Home » Opinions Columns » Recent Articles:

Garrison: #SAEHatesMe

Elizabeth Leggett March 12, 2015 Captain’s Log, Opinion, Opinions Columns
Zac Garrison
Senior from
 Franklin, Ky.

     I have been in a fraternity for the better part of four years. I pledged the first semester of my freshman year and I’ve never been embarrassed to wear my letters.

     In the past, I’d been upset about how fraternities were portrayed by the media.  They never seem to reflect on our philanthropy, our values we were created upon or the bond we share as brothers

But this weekend, I wholeheartedly agreed with how Greeks were portrayed in the media.

Writing about the Greek community in anything close to a negative light is the quickest way to get nasty emails and a plethora of pitchforks waiting for me outside my door, but this is something we all need to hear.    

Monday, a video was released showing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma chanting a song that was racist and disgusting. I would transcribe what it said for you, but I don’t think The News’ copy editors would be too happy about printing the horrible things that were said.

The video is terrible, but something that needs to be discussed.

Fraternities have a long list of stereotypes and stigmas that come along with the letters. This situation only makes that worse. If I were a parent sending my child to a university after seeing this video, I would tell my son to stay as far away from the Greek system as possible. I wouldn’t want my son to partake in an organization that accepted such crass and intolerable things. These young men have a lot to learn and they will suffer the consequences.

Don’t think that these young racists are the only ones to be affected – not by a longshot. This is one step back for the Greek system as a whole. We preach the values we were founded on but allow this kind of behavior to come from our brothers and sisters.

How can we preach the good aspects of Greek Life while evidence of racism and misogyny is plastered all over the evening news?

I will, however, applaud the University of Oklahoma and the public for how they have handled the situation. The video was released, and by midnight on Tuesday, the chapter was kicked off campus by its national headquarters, publicly humiliated on the Internet and lost their house.

Within 24 hours of this disgraceful video being released, the situation had been addressed, and the guilty parties got what was coming to them; kudos to the University of Oklahoma and SAE Nationals for their swift response.

These guys deserved to be made an example of. I even wrote about the “viral wall of shame” in my last column. This will open eyes about just how quickly something can spread once it hits the Internet.  They deserved to be held accountable and it lets the world know that universities won’t stand for this kind of behavior.

I’ve seen situations like this swept under the rug too many times and it’s refreshing to see that the guilty parties will be held accountable for their actions.

This situation is a hot topic in the Greek community. Most people know about it and have seen the video. I hate to see a fraternity removed from campus because of my personal bond with my brothers, but these gentlemen deserved their punishment.

How long the fraternity was singing this chant is still a question, but according its official website, SAE was comprised of confederate soldiers in Alabama during this Civil War. This kind of news report only fuels the generalization that all fraternities are racist and exclusionary and ruins our credibility when we try and argue against it.

I am a fraternity man. My fraternity was not founded on or taught the virtues of racism and misogyny. We preach the values of learning, leading and serving. I wear my letters with pride and I know for a fact they do not stand for hate and bigotry.

You may generalize the Greek system because of the media, but I will stand by my creed and my mission statement. I will never abandon the virtues and values instilled in me because they make me better than the man I used to be.

To SAE brothers at the University of Oklahoma: Make sure and taste your words before you spit them out. You might not think they’re nearly as funny then.

Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.

My beef with Hillary

Elizabeth Leggett March 12, 2015 Did she really say that?, Opinion, Opinions Columns
Carly Besser
Opinion Editor

As a strong women’s rights advocate and one of few women to serve in a national public office, Hillary Clinton had a halo on her head in the eyes of  democrats, and especially females.

Her stance on social issues are congruent with mine, so I was always ready to defend her when someone made a sexist joke about her ability to work in government. It wasn’t until recently that I knew my devotion was a problem.

