Not who we are, but what we do: Bruce Jenner, Laverne Cox and trans activism

2015 has been a tipping point for transgender visibility and media representation. With TV shows like “Orange is the New Black,” “Glee,” “Transparent,” “The T Word” and “Becoming Us,” transgender actors and characters are entering more American homes than ever before. But arguably the two most public figures of this new branch of media are actress Laverne Cox and decathlon champion-turned reality TV star Bruce Jenner.Both celebrities were assigned male at birth and must face the spotlight every day while trying to succeed in life as the women they truly are. They also represent the diversity within the transgender community; they are famous in part because of their shared identity, but the lives they lived before the spotlight could not have been more different. Cox came from a traditionally marginalized group—poor, black, gay men—while Jenner grew up in the height of privilege as a white, healthy, straight male.

Bruce Jenner

  It is easy to think about privilege as a one-dimensional issue. For instance, we may claim that “all transgender people will face discrimination” or that “all white people have it easy.” However, these claims are false because of the many nuanced layers of intersection that each of us carries within our identity. These intersections of identity could not be more crucial in distinguishing how the Jenner and Cox speak up about transgender. Seventeen million people watched Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer just on the day that it aired, according to USA Today. Laverne Cox has had an even greater impact this year and became a household name after she was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, awarded a daytime Emmy and named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2015. Jenner and Cox carry an enormous degree of power and influence in improving the lives of those in their community—a responsibility as enormous as the task itself. Transgender Americans (an estimated 2 percent of the population) have staggering disadvantages in our country today. The average life expectancy of a transgender American is 36—transgender women of color are 16 times more likely than the average American to be murdered, and transgender suicide attempt rates are 20 times that of the overall population. The poverty and unemployment rates for transgender adults are double that of the national average. You can legally be fired for being transgender in 32 U.S. states and an estimated 97 percent of transgender people report experiencing discrimination or harassment at work. For the rights of this community, there is nowhere to go but up. Cox has used her celebrity to increase the visibility and understanding of transgender people, in part because of her experience with marginalization in the past. Jenner, on the other hand, has been fairly silent about the important work that needs to be done—the potential product of a past full of privilege. There is no doubt that the country is watching these and other transgender public figures—we must all hope that they will use their influence to fix society and its mistreatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Ashton Skinner

Guest Columnist

Contact Ashton at askinner15@my.whitworth.edu

Student Success Center helps struggling students

Two weeks ago, the Whitworthian polled 100 students asking them to rate the helpfulness of the Student Success center. Of the respondents, 47 percent rated the Student Success center as helpful while 13 percent rated the center as unhelpful. Curious as to what strengths and weaknesses of the program may have resulted in such figures, I investigated.The Student Success Team (SST) is a vastly underutilized resource on campus. Whitworth does a phenomenal job supporting its community and the Student Success program is a major component in providing that support, both in academic and personal arenas. It fosters a supportive environment for students in need no matter the need and the success stories of the program are many in number and kind. Even so, there are important improvements that need to be made.

ASWU Survey3 Before delving into SST further, we must first address a simple question: what is the SST? In short, the SST is a peer-model program that helps students with academic or personal difficulties. Students who utilize the program are assigned a fellow student to work with, a student success coach, who will help them with whatever struggle they are facing. Its mission is to meet every student where they’re at. The SST should not be mistaken for a tutoring service. Instead, student success coaches are trained to teach good study habits, from time management skill to prioritizing one’s activities. Coaches can connect students to helpful resources, such as specific tutor programs, but their primary duties are to provide personal support, guidance, counseling and accountability. Prior to the SST’s creation, students who had GPAs lower than a 2.0 had little structured support from the university, Director of Student Success Landon Crecelius said. Students were told they need to raise their grades, but then it was left entirely up to them to figure out how to do so. Naturally, many student struggled to raise their grades without much guidance. Whitworth already had plenty of reactive measures in place, such as academic warnings, probation and suspension. What it needed was a proactive arm, a program that would work with students and help them recover in the early stages of the struggle, rather than tiered consequences after the worst had already come to pass. The SST was the answer. The program is still relatively young, only now finishing its third year, but the success stories of the students who have utilized the program are impressive. Seth McDermott, now a senior, is a prime example of how impactful SST can be in a student’s life. McDermott was a student athlete during his first two years at Whitworth and the time and energy football demanded of him detracted from the time he could commit to academics. His grades suffered and he was put on probation at the end of fall semester his freshman year. Spring semester came and went, and his grades stayed the same. McDermott was assigned a student success coach for fall semester of his sophomore year, and although his grades remained low during the time, by Jan Term he was earning As and Bs. “My student success coach taught me study techniques. I didn’t have any good study techniques, I didn’t learn any during high school,” McDermott said. “They showed me how to study and  gave me a sense that I could be successful in the classroom.” SST taught him how to adapt to new professors, strategies for good time management and how to prioritize his activities, all of which he had previously struggled with. Even so, McDermott came perilously close to being suspended from Whitworth. Due to his low grade point average, he was brought before the Education Review Board to make an appeal. “I called Landon before I called my parents,” McDermott said. “The [SST] was there for me. They fought for me and helped make sure I could stay.” SST advocated for him, and with his Jan Term grades reflecting his progress, McDermott was allowed to stay. Since then, McDermott has successfully utilized the habits SST taught him, and he looks forward to graduating this year. Kiersten Signalness, a junior who utilized the program in the past, received similar support from the SST for different reasons. During her sophomore year, one of her professors was unable to effectively teach his class due to medical reasons which severely hindered his ability to communicate with his class. Signalness made every effort to compensate for the ineffective instruction. “I had near perfect attendance, turned in all of my homework, saw tutors and studied for every test,” Signalness said. Despite her efforts, Signalness and the majority of her classmates (those who had not already withdrawn, that is) failed the class. She went to the SST in search of academic help, and although they were unable to meet her needs as she had hoped, the SST worked with her. They listened as she shared the details of her case and agreed that the circumstances warranted action. The SST advocated for Signalness when she sought a repeal of her grade, and, because of their support, the grade was repealed. Signalness spoke highly of her experience with the SST, citing three key strengths of the program which make it exceedingly helpful: emotional support, provision of crucial resources and different ideas. Each of these strengths was present in the SST’s response to her situation. In addition to meeting academic needs, the SST was also created to confidentially support students’ personal needs. Prior to the SST’s inception, students undergoing difficulties of a personal nature were assisted by the vice president at the time. A success story of that type can be found in sophomore Allison Pheasant. Unlike McDermott, Pheasant sought help with student life instead of academics. Pheasant’s student success coach has helped her tremendously, encouraging her to pursue extracurricular interests that she would have otherwise let slip by. Pheasant has become more involved with the community at Whitworth and attributes that being made possible to the support of the SST. Pheasant is aware of the negative stigma that may come from seeking outside help, but she says it is unmerited. “People don’t want to have a coach because it seems like you need a lot of help in guiding yourself,” Pheasant said. “Really, your coach is learning too. It’s a learning process for both of you . . . I don’t see them as coaches. They’re just really genuine people, they genuinely care. They’re here to help. They’re more like friends—they support you.” The many stories of success from SST come in all shapes and sizes—academic assistance, student advocacy and personal support are just a few ways the SST can benefit students. Ultimately, the SST is in place to support students however it can. McDermott’s, Signalness’, and Pheasant’s cases all demonstrate that fact. The SST has filled high needs areas that were once largely unattended to, and it has done a truly praiseworthy job. Even so, the SST still has an enormous amount of untapped potential. The program is still maturing, and there is much to be done before it reaches its full capability. Before all other needs, the SST must promote greater publicity. The SST values students’ well being above all else, even before their affiliation to Whitworth. They want what is best for the student as a unique individual. If a student is in need of academic or personal assistance, the SST is the place to go. They will put students in connection with the resources they need. Staff, faculty and other students can refer students to the SST via the online Student Concern Form, but the majority of submissions currently come from professors. Landon Crecelius and the Student Success program can be found in the Lindaman Center. “A lot of people have a misconception [about the SST]. They think, ‘Oh, I’m in trouble. I have to go see Student Success.’ Really, we’re here to be a guide and work with students,” said senior Jaclyn Jordan, a student success coach for the past three semesters. Unfortunately, the misconception is common. Few students know of Student Success, and those who do often have a cloudy understanding of it at best. Other suggested and hoped for improvements relate to interdepartmental coordination. If the SST can open lines of communication with other resources on campus, it can become more effective in its assistance of students. Communication between SST and tutor programs, professors, coaches and other support services on campus will make each more effective in helping students. Crecelius said that he would like to see the SST continue to implement more proactive strategies. He pointed out that the men’s soccer coach and one of the men’s football coaches have received some components of Student Success training so that they may better help their players. They have also hired and trained several athletes to become student success coaches, enabling them to further help and support their team and campus community. The SST needs to publicize itself more on campus. This proactive arm of Whitworth is changing lives, and expectations for further growth are high, so long as it gets the attention it needs and deserves.

