Title IX does it again. In a misguided attempt to make college sports more accessible to female student athletes, legislatures in Congress passed this bill that made it mandatory for schools to spend equally on both men’s and women’s sports. Seton Hall University, which HAD a reputable track team just announced that both the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track teams would be dissolved in order to make way for women’s golf. This was done as a cost-saving measure, but really Seton Hall? You are leaving numerous students who once had track scholarships out to dry all for the sake of establishing a women’s golf program. Title IX’s irrationality can be seen on our own campus where the men’s crew team is literally given money by the women’s team because of unequal and misappropriated funding. Why go through this hassle? Why not simply provide the right teams with the right funds? I am all for women’s athletics. They are an indelible part of any university system. Why should they be at the expense of men’s sports, though?
Archive for February, 2010
Recently, a group calling themselves “Students for Workers” has surfaced here at Lehigh. Under that name, they submitted a letter to the Brown and White which looked to galvanize support amongst Lehigh students for Sodexo employees to join the SEIU (Services Employees International Union).
Who are these students? Well, it’s tough to tell from the letter. One thing we do know though – these students obviously think that they are quite important. Despite having absolutely no role in the Sodexo-Employee-SEIU triangle, they felt it was appropriate for them to make demands of the other bodies. To quote:
“In order to improve the situation, we wish to hold a meeting in which students, faculty, staff, and workers can speak openly without Sodexo management present. We feel that their presence would only serve to intimidate workers. We request that you issue a written statement to all Sodexo workers at Lehigh, informing them that in the interest of upholding free speech on our campus, you endorse campus workers’ right to discuss their working conditions at our open meeting. Due to the severity of the problem, we implore you to take action quickly. We respectfully request a response to this letter within the coming week.”
There’s no doubt that these students feel righteous in their support for the abused and alienated workers that Sodexo employs. And that’s great for them. However, it creates several issues which need to be addressed.
First, the condescension of these students is insulting to Sodexo employees, and should be insulting to the rest of us, as fellow Lehigh students.
Once the letter was published, several Sodexo employees immediately commented online. One employee, identifying himself as Paul wrote:
“WE, the general employee staff at Lehigh, are sick and tired of Austin (that’s the little twerp bothering people everywhere on campus) and his pathetic gang constantly badgering us about union this, union that. Enough’s enough. When is it going to end?”
While this is just one example (there are others in the same comment section), it highlights an important and obvious fact: these students have little idea what they are talking about. Employees live their lives everyday, and many of them have been doing so since long before any of us arrived at Lehigh. They know how things work, and some like it, some don’t. You will find that at any job, but with all students having seen some of the same smiling faces this year that we saw as freshmen, it should be apparent that working at Sodexo isn’t that horrible.
Ultimately, it is up to the workers to decide that. From the responses so far, it is apparent that the “Students for Workers” organization wanted to see an inequity, found one, and started a crusade. In the meantime, they are completely disregarding the (quite valid) opinions of Sodexo employees such as Paul who don’t want the SEIU butting into the conversation, let alone a gang of ignorant students. It is quite evident from this is that these students feel that they are more competent not just to act for Sodexo employees, but to think for them as well.
Students at large should also be insulted by these “Students for Workers.” The unionization of Sodexo employees would likely drive up operating costs for Sodexo, and in the process drive up Lehigh’s already questionable dining prices. While these students may be willing to pay more to dine, they are campaigning for everyone else at Lehigh to do the same.
All of this is being done in the name of the typical liberal mantras of unionized workers creating a paradise for the working class and finally having a society with “social justice.” What they miss though, as usual, is reality. Unions are the same overbearing oppressive entities that liberals see corporations to be. Unions create agendas, bring politics into the workplace, and in general create more problems than solutions for everyone involved. They drive up unemployment by restricting the labor supply through their demands for higher wages.
Are unions worth it? That’s a case by case decision, and everyone has his or her own opinions. Specifically with Sodexo and the SEIU, neither you nor I knows if it is a good fit for a union. Ultimately though, it must be the employees choice to take action. By “intervening,” the “Students for Workers” organization has displayed both condescension and ignorance. Sodexo employees are more than capable of taking care of themselves, or asking students for help if needed. Unsolicited “help” which openly disregards some Sodexo employees’ wishes is extremely disrespectful to our dining staff, and a disgraceful display of arrogance by these supposedly intellectual students.
Editor’s note: Sarah is an undergraduate student at Lehigh University. She made the choice to depledge from her Sorority. This is her story.
“Thursdays are fucking mandatory.” It was only a text message, but I could hear the shrill words of my pledge master ringing in my ears. What bullshit, I thought, as I often do after reading almost any text message that is sorority-related. I wasn’t going anywhere; I erased the message without responding.
