Editorials

Flickr Image by Sarah Buckley

It is difficult to be happy at Emory. I recognize that I am extremely privileged to be a student here, and in no way do I intend to undervalue the education I am receiving, the faculty and staff who work hard to make this university better and those individuals who are impacting the Emory community in a positive way. All of these things are what will make Emory an even better academic institution in the future. But the truth of the matter is, for students to be happy at Emory, many different factors must align.

The first factor is the desire to attend Emory. Often when I ask why people chose Emory, the response is that they didn’t get into their top choice college. Many of these are Ivy League institutions, leading to the half-joking, half-serious labeling of Emory students as “Ivy League rejects.” For some, Emory was even a “safety school,” or a school that they applied to knowing they would be accepted. Many students did not desire Emory as their first choice, and a number of them are not happy to be here.

A second problem is that Emory builds a reputation among students as a school that takes other universities’ rejected applicants. This is unfair to the University as an academic institution, which is on par with and in some areas — such as biology and creative writing — outperforms schools with a higher ranking. Emory deserves to be recognized for its academic merits, and the faculty here deserve credit for the work they do to make Emory the way it is.

Of course I am not saying that all students who choose to attend Emory wanted to attend another university instead, and for those students whose first choice was Emory, I applaud their ability to see beyond names of other universities and choose an institution based on its own merits and one that suits their needs. My concern is only that if students who attend Emory continue to perpetuate this idea of Emory as subpar, a cycle of unhappiness will develop among the students here.

The second major factor that contributes to a student’s happiness at Emory is the financial security to support their education, whether they are able to pay or receive aid. Emory offers few merit-based scholarships outside of the Scholars Program.

For many of the students I have spoken with, financial aid is not as good as they would like it to be. Understandably, the level of financial aid that Emory can provide is not the same as that of state schools because it is a private institution, but increasing the number of merit-based scholarships would help attract students to Emory and make them far happier. It is stressful to have to think about affording tuition, housing and books on top of living expenses all while being a student. For some, the post-graduation years will be filled with paying back student loans that will, in some cases, be more than a few years of their starting salary. Money is always a source of stress, and the stress that finances cause on Emory students is another reason why the happiness of some students might be limited.

The third major limiting factor to happiness at Emory is one’s choice of major or area of study. It is no secret that the stereotypical Emory student is on a pre-med or pre-business track. The stigma against humanities and social sciences majors is a topic for another editorial, but what many students don’t realize is that their choice of major could be limiting their happiness. To Emory’s credit, there has been a strong push to increase promote areas of study in the arts departments, especially theatre, and actively advance these relatively small programs.

However, if you find yourself in a medium-sized department that is just big enough for the University to declare as successful but small enough that it is overlooked for funding and publicity, it can be difficult to feel as though you are getting the same amount of attention as larger departments like biology and chemistry. For students in these areas it may be difficult to find classes that are relevant to their major or interests due to a lack of available professors to teach these courses.

Enrollment is stressful for every Emory student, but for students who only have one or two courses being offered per semester that can count toward their major, the period before enrollment can be even worse. Planning a course load for one of these medium-sized majors can be worse than trying to enroll in a class for one of the more popular majors, because there is a severe lack of substitute courses that could be taken in their place. This in turn makes it difficult, in some cases, to satisfy general education requirements.

Aside from the three factors I’ve mentioned, there is another social factor that influences happiness here: an overwhelming desire to prove oneself in the context of Emory. As I’ve mentioned, many Emory students had dreams of attending other universities. I believe that many of the students here at Emory would be successful at Ivy League institutions and that the same traits that would allow them to be successful there are driving them to create an environment that is highly stressful.

Earning an A in every class is a difficulty for some students due to personal pressure, familial pressure or future career goals, yet it is an expectation that they set for themselves. They are then forced to make up the difference. If they earn lower grades than other students, they participate in extracurricular activities.

Instead of treating school like their full time job, students take on other commitments in order to make the best of their time at Emory, or perhaps to “make up” for not attending an Ivy League school, or even to get the most out of the large amounts of debt they are accumulating in order to be here. The unhappiness felt as a result of the three previous factors not being fulfilled causes some students at Emory to mentally compensate for their attendance here.

Students often have this mindset so ingrained that they hardly notice it, which I feel poses a risk to the University. By identifying Emory’s three basic determinants of happiness and addressing the concerns of students struggling in these areas, the University can foster an environment in which students are less stressed and more reflective of the academic level that Emory has achieved.

Alli Buettner is a College junior from St. Louis, Missouri.

Flickr Image by DonkeyHotey

Whether he’s debating fellow Republicans on Fox News or delivering speeches in early voting states, Donald Trump has proved himself to be an unstoppable fool who suffers from verbal diarrhea every time he opens his gigantic mouth. His policies on immigration, foreign affairs and women’s rights are so ridiculous that they’re almost laughable. In fact, when he announced his candidacy a few months ago, I thought it was a joke. Yet despite such weak leadership skills and absolutely no political experience, Trump has somehow managed to win the straw poll with a 52 percent vote in his favor.

His campaign has almost inspired me to run for President in a few years, because if he can do it, surely anyone can. The real question, though, is who will actually vote for him if he succeeds in becoming a candidate for the presidential election? Let’s go through the list of all of the people he has recently insulted and then figure out who is left unoffended to support him.

Mexicans: After outlining a detailed immigration policy, Trump made it clear that he is a borderline racist with ridiculous plans to “protect” the American people against the bad guys. Okay, so who is bad? According to Trump, the Mexicans are because most of them — but not all of them — are rapists, drug lords and murderers. In his policy, Trump paints an image of a Mexican-financed wall that spans the entire Mexican-American border because “that’s fair.”

Second on the immigration docket is the deportation of all 11 million illegal immigrants and their children. But what if their children were born in the United States? Trump doesn’t care; he wants them deported, too. But hey, at least they will all be deported as a family, right? Wrong! While the parents should not be able to reap the benefits of reproducing in America, the children should not be deported for their parents’ crimes. Trump needs to propose a less extreme and a more humane way to change the legal status of the people who are here seeking better lives.