Student Success

 

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

The choice to marry young should be respected by all

Marrying before the age of 25 is no longer the norm in America. In fact, marrying in one’s early 20s has become somewhat stigmatized. This attitude is reflected by many college students, including students here at Whitworth.The average ages at which men and women are marrying have reached historic heights: 27 for women and 29 for men and it’s still climbing, according to the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

Marrying Young

  Marriage should never be rushed into, but there is no set timeline for love. That is not to say that everyone should marry earlier; it is only to say that the age at which one marries is not indicative of the quality of the marriage. Early marriage does not deserve the ignominious reputation with which it has been given. Marrying young comes with many challenges. It may be fairly described as a practice of great risk and great reward. Neither partner’s future is certain and each person is still maturing, but these challenges are the exact reasons why marrying young should be respected. The years of adolescence through young adulthood are among the most transformational times of a person’s life, and sharing those years as a married couple offers benefits unique to young marriage. In the early years of adulthood, men and women are still in the process of identity development. They are choosing interests to pursue in higher education and careers, experimenting with new forms of expression and assuming new responsibilities as they live independently for the first time. Each person is still figuring out who he or she will become. With marrying young, growing up is a shared experience. Each person’s struggles and achievements are known to the other. The what, how and why a person developed the way he did is known to his spouse because his spouse was a first-hand witness to the events. Any young couple may experience these years of growing up together, but only in fragments. Unless they were to marry each other later, each partner’s future spouse will only have a secondhand account of developmentally impactful events. The shared experiences from an early age can strengthen young married couples beyond measure. Growing up together also means that habits and behaviors have not yet solidified. A couple that marries young develops their behaviors in relation to their partner’s. They build off one another and learn to complement rather than conflict. People who don’t meet their future spouse until they’re older have already established their habits, and learning to adapt them to work with their spouse can be challenging. All of the shared memories, the shared trials of becoming a mature adult, the shared successes and failures of youth—these are irreplaceable benefits of marrying young. True, there are benefits of marrying older, most of which seem to revolve around a desire for individual stability prior to marriage—completed education, stable career, some savings, perhaps even a house before marriage. The desire to enter married life from a stable foundation is by no means a bad plan. Research has shown that men and women who marry in their late twenties tend to have a higher income than those who married young. The rising generation may be fairly characterized as emphasizing the importance of the individual. A strong individual foundation prior to marriage is a reflection of that attitude. Even so, marrying later rather than sooner is not free of its own downsides. “Twenty-something men and women who are unmarried—be they single or cohabiting—report more drinking, more depression, and lower levels of life satisfaction than do their married peers,” according to the National Marriage Project. While couples who marry later develop their personal foundations (education, career, savings, property, religion, sense of identity) independently from their spouse, young married couples have the opportunity to develop their lives together, jointly constructing their foundations. Like nearly all aspects of marrying young, building one’s adult life intertwined with another is one more example of great risk/great reward. Constructing one’s adult life inseparable from one’s spouse can result in an incredibly strong relationship, but if the marriage fails, dividing into two separate, stable lives can be extraordinarily difficult. Marrying later, and by doing so having established an individual foundation, can serve as a failsafe should the marriage devolve, but no one should ever marry with the mindset that they can just divorce should the marriage fail. Such an attitude fosters a weak marriage from the start, so if that is the case, marriage should be reconsidered or postponed. Marrying young is not for everyone and that is perfectly all right. The point is, marrying at a young age should be respected. There are valid reasons to do so, just as there are valid reasons to wait. There is no timeline for love, no age by which one must be married. Marriage should be considered whenever it is deemed right by the couple in question. Only they know the extent of their circumstances and their personal readiness to commit to one another.

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

The Whitworthian Goes Global

Three Pirates share their thoughts on the interesting food they’ve eaten since they started studying abroad. Alyssa  Brooks

Location: British Isles

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Daffodils always spell spring to me. They pop up, and I am ready for spring time. Although parts of the British Isles are still swathed in grey clouds and rain, I noticed daffodils weeks ago. Residents of the UK can often be seen sporting a small daffodil in the buttonhole of their jacket as they walk around town, carrying a piece of spring with them wherever they go. Spring came to the British Isles before it arrived in Spokane. I walked by the Scott Monument and the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh as workers laid sod in preparation for the summer season. The weather is unseasonably warm in Edinburgh with bright and tolerably warm days spent strolling along the Royal Mile. Over Spring Break, I spent time in the Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries of Paris, France. I have visited places along many longitudes and Spring looks differently in each place. Nice, France sits on the Mediterranean Sea near the Italian border, and therefore it is naturally warmer than anywhere I have been so far. I was determined to swim in the Mediterranean, and let me be frank, it is not the same warm water some imagine it to be in March compared to the summer months. Spring in the UK and parts of France is not all that different from the United States, and thank goodness for that, since it would not be spring without daffodils.

Max   Carter

Location: New Zealand

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The spring here in New Zealand surprisingly seems a lot like autumn. Maybe that’s because it actually is autumn, with the whole other side of the earth thing and all. The first couple of months here were gorgeous and warm, but the temperature is beginning to drop. While on the South Island last week, temperatures were getting down close to freezing, and snow began to fall in some of the lower mountainous areas. Back here in Palmerston North (“Palmy” as they call it) we have continued to have some nice days, but there have been some pretty wet ones too. The area of New Zealand that I am spending most of my time in actually has a similar climate to Seattle, with warm, blue skied summers and rainy, moderate winters. I haven’t seen any snow yet here in Palmy—I doubt I will—but hopefully it’ll come down a bit in the mountains in time for me to take a run or two before I head back home. Leaving this incredible place isn’t going to be easy, but switching from winter to summer will definitely ease the pain. See you in a couple of months, Washington!