I lay in bed, waiting for the rest of the text messages to arrive. The classic, “Where the fuck r u?!” or the standard, “ I don’t know why you think pledging is optional.” I think pledging is optional because I am sick. Very sick. Although I don’t even bother telling people that again, because they don’t believe me, let alone ask how I’m feeling. “ We’re all sick. Jill has a stomach virus and she’s still here. Just get here NOW!” Stomach virus? That’s all I need to catch. Of course I’m not going. And Jill shouldn’t either.
I don’t know if it’s because I am older then the rest of my pledge class, or more mature, or experienced, but I do know that jeopardizing your health, or the health of those around you is just stupid. Go home, Jill. And Erica, if you’re all sick, then don’t go out every night and binge drink. It’s just common sense.
I used to not see the difference between freshmen, like those in my pledge class, and real people. Now I do. I am not a freshman. I know this because unlike the rest of my pledge class, I already know myself. I know how to drink…and when to stop. I know that I cannot go out partying until all hours of the night, every night, and still expect to keep up the grades I know I’m capable of. (Dana, if you’re failing two of your classes, then maybe you should consider sitting tonight out.) I know how to handle stress without bashing in the faces of those in my general vicinity, which brings me to another distinction: social grace. Mine is a finely tuned instrument, which I play fluently, and beautifully. Their social grace, if capable of sound, would bring most back to the days of elementary school band concerts, where children pitifully struggled to play the three notes of Hot Cross Buns.
“Look hot tonight,” is the next text I receive. If hot means dressing like the rest of the girls, then count me out. If hot means wearing a shirt as a dress and forgetting underwear, then forget me dressing hot tonight. If hot means getting up on tables and waving my arms in the air, oblivious to the fact that I went commando, then no, I will not look hot tonight; I’ll wear jeans.
I often wonder why I even bother with pledging. It is certainly not the sisterhood that I need. My mother blessed me with two sisters, whose unconditional love for me is ever supportive. Where they lack, my real friends fill in. Friends, who when I’m sick, don’t order me out of bed, but bring me soup and take my temperature without my asking. Friends, who hold me up in the shower when my fever hovers around 104 degrees and I’m unable to stand. Friends, who don’t turn their heads, pretending not to see me around campus, but scream my name and wave their arms around like lunatics to get my attention. Friends. Sisters. That’s not why I’m joining a sorority.
Some girls dream of living in a sorority house, complete with chef, communal showers, and forced triple rooms. I do not. In fact, I have no intention of living in a house with forty other women. I. Would. Die. Between the drama, the cat fights, the trash talking, the fat talking, the raging eating disorders. I cannot live in the house. In fact, I already have specific plans to not live in the house. I signed the lease for my off-campus townhouse months ago. Complete with queen size bed, walk-in closet, and private bathrooms.
Finding it was a miracle. I’ll live with the girl who I did not pay to be my social support system. The girl who asks what I have been doing – interested, as opposed to telling me what I should have been doing, apathetic to any reality beyond sorority events. So, why pledge? I don’t like to go out every night like the rest of the girls in the “sisterhood”. I don’t want to. I’ll admit it. There are times when a few glasses of wine, and the boy of the moment are all I need to fulfill my desires of the night. But every so often, I’ll get that urge. That urge to wear a little extra makeup. That urge to throw on my shortest dress, and my highest heels. That urge to drink to get drunk. To dance on bars, and kick people’s drinks over without a care in the world. Ever so rarely, I’ll get that urge to go out. And when I do, I don’t want to roam the Hill, listening for the loudest music, or looking out for the slightest signs of a party. I want to have somewhere to go every night of the week and someone designated to drive me there. Plus, it really alleviates any competition when girls are expected to back off when I have some frat boy wrapped around my fingers, drooling. And having an entire house of girls pledge not to give any of my past love interests the time of day, just to screw them over, is pretty reassuring after a breakup.
So, why didn’t I pledge? Because Thursdays are not fucking mandatory, and I am more than capable of confidently going to a party without the protection of a social security blanket
President Gast recently expressed her intentions of hiring a Chief Diversity Officer; a position which would improve the standing of Lehigh University when compared to other racist institutions. Additionally, it would create another figurehead leadership position, a role that Lehigh as an institution has far too few of.
Comparing Lehigh to its peer institutions in the Lehigh Valley and around the world, there is a clear sense of “keeping up with the Jones.’” Colleges including Moravian and RIT have created this position; therefore, Lehigh must spend more money to compensate. Lehigh has a clear need to “leverage and maximize investments in diversity initiatives”1 as one of the most homogeneously white campuses in the United States.
Under President Gast, Lehigh University has embarked in a new direction. The job description: sending the most powerfully staged e-mails, inspiring fear in the hearts of racists, and evacuating emotion from the “affected minorities.” This new role must be taxing! Clearly, Gast does not have the patience to respond to bias incidents, and would rather focus on her golf game.
Lehigh University has a proud and storied tradition of over-developed efforts of threat construction. Starting with 500 people attending a town hall meeting in response to idly wasted words and continuing with editorials flooding the Brown and White, Lehigh has historically acted decisively and swiftly after the occurrence of race-based conflicts to publicize and relentlessly promote the actions of racists and stigmatize the entire campus.
