To Our Readers,
For The Collegian staff this year has been unlike any other. Similar to all student organizations, The Collegian had to learn to adapt to a predominately virtual year in order to do our part in helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Although this academic year did not turn out in all the ways the staff had planned, we are extremely grateful for our readers and the changes we have made in order to preserve The Collegian for centuries to come.
During this academic year The Collegian launched a brand new website that will continue to present the Saint Mary’s community with weekly content for the foreseeable future. The student staff successfully published 23 virtual editions for this academic year including two special editions covering important events that directly impacted the Saint Mary’s community. In the Fall The Collegian presented the “Election Day Edition” highlighting the 2020 presidential election and the importance of democracy in our nation. In the Spring The Collegian published the “44 Days Edition” covering the College’s 44 Days events celebrating the Black community. These two editions were an honor to create for me and the entire staff.
I am immensely proud of the dedication and commitment to this historic organization that the staff and our mentors have exemplified this year. The Collegian is filled with talented and determined writers that will continue to entertain and amaze readers.
I have been a part of The Collegian staff since my first year of college four years ago, beginning as a contributing writer. As a young student I had the privilege of learning from fellow students who cared deeply about the legacy of The Collegian. As my role in the newspaper grew, the lessons of dedication and respect for this organization that I learned from student staff members inspired me to recognize how important this newspaper is to this College community.
To have had the honor to have been the Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper will be an experience I will remember forever. I know that a long legacy of editors have preceded me and I hope that an even longer line will follow as this newspaper continues.
I truly believe in the importance of every college having an outlet where students can publish their own written work and see on paper their opinions and the views of others. The student staff of The Collegian has never backed away from exploring, supporting, or criticizing the College or our country. For almost 118 years The Collegian staff has created a community within our College for students to express their views that I am so happy to have been a part of.
Throughout the year I have received emails and letters from former alumni who, during their college years, wrote for The Collegian. Each spoke about the community that their staff created and how they are pleased to see The Collegian continued by a new generation of Saint Mary’s students. To know that our cherished alumni are proud of our work is so meaningful to us as writers.
To my fellow staff, it has been a honor and a privilege to have been your editor. To have led such an incredible staff filled with talented and dedicated students will remain the highlight of my college career. To those who remain, I am so excited to see what the future of The Collegian holds with you all in the years to come!
In closing, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our readers. Your continued support of this newspaper has allowed us to continue our love of writing. We will always cherish your support!
The Collegian remains Saint Mary’s oldest student organization and I know that generations of Saint Mary’s students will add their own work to the long history of this newspaper. To have had this opportunity myself was the honor of my Saint Mary’s career.
I know that The Collegian will continue for decades to come and I look forward to seeing where this publication will go as a faithful alumni reader.
Victoria Vidales ‘21
Editor-in-Chief of The Collegian 2019-2021
YouTube lays out its anti-harassment policies pretty clearly, yet doesn’t enforce them due to profits and political pressure which results in creators like Steven Crowder continually posting problematic content.
By Brent Dondalski
Over the past fifteen years, YouTube has grown from a small website hosting sketches and homemade videos to one of the largest video platforms in the world, if not the largest. As one of people’s main sources of information and entertainment, YouTube has a responsibility to enforce its guidelines against discrimination and content that includes or promotes the harassment of others. Unfortunately, the YouTube model has grown to give a platform to and sometimes encourage toxic content that directly violates the website’s guidelines. The problem is YouTube fails to enforce these guidelines because it would lose them money and also raise bad-faith accusations of censorship.
This situation is best demonstrated by Steven Crowder. Sitting at 5.46 million subscribers, Steven Crowder is a popular conservative host who also claims to be a comedian. You may have recognized him from his popular “Change My Mind” series in which the 33-year-old man ventures to college campuses to debate students about contentious issues such as rape culture or hate speech. Though this specific series tends to fall within YouTube’s guidelines, a quick look at his more regular content shows repeat offenses. Carlos Maza, a gay, Cuban-American journalist, has been the target of Crowder’s harassment over and over again. Crowder has called Maza a “lispy sprite,” “angry little queer,” and a “gay Mexican” all on camera in his show (NPR). At the time of this controversy 2 years ago, Crowder was also promoting his merchandise that included a homophobic slur. Only after Maza spoke up did YouTube decide to demonetize Crowder’s channel temporarily, a consequence many considered only to be a slap on the wrist.
After the controversy more or less subsided, business continued as usual, with Crowder being welcomed back into YouTube’s Partner Program which enables monetization. Crowder didn’t have a change of heart, however, and might have only gotten worse; he promoted the conspiracy theory that the election was stolen and encouraged the type of violence we saw at the Capitol building in January. He has violated YouTube’s COVID misinformation policies repeatedly. Yet his most obvious violation in recent memory comes from an extremely racist tirade against Black farmers: He uses an egregious Black accent, talks about Hennessy trees, and suggests that Black people wouldn’t want to work on farms since their ancestors were slaves. Trust me, the clip is actually worse than it sounds.
