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Harvard Treads On Memes

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Harvard Treads On Memes

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Prospective members of Harvard University’s Class of 2021 had their admissions offers rescinded after they shared offensive content on social media.

According to screenshots obtained by The Harvard Crimson, messages shared by the individuals in a private Facebook group chat mocked sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children. This group chat originally stemmed from the Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group as prospective students formed their own conversations with those who shared similar interests.

HarvardWhen the university’s admissions office became aware of the memes and images shared, they asked students involved to email pictures sent in the group chat for review. Then, Harvard’s administration revoked the students’ admissions offers.

“The Admissions Committee was disappointed to learn that several students in a private group chat for the Class of 2021 were sending messages that contained offensive messages and graphics,” according to an email obtained by The Crimson sent to students involved.

Apparently, the decisions are final.

I agree that the content these individuals shared was gross and offensive, but does that mean that they deserve to have their admissions revoked?

I think it’s important to note that these were teenagers who often don’t make the best decisions. Couldn’t the admissions use this as a teaching moment instead of completely revoking their admissions? After all, these were private conversations. It’s not like these students were speaking on behalf of the university by blasting these memes all over the Internet.

Harvard is a private institution and, ultimately, they can do what they want.

I just wonder if Harvard’s decision sets a negative precedent. Should faculty, current students, and anyone somehow associated with the institution start monitoring absolutely everything they say in private conversations? What does that say about Harvard’s respect for the First Amendment?

Essentially, what should be considered a ‘private’ or ‘public’ conversation? I’d like to know.

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

in Drugs, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Cake is a film that follows the life of a woman after a car accident took the life of her young son and left her with debilitating, chronic pain.

chronic Aniston’s character lives with visible scars, insomnia, and pain so intense that she can barely sit without help. The movie shows her daily struggles with herself and those around her while she tries to come to terms with her new ‘normal.’

One scene sticks out to me as an all-too-familiar example of how big government makes decisions for us in the name of “helping.”

Because Aniston’s pain is constant, she goes through prescription pain pills faster than her refill dates will allow her to get more. And because of the stigma that surrounds chronic pain patients, Aniston’s local pharmacy won’t provide her with her medicine out of the fear that she is misusing her prescriptions to sell them on the street.

Taking matters into her own hands, she convinces her housekeeper to drive her across the border into Mexico to obtain the medication she needs. Because she doesn’t have the prescription needed to claim the medicine at the border, she smuggles it through a false compartment in a statue of St. Jude.

In essence, she’s willing to break the law in order to enhance her quality of life.

Starting this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be enforcing new rules that limit the accessibility of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the U.S. by 25 percent or more. This eliminates phone-in refills and mandates a check-in with a doctor every 90 days for a refill in an effort to curb opioid drug abuse and addiction.

In the United States, Schedule III and IV drugs, (like Xanax, Suboxone, etc.) are treated similarly. Moreover, a government ID must be presented in order to obtain things like cold medicine which could potentially be used to make Schedule I drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, etc.

If I were to buy nasal decongestant in my home state of Indiana, not only would I need to present my driver’s license to the pharmacist, but my name, address, license number, and other personal information must be reported to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Meth Investigation System.

In an effort to continue the failed war on drugs, lawmakers are pushing regulations that have unintended consequences, specifically for those who suffer from chronic conditions. More regulations mean more time and money spent on unnecessary doctors visits. And for many, it means making those trips up to 12 times a year or more.

Wouldn’t we be better off if we were able to make our own health decisions with our doctors rather than letting the government make them for us?

Don’t Be Ugly To Others

in Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Don’t Be Ugly To Others

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The 1999 award-winning film, the Green Mile, tells the story of the lives of guards on death row who are affected by one of their charges: a large black man accused of heinous crimes against children.

uglyIn perhaps one of the most iconic scenes of the movie, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) tells Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), that he’s tired:

I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’re coming from or going to, or why.

Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?

Coffey’s famous line sums up how I’ve been feeling since the 2016 election: tired.
Tired of people being ugly to one another because they didn’t agree on their presidential vote, they did or didn’t march for something, because they just disagree.

In addition to countless social media arguments I’ve witnessed between friends and family, I’ve read stories about couples separating because of their disagreement about presidential picks. During inauguration weekend, I witnessed firsthand the destruction of private property. (Not to mention the names my friends and I were called just for attending the 58th inauguration.)

College campuses are also experiencing violent protests and seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage because their students don’t want someone on their campus who has different opinions than they do.

People obviously have the right to express themselves and end relationships as they see fit. But isn’t arguing about the election with your high school friends on Facebook kind of lame and petty? There’s a vast difference between having an open dialogue and downright, mean-spirited fighting.

