Tags Posts tagged with "Opinion"

Opinion

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Photo by Common Law Blog

Kenny Pancake
CONTRIBUTOR

Omaha is well-known across the nation for its rising political scene.

Located in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, Omaha has provided many publicized races in the past few years. The district voted for then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, splitting from the rest of Nebraska. The congressional race last fall between incumbent Brad Ashford and challenger Don Bacon wasn’t called until 6:30 a.m. the day after election day. And last spring, the two mayoral candidates for Omaha each brought in one former presidential candidate to support their races – Bernie Sanders and Scott Walker.

This kind of activity means that there are many opportunities to get involved in Omaha, whether you are looking for a career in politics, looking for friends who think like you do or just want to volunteer a little time for your favorite candidate. There are three ways that you can get involved while you study here at UNO:

1) Join a club on campus, or start your own! There are several groups on campus that focus on political issues, whether they support candidates, parties or ideals.

Some campus groups support political parties, like the College Democrats. Others, like Maverick Students for Life, discuss singular issues. There are also groups that exist to defend certain sets of ideology.

One new chapter coming to campus this fall is Young Americans for Freedom. “We just want to show the campus that you don’t have to be afraid to be conservative, and we want to give conservatives a place to belong,” says Chris Brady, the secretary of the new student organization.

Students are also encouraged to start their own club at UNO. If you can’t find a chapter dedicated to your favorite topic, find a few friends who are also passionate about the idea and visit the Student Involvement Office inside the Milo Bail Student Center.

2) Write letters to the editor! This is a terrific way to have your voice heard. Our opinion section regularly publishes letters written to our paper about various political topics, and even issues outside of politics occasionally. If you like to write and feel like your opinion isn’t being fairly represented on campus, you can write a letter to The Gateway and ask for it to be published.

3) Volunteer with a campaign or organization in your spare time! Currently, the next major election is November of 2018, when Senator Fischer and Congressman Bacon come up for re-election, as well as several other local candidates. This may seem like a long while away, but campaigns are already gearing up for another round! For example, former Congressman Brad Ashford is running for Congress to try to get his seat back from Congressman Bacon; however, he first faces Kara Eastman in a primary election.

In his victory speech last November, Congressman Bacon credited his youth volunteers as “the game-changer” in his campaign. Whose game will you change at UNO?

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Photo by Megan Alexander

Virginia Gallner
CONTRIBUTOR

A professor once told me that college is a candy store for ideas. It is a place where you can slow down from the bustle of life and sample new flavors you could have never imagined. Chocolate covered almonds. Marzipan. Licorice imported from Australia.

Here, in the nest of university life, you have the time and the freedom to explore whatever ideas catch your fancy. See a poster for a philosophy class while you are walking down the hall? Something about neuroscience? Maybe the stories of Ancient Egypt or Medieval England catch your fancy? Give it a try!

When I started here at UNO, I enrolled as a Religious Studies major. I was drawn to the idea of studying world religions and seeing how people interact from different perspectives and worldviews. At first I thought I would couple this with a history major and approach the study of religion from a purely historical perspective. However, my coursework led me on a number of different paths within that degree: from anthropology to communication, international politics to counter-terrorism research.

As a Religious Studies and International Studies double major with a handful of minors, I have sampled quite a lot. Some of it has intrigued me so deeply that I have continued reading long after the class has finished. Sometimes I find subjects that I would never want to touch again unless absolutely necessary. Some of us just do not get along with quadratic equations, and that is okay. College is the time to discover things about ourselves.

Going outside of your comfort zone has expanded my social network and the way I interact with the world. While it is great to have friends who are studying similar topics, it is wonderful to have friends who are outside your major, or even your college. Some of the closest friends I have made here are from the College of Fine Arts and Media. Embracing different approaches and perspectives can enrich our lives.

I have embraced this marketplace of ideas we call university. I have sampled many different candies from the standard offerings to the unique and obscure, and I am so much happier because of it.

Do not be limited by the bounds of your declared major. This is your time to learn and absorb everything that the university offers.

If you have not decided yet, all the better! Take this time to find what excites you the most. You will find your passion through exploring ideas.

So, I urge you to take the course that thrills you and scares you and makes you want to learn more. Try the candy you have never tried before because it might be the most delicious thing you have ever tasted.

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Andrew D. Bartholet
CONTRIBUTOR

The selection of a major is one of the most difficult things to get through when first starting college, and there are a lot of misconceptions on what a major should be and how it should be selected.

First off, students who pick a major that sounds closest to the career they have in mind do so for the wrong reasons. I am entering my third year in college, and my career ambitions now are way different from what they were when I was a freshman.

