Category Archives: Editorials

Wesleyan Co-Educates On-Campus Fraternities

The Greek life on campus at Wesleyan University is in for a major change from the traditional fraternity/sorority system, after university president Michael Roth announced to the campus that the three residential fraternities must begin the process of becoming co-educational organizations within the next three years.

Although for the past century the chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Psi Upsilon have been strictly traditional, male-only fraternities, the time has finally come to change this. This in essence puts an end to the traditional gender norms that are typically associated with fraternities

“This change is something that Wesleyan and the fraternities have been contemplating for many years, and now the time has come,” said Roth in an email sent out to Wesleyan students.  “The University looks forward to receiving plans from the residential fraternities to co-educate, after which it will work closely with them to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

Although this co-education won’t apply to nonresidential single-gender societies just yet, making this monumental change to the residential societies is a good first step.  Administrators at Wesleyan University are hopeful that they can continue to make on-campus student groups more inclusive and equitable for all students, thus creating a safer campus for all in the process.

In March, the Psi Upsilon chapter at Wesleyan faced a lawsuit regarding an alleged rape at a pledge party for the fraternity the previous spring semester.  Another rape lawsuit also threatened against the Beta Theta Pi chapter, which was featured on the cover of the Atlantic. All this lead up to students, faculty and alumni of Wesleyan joining together to create a petition asking fraternities to start admitting women into their chapters back in April.

This semester the debate began again following an incident of a female student falling out of a window of the Beta fraternity house; resulting in the University declaring the frat house off limits to students.

The university claims that its decision is not in response to any single incident, but it can be assumed that the change is a result of all of these occurrences.

Wesleyan follows in the footsteps of Trinity College, which changed its policy over a combination of high-profile scandals and a report that found that students in single-sex Greek organizations were more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Additionally, students in those organizations have lower grades than the average student at Trinity College, where the report was done.

The university explained that it wanted the transition to be gradual, which is why it gave the organizations three years to become fully co-educational, according to Kate Carlisle, university media and public relations manager, in an interview with the Wesley Anargus, the school’s newspaper.

“People pledge and some people graduate, so three years seemed to be an appropriate and optimal amount of time to give the fraternities to develop a coeducation plan with the help of Student Affairs and come up with something that would be a meaningful and qualified response to this,” said Carlisle.

The university’s student government presented the resolutions which enacted the change as a part of a set of policies to end rape culture and prevent sexual assault on the campus. The university is hoping that taking this step will help to create an equitable and safe learning environment on campus.

Urban Outfitters Seeks Attention, Offends Again

Urban Outfitters has outdone themselves, yet again. The clothing company has proven to dramatically and improperly cross the fine line between edgy and tasteless.

The company is once again under fire for its offensive clothing choices, this time for releasing a bloodstained Kent State hoodie, labelled as “vintage” by the company.

For those unaware of Kent State’s history, in 1970, four students were killed and nine others injured when the Ohio State National Guard opened fire on a large Vietnam War protest. The incident sparked national outrage and closed hundreds of universities and colleges as more than four million students went on strike.

This tasteless article of clothing would have set back the twisted buyer $129, a ridiculous sum for any hoodie, never mind something so vile.

The company issued the same sort of response it always does when it offends others. It claims that it didn’t realize that it crossed a line.

“It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970, and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray,” said the company in a statement.

Perhaps it would be believable if the company didn’t have such a history with creating clothing that causes controversy.

Urban Outfitters was under fire just recently for a shirt emblazoned from top to bottom with the word “Depression.” Before that, there was shirt proudly proclaiming “Eat less.”

This is why it’s hard to believes Urban Outfitters when it says that it had no intention of offending anyone with the bloody hoodie. Other vintage college hoodies are sold by the company, none featuring the bloodstains that were featured on the Kent State hoodie.

Clearly, Urban Outfitters has decided that offending people is a viable business model. Still, the company’s extreme clothing decisions doesn’t deter shoppers.

In fact, the company gets free publicity every time it makes the country angry. The half-hearted apology the company gave will be more than enough for some of the young consumers who frequent the store.

Urban Outfitters makes itself seem edgy, appealing to its consumer base which is more than used to being bombarded with advertisements from every side. It cuts through that cloud by evoking an emotion from the public. Instead of wasting money on heavy advertising, the company gets free publicity at the expense of the sensitive public.

There is one way to stop whoever has decided that this method is a decent way to run a company: treat it like an annoying advertisement, don’t buy the product. Stop shopping at Urban Outfitters. This is a company that is overpriced, prospering from any manner of attention. It’s time to treat Urban Outfitters like a whiney child and ignore it. Your wallet will thank you.

A Plea for Net Neutrality

Websites across the Internet banded together to make a huge statement to users on Wednesday, by displaying a spinning-wheel icon to demonstrate to Internet users what could potentially happen if the U.S. Federal Communications Commission passes strict net neutrality regulations.