Women: In addition to being a grade-A racist, Trump is also a complete misogynist. After calling Megyn Kelly, one of the nation’s most well-known and respected political commentators, a bimbo, he lost the respect and support of Fox News and women everywhere. In Trump’s defense, he only called Kelly a bimbo because he assumed she may have been menstruating when she asked why he calls women he dislikes “fat pigs,” “disgusting animals” and “slobs.”  His joke of a clarification on Twitter reads: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever (NOSE).” Nice save. Why any woman would vote for him is beyond me.

Democrats: Campaigning typically involves poking holes in the opposing party’s policies and beliefs, but Trump, as always, took this tradition a little too far. Ever since his presidential announcement and up until last week, Trump has managed to call out basically every Democrat in office. After Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton called him a racist for his foolish immigration policy, Trump fired back and posted this to his Facebook page: “She is desperate, she is sad, and she is obviously very nervous.”

Great comeback, Trump! He also retweeted this from one Twitter user: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” After mopping the floor with Clinton, he moved onto Vietnam War veteran Senator John McCain, who isn’t even a Democrat. He said: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” First of all, Trump wouldn’t last thirty seconds as a prisoner of war, so he isn’t really qualified to judge a war veteran’s bravery. The uncontrollable insult-hurling continued when he said of McCain: “yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job.” This comment sounds pretty hypocritical coming from a man who stars in a reality television show.

Lastly in the Democratic roast, Trump criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran. While there certainly are major flaws in the proposed deal, Trump’s condemnation of Kerry’s negotiating skills is absurd, especially because Trump’s idea of a negotiation is to “say this is what we want and if he doesn’t get it, he’s got to walk.” Okay, that’s not the worst remark he’s ever uttered, but that’s not a negotiation, that’s a demand.

Republicans: After he had exhausted the subject of Democrats, Trump moved on to his own party, attacking every candidate running, which is odd because, well, Republicans just don’t do that. In just three months, he has called Jeb Bush weak, John McCain stupid, Scott Walker incompetent, John Kasich desperate, Rick Perry hypocritical, Marco Rubio cowardly and Mitt Romney “a frozen jellyfish,” whatever that means. I wonder what all of these people would say about him if they had to narrow it to one word.

Trump, loudmouth extraordinaire, compensates for his lack of experience and intelligence with his bold statements, and at this point in the campaign, he has offended so many groups of people that the only ones left to vote for him are the super-rich.

Jessica Cherner is a College senior from Bethesda, Maryland.

Illustration by Lydia O'Neal, News Editor
Illustration by Lydia O'Neal, News Editor
Illustration by Lydia O’Neal, News Editor

 

A few months ago, I started an initiative titled “The Prism Project.” Through it, I hoped to shed light on the downfalls of the present-day education system with personal, first-hand stories of students who grew up experiencing the system.

At first, things moved slowly. I received a few stories about backstabbing for the sake of grades and class rank and some submissions about rampant cheating and academic dishonesty.

And then came a series of posts that tore me to pieces. I created this outlet to understand and share what may be going wrong inside and outside of schools, but what I discovered was something much, much worse.

“In the fall, I started my college career at one of [America’s] top schools,” one submission stated. “And I thrived up until winter came. I was very engaged in all of my classes and finished fall semester with a 4.0. I couldn’t believe it — a perfect GPA at such a hard, demanding school.

“Well winter came. And I finally broke under 16 years of academic stress … I went off the deep end. I went from being the perfect child to being a drunk, a hard drug addict, a literal whore for money and an academic failure headed for a 2.1 GPA this semester with two failed classes.”

This post terrified me because the system we have created is one where a “breaking point” is possible, even inevitable. A breaking point that takes a strong, intelligent and determined individual and turns him into one who can barely recognize himself.

So, I decided to do some research. There is no way that this is a widespread problem, I told myself. I was wrong.

A simple Google search yields dozens and dozens of articles. “Student burnout” is the name given to the phenomenon — the tendency for modern day students to feel overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands thrown onto them by their educational environments.

Student burnout has become such a common problem that many universities have academic support and counseling centers that focus on treating its symptoms, some of which include: long term fatigue, intellectual exhaustion, inability to learn or retain additional information, unwillingness to study further and an overall decline in academic performance.

But why? Why does this happen in such large numbers? And why is this something that is relatively new to the world of education?

Year after year of endless work and expectations are followed by busy summers that are no less stressful than the months that preceded them. Middle school was about creating a foundation for high school. High school was about doing as much as possible to impress colleges. And, for the vast majority of us, college is a repeat of all of these things.

Now, what does this say about the education system we are in? And what can we do to change it?

We are forced to watch as the modern-day education system desperately attempts to win what’s become a cutthroat arms race against the “good, better and best.” We push ourselves to get that 4.0, to keep up with all those extracurriculars, to learn, to study and to achieve.

We push ourselves to keep being the best. We pull all-nighters for a few more points on that final exam and drink coffee to hardwire our already exhausted brains. We try and try and push and push only to get to a point where our brains and our bodies hit the emergency brakes.

And then we crash.

Sunidhi Ramesh is a College sophomore from Johns Creek, Georgia.

 

 

 

 

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A Justice Department report on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released earlier this year resulted in suspensions of up to 10 days for agents who attended “sex parties paid for by Colombian drug cartels.” Ten days is actually a remarkably assertive charge: the DEA has participated extensively in drug trafficking in the past, with no punishment. That the agency responsible for combating the “drug problem” in the United States is proliferating it says something about its actual purpose.

Along with their history of drug trafficking, the DEA has been caught spying on American citizens without their knowledge, as well as covering up the trail to hide this activity. According to once-secret DEA documents reviewed by Reuters, Special Operations Division (SOD) officers were told to “omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony.” Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”

So, the DEA clearly lied to courts on multiple occasions, breaking the law as it applies to government bureaucracy. But the last part of that statement has allowed for clear violations of the law as it applies to American citizens, supposedly the source of government power in the first place. That SOD agents “lie to the judges, prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys involved in a trial of a defendant busted as a result of SOD surveillance” means that they have circumvented American’s rights to due process and privacy.