A Chief Diversity Officer will have other benefits to campus. He or she will create a purpose for the Council for Equity and Community, and give them tangible results for the past 22 months. Lehigh University wouldn’t want the efforts of the noble volunteers in the Council for Equity and Community to be wasted on crafting equality now, would they?
The Chief Diversity Officer fulfills a clear, unmet need on campus. His or her role will encompass new ground, uncovered by the Council for Equity and Community, The Movement, the Black Student Union, The Women’s Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Africana Studies, Women Studies, The Rainbow Room, or The Multicultural Room. The position will be a boon for Lehigh’s race-centered population and engender a healthier campus community for all involved. Furthermore, he or she will be able to dole out the copious amounts of funding that are sure to accompany his or her modest salary.
With the addition of a CDO, Lehigh gains the ability to recruit one of the most desirable demographics: minorities. An increase in minorities betters the standing of the university in the eyes of the world, increasing our rankings that have been slipping over the past few years. Peer institutions, such as MIT outpace our racial commitments many times over, and minority representation is a hallmark of a quality educational institution.
Finally, The Movement will be able to demonstrate clear outcomes from their dramatic rallies, protests, and marches on President Gast’s house. This would represent the second demand yielded to the Movement, and it would be the most indelible mark left on campus…next to the hole in President Gast’s door.2
The Patriot implores President Gast to spare no expense and hire a Chief Diversity Officer. We are amazed that this institution has survived for 155 years without an individual dedicated to ensuring equality for all on this campus. A Chief Diversity Officer will singlehandedly smite every racist and every racist thought from this campus and create a Lehigh Bubble of Equity and Community, the envy of the world.
On January 21st, three days after President Gast publically announced her desire to hire a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at Lehigh, (an event already embedded deep within an email sent to the campus at large concerning the Martin Luther King Day celebration), the student body received word of a hateful incident that happened sometime “in the past week.” For students interested in the details of the event, President Gast’s correspondence was a disappointment. The hateful incident involved an undefined “hostile and racist symbol” in an unidentified elevator.
Five days later, the Brown and White was able to piece together a bit more about what happened. The symbol was a “swastika approximately the size of a fist” found by an unidentified Lehigh employee. Since the announcement, Lehigh removed the swastika, but would still not identify the building where it was found. The reasoning behind the secrecy was, “so as not to bring unwanted attention to people who frequent that [vandalized] building.”
Meanwhile, the real story in all of this is has largely been missed. How the administration, most notably President Gast, launched a major reaction to a relatively minor event paints a clear image of President Gast’s current views on Lehigh and her agenda for the future. As I will demonstrate below it is apparent that President Gast leveraged the incident to support for her push to hire a CDO.
Why so much attention?
The evidence for this motive is widespread. First, looking at the incident itself, there were many responses that were clearly more pragmatic. Most notably, a more functional response would be to say nothing publically. It is well documented that people who engage in behavior like this are doing so for attention of some kind. By obliging, President Gast only made it more likely that subsequent events could occur (Indeed, recent e-mails from within the I&SE department confirm that someone is still drawing swastikas). Additionally, she devalued what an e-mail from President Gast means. National tragedies used to warrant a letter from Alice. Now students may receive e-mails that start:
“Recently, an offensive phrase was found in the third stall from the left in Taylor Gym’s second floor men’s locker room. As a community, we need to reinforce that…”
If the incident itself was the sole motivation, then President Gast would have both satisfied the perpetrator, and devalue her future communications with the student body. Such a response is too shortsighted, especially for someone in President Gast’s position. It is quite unlikely that she would so easily play into the perpetrator’s plan and change the standard for Presidential communication at Lehigh without additional factors being in play.
Why so much mystery?
Second, President Gast’s e-mail had clear evidence that it was written to elicit attention, generate discussion and news coverage from the Brown and White. As discussed earlier, the administration was very careful to shroud the entire incident with mystery. The typical questions of “Who, what, where, when, and why?” were all left unanswered. Ambiguous information or lack thereof is designed to create chatter, rumors and publicity. Marketers do it all the time with that new product or movie that no one knows about. Tiger Woods did the same thing inadvertently last fall, leading to an incredibleamount of discussion because he withheld information.
But President Gast’s response was not like those of Tiger Woods. Assuming she had the facts at the time, there was no reason for withholding them. What would have been the harm of telling us that the ‘hostile and racist symbol’ was a swastika, and it was found on Tuesday? Indeed, providing specifics would make it easier to identify the perpetrator.
Additionally, the response of the administration when asked where the incident occurred, “so as to not bring unwanted attention to people who frequent that building,” shows the continued use of the secrecy principle, even after the initial announcement. With hundreds if not thousands of people entering each of our academic buildings on a given day, that response is nonsensical at best. The administration’s entire response was designed to be mysterious and generate publicity.
