Teacher furlough days are harmful to helping state budget
by Drew Michael McWeeney
After speaking with Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark E. Ojakian last month, it is positively sinful that he and Governor Malloy are continuing to support the idea that state teachers in the state should voluntarily use unpaid leave as a kind of “furlough day,” in order to close the budget gap for our state’s economic crisis.
This is fantastic when some people, like Ojakian, get a free car, car insurance, an over $300,000 salary and free vehicle repairs.
Ask a teacher who makes under $90,000 a year, has $500 a month in student loans, pays for their own car and insurance, to take unpaid “days off” – and see what they have to say.
Furlough days do not work for state teachers; classes need to be taught. Students need feedback and help with material that is being taught. Teaching positions are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. generally, but that is only part of a teacher’s workday.
When I become a teacher, would I even dare to furlough the almost countless hours I spend after my students have left school and I am planning for the weeks and months ahead? Would I take a furlough day when my papers are due to journals on tight deadlines? Would I furlough the hours when I sneak out of bed the next day at 5 a.m. to squeeze in another hour or two of work? What about when I have to give up my time on weekends to work on writing IEPs, 504s, behavior modification plans and lesson plans? (Which teachers currently do, and are not paid for.)
Teachers in this state donate hundreds of hours a year beyond what their contract requires, and now CSCU President Ojakian and Governor Malloy want more. They both need to stop calling this situation a “budget crisis.” It has been this way since I entered college four years ago. A crisis cannot be permanent by definition, and the budget cannot be fixed by having all state teachers work for free. They do enough of that already.
I love how some, such as Governor Malloy and President Ojakian, assume that shared sacrifice means simply getting just a little bit more out of those who cannot afford it. Teachers in this state already donate a large portion of their salary to pay for retirement health benefits they might never see. Literally, teachers have to fork over cash twice a month because the state made promises they knew they could never afford.
Not to mention, President Ojakian and Governor Malloy forgot to say how much of their earnings they will give back to the state. How many furlough days for you, Mark Ojakian and Dannel Malloy? Check your privileges, for your salaries are too high for the work you both do.
No wonder why people – especially teachers – want out of Connecticut.
Drew Michael McWeeney, 21, of Wolcott is majoring in early childhood education and music performance and is a teacher candidate at Southern Connecticut State University. His website is www.drewmmcweeney.com.
In the midst of World War II when Britain fought alongside the Allies in defeating the Nazi regime, Sir Winston Churchill expressed concern for the welfare of his citizens.
British troops were fighting the German forces in southern Tunisia and northern Africa in March of 1943, when Churchill broadcasted his concern for the health of Britain’s citizens.
“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have,” stated Churchill during a BBC broadcast on March 21.
As the Treasury Minister of Defense during World War II, Churchill understood the importance of having healthy citizens.
Even after he lost his position in 1945, Churchill continued to work on improving citizens’ welfare by introducing reforms to benefit the public.
The Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1954 that was introduced by Churchill helped an immense amount of people in Britain by enforcing inspections of housing units to see if they were livable.
Understanding that the welfare of citizens is as much of a concern as the battles being fought, Churchill worked and succeeded to improve both.
Comparing the actions of Churchill to the proposed budget for 2018 proves the welfare and health of U.S. citizens is not on the minds of the presidential administration.
An example of this is the 13 percent cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development will see, while the Department of Defense will receive a nine percent increase.
The HUD has historically worked to improve living conditions and fair housing across the country.
They worked relentlessly in enacting the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which improved living conditions and prohibited discrimination when buying or renting property.
The HUD works to ensure that equal opportunities and living conditions are met in our nation’s communities — similar to what Churchill worked towards with the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1954.
Currently the HUD helps about four million Americans in the United States and the 13 percent budget cut would result in a $6 billion loss, according to The Washington Post.
Another aspect of the proposed budget that clashes with Churchill’s beliefs and is not in the best interest of U.S. citizens is the 14 percent cut to the Department of Education, that would result in about a $9.2 billion loss, according to The Washington Post.
“The privilege of a university education is a great one; the more widely it is extended, the better for any country,” said Churchill in 1948 at the University of Oslo in Norway.
This cut only makes higher education increasingly unappealing for upcoming generations. The Department of Education issues student loans for individuals seeking higher education and manages programs that forgive student loan debt; aspects of the department that the country may be seeing less of.
The majority of actions taken by Churchill during his political career can be deemed as necessary, and with Britain’s well-being in mind. The same cannot be said about the 2018 budget proposed by the presidential administration.