Clinton is now under scrutiny for exclusively using a personal email address during her time as Secretary of State, while also operating her own email server traced to her residence. To dodge the Freedom of Information Act, she never used the email address issued by the State Department while in office. Her homebrew computer server bypassed the government servers that all political correspondence goes through.

As a journalist, I try to remain skeptical about how transparent politicians are. Personal email addresses have gotten lawmakers in trouble in the past, so they rarely use them. I am a young woman who looked up to Clinton as a vehicle of positive change, and I genuinely feel duped. I’ll admit I was distracted by the veneer of the pantsuit aficionado, just as so many other people were and still are. I admired her tireless efforts to make government a woman’s game just as much as a man’s game. My tunnel vision was on full blast. She could do no wrong in my eyes. While I could take the time to bash Clinton, I deserve a bashing as well.

I made a mistake in believing that Clinton was ethically untouchable. I considered her a hero. I was wrong about her motives, so I see this as a learning opportunity. Her attempt to find a loophole in free information was condemnable and my hope is that this information still has relevance during her campaign. She hasn’t officially announced her intentions to run for president in 2016, but let’s be real: it’s implied. This stunt shows how unwilling she is to be a transparent servant of citizens and is more concerned with saving her own skin.

The knowledge of her unorthodox practices is now on our plates and we should use it as a lesson – now and during the glamorous campaign period. We get distracted by politicians who attempt to be relatable. People liked President Barack Obama because he appeared on Ellen DeGeneres and Saturday Night Live (who has jumped the gun already by making fun of Clinton’s email scandal). People like Clinton because she manages her own Twitter account. From past experience, we should all know by now that the campaign politician isn’t the same as the politician in action.

We overlooked the fact that the Obama Administration prosecuted more government whistleblowers than any other administration in presidential history because we liked him. He seemed like a cool guy. Through public image, politicians often skate past any scandal they wish, and this is largely our faults.

No matter how relatable or humble a politician seems, it is up to us to remember the issues that matter. We should demand an answer from Clinton as to why she deceived people who entitled to this information.

Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor

The history of Spring Break

Elizabeth Leggett March 12, 2015 I've got a Story for You, Opinion, Opinions Columns
Robert Valentine
Senior lecturer
in advertising

     Spring Break has come.

     This long-standing seasonal event is actually a relatively new arrival on the list of University traditions. We rarely pause to think about its origins. So happy are we to hit the snow-lined trail to the Tennessee border that points south. Very, very south.

     In fact, paleolithic man (and woman) did not indulge in this annual sun worship. There is no written record of any paleolithic Spring Break, probably due to the absence of any paleolithic colleges and universities. In those days, education was restricted to very simple forms of training such as gathering berries, hunting for elk, moose and Rotarians and writing legislation for the congress.

The medieval university featured long, boring lectures, uninteresting food and excessive drinking. Since that time, however, a few things have changed, to wit: professors now take attendance.

In fact, medieval students like Prince Hamlet of Denmark (see Shakespeare’s laugh-filled madcap comedy about a misunderstood undergrad) might not go home once in a four-year period. Hamlet is obviously a work of fiction because he was always popping back to the house to kill some old servant, attend a girlfriend’s funeral or go to the theater. When you’re going to school in Paris (France – not Tennessee) and they don’t take attendance, why go home?

It is not until the democratization of college in the early 20th century that we encounter a holiday set in the first semiwarm months of March and April. The reason is found in the agricultural base of the North American economy: in planting season, we need all hands on deck (or, “in the dirt,” as may be). Students who were not princes or trustfund babies would take time off from diligent study to go home to help plant and then check out the local farm girls before heading back to college.

Two important developments freed the college student from this annual trip to serve as unpaid farm labor: the invention of the motorized tractor and big time college basketball.

First, parents found they could get more done with a tractor and without the interference of students who a) needed to do two months of laundry in five days, and b) thought they knew more than their parents because they had read “The Great Gatsby.”