With these net neutrality rules load times of many sites may be slowed down; meaning the internet would be divided into slow and fast lanes. Fast lanes would be for sites that pay broadband providers for a quicker speed and delivery time of that website. Many websites will become virtual slow lanes if they do not pay to have their speeds increased by a broadband company.

Popular websites including Reddit, Mozilla, Imgur, Etsy, Foursquare and WordPress will be participating in the protest. These are in addition to popular porn sites including PornHub and YouPorn and the 25th most popular site in the United States: Netflix, according to Alexa, popular analytical site.

“Consumers, not broadband gatekeepers, should pick the winner and losers on the Internet,” said Netflix spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo to the National Journal. “Strong net neutrality rules are needed to stop Internet service providers from demanding extra fees or slowing delivery of content to consumers who already have paid for Internet access.”

The main point that these websites are trying to get across to Internet users around the world is that this is what an unfair Internet would look like. Websites that compete with major cable company’s programs could be severely impacted by a lack of net neutrality.

Companies like Netflix, which streams some of the same content that major cable and broadband services provide, could become so slow that they will become virtually impossible to use. Think Netflix is slow now? Think again.

In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission enacted net neutrality regulations to prevent broadband companies from blocking websites and discriminating against any Internet traffic. The federal court struck this proposal down early this year, but the FCC is currently writing a new strategy that would hold up better in court.

This ignited a major response, since this would allow providers such as Comcast to charge certain sites to be in the fast lanes as long as these sites compose payment agreements that are reasonable to the broadband provider.

What is at stake here is Internet freedom. These broadband providers are trading freedom for their own profit, in essence blocking the industries based on the Internet from moving about freely. Advocacy groups including Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press and Engine Advocacy are all participators in Wednesday’s protest for net neutrality.

“These protests all stand on their own right,” said Davis Segal, the executive director of Demand Progress to the National Journal. “It’s like comparing every rally, every march to the biggest march in history.”

Other Internet protests have yielded positive results, preventing the governments from passing regulations that would limit the sharing of ideas and pictures in the manner Internet users are accustomed to. Hopefully, this week’s slowdown will serve the same purpose, reminding both the government and the people what a great thing the free, open Internet could be.

Journalists Experience Trauma Too

There were many people who went to the 2014 Boston Marathon to heal. For runners and spectators alike, the race was a moment for the population to stand up for itself.

Along with the people who attend and participate in the event, there are those who are not commonly perceived as traumatized by incidents of this magnitude.

Journalists were among those who were on the finish line of last year’s marathon and near the subsequent explosion. Normally the Boston Marathon is a day of exciting photography and storytelling triumph.

Last year, it turned to one of tragedy, when two bombs exploded near the finish line. As the bombs detonated, a man who had just finished the race collapsed due to the shockwave from the blast.

One photo-journalist began snapping pictures as the chaos began. He then took what became an iconic photo: the collapsed older runner with three police officers above him moving swiftly into action.

This photojournalist, John Tlumacki, has been covering the Boston Marathon for 21 years and has been at the finish line for the last six of them.

Tlumacki took approximately 2,000 pictures that day and he regretted it as soon as it was over. About 200 of the photos he took were of the aftermath of the bombing.

“Then I felt horrible. I felt I took advantage of people when they were down. That night was the worst night of my life, just reliving that whole scene over and over and over again,” said Tlumacki in an interview with USA Today.

Tlumacki’s story is a stark reminder of the fact that the media is made up of individuals, or people just as human as those whose lives they document.

He felt horrendous about the photos he had made. Tlumacki said that in the days following the blast he didn’t know if the people had had made pictures of were dead or alive.

But Tlumacki was surprised with the response he received from those who he had photographed. Despite the fact that his photos portrayed these people in the most graphic manner possible, people wanted to meet him.

It was through connections like this that Tlumacki was able to heal from the mental trauma he had incurred during last year’s marathon. He, like the thousands of others who were affected that day, used this year’s marathon as a sort of final piece towards his recovery.

Tlumacki is not the only journalist who was haunted by the horrible events he has covered.

Coolumbia University runs a program called the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. There is also a center in Europe.

“”[They] stay on target, stay on mission and do wonderful, wonderful work and stay balanced for a long time. But you can’t carry on walking a tightrope forever. You need to take some rest and you need to get away from the job,” said Gavin Rees, director of the Dart Centre Europe for Journalism and Trauma, in an interview with Teresa Fitzherbert, a student in the Magazine MA journalism course.

She refers to the trend of journalists who cover stressful events and do not seek treatment or their own personal healing. While most emergency response professions have a system for dealing with trauma, journalism does not have this same safety net. Even though Tlumacki was able to heal on his own, his is a more rare example.   In what is considered the most stressful profession in the world, there needs to be a fall back for journalists who may be suffering from conditions as minor as a little anxiety to as severe as PTSD.

UCONN R.A. Tries to Calm a Crowd; Backfires

In the days leading up to the final match between the two UConn basketball teams, a resident assistant sent a sharply worded to those who live on his floor.

