Fair trade falls short

Whitworth is moving quickly toward becoming the first fair trade university in Washington. While the goal of helping disadvantaged workers in developing nations is laudable, fair trade is not an effective means of achieving positive results. Unfortunately, economics dictates that fair trade actually winds up producing the very types of negative consequences it purports to solve. Fair trade goods are certified by organizations like Fairtrade International. Certification is supposed to indicate (1) that producers have been paid “fairly,” (2) that certain labor practices and management institutions are in place and (3) that efforts are underway to encourage development in areas like education, health care and farm improvements. According to proponents, all you have to do to be a conscientious consumer is buy Fair trade-certified goods.

However, basic economics reveals a number of serious problems with this scheme.

First, the most basic argument against fair trade is based on supply. According to The Economist, the reason the prices of agricultural products are so low is because of overproduction. Fair trade coffee is an instructive example. Increasing the price of coffee through fair trade with the intent to benefit existing growers will cause more producers to begin growing coffee to take advantage of the higher possible profits. As supply increases, the price will again begin to decrease, limiting or erasing the initial benefits to producers. Furthermore, encouraging additional coffee production with an artificially high price “could potentially inhibit the development of other economic activities,” according to The Economist.

However, fair trade often prevents new suppliers from reducing prices by setting a minimum price for goods. Still, becoming fair trade certified is expensive and difficult for producers: a whole host of new standards must be complied with and periodically verified. Jeremy Weber of the Cato Institute warns that, “if not managed effectively and efficiently,” the added expenses of fair trade certification “can consume much of the higher Fair Trade price before it reaches growers.” The unintended consequence of these higher standards is that “increased barriers to entry [into the market] have made it increasingly difficult for marginalized producers, which Fair Trade supposedly targets, to participate,” according to Weber.

Second, another potential unintended consequence of fair trade standards is that fewer workers would be employed. The increased cost of labor caused by fair trade practices creates an incentive for farm owners to “use more capital such as machines or fertilizer, and less labor than [they] would under less-stringent labor requirements,” according to Gene Callahan of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Thirdly, fair trade unintentionally undermines the very engine of economic growth in developing nations. Even noted liberal economist Paul Krugman once pointed out that developing nations can only compete with the industrialized world because of their ability to provide cheap labor. “Deny them that ability,” he argues, “and you might well deny them the prospect of continuing industrial growth, or even reverse the growth that has been achieved.” Krugman concludes that “a policy of good jobs in principle, but no jobs in practice, might assuage our consciences, but it is no favor to its alleged beneficiaries.”

While the desire to try to help impoverished workers is understandable, the laws of economics cannot be changed. The root cause of poor wages and low prices for goods like coffee is excess supply. The only real solution is to let the market sort things out, even if it means that inefficient producers will go out of business and people will be unemployed. In the case of coffee, cheap and efficient coffee production in Brazil and Vietnam has cost the jobs of between 200,000 and 400,000 workers in Central America, according to Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute. However, Lindsey points out that “in Vietnam, coffee related jobs have soared from 300,000 a decade ago to between 4 and 5 million today. The job losses and job gains go hand in hand.”

Simply because fair trade falls to deliver does not mean that nothing positive can be done. In a truly free market, those who transition out of coffee (or any good) because of excess supply would be able to switch to some other crop or occupation which would be more profitable and productive. However, “huge subsidies to farmers in parts of the West mean that farmers in poor countries cannot diversify their production, because they cannot access these markets. Poor farmers choose to produce coffee, cocoa and other commodities because they have few other options,” according to Kendra Okonski of the International Policy Network.

As Lindsey argues, if the U.S. and other developed nations moved toward freer trade by doing away with “high trade barriers and lavish subsidies on a wide variety of agricultural products,” then “coffee farmers would be better able to diversify into other crops.” Freer trade, not fair trade, is the smart way to improve the economic position of workers in the developing world.

While simple solutions like buying fair trade goods sound easy and appealing, real solutions are more complex and require more effort to implement. As Lindsey observes, “economic illiteracy leads again and again to the advocacy of measures that would actually exacerbate global poverty.” While that may not sit well in Whitworth’s culture of social slactivism, it is a necessary realization if we truly desire to make positive change in the world.

Maxford Nelsen Staff Writer

Contact Maxford Nelsen at mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Pinterest redefining traditional roles of women

In our culture, women tend to enjoy independence. They tend to live life in opposition to the domestic stereotype of the past. This domestic life revolved around cooking and baking in the kitchen, cleaning, knitting and sewing. Today, that lifestyle for women is essentially viewed with a negative eye.

When I go on the internet, I surpass Facebook, YouTube and email and go straight to Pinterest.  I think this action may be true for many other women.

Pinterest is an online bulletin board that posts pictures of anything ranging from recipes and do it yourself crafts to cleaning tips.  It also has fashion, fitness, photography and more.

If a picture appears that catches your eye, you pin it to your own personalized board, create a caption and allow your followers to see what you are interested in.

It doesn’t stop there; you can click on the picture posted and it may take you to its original website, providing more information about that pin.

You can click the picture and find full recipes, step-by-step knitting instructions and where clothing items can be purchased.

This website’s popularity continues to grow and attract new ‘pinners’ each day. With recipes just a click away, I have begun to spend more time in the kitchen testing out different dinners. I have talked to friends who have expressed that they have begun to cook most of their meals because Pinterest has given them ideas of what to make and how.

Now with the holiday season surrounding us, more and more sheets of cookies and pans of cakes have emerged throughout halls, houses and kitchens because Pinterest has been influential.

Also, women are finding fun ways to clean and organize the bathroom and bedroom.  They are seeing pictures of fun scarves to make by hand or how to mend articles of clothing.

Craft stores are loving the fact that people are pinning more crafts and are coming into their stores to buy fabric, sewing kits, yarn, needles and all sorts of various home-made craft basics.

See what I am getting at?