One might think that saying Black farmers want Hennessy trees violates YouTube’s policy of “use of racial, religious or other slurs and stereotypes that incite or promote hatred,” but YouTube themselves came out and said that “while offensive, this video from the Steven Crowder channel does not violate this policy” (The Verge). This is similar to the response they gave to Maza’s claims of harassment, in which they acknowledge that the content is hurtful but don’t actually do anything about it. This has enabled Crowder to have these repeat instances of producing racist, sexist, homophobic, and/or transphobic content, all generating revenue for Crowder and YouTube before they once again suspended ads on his channel this past April.
With that said, the issue isn’t necessarily with Crowder, since malevolent people will always exist, but with YouTube’s continued negligence and unwillingness to enforce their policies. YouTube will gladly turn their logo rainbow and engage in LGBTQ+ pride while doing very little to protect LGBTQ+ creators from harassment. YouTube’s guidelines are there to tell people that the company is ensuring inclusivity without actually enforcing it, allowing harassment and toxic content to fester.
One of the reasons YouTube refuses to enforce its guidelines is because media outlets and politicians have spun a new “Big Tech Censorship” narrative in which they claim tech companies and media platforms unfairly discriminate against conservatives. There are a couple of examples to point to: Crowder’s main YouTube channel was suspended for a week after he posted election fraud conspiracies, Twitter suspended former President Trump’s account, and previously popular commentators like Nick Fuentes and Milo Yiannopoulos have essentially been blacklisted by many major social media platforms.
However, the idea that these instances are “censorship” is ridiculous. Crowder, after posing with guns in his thumbnails and peddling election fraud misinformation, was only suspended from his main account for a week and was free to post on his second account. He lost monetization privileges, but he’s gotten them back before, and probably gained members on his personal subscriber service due to the controversial publicity. When Twitter suspended Trump, he was tweeting wildly reckless things and encouraging terrorism with his “Stop the Steal” declarations.
Yes, Nick Fuentes and Milo Yiannopoulos are conservative commentators who were blacklisted, but they’re also basically Nazis and Fuentes even still has his verified status on Twitter. Maybe they should have stuck to something less extreme, such as berating Black farmers with blatantly racist stereotypes.
The truth is YouTube’s bar for hate speech is extremely high and conservatives still sometimes breach it, which probably says more about modern right-wing ideologies than it does about Big Tech. In fact, it’s quite eyebrow-raising to notice how adjacent mainstream conservative discourse is the type of extremism and toxicity that technically falls outside content guidelines.
An employee at Twitter noticed this when trying to develop an algorithm that removes white supremacist content, saying “on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material” (Vice). Yet, the censorship narrative persists.
YouTube might enforce their guidelines more if there weren’t so much pressure from Republicans in power to avoid actions that can be even loosely characterized as “Big Tech Censorship.” Even then, this type of controversial and extremist content is very profitable for YouTube, even if it’s at the expense of marginalized people who are often the victims of this content. Unless content creators face serious consequences such as total channel closures, YouTube and many other social media platforms are failing to enforce their content policies against hate speech and harassment due to its profitability and pressure from tech censorship narratives.
Crowder on Black farmers: https://www.mediamatters.org/steven-crowder/youtube-steven-crowder-uses-racist-stereotypes-attack-black-farmers
America must enact laws that protect voting rights, not revoke them.
By Riley Mulcahy
America is based on the freedoms we hold dear, not on the hopes and backs of greedy politicians. Although this seems like a simple truth, we have seen a rise in politicians grasping for power at the expense of the voters that voted them in. However, the Republican Party, in particular, has consistently caused trouble by creating laws that limit the power and freedom of voting, which is a vital piece of our democracy.
This moment is crucial. The rebuke of the Trump presidency came from Americans voting their allegiance to Democracy, not a single party. Also, voting evokes many feelings for politicians because of its implications of how it shapes the country to become conservative or liberal. The result comes from most voters’ stance on the Democratic system we ascribe to as Americans.
With the Trump presidency, America dangled between the democracy it was founded on and the fascist nightmare of an autocratic government. Furthermore, with the election of 2020, Biden’s platform did not win the presidency. Instead, it was a culmination of liberal and progressive ideals suppressed by the Trump presidency, which just fueled the fire even more for a record-breaking 80 million people to vote for Biden.
Dozens of new laws limiting voting have been enacted from the last election, which shows the fear of bold, progressive actions. If voters had gone into the voting box and voted Republican, there would not have been laws limiting votes. Instead, they would have continued the toxic practice of gerrymandering, which focuses on redistricting in a way that favors one party over the other. Although Republicans are the current example, Democrats are also complicit in this practice.