The email, simply signed Derek, informed residents on his floor that any celebration of the games would not be tolerated.

“I’m on duty tonight and it’s going to be stressful, so please don’t push it on our floor,” said Derek. This request was fair enough, but what followed turned from a simple request to downright insulting.

In the end, remember that the only reason you care about the game is:
a.) because they’re wearing a UConn uniform
b.) you want an excuse to go wild

It was getting worse, but it still wasn’t that bad. Then Derek typed this next line.

“If it’s the first one, you’re cheering for laundry,” said Derek in his email.

That is beyond disrespectful, not only to the students he is addressing, but to the university and the athletes.

Derek seems to have forgotten the hours of work these athletes have put into their sport. It’s not just “laundry” to these students. It’s more than a uniform. It is a lifestyle for them.

Whether or not you agree with the hype that surrounds “March Madness,” it is impossible to deny that these students have gone above and beyond simply being student athletes. It is not “laundry” that makes it to the final game of the most talked about college sporting event. It is the blood, sweat and tears of people inside those uniforms.

The RA, Derek, seems to have really had an unfortunate lapse in judgement when he hit the send button on that email sent to all students on his floor – dismissing the UConn team as inferior, compared to whatever status he may hold as an RA. Tonight, UConn men may once again become the national champion mens basketball team in the NCAA tournament. If you have the balls to say that a team of that status is equivalent to laundry, the smidgen of clothing they wear whilst performing, then I don’t even want to delve into what the equivalent of a Residence Hall Assistant is. Derek seems to have forgotten that the UConn team, and their collective of dedicated, hard-working players, who practice ruthlessly daily, are the very same people who have brought tons of attention to Connecticut athletics, championship rings, and much more. The money the team has helped generate for UConn could be some of the same money he receives in his measly RA paychecks. Not to mention the incredible number of players UConn has morphed into star professional NBA basketball players.

Derek’s statements to his residence hall were likely well intended, yet once he deviated from his original request for students to simply not go too crazy over the game, he added a lot of insult to an already sensitive situation. Students wouldn’t take lightly to being demanded to abstain from enjoying the biggest game they may ever experience in their lifetimes, which is why Dereks plan will likely backfire, and bring him the opposite of the result he originally asked for.

Too Young to Stress College Debt

College is expensive; everyone knows that. And it isn’t getting any cheaper. Tuition all over the country is only increasing and so is the number of students stressed about it.

H&R Block recently put out a press release highlighting the amount of stress that teens have about finances. The survey that they conducted consisted of about 1,000 teenagers between 13 and 17 years old, focusing on the financial mind-set of young adults.

It was found that eight out of 10 teenagers are worried about finding a good job and 78 percent are already worried about their potential student loan debt.

These students are only in high school; some still in middle school. This means that the youngest of the students surveyed will not attend their first year of college until 2019, or five years from now.

Between the 2011-12 and 2014-15 school years – the length of an undergraduate bachelor’s degree – CCSU increased tuition by a total of 12.9 percent, a year-by-year average of just over three percent.

At that rate by 2019, when the youngest of those surveyed would be entering college, tuition would be increased by just over 16 percent and would potentially increase the four years they would be there.

There’s always the possibility that increases won’t be that much per year or even every year. And each college or university may handle the situation differently, maybe choosing to stop tuition increases.

Yet despite these possibilities, students are clearly still stressing about their future education that’s two to five years away. Though it is good for teens and young adults to learn about money and financial situations, this stress can be overwhelming. And since the youngest surveyed won’t even be working for a few more years, the stress they are facing is unhealthy.

H&R Block Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Collins believes that today’s economic realities are bringing not only stress but also pressure to people of such a young age. “Our survey shows 57 percent of teens use their own money on purchases, yet they often lack fundamental money management skills. The good news is, the research clearly illustrates a desire to learn.”

Managing money and planning financially is something that young teens should learn early on. However, the idea of being in debt over 10 years into the future shouldn’t be something a student just entering high school should have to be worrying about.

The survey showed that even though 97 percent of students still plan on going to college, a large majority (78 percent) worry about borrowing too much money in loans. Eighty-six percent of teens think it is more important than ever to choose a major that leads to a well-paying job.

From 2008-2012, national student debt at the time of college graduation had increased 6 percent, averaging at $27,000 per borrower. This will only increase as schools continue to increase their tuition on a nearly yearly basis.

Almost half of the older teens said that the determining factor of where, or if, they attend college will be the cost.

And even should they decide to make the commitment to higher education, the continued recession and general jobless climate in America, should it continue,  will make it increasingly difficult to find work after graduation.

The New York Times reported that college graduates have suffered the smallest unemployment rates of any section of the population. But those jobs often don’t require the college-level skills learned by the graduate. Oftentimes the jobs aren’t even related to what someone majored in.

What becomes clear is that something needs to be done about the rising cost of college tuition. As students are increasingly relying on these higher institution to land them future employment, it seems counterproductive to continue forcing them to saddle higher and higher levels of debt.