It only seems counterproductive to spend $2.6 billion on a border wall and increase the defense spending by $54 billion, when future generations may not have someone fighting for proper living conditions or an accessible higher education.
There is an overwhelming amount of discretionary spending in the budget, when the country is in need of more mandatory spending. There is very little proof in the proposed budget that suggests the presidential administration is concerned with the best interest of its country and its citizens.
Major steps have recently been taken by Facebook to combat the spread of fake news and ultimately help decrease the amount of misinformation the public is exposed to.
The new feature on the social media sight flags stories that are disputed by the Associated Press and Snopes.com
When someone tries to share an article that is disputed, Facebook displays a warning that informs about the user that the information is disputed. Then a second pop-up that lets the user know Facebook is adhering to Poynter’s non-partisan code to distinguish that the article may have false information.
Facebook then links the user to pages on Snopes.com or on the AP website that explain why the article is labeled as disputed.
Individuals are able to ignore these messages and still post the article on their timeline, but directly below is a warning that says, “Disputed by Snopes.com and Associated Press.”
This feature apparently began a few months ago, but recently is making its appearance on social media where users are noticing it.
The model that Facebook chose to inform the public about fake news, and to tame the spread of fake news throughout social media, could be what the country needs.
Individuals who want to share questionable articles could be deterred if they are repeatedly informed that it is disputed by reputable fact-checkers.
This combats the spread of fake news from two angles; by informing the individual sharing the news and anyone who may come across in on Facebook.
This lessens the possibilities for people to become misinformed or play a part in the spread of fake news.
As it is a progressive step in the fight against fake news, this model of sifting out misinformation needs to be seen on other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
This model could even be seen going as far as flagging memes that spread made-up facts and ideas.
Among the most recent flagged articles that was seen and shared on Facebook was a fictionalized story: “Trump’s Android Device Believed To Be The Source of Recent White House Leaks,” from “The Seattle Tribune.”
The story carried the disputed label with the links to AP and Snopes.com explaining why the story was not real.
According to USA Today, the articles that do end up getting flagged not only have the label, but they also get pushed down on people’s newsfeed.
As sharing regardless of the disputed label is a personal preference and there is no clear solution to stopping that in the near future, hopefully more and more Facebook users will get the hint to just not share it at all.
If Facebook users respond the right way, only then should other social media platforms follow Facebook’s lead.
The beliefs and actions of the presidential administration regarding climate change are not aligning with those of the citizens.
Yale University recently performed a study that maps out how people view climate change throughout the country. The results show how opinions differ across regions, but overall there are more people who believe in climate change than those who do not.
The study revealed that seven out of 10 registered voters said the U.S. should remain a participant in the international agreement to limit climate change.
It was also found that two-thirds of registered voters want the U.S. to limit green house emissions, even if other countries are not.
Some other key findings were, 70 percent of Americans think global warming will hurt future generations, and 69 percent want stricter limits on carbon dioxide from coal plants.
The recent actions by President Donald Trump have not aligned with the stance of our country. According to the study, more Americans want to combat climate change than not.
Trump aims to increase mining jobs by lifting the Clean Power Plan put forth by Barack Obama in 2015, which requires states to limit the emission of carbon dioxide.
The argument against the Clean Power Plan is the same as when Trump repealed the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule, which allegedly left companies stagnant, unable to develop and losing jobs.
“Trump has already rolled back some Obama-era green regulations, including the Stream Protection Rule limiting coal mining waste dumping, and the Waters of the U.S. rule that expands the waterways under federal protection,” according to Reuters.
“An analysis found that the job impact would be minimal: repealing the rule [SPR] will only boost annual mining employment by 124 jobs,” said Vox.
The study showed that 75 percent of Americans want to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 82 percent of adults think more research should be conducted on renewable energy sources, but the presidential administration is doing the opposite by decreasing regulations.
Generating new jobs in areas where employment has decreased is something that needs to be taken seriously; but climate change must be considered as well. The efforts need to be used in a different industry, and not one that contributed to 24.5 percent of greenhouse emissions in 2012, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
However, an alternative approach needs to be taken because climate change should not fall victim when attempting to increase employment.
New jobs in renewable energy should be created in order to combat climate change and decrease employment.
“The renewable energy industry is more labor-intensive, this means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Solar and wind energy are accessible throughout the entire country, and are sources of energy that should be used.