So what is the answer? How do we create a fair society based on the freedoms of voting that we claim to be a part of already? First, we must address the systemic issue and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that protects the right to vote federally. In January, Georgia chose to elect democratic senators, which gave a slim majority for the Democrats in the government. The ballot box comes with a big responsibility, the trust of American voters. Furthermore, they are worried about voting laws that actually protect voters because they would lose immense power. Overwhelmingly, Americans believe in the democratic plan or want it more the Republican fear-mongering platform.
Second, we must hold our politicians accountable. Accountability has been a trendy word in the last five years because there has been a lack of transparency and downright criminal behavior in Washington. However, enabling strong voting laws will discourage politicians and parties from focusing on the changing demographics and skew them in their favor; instead, they would put their best candidate forward to support the American people as they are required to do.
To create a more equitable system, we must ensure that future Americans are protected. Voting protects America from or creates an unjust system. Given the majority support of Biden’s first 100 days, we must see this as a positive direction. However, Americans can not lose sight of the burden that freedoms come with. Democracy is fragile, and we must protect it at all costs, and the most important way we do this is to stop these unjust voting laws. Instead of the obsession with unfounded claims of voting fraud, Americans and politicians must be worried about our Democracy and the weight of the symbol of voting has.
The Role of Politics in Sermons: Does Incorporating Politics into Sermons Make Religious Leaders Politicians?
By Emmanuel Simon
Even with the Separation of Church and State, Religious Leaders have been tying politics into their sermons. But should this be happening? Before giving an answer, it is necessary to examine the similarities and differences between the Church and State.
It should be evident to everyone that the Church is not the State, and the State is not the Church. By virtue of the fact that the Church and State are not equivalent, it follows that there are some issues that the Church and State do not overlap on. For example, it would be strange for the Church to authoritatively declare that one needs to have a voter I.D. in order to vote. Yet though the Church and State are two different entities, they do share a common goal: to promote and achieve the common good.
For example, both the Church and State agree that taking the life away from someone unjustly is detestable. The Church shows that she is against unjust killings by appealing to the 5th Commandment, whereas the State indicates that she is against unjust killings through appealing to man-made laws backed up by philosophical justifications. Thus, though the Church and State differ, both aim at promoting and achieving the common-good.
So, what are we to make of Religious Leaders then? Should today’s Religious Leaders tie politics into their sermons? Given the contemporary political climate, the answer is a qualified yes.
On the one hand, Religious Leaders need to avoid becoming politicians, since the priestly ministry is supernatural, whereas contemporary politics is worldly. On the other hand, priests, who are ministers of the Church, have a duty in promoting the common good.
If the State finds itself steered away from its goal to uphold the common good, Religious Leaders are able to step in. In our day and age, we’ve seen Catholic Priest Fr. Kosco doing just that. During one of his homilies given earlier this year, he stated, “We’ve just recently elected a Catholic President who is diametrically opposed to all the basic moral principles that are proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. Not only abortion and the sanctity of human life, but the sanctity of marriage…. How in the world did this happen?... You want an answer, I’ll tell you an answer. Because our Bishops have been silent for 60 years through bad catechesis and cowardice.”
Here, Fr. Kosco points out to his congregation the shortcomings of an America who chose to vote for a Catholic President who at best permits the death of innocent babies through abortion and who has an idea of marriage contrary to what faith and reason teach. However, Fr. Kosco also considers the shortcomings of some priests and Bishops in the Church, i.e. their silence through bad catechesis and cowardice. In short, Fr. Kosco’s homilies are meant to show that individuals in the Church and State need to do a better job at promoting the common good.
Since, the Church and State both aim towards the common good, it follows that Religious Leaders may incorporate politics into their sermons with the aim of teaching the faithful about the common good in light of their eternal reward.
Link to Fr. Kosco’s Homily:
Representative Majorie Taylor Greene’s attempt at “unity” is the exact opposite.
By Riley Mulcahy
The word patriotism is one of the most misconstrued and misunderstood terms in American politics today. The Republican Party has tainted the image of Uncle Sam, deep respect for our troops serving overseas, and pride for being an American. Recently, outspoken QAnon supporter Representative Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) announced the intent to start an “American First” caucus. However, it is not evident that Greene puts America first, or at least the America a majority of Americans would like to be a part of.
Before being elected to the House of Representatives, Greene was known for chasing down David Hogg, a high school student, when his classmate who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School. Greene asked triggering questions and statements to Hogg, accusing him of being a crisis actor and the outcome if Hogg had befriended the shooter. Instead of being condemned when she ran to be a Congresswoman, her district in Georgia embraced her.
The notion that anyone in the Republican Party, let alone Greene, is terrifying. This is the party that fought tooth and nail to resist giving stimulus checks to millions of people during the middle of a global pandemic, supported a president who admitted in a recording that he “played down” the pandemic to the reporter who took Nixon down.