Jessica  Razanadrakoto

Location: Semester at Sea

Namibia Desert

From the snow capped on top of mount Fuji to the warm sun of the Namibia desert, you would be amazed how living on a ship and traveling the world let you experience a year worth of weather rotation in just four months. In January when we hit Hawaii, Japan and China, it was wintertime. However, let’s be real, winter in Hawaii is like warm springtime in the Northwest.  The further we traveled east to Vietnam and Myanmar, with a stop in Singapore in between with a hot and humid weather as it is located closer to the equator, Vietnam and Myanmar were hot during the day, but chilly in the evening. In India and Mauritius, being two of those tropical countries with pretty much summer all year round, we enjoyed the warmth of the sun along with the coconut and palm trees. Because March is still included in the summer in the Southern hemisphere, South Africa and Namibia were warm and sunny where the sun bronzed my skin until it reached the color of the Namibian brown-sanded dunes. And for the first time in our voyage, we had pouring rain last week on the ship on our way to a fuel stop in the Canary Islands. As we are making our way to our last two ports, Morocco and England, is was a unique way to end the voyage while experiencing a backward weather change from summer to spring, since Morocco and England are transitioning from winter to spring to their summer.

 

 

Editorial: IN THE LOOP Building a network more important than ever

With graduation coming up for Whitworth’s seniors, and with other students looking for summer jobs and future internships, networking has become a very important aspect to life both during and after college. Here are three reasons why you should connect with everyone from your favorite professors to that guest lecturer from Connecticut.Communication skills: Millennials are often criticized for lack of communication skills, especially verbal ones. Whitworthians already have an advantage by coming from a liberal arts education, where there are oral and written communication requirements. But if you can communicate and connect with someone you can rely on as a reference or a source, you’re not only gaining a valuable resource when you’re trying to find a job, but also picking up skills in learning how to communicate with other professionals. Connect with peers and promote collaboration: What’s the skill every employer wants, right after communication skills? The ability to work in a team dynamic. Networking isn’t only for you to gain that reference, but learning how to work with someone to benefit each other and reach a common goal. As much as you may hate group projects, they’re a reality for a good majority of jobs out there. It’s isn’t about what you know, it’s who you know: getting a job in the economy today is a lot easier when you have a lot of connections. By networking early on, you have people you can talk to who can help you find a job, be a reference or even a resource for a future project.

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.

Letter to the Editor: Whitworth should divest from fossil fuels because of its Christian identity

Dear Whitworth Community, This university has a Christian duty to divest its endowment from fossil fuel extracting companies. Ever since God called humans to care for the land from which we were formed in Genesis 3:23, our vocation has been to steward the land. Paul says in Romans 8:21 that “The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” And so Christian hope lies in the restoration of all creation. Knowing where Christian hope lies and Christian vocation lies, it makes no sense for a Christian university to profit from companies that hurt the earth. And guess what? 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and it is caused by human fossil fuel consumption. The ramifications are staggering: continuing loss of biodiversity, increasing extreme weather patterns, and increasingly vulnerable human coastal populations. God’s earth is being scarred by our dependence on coal and oil. Union Theological Seminary recognized this and chose to divest from, as they said, the sin of fossil fuel holdings. Michael Johnston, a former executive of financial giant Capital Group Companies and the chair of Union’s investment committee said: “I hope that people see our actions as a beacon of hope, and recognize that there are things we can do...to cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions.” It is time for Whitworth to follow suit. Let us put our money where our faith is.

Niko Aberle niko.aberle@gmail.com

Editorial: IN THE LOOP Unknown risk of electronic cigarettes outweighs possible benefits

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigs, are becoming fairly popular with smokers trying to quit, smokers seeking out different flavors and even with younger people who aren’t smokers looking to start smoking traditional cigarettes but want the flavor that e-cigarettes provide.However, e-cigs are not as good as one may think. Granted, they lack a good majority of the chemicals and carcinogens that burning traditional tobacco has, but the chemicals in the liquids that e-cigs use have not been FDA tested. The $3 billion a year industry hawks itself as being healthier, but we honestly don’t know if what we are inhaling is any healthier than traditional cigarettes. Many e-cigarette smokers believe that because there hasn’t been a warning label placed on these products that it is OK to smoke them in buildings and other public spaces. Many buildings and airlines have banned e-cigs from being smoked in their facilities, due to the unknown risk factors of the secondhand smoke and the smoke itself.  Many people who do not want to inhale secondhand smoke from traditional cigarettes do not want to inhale the smoke from e-cigs. E-cigarettes should be banned from all campus buildings and be treated like traditional cigarettes, at least until the FDA tests e-cigarettes and determines if they are a health risk for both the smokers and people who potentially inhale the secondhand smoke.

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.

“Religious freedom” laws encourage discrimination

Indiana’s “religious freedom” law allows business owners to refuse service based on their religious beliefs, a fact which many fear will result in widespread discrimination.The law is accompanied by a question long avoided by the court: do private businesses possess the same rights as individuals? At first glance, a relatively recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court would seem to suggest that they do. In 2012, Hobby Lobby went to court against a mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which requires businesses to provide access to contraceptives for their female employees. Hobby Lobby’s owners argued that their religious beliefs did not support the use of certain contraceptives, therefore, the ACA contraceptive mandate violated their religious freedom. In June of 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The decision created a precedent which allowed certain businesses to seek exemption from the ACA’s contraceptive mandate due to religious beliefs. The court’s decision is by no means all inclusive. Only closely held corporations—corporations which tend to be owned by a small group of individuals and the shares of which are unlikely to be traded—can file for exemption. Additionally, they must provide an alternative plan which still supports the law’s interest. For that reason (and several others), the decision does not provide a clear answer to whether or not corporations possess first amendment rights. Such a verdict is slow in coming and will only be clarified piece by piece as the court makes smaller rulings over a period of time.

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  In regard to Indiana’s so called “religious freedom” law, the question is: to what extent do businesses possess religious freedom? Suppose businesses have the same religious freedom rights as individuals. That being so, they can subscribe to any belief they wish and act upon such beliefs, so long as the actions do not directly harm others. A man may harm another man and claim to have done so because his religious beliefs compelled him to, but his religious freedom does not exempt him from punishment for having harmed another person. Does that same logic apply to religious business owners and refusing service? At first, the refusal of service may seem a trite concern. Possibly insulting, likely an inconvenience, but a violation of the law? Surely not. Go back in time, a few short decades ago, to find a parallel situation. African Americans were denied service by businesses of all kinds, simply for the color of their skin. Racism is undeniably deleterious, even when it does not inflict bodily harm. Recall, too, that some white supremacists cited their religious beliefs as justification for their racism. History proves that refusal of service can be harmful. It cultivates an environment ripe for prejudice and discrimination. As such, the right to refuse service based on religious beliefs is far too perilous a law to risk. “Religious beliefs” is a vastly open-ended term, which makes it susceptible to misuse. Many people would be denied service under a false pretense of acting on one’s religious beliefs, when in reality, the refusal of service is nothing more than personal prejudice. What of the cases in which refusal of service truly comes from conflict with genuinely held religious beliefs? Consider the case of Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers. In 2013, Washington state florist and owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, Baronnelle Stutzman, refused to cater a same-sex wedding. Stutzman had served both men for years, fully aware of their sexual orientation, but she refused to provide services for their nuptials. “I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” Stutzman said. Given that Stutzman had served both men for years, her refusal of service in this instance can logically be attributed to how she views marriage. In traditional Christianity, marriage is a religious ceremony: it is a union between man, woman and God. With such a perception of marriage, it is clear why Stutzman could not service a same-sex wedding: they do not view marriage as a union under God. At least, not in the same way Stutzman does. However, there is a flaw in such rationale. If Stutzman could not cater a same-sex wedding because the couple does not view marriage as a Christian ceremony, then by the same logic, she should be unable to cater any non-Christian’s wedding. There is no record of Stutzman doing so. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Stutzman’s refusal of service came from genuinely held religious beliefs, but it remains discriminatory. She did not refuse service out of malice, and it is likely she wasn’t even aware of the flaw in her rationale. Even so, the reason for her refusal of service can be isolated to the couple’s sexual orientation. Her case is one of many which proves a “religious freedom” law for business owners cannot be effectively or justly exercised. Such a law may come with the best intentions, but in the end, it is impracticable and dangerous. The fact of the matter is, when private citizens enter the business world, they enter a very diverse world. It is neither a spiritual nor secular realm; it is a thorough blending of both. Refusing service remains an owner’s right, but the reason for the refusal cannot be based on unalterable personal characteristics. That makes it discrimination, and as history has proven time and again, systematic discrimination is anything but just. Private businesses may possess many of the same rights as individuals, but Indiana’s “religious freedom” law and others like it are not the solution to protecting those rights. They are a step backward, inciting discriminatory practices and creating more conflict than peace. The so called “religious freedom” law does not protect Americans; it jeopardizes individuals’ right to live freely.