While the response does not stand alone as a logical reaction to the alleged bias incident, add President Gast’s desire to hire a CDO into the mix and the storyline makes sense. Publicizing the incident would now provide evidence of racism and sexism at Lehigh, and the more coverage the incident received the more powerful her argument would be. Indeed, publicity of hate or racism at Lehigh benefits her agenda by demonstrating for her that Lehigh needs more diversity initiatives, more sensitivity training and more administrators. In this case, she took advantage of the actions of a single person, and implied that Lehigh has serious problems that need to be fixed.
The assumption underlying all of President Gast’s actions is that Lehigh is an unfair, unjust, racist, sexist institution. Her actions thus far in creating the CEC as a means to steamroll her agenda across the campus, adding a question to the application for admission on equity and community to profile students and now looking to hire a CDO demonstrate her adherence to this philosophy. That is the Lehigh she sees. Her response to this incident displays that she is willing to subject others to this view in order to accomplish her goals.
The Two Lehighs
Is Lehigh that place? Is Lehigh really awash with racism and sexism? In an article I wrote a year ago, in light of the isolated racial incidents last January, I analyzed what it would mean for Lehigh if we experienced 12 independent hateful incidents in a year – much more than what we hear about. The result would be that well over 99 percent of Lehigh students, while far from perfect, do not engage in hateful activity. Certainly, there are other students at Lehigh who are not entirely welcoming of differences and diversity and some more students who are prejudiced in one way or another. But is it a widespread problem that requires an expensive fix, or is it more a reflection of statistical certainties – that within a given population you will have some people with undesirable qualities? I think the evidence for the latter case is compelling.
President Gast clearly disagrees with this assessment. That is well within her right, as is her pursuit of a CDO. However, her methods of pursuit, especially in this instance, have troubling consequences. By overreacting to incidents like this, she perpetuates a view of Lehigh as an institution with widespread biases. While that benefits her agenda, it damages Lehigh by generating more expenses, restrictions, and requirements for everyone in response to the actions of a few. The large investment required for her diversity initiatives should not be based on isolated incidents perpetrated by a mere handful of Lehigh’s 6,000-plus community members. Unfortunately, if her response to this incident is any indication, that is exactly what she plans to do.
Diversity is a word with dichotomous meaning, based on the individuals engaged. In the specter of life, as it should be – that is, true to meaning, diversity refers to the inclusion and accepting of difference, be it ideological, physical, sexual, racial, religious or otherwise. I truly do not believe that Lehigh harbors many, if any students who would oppose this point of view; those who grew up in circumstances much like mine have not been lacquered with a veneer of intrinsic hate – we do not relegate individuals to inferior positions based solely on any of the stated criteria above.
Sadly, in the academic landscape – a sea, awash with hard-line “social justice” mavericks, burned-out activists and agenda-driven administrators engaged in a perpetual pissing contest against the elite Ivy 7, diversity has taken on a very different meaning. In my four years working for The Patriot, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and engaging a diverse (in the former sense of the word) group of individuals: administrators, students, and faculty – with questions pertaining to their motives, ways and means. What I’ve uncovered has tainted the stated cases that key people will make to you in the coming days. As Lehigh’s premiere state-run media outlet, The Brown & White will report in a chipper piece cobbled together by a sophomore writer in the coming months, Lehigh will very likely hire a Chief Diversity Officer, and leverage the dichotomous nature of the word to guilt those who raise opposition.
My opposition to the very nature of a CDO was forged in the bowels of Lehigh’s administrative organization chart – the findings of which I will present shortly. However, a good deal of tangent information came to light in my fact-finding, which has acted to galvanize the core thesis of this text. Whatever your position may be on a CDO, I believe that any high-dollar change to Lehigh (be it a person, building, or other noun) deserves scrutiny. College costs have placed the yearly average burden of a Lehigh education at $50,050, and I believe that students should make themselves aware of where every penny of that pot goes. For many students, myself included, a Lehigh education is a privilege, and it would be foolish for any enterprise to squander the hard-earned dollar of any student without understanding the full picture. The case for a CDO has been summarily rammed down our throats through Alice’s emails and subsequent media coverage of alleged “hateful incidents” and “bias-related crimes” – this is the rest of that story.
A Recent Fad
Having read through Lehigh’s Vice President for Equity & Community (VPEC) Benchmarking Report, the interested student will learn that Lehigh is penis-measuring against other schools to assess the so-called “need” for what has been referred to colloquially as a Chief Diversity Officer. The report essentially boils down to three key arguments: (1), other colleges are doing it, (2) Lehigh is an isolate among elite universities for our lack of a CDO, and (3) Lehigh should basically capitulate and cop Tufts University’s plan, at an approximate cost of $1-2MM, so that we can play, too. Yes – the report really is that simple, and I encourage all those reading to read the full report online, as well, and see for themselves.