Without publicly calling themselves a ‘become-a- domestic-woman’ website, Pinterest is beginning to re-create the role of women.

This is by no means a bad thing, and I am not saying that any woman using Pinterest is now a stereotypical domestic woman and should wear an apron and have a vacuum ready at all times.

Pinterest has made such negatively viewed lifestyles both fun and enjoyable.  It gets women cooking and baking for the fun of it and not in a ‘submitting-to-their-husband-or-spouse’ kind of way.

It gets women to want to organize and clean things in creative ways because they want to, not because they have to.

Pinterest has created opportunities to try do-it-yourself projects that women may have never been exposed to or considered trying because of possible negative connotations.

Pinterest is shaping lives and is not only limited to women, but men use it as well and can get just as much out of it.

My challenge to you: if you don’t use Pinterest, simply make an account.  Begin to use it by trying out recipes, at-home fitness programs and admiring photography and art.

If you use Pinterest, good job, continue to let it shape daily habits, open up doors to further exploration and allow it to make stereotypical domestic lifestyles become more enjoyable opportunities.

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.

Societal consumerism has altered season’s meaning

Thanksgiving dinner took me more than 14 hours to prepare. I cooked more than ten dishes, which I placed in elegant cream-colored china and set atop a gold table runner. In the center of the table, I lit a golden candelabra with candles that perfectly matched the china.

Thanksgiving dinner itself lasted no more than half an hour at my house. I did more than fourteen hours of active preparation, months of agonizing over the menu, days of obsessing over the presentation and it was all for thirty minutes of family enjoyment.

After dinner, my family stayed in playing board games and visiting. But while many families like mine spent time together, according to the National Retail Federation, more than 35 million Americans were shopping on Thanksgiving evening. Others spent the day watching football or creating wish lists for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

I have to wonder at what point the holiday season became more about pretty tablescapes, good food, shopping and football than it is about family time.

According to folklore, Thanksgiving began as a celebration of thanks between the pilgrims and the Native Americans. Children’s books and popular culture describes the first Thanksgiving as a time when people came together, spending time being content in the simplicity of togetherness. Our culture idealizes this allegory, and I would argue this idealization is actually good.

There’s something highly attractive about the holidays marking a time of simplicity and quiet.

But that’s not what actually happens. Rather than bringing the restful time of year, the holidays bring a series of rush. There’s a rush Thanksgiving morning to get the turkey in the oven. There’s another rush at 9 p.m. when Target finally opens their doors. Again, a rush the morning of Black Friday. Then, a rush to get the house decorated for Christmas so it looks as good as the neighbors’.

It seems to me that even those of us who don’t shop on Thanksgiving or don’t watch football or wait until December to put up our Christmas trees still can’t overcome the haste of our culture during the holidays. And Christmas is no better than Thanksgiving.

Christmas always seems to move past the archetypal spirit of giving and into the contemporary reality of the spirit of getting.

It’s about having the most presents under the tree. It’s about getting the most bang for your buck during Cyber Monday. It’s about putting up the most lights on the block.

Where is the quiet? Where is the sloth and rest that we so desperately need just once per year? Where is the family connection, the satisfaction in simplicity?

We have got to learn how to reconnect with what the holidays are truly about—rest and relationships.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

Food stamps pose problem of dependency

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the many blessings that we are afforded each day and to spend quality time with loved ones. The last thing I would want to be thinking about is whether or not I can pay for a delicious meal.

Unfortunately, for many Americans struggling in this economy, that is exactly what they do have to worry about.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, “More Americans are using food stamps to help buy the basics this Thanksgiving than ever before.”

According to the business news website Bloomberg, there are currently 46 million Americans on food stamps; I find that fact heartbreaking.

I believe that the American dream means that  each individual has the ability to sustain him or herself and live independently, not on government handouts. As a college student, I know that is something I want to achieve after graduation.

It’s a sad reality that many people today do not have the ability to live this way, for a wide variety of reasons. The economic downturn has only made matters worse.

I would love to live in a society where food stamps don’t exist, simply because they don’t have to. This would mean a society where the economy is consistently growing, and when people struggle to get by, community members and non-governmental institutions (such as the Church) step up to help their neighbors through the tough times.

Of course, we are a long way away from being able to live like this. However, I believe that we can achieve that, or at least maintain these programs as the last resort.

The most important step is to get the economy roaring again. If the unemployment rate continues to linger just below eight percent, we will never get there. I believe Ronald Reagan explains it perfectly when he said, “I think the best possible social welfare program is a job.”

I wholeheartedly agree with that quote. Getting a job is the only way people can pull themselves up out of poverty; government handouts simply cannot do that. One of the primary ways to measure the growth of the economy is through gross domestic product (GDP).

According to Investopedia, GDP measures “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.” It consists of four parts: consumer spending, government spending, investments and net exports.

According to Forbes, 70 percent of GDP consists of consumer spending, which is why we must stimulate spending. One of the most effective ways to get consumers spending again is through tax cuts.

According to Mike Patton at Forbes, “individuals will have more money in their pockets to spend, save, or pay down debt.”

As they spend more, it works as a ripple effect throughout the economy, and that money will continue being spent. In turn, this will create more jobs.

Once we create more jobs, we can impose stricter working requirements on food stamps for non-elderly, able-bodied people.

This will ensure that people are actually trying to live independently from the government, rather than becoming completely dependent.

I firmly believe that we can, as a country, significantly decrease the number of people who require food stamps as a means of getting by, through working together and stimulating the economy.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

The Smudge: The North Face

Raise your hand if you own a North Face product; that should be all of you. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been outside; that should be about seven of you. OK, before I continue, let me just set the record straight. I own about 38 North Face products, and I certainly am not slapping a horse I haven’t ridden (I’m pretty sure that’s a saying, right?). But let’s just say that there is definitely an inverse ratio between the number of North Face products you own and the amount of time you’ve actually spent exploring the outdoors. But I love the North Face, and here is why. The products allow you to create an illusion that you are adventurous and outdoorsy without actually needing to spend any time outdoors. Let’s be real, hiking and climbing are exhausting, risky, and make you all sweaty. Gross! But just in case, at least you got the gore-tex moisture-wicking technology base layer from their Fall 2012 lineup, right?