The party that wants to be known as one who represents “family values” repeatedly proves that they do not wish to care for families. Last week, Biden announced that part of his tax increases for those who make 400,000 dollars and more and corporations would go towards universal childcare. Although the “pro-life” stances of the Republican Party would logically align with policies that support children and working families, they argued that the spending would only support the middle-class and wealthy families.
Greene’s latest attempt to stir up controversy is just that, and there is no need for Democrats to give it much thought. Even though it is easy to dismiss it as ludicrous, there is a population that supports Greene’s conspiracies. However, there should be more education about debunking the outrageous conspiracy theories Greene proudly supports.
The more vulgar and outlandish the Republican Party has gotten, they have reached more support. However, it must be noted that the majority of Americans support bold, progressive ideas that negate the beliefs of the modern Republican Party. The problem is not that conservative views are wrong; it is that the contemporary Republican Party, with the help of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Greene, are helping the principle of fiscal conservatism. Furthermore, the party’s platform is not cohesive; besides a blind allegiance to Trump, obsession with control over women’s bodies, and the endless echo of “small government,” it is hard to tell what the modern Republican party stands for, let alone the notion of “America First.”
Greene’s mockery of a caucus will display rebellion against the Democratic-held Congress; however, their power will be questionable. The fact of the matter is that Greene’s party is not in control of anything in Washington. Their calls for controversial legislation will most likely die on the floor, given that Democrats have a slim majority both in the House and the Senate.
Democrats must continue to take bold action and follow Biden’s lead and ignore the “America First” caucus regarding their ridiculous antics. However, given the slim majority, Democrats must understand although they are the majority right now, given the rise of Trump, liberals can lose their power in 2022 and 2024. Instead of giving in to the minority party’s pleas for ideas that hurt the American people, Democrats should be focusing on how they maintain control in Congress and focus on passing meaningful legislation that will help the American people.
Why food deserts and corporations are hurting the American people, and why the people need to stand up and demand change during a time of social justice movements.
By: Lenin O’Mahony
Today, we see many social justice movements that are diverse and expansive. Movements such as BLM, #MeToo, and more have begun to change what American culture looks like. These movements contain positives and negatives and discuss numerous issues in our society. However, one major topic is often unaddressed in these discussions of social justice, race, and equality. This topic is an issue relating to food deserts, which are a simple issue with a major impact and are unfortunately often overlooked.
To understand why food deserts are such an issue for modern America, we need to understand what they are. Food deserts are defined as “an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food.” This means that locals are unable to access fresh goods, such as vegetables and fruits, and this can be very limiting to their diets. Initially, this doesn’t seem like such a big issue, but the truth is that many low-income families that lack access to reliable transportation can only depend on the food nearby.
For many families in America, this has a major impact on their health and eating habits. They can only access food that is primarily located at corner stores and even gas stations, or local fast-food restaurants. This means that they are used to purchasing and consuming large amounts of carbonated drinks, lots of preservatives, and other unhealthy foods. They fail to obtain healthy amounts of vegetables and natural sugars, which their bodies need. This leads to health complications for many people, as well as a second unforeseen problem.
Children who grow up eating with such bad habits grow up and continue to have the same diet, even when they gain access to supermarkets with healthy alternatives. Young adults struggle to know how to properly cook or provide healthy levels of nutrients for themselves because they never learned how to do so.
Food deserts largely affect two groups of people: those in the inner city where it takes time and energy to travel any amount of distance due to the density and concentration of buildings and people. The other group is people who live in rural areas, many of which are located in the south. They too live in food deserts, which are considered to be deserts when it is more than a mile to the nearest grocery. Areas where it is more than a mile to the nearest grocery store, especially where families do not own or have access to a car, are often areas that also struggle with obesity and diabetes.
This is a major health issue in America that is often accepted as normal, and people think it’s just how certain families live. I believe that it is the responsibility of the US government to encourage and subsidize the construction and supply of grocery stores into many of these areas in order to increase the quality of life for Americans. The United States has a stereotype of being overrun by obesity and diabetes, and Americans are seen as fat, lazy, and stupid. The popularity of this stereotype is not just because Americans love McDonalds. It is because many individuals in the United States are suffering from a lack of access to healthy food options, and have no choice but to turn to affordable and unhealthy diets in order to feed their families.
The heart of this issue lies in why we have not seen change regarding the existence of food deserts. I firmly believe that major corporations within the fast food industry, among others, use expensive lobbyists to influence state and federal governments to help maintain these food deserts. Without removing the influence of these corporations from the function of the government, the American people will continue to be tricked into spending their money and energy supporting such corporations.
These food deserts, and the continued health issues of Americans, are directly feeding into these corporations that steal jobs from the average American, pushing them into poverty, while at the same time poisoning their families. We need to push the government to reject the lobbyists and their lies and support our impoverished by giving them opportunities to better themselves and their lives.
