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Photo Courtesy of dailynebraskan.com

Jessica Wade
CONTRIBUTOR

Finding the financial means to attend a four-year university is a challenge many college students face. If the University of Nebraska loses the projected $58 million in funding, the challenge will become insurmountable.

Not yet established in the work force, young adults are trying to find footing in a competitive job market. A college degree can give young workers an advantage when searching for a career, but the funds necessary to attend a four-year university are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. A raise in tuition could be catastrophic to the many university students who already struggle to make ends meet.

“The idea of a tuition raise is kind of scary,” elementary education major Emily Caveye said. “I already have to take out loans; I’ll probably be in debt until I die.”

The possibility of a tuition increase has been looming ever since the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board found tax revenue will fall nearly $1 billion below what was expected by June 30, 2019.

To his credit, University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds is working to find a solution. Bounds has formed the Budget Response team, a group of experts from 10 areas of university operations including human resources, energy, communications and IT.

“We want to be certain we’ve done everything possible to maintain our impact, preserve our quality and keep moving forward on the important work of growing the economy and transforming lives in Nebraska and around the world,” Bounds said in a press release.

Bounds further emphasized the importance of state funding on Feb. 3 while speaking to students and faculty at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“We’re facing fiscal stress in the state,” Bounds said. “We’re going to find as many efficiencies as we can.”

Bounds also pointed out that in the past, other programs have received significantly higher increases in funding than the universities. Since 2000, state funding for the Corrections Department has increased by 133 percent and Medicaid has gone up 172 percent. For NU, however, appropriations have gone up 57 percent, Bounds said.

Nebraska does have to tighten its fiscal belt, but cutting funds to public universities is not a long-term solution. A tuition hike could actually create more problems in the future.

Students entering the work force with degrees earned from the University of Nebraska provide a boost to the economy and help replace the many workers reaching retirement age. Making a college degree a less obtainable goal would decrease the number of college-educated Nebraskans entering the work force, which would hurt the economy, which in turn would lead to further financial shortcomings.

“I also believe that we must use this budgetary challenge as an opportunity to become an even more collaborative and forward-thinking university,” Bounds said. “The Budget Response Team has a difficult task but I’m confident its members will identify creative ideas for positioning university operations for the future.”

Bounds’ optimism is heartening, and hopefully NU can work with the state to find a solution. The reality, however, is that students and professors can’t afford a budget deficit. Until the state sees the value in funding education, NU and Nebraska’s economy will suffer.

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Virginia Gallner
CONTRIBUTOR

Before the executive order and the election, fear and prejudice tainted many Americans’ perception of immigrants and refugees. The Refugee Perspective started in an Honors Colloquium with the goal of making lasting change on these mindsets. We approached this goal of behavior change by creating a series of short documentary videos showing the stories of UNO students who are also refugees. Our campaign seeks to show the human side of the refugee crisis, the people whose struggle has been so maligned by those who are driven by fear of the unknown.

The focal point of the documentary videos is Paw Htoo, a biology student and refugee. In the documentary she said, “I was born in Thailand, but America is my home.”

When she tells people about her home country, at first they might speak of the beautiful landscapes and delicious food. She never got to experience the beauty of her homeland because the first fourteen years of her life were spent in a refugee camp.

When we launched our social media campaign last semester, we never envisioned the obstacles that would arise in the changing political climate, or the personal growth we would experience through our work. The recent executive order, directed towards immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries, exemplifies many of the xenophobic sentiments we have seen in both the research and implementation phases of our campaign.

As we saw how the events progressed, we became even more passionate about our work. Nick Lauber, a senior in the IT Innovation program who worked on the experimental aspects of our campaign, said, “I grew to care about more than just refugee issues. This campaign allowed me to become more comfortable arguing for what I believe is right.”

We sought to change perspectives on refugees through our social media campaign. In particular, we wanted to see uncommitted populations commit to a stance of understanding towards refugees. In order to achieve this, we created a multi-tiered approach modeled on the recruitment strategies of far-right extremists, because research has shown that these strategies are incredibly successful in influencing the minds of uncommitted populations.