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

The Whitworthian Goes Global

Three Pirates share their thoughts on the interesting food they’ve eaten since they started studying abroad. Alyssa  Brooks

Location: British Isles

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Brooks

Inquirers never assume I am visiting the British Isles and Ireland for the food. Maybe France or Italy, yes, but for the British Isles and Ireland they only try to warn against the infamous haggis, which I have not yet had the opportunity to try. The most distinctive food I have tried eating while abroad came about a week into the trip. We left Dublin and came to the smaller town of Kilkenny. On our first night out, a friend ordered black pudding. She had been trying to find it while we were in Dublin and never succeeded. Her zealous hunt for it piqued my interest, so I was fair game for trying a bite to see what all the hype was about. One might expect black pudding to simply be burnt to a crisp, but black pudding means something different in Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The order arrived at the table, and it looked like large slices of burnt sausage with a strange consistency. Authentic black pudding is made with curdled blood and oats in the cylindrical shape of sausage. It developed on farms where people refused to waste any part of an animal when they killed it. The most unusual feature of it, besides knowing what it was made of, was the thick and chewy texture. It looks black on the outside from being cooked, but it has a deep red tint to it in the center. Thankfully, the taste was not overwhelming or revolting. It was a mild, savory taste. Sometimes I feel as though I am eating my way around the UK, and it does not disappoint.

Max   Carter

Location: New Zealand

Photo courtesy of Max CarterLet’s be honest, the culture here in New Zealand is not a big change from the United States. They eat the same things here but there are some differences in how they name and prepare some of our favorite foods. One thing I learned quickly in New Zealand is that ketchup is not ketchup and they do not have tartar sauce. When you order fish and chips, which is a favorite here, you get tomato sauce and aioli sauce. A couple of other differences to note: all kinds of ham are called bacon, there are different cuts of bacon (classic, side, shoulder, etc.) and fast food burgers are made with unprocessed meat. Speaking of fast food, let me blow your mind. Yes, they have McDonald’s, but no, they do not have a dollar menu. I know, right? It’s an atrocity. At this point I have been in New Zealand for four weeks, and I have not encountered anything as unbelievable as the price of a McChicken. Six dollars will get you a single McChicken sandwich. That is about $4.50 in U.S. dollars. Fast food is more expensive in general here, with a standard meal at “Mackers” as they call it, running at around $11 NZD ($8 U.S.). I suppose that is not too different, but if you head over to Carl’s Jr. and get a meal, it is even more. That being said, people are generally more fit here in the land of the Kiwi than in the U.S., so I guess they are doing something right.

Jessica  Razanadrakoto

Location: Semester at Sea

Photo courtesy of Jessica Razanadrakoto On my second day spent in Japan my friend from Hawaii and I took a four-hour bullet train from Tokyo to Nara as her mother booked us at a traditional Japanese hotel, Mikasa Nara Ryokan, on top of a mountain. We arrived there around dinner time, when we were welcomed with some green tea and Japanese candies. A few minutes later, the bellhop took us to choose a kimono to wear for dinner. We went in a room with a table full of small dishes that could feed at least five people. Throughout the fourteen-course meal, the most interesting foods I ate were green sponge cake made with beans and topped with candied fresh-water smelt (a type of dried fish), sea bream served with a flower-shaped vegetable on the side paired with some squid and sea urchin and finally a steamed dish containing sea urchin eggs with vegetables. I appreciated all of these foods and I am glad I tried them, but I do not think I would eat them again. However, some of the dishes I would definitely eat again would be the sushi, tuna, salmon, shrimp and the Japanese mixed rice with crab. This two-hour long dinner was closed with tasty plum liqueur with soda, an orange pudding with fruits, kudzu starch cake (soybean flour) and a full stomach with a new cultural learning experience.

 

Death penalty should be abolished in its current form

The death penalty—should it remain, undergo reform or be abolished? Currently, 32 states, Washington included, enforce the death penalty. The leading cause of concern in regard to capital punishment is the petrifying question: what if the person is innocent?The risk of punishing an innocent is too great for the death penalty to continue as it currently exists. There are some cases in which guilt is known beyond all doubt. Multiple witnesses, video evidence, victim testimonies—they all make for a strong case. Regrettably, not all of those sentenced to death row have such incontestable cases against them. “Since 1973, 150 [inmates] have been exonerated and freed from death row,” according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). New technology has exonerated people who were sentenced to death row in seemingly airtight cases. Ideally, this same technology and refined legislation could eventually prevent any innocent individuals from being mistakenly condemned. Unfortunately, such a hope is not yet a reality. Mankind’s imperfection has resulted in past mistakes, and it ensures that mistakes will occur again. Is it then ethical to utilize the death penalty knowing that an error could be made? Is the punishment of the worst of humanity worth the minute risk of killing an innocent?

