On the arbitrary standard of four-year graduation – Shane Inman

So you’ve looked through all the loopholes you could find, endured a half-dozen bouts of rescheduling and the classes still aren’t adding up: you aren’t going to graduate in four years. That’s okay though.

In the face of the new performance-based funding bill, where Rhode Island school’s finances are based on factors such as a timely graduation, the focus on RIC’s low four-year graduation rate has become the focus of even more scrutiny. It’s easy to slip into the mindset that graduating in anything more than four years is somehow inferior to the more traditional method. The fact of the matter is this simply isn’t true. Whether you’re a non-traditional student working through college and taking classes part-time, decided to switch majors late in the game, or just ended up taking too many of the wrong classes every path to a degree is equally valid.

Ultimately, the traditional four years taken to acquire a degree is arbitrary, a span of time chosen on the basis of rough estimates regarding what constitutes a manageable workload and how much work must ultimately be completed before a degree can be awarded. To get a sense of how unreliable the four-year estimate really is just think about courses you’ve taken in the past and the wildly different time commitments required for ostensibly equal level classes in different fields of study. Even without taking extracurricular responsibilities into account different degrees demand different amounts of time and attention so how does it make any sense that there should be a single predetermined timespan in which every degree is to be obtained? Education is much more fluid than our regimented society would like to believe and thus it is perfectly natural for the time spent in an institution of higher education to vary from person to person.

At times, there may also arise the perception that someone who takes longer than four years to get their degree is simply not trying hard enough. In reality, this is almost never the case. Of the “super-seniors” I have known just about every single one has been remarkably accomplished and driven, staying in school longer than others not because they are lazy but because their life necessitates attention to other pursuits. There is no basis on which to judge someone who can only afford two classes per semester because they are paying their own way through school and so there is no reason to be ashamed if you also find yourself in a position of staying longer than you would like or had intended.

At the end of the day, how long you stay in college is a product of your goals and circumstances, and no one else should be able to impose their irrelevant ideals on your educational path. Since you’re reading this paper, chances are you’ll be here or have already been here, for longer than four years and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We all have our own struggles to face and we all carve our own channels through life; don’t let anybody ever tell you different.

Kids? No thank you – Kristy O’Connor

In the society that we live in, we are free to express ourselves and make our own decisions. For this reason, it is completely baffling that women are shamed for not wanting to have children. If you are born with a uterus, you are told it is your sole duty to reproduce. What if having children is not on your radar? What if you made the decision to not have children? According to our society, that decision not to have children gives everyone the right to ridicule you and make you feel bad.

The concept that women need to have children is an archaic and misogynistic value, as men are not shamed if they do not want to have children. Women are told that they will change their mind someday, and that they need children in order to be fulfilled. First of all, if someone makes a decision, they should not be told that they will change their mind; nobody has the right to tell you what you should do with your body. I used to want children, and as I grew older and matured, I realized that that was not something I deemed necessary anymore. If anything, growing older will only make me want kids less.

Some women who want to bear children are met with the heartbreaking news that it is simply not possible. Imagine eagerly awaiting your fertility appointment, just to have the ground ripped from under you as you realize that you will never be able to carry children. That is already emotionally tolling in and of itself, but then having someone tell you that you need to have children to be fulfilled can be horrific. You never know what someone is going through, and you have no idea the reasoning behind their choice nor should you need one. You should simply keep your opinions to yourself, because that subject does not concern you.

Some people make the incredibly tough decision to not have children because they do not want to pass on their preexisting medical conditions. This a selfless and brave decision, because it shows that they would not want to decrease their potential child’s quality of life simply because of societal pressures. Some people go through genetic counseling only to find that they are the carrier for a rare genetic disorder. Other women are plagued with anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses and would not want to put a child through that.

What are you even fighting for when you shame someone for not wanting kids? Overpopulation? Kids born to a mother who cannot take care of them? Kids growing up with detached parents? Kids growing up with parents who regret having them? Why would you want someone to be a parent when they do not have the energy, resources, time or the right mindset?

Although there are a number of reasons why women may not want to have children, they truly do not need a reason. They do not need to justify their decision, and they do not need to explain themselves. It is their body. It is not you who would conceive the child, carry it for nine months, and then raise it for eighteen years. Unless it is your body, your reproductive system, and your life, keep your opinion about child rearing to yourself.

In defense of political correctness – Mary Ellen Fernandez

The current  state of our nation has caused an upheaval of protests, anger and unrest. Our great country has failed to keep its promise of social and political civility, and the American people are fed up. The intolerance and hatred that has engulfed the country is not what one would call great, and among these oppressors are people who lack respect for others.

