Not the time for a selfie

Lauren Enos-Assistant Opinions Editor

There are times and places when taking selfies is appropriate and there are times when it is not. Taking pictures of yourself at sites where mass genocide or suffering has occurred is one of those times when it is not. No matter the expression on your face, the message you are sending is one of vanity and disrespect.

By taking a picture of yourself at a place like a concentration camp, you’re putting yourself at the forefront of something that is much bigger than you. Millions of people suffered and died where you’re standing, and the most important thing to capture in that moment is a picture of yourself?

In my opinion, taking any photographs in places like concentration camps or memorials is just bad taste. You can find pictures and videos of pretty much any memorial through official websites, educational films and documentaries, and books. That right there gets rid of the need to take pictures and videos – they exist already.

Perhaps it difficult for people to grasp the magnitude of the situation. It could be that it took place too long ago for them to relate, or they don’t really have a concept of the heinous acts that took place there, or they’re just ignorant. Hearing, imagining, and reading about brutality is much different from witnessing it firsthand. This is all the more reason to ban pictures and videos, and force visitors to experience it in its entirety.

When you visit one of these sites, the only thing you should be focusing on is reflection. Experience it in the moment. Don’t put a screen in between you and the momentous journey you are taking part in. You’re walking a path that millions have walked before you, except many weren’t so lucky as to leave alive. Be respectful to those who are forever scarred by the events that transpired there, and for those that never made it out alive.

Oprah 2020? Can we not?

Britt Donahue-Asst. A&L Editor

During the 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah made an inspiring acceptance speech upon winning the Cecil B. Demille award, prompting many people to call for a presidential run in 2020. Now, the internet loves a good ironic candidate so I’m hoping no one is actually taking this seriously, but just in case let’s talk about why Oprah would make a terrible president.

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

Let’s start by acknowledging that we are all desperate for a decent, articulate human being to hold the office, so our standards have lowered significantly. But this is no reason to replace one un-qualified billionaire with another. Oprah may seem nice and smart, possessing qualities that many politicians lack, but her record of embracing and promoting nonsense really needs to be considered. On her television show, Oprah frequently invited guests that were anti-science and actively harmful to the community. Her buddy Dr. Oz, who was given his own show in 2009, was brought before a congressional committee in 2014 to testify over the efficacy (or lack thereof) of some of the supplements he promoted. In 2007, Oprah invited Jenny McCarthy on her show to discuss her idea that the MMR vaccine caused autism. McCarthy’s anti-vaccine crusade has had devastating effects. It has convinced many worried parents to forego vaccinations altogether, leading to measles outbreaks around the country. She also gave a platform to author Rhonda Byrne, whose book “The Secret” claims that positive thinking leads to tangible results. According to Byrne, if you want to be rich you just have to wish for it hard enough and the universe will provide. Or you could just write a book about “vibrations” and “energy fields” and “magnetism” and wait for the money to pour in. We cannot have a president who takes people like this seriously.

I have always been eager for a female president. The U.S needs one, it’s absurd that in the year 2018 we have never elected a woman to our highest office. But we can’t just settle for any woman. I don’t know who the first female president will be, but I hope we stop looking at our televisions to find her.

Can “Time’s Up” tie down systematic issues?

Mary Ellen Fernandez-Anchor staff

2017 was a tough year for Hollywood with several cases of sexual assault, harassment and abuse of power making front-page headlines. It all began when news broke that Harvey Weinstein had allegedly made sexual advances and unsolicited sexual offers towards several women in Hollywood––after that came the storm. Hundreds of women in the industry began sharing their stories about the reprehensible abuse of power from mostly men (but not just men) within the industry. As a result, many males within the TV and film industry are now without a job (and rightfully so).

Photo courtesy of thedailybeast.com

The movement has now shifted from “Me Too” to “Time’s Up,” in order to move towards preventative actions, safeguarding those who are most vulnerable in these male-dominated industries. However, is a hashtag and a color scheme at an awards event all it will take to put an end to the systematic oppression that has so blatantly created destructive and unsafe environments for so many?

The answer is no. Although this may seem like news now, it has been a storyline for as long as the world has spun. In a world that continuously takes advantage of women, it seems impossible that this issue went on so long without being addressed much. However, the tide is shifting and women are now finding a voice that they once never dreamed of having. However, although these movements positively encourage coming forth in the face of these issues, it does little to combat the prolonged issue of accountability.