On December 1st, a group of cowardly individuals calling themselves “concerned students” emailed a vintage club officers’ distribution list noting that the university still has not capitulated with their request (set forth at the infamous CEC Town Halls last year) for a CDO, who is “…someone who can act as a liaison between students and the president’s cabinet and can effectively dedicate their time to the betterment of the University.” Yes – that’s the entire job description. Never mind the fact that Lehigh presently has 107 key contact people in the event of a “bias-related incident,” with more than 40 individuals under “Student Affairs” with the title of “administrator,” “coordinator” or “leader” – all who liaison with students on a daily basis. Of those, 8 are core positions dedicated to diversity.
Reviewing the VPEC report, Lehigh plans on spending between $250,000 and $450,000 on this position for salary alone.
Unless we’re planning to sack a considerable amount of the existing special interest diversity defense positions, I cannot see from a business standpoint what one more administrator will do to improve student/administrative liaison, which the VPEC report directly demonstrates a preexisting competency by its very existence.
Additionally, while researching the institutions that have adopted some flavor of a CDO, it is apparent through press release dates that more than 50% have added their CDO position within the past four years alone.
The argument has been made that Lehigh must implement this position in order to stay competitive within the academic landscape; I believe we could do just as well by using that same pool of money for additional scholarships and faculty reinvestment.
Not So Diverse
One of the secret ironies about the CDO position concerns, ironically enough, diversity. Of the universities against which Lehigh has chosen to benchmark, more than 67% of CDOs are black. 16.5% are Hispanic,
the remainder being white or Asian. Lehigh has often been cited for a supposed lack of diversity in the context of ethnicity, with 74% of students being “white, non-Hispanic”; if this constitutes a lack of ethnic diversity, than America’s top colleges have obviously failed in the vetting of CDO candidates.
If one factor pervades truth and openness from entering the discussion about diversity and the present state of academic culture, it is academic culture itself. In academia, there is no award for bringing in the most international students, and few are concerned about political and socio-economic diversity in the thought patterns of their students. Based on the nature of the dialogue, the characterization of the CDOs studied for this article (and the departments from which they came), in addition to an interview I held with Lehigh’s own former Joint Multicultural Program head, it would seem that the gold standard for diversity at college is really the black standard.
There exists an overt fixation on black – in particular, African-American students. This is a fact, reinforced by the considerable conscription of CDOs from Africana Studies departments, the makeup of CDOs profiled for Lehigh’s VPEC report, and the fact that almost all of Lehigh’s
“concerned students,” in addition to the loudest of the diversity noisemakers and mouthpieces on campus are African-American. Not African nationals, not Caribbean refugees – African-Americans. They’re like Pokémon cards for admissions – you’ve gotta catch ‘em all.
In the reading circles of higher-ed, where publications like The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed prevail, a landmark 2006 article authored by U-Virgina’s own CDO, Damon Williams sheds some light onto just how vague this position really is. Among the key tenets listed for a good CDO, #7: Understanding the Culture of Higher Education is listed. Never mind the fact that I, in addition to most Lehigh students could fill the shoes of a CDO based on Mr. Williams’ description (“Team-building” and “charisma”? Please…); the CDO is a loaded weapon for the American university to forward its bureaucratically dominated agenda of thought-control through administrative expansion (or bloat, as the case may be), and the splintering of students through special interest defense groups.
Academic culture likes code-words – women’s studies is a crude extension of NARAL, LGBTQIA services is destined to put someone of the wrong gender into my bathroom, “social justice” means equity on an East Germany shades-of-gray level, and Africana Studies really only graduates people who will go on to teach Africana Studies and eventually get promoted to Chief Diversity Officer. It’s a vicious cycle.
Recently, an insider at Kutztown University who did not wish to be named gave me an inside look at higher education wielding the newly minted tool of CDO. “You can’t do anything without passing it through the Equity chair,” said my source. “No question may be asked, no candidate may be considered for a job until the Equity chair gets its review.” Looking at higher education’s track record of incoherent ideological suppression, with universities concocting free speech gazebos, freshman first-year student indoctrination with invasive programs about sexual identity and environmentalism, and asinine questions requesting one’s definition of equity and community (an easy opportunity to profile candidates’ ideological characteristics), it is clear that CDOs will likely have extensive reach within an organization, be it a university or place of business.
If one singular fact should strike you, dear reader, with any sense of urgency, it should be the lack of definition that has accompanied Lehigh’s push for a CDO. Hiring a CDO, at the very least, is a significant financial commitment for a school with an extensive preexisting diversity structure of administrators and their staffs. Coupling this with the nature of academia, and its radically skewed vision of diversity and what it means, (deifying degenerate culture and offering it as a class, while using terms like “bias related incident” to silence critics), the magnitude of what’s at stake should be clear.