The North Face makes some quality products. I have no argument against that. Their goose-down jackets are capable of keeping you warm in even the most freezing temperatures and are just PERFECT for the adventurer who has to walk 50 yards from their dorm to the HUB on a crisp fall day. They also make some great rain jackets that will keep you dry even in the most torrential downpours, and are accented nicely by a cute pair of Uggs and yoga pants. Not interested in the North Face? Don’t worry, there are other options. If you are of the trendy, earth-conscious hipster variety, maybe you should consider Patagonia. You can find a nice purple fleece at any thrift store, or just steal that teal windbreaker from your Dad’s closet. Or maybe Columbia is more your thing, provided that you are a 38-year-old father with two kids and a mini-van. If neither of those tickle your fancy, then you can always become a rich 50 to 60 year-old retired businessman and go with Arc’tyrx at $600 a jacket, which you can then wear when you go on walks around the neighborhood with your wife.

There are so many options and ways to brand yourself as an adventurer, and I know it can be overwhelming. Whatever your jam is, just know that cool and trendy outdoor products are almost always the next best thing to spending time outdoors. Keep in mind the North Face’s call to “Never stop exploring,” but don’t feel like you need to take that TOO literally.   Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

Whitworth rolls over non-conference opponents

Pirates defeat Montana Tech, UCSC to enter NWC play with a three-game win streak

The Pirates finished the week with two strong wins, one last Wednesday against Montana Tech in Butte, Montana, and the second last Saturday against UC Santa Cruz in the Fieldhouse.

On Wednesday, the Pirates shot just over 60 percent from the field and 59 percent from beyond the arc while rolling to a 90-75 win over the Orediggers.

Freshman guard George Valle led Whitworth with a career-high 23 points.  Junior guard Dustin McConnell also dished out a career-high seven assists while starting at point guard for injured senior Wade Gebbers.

“While playing without Wade, we needed to make sure we continued to play the way we play,” Whitworth head coach Matt Logie said. “We ended up executing the basic elements of our offense really well.”

Preparation and execution were keys to the win.

“We spent all week preparing for the Montana Tech defense,” Valle said. “We shot the ball well due to ball movement, and passed up good shots for great shots.”

As the Pirates hit 16-27 3-point attempts, as junior guard Colton McCargar and senior forward Mack Larkin hit half of those with four apiece.  McCargar and Larkin each had 12 points and Larkin led the Pirates with six rebounds.

“Shots were just going in for us,” Logie said.  “A guy would take a good shot and I’d be thinking, ‘That was a good shot, it should go in,’ and then it would.”

Adam Greger ended up with 17 points to lead Montana Tech, with teammate Travis Peevey finishing with 16 points.  Bryan Bock also contributed 12 points and six rebounds for the Orediggers.

The goals the Whitworth men’s team have for themselves this season are high, one of which is to make a playoff run in March.

“We not only want to win conference but go to the national tournament and play well also,” Valle said.

That goal will likely be attainable for the Pirates this season as they have gone to the NCAA tournament the last six seasons.  This includes an Elite Eight showing and three Sweet Sixteen appearances.

As they approached Saturday night’s game against UCSC, the focus was on improving on their mistakes from Wednesday.

“We had a great offensive night on Wednesday, but we still gave up 75 points,” Logie said.  “We really want to improve some of that defensive intensity.”

Later in the week, the Pirates jumped on the opportunity to improve their defense against UCSC as Whitworth clinched a 61-48 win at the Fieldhouse with 875 people in attendance to advance to 3-1 in the regular season.

Valle led the way again for the Pirates with 17 points and five rebounds.  In addition, McCargar had an eight-point, nine-rebound game along with McConnell’s six points, five rebounds and six assists to cap off a strong showing despite lacking captain Gebbers for a second consecutive game.

“They played pretty well,” McCargar said.  “It was tough to get going and we didn’t end up shooting the ball very well.”

Despite Whitworth’s early slump and UCSC keeping it close well into the first half, the Banana Slugs, who only shot 36.4 percent from the field, ended up at 23.8 percent from the 3-point line and only 33.3 percent from foul shots, shooting 3-9 from the line.

“We definitely hit our goal of better defense this time around,” Logie said.  “We wanted to hold them under 38 percent shooting for the game and we pulled that off.”

Sophomore Adam Wilks had six points and seven rebounds in only 10 minutes of play, but his spark off the bench in the first half provided a key boost that helped allow Whitworth to retain its 31-23 lead over UCSC at the end of the first period.

“It’s an awesome feeling to play like this,” Wilks said.  “Our shots weren’t falling as well tonight, but we put our trust in our defense and it carried us through.”

As the Pirates shift their focus to next week’s games against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, their focus will not let up.

“[Pacific Lutheran] is a well-coached team and they play hard,” Logie said.  “It’ll be a hard fought battle next Friday.”

As the Pirates begin conference play, their goals for the season will be tested.

“As part of this program, we expect to win,” Logie said.  “These guys are self-motivated; us coaches just have to find the right buttons to push.”

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.

 

University coasting off the acknowleged ‘narrow ridge’

I entered college planning to graduate a semester early, if possible. Three-and-a-half years later, I find myself with only a matter of days remaining until I take my last final. It is a bittersweet feeling.

However, as I depart, there are three mutually-reinforcing trends that cause me to worry about the future direction of the university.

First is a lack of intellectual rigor among students. I do not mean to say that Whitworth students are not intelligent, because they are. The problem is that, by and large, there is little to no critical discussion of controversial ideas.