Second, universities began to demand attendance on campus in order to increase the size of the crowds at sports venues. During the time of which we speak, popcorn and lemonade sales at basketball games were a significant part of school budgets.

Even though this revenue source was later replaced by parking stickers and parking fines, big time college basketball had made its mark right in the middle of the traditional season of Spring Break.

The impact of this phenomenon actually created a boom in the American economy as inventors leapt at the chance to capitalize on this opportunity. It was Henry Ford who put the final nail in the coffin of tradition by building an inexpensive automobile capable of carrying sun-starved bathing beauties to the warm shores of the Atlantic and gulf coasts. It only remained for Georgia and Alabama to build the necessary highways for use by students at schools without one of the 2,087 teams who qualified for one of the 38 national tournaments.

That is why, to this day, as this newspaper is being dropped at stands all over campus, 55 percent of the students will have already taken flight on a vacation celebrating their sincere promise to “take all my books with me and catch up on my studying while I’m soaking up the rays.”

Right.

Column by

Qualls: Things I don’t understand

QUALLS, Kevin

The world seems to make less sense every day.  Strange things are going on everywhere. This is not about UFOs, ESP or Bigfoot. It’s things more incredible than that. We are living in a Bizarro World. I submit the following into evidence.

On the very same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the U.S. Congress, Kanye West gives a lecture at Oxford University.  Guess which one was controversial?

The leader of one our closest allies speaks about a concern to both his nation and ours, and it’s depicted as an insult to President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Kanye West is doing a “stream of consciousness” nearly incoherent babbling presentation at Oxford University where he boasts that President Obama calls him at home.  I hope that isn’t true.

I hope it isn’t true that our president refuses to talk to the prime minister of the democratic nation of Israel but calls up the egomaniacal Kanye West for a little chat.  By the way, West told the students at Oxford that if he had been a Renaissance painter he would have been like Picasso, only better. He also told them his shirt cost $2,000. Skipping that class should have been an excused absence.

You know that look where a dog is trying really hard to understand? Picture it: turning its head a little to the side, watching closely, really trying to understand. That’s where I am. Events like those described above make me feel like a confused cocker spaniel. And it’s a feeling that’s happening more and more.

Our government sells bonds (debt) to China and then gives money to countries that hate us.  Cue the cocker spaniel. A law that required age verification before accessing Internet pornography was declared unconstitutional. Yet, with all my gray hair, I have to show my driver’s license to buy beer. And it’s controversial to require voters to provide evidence of citizenship to vote. That cocker spaniel is in danger of whiplash.

Hillary Clinton lies about dodging gunfire in Bosnia and she’s still a strong presidential contender. NBC news anchor Brian Williams tells a similar lie and he’s suspended from work. Try explaining that to the cocker spaniel. While you’re at it, try explaining the popularity of Miley Cyrus, whatever happened in Benghazi and why it’s not OK to be skeptical about climate change (formerly known as “Global Warming.”)

Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan never served as a judge anywhere before being nominated and then confirmed to serve on the highest court in the country. She had only two years of law practice experience. In what world does that make sense? When there’s a bombing, the bomber is blamed. When there’s a drunken driving accident, the driver is blamed. When someone is shot, guns everywhere are blamed. Non sequitur. JP Morgan is now charging customers who make large deposits, yet government reports say that the dollar is stronger than it’s been in years. Interesting? Certainly nonsensical.

Eventually, that poor cocker spaniel starts to whimper. Despite its best efforts, it can’t make sense of what’s right in front of it.

Maybe it’s not the dog’s fault. Maybe it really doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s why ABC news reports that anxiety is now the most reported psychiatric ailment in our country. In this category, the United States is number one!

Bizzaro World is highly stressful for those wanting things to make sense. Bizzaro World is one where attitudes are measured and presented as a meaningful barometer of what must be true. Excuses are offered as reasons and attitude trumps analysis. And most of us go along to get-along. Stressful. Finally, the cocker spaniel goes beyond the whimper and starts to bark. But, nobody likes a barking dog. They would rather listen to Kanye West.