Many of the accused have issued statements of apologies, resigned from their positions, were terminated at their jobs or are even entering rehabilitation for alleged sex addiction. However, these statements of admittance play a miniscule role in accountability. Little remorse is seen coming from their ends, and the fact of the matter is, within 5 years they might be hired elsewhere and this issue will blow over.

Movements such as are reminiscent of the Kony 2012 movement, in which a topic is presented with celebrity backing and millions of dollars donated. And then it disappears. It is as if these issues are mere entertainment for the general public rather than a serious issue that needs to be discussed––not turned into a hashtag or talked about on 60 Minutes. This issue is one for government policy, to be further discussed as an open conversation. People want to be heard, not talked at, and in times like these it is important for everyone to understand the issues at hand and be prepared to take action steps to prevent them.

While I find the movement to be uplifting and positive, it also feels fleeting. Like so many before it, it will pass, and the issues will remain. It is important, that in the face of adversity, we strive to take the less traveled and more difficult road to combat these problems and eliminate them completely.

T.F Green Airport: Don’t change the name

Catherine Enos-Opinions editor

In the past few years, there have been some futile attempts at “rebranding” in Rhode Island. Two years ago, there was the confusing and expensive “Cooler and Warmer” campaign that was intended to bring in tourists. Last year, there was a campaign to change the name of Federal Hill in Providence to “Little Italy”. Both were not successful, nor were they well-received. The next target of this seemingly annual “rebranding” effort  is T. F. Green Airport.

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation has been discussing changing the name to something else, like Rhode Island International Airport, to highlight the fact that international flights are now offered there.

The name change could be easily done without taking “T. F. Green” out of the name: T. F. Green International Airport, for example. But “T. F. Green International” wasn’t one of the options the RI Airport Corporation was looking at. But taking Green’s name off of the airport would be a mistake.

Theodore Francis Green was governor of Rhode Island for one term in the 1930s. He taught at Brown University and served as a senator for 24 years. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest person serving Congress at 93 years old (bioguide.congress.gov). His family had been serving Rhode Island since before the Constitution was adopted: his great-great grandfather, Jonathan Arnold, was a surgeon during the Revolution in Providence and served in the Continental Congress. If there’s one family that embodies Rhode Island history, it’s Green’s family.

History is obviously not told by statues, landmarks, or airport names. But this is how we honor people that we think are important. Renaming Green Airport to “Rhode Island International Airport” tells us that it’s not really important to remember T.F. Green.

Even though Rhode Island is the smallest state, we have an illustrious history. It’s important that we retain (some of) our sense of pride that we have in the state. We may not all agree that Rhode Island is great or agree about what is going on in the state but most people would agree that we have an interesting history, and that deserves to be recognized. And for that reason, T. F. Green should stay T. F. Green.

Trophy hunting is a horrible hobby

Lauren Enos-Assistant Opinions Editor

I can’t imagine being so bored and so selfish that I would decide to go out and kill animals for fun. Taking the life of animals as a hobby has never made sense to me. It’s one thing if you use every part of the animal to help you or your family survive, but for most people in modern society, that’s not the case.

Trophy hunters kill animals simply for the prestige of being able to say that they killed them. Which, honestly, isn’t much of an accomplishment if you think about it. There isn’t much that is noble about sneaking up on a defenseless animal and shooting it with a gun. If the tables were turned, it wouldn’t be considered an accomplishment – it would just be natural selection.

This is increasingly becoming more of a problem as we face endangerment and extinction of many animal species due to the effects of global warming and habitat destruction. By killing one elephant, that negatively affects the entire population because there are only thousands left. An average of one hundred elephants are killed every day (The Wall Street Journal). With the population dwindling, facing possible extinction, some person decides they want to kill one so they can say they’ve killed an elephant. Not only is this incredibly selfish, it’s irresponsible and immoral. The animals that trophy hunters have hanging on their walls are a display of how ignorant and selfish they truly are.

Supporters of trophy hunting often use the asinine argument that hunting these animals raises money and awareness and, in turn, ends up doing more good for them than harm. But when the remaining population is so small that taking one out of the gene pool seriously affects the continuance of the species, that argument is invalid. But I guess I shouldn’t expect them to know anything about ecology.

Recent legislation has been tossed around regarding trophy hunting and what hunters are allowed to bring into the United States from their trip. With Donald Trump being personally invested in this due to his sons being trophy hunters, these laws could very well pass. This would only further encourage trophy hunters. Be sure to call and let your legislators know that you do not support the extinction of animals!

