Category Archives: Opinion

The War on Media

by Laura Haspeslagh

The media has always been under scrutiny. Many claim that George Orwell warned us of its dangers in his novel, “1984.” Though the book was written in 1949, many see similarities in his dystopia today.

Media has come up in politics more often with the topic of “fake news.” It feels as though we are surrounded by misinformation, making it difficult to find the truth. I think this confusing time stems from a fear that the media is in control of how we think. We’re worried about becoming the common analogy of conforming sheep and the government turning into the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Mass communication studies show that the media isn’t telling us what to think, but instead what to think about. This still worries many, that the elite conglomerates of this county who own mainstream media companies are forcing their agenda upon us. So do we control the media or does the media control us?

Fearing the media would be a symptom of paranoia. To claim that the media has control over us would be to forfeit our abilities and accept that we are gullible. We have the sources needed to keep mainstream media accountable. Fact checking sites work avidly to confirm or deny information that sources put out. The market also works in a way that competitors keep each other in check in an effort to prove themselves to be the more reliable network.

Social media provides an outlet in which viewers can immediately respond in a positive or negative way that effects news reporting. It’s true that media is constantly in our faces within our society but we are the ones in control of the information we accept or reject. To say the media controls us would be undermining our own capabilities.

We know better than to simply accept whatever information is fed to us. Skepticism is important in verifying any information we receive. That’s why it is urged that we get our news from multiple sources. Any information from media should be taken with a grain of salt but that does not mean we must condemn it entirely. The media does have an agenda, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

There are so many topics that people value in hopes of making a difference, it would be impossible for anyone to give a fair amount of coverage to each issue. Media can provide the people with a unified topic to focus on that begins discussion and can lead to change. This isn’t to say that the topics that the media covers are more important than others or that the work that activists do is less important because it isn’t being covered by the media. However, the topics acknowledged in the news reach a mass audience that, in return, can illicit important discussions and change. Getting such a large audience to think and discuss similar issues is a feat in of itself.

Instead of fearing media, let’s embrace it wisely. Educate ourselves on issues brought up by the media and on the ones that aren’t. Listen to our peers and their own narratives on controversies. Have open-minded discussions. Become investigators ourselves. The media doesn’t have the power to control us unless we give it to them.

Investing in Knowledge

by Lorenzo Burgio

It is becoming increasingly difficult to convince upcoming generations that education is vital when poor graduates surround them.

Higher education is becoming more and more unappealing as the debt graduates face and the duration to pay them off increases. Being able to finish high school then immediately generate an income has become an increasingly appealing thought. There needs to be a sense of urgency to ensure higher education is obtainable and appealing for upcoming generations.

Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” but it appears to be developing into a bad investment, or at least one that doesn’t seem feasible for many.

Seven out of 10 students graduated from a four-year public or non-profit college with an average of $30,100 in student loans in 2015, which is a four percent increase from 2014 according to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). In Connecticut, the average student debt for graduates of a four-year public or non-profit colleges is $34,773.

This is part of a gradual increase that has been seen for years. The average student loan upon graduation in 2012 was $29,400, “a 25 percent increase from $23,450 in 2008,” according to TICAS.

In addition to the amount of the loans increasing, so is the amount of students who are borrowing. In 2004, 62.4 percent of public university graduates had student loans — in 2012, that number rose to 71 percent, according to TICAS.

One Wisconsin institute performed a study in 2014 that concluded the average bachelors degree holder takes about 21 years to pay off their student loans in the United States. This is an extremely long time for upcoming generations to commit to.

If nothing is done to make higher education more affordable and accessible for upcoming generations, the size and amount of student loans are going to increase and the number of college graduates is going to decrease. The benefits of an educated population can only provide a helping hand to the economical and social aspects of our country.

“Research has supported this conventional wisdom, revealing that education not only enables individuals to perform better in the labor market, but also to improve their overall health, promote active citizenship and contain violence,” wrote the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in a study about the social benefits of higher education.