The notion that these were legitimate practices of government agencies might be defended — crudely — if the efforts of the DEA in the War on Drugs were successful. They were not. Addiction rates since the beginning of the War on Drugs have stayed approximately the same, while government spending on drug prevention measures has gone from almost zero in the 1970s to $20 billion in 2010, with a total expenditure of $1.5 trillion. Again, this did nothing to decrease the addiction rate in America.

One-and-a-half trillion dollars is an absurdly large sum. If it did not buy lower addiction rates, what did it buy? If the average American has not benefited from the War on Drugs, who has? It bought erosion of civic freedoms and paid into the for-profit prison industry, which profits from taxpayers’ money when prisoner quotas are met. It continues to reinforce racist and classist power structures. It has been used as an excuse to exert political influence in Latin America. And all of this has been, more or less openly, admitted from the start.

Created by mgroff (www.mattgroff.com)
Created by mgroff (www.mattgroff.com)

Former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s advisor on drug policy (Nixon began the War on Drugs), John Ehrlichman, said the following about the drug war in an interview with prominent journalist Dan Baum: “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue … that we couldn’t resist it.”

The young, the poor and the blacks — these were the groups that the drug war targeted. And at this, unlike actually preventing drug use, it was successful. Though black Americans use drugs at similar rates as whites do, they are arrested for it nearly four times as often. As a result (of this and many other policies that target blacks), blacks are sent to federal prison at a rate 57 times that of whites, and that is only considering drug charges. And with minimum sentencing and three strikes laws that could put Americans in jail for life over petty crimes, the government seems to be saying to the poor, “you don’t get another chance.”

The propaganda model of creating an enormous scapegoat like drugs (illegal ones like marijuana and LSD are much less harmful than legal tobacco and alcohol) or terrorism (you are much, MUCH more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist) to erode civil liberties relies on people not knowing or being able to know the truth about them. And so the War on Drugs is also a war on the education system. Outlandish lies by prominent figures like Carlton Turner, a drug czar under former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, claimed that, among other things, marijuana can make you gay and/or cause AIDs. This is from a Ph.D., a presumably credible figure.

The commonplace DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, which exists in 75 percent of American school districts, openly lies about drugs, saying that LSD users can experience flashbacks for the rest of their lives, or that one dose of a substance can result in addiction. These claims are patently false.

It is unquestionable that the DEA and other U.S. government agencies have lied to the American people. It is also unquestionable that these lies have hurt American citizens and enriched a prison system that borders, in effect, on slavery. The unresolved question is to what length the American people will go to change these things.

Alec Woodard is a College sophomore from Burlington, Iowa.

 

 

 

Confederate_Rebel_Flag

Given the recent controversy surrounding the flying of the Confederate flag following the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, the Wheel asked the Barkley Forum to debate the pros and cons of removing the flag from display.  The following was written by Barkley Forum members Mollie Fiero and Dillon Hall.

pro

There is no place for the Confederate flag in contemporary American society, except, perhaps, a museum.
It’s astounding that the emblem of a racist, failed secession could still be on display by government bodies. Although simply dyed cloth, the Confederate flag carries a deeply embedded significance. Danger stems, however, from those who romanticize the Confederacy in justification of the flag, either ignoring or outright glorifying the embarrassing and brutal memory of slavery in the United States.

Fears of slavery’s abolition drove secession preceding the Civil War, thus making the foundation of the Confederacy one of racist violence and enslavement. Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi all placed concern over maintaining slavery at the forefront of their declarations of secession. Even after the abolition of slavery and end of the war, the identity of former confederates was still closely linked to white supremacy, leading to calls for the Black Codes during reconstruction and Jim Crow much later.

In mainstream popular culture, the Confederate flag only made resurgence when desegregation became a political issue at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. The segregationist party, called Dixiecrats, toted the Confederate flag alongside their racist agenda starting in 1948.

Those who call on the “heritage” preserved by the flag must consider the gravity of their appeal to a time of absolute domination, assault, disempowerment, and mass death at the hands of slave owners and traders. There is no neutrality to the flag, or to the Confederacy, and any perspective that excludes the sinister realities of what the Confederacy was made for, to maintain slavery, takes a skewed and naïve view of history.

The ramifications of the subjugation of black Americans are still evident today; socially, politically and economically. Wage gaps, drop-out and incarceration rates, healthcare inequities, educational disparities and rates of police brutality all serve as evidence of the structural racism inherent to modern America. Media and popular representation of black Americans can often be drawn to racist stereotypes used to justify the existence of slavery or the general principles of white supremacy. This intensifies the need for an excising of artifacts of the Confederacy, because even without slavery, racist sentiment and realities persist.

More than a historical relic, the flag actively represents and promotes a system of oppression and terroristic violence towards black populations. It acts as a rallying point, a provocative and incendiary nonverbal statement endorsing anti-black violence. The flag is revered by hate groups such as the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) as well as violently racist individuals. The flagpoles of the KKK and government buildings ought not to share such an overlap, and an overt symbol must be deemed inappropriate in a so-called representative democracy.

Those who call on the “heritage” preserved by the flag must consider the gravity of their appeal to a time of absolute domination, assault, disempowerment, and mass death at the hands of slave owners and traders.

As recently as June 17, nine black churchgoers were slain during a Bible study in an act that could only be described as terrorism by a white gunman, Dylan Roof. Pictures have since surfaced of Roof gripping the Confederate flag in one hand in a pistol in another, with a menacing glare. His manifesto may have easily been spoken from the mouth of a white plantation owner in 1810, reading, “Niggers are stupid and violent.” He speaks to the inadequacy of the American flag, clearly favoring a more explicitly segregationist, pro-slavery representation in the form of the Confederate flag.

The flag strikes chords of profound fear, anger, and sadness in the hearts of many who see it. Consider Reverend Clementa Pinckney, state Senator, killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When reporting to the South Carolina capitol, he passed underneath the Confederate flag, which represented a mindset that he should never be free, never have a stake in government or even agency over himself. He lived below that flag, until he was killed under it.