Opinion Columnists Riley Mulcahy and Emmanuel Simon debate whether our country should be expanding the Supreme Court. Mulcahy argues for expanding the Court, Simon argues against it.
Pro -Why We Must Pack the Courts
Democrats should use their power to take bold, progressive action
By: Riley Mulcahy
Democrats won in 2020. Sometimes it is hard to believe that Republicans are the minority party, but they are. The realization of this fact will make it easier for Democrats to create an
environment in Washington that people would like to be a part of, and packing the Supreme Court is one action to take that makes sense. The concept may seem problematic to most people, that the court will be over-politicized, too liberal, and that it will take away from the sanctity of the court. However, Republicans have been throwing away tradition amongst the courts for decades, and Democrats must beat them at their own game if they have a chance in passing meaningful legislation.
The term “packing the courts” is defined as any manipulation of the Supreme Court’s makeup. There have been reports that Democrats are looking to pass legislation that would add four more Justices to the court, and it is safe to say that they will have at least slight liberal leanings because the Democrats are in control of both the Senate and the House. In an era where there have been so many reckonings, social injustices, racial tensions, COVID-19, etc., it is time to reimagine institutions that Republicans are threatening.
Republicans have taken every opportunity to pack the courts. In 2016, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Republicans lost their minds. They refused even to hold a hearing and waited for the election to be over to see if Trump would win and let him decide the fate of the Supreme Court. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died last year, Republicans shifted their tone and rushed a Supreme Court nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, fearing that the White House might have been up for grabs.
When Obama left office, hundreds of courts lacked judges, which meant Republicans could fill the lower courts with conservatives, leading to state abortion bans and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation holding up in the courts. The notion that a single party can set the tone for the next 50 years is mind-boggling; however, adding more members to the Supreme Court is more inclusive. Nine people should not have the power to be the will of the American people; there should be more diversity of beliefs and backgrounds in America’s highest court, which would lend itself to America’s variety as a whole.
Biden will probably not support a radical change to the court’s makeup; however, this is the time for progressives to take him to the task. Amidst a global pandemic, Biden is doing a fantastic job trying to return America to some type of normalcy; however, this is the time for bold and powerful change. Republicans do not have the power to control the house or the senate. Democrats must choose wisely how they will proceed because if they lose control of the House and the Senate, packing the courts, along with so many other bills, including those that help America become more inclusive, will go out of the window.
Even though there is a lot of opposition, Democrats must bring the issue to the table. There has been too much inaction in a time in which action is most needed, and the majority of Americans support progressive efforts. Republicans are much better at framing issues and using fear tactics to create paranoia, using words such as “biased” or “socialism.” In reality, packing the courts will create a more just society, one that embodies not only the will of rich white people but appreciates all Americans, recognizing all cultures, religions, creeds, and races.
For more information on Court-Packing, please visit:
Con - Court Packing: A Recipe for Division
By: Emmanuel Simon
Packing the Supreme Court is detrimental to the unity of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or even political stance. Current “court packing” advocates are fundamentally at odds with an America that seeks healing and unity. This will be evident by the fact that many Americans, both Democrat and Republican, share my view.
The members of the Supreme Court exist as non-partisan members who wish to preserve and protect our Constitution. The Supreme Court’s website states, “As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.” Advocates of court packing deny that the Supreme Court acts as a non-partisan. According to their view, members of the Supreme Court are biased, and therefore, we need to add more members of the Supreme Court in order to do away with the Court’s bias. But not only are these accusations against the court unfactual, these accusations are also self-refuting.
Advocates for court packing seek to bring more members onto the Supreme Court. Yet given the premise that members of the Supreme Court are biased, it follows that advocates of court packing actually seek to bring biased members onto the Supreme Court in order to get rid of bias. This is done in order to bring more politicians who share the same one-sided political view onto the Supreme Court. In other words, advocates who want to bring more members onto the Supreme Court actually seek political power and domination over those who disagree with them. Hence, Court Packing leads to a divided America.
Furthermore, Court Packing leads to a logical regress. Suppose that since Biden is president, he decides to pack the Supreme Court by adding more Democrats. A future Republican president could also pack the court to get more members who think like him or her. Both future Democrat and Republican presidents would find themselves packing the Court in order to have an America that focuses upon a single narrative. Again, we see that Court Packing changes the Supreme Court into a tool used for political power that divides the American people rather than an institution that helps unite.
Now, some advocates of court packing claim that Women’s rights are at stake if we do not pack the court. But that’s just flat-out false. Let’s look at what accomplished woman and Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project, had to say about Packing the Court: “Nine seems to be a good number. It's been that way for a long time….I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” She then adds, “If anything would make the court look partisan, it would be that — one side saying, ‘When we're in power, we're going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had enough common sense to see that court packing does not lead to an America that helps women. Rather, it divides our America.