Like everyone else, we espouse critical thinking and talking about difficult issues, yet we seldom do it in a genuine way. For instance, take the recent presidential campaign. While there were attempts at having generic political events, there was no real discussion among the student body at large of the major issues at stake. Unlike most schools, Whitworth has no active political clubs, the ones that used to exist having fizzled out for lack of interest. Perhaps we are just too lazy, or perhaps we are afraid of disrupting or damaging our much-touted community. But what kind of community do we really have if it must be sheltered from serious debate?

This tendency to avoid confrontation is bolstered by a second trend: relativistic political correctness, also known as tolerance. There are two issues with this trend.

First, there is an unfortunate tendency for people to be conflated with their ideas. While all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, this deference should not be extended to their ideas or beliefs, especially in a university setting.

Having an intellectually stimulating environment requires that ideas be debated vigorously.

This requires a separation of people from their ideas; students need to be able to accept and process respectful criticism of their beliefs without having their feelings hurt. All people are equal, but all ideas and beliefs are not.

The second issue with tolerance is its one-sidedness. While we “courageously” bring up sensitive topics, they are almost inevitably examined from a single perspective. Issues of race are examined through the lens of critical race theory; gender issues are dominated by feminism; gay marriage is an issue of human rights; capitalism is greedy, socialism is beneficent; free trade is exploitative, fair trade is just; the Israelis are murdering oppressors, the Palestinians helpless victims. To be sure, there are good arguments to be made for each of these positions. But there are also very strong arguments to be made against them that students will seldom be exposed to unless they pursue them on their own initiative. Even if they do, countering the narrative on any of these issues is deemed intolerant, with dissenting students running the risk of being labeled as racists, sexists or bigoted fundamentalists. This is stifling to the intellectual health of the university.

The third trend, secularization, is perhaps the most disturbing of all. When I first arrived at Whitworth as a freshman, I naively hoped to find a Christian university that respectfully stood up for its principles. Like many, I hoped that criticism of Christianity would be allowed and alternative views examined. But I also hoped that Christian refutation would be offered. Though Christian accessories remain, orthodox Christian beliefs are increasingly abandoned as Whitworth seeks to remain relevant by following a step or two behind progressive society and secular academia. Former President of Whitworth Bill Robinson used to speak of the “narrow ridge” that the university walked between being too far to the conservative right and too much on the secular left. Considering Whitworth’s past record, and with official school recognition of gay marriage looking increasingly likely, the “narrow ridge” looks more like it was simply a stepping stone to get over to the left side of the mountain.

This is not the case for each constituent part of the university, but the overall trajectory is undeniable. Still, I am thankful for my time at Whitworth. I have been forced to truly examine and defend what I believe. In some cases, I have had to adjust my views. I sincerely hope every student gets to go through a similar process. Just a final thought: criticizing traditionally-dominant views is now the dominant view. So, if you really want to be a rebel, it’s worth giving traditional ideas a look.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

 

The Smudge: Dating at Whitworth

There is something that we all deal with as Whitworthians, something that can result in great reward or tremendous pain, something that is so simple and so complex, something that can give you delightful butterflies or make your stomach churn. No, I am not talking about French Dip Friday. I’m talking about Whitworth dating culture. Navigating this terrain is like walking through a minefield. One wrong step, and BOOM! You’re married, and you don’t even remember what happened. It is my privilege and honor to offer you some unsolicited tips on how to navigate your way through the Minds and Hearts of those Whitworth guys and gals without getting too much flack from those nosy noodleheads we call friends. Let’s get personal. 1) Find someone you think is neat! Studies show that three out of four Whitworthians are totally cute and totally dateable (there are no studies that say that, but there could be). Whitworth is like a giant eHarmony in the flesh, where you are surrounded by a limitless number of talented, like-minded, passionate and good-looking people. I hate to say it, but there are simply NO GOOD PEOPLE anywhere else on the planet. I checked, so don’t miss out.

2) Coffee date! Nothing says “I am interested in you but don’t want anyone to know” like a good old fashioned chit-chat in the coffee shop. This is a great way to dip your toes in the waters of friendship before being swept away by the waves of love. And peer pressure.

3) Casual texting. Only it’s not so casual, is it? Develop a steady stream of inside jokes, flirtatious comments and affirmations. If you REALLY want to give your messages that suggestive edge, start adding little smiley faces to everything you say. Example: “It was great getting coffee with you today :]”

4) Casual date. Okay, I realize we are covering a lot of ground in this step, but it is a necessary one. General rule of thumb: go light on activity (light dinner, a flick at the Garland) and go BIG on questions: childhood, interests, hobbies, faith, hopes, dreams and fears. Hold nothing back. How will you know whether or not to commit to DATE #2?

5) Keep it cool. When you get back from your first date (is “date” too strong? How about outing?) people will immediately pounce on you like a cat on an unsuspecting mouse and demand a full account of what you did, how it went, and when the wedding will be. Do not indulge them. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile and your free will.

6) Some other things, yada yada yada. You know the drill. Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

‘Ignorance is bliss’ mentality will worsen woes

A campus-wide email that went out a couple of weeks ago reminded students that actions of hate have no place at Whitworth.

With many students and others in denial that hate even takes place at Whitworth, this email also served as a reminder that our community is not immune.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had conversations with students who say that sexual assaults don’t happen at Christian colleges.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had someone tell me that gay students don’t face hate speech here.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a student say Whitworthians are never judged for their religious beliefs.

The problem is, those things do happen at Whitworth. I have known victims of hateful speech and action, and have been on the receiving end of hateful speech a few times myself.

The problem grows deeper each time we turn a blind eye. Ignoring the shortcomings of our campus simply allows hate to proliferate in our community.

Part of the liberal arts learning experience is engaging with people who don’t share all of your values. This can create an environment in which we can safely question our commitments, explore and seek truth and learn to respect our fellow man.

Ultimately, diversity within our educational community allows us to gain a broader understanding of our world.

When we allow violence and anger to usurp that role of education, we bastardize our education. Verbal and physical violence threaten the safety of our community, and make questioning and exploration much more difficult.