These are things I just don’t understand.

 

Column by  Kevin Qualls, Professor of mass communications

If you’re reading this, hi mom

Elizabeth Leggett March 5, 2015 Did she really say that?, Opinion, Opinions Columns
Carly Besser, Assistant Sports Editor

Because my minor is criminal justice, I’ve studied multiple societal, familial and personal risk factors to juvenile delinquency.

Alongside drug abuse, poverty and antisocial behavior, growing up in a single-parent household is listed as a common predictor of early criminal behavior. According to the American Psychological Association, children who grow up without one of their parents are more likely to struggle in school, have strained relationships between extended family members and act out as a reaction to stress.

By his own choice, my father has been absent from my life for more than 10 years. It’s difficult to know these negative statistics are related to people like me. When people find out that I am detached from one of my parents, their first reaction is to give me pity. I’ve heard things like “I’m sorry,” “That’s horrible,” “Does it bother you?” for more than half of my life.

I’ll be honest. It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t spend a lot of time ruminating about how my family isn’t a traditional family. I’m sure most of your families don’t fit that bill either. Divorces, stepparents or the death of a parent shifts the whole definition of what a normal family is. The 2.5 child household with two married parents probably can’t be considered normal anymore. According to the Kids Count Data Center, approximately 24 million children lived in a single-parent households in 2013.

I won’t say I held my head high and puffed my chest out during my parents’ divorce. No child does. Divorces are hard and emotionally taxing. But I never missed out on having people who loved me and helped me through everything. During those times, my mom was two parents in one.

She then married my stepdad, who took on the responsibility of raising two troublemaking teenagers without ever doing it before. He never wavered and continued to be there through some of the best and worst moments of my life. I try to let him know as often as I can how thankful I am for him coming around and how he has been nothing but a positive role model and father figure when I was sorely missing one.

I didn’t write this to be sappy and let my mom and stepdad know how great they are (that was only part of the reason). I’m writing it because I’ve read so many parenting articles, motherhood blogs and websites that say children who grow up without their biological father might as well be doomed.

A negative presence is worse than no presence at all. If a pivotal person in a child’s life, like a parent, is cruel, dismissive or even abusive, there is absolutely no way to justify that they should be around. That’s why I don’t give people the time of day who say things like, “Well you should just reach out to him. He’s your dad.”

It’s not the presence of two biological parents that makes a child’s life stable and thriving. It’s the love, reassurance and support they receive from people who love them unconditionally. It could come from a grandparent, adopted parents, stepparents- the list goes on.

If you are like me and weren’t raised the “traditional” way, let those who raised you know how much it means to you. You likely would only be a fraction of who you are today without them.

 

Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor

We are our first glass ceiling

Elizabeth Leggett March 5, 2015 Opinion, Opinions Columns
Kaylan Thompson

It’s eighth grade, and I’m wearing a baggy T-shirt and flare jeans. My hairline is receding from the tight ponytails I subject it to each day, but I’d say the look goes well with my braces and glasses. My assigned locker is right beneath Aaron’s, and today is the best day of my life because he just dropped all of his books on my head. I’m seeing two of him, but who would complain? The more, the merrier.

He asks me if I’m all right; the way he talked to you made you feel like you were the only person in the world.

I say, “Oh, I’m totally fine.”

He walks away, and the only thing I remember about eighth grade is the incessant feeling of “I’m not good enough.”

Now, it’s my first year of graduate school and I’m sipping coffee at the library before my 2:30 p.m. class. I see Aaron on Facebook. He’s exactly the same, besides the fact that his hair is shorter, he’s grown a beard and some height, and he’s the new intern at “CBS This Morning.” And my mind reverts back to eighth grade, saying “Of course that’s not you. He was always going places.”