With the beliefs of the presidential administration not aligning with the majority of the population’s, states will be playing an important roll. They need to fight against attempts to loosen regulations and begin to enforce their own.
Many states have reduced greenhouse gas emission by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. This effort needs to be continued and strengthened to align with the population’s beliefs.
Sodexo Management and headquarters at Central Connecticut State University have failed to provide workers with revised contracts. Instead, employees have had the previous contracts extended, according to Sodexo employees Billy Serrano and Kenneth Caraballo.
A revised contract has been requested since March of 2016. Employees have voiced their dissatisfaction through internal disputes with management, in addition to public and silent protest. Their biggest fears are not knowing whether or not they have jobs in the summer, potential health care benefits, contract violations and stagnant wages, explained Serrano.
“The current collective bargaining agreement at CCSU expires on May 31. Typically, bargaining for a renewal agreement begins about a month or two before the expiration, our labor relations team is currently in discussions with the union representatives to schedule dates to meet and negotiate the renewal agreement,” said John Smalls, managing director of Sodexo.
Discussion for a new contract should be taking place this month, but an official date has not been set. This has made many employees nervous, because until a new agreement is made, they do not know if they will have a job to come back to, explained Caraballo, who has worked for Sodexo for six years.
These concerns derived from an incident this past summer when Sodexo threatened to walk away from their agreement with CCSU, and employees were going to be left without a secure job with short notice, explained Serrano.
Through a series of disputes, protests, phone calls and emails, employees have expressed their concerns. They have worn stickers on their uniforms that say “I support food service workers, unite local 217,” their labor union number.
Sodexo management at CCSU has acknowledged the employees’ protest and concerns but have not taken the employees request to the necessary higher-ups, explained Serrano.
“They [management] want to stop hearing the noise and we respect that they have a business to run, but we have families we have to take care of as well,” said Serrano.
Employees also feel their contract has been violated, by management not respecting certain protocols such as grievance procedures and applying favoritism over seniority, explained Caraballo.
“When we have an issue with management we fill out paperwork and we are able mediate the issue. However, they haven’t followed the certain guidelines that we have, and favoritism within the company is very present when it comes to some of these guidelines outlined in the contract,” said Carabello.
“There are rumors that they want to switch us from plan A to plan B, because it’s cheaper for the company,” said Carabello.
The majority of employees haven’t seen a raise in two years either, according to Caraballo. They feel that, as union members, they have a right to voice their concerns.
“Right now we have a voice, so by us not having a contract it would destroy the little guy and take away our voice. A lot of us have families that depend on our health insurance, so by reducing our plans, a lot of lives outside of the employees will also be affected,” said Carabello.
Serrano and Caraballo expressed the love they have for their job, and how much they enjoy serving the students of CCSU. “We really do appreciate the support we get from the students workers, and the students who ask us about our silent protest. We just hope they’ll stand with us in our concern for a new contract,” said Serrano.
The first campaign posters for the Student Government Association executive board elections were posted online four weeks before the official deadline for applications. A historic total of 12 candidates will be running for SGA President, Vice President and Treasurer. All the candidates differ from experience and background, but 11 of them knew of this election, while one was left in the dark.
Student Victor Constanza had no idea an election was even happening until his friend, a former SGA senator, told him about it.
“I actually heard about the election through a friend. I did not even know an election was going on until he told me. He was a former SGA member and he just knows because of his connections, “said Constanza.
Through word of mouth, Constanza found out about the election last Wednesday and hardly made the deadline two days later.
“I had two days to come up with a good application. The applications require a short statement, biography, and reasons why people show vote for me. I wanted to make them good,” said Constanza.
Constanza is the only executive board candidate that is not involved in SGA. According to Constanza, had his friend not told him about the election, he would not have known.
“I did not hear of these elections through e-mail or anything. Maybe I did not check my email well, but with what I observe SGA did not advertise this opening position that well. Even when you sign on to The Link, the application was not on the home page,” said Constanza.
He is not alone; unlike past elections, there was no student body announcement, email or even tweet, making this election completely unknown to the majority of the student body. The very first and only public announcement of the election was done during the SGA senate meeting on Feb. 8.
“E-board and general elections packets for the next academic year will be released the 13.E-board packets will be due March 3, and general elections packets are due April 5,” said SGA Vice President Cappiello.
The responsibility of promoting SGA elections falls on the Public Affairs Committee run by SGA senator Kassandra Fruin.