The flag itself is terroristic; it represents a racist, violent past and promises a similar future. It is the physical incarnation of centuries of discrimination, subjugation, and terrorism towards the black population. The only ethical position is to advocate the complete removal of the Confederate flag from any all display in government and public spaces. There is legal precedent, such as in California, for a government ban of its sale and display. Too many have died fighting for Civil Rights, and too much is at stake to accept such a flagrant violation of fundamental principles. The Confederate flag’s presence is more than homage to a secessionary, failed southern aspiration, but is tacitly complicit and an endorsement of the racist legacy of slavery which still has very real social and economic ramifications.

con1

When most people hear “the Confederate Flag should not be taken down,” an old-fashioned, neon sign blinks inside their head, illuminating the common argument against such: “RACISM.”
Because of the violent, inherent racism that created and now justifies the Confederate flag, modern citizens commonly mistake removing the Confederate flag as a progressive action. It’s simple: if you get rid of something racist, racism vanishes! Following Dylann Roof’s mass shooting, which was an attempt to reinvigorate a formal race war largely influenced by the Confederacy of the Civil War, the fight against the Confederate flag has largely dominated the media’s coverage of the tragic murder of nine people.

While claims that the Confederate flag serves to justify and promote racism are certainly valid, the elimination of state support for confederate flags in South Carolina, Mississippi and Virginia is undoubtedly not what’s needed right now.

First and foremost is the issue of racism. Even though the Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and racism, it is very plausible that removing the flag in and of itself reinforces racism. Many members of both the left and the right have presented the removal of state support for the flag as a one-step solution to racism; after the flag has been removed, shootings like the Charleston Church massacre will no longer occur and racist ideologies will dramatically decline. This couldn’t be more untrue.

Even though the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, it is not the underlying structure that enables racism. The United States was founded upon slave labor and black people are constantly oppressed in a variety of ways outside of one single racist symbol: police brutality, incarceration rates, employment discrimination and much more.

Thus, if you buy the claim that removing state support for the Confederate flag will reduce racism in the United States, broader calls for racial justice will begin to reach less and less ears—many will say that action has been taken to prevent racism when the flag was taken down, and further actions to prevent racism are redundant or unnecessary. Calls that racism is of the past will arise again, and racial violence will continue unabated.

The second issue with removing state support for the Confederate flag is that it concentrates the variety of factors surrounding the Charleston Church massacre into one solely about the flag. Issues of gun control, mental illness, religion and terrorism have all been drastically glossed over when discussing the Roof shooting—even the victims of the shooting are barely talked about. The media, even this debate itself, have all been fixating upon state governments no longer supporting the Confederate flag, rather than the wide variety of other elements to this massacre. The media’s relative silence upon these other issues not only ensures that racist attacks continue to occur, but also leaves many more doors open.

Thirdly is the more conservative justification for maintaining state support for the Confederate flag: the Constitution. Historically, the United States has never outlawed a domestic flag. In fact, the Nazi flag is still legal to wave. The First Amendment protects supporters of the Confederate flag under the claim that it is merely an exercise of the freedom of speech. Before the state no longer supports the Confederate flag, there must be a clear precedent for what flags should be legal and what flags should not. The logic to remove the Confederate flag very likely applies to the American flag as well. Claims such as “it’s a symbol of genocide, racism, etc.” all ignore the very fact that the American flag operates under these very same justifications. After all, the United States was founded upon the extermination of Native Americans and nearly two centuries of black slave labor.

Thus, if you buy the claim that removing state support for the Confederate flag will reduce racism in the United States, broader calls for racial justice will begin to reach less and less ears.

Once the governments no longer support the Confederate flag, will there be support for any flag? Seven states in the south, including Georgia, all have the Confederate flag as a part of their state flag.

In addition, will the United States continue to restrict the right to freedom of speech?

The logistics of legal precedents brings forth the issue that the justifications behind ending state support for the Confederate flag will be applied to a variety of more cases.

South Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia should NOT eliminate state support for confederate flags. Now is not the time. Now is the time for larger discussions to occur. Discussions that are premised off of structural racism, mental illness, gun control, terrorism, religion, and much more.

Removing the confederate flag now is merely a distraction.

| Photo by Erin Baker, Staff

Emory Panhellenic Council (EPC) takes the claims outlined in The Emory Wheel’s most recent staff editorial “Sorority Recruitment Disempowers Women” extremely seriously. We believe in the community of care that EPC cultivates and the positive experience of our Panhellenic women. As such, we would like to take the time to address, contextualize and correct some of the misconceptions outlined in this piece.

EPC works tirelessly to streamline and refine the Recruitment process and admit that Panhellenic Recruitment, as with any student-run organization on campus, is not perfect. As incoming EPC President Olivia Czufin wrote to the Wheel in “Greek Organizations Welcome New Members,” recruitment, “is continuously evolving and improving, and will continue to do so next year.”

In an effort to respond to the sweeping allegations presented in the article, we have grouped the claims into six major categories: strictness, exclusion, economic stratification, superficiality, emotional toll and degradation of gender roles.

First, the article accuses EPC of being unnecessarily strict, taking away phones, not allowing them to talk to one another and enforcing strict silence. These rules are specifically in place in order to make the process as free from pressure, stress and influence for members of the community. With these guidelines, we aim to foster as individualized and uninfluenced an experience as possible. Many potential new members (PNMs) can be swayed by an experience that is not their own, perhaps causing them to make a choice that is not best for them. These rules help the women make the best decision possible.

Additionally the Wheel mentions herding the women into lines and yelling at them. First, we take issue with the article’s word choice, which implies that the women are treated like animals. With over 500 women participating in the recruitment process, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to organize the women, communicate attendance and relay important information. Often times a megaphone is necessary to ensure that all pertinent information reaches 500 women in an outdoor environment with many distractions. Much the same way a coach communicates loudly with his or her athletes who need imperative instructions and information.

The Wheel also made several strong accusations regarding EPC’s allegedly exclusionary policies. The Wheel’s claim implying that Panhellenic is racist is ill-researched and most obviously disproved by the diversity in Panhellenic leadership, mirrored in each individual chapter. The selection of women is based off of a multitude of factors, none of which include race. We maintain a non-discriminatory policy and any individual who identifies as a woman is welcome to participate in recruitment.