The heart of our campaign was dinner with a refugee family, which we filmed for a short documentary. We brought members of our target population to dinner with a refugee family from Thailand. The family offered them a warm welcome, but when it came time to eat, they did not sit down and join their guests. It is in their culture for the hosts to wait while the guests sit and enjoy their meal. This culture difference astonished our student participants – but it demonstrates the universality of kindness across cultural bounds.

Through our work with the Applied Behavioral Research Lab in the UNO College of Business, we designed a neurophysiological experiment that quantifiably measures our success rate. With eye tracking technologies, we found that participants paid three times more attention to ads regarding refugees after watching our documentary videos.

Similarly, we saw a 13 percent reduction in implicit bias in our participants when asked whether they believed students like them would feel safe knowing refugees are present in every state.

Our campaign was part of a national competition funded by the EdVentures Program and Homeland Security. After huge success, garnering over 76,000 interactions on Facebook and gaining national attention for our efforts, we were selected to present our work in Washington DC. We placed fourth nationally out of the original 250 teams who participated.

As part of our trip to DC, we visited the United States Holocaust Museum. This experience was a fitting finish to the week, as we walked through this devastating history together. One of the newest features in the museum was a portal. We conversed with people in a Iraq refugee camp face-to-face through a webcam and live interpreter. Standing there with Paw, watching her exchange stories with refugees an ocean away from us, was an incredibly moving experience. This moment provided human faces for the people we had come there to support.

We will be continuing our work as student organization The Refugee Perspective by partnering with campus and community organizations. It is more important than ever to transform uncertainty into understanding.

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Photo Courtesy of Watchdog

James Hill
CONTRIBUTOR

Sen. Deb Fischer put the Republican Party first when she voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

Fischer released a statement Feb. 2 that she will be supporting DeVos for the position.

“While I do not agree with Mrs. DeVos on every issue, I do believe she has the ability and commitment to lead the department,” Fischer said.

The senator went on to say that DeVos has assured her that the Department of Education will not impose vouchers on schools and protect students with disabilities.

DeVos is completely and utterly unqualified to be the Secretary of Education.

Sen. Al Franken stumped her when he simply asked if students should be evaluated on academic “growth” or their “proficiency” in a subject during the confirmation hearing. DeVos was seemingly unfamiliar with this issue and confused the definitions of growth and proficiency. It is clear she did not do any research about the position she was nominated for.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren also pointed out that DeVos does not have any of the necessary qualifications to be in charge in the Department of Education. Warren pointed out that DeVos has no experience with managing any program that deals with loans and she has never dealt with any financial aid programs. When asked if she will commit to enforcing laws that protect students from fraudulent colleges, DeVos could not give a definitive answer.

The highly unqualified nominee was barely confirmed Feb. 7. DeVos was confirmed with a 51-50 vote.
This is not the first time Fischer has put party over country.

She voted no on two different bills that would have allowed the Attorney General to deny the the transfer of firearms to those “appropriately suspected” to be engaged in conducting either international or domestic terrorism, and deny the right of suspected terrorists from purchasing a firearm. Fischer also voted no on a bill that would have restricted the purchase of firearms at a gun show.

The passage of those bills would have made it more difficult for someone plotting to commit a terroristic act to get armed. Now, those who have been investigated for terrorism can waltz into a gun show or a store and buy as much stuff as they want.

Fischer may have been trying to protect the second amendment by voting no but she did more harm than good. It is vital that all of our guaranteed rights are protected. Allowing those who are mentally unstable or hellbent on causing harm to others to own and purchase a gun is blatant abuse of the second amendment. It is odd that a Republican, who want to keep terrorists out of the country, would allow for suspected terrorists to buy a gun within the United States.

The senator unendorsed Trump after the infamous Access Hollywood tape where he describes grabbing and kissing women without their consent. She re-endorsed Trump a few days later.

“I plan to vote for Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence on November 8,” Fischer said on Nebraska’s KLIN. “I put out a statement…with regard to Mr. Trump’s comments. I felt they were disgusting. I felt they were unacceptable and I never said I was not voting for our Republican ticket.”