We can also see that advocates of Court Packing are actually trying to weaken the voices of accomplished women in our America. Notice how far-left Democrats weren’t concerned about court packing until Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on the scene. It was fitting that an accomplished woman like Justice Barrett fills the place of an accomplished woman like Justice Ginsburg. These Far-left Court Packing advocates are therefore both hypocritical extremists; hypocritical because they say they stand for women’s equality, yet their actions show otherwise. They are extremists because they are so far left that they make other left-leaning figures like Senator Manchin or President Biden look like conservatives.
It’s ironic to hear advocates of court packing claim that their position is meant to help women when accomplished and noteworthy women like Barrett and Ginsburg disagree with them. All Americans—Republicans and Democrats, men and women—can see past the empty rhetoric offered by Court Packing advocates. The American people seek healing, not division. For that reason, men and women of our American are smart enough to know that Court Packing is illogical, divisive, and anti-women.
On the Function of the Supreme Court: https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/about.aspx#:~:text=As%20the%20final%20arbiter%20of,and%20interpreter%20of%20the%20Constitution.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views regarding Court Packing:
Former police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction for George Floyd’s murder is only the tip of the iceberg in a much longer fight for racial justice.
By Victoria Vidales
Following months of agony George Floyd’s loved ones received some justice for the loss of him in the conviction of the man responsible for his death: Derek Chauvin. The former police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds in front of horrified bystanders. In a cell phone video played around the world George Floyd called out for his mother, and pleaded for mercy speaking the words “I can’t breath.” After his death this past spring, protests against police brutality and in support of racial justice broke out both nation and world wide. His final words “I can’t breath” became an anthem used by activists to call for change, justice and reform. Although Chauvin’s conviction is the just outcome, there is a much longer fight for racial justice that must be continued.
On March 8th the American people watched the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin trial begin where Chauvin faced charges for the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin was charged with three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Witness after witness and expert after expert took the stand, most testifying that Chauvin’s direct actions caused the death of George Floyd. The jury watched as the video documenting George Floyd’s final moments alive was played. Following a deliberation, on April 20th Chauvin was convicted of all three presented counts.
After Chauvin’s verdict was read immediate emotions spread throughout the nation. George Floyd’s family received some justice for their loved one’s murder, and tributes by his fellow countrymen and women poured out everywhere. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the American people that evening expressing their support for racial justice and calling for change within this nation.
On April 21st U.S Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department would be conducting an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department ‘s practices including the use of excessive force. On April 26th AG Garland announced an investigation into Louisville Police Department’s use of excessive force in law enforcement. The LMPD is the same department that investigated the death of Breonna Taylor; no charges were filed in relation to her death. These investigations are the first step by the Justice Department, under the leadership of AG Garland, to investigate police brutality, a positive sign for change.
Although Chauvin’s conviction is a victory for accountability it is not the end of the movement for justice. George Floyd is only one of so many people of color that have been unjustly killed at the hands of some form of law enforcement. Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed, Adam Toledo was a child who dropped a gun, Elijah McClain was walking home; the list of unarmed Black and Brown people killed by law enforcement goes on and on. Change must begin and that change begins with us.
As young people ourselves we will be the people of tomorrow, the people who will make the laws that govern our country that shape the world we wish to live in. If we want to prevent someone else from facing the same fate that George Floyd did then we must advocate for change. We must vote in every election, run for public offices, pay attention to the facts, and remain informed on the world. It is essential that we encourage dialogue amongst those that disagree and that we are united in this movement for change. People are always stronger when they are united together and I hope that people have been awakened to the need for changes to be made in order to preserve the safety of all.
Opinion Columnists Brent Dondalski and Katelyn McCarthy debate whether the US government should combat Climate Change. Dondalski argues for government action, McCarthy argues against it.
Pro: The Consequences of Doing Nothing
Climate change will destroy our planet unless the U.S. government leads an effort to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
By: Brent Dondalski
The consensus is and has been here: climate change is happening. Data from NASA shows that over ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree; the climate is warming due to human activity. Despite the rapid amount of climate change misinformation, it is essential to our survival that we take radical and decisive action against climate change in the form of government policy. If we refuse, we are consciously handing future generations a death sentence.
Above all else, it is important that we understand the facts of this crisis. One might argue that throughout Earth’s history the climate has always changed. This is true, however, these changes are attributed to small variations in Earth’s orbit around the sun over thousands of years (NASA). What we are seeing now are unprecedented changes happening over a very short amount of time. NASA explains that “there is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause Earth to warm in response.” The five hottest years recorded are 2020, 2016, 2019, 2015, and 2017 (NASA, Climate Central). Since 1880, Earth’s temperature has increased by a little more than 1°C, with two-thirds of that warming occurring since 1975 (NASA). Current climate models predict that if we continue to emit as many or more greenhouse gases, the Earth’s temperature could increase up to 4°C by 2100 (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), and if we halved our carbon admissions from 2010-2030 by 45% we could limit warming increases to under 2°C (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). For context, the last time Earth saw a temperature change of 4°C was the most recent ice age from over a millennia ago (GreenFacts).