Similarly, the Wheel insinuated that EPC celebrated heteronormativity while excluding individuals identifying as transgender or LGBT. Empirically, EPC has never excluded someone from the recruitment process based on identity, making this claim unfounded and offensive. More specifically, the Wheel articulates that excluding “boys” (one of the five B’s) from conversations of recruitment also inherently excludes the LGBT community. What the Wheel fails to address is that the “5 Bs” are merely an easy way to remember broader themes to stay away from, with boys representing relationships. Just as “Barack” does not only mean ‘do to talk about the current president’, using the word boys in an acronym does not imply a discriminatory policy against gender preference.

Finally, the Wheel makes several claims surrounding the ambiguity of the selection process and PNM placement. While selection processes vary by each chapter’s national policy, EPC employs software that ensures a mutual selection process, weighing the PNM’s input as well as the input of our campus’ chapter’s yielding an outcome that is a function both of recruiter and recruitee. Conversations that the women have during recruitment are unequivocally the most important factor in the process, similar in form to a job interview wherein a recruiter is seeking to understand fit of a potential candidate or the Wheel, for example, is seeking to understand fit of a potential new member of its staff.

The Wheel’s next attack focused on recruitment as economically stratifying. The registration fee is necessary to purchase each PNM a shirt and provide them with food and drinks during the process, ensuring that they are comfortable during the long days. The accusation resolves itself within the Wheel’s own article: the registration fee that may place financial stress on some women can be waived at the PNM’s request.

EPC also recognizes the financial burden of joining a Greek organization. EPC maintains full transparency regarding this commitment, constantly informing PNMs of the range and average of our chapter’s dues. Each sorority’s dues are not released to help PNMs make the best choice based on the chapter where they feel most comfortable.

If a PNM becomes an initiated member and realizes she cannot finance her dues, she has many options. EPC strives to relieve the financial commitment set by individual national organizations by offering scholarships each semester, awarded through a blind application process. This scholarship program, launched this year, was in direct response to feedback from the EPC community. Additionally, each chapter also offers scholarships and payment plans so they can fully accommodate members, including women of all economic backgrounds.

The Wheel’s final economic complaint was that women are forced to purchase new clothing for recruitment. This is simply untrue. Chapters welcome women with all different styles and quite frankly, would have no way to know whether a PNM’s clothes were new or old, a point communicated to the PNMs prior to recruitment. Women are encouraged to present their best self, just as they would in an interview to give the best first-impression

The next major topic was superficiality. While the conversations actually last longer than five minutes, this brevity is necessary in order to maximize the number of sisters a PNM can meet, giving her a better window into the organization. As the recruitment process continues, conversations are lengthened in order to allow for more in-depth discussions with members, absolving any problems with superficiality.

The Wheel trivializes the emotional experience that a PNM can undergo during the recruitment process, failing to recognize that a sorority is a lifelong commitment. In order to properly prepare, EPC introduced a new partnership with Counseling and Psychological Services in order to properly train their Pi Chi Recruitment Counselors through several training sessions. This training, coupled with the assistance of on-site Campus Life Professionals, allowed EPC to be fully equipped for any situation that might arise.

Finally, the Wheel insinuates that the EPC recruitment process reinforces degrading gender roles. EPC offers suggestions and guidelines, the “5 Bs”, to initially abstain from engaging in conversations, which might alienate or make any participant uncomfortable or unintentionally insulted. In no way do these guidelines aim to propagate inequitable gender norms. These guidelines help PNMs (in a sorority as well as a fraternity recruitment setting) feel comfortable, a priority for EPC and our chapters. This should not later become an issue, as Panhellenic women, like the Emory community, are accepting of diversity and open dialogue.

In conclusion, we recognize the Wheel’s concerns. EPC is always open to criticism, feedback and suggestions, yet is disappointed in the medium the Wheel has chosen to express their unresearched and unsubstantiated opinions. EPC encourages the Wheel to strive to facilitate productive discussions while also reporting on the innumerable positive aspects of our community. EPC resolutely supports its recruitment process, our new members and the extraordinary contributions made by the Panhellenic women in our community.​

— By Emory Panhellenic Council

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

So run the famous lines from The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks’ popular romance novel that made it to the big screen: “They didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day. But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were crazy about each other.”

Absolutely sigh-worthy, though we may be sighing for different reasons. It’s a familiar tale — not only to Sparks’ enthusiasts, but to anyone who has seen a Hollywood romance in his or her day. I’ve never been in a serious relationship, but I’ve seen enough of them to know that what Sparks writes are not “romance novels” — they’re fairy tales, pure and simple.

So why don’t we treat them like fairy tales?

Reality check: Sparks is filing for a divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” He was married for 25 years. He reified Hollywood’s notion of romance in popular culture. Look up “romance” in the dictionary, and you can expect his picture pasted in by one of his fans. Judging by his books, if he can’t make a romance work, no one can.

According to Twitter user @LANDOW747: “Nicholas Sparks getting a divorce could be equated to your rehab physician doing cocaine.”

But it was Sparks himself who told us to judge by actions, not words: “You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times,” he wrote in The Rescue, “But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter.”

So, let’s judge him, and let’s judge the flowery romantic nonsense he passes as literature, by his actions: he is getting divorced. As the blogger Matt Walsh has pointed out, Sparks suffers from a disease, a disease infecting millions of our nation’s men and women: fantastical and unrealistic perceptions of romance. He has some highly problematic notions about romance, which he propounds in his novels. And what’s more? He’s contagious.

Ultimately, Sparks’ ideology is not merely mistaken; it’s hideously and insidiously misleading, and his novels and notions do an immeasurable amount of harm to our culture. Readers and viewers who do not understand the limitations of fictitious romance as a predictor for real-world romance will find themselves expecting Sparks’ characters to walk off the page and into their lives.

But in the real world, the one you and I inhabit, meeting Noah Calhoun from The Notebook wouldn’t be a heart-melting experience.

Let’s think about it. This guy jumps onto a Ferris wheel seat between some girl he’s never met and an equally strange guy, insistently asking the girl out. Then he hangs from said Ferris wheel, threatening to let go unless said-girl-he’d-never-even-met went out with him. (“I was drawn to you” is his excuse.) When she gives in and they go out, he lies down in the middle of the road, which is somehow supposed to be romantic. “Trust me,” he says, telling her to lie down next to him; they almost get run over. Still catching his breath, he asks her to dance on the same road. Seriously.