People should be able to do what they want, so long as they can face the response to what they do.

Never is it acceptable to throw rocks, bricks or start fires in order to get one’s point across. These actions have a victim.

I, too, am tired of the fighting and of the ugliness. If we all took the time to breathe, a moment to truly listen to one another, then we might be able to eradicate some of the ugliness in this world.

How to Achieve Your Goals for 2017

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How to Achieve Your Goals for 2017

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

If you’re like most Americans, you probably made some New Year’s resolutions. According to a report from NBC, some of the most popular ones are getting healthier, getting organized, and learning new hobbies…but most are forgotten about after a few weeks. For a lot of people, they start with unrealistic resolutions, don’t know how to manage their time and then give up easily.

Goal setting

I know how frustrating it is to set a goal and then completely give up on it. Fortunately, I think that keeping these three tips in mind can help you achieve whatever resolutions you’ve made for yourself this year.

  1. Focus. To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen. Moreover, make sure that your goals are SMART:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

  1. Momentum. Goal setting is an ongoing activity. Make reminders in your phone or planner to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain the same over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

  1. Bloom. One of my favorite quotes is, “Learn to bloom where you are planted. Even if you find yourself planted under some concrete at the moment, look for the crack in the concrete to find your way out.”

And finally, don’t give up and no matter how fast or slow your progress is, make sure you take the time to celebrate the little victories! By utilizing these tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals in the new year.

 

College Kids Don’t Understand the First Amendment, Hate It Anyway

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

College Kids Don’t Understand the First Amendment, Hate It Anyway

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last spring, I wrote about college students hating free speech. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer to explain why 22 percent of college students believe that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.” Students are done a disservice when administrators promote “safe spaces” and systems to report microaggressions for situations where students face speech they don’t like or can’t handle.

the_worst_thing_about_censorship-4ea871c-introBut now, I think that that 22% of American students just don’t understand the freedoms protected by the First Amendment – and they hate it because it’s the cool thing to do.

If you haven’t seen the news coverage, countless protests have taken place around the country that are, essentially, against free speech. The irony abounds.

Most recently, Jake Goldberg, a Tufts University sophomore, proposing a sweeping free speech resolution to the campus community, was viciously attacked and maligned on social media by peers who suggest he’s only lobbying for free speech so he can be free to say racist and oppressive things. This is often the tactic taken by those looking to limit freedom. They take the most vile example to become the argument that those advocating for freedom are fighting for.

Tufts University has some of the most restrictive free speech policies in the country, and Goldberg’s resolution calls for an end to campus anti-free speech rules. These rules include vague administrative provisos that crack down on the “use of nicknames,” “hurtful words,” “bias-fueled jokes,” “comments on an individual’s body or appearance,” “innuendos of a sexual nature,” and “gender bias.”

Goldberg created the resolution on behalf of a new organization he co-created called Students Advocating for Students. But many students reacted to the resolution in fits of online rage. Using social media and campus email, students called him every NSFW/K name imaginable.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

How can these students not understand the concept of free speech, and how it’s protected by the First Amendment, when they immediately “peacefully assemble,” or protest, when they’re met with ideas that they don’t like?

In an age where censorship is running rampant on college campuses, students need to realize that it’s their freedom that is at stake – the freedom to say, write and think what they want.

Don’t Just Depend On A Piece Of Paper

in Education, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Don’t Just Depend On A Piece Of Paper

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

This week, I participated in a panel discussion for new students beginning their college careers at my alma mater, Ball State University. I shared my experiences on campus, talked about leadership, how to find the right job after graduation, and what I am doing now with The Advocates for Self-Government with the Class of 2021 C.L.A.S.S. participants.

Ball StateDuring the Q and A portion of the panel, a student asked if earning my degree was more important than the professional experience I gained by completing internships during undergrad.

This is what I told him:

I wouldn’t be where I am professionally without the networking I did as an undergrad. Networking led to internships which led to my professional career. However, the journalism, history, graphic design, and political science classes I took gave me the technical skills I needed to succeed in professional clubs and internships.

In other words, I don’t think that it is important for students to depend on a piece of paper alone. A degree in a subject that one is truly passionate about is great – but it’s not the be-all and end-all of your education.

I have friends that never earned a college degree but have incredibly successful careers. I have other friends that have multiple degrees and are stuck in jobs that make them miserable.

My advice to college students is to take advantage of every single opportunity this upcoming school year and throughout your college career.

Do your best in your classes and ask for help when you need it. If there is a professional club on campus that is relevant to your major, attend a few meetings. If your department is hosting an alumni mixer, GO, and introduce yourself to professionals. Ask for their business cards and keep in touch.