“According to the bylaws of the SGA, the elections committee is charged with planning the dates and guidelines of the elections. The bylaws do not spell anything out for when it comes to elections committee’s involvement in promoting the elections, that falls under the public affairs committee,” said Cappiello.
The previous year Public Affairs committee announced it to the public through a series of tweets, as well as during the SGA senate meetings.
This year, the SGA Public Affairs committee has posted 23 tweets since the official announcement, not one of them informing students about the executive elections.
Fruin, said that the reason why this election was not promoted was due to the SGA Senator special elections that happened. Fruin said that committee got overwhelmed with the special elections and due to that reason alone, they did not actively promote the executive elections.
However Fruin, who is running for vice president was one of the first people to submit her election packets. She is running with the current E-Board members; Vice President Cappiello and Treasurer Brendan Kruh. They announced their candidacy on Feb. 14, the day after packets were released.
Fruin, who received the position as Public Affairs Committee Chair after a sudden resignation, has also dealt with a personal family mater that has had her leaning on the support of the senate. She acknowledged due to this she has not been able to preform to the best of her ability, but is proud of the work and committee and will focus on the upcoming E-board debate.
“I know the struggles of my personal life are not an excuse, and I acknowledge this was a mistake made by myself reflecting onto the committee as a whole. With the Special Election being on the forefront, we neglected to promote the election packets. However, I am proud of the Public Affairs Committee for their work this semester and I hope in the future we will not make a similar error. We are currently in the works of promoting the E-board Debate and voting dates, along with the General Election,” said Fruin.
Constanza believes though that these actions make SGA appear to only favor those who are on the senate, he hopes if he is elected he would change this.
“These elections should be open to everyone. SGA is creating an image of inclusiveness and that image will turn off students. SGA is ruining a connection with the students, and I truly want to change that,” said Constanza.
Constanza realizes he is not on the SGA, but believes he is as qualified as any other candidate. He is not discouraged from this and is excited to run.
“I always love helping people and I try to take the opportunity when positions open up. If SGA is trying to not publicly announce these elections, maybe they are trying to stop people like me who are running. However, I understand that concern, but I do feel like I am highly qualified for this position,” said Constanza.
To be eligible to run for an E-board position, individuals must be a full-time undergraduate student in good standing and do not have to previously be a SGA senator. Current SGA President Jahmil Effend hopes no student feels discouraged to not run.
“Joining the SGA has changed my life in so many ways and I’d never want to prevent or discourage anyone from running for any position on the Senate. The great thing about the Student Government is that it is not an exclusive organization. It doesn’t matter your experience level or who you know, SGA is an organization you can be a part of,” Effend said.
Elections will take place from March 27 to 30. All eligible students can be vote via thelink.ccsu.edu.
Jordan Peele directed his first film “Get Out,” and it was genius. From the script down to the cast, it was well thought out.
It’s an indulging thriller at the surface, and a representation of racial tension in the United States at the root. Every scene has a form of a deeper message in which it addresses an array of issues from appropriation, to subtle racism, to our history of slavery that’s never going to be shaken off. It’s a jab at the underlying racism that goes on every day.
Peele is successful in making viewers feel uncomfortable throughout the movie. The film opens with an African-American man roaming the streets looking for a house, when he’s abducted by a man who emerges from a suspicious white car.
Then there’s Rose, the protagonist’s girlfriend, who is meant to appear trustworthy, yet she seems uneasy. There’s something about her that makes viewers shift a little in their seats, even though she stands up against the cop in Chris’ defense. When she hits a deer on their way to her parent’s house, she doesn’t appear to show much remorse, while Chris is clearly distressed by it (for reasons beyond just hitting a deer as we find out later). She has a naivety about her that feels like it can’t be trusted.
When Chris finally arrives to the house and meets Rose’s parents, the tension is felt amongst them, but there’s not enough to justify why. Even though she warned him that her father would say “I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could have,” it appears as though he is immediately trying to convince Chris that he’s not racist.
As the film progresses, the uncomfortable scenarios intensify. The subtle racism develops into blatant racist remarks from Rose’s family, while the house staff keeps getting weirder. Peele’s prospective of being African American in the United States is exaggerated for the sake of horror, but it’s also meant to be a projection of actual experiences that people go through. White people aren’t literally going around hypnotizing African-American men into deep voids, but there are real circumstances linked within the subtext of the film.
Subtext aside, the film is still a successful thriller. Films in that genre don’t usually end well because there’s often too much to resolve in a short period of time.