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  Ethically, the answer must be no, at least for the time being. Evidence can be manufactured, witnesses can lie or be mistaken and bias can misconstrue facts. It is better for those who are known to be guilty to spend life in prison without parole, and risk an innocent sharing that penalty, than risk an irreversible mistake. The chance of taking the life of an innocent morally outweighs the desire for punishing those believed to be guilty. There are some crimes when the death penalty seems to be the only justifiable punishment. It may be safe to say “a child rapist and murderer does not deserve to live,” is a statement most people would agree with. However, in taking a murderer’s life, what divides the executioner’s actions from those of the murderer? The means and motivation are different, yet the end results are the same: life is taken. Does the collective society’s condemnation morally justify the taking of a life? Is that a decision one human being can make for another? Perhaps. If there are absolute morals, unjustifiably taking a life is surely a violation of them. Nevertheless, as stated earlier, the shadow of doubt over guilt prevents capital punishment from being ethically practiced. One argument in favor of capital punishment is that it preserves appreciation for the value of life. If the most heinous crimes are condemned as being unforgivable and only punishable by death, then life will be respected. Such is part of the argument that the death penalty is a deterrent to violent crime. Since 1991, states without the death penalty have had consistently lower murder rates than states with the death penalty, according to the DPIC. Correlation does not always signify causation, but the fact has led some to argue that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. Be that as it may, the death penalty should be used in matters of crimes against humanity. People who are responsible for genocide cannot be allowed to live because they have a global impact. They influence what is deemed permittable across nations and time. As such, the heinous acts they commit, which are known to be theirs beyond all doubt due to the scale, must be punished for the sake of mankind’s collective well-being. Genocide is a crime that affects all of humanity socially, psychologically and morally. The United States stands as one of 58 nations, the majority of which are in the Middle East and Asia, that continue to utilize capital punishment, according to the DPIC. Nearly all of Europe has abolished the death penalty in law or practice, as have Canada and Australia. The U.S. is a sovereign nation that is not required to align its laws to those of other nations. That said, the decision of nations similar to the U.S. in cultural values and customs should be cause for consideration. What of the costs of the death penalty? A study published by Seattle University on Jan. 1, 2015, found, “it costs more than $1 million on average to seek the death penalty in a given case than to seek life without possibility of parole.” The total average costs of the death penalty to the judicial system are about 1.4 to 1.5 times more expensive than cases originally seeking life without parole sentences. The difference in costs is shocking. One might expect the reverse to be true, as inmates with life sentences must be housed for far longer. Nevertheless, in the examination of 147 cases of aggravated-first degree murder, the study found that the cumulative costs of Death Penalty Sought cases exceed those of Death Penalty Not Sought cases. Factors used to calculate the figures included average jail costs, average defense costs, average trial level prosecution costs and court, police/sheriff and miscellaneous costs. It is important to note that the study exclusively examined cases that were death-penalty eligible. The possibility of sentences was limited to capital punishment or life without parole, so the cost comparison is not invalidated by including other, less expensive sentences. As a whole, the study shows that the death penalty is not cost effective. Some have argued if the auxiliary costs of DPS cases were instead directed to law enforcement agencies, police departments could use the additional funding to take preventative measures. Although $1 million seems to be a notable figure, dispersing it among law enforcement agencies across the state would dilute its potency. For the money to be effectively reallocated, it would have to be distributed among the areas of greatest need. In practical terms, the death penalty is simply not effective. It has not been proven to act as a significant deterrent to violent crimes and, surprisingly, life without parole is less expensive than the death penalty, at least in cases of aggravated first-degree murder. Some criminals may deserve to die for their actions, but the death penalty cannot be ethically practiced by imperfect humans. In a moral and civilized society, the risk of error must overrule the desire for revenge or justice. Ideally, the death penalty could be refined to perfection, so only crimes against humanity wherein guilt is beyond any doubt would perpetrators  receive capital punishment. New technology can and has improved the credibility of evidence, and is leading towards a future in which certainty of guilt may be a possibility. At the moment, such is not yet the reality. Until that time, the abolishment of the death penalty in civil cases is the most sensible and conscientious conclusion.

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

Editorial: IN THE LOOP Gender-neutral bathrooms should not cause shame

Originally, Student Life was adding gender-neutral bathrooms. It’s now calling them private bathrooms. The terms have the same meanings, but different implications. It’s a shame that the “gender-neutral” implications have caused pause.At Illinois State University, “all-gender” signs replaced the “family” ones. No change at all was made to the functions of the bathrooms, according to a July 2014 article from videtteonline.com. The idea was that it wouldn’t make any difference to anyone but the people it affected positively, like the transgender community. This is how the Whitworth “private” bathroom situation should be approached. It makes sense because Whitworth is a private Christian university. The problems the bathrooms (specifically the vocabulary) could cause could outweigh the number of people it would benefit. However, this is no reason for Student Life and anyone else involved to shy away from the reason for implementing the changes. It’s important to remember that gender-neutral bathrooms are not just for transgender students. Anyone can use them. Since they function as private bathrooms, they also benefit families and disabled people. Or, really, anyone who wants a little more privacy. The safety of transgender students is also a factor. Physical or emotional harassment is always a possible danger for transgender people, especially in bathrooms where confrontation is easy. No matter what they’ll be called, the fact remains that Whitworth will soon have lockable bathrooms to accommodate anyone who was previously uncomfortable. Hopefully, Student Life will follow through on this commitment to private bathrooms soon.

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.

The Whitworthian Goes Global

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Three Pirates share their thoughts on how their education has been different since they started studying abroad.

Alyssa  Brooks

Location: British Isles

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Studying on the Whitworth British Isles Semester Program happens to be similar to a “choose your own adventure” experience. My education in the classroom varies drastically from my education while abroad. Each day I explore a foreign place and interact with people I may never see again. I transition between traipsing around old ruins of a Norman castle to roaming from room to room of a modern art exhibit. My education looks more like a constant tour with breaks where I am turned loose upon the unknown and told to choose what I want to explore, to learn about or whatever catches my eye. It is experiential in the extreme. I spend every minute experiencing a different culture than that of my origin and I must be observant to fully appreciate it. It requires a different discipline than typical classroom learning to experience and observe and then effectively process my experience and what it means to me. Lectures run for no more 30 minutes at most on any given day, yet education occurs constantly.

Max   Carter

Location: New Zealand

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Thus far, my educational experience in New Zealand has been highlighted not by time in the classroom, but by time with people and culture. I have made countless friends here in just two short weeks, both Kiwis and fellow Americans. The time that I have spent with them has yielded so much growth for my “self.” It is hard to put into words the value of spending time abroad. The culture here in NZ is similar to the culture in the States in many ways. People here are friendly, busy, educated. This trip has pushed me to my limits, teaching me to have patience when things don’t necessarily go my way. As far as classroom education, it is quite different here. Most classes are strongly lecture based, with a couple of papers and one test per semester. Perhaps it is just due to the larger size of Massey University, but classes are also less personal and hands-on than at Whitworth. I have only been in class for one week here, so I’m sure I will learn more, but our requirements and assignments are also a bit less clear than at Whitworth. For now, I’m just enjoying my experiences and drinking it all in here in the land of the Kiwi.

Jessica  Razanadrakoto

Location: Semester at Sea

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It’s been four years now that my education has changed since leaving Madagascar for a better education in the United States. My education started in a classroom with small, hard wooden benches with a black board and chalk. I used to write down my lessons in my small colorful notebooks because we didn’t have the access or the means to buy books or a TI-84 for each student. Now that I am studying abroad with Semester at Sea, my education has changed even more from having an inland campus to studying on a ship in the middle of the ocean and continuing my learning experience in every country we visit. So far we have visited Hawaii, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore and still have  Burma or Myanmar, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Morocco and England left to explore. Every port we have visited has been a new learning experience. I have come to educate myself through  talking to the local people around me in each country and embracing the culture through religion, food and music rather than taking notes in my old notebook in my old classroom.