When members of our community are made to feel inferior, their voices are silenced and our education becomes narrower. If we intend to preserve our education and our institution, we must first acknowledge our imperfections.

We must acknowledge that sexual violence happens at Whitworth.

We must acknowledge that minority students face adversity and hate speech.

We must acknowledge that people are judged and cast aside because of their faith at our institution.

We must acknowledge that, as a campus with various diversities, we also have various disagreements that have the capacity to help or harm our community.

We must become aware of the possibility of educational value in our disagreements.

I’ve heard the argument that awareness doesn’t solve anything but I disagree. Awareness solves the issue of ignorance, and we can only begin to seek solutions to bigger problems when our ignorance has been cured.

If we never realize the issue at hand, how will we ever begin to remedy the situation?

Awareness will serve as a catalyst for solutions to the problems our campus faces.

Once we learn to acknowledge our shortcomings, we will be able to begin to brainstorm ways to combat our problems.

If we refuse to admit that our campus isn’t perfect, then we will never feel the urgency to solve the problems that plague our institution. Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

Pursuing higher education is an overlooked privilege

College offers four years of receiving an education that many are not privileged to get, forming relationships that could last a lifetime, figuring out what role you should play in the world and what kind of identity you want to form for yourself.

Senior year of high school people begin to push students to work for a higher education.

Coaches train you to be recruited. Teachers prepare you for the last series of tests in order to boost your grade point average and test scores in order to make applications more competitive.

Parents promote their alma maters and plan college road trips while older siblings lend insight with their stories and experiences.

It all comes down to the simple fact that the necessity to go to college or university is pushed from many directions and for various reasons.

However, there is a multitude of other factors that play into the college experience that can  easily be overlooked or not taken in with importance.

For some, finances play a huge factor in the ability to attend school.

One must pay for applications and then pay for four years at an institution. Some students simply do not test well, and in turn, cannot compete for scholarships.

Others come from families that will work hard to pay off loans and make the college dream come true, but barely make it.

Aside from finances, it may be hard to think about putting dreams on hold to spend four more years in school.

Some become discouraged if they cannot learn on the same level as others and may take longer getting to the same end goal.

Whatever the reason is, the basis is still the same: there are many outside factors that come into play for motivation whether or not to attend and stay at an institution.

I am not saying that these are reasons people should stay away from college; I am one who encourages anyone and everyone to further their education and have an amazing experience through those four years.

Attending college is an opportunity people should feel privileged to take part in but several outside forces are often overlooked.

For a lot of students, it will take a lot of perseverance to make it through school with these stresses and financial burdens, especially if they came in unaware. These factors may make or break an experience at college.   Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.

Electoral College eliminates reason behind right to vote

The Constitution of the United States is a truly remarkable document that weaved the foundation of our country. It is an essential guide for how our government ought to run, but there is one particular element that I believe we must re-evaluate: the Electoral College.

We are incredibly lucky to have the right to vote in this country and we must take advantage of that privilege.

However, I don’t think that we are utilizing our right to the fullest when some votes seem to count more than others.

As a student in Washington state, it doesn’t even matter whom I vote for. Because of King County and other counties on the west side, all 12 of our electoral votes go to the Democratic candidate. As a result, it seems as if my vote doesn’t even count.

According to George Edwards, author of the book “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America”, it discourages voter turnout because people know that their vote won’t make a difference if they’re in the minority or if they’re a state that is clearly going to go for a candidate, it won’t make a difference either and it doesn’t help the candidate to get additional votes.”

Voter turnout is extremely low in the United States; according to the George Madison University United States Election Project, it was only 61.6 percent in 2008.

Our state is so solidly democratic that candidates do not even bother to campaign here. The candidates spend nearly all of their time in swing states such as Ohio.

According to National Journal, Obama’s official campaign committee spent $72,762,477 in Ohio alone. Mitt Romney’s official committee spent $43,198,708.

These numbers do not include spending by other super political action committees (PACs). Millions of dollars were spent in other swing states as well, because candidates knew that these were the votes they would need to win.

Some people argue that the Electoral College causes the candidates to ignore the small states because they won’t have enough impact on the election. However, Edwards writes, “Not only do they ignore small states, but they ignore large states. They ignore California, they ignore Texas and they ignore New York. I mean, the three largest states are ignored. And they’re ignored because they’re not competitive. And that’s due to the Electoral College.”

We are all Americans, and therefore, every vote should be equally important. We should not support a system that encourages the candidates to focus on only a small handful of states and ignore the rest.

I am glad that this election ended with Obama taking the Electoral College as well as the popular vote, because I believe that the person who wins the popular vote should always become president.

Unfortunately, it is possible for a candidate to win the popular vote but not the Electoral College, as was the case in the 2000 election.

The Founders set up this system because they feared tyranny of the majority, as shown in Federalist Paper No. 10, but times have changed. It’s time to switch to a popular vote and have every vote count equally.

Lindsey Hubbart Staff Writer

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Too much TV time poses dining distraction

By most accounts, the remodeled dining hall and HUB expansion are significant improvements in décor, food quality and variety.

The goal to give the dining hall more of a “restaurant feel” was successfully achieved. If anything, the refurbished dining hall may be too much like many modern restaurants in one respect: the proliferation of TV screens.

To be sure, the menu and announcement displays are great, quickly and very visibly displaying the meal’s options. It is the giant screen showing sports with every meal that is the problem.

Students’ lives are already crammed with electronic media. Apparently we just cannot get enough football.

Brian Stelter of the New York Times reported three years ago that the average American spends 8.5 hours a day exposed to screens of some kind.

There are several reasons to preserve 30 minutes of dining space from being encroached by more TV.

For starters, not everyone wants to watch. Anecdotally, most students I have spoken to have agreed that they would rather not have the TV on during dinner. For some students, dinner is a time to tune out for a little while and relax from studying.

Some students like to be able to get a little reading or studying in. Others would simply like to be able to enjoy a hall dinner or a quiet conversation with a friend.