The harm in celebrities’ efforts to help

Mary Ellen Fernandez-Anchor staff

Social media has become a huge outlet for celebrities this past year, with many raising awareness about issues they find important. In a perfect world, this would be extremely helpful and engaging, and in most cases it is.

However, there are many times that celebrities carelessly and halfheartedly repost information without any clear and concise validity. I get it, celebs are trying to put their best foot forward in using their platforms to bring awareness to issues, but does their attempt count when the things they are talking about are not all completely true?

For example, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna recently spoke up on social media about a case involving a woman, Cyntoia Brown, who is being charged with the murder of a man that had been allegedly sex trafficking her. You hear this and think, “wow, that is insane and horrible.”

The next step I took in understanding this issue is not reposting it on Instagram and sharing it on social media, but rather looking for more reliable information that gives an in-depth explanation of the court case. After scrolling through eight pages of Google results, I found an actual court document that gave the case details.

The first eight pages of Google were about, you guessed it, how Kim Kardashian and Rihanna were backing the case. This is ridiculous. In efforts to draw attention to the young women, they have only drawn attention to themselves. What exactly is a “re-post” on Instagram actually doing for her? Did these celebrities even read into her case?

When using their platforms for things, celebrities carelessly post information that is sometimes biased or not quite valid. They hear of something horrible and think, “Oh, let me help!” They assume that by posting something on social media, they are being useful, when in reality they are misinforming the general public. The usage of your platform is only useful if you actually care about the issues by taking the necessary steps to research the topic, and draw educated conclusions before sharing to your audience.

I don’t think celebrities use their social power effectively by mindlessly posting things without even knowing the totality of the issues. Our society has become more and more apt to believing information they see on FaceBook and Instagram, and instead of researching this information, they assume it as fact.

Celebrities are aiding this potentially harmful issue by continuously posting things they simply don’t know much about.

Cool off on political debates

Catherine Enos –Opinions Editor

This last year has been tough for anyone that knows something about or has been paying attention politics. And as someone who studies political science, it has been even harder. When someone makes a comment about politics, and it goes against your beliefs, it’s really hard not to say something back. But maybe it’s time to practice restraint and pick your battles.

I’m not a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, but I definitely did not support Donald Trump at any point in the election. When the election ended, I couldn’t stop myself from saying what I thought – and maybe that was the right thing to do at the time. People should know who you are and what you stand for (and what you won’t stand for).

After a while, going back and forth on social media over political arguments got to be exhausting. So I did a couple things. I took a break from social media. When I returned, I tried to stay away from politics. I still do share certain political posts (after all, I do find politics really interesting) but not nearly as much as I used to, and nothing I believe will start a debate.

I stopped getting all of my news from social media, which tends to be more partisan (you only follow accounts/people you like, so the news might be biased). I started listening to Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) and National Public Radio (NPR), which are non-partisan sources of news and usually broadcast the most important things going on. I also started reading more newspapers, which also tend to be less partisan than cable network news. I still get some breaking news on Twitter, but I try to stay more informed.

And (probably the most important and most difficult part of this process for me) I tried to truly understand what other people are thinking. In such a divisive time, you don’t want to think about what other people are thinking. It’s much easier and takes much less effort to write off the other side as “evil” and not listen to anything they say.

I’m not saying that you have to understand and accept every opinion that someone else has – personally, I think these past 2 years have unleashed some pretty heinous people with detestable opinions. But instead of trying to understand others with extreme opinions, start by trying to understand people that voted opposite of you and instead of attacking them for these decisions, think about why they were thinking as they did.

Most of us, whether we voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or some other third party, want America to succeed. In previous elections, it was easier for us to see that. Unfortunately, politics has become more confronting and vicious. Hopefully, we can eventually show each other that we do care about the country and stop hating each other.

Ted Cruz’s porn tweet mishap and why public figures should not use social media

Catherine Enos-Opinions Editor

In mid September, the Twitter account of Senator Ted Cruz (R) inadvertently “liked” a pornographic video. Since the incident, the conservative senator has claimed that the tweet had been accidentally liked by a staffer, emphasizing that it wasn’t him.

Photo courtesy of wordpress.com

Cruz has expressed that he believes this controversy is absurd because “there [is] something about the [political] left,” his opponents, “that is obsessed with sex.” However, much of the “controversy” was centered around the fact that Ted Cruz has supported policies that police what people do in their private lives— he defended a sex toy ban in Texas and has been an opponent for marriage equality.