 

End-of-life care should be left to individual choice

Physician-assisted suicide is a controversial subject with a staggering amount of ethical, moral and legal concerns revolving around it. Determining what stance to take is made especially difficult considering religious and secular arguments are made from both sides of the issue. Currently only three states—Oregon, Washington and Vermont—have laws permitting physician-assisted suicide, according to the Death With Dignity National Center.As Whitworth is a Christian university, perhaps it is best to delve into the Christian perspectives first. Christians opposed to physician-assisted suicide may cite verses as proof that the Bible condemns all suicide as sin. One such example is 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” The question for some Christians is in the interpretation and application of such verses. The message that ending one’s life before its natural end is sacrilegious seems clear. However, a person with a terminal illness or other condition that is guaranteed to end his or her life prematurely is already facing a natural death. Is it a sin then to forego the painful last days in turn for a death of peace and dignity? Answering questions about physician-assisted suicide from a Christian standpoint is naturally very difficult because so much depends on personal interpretation. What, then, can be said about the ethics of physician-assisted suicide? The most recent and perhaps most publicized case of physician-assisted suicide occurred several months ago in Oregon, when Brittany Maynard wrote an open letter about why she was choosing to use physician-assisted suicide. “There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die. I want to live,” Maynard said in an interview discussing her choice. “I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not... My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying...I believe this choice is ethical, and what makes it ethical is it is a choice. The patient can change their mind up to the last minute.” Maynard stated the key to the ethical debate of physician-assisted suicide: it is ethical because it is a choice. It will never be forced upon someone. Additionally, hospitals and physicians cannot be required to provide end of life care, according to the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA). Choice is a vital element of the ethics of physician-assisted suicide, however, it is equally true that the act itself is the end of all choices. A misconception about physician-assisted suicide is that it would increase suicide rates because the state would suddenly be making suicide more easily accessible. According to Washington’s Department of Health, adults seeking to end their lives through the Death with Dignity Act must be “terminally ill patients . . . who have less than six months to live.” Other failsafes include mental health evaluations to ensure that a patient interested in end of life care is of a sound mind, according to WSHA’s End of Life Care Manual. Furthermore, patients must request physician-assisted suicide three set times over the course of several weeks as part of the process. As a final check, all eligibility requirements must be verified by two physicians. Following the same topic, one concern that involves ethical, moral and logistic considerations is timing. What if a cure is discovered the day after a person chooses to end his or her life? The thought can  make one pause. However, such an event is highly improbable. Cures take time to develop, and more importantly, a patient who is eligible for prescribed lethal medication is, in all likelihood, past the point where a cure could reverse the illness. All of these concerns are important, and that is why the legislation restricting eligibility for physician-assisted suicide is intended to address them. The restrictive eligibility requirements also preserve the cumulative sense of the sanctity of life. Doctor-assisted suicide cannot be made freely available under the ideals of free choice because the value of life must be preserved for the well-being of society. Life is sacred, and making doctor-assisted suicide readily available would be unethical and destructive to the mental health of the collective American psyche. In the legal arena, physician-assisted suicide has been tested time and again since it first became active in Oregon in 1997. The greatest trial for Death with Dignity was the case of Gonzales v. Oregon, wherein the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in 2006 that Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act is constitutional, according to the Death with Dignity National Center. The court’s decision provides a definitive answer to the question of whether or not physician-assisted suicide is legal. Society must balance freedom of choice with responsibility. It must collectively decide what actions belong to each individual and what actions are taboo because their permittance is too harmful to the well-being of society. Suicide is, by traditional western standards, taboo because of the toll it can take on others and other cultural issues. Physician-assisted suicide is different. Life is precious, but what makes it worth living is the experiences—physical, spiritual or otherwise. I do not advocate suicide as a solution for any situation, far from it, but I do believe that it is up to individual choice—checked by personal beliefs, family, friends and legislative guards—to decide if the final stages of a terminal illness are personally worth experiencing. There should always be choice.

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

Free health care should be utilized by students

It’s safe to assume that a majority of students at Whitworth are between the ages of 18 and 24 and that they are covered by their parents’ health care plans or their parents have set up health care coverage for them for the duration of their college years. But what about the rest of the students who are not covered by their parents’ plan or whose parents do not have the resources to cover the cost of insurance? Scan 3

  Whitworth no longer provides insurance for students, nor makes it mandatory due to a host of reasons, such as the extravagant cost as well as forcing students to pay, even those who could not afford it, upwards of $2,000 dollars for coverage. While that is beneficial in regard to costs and maintaining students at Whitworth, not requiring health care coverage of some kind puts many students at risk and can cost them more money over the long run. A broken arm, which is covered by virtually all health insurance plans, can cost about $2,000 without insurance. If a person get sick, which most people do, and they need to see a doctor, a visit can cost upwards of $500. Add the price of antibiotics, which can be anywhere from $30 to $800 and you’re nearly at the cost of a year of health insurance without any government grants or assistance. Luckily, there are ways to reduce your cost of health insurance so you don’t end up saddled with more debt beyond student loans. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed in 2010, provides lower cost insurance for all Americans and even free insurance for those who qualify. While the PPACA has been demonised and ridiculed, it has provided relief for millions of Americans who could not have otherwise afforded health insurance and have had their health deteriorate because they did not have access to proper health care. Quite possibly the greatest thing about the PPACA is that many college students qualify for free or very low cost health insurance. Due to students’ low or virtually non-existent incomes, the PPACA allows for college students and others with low incomes to have health care coverage. Having health care coverage and reducing the cost of health care are not the only incentives to get insured, it also prevents you from getting penalized on your tax return. The penalty is either 2 percent of your total annual income or $325, whichever is higher. In the long run, having health insurance either through the Healthcare Marketplace, where you can find a wide variety of health care plans, or through your own research, saves you a great deal of money, time and grief. For more information about getting insured, visit www.healthcare.gov.

Shelby Harding

Guest Columnist

Contact Shelby Harding at sharding15@my.whitworth.edu

Charter schools offer change to traditional education

The introduction of charter schools to Washington has been accompanied by excitement, nervousness and above all, curiosity. Charter schools have great potential to positively influence public education in the state. However, some naysayers are less than optimistic.Since charter schools were approved to be introduced to Washington as recently as 2012, many are unsure of the differences between a charter school and a traditional public school. In most ways, the two are quite similar.

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According to the Washington State Charter School Commission (WSCSC), both are non-religious, non-sectarian public schools that are funded by local, state and federal taxes, the amount of which is based on student enrollment. They are open to all students free of tuition. The primary difference between a charter school and a traditional public school is that charter schools possess a greater flexibility in how they choose to teach students. “Charter schools commit to meeting specific academic goals set by the Commission, but are free to make their own decisions about how to achieve those goals...they are free to develop their own academic program, choose staff, set educational goals, offer a longer school day and school year and establish their own standards for student behavior,” according to the WSCSC. Although the thinking behind charter schools sounds admirable, charter schools have produced different sentiments around the country. One question that has been raised is that of independence. Does greater autonomy result in innovation? Or a lack of accountability? It’s a valid question, but charter schools have a strong incentive to perform well. If they do not perform at an acceptable level over the next five years, Washington’s legislature will not sanction additional charter schools to be built. These forerunners’ long-term survival depends on their tactics’ success. There are also questions concerning quality. Some charter schools have been held up as some of the finest examples of American education while others have been labeled as false hopes, providing an education no better than traditional public schools. In a testimony before the Senate Education Committee, Ted Kirsch, president of the American Teacher Federation in Pennsylvania, said, “The most comprehensive study of charter schools in the nation found that only 17 percent of charter school students showed gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter students performed worse than comparable children in public schools.” The study was conducted by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes of Stanford University, which evaluated charter schools in 16 states. As damning as the findings seem, one must remember that Washington is the 42nd state to approve charter schools. Adopting public charter schools decades after other states allows Washington to learn from the flaws, unforeseen or purposefully exploited, of its predecessors and ensure that Washington’s charter schools operate to their full potential. Spokane is among one of the first cities in the state to introduce a charter school into its community. Spokane International Academy will open its doors for the first time this fall, and will cater to kindergarten, first grade and sixth grade students. Dr. Stacy Hill, the board secretary of Spokane International Academy (SIA), spoke with The Whitworthian about the school. Dr. Hill emphasized that her comments were based on Spokane International Academy—not all charter schools in Washington—because each charter school can have a different framework. SIA’s focus is on global competency and expanding world views, which is made immediately apparent by its location. It is situated near a population of refugee families, Hill said, and will be catering to many English Language Learner (ELL) students, potentially coming from low-income homes (the exact demographics of students are not known ahead of time to prevent to prevent any discrimination). Although it is currently only able to offer services for three grades, the academy hopes to expand to accommodate grades K-8. One of the long term goals for SIA is to eventually create an international study abroad program for its eighth grade students, as a final emphasis on the school’s mission statement. Such programs are practically unheard of in traditional schools, yet SIA is able to consider this dream an attainable possibility because of its independence as a charter school. Herein lies the importance of charter schools to all of Washington education. Because they are not governed by the State Board of Education, charter schools can break away from traditional methods and structures of public schools, and test new programs, frameworks and methods. If such methods prove effective, they may one day be mainstreamed. SIA has a longer school day than other schools in the district, Hill said, and routine, dedicated time for teacher collaboration each week. This allows for teachers to have a regular time to discuss how they can continue to improve teaching in the classroom. One hope for charter schools is that their ability to test new methods will result in more effective learning environments for ELLs and other students with unique needs. Effective teachers at every school try to adapt their strategies to best meet the needs of their special need students. However, charter schools aim to adapt in a more cohesive manner to each student’s needs to provide the best education possible, instead of leaving it to a single teacher’s industriousness. Charter schools have the potential to do a lot of good in local communities. More than that, they have the potential to significantly impact the state’s education system for the better. Given time, charter schools have the capability to develop exciting improvements to teaching methods and school structure. The next five years will be filled with excitement as Washington education considers new directions.