The term “political correctness” always brings about eye rolls and arguments, however, that is not what the intention behind the words is. The phrase itself comes from the idea of offending an individual or a group of people, and that, to counteract this problem,  you must think before you speak. Certain words that were used merely 30 years ago in everyday life are no longer considered appropriate. Behind every word, there is a significance and a message which may not mean much to you, but can mean a lot to another person.

The professional football team the Washington Redskins are an example of how words can have contrasting meanings among different people. Although you may hear their name and think of Sunday nights watching your favorite team, that’s not the true origin of the words. The indigenous people of America were formerly recognized as “redskins” during the time of our ancestors coming to America. The term, though ambiguous in its direct origin, was used to describe Native Americans in a negative and disparaging way. The connotation thereof is crude, disgusting and hurtful. If our country believed in respecting other cultures and their history, then a sports team would not bear a clearly derogatory name.

Being politically correct goes beyond the definition of avoiding offensiveness and delves deeper into the idea of respect. Respecting the people and cultures that make up this land, and not just blaming people for being too sensitive is an imperative part of society. It is important that we unite as a country and respect each other as humans. The phrase “political correctness” shouldn’t overshadow the concepts it stands for, but rather allow us to use our words to encourage one another and put an end to hate and intolerance.

Many people believe that political correctness is the cause of closed-minded attitudes towards others’ opinions. Everyone wants to be heard, but nobody wants to listen. Although people have many things to say, that doesn’t mean that everything they share is true. People who disagree with the idea of political correctness expect the same amount of respect that they refuse to give to others. So next time you feel that you are about to say something not politically correct, you may want to take the time to try and understand why you would want to use your words to insult another person or culture.

 

Fat people are funny too: the Chris Farley effect – Angelina Denomme

Back in the day, Chris Farley ruled the comedy world, taking over SNL at night and appearing in cult classics like “Coneheads” and “Wayne’s World” in theaters. As kids, my older brother and I were only found laughing together when watching Farley jump around with a fake sword on our worn VHS copy of “Beverly Hills Ninja.” Farley’s comedic style wasn’t complex or innovative, but it created a massive fanbase for him in just a short period of time. In his 2009 biography “The Chris Farley Show,” Farley even gave a name to his amusing physical style of comedy: “fatty falls down.”

Farley spent his career being physically and comedically larger than life until he eventually died of an overdose at the age of 33, after a continued effort to seek help for his obesity and drug addiction. Even without experiencing Farley’s movies or sketches, it’s impossible to know the tragedy of his life and not look at contemporary stars who are type-cast similarly with a feeling of dread for what their future may hold.

Actors like Jonah Hill or Melissa McCarthy are known for their prowess in the physical comedy sphere, but the second they begin to shed pounds, the blogs start buzzing about whether they’ll still be funny when they’re fit. Would “Superbad” really have raked in the laughs if Jonah Hill wasn’t so obviously the fat contrast to Michael Cera’s own lanky body? How will Melissa McCarthy ever star in a box office smash if she’s not a size 24 when she tries to hop the counter of the fast food joint she’s robbing? These are truly questions that the internet asks when a fat comedian begins to change their body.

Put aside all of the body shaming rhetoric and think about the Farleys of the world this way: are you truly laughing with them or are you just laughing at them? There’s this magnificently fine line between laughing at a comedian’s work and laughing at a comedian’s body. This idea of a physical comedian only being worth their salt if they’re tipping the scales not only reinforces ideas that fat bodies should be laughed at implicitly but encourages comedians to take on dangerous lifestyle choices because it’s what the fans want.

Being a fan of Hollywood media comes with the responsibility of consuming that media ethically as you would with any other physical good. In this scenario a joke takes the place of the consumed good and the currency used is laughter. By not paying for a poorly constructed joke with laughs individuals have the ability to shape the way the media portrays society. This may seem excessive but in the grand scheme of Farley’s life, maybe the world should have laughed harder at his punchlines than at his gut.

In comedy and in life, laughs have the ability to build people up or tear them down. As fans, it is imperative that we build up the people that we love to see on screen instead of perpetuating the idea that a comedian’s ability to be funny and perform their craft is directly tied to their appearance in a way that is not only converse to societal standards but detrimental to their health.

An end to political correctness – Ryan Foley

The First Amendment to the Constitution was one of the greatest gifts our Founding Fathers gave to us as citizens. It allowed us to speak our mind freely without fear of persecution. However, if you look around the country, the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment is slowly being stripped away and replaced with a new doctrine known as political correctness, which is basically free speech with an asterisk.

Nowhere is this clearer than at colleges and universities. In recent years, there has been the creation of safe spaces. Safe spaces are places set up at institutions of higher learning where everyone is supposed to feel respected. While the intention of safe spaces may have been noble, what actually happened was safe spaces were turned into zones where people could escape having to listen to anything that might not be politically correct.  