There’s no doubt that climate change poses a catastrophic threat to the planet and human civilization. Unfortunately, governments have failed to enact environmental policies that would slow the rate of climate change. Dating back to the Reagan administration, the US government has consistently rejected evidence of climate change and its potentially disastrous effects, largely due to pressure from the fossil fuel industry (New York Times). Reagan especially was so extremely opposed to environmental protections that it alarmed even his own party members (New York Times). Studies show that “the generation of climate misinformation persists, with arguments against climate science increasing relative to policy arguments in publications by conservative organizations” (Environmental Research Letters). The crisis and its supporting science have been relentlessly politicized and mischaracterized largely in order to benefit fossil fuel lobbyists and their associated politicians.
Understanding climate science misinformation is essential to understanding climate change as a sociopolitical issue. Because politicians and the oil industry have sowed distrust in the severity of climate change, policies and potential solutions to the crisis should be primarily guided by scientific research. Though it’s a complex issue, a scientific lens could help filter out misinformation and political narratives and be the best guide to solving the crisis. Unfortunately, scientific research overwhelmingly shows that we aren’t doing enough as of now.
There are a few policies or policy approaches that could be helpful in saving our future. To start, cars and auto transit contribute a lot of carbon emissions. Our society and infrastructure are designed so that cars are the primary mode of transportation. It’s difficult to imagine a world where driving is not the most convenient mode of transportation, but we can rethink this framework. We can invest in infrastructure programs that make cities more walkable and bikeable, potentially replacing short car trips that account for so much driving. We can invest, expand, and encourage public transportation so it’s convenient for people across the nation.
Furthermore, investing in solar and wind energy is an effective way to mitigate climate change. Solar energy, if implemented on a widespread level in the US, could power eighty percent of residential water heating and cooling needs as well as serve as an alternative to fossil-fueled electricity, which accounts for more than a third of US greenhouse gas emissions (Solar Energy Industries Association). The current model for powering the US. simply is not sustainable, so solar energy could play a significant role in mitigating climate change.
On top of these specific policies, the US government needs to pass legislation that will enact a broad overhaul of our current industries involved in greenhouse gas emissions. One bill that embodies this approach is the controversial Green New Deal. While some of its goals may sound somewhat far-fetched at first glance, its approach is necessary. The New York Times explains that the Green New Deal seeks to “transition one-hundred percent of our electricity generation to renewable sources; build a national, energy-efficient, ‘smart’ grid; upgrade every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety; and transition the manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation industries away from coal, oil, and gas.” The ultimate goal is to transform our economy away from fossil fuels by 2030 and ensure that everyone has clean air and water in ways that prioritize justice and equity.
This sounds overwhelming and to a certain extent, it is. But overwhelming is what we need. This type of broad overhaul of our energy systems would create millions of jobs and tremendously help the environment. These extra jobs will provide many Americans with economic stability and ultimately grow the economy. One might ask about the cost of such government programs, arguing that it is too costly. Admittedly these programs and mitigation efforts would be expensive, however, the cost of allowing climate change to run its course would be far more devastating. The mass floods, wildfires, and weather events would destroy billions of dollars of property. Plus, the mass death that climate change would cause is incalculable.
Though it’s a daunting issue, humanity really has no choice at this point. We must act. The science is quite clear on the severity of climate change as well as the human activity causing it. We are called to act in accordance with science and facts. While some people are generally against increasing government regulation, stopping climate change requires it. Government regulation is not inherently a good or bad thing; it’s a neutral tool that can be used for any purpose. There’s really no better reason for government intervention than a massive crisis like climate change.
Con: Investing in Infrastructure
A Reasonable Response to Climate Alarmism
By Katelyn McCarthy
I shall not attempt to dispute the theory that the climate is changing due to manmade causes. It is unwise to attempt to hold an opinion on something which is beyond one’s scope, and the sheer amount of scientific journals produced on the subject is one which I have barely breached. Running with the assumption, however, that the climate is indeed changing due to manmade causes, I can suggest that the best course of action is not governmental regulation.
Common-sense environmental regulations, like those which prevent corporations from pouring waste chemicals into waterways, are perfectly warranted. Regulations that attempt to alter the global climate, however, are herculean efforts based too much on speculation to be reliable.
It should be remembered by this generation, which is inundated with fearmongering doomsayings as to the state of its planet, that the expectations as to how the climate shall exist in the future are based entirely on computer models—that is, algorithms and programs which, by means of the variables input into them, attempt to determine global temperatures, sea levels, and the like. Could these models be correct? Surely, they could. Could they, instead, be wrong? Indeed, they could. After all, they are but predictions. There’s nothing hard and true about them.