Fischer is constantly putting the Republican Party first instead of her country. She voted to allow suspected terrorists to buy fire-arms and for Trump after making “disgusting” and “unacceptable” comments about women. Now, Fischer helped put a highly unqualified Betsy DeVos in charge the education of our generation.

Fischer is up for reelection in 2018.

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Megan DeBoer
CONTRIBUTOR

The American dream transformed into a nightmare on Jan. 27 when President Donald Trump signed an executive order indefinitely suspending admissions for Syrian refugees and temporarily restricting the entrance of other refugees into the U.S. from six additional Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.

The move appears to undermine the very foundation of the United States. Less than 24-hours after the order was signed, Washington state’s attorney general – who was later joined with overwhelming support from a number of other states – sued Trump on the basis that the order was “unconstitutional.” This suit led to federal district court Judge James Robart upending Trump’s order nation-wide, temporarily pausing the major travel provisions for foreign nationals, according to CNN. The temporary halt of the order also allowed green card and visa-holders, who had been travelling internationally, to return to the U.S.

“Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded has been stomped on,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “This is one of the most backward and nasty executive orders that the president has issued.”

The Justice Department added to the lawsuits and filed a new defense on Monday arguing that the ban was a “lawful exercise of the president’s authority” to defend national security and requested the ban be reinstated, according to CNN, although it contradicts the constitution’s principle of not discriminating based on religion. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s “emergency request” to resume the ban and asked both sides to present arguments for or against it on Tuesday before making a final decision later in the week.

The director of policy at the International Refugee Assistance Project Betsy Fisher said, “The executive order doesn’t say ‘we’re banning Muslims’. It says, ‘we’re banning people from Muslim countries except for the non-Muslims’.”

While announcing his exertion at the Department of Defense on Friday, Trump reflected upon the memory of the 9/11 terror attacks, and said, “We will never forget the lessons of 9/11, nor the heroes who have lost their lives at the Pentagon.”

While this statement holds truth, it is irrelevant to Trump’s travel ban since zero of the 19 hijackers who committed the attack were from countries cited in the order.

In fact, between 1975 and 2015, foreign nationals from the seven countries targeted by Trump’s executive order have killed zero Americans on U.S. soil, according to an analysis of terrorist attacks published by the Cato Institute.

The abrupt executive order caused immense confusion with little time for education of those expect-ed to carry out Trump’s order. This was no exception for the former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik. Bondevik told CNN’s “Connect the World” that he was interrogated by officials for “over an hour” at Washington’s Dulles International Airport Jan. 31 due to an Iranian visa in his diplomatic passport.

“Did they really believe that I presented a problem or threat to the U.S.?” Bondevik said. “I expected they would show more flexibility and wisdom.”

As a head of the human rights organization Oslo Center, Bondevik wholly disagrees with the ban, calling it “a contradiction” to his “view on human dignity,” according to CNN. He said the incident “speaks to a wider issue of concern brought on by the President’s first actions in office.”

However, Bondevik is only one out of the millions of faces directly impacted by Trump’s ban.

Like so many others, Boston University student Raya Bidshahri, 21, can relate to the impact. Bidshahri, originally from Iran, told CNN: “Above all, it’s heartbreaking. My family and I have always dreamed of coming to the United States and accomplishing our dreams here… We are treated like we’re terrorists, as if we want to cause trouble when above all we just want to make the United States a better place – con-tributing whether it’s through re-search, studying, or entrepreneurship.”

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Photo Courtesy of WOWT

Jose Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha has sent a university-wide warning to be on alert for job scams as recent reports point to suspicious emails being sent to students.

A student reported being the victim of theft by deception/fraud after receiving an email allegedly recruiting “Secret Shoppers” with opportunities to make up to $1,000 weekly, according to the UNO Department of Public Safety’s warning bulletin.

These types of scams are advertisements for job positions sent to individuals, offering opportunities to make reasonable amounts of money. Usually these advertisements lack clarity on the sender’s identity and company, or offer job accommodations that seem too good to be true.