And then there are microagressions, which are actions that you are no longer allowed to take for fear that they might offend somebody. It is an embarrassment to the taxpayer that the University of North Carolina is holding a microagression forum. Examples of microagressions at UNC include the phrase “Christmas Vacation” and the extension of an invitation to play golf, an activity which assumes people have the financial resources to play a fairly inaccessible game. Perhaps the people who come up with microagressions should spend more time studying and less time trying to censor people’s vocabulary. In fact, the political correctness epidemic has gotten so bad that comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock no longer want to perform at America’s institutions of higher education.

There are some universities that have been brave enough to swim against the cultural tide. The University of Chicago released a letter to its incoming freshmen class saying, in part, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings’, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’, where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

At a recent commencement speech, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg told the students of the University of Michigan that “one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space, because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views. In a democratic society, an open mind is the most valuable asset you can possess.” Bloomberg also went after the idea of microagressions, saying “a microagression is just that: micro.”

As millennials frequently self-describe themselves as tolerant and open-minded, they should have no trouble accepting viewpoints that might be slightly different than their own. Remember, if you can’t handle microagressions, there’s no way that you are going to be able to handle the macroagressions that may be thrown at you when you graduate college.  

This is not a drill – Louisa D’Ovidio

Rhode Island College has not had a fire drill in a classroom building in over ten years, the Chief of campus police, Frederick Ghio, informed the community last Thursday in an email blast.

Students on campus have expressed both concern and anger once informed of this oversight.

“As a student who lived on campus and now commutes, I think it’s incredibly irresponsible of campus police to overlook something that is supposedly code. Furthermore, I find that if I compare parking enforcement and something like emphasis on campus safety, emphasis of parking violations is very unequal,” said Rhode Island College senior Nathaniel Banks, “we have more to worry about than parking. It doesn’t surprise me that campus police has also let safety from building code standpoint fall by the wayside.”

In the resident halls, fire drills are conducted yearly with direction from trained RAs.

“That’s surprising. I never knew that,” said freshman Michelle McPherson upon learning about the lax safety precautions, she spoke on the fire drills recently conducted in her residential dorm, “-I’m surprised they didn’t do that for all buildings”

“That’s gonna have to change,” said freshman Lexington Forbes, echoing the sentiments of campus police, “It’s endangering our safety.”

Campus police and the college’s apparent “fire technician” will be conducting a fire drill Tuesday Sept. 20 in Alger hall, staff, students and faculty will need to evacuate to ‘the field behind C lot,’ the open parking lot between Alger, Whipple & the tennis courts.

 

Student government discusses how to combat racism – Taylor Dame

Dr. Scott Kane, the administration’s representative to Student Parliament, updated the body on another incident in which a hateful message towards a certain religion was found graffitied in a bathroom, this time in Whipple.  

Similar messages have been found by the college in Craig-Lee, the Student Union and the Donovan Dining Center since last semester.

Kane also reported on an incident in the residence halls. A racial slur was found on one of the whiteboards residents hang on their doors.

Kane spoke about the culture at the school and how the Rhode Island College community is not immune to what is going on in the outside world. He also said that Student Community Government should be leading on this issue.

Representatives brainstormed a few rough ideas on how to respond to these incidents. Some ideas thrown around were spending money on a speaker that students would recognize to address the college on the topic and having a forum for students to discuss how these incidents impact them. Members were also interested in having a member of the Unity Center come to a parliament meeting to discuss what to do.

Also announced was the President/Treasurer meeting on Wednesday the 21st at 12:30 in the Student Union Ballroom. This meeting is mandatory for the presidents and treasurers of clubs so that they can get access to their funding. Those who are unable to make it should contact Treasurer Tom Lima to schedule an appointment to meet.

Those interested in joining Student Parliament should visit the SCG office on the fourth floor of the Student Union. The next meeting of parliament is on Wednesday the 21st at 7:15 in SU room 307. Meetings are open to the public and include an open forum in which students can speak to the body about any concerns or comments they have.

Neon newswire – Taylor Dame

Local ranking state trooper to retire

Lt. Col. Todd Catlow gave his notice that he would be retiring, and that his last day would be Sept. 16. Catlow was the second in command for the Rhode Island State Police. Catlow has served in the State Police for 24 years.

Catlow’s retirement announcement comes less than a week after the leader of the State Police, Colonel Steven O’Donnell, announced that he too was retiring.

Governor Gina Raimondo has said that Lt. Col. Kevin Barry will serve as the acting superintendent of the State Police until a replacement is hired.

 

Treasurer of a charity sentenced for stealing money

Robert Lonardo, of Burrillville, was sentenced at the federal court in Providence to six months in prison and two years of probation. The 67-year-old plead guilty to one count of wire fraud in June of this year. According to the US Attorney, Lonardo stole almost $186,000 from a children’s charity that served as treasurer.