Indeed, the constant TV provides an all-too convenient escape from conversation.

While there are obviously those who appreciate TV, is it necessary to force everyone to have to deal with the giant screen for the sake of a few?

Well, you might say, just because the screen is there does not mean you have to look at it; just try.

On multiple occasions I have found myself distracted from a lovely meal with my fiancée by a touchdown or particularly painful-looking tackle. To add insult to injury, I do not even like football.

Unless you are willing and able to find refuge at one of the handful of tables beneath the screen, it is nearly impossible to avoid being attracted to the constant motion and flashes of the TV. It is simply too distracting to avoid. Even if you are able to restrain yourself from watching, chances are one or more of the people you are eating with, and presumably talking with, will not be. With that said, there are those who really appreciate being able to watch sports during their meal.

There are a few ways that reasonable accommodations could be made for both sides. One solution could be limiting the number of nights the screen is shown to once or twice a week.

Another possibility would be leaving the flat screen TVs in the expansion on continuously, but discontinue use of the projector in the main dining hall.

That way, students would be able to choose where to sit based on whether they want to watch sports or not. Until that happens, however, in our media-saturated society, the last thing we need is continuous football in the dining hall.

 

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Education spending yields poor results

Due to the numerous problems our public education system is faced with, the federal government has stepped in by increasing funding. This seems like a valid solution, but according to Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute, “Washington spends huge amounts in the name of education but gets almost no educational improvement in return.”

One example of unnecessary and wasteful spending is in the Obama administration’s “Education Blueprint: An Economy Built to Last,” which is a plan to invest $25 billion “to make sure that we can keep teachers in the classroom.” While this may seem good, Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation writes, “More teachers now teach fewer students than at any point in history.” She says that between 1970 and 2010, student enrollment increased by 7.8 percent, while “education staff” went up 84 percent. Another example of wasteful spending is Head Start, which is an $8 billion program for preschool-aged students. According to McCluskey, “the fact is there's no meaningful evidence the program does any good. In fact, the most recent federal evaluation found that Head Start produces almost no lasting cognitive benefits, and its few lasting social-emotional effects include negative ones.” These are just a few examples of government waste. What we need are true reforms that actually improve the quality of education.

I believe that the best way to improve quality is by giving more control to the state governments, which can create more tailored approaches for their students. One viable solution is the American Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS Act). According to Education Week, each state could choose to opt out of No Child Left Behind and could set up their own goals for student performance, which must be approved by the Department of Education. According to PBS, No Child Left Behind “dramatically increases the role of the federal government in guaranteeing the quality of public education for all children in the United States -- with an emphasis on increased funding for poor school districts, higher achievement for poor and minority students, and new measures to hold schools accountable for their students' progress.” This big government approach has not worked to improve schools. By allowing states to get out of the one-size-fits-all approach to education, they can test new and innovative systems.

Jeb Bush, in the state of Florida, is working on reforms at the state level. He founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which produced a plan titled “Florida’s Education Revolution.” His guiding principles for reformation are, “holding schools accountable for results, setting high expectations, rewarding success, giving families real school choice, and attracting talent into the classroom.” The basis for his whole plan is the “The A-F School Grading System.” The grade that each school gets is not only dependent upon whether a school can get many students at the “proficient” level, but also on whether each individual student is progressing. The bottom 25 percent of all students is given a higher weight in the calculation, forcing schools to focus on them. The schools that receive an A grade get more funding from the state. Students in failing schools are given options to attend a new schools. According to Foundation for Excellence in Education, “While Florida still has far to go to ensure that all children receive a high quality education… these common sense and now proven reforms can spur real improvement in student learning.”

If we want true reforms that give every student the high-quality education they deserve, we must empower states to be more innovative in their approach. By relying on the federal government, we are wasting billions of dollars on failing educational methods.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Rape and Abortion: harder, but still wrong

As the election comes to a close, there is no doubt that economic concerns are at the forefront of voters’ minds. For most of the race, social issues did not see the light of day. However, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently made political headlines with controversial statements about rape and abortion. However, when properly understood, Mourdock’s main point is consistent and defensible. In a debate, Mourdock affirmed his pro-life position, explaining that he believes the only time abortion is justified is to save the life of the mother. While this statement is controversial enough in itself, Mourdock continued by stating that “life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock clarified himself following the debate: “God creates life. That was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing.” Still, this did not prevent him from being immediately attacked by critics for implying that God intends rape.

Mourdock’s opponent, Joe Donnelly, claimed that “what Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.” However, understood properly, Mourdock meant no disrespect to rape victims. Indeed, a number of Indiana women who were born when their mothers were raped have recently come out in support of Mourdock’s statements, according to Tom LoBianco of the Associated Press.

The core point Mourdock was trying to make was that abortion is morally wrong in all cases except to save the life of the mother. Given the assumption that abortion is at least generally wrong, that is a consistent position to hold.

Traditional pro-choice vs. pro-life positions pit a woman’s right to choose whether to carry or abort a fetus against the fetus’s right to life. The pro-life position admits that carrying the child to term is a physical and psychological strain on the mother, but argues that it cannot outweigh the significance of an entire life. The fundamental equation remains the same if the pregnancy is a result of rape. Although the trauma to a mother who goes through with a rape-induced pregnancy is far greater than a mother who has accidentally conceived, it still does not equal the magnitude of a single human life.

No matter what your perspective, it is clear that rape-induced pregnancies are incredibly horrific for the mother. On the one hand, carrying the child has severe psychological implications that go far beyond physical aspects . According to Andrew Solomon of The New Yorker, “one rape survivor, in testimony before the Louisiana Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, described her son as ‘a living, breathing torture mechanism that replayed in my mind over and over the rape.’”

On the other hand, Solomon also recognizes that “there can be no question that, for some women, an abortion would be far more traumatic than having a rape-conceived child.”