While there are some students who stick with their original plan all the way through college, it is overwhelmingly common for students to change their major as they figure out what they really want to do. Students should pick majors that align well with their relevant passions, because passions do not really change like career interests do.

For example, a student who is passionate about art and language and who wishes to work in a business setting should pick language as his or her major. It is much easier for a linguist to find a job in business than an artist. Furthermore, it is easy for someone who is passionate about language to study language, and, perhaps, less easy for someone who is not passionate about “hard business” to study business administration.

An interesting fact about majors that many students overlook is that it is possible to get into various fields with many different degrees. Not all doctors majored in pre-med; many of them studied biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and other majors. Many times, pre-meds make up fewer MD students than other majors. In business industries, employers look for talented individuals who can offer diverse skills that come
from many areas outside of business administration and other “hard business” majors.

While there are many good specific majors out there, know that they are not the only way to specific career goals. Students will be much more motivated and enjoy greater success in school if they follow their passions. When students try and match the major to the job, they limit themselves and fail to discover new careers that they may have overlooked

College is a place to figure out what you want to do. No one is expected to know their future career when they enter college.

If you find early on that your major is not right for you, you should change it as soon as possible to avoid wasting too much money and time on unneeded classes. College is expensive, and while we are here to figure it out, we must also be diligent and efficient in our work. I changed my major twice in my first two years of school, and I was not put behind at all. If I decided to change my major now, I might have more difficulty finishing in a reasonable amount of time. I have no need to change my major again because I kept an open mind and followed my passions. I wish you all the same success.

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Photo by Megan Alexander

Kaylee Pierce
CONTRIBUTOR

To live on campus or not? A frequent question I asked myself a lot through both my freshman and sophomore years. There was always something that made me stay and eventually there was something that made me go.

I live in my own apartment just a few blocks down from campus. I must admit, having my own place is worth it but I recommend you live on campus for your first two years at least.

My first two years on campus were easy for me. I was close to my classes and close to transportation when I lived at Scott Court. Every year, especially the beginning of the year, each campus holds dorm events. You get to know your roommates and your fellow neighbors. I wholeheartedly believe that these events are key to adjusting to college life a little easier.

While living with three complete strangers can be daunting, it can be the best thing to happen to you. I know of countless people on campus who became the best of friends with their roommates. It certainly helps when you have three others going through the same adjustments you are. Eventually, each person develops their own friend group and that means each person knows of different events happening on campus. Being connected with your roommates can be a great step to making friends and putting yourself out there to try something new.

Wanting your own place can be a great goal for which to work, but I think if you start out living completely by yourself, no fellow students, no campus, you are at risk of isolating yourself. Isolation is not your friend. Being all alone, not getting out there and not trying can make you feel miserable. No one wants to feel that way.

Living on campus is a fantastic way to start your college experience. There have been so many events I learned of randomly through roommates or through my dorm bulletin board. I really enjoyed all the events that my dorms put on and I got to meet so many new people through campus events.

I did struggle a bit with adjusting to the way my roommates lived versus what I was used to. Some liked complete organization and cleanliness, others didn’t. That adjusting made me step outside my comfort zone and interact with my roommates. I had to know what they liked and didn’t like. I had to tell them when they were being too loud or too messy. It helped me adjust to classes. Being able to speak up to table partners telling them they need to quiet down or make more room for me. Knowing how you are with strangers will help you learn how to adjust to staying in a room full of them.

I eventually left the dorms and got my own place over the summer this year. I know it will take some minor adjusting but I feel confident that I got a decent dorm life experience through the two years I lived on campus. I feel after two years of living on campus I can survive living in my own place, but I strongly recommend living on campus for at least your first year. Also, don’t isolate yourself. There is something for everyone here at UNO.

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Photo Courtesy of Cafepress

Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

At the time this article is written massive protests are taking place in Venezuela that so far have resulted in the death of at least two people, Russian bombers are nearing Alaska, tensions are growing in the North Korea, hundreds of Syrians are attempting to evacuate their country and the UK Parliament is calling for a snap election. The reason I know all of this is going on in the world is the same reason I can write this article—freedom of the press.

Those who report the news are finding it a bit more difficult to do so under Donald Trump’s presidency, however, Trump is not the inventor of bad relations with the press.

More quietly, President Obama’s press operation attempted to block Fox News reporters from interviews, attempted to block certain officials from speaking to journalists and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined.

This disdain for the press didn’t move into the White House with the Trump administration, it has been developing for some time. However, the frequency and volume at which Trump discredits the press is unique. Past presidents have at least pretended to support the first amendment when it pertains to a free media.

During his first day in office, Trump called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.” Since then, he has labeled legitimate reporting as “fake news” and has blocked multiples news organizations from attending his press briefings.