It seems the words of John F. Kennedy have been forgotten and should be reiterated and taken into consideration to benefit upcoming generations.

“Student loans have been helpful to many. But they offer neither incentive nor assistance to those students who, by reason of family or other obligations, are unable or unwilling to go deeper into debt. It is, moreover, only prudent economic and social policy for the public to share part of the costs of the long period of higher education for those whose development is essential to our national economic and social well-being. All of us share in the benefits – all should share in the costs.”

PewDiePie’s ‘Fall’ and Media That Makes Journalists Look Bad

 

Image result for pewdiepie

by Kristina Vakhman

YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, found himself in the middle of a “scandal” last week when the Wall Street Journal branded him as anti-Semitic.

The Journal’s report featured a compilation of nine of Kjellberg’s videos where he incorporated either Nazi imagery or anti-Semitic humor.

Since then, other news outlets joined in the biggest YouTuber’s condemnation, linking him to a fascist and accusing him of normalizing the alt-right’s controversial views.

The debacle forced Disney’s subsidiary, Maker Studios, to drop their partnership with Kjellberg. Moreover, YouTube cancelled the second season of his YouTube Red show, “Scare PewDiePie,” as well as removed the PewDiePie channel from their Google Preferred advertising program.

Contrary to headlines, Kjellberg has not “fallen” from his dominant YouTube throne. In fact, his 53 million subscriber count has only grown.

Additionally, fellow YouTubers and his fanbase have been quick to point out that the Journal’s video deliberately takes scenes from Kjellberg’s work out of context. It is also edited to make the material seem far darker than what Kjellberg intended in the initial content.

In one video, since deleted from his channel, Kjellberg poked fun at the absurdity of Fiverr.com, where freelancers do practically anything for five dollars. To see how far the vendors would go, Kjellberg put in ridiculous requests, including asking two men to unfurl a banner reading “Death to all Jews” as they danced and laughed in the middle of a jungle.

While others denied Kjellberg’s ludicrous demands and threatened to report him for violating the site’s guidelines, the two men followed through with what he had requested.

In another video, Kjellberg compared the Nazi Party to the YouTube Heroes program, which gives users abilities that can be easily abused, like mass-flagging videos. Kjellberg is seen watching one of Adolf Hitler’s speeches.

The Journal’s depiction of these scenarios completely cuts out the original context. No other sides of the situation are shown, hence perpetuating the narrative that Kjellberg is anti-Semitic. Knowing the full substance of the complete videos sheds new light and dismantles the Journal’s argument.

Instead of examples of anti-Semitism, these instances were Kjellberg’s attempts at shock humor that — even he admits in his apology video — were of bad taste and poorly executed.

Of course, this does not excuse Kjellberg from making such crude jokes.

Maker Studios was right to sever times with him, considering the welcoming, inclusive image that Disney has spent years developing and maintaining. Losing his place on YouTube’s Google Preferred, which deemed his content “family-friendly,” is also understandable; it’s a shock that his channel was listed there in the first place, judging by his material.

However, the media labeling Kjellberg as a fascist or an anti-Semite, and purposely taking his videos out of context to fit that narrative, is not fair; it’s defamation.

Additionally, it undermines the credibility of the press.

With President Donald Trump claiming that any negative media is “fake news,” a situation where a slanderous piece of work can actually be deemed “fake” solidifies the argument. This is evident by the public’s reaction to the Journal’s attack on Kjellberg; while the Journal has long been considered a reputable news source, this one-sided report has caused many to turn away from them and from those that added fire to their flame.

The journalists who conceived the piece received so much hate that they privatized their Twitter accounts; the compilation related to the article has a massive dislike-to-like ratio.

More importantly, marking Kjellberg as the face of the alt-right movement — which he has unequivocally disavowed in numerous statements — is dangerous. It does exactly what the Journal and others accused him of doing: trivializing genuine racism and hatred.