Calhoun meets all the criteria of a psychopath. But this dark stranger from the other side of the tracks, this mythological, rough and rugged character so adored by women in popular media (think Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey), “probably has herpes, a coke habit and a criminal record,” as Walsh puts it. And yet Calhoun and characters like him continue to establish our society’s romantic standards.

Over Thanksgiving I watched the movie The Fault in Our Stars (different author, same problems) with some friends. Let me ask you: if someone you had never met just stared at you during a cancer support group, smiling knowingly when you looked his way, would you really find that flattering and attractive?

It’s just creepy. But when I objected, I was told you can pull it off in real life, but only “if you’re cute enough.” Later on in the movie, Gus Walker tells the girl, “All your efforts to keep me away from you are going to fail.” Let me just say that there is a good reason people carry pepper spray.

Still, it wouldn’t be fair to say that characters like Calhoun and Walker are all creep and no charm. There are the romantic picnics, witty and endearing remarks and those bedazzling good looks. But all these only compound the problem.

 

Love isn’t always flaming affection, scenic picnics and passionate physical intimacy …

We can’t forget that after everything, this is a world of narrative; someone makes a living spending countless hours crafting a minute-long scene. That’s why everything will always be “perfect.”

But real life just isn’t like that, and it’s incredibly damaging to hold on to these ideals as a real-world standard. We find ourselves longing for and expecting something that sounds good on paper or on-screen, but these same ideas are what we actually find disturbing or weird in real life. Or we long for and expect a romance so “perfect” that could only ever exist on paper or on-screen. Like pornography, it sets unrealistic and unachievable standards that leave a second party inadequate, powerless to satiate. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Although paperbacks and “chick-flicks” are more than capable of ruining a generation of lovers, an increasingly media-saturated and social network-validated culture has exacerbated the problem. Through technology, we have gained the ability to isolate ourselves, displaying selected pieces of our lives in the form of selfies, status updates, etc. Of course, we only show the best parts, the highlights and even those we like to embellish (hence the numerous photo filters on your phone). But who do you know who has tweeted their divorce filings? When has your Instagram feed featured pictures of tears, smeared makeup and disheveled hair, with the caption “first fight! :)”?

We extrapolate an image of what romance is “supposed” to look like from Sparks and social media. But of course, such a detached view of life will be idyllic; everything looks good from far away, as the saying goes. But life is not a Monet painting.

Instead, we are forced to take a closer look every day, and our noses are shoved into its unpleasantries. It’s the same with romance: we are pressed to see the ugliness, the dark recesses of our loved ones, and then we continue loving them.

As most people have experienced, love involves a lot of mundanity. Love isn’t always flaming affection, scenic picnics and passionate physical intimacy; nor is it always rainbows and butterflies. In fact, it often looks a lot like a friendship. Real love — not the stuff Sparks propounds — integrates the mundane, the everyday, the chores and the obligations, the sacrifices and concessions — everything that Sparks will avoid if he wants to continue making money. It takes all these things and it redeems them, giving them a new meaning, a new beauty.

This is precisely the love we find in the Gospels, the Romance of all time. John’s Gospel tells us that, “No greater love has anyone than this: that he would lay down his life for his friend.” Paul finishes the thought in his letters: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person … but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus’ selfless death and his reckless pursuit of a broken humanity exemplify the kind of love modern relationships could truly benefit from. Jesus didn’t send us sappy love letters; he took on flesh and spoke face-to-face, and he said some pretty harsh things — because he loved us.

Likewise, Jesus didn’t wine and dine us with romantic picnics, but he gave us his very flesh and blood. Jesus didn’t have butterflies in his stomach when he dragged his cross to Calvary. Nor did he endure that cross because he had some kind of vague, fuzzy feeling for us. Rather, Jesus let himself be murdered because he loved us, with a love so selfless and flawless that we can’t even comprehend what or why it is.

Let’s forget everything Sparks has taught us about romance; that stuff only ends in divorce. (According to the American Psychological Association, the U.S. divorce rate is 40 to 50 percent). It’s time to examine the gaps in our News Feed, to ask ourselves what the Instagram photo looks like without that snazzy color saturation. It’s time to ask our parents, grandparents and friends what their romance looked like — and what it looks like 10, 20 and 50 years later. It’s time to understand that love, real love, is gritty. It involves pushing past “irreconcilable differences”; it takes persistence, hard work and the forgiveness of faults.

Love doesn’t just form magically overnight, lasting forever or until cancer or Alzheimer’s strikes. Let’s escape the lies of Sparks and social media, and the expectations those lies lead to. Not only is it unfair for others, who can never fulfill our expectations, but it is ultimately unfair to us, who can never have our expectations fulfilled.

Jon Warkentine is a College junior from Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Cartoon by Priyanka Pai, Staff
Cartoon by Priyanka Pai, Staff
Cartoon by Priyanka Pai, Staff

As of Friday, Jan. 16, Americans will now be allowed to travel to Cuba without a special government license. This move is part of the Obama administration’s normalization of relations with Cuba, which also includes liberalization of trade restrictions, increasing the amount of remittances allowed and reopening diplomatic relations. This normalization of relations can be attributed to many factors: the failure of the embargo to topple Fidel Castro’s regime, pleas form the international community and a changed domestic political landscape.

One reason for the administration’s shift on Cuba policy has received little attention, yet is possibly one of the most important reasons for this historic rapprochement: the new conflict between the United States and Russia. President Obama does not want to repeat the mistakes of America’s Cuba policy during the Cold War, in which the United States isolated and embargoed Cuba in an attempt to remove the Castro regime from power, but actually just drove Cuba in the hands of the Soviet Union.