However, “Get Out” has viewers rooting for Chris through it all. Not to mention Chris’s TSA friend, Rod, providing the comedic relief we love and need. “Get Out” will have viewers leaving the theater thinking of all the connections and metaphors Peele strategically placed throughout the film for days afterwards.
With midterms fast approaching, most Central Connecticut State University students can be found relieving stress by enjoying nights in downtown Hartford.
Taylor Lavoie, 18, East Granby, was one of those CCSU students as she and her friends packed into the crowded CTfastrak Bus on its way to Hartford this past Thursday night.
Drink specials like the “25 Cents Beer Night” weekly entice hundreds of local college students to the Angry Bull Saloon, where Lavoie and her three friends ended up.
As the evening wore on and the bars began to close, Lavoie and her friends became separated and her friends caught the last ride on the Fastrak out of downtown.
Lavoie did not; as her body was discovered later that evening in a five-foot alleyway between the Angry Bull Saloon and another building. Hartford Police and medical quickly responded to the scene and pronounced her dead.
The cause of death is still under investigation but is being ruled as an accidental fall, according to Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley. “At this time we have no indication that it was a homicide or a suicide, we believe it’s likely to be accidental.”
Investigators are still piecing together how Lavoie got on top of the Angry Bull roof, which is supposed to be closed and off limits to patrons. Lavoie is said to have fallen more than four stories.
According to Angry Bull, to get on the roof “a person must go up a stairwell from the second floor area through a fully blocking curtain, which indicates a blocked/off limits area. The roof access requires someone to go up two floors of abandoned space, continue to a ladder structure, climb it to a hatchway, then enter the roof through a small doorway area.”
Foley said that roof has no ledges and is extremely dangerous. “I went up on the roof, its treacherous, it’s disorientating, especially at night,” said Foley.
The mystery and questioning doesn’t stop there; investigators are working on answering how Lavoie was even allowed in the bar in the first place because, she was only 18 years old, far from the legal drinking age of 21.
Lavoie had an Angry Bull wristband on and a fake ID when her body was found, said investigators.
But CCSU student Sabrea Collins said that Lavoie getting into Angry Bull is no mystery at all. Collins, who is under the age of 21, has also been to Angry Bull Saloon plenty of times and said sometimes patrons don’t even need a fake ID, just an additional 10 dollars.
“If you have a fake ID you just give it to them and if you don’t just give them money,” Collins said.
CCSU Student Abe Caban also said that Angry Bull’s lack of proper identification is what makes it a popular for college students.
“If you paid twenty dollars and you’re sixteen, you can get in for free with a Fake ID. You can see the environment and see that kids are underage there.”
Angry Bull was under a watchful eye from the Hartford Police dating back to November of last year. Foley said that Hartford Police had made multiple complaints to the Liquor Control Commission, the most recent complaint on Feb. 24.
Foley said that The Department of Consumer Protection, who oversees all liquor controls alongside with the Hartford Police, was planning an undercover raid for next week. Staffing and availability from both departments played an important key on why the raid was delayed.
“When they did want to do an operation next week we couldn’t do it because it’s all hands on deck for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and for the basketball tournament and cheerleader competition, so it’s going to be a busy weekend. We were in communication with them this week, they had our documentation, we wished it moved faster in a perfect world but that’s not where we are,” Foley said.
CCSU Senior Mark Mancini said that with a raid or not, it was well known to everyone that alcohol was being served to underage students and something should have been done to prevent this tragedy.
“It’s just a shame that students who are out there looking for a good time, something unfortunate would happen. The amount of underage students that let in is unreal there,” said Mancini.
CCSU Student Government Association President Jahmil Effend said that this could have been easily preventable and it’s unfortunate that CCSU and the family had to lose someone in order for action to be taken.
“The Angry Bull Saloon has had a notorious reputation of allowing underage students to get in. The police in the area have dealt with countless complaints, but nothing has been done. This tragedy could have been avoided had the bar staff and management acted appropriately,” Effend said.
Angry Bull remained quiet most of Friday morning. It released a statement later that night on their Facebook page denying allegations that it serves patrons who are under age.
“We consistently have several members of our security staff outside the entry door of the establishment to ensure all patrons are checked for proper identification stating they are 21 or above.”
In that statement, Angry Bull said it is devastated by the death of Lavoie and that there thoughts and prayers are with her family.
Lavoie, who was a biology major, lived in the Mid Campus Dorms. CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro released a statement in which she extended her condolences to those who knew Lavoie.