All of this comes at a time when polls find the public’s trust in the media is at an all-time low. To some, news organizations are too liberal, too conservative or don’t report on events that actually matter.

In reality, some of these opinions are justified. Many big media companies failed to see the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, and liberal companies such as CNN report news very differently than the more conservative Fox News, and both get things wrong occasionally.

Journalists make mistakes, that’s the reality of free press. But there is another reality to also consider.

Forty-eight journalists were killed in 2016. Within the past month, a crime reporter was shot and killed in Mexico City, a Somaliland journalist has been detained, multiple journalists are jailed for covering protests in Russia, a Nigerian blogger and his family are be-ing threatened after publishing news critical of their government and a Syrian journalist was killed by an airstrike March 13.

The information news organizations provide to many United States citizens who occasionally complain about said news organizations, is information many citizens of many other countries don’t have access too. The free press of this country is something journalists all around the world fight for, are jailed for, beat-en for, threatened for and die for.

It’s a common statement—a free press is nec-essary for a healthy democracy. A free press also needs democracy, there can’t be one without the other.

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Andrew D. Bartholet
CONTRIBUTOR

In this age of political correctness, we can see the delicate landscape of universities erode around us into what I call “The Casualties of GroupThink.”

William H. White Jr, an American intellectual, coined the term, GroupThink, in a 1952 issue of Fortune Magazine.

The term has evolved to describe the social phenomenon where individuals in groups begin to adopt common ideologies with one another, and where dissenting opinions and controversy are ousted in favor of consensus and conformity.

This dangerous phenomenon can be observed at universities across the United States, where significant portions of student bodies become radicalized against social injustices including racism, sexism and various other discriminatory “institutions.” GroupThink has mobilized student bodies across the United States on a scale not seen since the Vietnam era, and the clout and influence of these radical groups has permeated the administrative policy and curriculum of many American Universities.

In the fall semester of 2015, Andrea Quenette, a communications teacher on track for tenure at the University of Kansas, was asked to leave KU after students complained she was racially insensitive during a class discussion about racism: Dr. Quenette used a racially charged word to highlight a specific example of racial prejudice. During the time I spent at KU, in that same semester, I felt overwhelmed by the relentless badgering and questioning from yippy-enlightened professors and students, that proved to be unavoidable distractions. Everyone drank the Kool-Aid. If a student didn’t, they risked being marginalized as racists or “socially unaware.”

GroupThink pushed a majority of KU personnel to be more concerned with identifying and acknowledging cultural issues, rather than seeking rational and comprehensive solutions to the most tangible issues the community faced. Furthermore, the integrities of the student body’s freedom of speech and liberal education were severely compromised. Unfortunately, these deficiencies are not unique to KU, but impact many campuses across the country–notably Yale, which recently commissioned a committee to oversee the renaming of its various colleges (possibly even the university itself) in a vain act of dissociation with slave owning benefactors.

The real controversy arises in the pursuit of solutions rather than the acknowledgment of problems. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many students become more concerned with awareness rather than change. We like to forget the ‘act’ in activism, and why wouldn’t we? No one can be labeled a racist by merely agreeing that racism exists, but if someone offers an idea about how racism, or any of its null effects, may be mitigated, they risk being labeled a racist for misrepresenting or discounting a serious issue.

The fact of the matter is that many issues like racism and sexism are serious, and they deserve serious discussions and purposeful action, not just shallow awareness and empty gestures. Furthermore, any activism or philanthropy intended to aid these issues requires a certain degree of respect and prudence that has been absent on college campuses these past several years. Such is the calamity of GroupThink, where free thought, free speech and the fluid dissemination of ideas necessary for pragmatic solutions, are the casualties, and vanity and safe spaces are the spoils.

I am not so naive that I believe UNO is immune to this plague that burdens many other universities, and I hope my peers, administrators and teachers are not either. While it is my intention to “raise awareness” of GroupThink, I would be a hypocrite if I stopped there. I believe there are three core activities that help people avoid GroupThink, and I invite all of my fellow Mavericks to join me in these practices.

One: Read as much as possible, more than what is required in class and certainly more than what is featured on Facebook’s newsfeed. Share your unique knowledge with friends and classmates. It is important that people in such close-knit communities, such as college campuses, not all read the same books or articles. The constant influx of information is essential to any healthy academic ecosystem.

Two: Think small, and pick one or two issues that you are truly passionate about, and lead the community in purposeful action that will bring about comprehensive change where it is needed most.

Three: Never stop asking questions, and never stop seeking answers. Questions and answers are the only real instruments of knowledge and wisdom at our disposal. Knowledge is in the number of answers one has acquired, and wisdom is in the quality of the questions one has learned to ask.