The politics of Cuba was a matter of great importance in American-Soviet relations for much of the 20th century. Only 90 miles from Florida, communist Cuba was one of the USSR’s greatest points of geopolitical leverage over the United States. Cuba is best remembered for its role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the world came closer to nuclear annihilation than it ever has before or since. But the Soviet Union also basically supported the entire Cuban economy, buying its entire sugar crop and supplying heavily subsidized oil. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and aid to Cuba ceased, the Cuban economy went into deep recession for four years. The Soviets also ran the Lourdes spy base on the island, the USSR’s largest spy base outside of its own borders, which greater than 75 percent of the Kremlin’s strategic information on the United States filtered through at its peak.

While Cuba is no longer as close to Russia as it once was to the Soviet Union, the two countries continue to have deep connections. Approximately 55,000 Russians visit Cuba every year, often for beach vacations away from Russia’s cold winters.

In the past year, as a part of Russia’s new aggressive and expansionist foreign policy, the Kremlin has tried to become closer to its former Caribbean ally. In July, Putin visited Havana and met with Raúl and Fidel Castro. In a deal accompanying the visit, Russia agreed to forgive $32 billion in Cuban debt to Russia, and in return Cuba is allowing Russia to reopen the Lourdes spy base, explore for oil and gas in Cuban waters and help build a large seaport. Russia is attempting to rebuild its connections to Cuba to gain leverage over the United States, as the USSR did during the Cold War.

The Obama administration is determined to not let Cuba fall within the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. A Russia-aligned Cuba would be a great security liability since the country is so close to the United States. A showdown of the magnitude of the Cuban Missile Crisis would be unlikely to occur because the United States’ current conflict with Russia is less heated and communication between the two countries is better than it was during the heyday of the Cold War. But a Russia-aligned Cuba would serve as a springboard for the Kremlin’s anti-Western foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

There is already an alliance of anti-Western leaders in Latin America led by Venezuela, and largely fueled by its petrodollars, that includes Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador. While members of this loose ideological alliance are vocal critics of the United States, they are not powerful enough to challenge the United States in any meaningful capacity. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez infamously called President George W. Bush “el diablo,” but he cannot do much more than this cheap talk.

If these states were to align with Russia though, together they could threaten the United States and its allies much more significantly. Russia could finance insurgencies and extremist parties across Latin America, using these allies like Cuba and Venezuela as bases of operations and partners, as it has done in its own European front yard and as the Soviet Union did during the Cold War.

Obama’s historic rapprochement with Cuba should hopefully avoid this scenario. By reestablishing relations with Cuba, the United States will have much more influence over Cuba — influence that it can use to pull Cuba away from Russia using positive incentives such as foreign aid, trade links and broader cultural connections.

The year 2014 has unfortunately shown that Russia is once again a geopolitical threat to the United States and overall global security. By pursuing rapprochement with Cuba, the Obama administration is ensuring that we do not repeat the fiasco that was American-Cuban relations during the Cold War, as the United States now enters a new Cold War of sorts with Russia. It was a brilliant policy move by the Obama administration in both means and end. By reengaging Cuba in a manner that will hopefully promote democracy, liberty and prosperity for the Cuban people, President Obama is also countering Russia’s geopolitical aggression.

While American foreign policy often does not learn from its own mistakes, by reopening relations with Cuba, Obama is ensuring that the failed Cuba policy of the Cold War does not continue into the new conflict with Russia.

Ben Perlmutter is a College junior from Chappaqua, New York.

Cartoon by Mariana Hernandez, Staff
Cartoon by Mariana Hernandez, Staff
Cartoon by Mariana Hernandez, Staff

Last Saturday, Jan. 18, four different Fox News anchors took time out of their normal programs to utter a word not often heard on mainstream television: “Sorry.”

The apology from the most watched cable news network in the U.S. was in reference to their repeated discussion of so-called “no-go zones” as a contributing factor to the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters and a kosher grocery store in Paris earlier this month.

In a Jan. 12 article on the Fox News website titled “Paris attacks prompt fears France’s Muslim ‘no-go’ zones incubating jihad​,” the no-go-zones are described as “breeding grounds for radicalism” where “poor and alienated Muslims have intimidated the government into largely ceding authority over them.”

According to Fox anchors and their recruited anti-terrorism experts, these are the areas where terrorists such as the Kouachi brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris are able to thrive.

This type of anti-Islamic analysis is not uncommon at Fox News and across much of mainstream American media, but these particular comments received intense international criticism.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called one of Fox’s so-called terrorist experts a “complete idiot” for stating that the city of Birmingham is “totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go,” while the French TV station Canal+ mocked Fox by visiting the no-go zones and interviewing ordinary French citizens. Unfortunately Fox’s absurd comments, deemed laughable by our Western European allies, were widely accepted here in the U.S.

In one of the four apologies last Saturday, Fox anchor Julie Banderas explained that the network had “made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe” and that “there is no formal designation of these zones.”

Certainly a commendable act, but what is more regrettable than their failure to sufficiently check their facts about the no-go zones is their propensity to leap headlong into support of such a story simply because it substantiates their argument against Islam.

But when a major news station inaccurately reports information that ostracizes a religion practiced by nearly a quarter of the world, is sorry really enough?

Continuing this kind of reporting will only contribute to the growing divide currently isolating Islamic groups throughout the Western world.

Following the conclusion of the nationwide manhunt for the perpetrators of the Jan. 7-9 attacks, news stations from Fox News to CNN to MSNBC attempted to explain how and why these incidents took place in a Western nation that is not too unlike the U.S.

They began searching for someone or something to blame, and inevitably came up with the Islamic religion as they so often have in the decade and a half since the 9/11 terror attacks.

These anti-Islamic sentiments in TV journalism are manifested in a variety of ways.

Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly seems to enjoy quoting scripture from the Quran that undeniably encourages a Jihad against the Western world.

Fellow Fox News anchor Sean Hannity’s favorite pastime appears to be moderating debates between himself, an anti-Islamic guest and a pro-Islamic or Muslim guest whose comments are often drowned out by Hannity’s own raised voice.

Other less prominent anchors often supplement their opinions with imported experts on terrorism, Middle Eastern politics or military strategy, but the message is quite consistent: Islam promotes violence, Islam poses a threat to the Western world and Islamic extremism is an Islamic problem that the Muslim community has failed to snuff out.