Lehigh should absolutely be committed to diversity – authentic diversity. Students, be it a pro-life female, or underprivileged African-American male should feel comfortable and welcome on Lehigh’s campus. Good learning, like good business, requires honest criticism and having one’s ideas challenged – something that may be novel or uncomfortable to students and professors. However, adding a nanny position with far-reaching power to silence some while enabling others, particularly with historical precedent in mind, is a grave mistake.
“… Free speech took a big step backward because someone didn’t like it when a student dared speak out against what he saw as a discriminatory policy. Just because something makes you or your company look bad doesn’t mean it should be silenced or negated. Take a look at some comments on the Brown and White’s Web site for evidence of that.”
Interestingly, and hypocritically, The Brown and White does not allow comments to contain links to any outside websites (or “Web sites” if you are the B&W edit board) in a clear attempt to restrict the dialogue on campus. The Patriot was unable to find any reputable news source with a similar policy. This, in addition to the Brown and White’s policy of screening comments before they are posted combines for a much more egregious violation of the spirit of the First Amendment than a book store manager allegedly ripping up a few Brown and White’s.
“But this is not a privilege we should abuse. We are all guilty of it because it’s not something we usually think about, but next time you go to print, think about how much paper you waste.
Sure, we are used to having a copy of our assignments in front of us when we read, but is it so bad to have to read from a screen? Between our computers and televisions, we spend most of the day in front of a screen anyway. What’s the difference?”
While the Brown and White calls on you to ‘think before you print,’ the Patriot editorial board would like to ask the Brown and White to ’think before you write.’ Since you can easily read all of the Brown and White’s articles online, there should not be any reason for an actual paper copy of the Brown and White according to this editorial. We would be very interested to know how much paper is used in printing several thousand copies of the Brown and White each week, and why their editorial board feels justified in killing so many trees.
“Most of campus fondly remembers awakening on Flagpole day to find a Nazi flag firmly planted atop the flagpole.”
Fifty-two years ago, The Brown and White had a much more relaxed approach to swastikas appearing on campus. Such an event today would likely evoke about eight e-mails from President Gast and her administrative cohorts, a town hall meeting to “heal the community,” a police investigation, and various demands from various special interest groups around campus.
Corporate advocates and wall street watch dogs all have their own political machines armed and ready for anything in the 2010 “Obama agenda.” With the formation of a Consumer Protection Agency to reform the financial marketplace, the wall street dogs are ready for a heyday. Meanwhile, corporations are doubling their lobbying budgets and moving their operations and conferences to Washington D.C.
With all the employed enlarging their loudspeaker to the ears of lawmakers, there is no voice for the unemployed. While Obama might say his focus will be jobs for 2010, he has no idea how to start. The following list, far detached from the intentions of Obama, is a set of well rounded suggestions.
1. Draft the unemployed. Instead of a liability, our unproductive workforce can be asset. Clinton era national service programs including AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and Peace Corps were created to help revive America. By diminishing work-loss benefits and payouts, the government can effectively “draft the unemployed” to serve America. A roughly ten percent hole in the economy can be revised to help rebuild infrastructure, strength diplomacy, and improve education.
2. Legalize gambling, prostitution, and drugs. Artificially limiting livelihoods is a sure way to cut the number of jobs. If congress made accounting illegal to practice next week, we would not only incriminate our auditors, but we would cut millions of jobs. The same thing happened in 1920 when America experimented with prohibition. From the start of 1920, when alcohol related livelihoods were legal, to the end of 1921, unemployment in the United States more than doubled. Conversely, the end of prohibition has a near perfect correlation to the economic recovery after the Great Depression. Once again, with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration created in 1973, the unemployment rate almost doubled again.1 Therefore we can greatly increase the supply of jobs by eliminating legal restrictions on “sinful” industries.
3. Remove minimum wage. Any economist would tell you that rent ceilings to protect low-income workers will inevitably leave more people homeless. The same concept applies for minimum wage. Wage floors prevent demand from being met. If an employer is willing to pay two workers five dollars an hour and you tell him that he has to pay each worker seven per hour, he will only hire one more productive worker leaving the worker unemployed.
4. Legalize organ sales. In the words of Levitt and Dubner, authors of Super Freakonomics, Iran has more economic sense than America in regards to human organs. One major drag on the economy is the amount of long-term care patients, of which transplant waiting-list patients make up more than 100,000. 2 This enormous drag on the economy, established with the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, could be repealed to cut medical costs and save lives. As a result of repeal, doctors would have more surgeries to perform and lawyers would have more malpractice cases to deal with, increasing net amount of doctors and lawyers.
5. “Drill baby drill.” In the words of Sarah Palin, we need to increase oil drilling at offshore platforms and in environmentally protected areas including ANWR. The more we drill here the less we drill in the Middle East. It is zero sum. Instead of funding terrorists and Saudi princes we should allocate our money to desecrating America soil. The more we drill from the U.S. the more jobs we will create and less depen dent we will be on oil from instable governments that don’t believe in human rights. Right now we spend $200,000 per minute on oil imports, that’s like giving a Ferrari to Hugo Chavez every minute or buying a private jet for Nigerian identity thieves every hour.