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Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission made a surprising decision Wednesday to deny the renewal of the liquor licenses of four stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

The village of Whiteclay is small, even by Nebraska standards. With about 15 official residents, according to the 2000 Census, the village has four liquor stores and illegally supplies alcohol to the Pine Ridge Reservation located 400 yards north of Whiteclay in South Dakota.

Saying that Whiteclay has an alcohol problem is a colossal understatement. An investigation by KETV found the village sells 3.5 million cans of beer each year, mostly to Pine Ridge residents.

Activists have been advocating for a solution to Whiteclay and Pine Ridge’s alcohol problems and the many problems that come with it.

Many of the children born in Whiteclay or nearby suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, and an estimated one out of every four children born on the Pine Ridge Reservation suffer some degree of birth defect due to alcohol.

This rampant alcoholism is also blamed for cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault and a devastatingly high rate of suicide among Pine Ridge youths. The average life expectancy on Pine Ridge is 50 years.

Opponents of the decision to revoke the stores’ liquor licenses argue that people will simply find other ways to buy alcohol. UNO professor and author of multiple publications on Native Americans, Bruce Johansen said that it is possible for other sources to emerge.

“The real question may be: what is going to happen to all the people who have been drinking all that
beer,” Johansen said. “Most of them come from the reservation. Alcohol is an addictive substance, and some other source of supply may develop.”

Johansen said there is also the argument of “freedom.”

“It’s about time, and I hope the decision is upheld during whatever appeals the storeowners and the beer companies have at their disposal,” Johansen said.

If they follow past procedure, they’ll argue their case in terms of ‘freedom’. The stores have a right to sell the Indians beer, and the Indians have a right to get drunk, they have argued. Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.”

While it is impossible to say whether or not closing the liquor stores in Whiteclay will solve the areas many problems, it is a better solution than turning away and doing nothing. The people of Whiteclay are Nebraskans, and it’s time fellow Nebraskans acknowledged their plight.

This is a problem that won’t be solved overnight, but by making a move to close down the liquor stores, The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission has taken the first step necessary in solving any problem: acknowledging that a problem exists.

“Finally, Nebraska has quit avoiding the Whiteclay issue,” Johansen said. “It has taken a long time, and I doubt that the battle is over.”

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Jeff Turner
SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Being around Heath Mello is electrifying. The man has a commanding presence that could persuade people of almost anything. The night of the primary, Mello was out there talking to constituents, and he smiled, like every politician. However, a sincerity was coming from Mello. The guy was talking to these people, and maybe he was genuine – maybe he wasn’t, but it wouldn’t be ludicrous to say that he was good friends with everyone in the room, whatever the truth is tossed aside.

The notable response will be that a candidate should be about policy, and have substance, and it shouldn’t be about how ‘well liked’ they are. Mello is ‘well liked’, and that would be essential to his term as Mayor, the biggest reason being that people are more likely to listen to someone they can stand to be around. With being ‘well-liked’, comes an aptitude for persuasion. That would be all Mello would need to adapt to the needs of the people of Omaha as the policy of the day changed.

Our current mayor does not seem to demonstrate that trait. Despite what claims Mayor Stothert might make (no one really wants to seem like they’re nerve wracking to be around), the evidence shines through.

None more so painfully obvious than the statement from Police Chief Tim Dunning saying that he had blocked her cell phone number. He ended up endorsing Mello.

Stothert claimed during her first debate that people didn’t like to work with her because “she’s a leader.” While it is true that if one focuses on being liked by everyone; they will be lost in the tide, there is also something to be said for the leader that can command inspiration and convince people to follow him or her and work with him or her of their own volition. That person is Heath Mello.

A criticism of Mello that keeps coming up is how nervous he seems to distinguish himself from Stothert. Mello is a moderate democrat, and so it is fitting that he adopts a style of campaigning that is reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s initial run for governor of Arkansas. Charm and persuasion take center stage. Unfortunately, he will have to hit her on something tangible. As lovely as the idea is, a candidate cannot win without at least one attack ad, it’s not realistic.

Mello ought to hit Stothert on the bus systems. The buses are hard to come by, it’s hard to not find a bus in many other towns. Omaha, in this regard, is more reminiscent of a small town than a sprawling metro. The city has a surplus, and the bus systems demand funding.

Mello also ought to focus on events where he meets constituents in person. There is a genuine difference between seeing him on TV and meeting him. It is a difference that could win Mello the race if properly utilized.

Heath Mello will bring a fresh new perspective into Omaha politics, and especially into the Nebraska Democratic party, which has largely been dominated by old white men (Rep. Ashford, Senator Kerrey, Senator Nelson, Mayor Suttle). His policy flaws pale in comparison to what he could get done with pressure.

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