Falling for these types of scams can result in theft of information and monetary funds. This can be done through the clicking of links within emails, giving away personal information, cashing counterfeit checks and withdrawing money at the request of scammers.

Assistant Director of Career Advising in the Academic and Career Development Center Katie Wessel details how a scammer might achieve monetary gains.

“Say they gave you a check and ask you to deposit it and then send money back,” Katie said. “As that check ends up bouncing, you’re now responsible for the withdrawn money from your account.”

With the rise of these scams, students are more likely to encounter one at any given time, either by email, phone, text or media in print and online.

Students and community members in general can avoid being victimized by paying attention to certain aspects of the scam’s message, according to Chief Information Security Officer and Assistant CIO Matt Morton.

“Anybody operating a business remotely understands that at the minimum, you should be able to Skype with people or see their face,” Morton said. “Any request to do that usually is avoided in the job scams because that would give them away.”

Other important aspects to be on the lookout for are the specific company identity details provided (company name, website, etc.), unrealistic money offers for required work or requests for money transferences.

For more information or any complaints about electronic scams contact UNO’s Security Help Desk at 402-554-4357, the UNO Department of Public Safety at 402-554-2648 or the Academic & Career Development Center at 402-554-3672.

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Megan DeBoer
CONTRIBUTOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s National Council of Negro Women wants its community to know it has them covered – in more ways than one.

UNO’s NCNW – a nonprofit organization with a mission to enhance the opportunities and lives of African American women – hosted a sex education exposé Friday in the Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom from 6 – 9 p.m.
The event was open to students, faculty, staff and outside community members. Admission was $5 and free for students who received a confidential sexually transmitted disease screening from the Douglas County Health Department. The exposé sought to educate the public about the importance of safe sex.

The ballroom comprised of several local organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, OneWorld, UNO’s Health Department, UNO’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to provide educational information for attendees.

Each organization arranged its own booth with pamphlets, brochures and a plethora of free contraceptives available to anyone and everyone. Clear, glass boxes filled to the brim with complimentary condoms decorated nearly every table in the room.

“Since it’s close to Valentine’s Day – and that’s a love holiday – we wanted to do something to educate UNO students and the Omaha community about what they’re getting into,” UNO senior and NCNW member Jenaya Westbrook said.

With inspiration to help promote safe sex, the NCNW did just that.

“We thought it was a good time for people to get tested prior to Valentine’s Day activities,” UNO senior and NCNW member Jonnisha McCleod said.

Various models of birth control including intrauterine devices, the implant, the pill and emergency contraceptives were available to study at multiple booths. Experts readily answered questions.

A number of students paraded through the hallways of the Stu-dent Center’s second floor with brown bags in hand, ready to test for STDs with the Douglas County Health Department. Results will be returned within five to seven business days from Douglas County Health.

Others simply wandered through the ballroom taking in all there was to see, absorbing as much information as possible, including UNO freshman Maddisen Mohnsen and Metro freshman Miah Pluta.

Pluta, accompanied by Mohnsen, decided to attend the event be-cause one of her professors was rewarding extra credit for attendance. Having never attended an event similar to this one, both Pluta and Mohnsen were intrigued by the facts and expert advice.

“My favorite was the Charles Drew Health Center booth because they asked you questions and gave prizes,” Mohnsen said.

While the first part of the exposé was dedicated to sharing tips and information on safe sex, the remaining time was devoted to a Black Out question and answer panel.

The panel consisted of Dr. Jay Irwin, Dr. Sherri Nared-Brooks, Andrew Aleman, Amber Barcel and Alyssa Watts. Westbrook said a few women from the NCNW used their connections to recruit medical personnel for the Q&A session to conclude the event.

Charlotte Reilly
CONTRIBUTOR

Forty-Five years ago social activists on the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s campus convinced the university it needed a black studies department.

Fifty-four students had a sit-in on Nov. 10, 1969 at the UNO president’s office to protest the lack of opportunities for black students on campus, according to “Coloring History, A Long, Hard Road for UNO Black Studies” by Leo Adam Biga.

UNO only had one black history course, and students demanded that a full program be developed.
Police stopped the sit-in and told protesters to leave. The protesters
responded by singing “We Shall Overcome” and raising their fists as they walked away.