In defense of my pride, I put up the “Of course, he’s a man” card. Right then, I saw my mistake, the true difference between us. He got the job because he’s likable, empathetic, outgoing, personable and most of all, confident. He networks, he seeks out relationships, he focuses every conversation on other people. When I say “He was always going places,” what I mean is that he had a vision.

It’s not that I’m not happy with where I’m at; it’s that deciding and chasing what I want has never been second nature to me. I never trained myself to have confidence enough to take steps toward my dreams. My dreams? I’ve only been stepping into the next space that opens up.

I was reading an article this week about gender inequalities in the workforce, how a woman who wants to be a leader in the business world must balance her personality perfectly between feminine and masculine characteristics. If that balance is slightly tipped in any direction, she will either be viewed as too weak or too assertive. Either one will cost her respect and effective leadership.

A subversive glass ceiling still exists, a barrier put up instinctively by the human mind. To keep society stable, we have put everyone into a box. And, even when social values have evolved, it takes even longer to transition from traditional mechanics to new ones.

Yes, there are problems for women in the workplace, but the way I see it, the first glass ceiling a woman faces is the one she puts up herself.

Men have no trouble networking because they thrive in competition. Women struggle in the business world because we take hits harder. We feel everything is personal. We see competition as an obstacle rather than fuel, and we see ourselves as our biggest hindrance.

The thing is, women generally don’t see themselves as a viable resource. We are so focused on fixing ourselves in order to be worthy of something rather than just being hungry to learn and accomplish tasks.

We shouldn’t have to put up with inequalities, but we also shouldn’t let another person’s success debilitate us. We should do what we can to fight inequalities in the workforce, but first we need to make sure that when we do fight for them, we are deserving of them because of our mastery, talent, knowledge and most of all, confidence.

Man or woman, when you are presented with a task, you can train yourself to master it. Let’s master confidence, networking, empathy and our own personality.

Ever heard of Sheryl Sandberg? She kind of runs Silicon Valley. She created a new organization for women called Lean In and she wrote a book with the same name. Look up Lean In, the organization and the book. If you like what you find and are interested in helping me establish a Lean In group for Murray State’s campus, contact me: kthompson29@murraystate.edu.

 

Column by Kaylan Thompson, Graduate student from Murray

Garrison: Do it for the Vine

Elizabeth Leggett February 27, 2015 Captain’s Log, Opinion, Opinions Columns
Zac Garrison
Senior from
 Franklin, Ky.

I know you may be surprised to read this, but I did my fair share of stupid things as a teen. Jumping into the bushes face first to make the girl next door laugh, putting WD-40 on skateboard wheels and riding it down a steep hill with no helmet, let a friend slam a fiberglass lunch tray over my head to see if it would break; usual teen stuff.

The only bright side to my sideshow stunts was they were all performed before Facebook and MySpace were relevant and camera phones weren’t a common occurrence, so I couldn’t be immortalized on the viral wall of shame.

This has all changed though. There is now a camera in every pocket and Internet access in every hand. Rash decisions fueled by teen emotions are now seconds away from being broadcast to the world. The generation of upcoming teens are so connected to the Internet and social media that every dumb choice can now be filmed, documented and uploaded before the person can even realize what they just did.

This makes me think, does social media fuel bad decisions in today’s teens? How many questionable decisions have been made chasing imaginary Internet points (likes, retweets, golden doubloons, etc.)? I see it all over the news where teens are filming themselves doing dumb and sometimes dangerous things for the sole reason of putting them on the Internet.

Remember seeing the knockout game all over the news? If you don’t, I can easily explain it. Young teens decided it would be entertaining to walk up to strangers and film themselves trying to hit the person hard enough to knock them out.

After this, they would mock the innocent victim and then upload the video for the whole world to see. Retweets and likes have turned into a sort of social status and some will go to extreme lengths to get them.