6. Bring back the uranium. According to George Kuczynski, executive at PPL, “We have been planning to build a multi-billion dollar nuclear power plant for years, but regulations have halted progress.” Instead of pontificating about sustainability and renewable energy, Congress should act now. By loosening regulations on nuclear power plants and passing a carbon tax, Congress can encourage a green and more radioactive future. With most of our energy infrastructure over 35 years old, a major crisis could cripple America. Therefore, we should be proactive and create some serious high-paying nuclear engineering jobs by encouraging energy companies to go “green”.
The Brown and White eagerly described ten days worth of events honoring Martin Luther King Jr, but excluded many details that those that those in attendance would be quick to point out. While events such as convocation and the oratorical contest were summarized, the Brown and White failed to report on the underlying issues and concerns associated with these events. The large majority of students who did not attend any of these functions now may have a broad description of what occurred, but still cannot understand the meanings and implications of these events as well as someone who had attended.
In relation to MLK events, the paper has clearly given up any effort to analyze events or discuss possible controversies. The Brown and White covered the MLK oratorical contest but failed to mention the lack of Lehigh students, excluding contestants, at the event. Their article merely reiterated contestants’ views for Lehigh, failing to report low attendance. Yes, a few professors, as well as, Dean Washington attended, but the contestant winner himself called for the student body as the basis for change at Lehigh. The Brown and White missed the critical issue. With such low attendance; how the change contestants hoped for possibly become reality?
Our school’s newspaper is still missing one very important piece in the administration and student body’s push for equality and social justice on campus. Mario Paredes, winner of the oratorical contest, calls for Lehigh to be “a place of community and inclusiveness.” During the student rally, Darius Callier, Vice President of the Black Student Union, voiced his belief that in regard to violence based on sexual orientation, marginalized ethnicities, or persecution, “Lehigh is not immune to, or apart from any these challenges.” The Brown and White missed an opportunity to report real issues, this time by ignoring the effort by Lehigh’s administration, specifically the Council for Equity and Community, to remedy the problems and cultural issues articulated throughout campus by various speakers during MLK week.
President Gast and the administration are actively pursuing the CEC’s request for a chief diversity officer at the level of vice president (VPEC). The administration hopes that this position will better administer efforts to promote social equality and diversity on campus while simultaneously boosting prestige and admission numbers. Why has the Brown and White chosen to not report on this vital affair? Is it for fear of the controversy and opposition that may arise? Possibly, but why not educate students on the advancements happening on their campus instead of worrying about remaining in lockstep with the administration. Lehigh students are suffering because of the Brown and White’s refusal to cover controversial issues on campus.
Many students have no idea of the university’s plan, and probably have many questions about the CDO position. Why does the CDO need to be at a Vice President’s level? The answer to this question can be found in the VPEC’s Benchmarking Report assembled by Lehigh’s CEC: “Over the course of the information gathering, it became obvious that perception of one’s title makes a big difference. If the VPEC/CDO’s charge is merely a segment of the institution, a diversity initiative will not be as effective. But when the VPEC/CDO’s charge encompasses the entire institution, everyone will be engaged.” Or how much would the CDO get paid? According to Lehigh’s research, “among American colleges and universities, the average annual salary of CDOs/VPECs is $250-$300,000.” Will there be a tuition increase to account for this new position’s salary? If not, what parts of the internal budget will be allocated for the CDO?A cycle has emerged where Lehigh students fail to attend key events and are truly unaware of the pulse on campus. Meanwhile, the Brown and White fails to help these students become informed by avoiding any and all controversy and simply not present divisive topics. Critical changes are happening on campus, such as the pending appointment of a CDO and having a majority of students unaware of that is a problem on many levels.
The question posed to our editorial staff was: In our ever-changing society, people have defined “equity” and “community” in many different ways. How do you define these terms and what are their implications of equity and community for our 21st century society?
Read their responses below.
Benjamin Mumma, Class of 2010
The definition of equity has been butchered, egregiously, in recent decades to suggest that somehow we can make everyone the same. The liberals butchering ‘equity’ see a wonderful world where everyone is the same. Everyone is equally intelligent, or unintelligent. It does not matter how intelligent because as long as everyone is equally able or inept, no one is jealous and everyone is happy. Everyone has the same amount of money, so there is no reason to be greedy or jealous. When any kind of contest is held, everyone ties – thus no one is marginalized, no one scarred, no one loses. Reports are that there are unicorns and fairies prancing around in this world, and when someone sees a rainbow, they always reach the end and find a pot of hallucinogenic drugs – sustaining ‘Equityland’ a while longer.
Liberals still have not been able to realize Equityland in the material world. To many of us, it is obvious why: all humans are naturally greedy, jealous, envious and selfish to some extent, so society still faces many conflicts of interests. Liberals willfully ignore this revelation so that their dreams of utopia stay intact.