The Rhode Island Association for Cardiac Children was founded by Lonardo’s mother. Upon her passing, he began withdrawing money from the charity’s bank account for his own personal use. Prosecutors say that this went on for almost a year and a half.

   The charity’s mission was to raise funds for hospital equipment, children’s cardiac treatment and research.

National Trump campaign backs off birther movement

The Trump campaign announced that Donald Trump no longer believes that President Obama was born outside of the United States. Trump has long been one of the loudest and most prominent figures in the birther movement, a group which believes that Obama was not born in the United States, and thus not eligible to be President.

Trump acknowledged Friday that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”

The birther movement was what provided Trump with his entry into the Republican Party and conservative politics. Campaign spokesperson Jason Miller said that “In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate,”

Miller went on to say that “Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised,” Clinton has said that Trump owes Obama and the American people an apology for his role in the movement. She called Trump out for his failure to deny the birther theory for as long as he did. “He was asked one more time where was President Obama born and he still wouldn’t say Hawaii. He still wouldn’t say America.” She also said that Trump is feeding into the “worst impulses, the bigotry and bias” of certain people.

 

Third party candidates denied debate slots

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday that Libertarian Party candidate and former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Dr Jill Stein did not meet all of the criteria necessary to participate in the first debate.

The third party vice-presidential candidates also failed to qualify for the October 8th vice-presidential debates.

To be included in a debate a candidate has to be polling at 15% or higher in several national polls. The commission says that Johnson is polling at 8.4% and Stein is at 3.2%.

This means that the only participants in the first debate on Sept. 26 will be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, who poll at 43% and 40.4% respectively.

Johnson says that he wasn’t surprised that he was left out of the debates and that he plans to be included in the next two.

Green party included on RI ballot – Louisa D’Ovidio

The Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, have officially made it on the ballot in Rhode Island and will be visiting Rhode Island College’s campus on Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. in Sapinsley Hall.

“We invite you to come hear Dr. Stein’s program for people, peace and planet,” says Glen Bennett, Rhode Island’s Stein campaign coordinator.

In RI Stein is polling at seven percent, behind the Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson who has 15 percent of the vote in RI, according to the Washington Post.

Steins platform includes a climate friendly energy plan, a $15 minimum wage economics plan, debt-free higher education and single-payer healthcare acts and a criminal justice and police reform.

The Stein campaign has 12 collegiette ‘young green chapters’ on campuses across the US, as testament to her grassroots campaigning style. These chapters are started, built and run by college students.  

For more information on the event visit RIGreens.org.

Incumbents down – Derrik Trombley

Primary Day, Sept. 13, 2016, will forever go down in Rhode Island history as “Progressive Tuesday,” due to the overwhelming and unexpected crushing of the General Assembly incumbents by upstart progressive candidates. Of the eighteen incumbents looking to return to the state house, six were knocked off, including the House Majority Leader John Desimone. Four of the incumbents lost to opponents endorsed by Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, indicating that the progressive wing of the Rhode Island Democratic Party may be gaining steam after the victory of Bernie Sanders in the RI Presidential Primary earlier this year.

The resumes of those who were defeated on Tuesday show that they were the entrenched of the entrenched. John DeSimone and Eileen Naughton had been in office since 1992, Jan Malik had been in since 1996, and Juan Pichardo had held his office for 22 years. This could possibly indicate that the voters were fed up with anyone who was a long-time officeholder. Yet when Katherine Gregg of the Providence Journal asked on twitter “Why are so many incumbents in trouble at the ballot box?” The first response from John Loughlin of WPRO was simply “tolls.” Further responses to the question also included low turnout, which by the Rhode Island Board of Elections estimate was around eight or nine percent. Others said that the voters were fed up with status quo leadership in Rhode Island as they were at the national level in an election that has seen Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders vaulted to prominence.

Whatever the reason, this shakeup of the political scene in Rhode Island has left one of the state’s most important political offices open. The majority leader of the House of Representatives is arguably the second most powerful government official in Rhode Island after the Speaker. The former majority leader lost his reelection, meaning that the posturing has begun to see who will fill the important post. DeSimone, who lost by 17 votes, in one of five candidates who requested a recount, but his loss was confirmed soon afterward.

According to an article written by Ian Donnis of Rhode Island NPR, the prospective candidates to replace Desimone could include Representatives Chris Blazejewski, Cale Keable, Joseph Shekarchi, Stephen Ucci, and Ken Marshall. However, the next in line to fill the seat of the majority leader is the majority whip, Representative John Edwards. How that battle will play out is unknown at this point, but the pundits believe that the strongest candidate is Joseph Shekarchi. Overall, it is clear that the primary indicates that this will be a very important general election in Rhode Island.