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

American education system needs work beyond standard curriculum

One of the greatest critiques of American public education is that it fails to adequately prepare American students to compete on a global scale. However, even as there are those who consider education reform a pressing issue, others assert that the education system doesn’t need any major reforms because the true source of trouble lies elsewhere. This brings us to the topic of educational standards, or more specifically, the question: will changing standards really help improve the American education system?

The answer is no. Some attribute the struggles of current education to previous or new standards. They are mistaken. These issues have existed for some time, and the true solution lies not in nationalizing curriculum standards.

“American education needs to be fixed, but national standards and testing are not the way to do it. The problems that need fixing are too deeply ingrained in the power and incentive structure of the public education system, and the renewed focus on national standards threatens to distract from the fundamental issues,” wrote Lindsey Burke and Jennifer Marshall in a 2010 article for the Heritage Foundation.

There are two key elements that need to be addressed.

One of these fundamental issues is that knowing the answer has become more important than learning the processes that were used to find it. Learning has become secondary to competition—between schools for funding and students for becoming “successful.” Students need to understand what and, equally important, why they’re learning so that they can master it. Because once mastered, they can innovate—they can create new techniques, processes and ideas in that area and develop as individuals as well as scholars.

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An accompanying critique is that of lasting student dependency. Learning relies heavily on the thoughts and knowledge of others, that is inescapable fact. All current academic knowledge is based on what our predecessors have discovered. However, in the current system, students’ thinking has become lastingly dependent on others. Learning is suppose to prepare individuals for independent thinking, so that they can continue to problem solve, even in new scenarios. The earlier innovative thinking is cultivated, the better.

Pasi Sahlberg, a well known Finnish education expert, said that the question the U.S. should be asking is not, “What will help students succeed in today’s economy,” but rather, “What will make them be lifelong learners?” (as cited by Linda Borg of the Providence Journal).

While this is certainly an area that needs to be addressed, it may not be as widespread as one may fear. A survey conducted by The Whitworthian found that of the 276 respondents, only 24 percent reported that their high schools’ learning methods emphasized memorization over comprehension of concepts and their out-of-class applications. The small and isolated pool may not accurately represent national and state averages, but one can hope that in most regions the majority of students experience a focus on comprehension and application.

This problem is one that must be addressed in the classroom. It is connected to the teaching methods districts and educators employ: how they teach, not what curriculum they are required to teach. Standards cannot dictate what aspects of learning teachers choose to emphasize on a day to day basis, even if they try to, because a level of teacher autonomy will always be retained. What aspects of schooling are emphasized as the most important is up to their efforts and methods. The solution to this problem, and something that Whitworth can supply, is more qualified educators.

Whitworth Speaks Out

So why all the fuss about fixing American educational standards? One of the most consistently cited indicators of the poor quality of American education is its ranking on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), “a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students,” according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The 2012 PISA (the most recently published) reported America to be below average in mathematics and close to average in reading and science, according to OECD.

This brings us to the second, and more significant of the two, fundamental issue for improving American education.

State standards, teachers and students have all been blamed as part of the apparently poor state of American education. Finland is often cited as an ideal model for America to emulate, said scholastic writer Wayne D’Orio, as it consistently ranks at the top of the global scoreboard. However, the cause of America’s global ranking has been tied to another culprit, one that would also shed new light on the accuracy of the ranking.

David Berliner, the Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Education at Arizona State University, has authored and co-authored many studies and books addressing various aspects of education. He argues that the reason America has scored poorly on the PISA is because of the achievement gap in U.S. schools. Poverty, not the quality of teachers or the curriculum, is the cause of low global scores.

“American schools with fewer than 10 percent of students in poverty score higher than any country in the world. It continues from there: Schools under 24.9 percent rank third in the world and schools from 25 percent to 49.9 percent rank tenth and still above the PISA and the U.S. averages. . . 50 to 74.9 percent of students in poverty score low; schools with over 75 percent of students in poverty have reading scores so low they outrank only Mexico,” wrote Malcolm Terence of the California Federation of Teachers, citing data from Berliner’s research. The most significant factor to student achievement is poverty. If such data is accurate, standardizing education will not change how America scores globally because it is not addressing the root of the problem.

Poverty is an eternal struggle, and is itself a consequence of other factors. It likely will never be eradicated on this earth, but it can and should be fought, especially when concerning education. If America is to develop intellectually and humanitarianly as a society, improving the lives of impoverished students needs to be prioritized so that the bottom line of student achievement can be raised. Education is a hand up, not a hand out.

 

Matthew Boardman

Columnist

Contact Matthew Boardman at mboardman18@my.whitworth.edu

Editorial: IN THE LOOP What we should learn from Brian Williams

Honesty and the truth sometimes are not as appealing as making a great story and being the center of attention. This is exactly what happened to Brian Williams, the now suspended anchor of NBC Nightly News. He embellished stories of what had happened to him when he was on assignment reporting in Iraq, stating that the helicopter he was riding in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. In reality, the helicopter was never hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Perhaps he thought by telling this story, he could relate to America’s military families better, draw them in and emotionally connect with them. Or maybe it was a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as Yahoo! and other sites have speculated. Perchance it was, as one New Yorker article hypothesized, a case of a God-complex. Williams was a highly respected, renowned journalist who rose to his helm at NBC Nightly News quickly. With Williams being a man of high stature and status in the world of journalism, a God-complex essentially states that he would do anything to maintain that status. He must have felt powerful with his highly-inflated ego and impressive resume. In order to keep his status as that top-tier journalist, he needed a good story.