Their decision-making isn’t necessarily affected by social media, but I do think it has become a motivation for them to alter behavior. Teens see things happen on Twitter and Vine and instead of living vicariously through others’ poor decisions, they see that person getting a lot of attention so they replicate that behavior hoping they can obtain the same kind of attention.

Any publicity is good publicity right? In this case, wrong.

Craving attention as a teen is just part of growing up and finding yourself. The tragic thing is that this generation is having their cries for attention broadcast to the whole world. 

Decisions that are made with little to no forethought turn into mistakes that have lifelong ramifications.

Going “viral” for some teens can be the ultimate accomplishment, but there are some that have their lives ruined by posting things on the Internet and social media. Once you put something on the Internet, you can’t get it back.

It doesn’t help that we have “social media celebrities” that kids think of as role models. We enable people to make a living off of doing everything we tell our kids not to do and then let our kids aspire to be them.

Think about how many conflicting messages that sends them. “Son, don’t film yourself knocking over Wal-Mart displays and put it on Vine. Also, don’t pay attention to that guy who makes a living doing that.”

  “Kids will be kids” is the common narrative, but social media has given them an outlet to broadcast poor decisions to the world.

As technology becomes more and more integrated with our society, this will only get worse and we need to make sure and warn teens of the dangers of going “viral.”

We owe them that much.

Column by Zac Garrison, Senior from Franklin, Ky.

LGBTs? In my sitcoms?

Elizabeth Leggett February 27, 2015 Did she really say that?, Opinion, Opinions Columns
Carly Besser
Opinion Editor

There’s something addicting about AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Since season one, I have watched the emotional roller coaster of relatable characters dying off, the primal struggle to survive and the psychologically taxing plight that comes with living in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world full of zombies.

In the third episode of its fifth season, “The Walking Dead” introduced two new characters: Kirkman and Aaron, two recruiters of a safe camp who happen to be a gay couple. Near the end of the episode, their relationship was affirmed with a kiss and dialogue of their devotion to one another. Many people weren’t happy about this, and they took to the Internet to express their outrage.

The media, specifically sitcoms and ongoing television series, are one-by-one introducing gay couples, same-sex families and transgender lead roles to their scripts. This creates factions of people who are indifferent to the characters, supportive of their relevance or outraged by them. 

Regardless of how people feel about homosexuality, we can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist. If anything, introducing LGBT characters makes these shows more relatable to the society we live in.

These characters aren’t awkwardly placed in the show as “token” or only have a couple of lines. They have purpose to the plot, they provide depth and they have large fanbases. Laverne Cox is like the transgender equivalent of Beyonce.

Critics would argue this is pushing some sort of extremist liberal agenda, but is promoting diversity that political?

The outrage related to a gay couple in “The Walking Dead” surprised me more than other examples because there are countless scenes in the show that are more outrageous. If you watch the show, you see a young girl kill her sister, people being impaled and having their guts ripped out, cannibalism and other gruesome scenes that should be considered more “disgusting.” Anyone who acclaims these brutal scenes, but is appalled by a gay couple, has some explaining to do.

It’s true. The surge of LGBT characters on primetime television is at an all-time high. According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, characters who identify as LGBT rose from 2.9 percent in 2011 to 4.4 percent in 2013, but is this a problem?

We threw out shows like “Leave it to Beaver,” “I Love Lucy” and other clean-cut shows because they were out of touch with reality. They struggled to show real family dynamics and instead gave a false sense of what the American family looks like.

We like shows and characters we can relate to. We’re attracted to raw tension and a deviation from the white picket fence. That’s how television works.

This is the world we live in. Same-sex families, couples and people live here and contribute to our society. Instead of trying to hide or banish LGBT culture from media, people should be allowed to have these characters to root for and watch. Whether they’re fighting off zombies or struggling with the hardships of love and raising families (like straight people often do), LGBT actors and actresses have a place in our media. It’s time to accept that.

Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor

College of Business & JMC

Current Edition