He is a YouTube personality whose jokes went too far; aiming the dart at his forehead when there is an ample amount of actual neo-Nazis and racists scouring the Internet is a mistake.

Instead of pouncing on “edgy” comedy, the media should be focusing on real menaces.

A Streak Unlike Any Other

by Tyler Roaix

The University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team made history reaching a 100 game winning streak, after their defeat against sixth ranked South Carolina. The streak has built up over the past three seasons, and has brought UConn two national championships.

If there is anything this streak has proven, it’s that UConn has had its sport under it’s control since Geno Auriemma took over as head coach. Much like Alabama has controlled college football or how the Yankees controlled baseball. But somehow, this seems almost more impressive.

It isn’t just the fact that the Huskies won 100 games in a row. It’s the fact that they have crushed pretty much everyone in their way. Of the 100 games, a whopping 71 of them were victories by at least 30 points. Just two wins were by less than 10 points. All in all, their average margin of victory during the streak has been 38.4 points. Just to add insult to injury, nine of the wins came against teams ranked third or better, with the smallest margin of victory in those games being just six points.

This isn’t the first time the Huskies have went on a long winning streak. In fact, they now hold four of the top five longest win streaks in women’s college basketball history, all of which have happened since the 2001-2002 season. This streak began in 2014 after a two-point loss to Stanford.

The craziest part about this UConn team is not only how good they are, but also the fact that they are only going to get better. They have just three seniors on their roster. Saniya Chong is the only senior actually in the starting lineup. Of course, Auriemma has the best of the best at the high school level coming in next season, including Megan Walker, who’s is widely known as the best high school player in the country.

Critics will argue that the lack of competition in women’s college basketball takes away from the impressiveness of the streak. But let’s be honest, over a streak of 100 games, it’s really easy to have a bad game and slip up. Maybe you just get outplayed one night or someone makes a crazy shot to win the game. But nothing like that has happened. The bottom line is that UConn has played near perfect basketball over the past three years. That has nothing to do with the competition, that’s just how good the Huskies are.

Who knows when the streak will end, if at all this year. It’s more than likely UConn will be taking their usual place, cutting down the nets, at the end of the tournament in April. Say what you will about women’s college basketball, but this 100 game win streak is the latest step in a long line of dominance by the Huskies.

Snow Day Fun Day

by Brennah Dallaire

A snow day is the ultimate God sent for those of us that are professional procrastinators. My criteria for a “snow day” is as follows: you have power, school is cancelled for the entire day, and you don’t have to go in to your place of employment.

Some see snow as a burden, and in some regards it is. Eventually when the snow stops falling, you will have to leave your cozy home, dress in multiple layers and break your back shoveling that white frozen water that has fallen from the sky. Don’t get too mad about it.

If you keep a positive outlook on your snow day, you will fulfill all your wildest dreams (well maybe some chores). A snow day is an opportunity to break out those cute L.L. Bean duck boots you haven’t taken out of the box yet. You won’t need to hit the gym because shoveling is all the upper body strength training you need. And it’s good to leave the house and get some fresh air, enjoy the cool weather before you are sweating to death in front of the A/C.

There are however several “ingredients” to making your snow day as beneficial as possible. The first and most important ingredient is coffee. If you can’t safely make it to a local coffee shop, I suggest French pressing a nice bold roast. The caffeine is really going to kick your motivation into over drive. The second ingredient is Wi-Fi or smartphone data. Much of the tasks I like to accomplish on a snow day are online. The third ingredient is not a nap. Plan for a 1-2 hour nap around 1p.m. It’s the perfect time because the daylight will keep you from oversleeping. Lastly, the fourth ingredient is pajamas. Wear your pajamas all day.

The possibilities of what you can accomplish on a snow day are never ending. Procrastinators can catch up on the three chapters they are behind in reading for their International Law course. Netflix aficionados can finally give in and start the 13 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” their friends have been pressuring them to watch. Start an Instagram account for your cat or dog, their social media presence is very important. Start up an online business. Try affiliate marketing on a blog or if you have a creative talent make an Etsy account.