Regardless of the reasons for misleading millions about the truth of the story, a journalist needs to maintain his or her integrity. The foundations of true journalism are honesty and knowing when to apologize. For 12 years, Williams continued to tell the story until someone took the time to fact check it. Even if a journalist is telling a story he experienced himself, he should take the time to fact check. A formerly revered journalist fell from grace because of a misstep in telling the truth. Not only did his career become tarnished from this incident, but his lack of honesty and integrity tainted the entire profession of journalism and the media as a whole. For an industry already struggling to gain the trust of its viewers, readers and listeners, Williams took the industry back several steps.

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.

Diversity needs work in Hollywood

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Academy Award nominations for 2014 did not include a single acting nominee that was a person of color. There were only two people of color nominated, both for Selma in the categories of Best Picture and Best Original Song. This feels like an incredibly important time for Hollywood to emphasize its commitment to diversity and yet it falls short on that effort. They have gone backward in their efforts.

We live in a time that has been heralded as a “post-racial society.” However recent national political events and the current state of our media have proven that we still have significant strides to make towards true equality. Hollywood represents an area of concern as well as areas of opportunity that could be used to further progress. “We, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative,” David Oyelowo said during an appearance at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Holywood Diversity

I am not sure I would go as far as Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the recent box office hit Selma. Although, looking at the recent trends, there appear to be a lot more characters in those positions that have nominations and wins; Octavia Spencer in The Help  and Lupita N’yongo in 12 Years a Slave as examples.

Hollywood has a diversity problem. The recent 21st annual “Hollywood Issue” of Vanity Fair is known to represent the big Hollywood actors and actresses of the year; they often choose a diverse range of actors regardless of nomination status. However, this year, they featured only two actors of color, including Oyelowo. It is important to note that the television industry has made significant strides in the area of representation. There are numerous examples of men and women of color on television in positions of power and influence. People of color are being shown as lawyers, doctors and other professionals.

The TV show Blackish features African American leads and a mostly African American cast. Broadcast comedy and drama casts are much more racially diverse than film casts according to 2014 diversity report created by the Ralph J. Bunch Center for African American Studies at UCLA. Empire has become a runaway hit featuring a mostly African American cast, proving that, contrary to popular belief, both white and black people will watch a show even if it has mostly black people in it. Also proving that black people can carry a television show and it can be profitable.

At the same time, movies like Selma and 12 Years a Slave have proven to be box office successes but Hollywood still struggles to increase diversity both in front of and behind the camera. “The idea that there is a necessary trade-off between diversity and excellence has enabled the status quo,” according to the 2014 diversity report. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was quickly trending after the Oscar nominations came out and the incredibly dearth of diversity was noted.  The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, was quick to highlight the Best Picture nod accorded to Selma.

“What is important not to lose sight of is that Selma, which is a fantastic motion picture, was nominated for best picture this year, and the best picture category is voted on by the entire membership of around 7,000 people,” Boone Isaacs said.

It is important to note that these decisions are made by the academy, who are predominantly made up of white men. In 2013, the L.A. Times discovered that the academy was 93 percent white and 76 percent male. This begs the question, how much are member demographics affecting what accolades are given during award season? And how long are we willing to stand for such a lack of recognition for talent because of skin color?

The Best Picture nomination is incredibly significant, but for only two people of color to be nominated for awards seems like a grave misstep in a time where the area of race is turbulent in America. We would do well to encourage more diversity within the academy as well as speak with our dollars and watch movies that uplift cultures that are not in the majority.

Whitney Carter

Opinions Editor

Contact Whitney Carter at wcarter16@my.whitworth.edu

Editorial: IN THE LOOP What we should learn from Alex Sengoba

The Whitworth community has been reeling since learning of Alex Sengoba’s apparent suicide. The last suicide on campus occurred in 1990, and it’s as shocking now as it was then. One of the only things we as a community can do in a time like this is to remember Alex fondly and to learn to be more aware. As confused as we are right now, we can and should learn from the tragedy.

Alex taught us that to be a friend is to listen. At his memorial service, alumnus and friend Jack Dunbar shared about his friendship with Alex when he was first at Whitworth. “I could sit down with Alex for a whole breakfast and not hear a word about him,” Dunbar said. “He was committed to being a friend to people.”

We are ever reminded of the wonderful community we are part of. Whitworth students who had never been friends with Alex, who had never so much as met him, cried at his memorial service. They wrote notes to his family and prayed for his friends. It is not only the people closest to him that grieve, but the Whitworth community as a whole.

Alex reminded us that we never know the full story. Although Alex suffered internally, everyone who spoke at the memorial service commented on Alex’s brilliant, ever-present smile.

As a community and as individuals, we need to be aware of the people around us. Too often we become caught up in our own problems and struggles that we do not consider those of another.

Even the happiest, brightest person we know may be suffering. Students gets six free sessions at the counseling center. Please utilize this valuable resource if you are struggling. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or having suicidal thoughts, please take advantage of these resources:

Whitworth Health and Counseling Center

Phone: (509) 777-4450

Suicide Prevention Hotline

Local: (509) 838-4428

National: 1-800-273-TALK

 

Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.

 

Marriage should not be policed by government

Marriage has existed in various forms in major and minor religions and cultures across the world. The historical motives for marriage are a diverse and sometimes atrociously depreciating account. But what exactly makes two individuals married? Is it a religious ceremony, personal feelings or a legal certificate? Swag

Prior to the 1184 Council of Verona, “marriage vows did not have to be exchanged in a church, nor was a priest’s presence required,” Shannon McSheffrey, associate professor of history at Concordia University, said. “A couple could exchange consent anywhere, anytime.”

People could marry simply by demonstration, agreeing to be and acting as a married couple. The religious ceremony serves to hold the couple together, both in their own eyes, the eyes of God and the eyes of the public. The ceremony is important, but that it should be the deciding attestation is fundamentally wrong. To argue that marriage—the affirmation of love—is legitimate only after a religious ceremony has taken place is to diminish the significance and gravity of love on a personal level, which is the root of modern marriage.

Conversely, the government does not legally recognize marriage if the civil element is omitted from the religious ceremony. Some have argued that the government has no right to regulate marriage because they consider it to be an extension of religion. However, placing marriage universally under government or religious regulation depreciates the importance of the individual in the act of marriage. Neither the government nor religion should have the authority to regulate the deepest emotions and relationships of private persons. Marriage must be freed from regulations and laws of the government in favor of acknowledging the individual rights and personal sovereignty of the parties involved in the marriage.

David Boaz, executive president of the Cato Institute, is a supporter of the privatization of marriage. In an article published in Slate Magazine, he asked, “Why should anyone have—or need to have—state sanction for a private relationship?”

His question is key to the argument of those who believe that marriage is, before all else, a private, personal relationship. In place of government regulated civil documents, he calls for privatizing marriage in a similar way to private businesses. The civil element would be replaced by a personalized contract, wherein the couple would define their relationship and its implications. “Contract” is an ugly word, but it is merely terminology. Marriage would remain marriage, both in function and name.

In terms of functionality, marriage would retain the financial and legal strength it currently holds. The personalized contracts would possess the same legal weight as contracts in the business world, any disputes of which could be brought before a court of law.

Marriage is a private union between private persons, and should be treated as such. Privatizing marriage would not devalue its significance and beauty or its function—it would promote both individual and religious freedom for all and remain the ultimate public symbol of love. Let those who desire a religious ceremony seek it out and those who don’t will have no need. Homosexuals will not be reduced to a “civil union” in place of marriage, without the government infringing on religious freedom by requiring opposed churches to officiate same-sex marriages—churches, synagogues and temples could create their parameters for the marriage contracts they would bless. Marriage has become the strongest declaration of love and the right to make that demonstration belongs to everyone.