One of my favorite quotes comes from actress Tina Fey:

“Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”

College is where you’re supposed to take risks, learn, and GROW personally and professionally.

Now, get out there and grow.

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

in Education, Elections and Politics, First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In the last year, dozens of student protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address microaggressions on campus. From Mizzou to Yale University and Occidental College, these
demands have garnered national attention.

ClevelandBut one of the most recent incidents that happened on a college campus? A “safe space” that was provided by Case Western Reserve University in order to “assist those psychologically or physically traumatized by the prospect of Republicans being in Cleveland and giving speeches,” that hardly anyone utilized.

Located a few miles from where the Republican National Convention was held, the university made a statement in The Daily, that the private school’s Social Justice Institute “will host a ‘safe space’” in the basement of Crawford Hall for the duration of the convention.

“After extensive consultation among our leadership team and discussions in last week’s open forums, we have decided that the university will reduce its on-campus operations significantly from Monday, July 18, through the close of the convention Thursday, July 21,” the statement explained.

Classes were cancelled or moved off campus. Essentially, faculty, staff, and students were told to take the week off. The statement also reminded students that University Counseling Services would “continue to offer walk-in services for students who want to talk with someone about their concerns related to recent events and/or the upcoming convention.”

According to The College Fix, Case Western closed down most of that week because it allowed hundreds of police officers to stay in their residence halls for the duration of the RNC. (And that made a few groups very unhappy.)

“Recent events” in the university’s statement must have referred to the number of altercations between police officers and civilians this summer. The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas have had this country on edge. Protests leading up to and during the Republican National Convention were expected to be large and violent, but according to The Washington Post, they were small and uneventful.

It’s understandable that the university wanted to look out for the safety of faculty, staff, and students. But as an institution of higher education, isn’t it important to teach young people that fear should never win or dictate action?

Instead of using current events as a teachable moment, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in drawing attention away from what was really important for students – their education.

Why Do College Students Hate Free Speech?

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Why Do College Students Hate Free Speech?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

I had the opportunity to spend some vacation time in Washington D.C. this month. The cherry blossoms were beautiful, the food was excellent, and I found a new favorite museum: the Newseum.

Opinion For a complete news junkie like me, it was the perfect place to spend two consecutive days. Exhibits ranged from interactive media ethics games to every Pulitzer Prize-winning photo since the award was established in 1917. The most interesting exhibits, in my opinion, were centered around free speech around the world and on college campuses.

A giant world map showed which countries had the greatest amount of freedom of the press. A green-colored country meant the most, yellow was somewhat, and red was least to none at all. It was no surprise that the U.S. was green, some of Europe was yellow, and almost all of the Middle East was red.

The other side of the exhibit held interactive multimedia displays that showcased the history of free speech on campus. Highlights included the Civil Rights movement, protests at Kent State and Columbia University, and an ethics game about college newspapers.

One board in particular intrigued me. It asked: “Should college campuses limit free speech to protect students from hateful comments?” Attendees could take a sticker and put it on the “Yes” or “No” side to cast their vote.

I watched two college-aged girls look at the board, pause for a moment, and put their stickers on the “Yes” side.

Although the majority of stickers disagreed with the statement, I really wanted to ask these two why they thought that way. Here they are surrounded, literally, by maps of the most oppressive places in the world for journalists, and they believe that colleges should censor student speech.

It was a little baffling.

So, why do college students hate free speech?

According to a Gallup Poll released on Monday, college students want free speech on their campuses but want administrators to intervene when it turns into hate speech. However, they disagree on whether college campuses are open environments and on how the media should cover campus protests.

Roughly 78 percent of students surveyed said that colleges should allow “all types of speech and viewpoints,” while 22 percent noted that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.”

The survey’s organizers wrote that, “Students do appear to distinguish controversial views from what they see as hate speech — and they believe colleges should be allowed to establish policies restricting language and certain behavior that are intentionally offensive to certain groups.”

However, 54 percent of students said that “the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive.”

Along with the Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute, Gallup conducted another similar survey of college students and found that they are highly distrustful of the press. Students believe that universities should be able to bar the press from campus in some instances. Lastly, they think that schools should be able to restrict students from wearing costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups.

Although I’m not entirely sure why college students hate free speech, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of them are done a disservice when administrators create “safe spaces” and microaggression reporting systems when they are faced with speech they don’t like. Students would be better served if their campuses truly had open discussions that exposed them to opinions other than their own and that challenged their viewpoints.

College Holiday Party? Better Skip the Props

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Issues, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

College Holiday Party? Better Skip the Props

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Ah, today is St. Patrick’s Day. In college towns across America, students are probably skipping class to drink and attend parties while dressed in every green piece of clothing they own.