In 1989, for example, the director of the New York branch of the UN Environment Program stated that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000” (Associated Press). Needless to say, we are twenty years past the turn of the century, and nothing of the sort has occurred.
A quick dive into the predictions that have been made regarding climate change quickly indicates that in every few years for the past forty an individual or group will come forth with a statement that the earth shall freeze over (or heat up, or drown--they really cannot make up their minds) within ten years of the proclamation’s issuing. One might argue that these statements are on the extremities and that more reasonable statements as to, for example, the correlation between CO2 emissions and an increase in the global median temperature, are more accurate. Fair enough. But to demand intense governmental regulations (no more plane trips or hamburgers, folks!) is a frantic, albeit ill-effective, response.
Natural disasters will occur regardless of whether or not the climate is changing. A protective solution, unlike little-tested fixes based on speculative climate change models, that is proven to diminish the damage such disasters cause is the furtherance of infrastructure. We know how to build bridges, buildings, and dams that can withstand catastrophes. Those parts of the world that lack these technologies are those which are least prepared for disasters, climate change-caused or otherwise. The most effective solution, therefore, would be to assist those parts of the world in developing and implementing such technologies.
It is objected that misinformation about climate change is spread by corporations who profit from exploiting natural resources. Perhaps, when the corporate wokification process is complete in a few years, this shall no longer be an issue. Until then, however, this objection is entirely sensible. To argue, though, that corporations cannot be trusted but politicians can is to take a wrong turn.
“What’s in it for a politician?” one might ask. “After all, it’s not like they’re out there destroying the planet for monetary gain.” True. But politicians do have something to gain from climate change. Global warming is a global issue that requires a global solution. And a global solution means centralized power. And power is a politician’s best friend.
Government regulation generally hurts the little people and benefits the powerful. If a program like the Green New Deal were to be put in place, one can bet one’s lucky stars that one will be required to follow the regulations or be fined but that politicians and the powerful will not. After all, those politicians and celebrities who most decry climate change are also those with expensive houses on presumably sinking beaches and who take CO2-emitting plane voyages far more often than does the average individual.
Ultimately, the best efforts to focus on are those which are most proven to be efficacious. Human innovation and infrastructure are those solutions, and government regulation ultimately will do nothing but hurt the little people. Perhaps climate change is in the same boat as flying cars: always coming, but never here when it’s supposed to be. Infrastructure, however, is the best protector against anything the earth has to throw at us, and we can build it as quickly as we need it.
The perceived argument from government leaders that regardless of getting the vaccine the nation will not reopen is not encouraging to those who are hesitant to get the vaccine.
By Emmanuel Simon
Most Americans have the opinion that people should get a COVID-19 vaccine since, to quote the CDC, “vaccines currently approved for use in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19…. COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic.” To paraphrase, the vaccines work. But lest one objects by pointing to the variants, the CDC writes, “current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States should work against these variants. For this reason, COVID-19 vaccines are an essential tool to protect people against COVID-19, including against new variants. [The] CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as [the] vaccine is available to you.” According to the CDC then, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
A person who trusts the CDC might think that since more and more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine each day, it just makes sense to reopen the nation. We see, for example, that in Texas most businesses are open, masks are not required, and there are not any stay-at-home orders. One might think that Texas is bound to spike given its loose restrictions. However, the facts state otherwise. The Governor of Texas reopened the state on March 10th, where there was an average of 4,909 newly reported cases. As of April 10th, there was an average of 3,452 newly reported cases. Even with these loose restrictions, newly reported cases decreased rather than increased.
Yet still, critics against reopening the nation aren’t satisfied. Many critics point to how the CDC states that no vaccine is 100% effective and that the evidence is limited as to how the current COVID-19 vaccines work against the variants. Thus, they argue, though we should get the COVID-19 vaccine, it doesn’t follow that we should reopen the nation at the current rate.
What these critics don’t realize is that their arguments against reopening the nation are also arguments against getting the vaccine. If states aren’t to reopen at the rates they are because no vaccine is 100% effective, then with that logic, it also follows that no person should get the vaccine because the ‘experts’ aren’t too sure of the long-term effects of the vaccine. For example, the CDC has been telling us for months that U.S.-approved vaccines are safe. Yet just recently, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is being investigated to be the cause of blood clots in six women. So, if we should slow down America’s reopening process due to uncertainties, then why not also avoid taking all COVID-19 vaccines given the uncertainties of long and short-term effects? The critics who present such an argument against reopening are therefore inconsistent.
Let us take the position backed up by facts and science. The CDC, supported by a majority of scientists, says that the vaccines are effective. Because of this scientific fact, it makes sense why even though there are states like Texas that have practically fully opened, newly confirmed cases are on a decline. It is, therefore, both safe and commonsensical to reopen our America at current rates.
CDC on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness/work.html
Data on Newly reported COVID-19 cases in Texas: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/texas-covid-cases.html
Victoria Vidales '21,