Anyone that has kept up with current events knows that this is most definitely not an isolated incident in which Twitter has caused controversy for politicians. A few years ago, Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner of New York tweeted lewd pictures of himself that were obviously not intended for his Twitter feed. Though this was not the first controversy for Rep. Weiner, the tweet didn’t help his image.

Certainly the most relevant example of the abuse of social media is President Donald Trump. Though there are many instances of Trump abusing Twitter, his most recent offense involved him retweeting a GIF that has been edited to depict him driving a golf ball that hits Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s previously tweeted “statements” have certainly come back to haunt him. Though many politicians are definitely guilty of flip-flopping on political views, they generally can provide reasoning for how their view has changed. Donald Trump, however, has never acknowledged nor defended his contradicting statements and they’re there for anyone to see.

One of his tweets talks about “made up lies” that the media has created about him, while another tweet explains how “an extremely credible source” informed him that President Obama’s birth certificate is phony. He even tweeted about how “Sexual pervert Rep. Weiner has zero business holding public office,” which some may consider ironic coming from Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault several times and was involved in a hot-mic scandal that was brought forth to the public’s attention during the election.

The history of Twitter “controversy” quite obviously demonstrates two things. This is not a partisan issue, since it very clearly affects both Republicans and Democrats. And it demonstrates that these public figures would probably be better off if they were not on Twitter.

These Twitter dramas create more controversy, and they reflect poorly on these public figures, as well as America. If these politicians decide that they absolutely need Twitter to connect to their constituents, then they should listen to what parents and educators tell their children (who sometimes seem more capable of following this advice than public figures): everything and anything you do on the internet is there forever and anyone can see it, so think about your actions before you make a decision.

Meal plans at Rhode Island College

Derek Sherlock-Staff writer

Over this summer, I debated on whether I should apply for student housing for this academic year or for the next academic year. What interested me during my search were the meal plans. I learned that students living on campus are offered four meal plan options: One plan includes 19 meals a week, another includes 14 meals a week, followed a plan with 12 meals, and finally, a meal plan with 10 meals within a week.

Photo courtesy of news.gatch.edu

While it is great that Rhode Island College gives incoming freshmen and those who live on campus the opportunity to select a meal plan, they all cost the same amount, which is puzzling. While you might not use the 19 meals a week, it makes more sense to select the larger plan since there’s no difference in cost.

I personally feel that if you are going to give students a choice in how much food they want, the amount of food should be proportionate to what it costs for students. Having one single price for all the meal plans may be economically helpful to RIC, but at the other local colleges close to RIC such as Brown, Providence College, and even the University of Rhode Island, they offer varying prices to their meal plans.

The fewer meals a week that you choose to get should cost less and vice versa. While I am aware that the meal plan prices are a part of the cost of living on campus, there should still be a difference in the meal plans. Students may want to opt for a lower priced plan to cut the cost of living on campus.

The cost of meal plans should reflect what those meal plans include. Meal plans are great for preparing young students for the realities of living on their own in a few years. It should be the first steps towards adulthood for students and teach them the importance of budgeting and being responsible.

Let oppressed voices be heard

Mary Ellen Fernandez-Staff writer

Defining oppression as a concept is fairly simple. Anyone can read its entry in the dictionary and come away with a rudimentary understanding of the term. Defining the experience of oppression is, however, a different animal. Many people who have not themselves experienced the oppression of being black, a minority, a woman or being of a low socioeconomic status seem to have an awful lot to say about the subject.

The experiences of those who are directly impacted by oppression are entirely unique to the individual. People who have not experienced this cannot speak to these issues as if they have.

Photo courtesy of commondreams.org

The experiences of oppression different people face is not some interchangeable thing. The oppression a women may face is an experience completely distinct from that which a person of color may deal with. It is important that those who stand against oppression understand that this involves not reducing disparate people’s stories of oppression into too limited a box. We should understand that the actual experience of oppression does not have a singular definition.

I hear a lot of people speaking on the concept of oppression who have, in actuality, never experienced it for themselves. In the fight against these extremely negative and detrimental occurrences, it is essential that people understand that they should not speak for those who are oppressed, as that is a form of the exact thing which they are speaking out against.

Those who feel the need to talk out about what they deem to be right and wrong in regards to oppression should take a minute to listen to those who are actually experiencing this type of trauma in their life. Ironically, those who try to understand this oppression end up adding to its continuance by speaking for those who are impacted by it. Those who want to stop oppression and understand it should not speak as if they have experience, but rather give the microphone to those who have experienced it first-hand, so that they may be allowed to tell their stories.