Snow days were made to allow you the time to clean your house. If you own your own home, try rearranging your furniture or finally clean the grout in your bathroom. If you live with your parents, help them out by doing the dishes or vacuuming the house.

Try cooking a new dish in your free time. Make it more exciting by free styling in the kitchen by cooking without a recipe and using what you have in your fridge.

I hope these ideas inspired you to make the most of your snow day. You can follow CCSU on Twitter to get the latest school closings and delays.

A Concern for Medicaid

Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump are making an effort to alter the Medicaid program by issuing block grants, or per capita enrollment, to states.

This would differ drastically from how the funding is currently. “Medicaid now operates as either a negotiated fee-for-service system or a monthly rate per Medicaid enrollee. The federal government pays a portion of the expenses, and state government pays the other portion,” wrote usnews.com.

Ultimately the federal government pays for the needs of its beneficiaries. This results in the federal government covering about 57 percent of the states’ Medicaid costs, according to The Fiscal Times.

A block grant is a specifically structured federal funding with a set sum of money that will be given to the states in a designated period of time.

Under a per capita enrollment, the federal government would only reimburse the states for a specific amount per enrollee.

Whether states are issued block grants or per capita enrollment, Medicaid benefits are going to be impacted and will affect many elderly and disabled individuals. This would also impact children and adults who were unfortunate enough to be born with a disease, such as cystic fibrosis or kidney disease, that prevents them from working.

The change in Medicaid funding is part of Trump’s effort to save the federal government money, which he believes will leave more power in the hands of the state.

Medicaid is a federal program that provides healthcare funds for nearly 70 million Americans, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This raises concern in Connecticut because there are more than 765,000 Connecticut residents who receive Medicaid and $2 million at stake with the proposed cuts, according to the New Haven Register.

“Eliminating the federal dollars for experimenting with payment methods and care delivery structures would cost Connecticut billions,” said Lieutenant Nancy Wyman, co-chair of the Access Health CT board of directors to the New Haven Registrer.

The funds states are receiving for Medicaid should not be tampered with. They are used to help immense numbers of elderly and disabled individuals nationwide. Tampering with the funding to save the federal government money would impact the largest insurer in the country and the 73 million people they currently cover, two-thirds of which are in nursing homes.

There needs to be more caution taken when it comes to altering the dynamics of Medicaid and who that will impact. There seems to be an unwritten obligation that needs to be upheld in which Medicaid is maintained, or even improved in order to ensure all who rely on it are properly receive the care they need.

It’s a Family Affair

by Kimberly Pena

When President Donald Trump took office, his family was there standing beside him, every step of the way. But now that move seems to backfire on the president’s family. Major retail companies are stepping down from their associations with the First Family as public backlash is starting to heat up.

Nordstrom is one of the latest retail companies to retract their association with the First Family, as they announced that they would be dropping Ivanka’s Trump clothing line. Nordstrom said that they were calling it quits with Ivanka’s clothing line due to the plunging number of sales, while also claiming that it had nothing to do with her being the daughter of the controversial president.

Do we all really buy that? There has been a firestorm going on in social media calling for a boycott on Trump’s merchandise. #Grabyourwallet has been on the rise in social media to propel buyers to boycott retailers that sell merchandise from Trump’s businesses. The boycott’s purpose is to attack the Trump family where the protesters think it hurts them most: their money.

Following Nordstrom’s decision, Kmart and Sears also made known that they will be dropping her line as well. Neiman Marcus Group also announced its decision to stop selling Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line on its website. Belk, Inc. also said it will no longer sell Ivanka Trump items on its website.

This does not include the nonstop public protests that have been going on in the streets against Trump. This alone is a propelling factor in why major retail companies will cut ties with the Trump name.

