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.
Victoria Vidales '21,