Protesters were afraid the sit-in failed. However, a few weeks after the sit-in, student-faculty committees were formed to discuss the prospects of developing the department, which was created during the 1971-72 school year.

Now, the department has become solidified in the community, according to Assistant Professor of Black Studies Jennifer Harbour.

Harbour said the basic goal of the department is to teach the black diaspora. All people originated in Africa, so it is one of the most extensive fields of history.

“It’s the history of humanity,” Harbour said. “It makes you a better human being to study other people because it makes you empathize with their situations.”

Harbour said students in the black studies department develop excellent critical thinking skills because the topics and issues taught in black studies are complex.

“We teach these topics to make them better thinkers and better citizens of the world,” Harbour said.

Cynthia Robinson, the chair of the black studies department, started at UNO as a student. She double majored in black studies and communication as an undergraduate. Black studies inspired Robinson to continue learning.

“The discipline of black studies inspired me to continue my education,” Robinson said. “I was amazed by what I didn’t know. I couldn’t understand why the things I was learning in black studies weren’t taught to me in history class.”

Robinson said black students who major or minor in black studies get intrinsic value from the program because they learn what contributions their ancestors made to the world.

Students also expand their worldview and are motivated to continue their education. Many of Robinson’s classes focus on teaching race and how it functions in society.

“We live in a world that devalues black life,” Robinson said. “Learning black history helped me hold my head up high in trying to navigate institutional racism, even on campus. I graduated not just with my degree, but an understanding of the world.”

Robinson said black studies is not just for black students. She explained white students are just as shocked as black students when they hear about the treatment of black people throughout history. Students are shocked to hear about black contributions to society that they were not taught in history class.

“We need white people to talk to white people about racism. We need white people to be in that struggle,” Robinson said. “That’s how we get rid of institutional racism. If black people really knew black history, we would respect each other more. If white people really knew black history, they would respect black people more. That’s what I want the department of black studies to be.”

Photo Courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Omaha

Gabriel Guardado
CONTRIBUTOR

University of Nebraska at Omaha students looking to score a summer internship or job need look no further than the Academic and Career Development Center’s Spring Career Fair held in the Milo Bail Student Center from 11 am – 3 pm today.

With over 100 employers attending the fair, students will be able to connect with many area businesses. ACDC Assistant Director Joe Hayes said this is the most employers UNO has ever had at-tend the fair, which ensures students have access to a variety of companies.

“We have everything from the very large companies that employ thousands here in Omaha to smaller companies, and everything in between,” Hayes said.

The high number of businesses and employers in attendance can be overwhelming to students,which is why Hayes suggests making sure to prepare before the fair by doing research.

“Research is the name of the game,” Hayes said. “The more you do it, the better you’re able to differentiate yourself from others. Having that background research can help you speak with confidence about your background and how you can benefit the organization.”

The face-to-face interactions created between students and employers who attend the fair helps students to network in ways they’d be otherwise unable to if applying for an internship or job online. Hayes said having a face-to-face interaction with an employer can affect a student’s chances of being hired.

“Employers are telling us how important career fairs are,” Hayes said. “Going to a career [fair] and having that face-to-face interaction tells an employer that you’re going the extra mile, you’re putting yourself out there [and] you’re taking chances. That’s what employers want to see.”

UNO student Josh Saddler, who’s attended UNO’s career fair before, has first-hand experience with the advantages created by the face-to-face interactions available at the fair.

“I got into contact with a lot of different employers,” Saddler said. “It was a really good opportunity just to go out and talk with other employers even if they weren’t the right fit for me or if they were the right fit, it was just a good benefit.”

Saddler has several interview tips for students attending the career fair.

“Stay focused on what you want, and don’t get caught up in your head,” Saddler said. “Just take a deep breath, relax and know it’s not a life or death situation.

Don’t think about it too much, stay focused, easy and relaxed.”

A list of companies attending the fair, vendor information and tips to successfully prepare for the Spring Career Fair can be found on UNO’s website. Professional attire is strongly encouraged for the event.

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