But is that right? Just because Ivanka is the daughter of one of the most controversial figures in U.S. history, it is not justifiable for companies to cut ties with her. She is her own person and has nothing to do with the decisions that her father makes. It is unfair treatment to hurt her name because she stands by her father; it is her dad, after all.

It is undeniable that some Americans do not understand how to differentiate Trump’s political influence from his family affairs. His political decisions should not negatively damage his family businesses. Yet it is fair to say companies do have the right to make decisions for and determine what is best for their corporations.

It is just disheartening to see how politics have come to affect every aspect of American life and the negativity that has come out of this wild presidential election. Only time will tell the long term effects Trump as president will do to not only this country, but to his family.

Fighting Fake News in the Classroom

by Lorenzo Burgio

The struggle to tell fact from fiction in the digital age is the battle being fought recently by teachers and professors.

A Stanford University study recently found that students in middle school, high school and college, are bad at verifying the news read online — which is worrisome.

The ability to verify news is something that has to be practiced in the nation’s classrooms, said Professor Sam Wineburg, who produced research for the Stanford study, to NPR.

In the study, Wineburg explained that the concept becomes even more worrisome because “many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media, they are equally perceptive about what they find there.” This makes young people a major factor, because they are susceptible to believing fake news and more prone to spreading it.

“How do they become prepared to make the choices about what to believe, what to forward, what to post to their friends, when they’ve been given no practice in school?” said Wineburg to NPR.

This idea is becoming even more prominent as the media is constantly being attacked or used for personal agendas, and this is something educators are aware of.

This is a responsibility that is falling more and more into the hands of teachers and professors, because “fewer schools now have librarians, who traditionally taught research skills,” explained The Wall Street Journal.

As Facebook works with the Associated Press and other organizations to ensure fake news is not spread throughout the social media platform, efforts in the classroom can also help tame the spread of fallacies on the Internet.

“Teachers from elementary school through college are telling students how to distinguish between factual and fictional news — and why they should care that there’s a difference,” wrote USA Today.

Encouraging and teaching the ability to sift out fake news in the nation’s classrooms is necessary. This ability is vital to becoming a functioning and involved member of society and can only benefit future voters.

California lawmakers passed a bill in January that requires the state to teach courses that help students between grades seven and 12 distinguish fact from fiction and understand the repercussions of spreading fake news.

The dynamics of these courses are specifically designed to have students combat fake news by knowing proper reporting techniques. They teach students to ask questions such as, “Are other news sites reporting on it? How is the writing? Can I find the people in the story elsewhere online?”

There will also be a special emphasis on using tools such as Snope.com and FactCheck.org to validate all information and to always think twice before sharing information on social media.

These courses should be taught nationwide. In a digital world that is only becoming increasingly technologically based, these are necessary skills that students should be properly educated in, to combat the spread and influence of fake news. It is particularly significant because the young, social media users play such a large role in spreading fallacies because of their familiarity and expertise with social media, and the perceived notion that news shared by them is of the same stature.

How Not To Be a Cheap Boyfriend on Valentine’s Day

by Kayla Murphy and Dustin Wong

Valentine’s Day is the one time a year where couples get fancy and go on romantic dinners and buy each other expensive gifts. However, with the crisis of this dwindling economy, it’s easy to understand why one would want to be budget-friendly. Girls aren’t always expecting bigger and better gifts, sometimes less is more. But just because your a little low on cash, doesn’t mean you should be getting your girl something cheap and something she won’t use or wear. We’ve complied a list of gifts under $10 that your girlfriend will love.

  1. A bathbomb -$7

They’re relaxing and the latest soap trends.Some even come with surprises on the inside of the bath bomb. If she has a tub, which hopefully she does, surprise her with this relaxing treat.

  1. A recipe book- $10

Does your girl like to cook? Work together to make a meal from the cookbook as your Valentine’s Day date.