Because human nature cannot be the cause of society’s woes, they need to find something to blame. To do so, they perceive inequities and social injustices all around them, and make it their life mission to right these wrongs. Welcome to “ADM 101: Administering at Lehigh.”
President Gast’s language in her Martin Luther King week address demonstrates Lehigh’s commitment to this philosophy. To quote, ”Those events [of a year ago] still haunt us, and compel us to redouble our efforts to change our own community. The Council for Equity and Community is leading our efforts but they cannot do it alone. Comprising dedicated staff, faculty, and students, the council is charged with preparing for, and sustaining, the next generation of diversity and equity initiatives at Lehigh.”
The truth is, get ready for this, Lehigh is equitable. We all start with a GPA of 0.00. We all have access to the same labs, classes, equipment, news sources, dining halls, and non-academic organizations. Everyone has the same opportunities to be happy, to be successful, and to enjoy his or her time here. By promoting the idea that Lehigh is inequitable, President Gast and the administration are working against their second stated goal: building Lehigh into a better community.
What is ‘community’? A community is a group of people who share common experiences and hold a mutual respect for all other members of that community. Lehigh currently houses hundreds of small communities that exist within the University. Each major, living unit, group of friends and student organization serves as a community within Lehigh.
The divisions within the University community arise from three main problems:
1. Conflicts of interests between communities.
2. Lack of commonality between communities.
3. Administrative policies that target specific communities.
The administration mainly has control over the third problem, and to a lesser extent the first two. Generally, a entity should not have obvious favorites and scapegoats within its various sub-communities. However, some of Lehigh’s policies and rhetoric on many issues such as Greek life and diversity clearly do just that. Examples include painting all Greeks with one brush, as they did in cancelling Greek Week, the creation of the CEC, and subsequent attempts to give in to every ‘demand’ made by a group of concerned students. Indeed, requiring Lehigh applicants to answer an idiotic question like this is a direct result of that.
By favoring some communities and attacking others, Lehigh creates animosity between communities. It drives some communities away from other communities. This leads to a lack of commonality between those groups, hence making Lehigh less of a community as a whole.
Looking at the “21st century society” at Lehigh, the definitions of equity and community should be altered. The goal cannot be to eliminate vices from Lehigh, but find a way to minimize their impact. The sooner Lehigh makes this shift, the better a community Lehigh will be in the 21st century and beyond.
Trevor Drummond, Class of 2010
Equity (noun): The equal dispersion of consequence among parties, without subjection to judgment solely on an aesthetic or medical quality.
Community (noun): A place where people live and work together.
The implications of these terms are subject to the conditions by which they are approached. For example, it is unfair to say that one is violating the concept of equity for criticizing a gay pride parade, as the parade and behaviors taking place within it are actions, and actions are always subject to judgment, regardless of one’s opinion of homosexuality as a genetic (nature) or a lifestyle choice (nurture). It is equally unfair to state that equity is being violated when criticizing the behavior of an individual on the basis of a cultural tradition.
I personally experienced a first-hand understanding of these definitions during my formative years of schooling in the Strawberry Mansion section of North Philadelphia. Here, I had approached life as a platform of equals, figuring that my interactive behavior would be a basis for complaint, not my appearance. However, while walking to the subway in my school uniform (a blue blazer, tie and khakis), I was attacked by youths with a knife, which tried to steal my belongings. When I reported this to the authorities, I was told that my outfit “made me a target,” and that I was “asking to be mugged.”
Looking back on the situation, it is clear that the experience I had was a case of cultural mismatch – what was comfortable for me was not comfortable for others. However, when I came to Lehigh, I was frustrated to learn that passing judgment on an individual who dresses like they plan on robbing a 7-11 is a “bias-related incident.” This confused me – we profile in interviews for jobs, airports in Israel have avoided terrorist attacks by profiling their passengers, and this question is profiling Lehigh students – so what’s wrong with what I have to say?
Michael Caffrey, Class of 2012
Equity doesn’t mean simply being tolerant of others; rather, it means attempting to understand and see the world from another’s eyes. Community takes this concept of mutual equity to another level, as everyone shares the same experiences; the human experience.
The common culture all people experience is what brings us together. Despite coming from states and countries around the globe, people who attend Lehigh share a sense of common purpose; to learn and understand, to face challenges and beat them.
The difference between tolerance and understanding is vast; staying away from “offensive” words may be good enough, but actually crossing the boundary and embracing someone of a different ethnicity or race the same as one would embrace a friend is the true key to establishing equity.
Despite our personal differences, everyone should reach a mutual understanding of each other; respect should replace hatred on both our campus and the world. Hateful actions distract us from the real reason we are here; education.
Crafting an environment in which the greater Lehigh community understands its members may take time. However, the effort is well worth it, as a diverse academic and social community creates additional opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, truly preparing Lehigh graduates to be leaders in the global world.