Simply put, there are no good, easy or clean options. Rape is traumatic in any instance, and a pregnancy resulting from rape is even more so. Still, the damage has already been done. The question is: does the fact that one severe wrong has been done justify committing another?

Since the trauma to the mother, as incredible as it may be, still does not counterbalance the moral magnitude of an entire life, the only time that abortion would be morally acceptable is when it is counterbalanced by the mother’s life. At that point, it is one life against another, and no one would be able to fault the mother’s choice.

Admittedly, this is a terribly difficult and painful issue. Yes, it would be difficult to look a rape-victim in the face and tell her that she had no choice but to carry the unwanted child of her rapist, but it would be just as difficult to look a child of a rape victim and tell them that their mother should have been able to abort them. If it is given that abortion is morally objectionable under at least some circumstances, the moral and logical inconsistency of making exceptions for cases of rape is inescapable.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.

Fact-check internet urban legends

The aftermath of the recent destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy has illustrated both infrastructure weaknesses and the strength of the human spirit. We’ve seen inspiring images of people lending helping hands and we’ve seen ghastly images of the devastation left behind on our streets. While some of those images have allowed us to witness the realities of the east coast from thousands of miles away, other images, many of them viral, are false representations. Contrary to what memes would have us believe, sharks aren’t swimming the streets of New Jersey and people aren’t scuba diving in Times Square.

However, contemporary urban legends don’t just surround natural disasters. Rather, urban legends are a rampant part of our society, touching every aspect of contemporary culture from politics to social media.

Have you ever seen the Facebook post that gives a privacy notice claiming, “the contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information”? Urban legend. The privacy of a Facebook profile is determined by privacy settings and the Facebook terms of service, not by any warnings someone posts in his or her status.

Have you heard that Obama’s wedding ring is actually a sign of his commitment to Allah? That statement is false. A quick look at the snopes.com page devoted to this legend shows a high-resolution, close-up photo of Obama’s ring, showing the detailing to be a simple loop pattern, not Arabic lettering.

Images like those of sharks in New Jersey and messages like the Facebook privacy notice continue to proliferate, with Facebook, Twitter and other social media breathing life into them. The problem is that the internet serves as a vast information highway, and just as there are bad cars and good cars, there is also bad information and good information. That metaphor follows through, though. When one shops for a car, one must do his or her due diligence in checking basic mechanical functions and specifications for the vehicle. Similarly, when one accepts and shares media, he or she must similarly do his or her due diligence in checking basic factual reality of information.

In other words, because the internet carries such vast resources, including plentiful resources to help us discern between good and bad information, we have no excuse in further propagating falsity by clicking the ‘share’ button without confirming the facts first.

It takes literally two minutes to search for some of the more common urban legends on websites such as snopes.com and truthorfiction.com. Taking those two minutes, though, prevents the spread of misinformation that can sometimes be harmful to our culture.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.

Students being pushed to the brink of excellence

With many of our schools failing, the issue of education equality has become extremely important in America. However, we have overlooked another important educational issue: many students are being pushed far beyond their limits. This issue really hits home for me. Back in middle school, a girl named Devon Marvin was my best friend until we lost touch after she moved to California. This summer, I decided that I wanted to reconnect with her, so I searched for her online. Shockingly, I discovered that she had committed suicide in 2008. I was heartbroken; I could not imagine how the wonderful, hilarious, happy-go-lucky Devon that I once knew decided to end her life.

She did not even leave a note. The only thing that was noticed was that she had failed her math exam that week. Her mom told the local paper that, “The only thing I can think of is that she had this internal pressure, and she was torn up about this math grade. This child was so successful on so many fronts, and then there was this stupid math grade.”

A documentary titled “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture,” focuses on the idea of putting too much pressure on students to succeed and Devon’s story is used as a focal point.

Vicki Abeles, the creator of the movie, cites multiple reasons why students are feeling the pressure, and describes the detrimental effect that it can have on them. For example, students are advised to take as many Advanced Placement classes as possible.

I certainly felt that pressure when I was in high school; I was constantly told to take as many AP’s as I possibly could if I wanted to have a shot at getting accepted into college. An AP biology teacher in a New York Times video op-ed on AP classes, said, “The course is a runaway train. There’s no way we can cover all of the material in one year.”

This puts an exorbitant amount of pressure on students to cram as much material as possible just to regurgitate it on the test, especially when they are taking multiple AP classes.

The students also have pressure to perform well on “high-stakes” standardized tests, according to Abeles.

Too much stress can have detrimental effects on students’ health. For example, in the video about AP classes, students claimed they stayed up until two or three in the morning every night to finish their homework.

James Maas, a sleep expert at Cornell, said, “Every single high school student I have ever measured in terms of their alertness is a walking zombie.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 8 percent of high school students get adequate sleep.

College students feel extreme stress as well. The American College Counseling Association surveyed college counselors on results of stress.

They found that “more than three out of four [college counselors] reported an increase in crises in the past five years requiring immediate response, 42 percent noted an increase in self-injury, and 24 percent have seen an increase in eating disorders.”

In severe cases, this stress can even lead students to take their own lives, as Devon did. The school system must help develop productive members of society, not stressed out zombies merely focused on academic success.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.

Intramurals provide alternative community

Whitworth is known for its community; the community in the dorm, the community in the coffee shop and elsewhere. However, the community provided by intramurals is often overlooked. It is so easy for people to skip over sign-up emails or not want to talk to people about forming a team and then miss out on an awesome aspect of Whitworth.

My freshman year, I joined an ultimate Frisbee intramural team and had a blast getting to know other people in my dorm beyond a surface level exchange of hellos in the hallways. Some of those friendships grew deeper due to a friend of mine deciding to spread the word about starting a team.

Now, this year, I was asked to join a new team for ultimate Frisbee intramurals and went into it knowing two people. Now, I have had the chance to form friendships with teammates whom I may have never met, had I not decided to join.