  1. An infinity scarf- $8

February is a cold winery season, keep your girl snuggled up and fashionable with a cozy scarf. Stores such as Forever 21, Gap and American Eagle have adorable scarves.

  1. Face masks- $5

Whether its an avocado mask or a charcoal mask, give your girl easy do-it-yourself face masks for her to relax with. You can buy these masks at Sally’s Beauty Salon.

  1. Fuzzy socks- $8

One can easily get the cutest socks for reasonable price. Target has a wide variety of socks that have different patterns and textures.

  1. Hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies- $8

Everyone loves to cozy up with a cup of warm hot cocoa and a delicious chocolate chip cookies. We personally like the brand Swiss. For added extra-deliciousness, purchase a jar of Fluff, and scoop a little bit of fluff and put it into your hot chocolate.

  1. A disposable camera- $6- $9

Spend a whole day taking pictures with your girlfriend. You can bring the camera to Walmart to get the film developed. And she’ll love the idea of being crafty and making a scrapbook!

  1. A coupon book- $8

These “personalized vouchers of love” are perfect to give your girlfriend. The 12 coupons can be “cashed in” at any time, such as “one free massage”, “good for one breakfast in bed” etc.

  1. Poetry books- $8

Give your girl the book she won’t be able to put down. Poetry books such as “Milk and Honey” and “I Still Want It” are excellent poetry books to spark emotion and creativity.

  1. Stuffed animal- $10

Get your girl something cozy and soft to hold; bears are available at Walmart and Party City

Top Romantic Movies to Watch with Your Valentine

By Kayla Murphy

This chilling winter weather is perfect to cozy up with your partner and to enjoy the night in. Escaping the cold, cuddle close and enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate and a few chocolate heart treats. Relaxing in for the rest of the night, kick back on a comfy couch or bed and enjoy these top romantic movies.

1.) The Notebook
The Notebook is the reason why most of us end up as hopeless romantics just waiting for our significant other to sweep us off our feet and cradle us in their arms. On Valentine’s Day lay down, cozy up with your loved one,  and watch Ryan Gosling and Racheal McAdams characters fall madly in love together.  Me personally: I cry every time, so bring tissues. (just in case)

2.) Casablanca
Go back in time to the 1940’s where black and white meets red all over. This romantic drama includes amazing actors and the storyline includes both romance and action.  So even your loved one will be satisfied.

3.) Titanic
If you have never seen Titanic, Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for you and your partner to kick back, make some popcorn and set sail with an aristocratic women and poor artist as they search for love in each other.

 

 

4.) An Affair to Remember
This 1950’s melodramatic classic is an enjoyable movie to watch with your partner. To test the depth of their commitment a couple promises to meet at the top of the Empire State Building if they are still in love.

5.) Chocolat

Besides enjoying chocolate confections on Valentine’s Day, watch this award-winning film. Chocolat tells the story of a young woman who moves to a French village with her daughter. Together, they change the lives of the townspeople with their small chocolatier.

6.) Dirty Dancing 

This 80s movie is a lot of fun to watch with your date. Cozy up and watch a story about a girl falling in love with her dance instructor during summer camp. Everyone will enjoy this Patrick Swayze classic.

7.) 50 First Dates

Laugh yourself silly with this romantic comedy. A young man with commitment issues finally meets the girl of his dreams, until he discovers she has short-term memory loss and forgets him the next day. Yes, this is the Adam Sandler movie.

8.) When in Rome

Another romantic comedy, this movie is about a young woman from New York who goes on a whirlwind adventure to Rome. After impulsively stealing coins from a fountain, she is then pursued by a hand of suitors.

9.) 500 Days of Summer

If you love Zoey Deschanel as much as I do, then watch this adorable, off-beat romantic comedy about a young woman who doesn’t believe in love and the young man who falls for her.

 

 

 

 

10.) 10 Things I Hate About You

You and your partner can share a good chuckle as you watch about how a pretty, popular teenager can’t go on a date until her older ill-tempered sister does.