. So they favored the wealthy and many of the forefathers were elites themselves. Today we see a correlation. Many members of Congress and presidential campaigners have also come from wealth. Howard Schultz is just another example.

Schultz has run a successful global company, but this does not mean that he is qualified to be a president. Trump used the same qualifications to run for presidency. Ultimately, this capitalistic mindset won the vote. Is Schultz just another millionaire with more liberal values? Schultz has more progressive ideas which would appeal to liberal voters. Maybe they would include corporate tax breaks on tea and coffee. Maybe Starbucks will be the official drink of the U.S.

But here is the bottom line – just because you have a lot of money does not mean that you are qualified to run a country. Our democracy, since its inception, has been jeopardized by ruling elites.  I believe it is time that more Americans exercise their democratic freedom, retain active citizenship and rise as political leaders.

We don’t need Trump towers or Starbucks to run our country. We the people dumped tea (and maybe some coffee) into the harbor as a declaration of freedom. We must resist the rule of the bourgeoisie and look for something better in 2020.

Prejudice in the Harry Potter series

Alexis Rapoza – Anchor Contributor

With 7 books, 8 movies (10 if you include “Fantastic Beasts”) and a theme park, it’s hard to imagine a series with more cultural impact than Harry Potter.

J.K. Rowling has created a completely immersive world with characters that people have fallen in love with over the past two decades. As with any fantasy world, there are different social and cultural norms that we learn about as we read and watch the movies. However, one of the underlying themes in Harry Potter is something that relates to the very real society we know.

Graphic courtesy of Pottermore

Prejudice is something that is very prevalent in the Harry Potter series and it’s something we learn very early into the books. In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” we learn that 11 year olds are sorted into four houses, all revolving around different personality traits. If you’re smart then you’re in Ravenclaw, the loyal are sorted into Hufflepuff, the brave into Gryffindor and the cunning (more often portrayed as evil) go into Slytherin. It honestly seems extremely problematic that at 11 years old you’re separated from your peers based on nothing except what a century old hat thinks your best personality trait is.

As Rubeus Hagrid stated, “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin.” Throughout the series, those in Slytherin are often displayed as inherently evil, which we know to be untrue. However, Harry and his friends seem almost entirely convinced. It’s not fair to generalize an entire group based on a select few people who went bad. When discussing the different houses, people often tend to forget the fact that there were indeed wizards and witches who weren’t in Slytherin that did go bad. For example, Peter Pettigrew and Professor Quirrell who were in Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.

When we have preset beliefs on people based on where they come from we often chose to ignore anything that contests those beliefs. This is also represented by the wizarding world’s prejudice towards those from non pure-blood families or different races. Remus Lupin was shunned his entire life because he was bitten by a werewolf as a child. Although he is a kind and loving man and professor he has trouble finding work because of his werewolf status. Andromeda Tonks is removed from her family for marrying a muggleborn. Draco Malfoy uses slurs such as mud-blood in order to express his superiority over those of lower blood status, and the Slytherin Quidditch team seems to refuse to allow girls to join.

Reading these books as an adult has opened my eyes to what I believe is J.K. Rowling’s commentary on race relations and other modern issues in today’s society. Racism, misogyny and ableism are all issues we deal with in our reality. I think it’s a really great idea to use fantasy to portray bigger issues in our world and help people think about things with an open mind.