Frisbee is not the only place where community within intramurals takes place. While playing a Frisbee game, I often see football and soccer teams on the other side of the field laughing, high fiving and coming together as a team. There are also intramural teams for volleyball, basketball, soccer, dodgeball, tennis and other sports.

An intramural team allows you to take an hour break from homework for friendly competition. It allows you to get active without the seriousness of a team, practice and training.

After joining a team, you will notice teammates, or competition, all over campus and you will see your community here expand.

I have a teammate whom I met because we play on the same team, and now we notice that we always pass each other on campus and frequently do homework in the coffee shop at the same time.

Before, I did not notice how often our paths crossed and didn’t even know his name. My challenge to you is to stop making excuses.

You will always too feel busy, uninterested, too cool or not good enough until you try it out.

Whatever the excuse is, it shouldn’t stop you from wanting to have an amazing experience, meet new people and expand your community.

Haley Williamson Columnist

Williamson is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications. Comments can be sent to hwilliamson15@ my.whitworth.edu.

Greek and Hebrew Words: Your Inspiration

Do you ever have an idea or concept in your head that simply cannot be put into words? Are you looking for inspiration for a new tattoo, or perhaps a name for your new club, ministry or nonprofit organization?

Are you a fan of using archaic words or objects because they transcend the phoniness of our modern age?

It sounds like you could benefit from developing a shallow but workable vocabulary of Hebrew and Greek words. Let me take a minute to explain why this is a good idea.

Ancient languages are obscure, and obscurity is in. Forget tattoos with Chinese letters and symbols, those went out of style around 2003. Hebrew and Greek? They are the next big thing.

I’m telling you this in confidence so that you can hop on the cool-train before it even leaves the station. Why? Because I like you.

Need a name for your church retreat? Flip through a New Testament Greek Lexicon, flap your fine finger on any one line, and you got yourself a new name!

Example: “Come join us on the Honeydale Community PRAUTES church retreat in November. PRAUTES is the Greek word for spirit, because we’re all spirits, you know?”

The beauty of using an ancient language for your new tattoo or organization name is that not only are the words deep, Biblical and smart-sounding, they are also aesthetically beautiful.

They just look SO COOL! You don’t need a huge tattoo, just get the Hebrew word “hesed,” (which means steadfast love), on the inside of your forearm. Your peers will be entranced.

Besides, if you are a theology major, it is pretty much a requirement that you get a tattoo in either Greek or Hebrew, for New and Old Testament scholars respectively. That’s how we know you are legit, that you really know your stuff.

One final way these words are useful is in the way they help us avoid chronological snobbery, or the false notion that our thinking and way of life are getting better and better as time goes on.

The truth is that we would all be better off if we could just go back to the good old days when things were perfect like in the days of the early church.

Selective use of Greek and Hebrew words ripped out of their Biblical context is a great way to tap into the inherent goodness of old things.

So get out there, you! Start planning out that ministry retreat and sketching your next tattoo idea. Shalom and agape. E pluribus unum. Jonny Strain Columnist

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact jstrain13@my.whitworth.edu

“American dream” hones in on Christian commands

The American Dream has seen more popular days. Not only has government expansion gradually crowded out the promise of the American Dream, but certain strains of Christianity have challenged it on a moral and theological level. But is the American Dream really at odds with Christianity? Not necessarily. In some cases the American Dream corresponds with Christian ideals, and in other aspects it depends on how it is approached on the individual level.

At the most basic level, the “American Dream” provides opportunity; it leaves the door open for people to pursue their dreams as far as their hard work and responsibility can take them. In its perfect form, the American Dream does not distinguish between race, nationality, gender or religion, but provides equal opportunity for all to pursue their dreams, none of which is anti-Christian in itself. In the modern context, however, the American Dream is often negatively associated by Christians, such as mega church pastor David Platt, with individualism, materialism and status. Platt argues that Christians should rebel against the American Dream, giving away potentially everything we have instead of simply striving for success. There are two problems with his argument. First, it does the very thing it claims to oppose. If prosperity is viewed as incompatible with Christianity, then why give money to the poor in India or the needy in our communities in order to increase their prosperity? The ultimate goal is the same. Assuming, then, that the goal is to increase others’ well-being, the question must be asked: What is more effective, or more sustainable if you will: giving away all you have in a moment of fervent radicalism, or working hard your entire life to be successful in order to be able to continually contribute to the needs of your community and the world? There is a much stronger biblical case for the latter. Second Thessalonians chapter three recounts how Paul worked and toiled to avoid being a “burden” to anyone.

By working hard and taking responsibility for himself instead of relying on the collective, Paul lived out in a Christian way, the individualism of the American Dream. Working, and working hard, is an integral part of the Christian life. Later on in Second Thessalonians, Paul instructs the Thessalonians that “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Regarding status and success, Colossians 3:23 instructs Christians in this way: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” There is no higher work-ethic. Furthermore, Proverbs 14:23 notes that “all hard work brings a profit,” and Proverbs 22:29 declares that a skilled man “will serve before kings,” not “obscure men.” Thus, we are commanded to work hard for Christ and, if we do our duty well, presumably our hard work will bring profit and recognition. Up to this point, this seems to fit nicely with the American Dream.

What Christians need to be wary of is making wealth the ultimate goal. Riches and success are no substitute for reliance on God, since even the richest are not safe from trouble (Proverbs 11:28). The fact that some individuals allow themselves to be controlled by materialism is not an indictment of the opportunity provided by the American Dream. The American Dream that allows one person to relentlessly pursue material success is the same Dream that allows another person to spend a lifetime working in nonprofit ministry. Indeed it is precisely the prosperity that has resulted from the American Dream which has allowed the U.S. to be the world’s largest contributor (by far) to charitable causes, according to Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute.

Instead of renouncing the American Dream, Christians should take advantage of the opportunity it provides to succeed, and then turn around and reinvest that success back into the Kingdom of God.

Story by Maxford Nelsen Columnist

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to mnelsen13@my.whitworth.edu.