SombreroShamrock glasses and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” tee shirts are usually the norm for St. Patrick’s Day party goers. But, as holidays come and go, traditional shirts and accessories could be another opportunity for college administrators and perpetually offended student protesters alike to bypass free expression rights as part of a misguided effort to prevent offense and hurt feelings.

Case in point, a tequila-themed birthday party at Bowdoin College caused quite the uproar a few weeks ago due to guests wearing…tiny sombreros.

When photos appeared on social media of the party and its guests, the entire campus took action.

Bowdoin administrators sent multiple school wide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

A few days later, the Bowdoin Student Government unanimously adopted a “statement of solidarity” to “[stand] by all students who were injured and affected by the incident,” and recommend that administrators “create a space for those students who have been or feel specifically targeted.” The statement deemed the party an act of “cultural appropriation,” one that “creates an environment where students of color, particularly Latino, and especially Mexican, students feel unsafe.”

A week later, BSG introduced articles of impeachment against two student representatives that attended the party. However, impeachment proceedings were postponed until further notice by the BSG President, Danny Mejia-Cruz, and then later rescinded.

As for the rest of the others? According to The Bowdoin Orient:

“They will participate in an educational program facilitated by a faculty member, attend Active Bystander training and write a letter or paper on these experiences—other aspects of their punishment seem arbitrary. They were forced to move out of their room in Stowe Hall and relocate to doubles in Chamberlain Hall and they are banned from Ivies and Spring Gala.”

However, on the very same night of the “tequila party,” Bowdoin held its annual, administration-sanctioned “Cold War” party. Students wore fur hats and coats to represent Soviet culture and one referred to herself as “Stalin,” making light of a particularly painful era in Slavic history.

What makes one party deserving of school sponsorship while participation in the other will get you kicked out of your dorm room? The mixed messages are even more troubling considering an event last year in which the university provided students and alumni with sombreros and other hats and props for a photo booth. Those photos are still available on the school’s public Facebook page.

It is concerning that Bowdoin can argue that these “tequila party” attendees should have known better than to treat sombreros as silly props if the administration itself didn’t either.

One Microaggression After Another

in First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

One Microaggression After Another

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Now more than ever, college campuses are offering training, courses and even online portals for students, faculty and staff to understand and report microaggressions. Failure to acknowledge harm caused by microaggressions on college campuses is resulting in the resignation of administrators.

Microaggression Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on the surface to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a tiny form of violence nonetheless.

For example, by some university guidelines, asking an Asian American where they are from is a microaggression because the questions implies that the person is not a real American.

Occidental College in California is instituting a microaggression reporting system, which comes as a response to recent student protests of President Jonathan Veitch, among other things.

Protests took place this past semester in support of other students of color at The University of Missouri, Yale, and Claremont McKenna College.

Although Veitch did not step down, he agreed to meet students’ demands which included: diversifying the faculty, creating a black studies program, increasing funding for diversity initiatives and training all campus staff on minority student needs, along with the microaggression reporting program.

Agreeing to student demands did not work for Ithaca College’s president, however.

In January, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon announced he would retire in 2017 which, appeased the groups of students and faculty members that called for his resignation. Rochon was accused of improperly handling racist incidents on campus, and offended student-activists and faculty wanted him out.

Really, only two incidents were reported. The first, an alumni panel discussion in which one panelist, an older white man, called another panelist, a younger black woman, a “savage” after the woman described herself as possessing “a savage hunger.” When the older man was told that his comments could be considered racial and malicious, although he did not mean them to be, he apologized. Rochon put out a statement and apologized:

On Thursday, October 8, we conducted a Blue Sky Reimagining kick-off event, featuring a conversation among four alumni followed by work in small groups brainstorming on how to make the Ithaca College educational experience more immersive.

Insensitive comments were made during the conversation. Immediately following the event, I (Tom Rochon) apologized to the alumna to whom the comments were addressed. We regret that what was intended to be a visionary moment for our community was diminished by insensitive comments.

In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus. Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise disrespectful. Even so, we reaffirm our commitment to making our campus an inclusive and respectful community.

We recognize the concerns raised by members of the campus community about the language used during the Blue Sky event. We reiterate our commitment to the principles of respect and inclusion and to the goal of ensuring that Ithaca College is a place where all students, faculty, staff, and visitors feel safe and respected.

The other? A “Preps and Crooks” theme party that was hosted by a fraternity around Halloween. The dress of the “crooks” was racially insensitive according to some students. Ithaca’s vice president did indeed condemn the “destructive impact” of the event, but it did not satisfy Ithaca students.

By playing into student demands, college administrators are doing students a disservice for not adequately preparing them for the real world where one won’t be protected from speech, actions, or non-verbals that they may not like or agree with.