“Beyond the grief that we feel, tragedies such as this remind us how important it is for us as a community to cherish and support each other,” Dr. Toro said.
Counseling services are currently being offered by the Wellness Center for any students who wish to seek it. John Campbell, of the Campus Ministry is also available to speak to students. There is no word at the moment of a planned memorial for Lavoie.
The doors of Angry Bull remained shut Friday evening and will remain closed for the next couple of weeks. Angry Bull voluntarily suspended their liquor permit on Friday.
“The Angry Bull Saloon voluntarily met with and agreed to suspend its liquor permit out of respect for the family of the deceased in this difficult time.”
According to Foley it will remain suspended until March 24.
Angry Bull will be using its suspension time to “review procedures and the incident with the Hartford Police Department and Department of Consumer Protection.”
Foley has not indicated if this is a permanent suspension.
The bar permittee is listed as Stephen White. He is said to be cooperating with investigators.
The investigation is ongoing and anybody who has information on this is urged to call the Hartford Police.
If Angry Bull reopens its doors, some CCSU students, like Caban, will not be returning. “I just went there for the first time and I’ll probably never go back to be honest.”
NEW BRITAIN — A concern over possible cuts to AmeriCorps’ funding was expressed to Sen. Richard Blumenthal during a town hall meeting held at Central Connecticut State University in Welte Auditorium on Sunday, Feb. 27.
“There has recently been a potential list of programs that will be cut by the White House and that includes AmeriCorps. This would devastate the programs — it would definitely directly affect Teach For America,” said Christopher Marinelli, Social Justice Chair of the CCSU Student Government Association, to Blumenthal in front of a crowd of several hundred.
“The past four years here [at CCSU], it has always been my expectation that upon graduation I will enter public service,” said Marinelli, who added he begins a job with Teach For America in the fall.
AmeriCorps funds Teach For America, the Peace Corp and United Way. ”All these organizations are under the umbrella of the AmeriCorps grant,” Marinelli said to The Recorder. This would impact about 800 Teach For America participants in Connecticut alone.
“What expectations are there right now between the Democratic and Republican members of Congress to uphold this program amongst the cuts that are kind of being floated around? And is there anything that we should do besides just calling and getting involved in the local political process to kind of make sure these programs are maintained?” Marinelli asked Blumenthal.
“We all are involved in public life because of role models we had, and because of examples of leadership that we follow. And the Peace Corp and Teach for America… give people a way to make a difference and to begin careers in public service and civic engagement,” said Blumenthal.
“I am going to continue fighting for them because they make a difference to the young people who are taught, to people abroad who see Americans and that’s the way they regard this country, as the way they see those young Americans who are idealistic and caring and generous,” added the senator. “They are essential to our fighting as a democracy.”
“It was great to hear him [Blumenthal] on recorder saying he will uphold these organizations,” said Marinelli after the meeting.
Non-conservative media outlets were barred from entering the White House press briefing last Friday because President Donald Trump considered them “enemies of the people.”
The media outlets that did not make the cut were CNN, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Los Angeles Times and Politico. ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX were all allowed to enter.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer chose not to use the podium to conduct the briefing, but instead held an informal gathering with the selected news outlets.
These actions are simply unacceptable. The First Amendment guarantees citizens of the country to a free press. It is fundamental for a democracy to allow all media outlets, whether or not they lean left or right, into White House briefings.
There should not and cannot be a specific agenda when dealing with the public and the information they are presented about government actions. If there is an agenda held by the government regarding the press, it is not a democracy.
Allowing all news outlets into briefings provides the public with enough information from diverse sources to use in conjunction with other information and reporting from those organizations, to formulate their own opinion.
It is every citizen’s right to choose what news outlets they use to inform themselves. It is unethical and immoral for a government administration to dictate what outlets are publicizing what information.
This needs to be handled with urgency and caution. Whether the reasoning for these actions are because these news outlets “have been too mean to the president,” as Sean Spicer said, or due to specific agendas and information that can only be shared with some, it is un-American and unethical.
The manner in which news outlets are being handled at the White House is a threat to the nation’s liberty, right to be informed and the words of the Founding Fathers.
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” said Thomas Jefferson.
This idea needs to be at the forefront of every citizen’s mind, regarding this situation. These actions are only causing the public to be ill-informed.
It did not seem like Trump was thinking of the importance of a free press when conducting this action, but rather was likely preoccupied with the idea of Napoléon Bonaparte that, “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”