Fox News is not alone in mainstream TV’s so-called “Islamophobia.” A CNN interview from Sept. 2014 with Reza Aslan, a prominent Muslim author, religious scholar and professor of creative writing at University of California, Riverside, has resurfaced since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

In the nine-minute interview, Aslan is visibly frustrated and baffled as his interviewers continuously cite human rights violations as problems of the Muslim religion despite his cited evidence of more regional or national causes that are unassociated with religion in any way.

According to a 2014 study by the American Press Institute, 87 percent of Americans watch TV to follow the news, leaving a tremendous amount of responsibility on networks to distribute accurate information to the American people. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center found that only 38 percent of Americans know a Muslim individual personally.

So, 62 percent of Americans are left to form their opinion of a group of people comprising nearly a fourth of the world population — not to mention more than two and a half million Americans — based on what they see, read or hear. It should not come as a surprise then that a recent study from Pew assessing American feelings towards religious groups found that Muslims are the least trusted crowd in the country, and coming in just behind atheists and far behind Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians.

Islamophobic reporting is unfortunately not the only form of misinformation represented in major news networks either. In 2014, Ebola, race riots and tensions with Russia briefly took the spotlight from Islamic extremist groups as the premier threat to America.

And yet, here we all are happily on our way in 2015. Where is the apology for Dr. Craig Spencer, who was accused of endangering thousands of New York City residents by riding on a subway with a fever after returning from West Africa? And what about an “our bad” to the African American community for the blatant racism often exhibited during coverage of nationwide protests that followed the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions?

At some point, news networks and media outlets of all forms must be held accountable for the information they present to the American people. The government has no control over what stories the media covers, how the news is presented or in what way opinions are conveyed. And rightfully so: freedom of speech is one of the founding tenets of our country and should most certainly be defended at all costs. The Charlie Hebdo attacks only serve to reinforce this necessity.

Fox News is proud to provide the forum for individuals with conservative or right-wing views to express their opinions, just as MSNBC is proud to do the same for the left. Without this type of platform for national debate, freedom of speech certainly loses some of its meaning.

However, when the opinions of these groups begin to infringe upon the ability of U.S. citizens to live freely and speak freely, action — beyond retrospective apologies — must be taken. And in this free, ratings-driven industry, it is we, the viewers, who must hold the networks accountable for how they present information; we choose to support or counter their opinions, watch or not watch their programs, accept or reject their apologies.

The presentation of Muslims as a threat to Western society does nothing to alleviate the threat of Islamic extremists. Continuing this kind of reporting will only contribute to the growing divide currently isolating Islamic groups throughout the Western world.

Fox’s apology therefore should be directed at the entire Islamic community for inciting unnecessary distrust of a peaceful religious group and, frankly, other news stations should follow suit.​

Chris Hoover is a fifth year student in the Rollins School of Public Health from Manchester, Tennessee.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 5.52.50 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 5.52.50 AM
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

 

There is an alarming trend happening in higher education across the country.

From Harvard, Stanford and Yale to Kansas State and Valdosta, universities are choosing to censor themselves and their members rather than risk the chance of someone saying something that could possibly offend or cause controversy.

This is mostly due to two factors: increased litigation resulting in policy to decrease liability and the good-natured attempts from administrators to protect students from “harmful ideas.” At best, this is a misguided infringement on the freedom of conscience. At worst, it is the institutionalization of thought-police.

I hold that it is somewhere closer to the former at the moment, but fear the implications if left unchecked.

In today’s “liberalized society,” it is becoming more and more difficult to have opinions on controversial topics without offending the senses of some group. I have felt it impossible to discuss the hostilities (for lack of a better term) in the state of Israel, inside the context of the Political Science Department without hearing vehement accusations of anti-Semitism or Zionism.

Self-censorship has silenced a department whose entire purpose is to discuss the state and conflict resolution on what could arguably be considered the most important conflict of the 21st century. If only one thread is pulled through this series, let it be this: censorship is antithetical to the very idea of a university.

A common misunderstanding when dealing with free speech is that we value the freedom of speech because it is the first right in our Bill of Rights. In other words, we value free speech because the Constitution says that we do.

This is not true. Our Constitution values free speech because it is essential to liberty and therefore a core belief of our society. Speech is protected because it is inherently good for both society and the advancement of learning.

If only one thread is pulled through this series, let it be this: censorship is antithetical to the very idea of a university.

It is ridiculous to think that we only have the right to free speech if that speech is something which the majority ascribes to. There is no need to protect something which is not under threat. Instead, it is marginalized groups who need protection.

Groups like ethnic or religious minorities, political dissidents and those who disagree with essential social norms — these people are minorities for a reason. There is a reason why the majority of people in society do not agree with them.

Sometimes they are just ahead of the times, sometimes it is because their beliefs are in conflict with the existing system of power and sometimes it is because they are just awful human beings.

Case in point: LGBT persons in the 1950-60s. These individuals were vilified in the media, popular culture, the churches and even the scientific community. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association regarded homosexuality as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Openly gay men were not allowed to work in schools or hold federal positions, and faced the threat of employment termination even in the private sector.

If society had used its power to oppress the speech of what it viewed as an obscene and predatory minority, we would not be able to live in a country where 19 states recognize the right for LGBT couples to marry. Society evolves over time, and what is offensive and obscene today may become an encouraged norm in the future.

It is not possible, or wise, for society to regulate against what it feels to be objectionable or obscene. Russia had passed a law recently making it a crime to speak about homosexuality in the presence of a minor, causing public outrage before the Sochi Olympics. The logic used by the Russian government is the same logic that many censors use domestically, only differing in the premise of whether or not homosexuality is bad for society.

Because society has shown itself unable to determine what is good and bad speech, it follows that all speech must be protected, especially when it offends. This means that racist organizations will have the right to rally, fascists can hand out fliers, war opponents can protest in the streets and that guy you hate in calculus can make a snide comment about how short the skirt is on the girl in the second row.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” If the free exchange of ideas, even objectionable ideas, is stifled, then ignorance will have a chance to breed.

Bigotry and hatred must be thrust out into the light so that it can be examined and crushed through reason and compassion. When people are free to say what is on their minds, they generally will. And when that thought is offensive, others will comment on it and spark dialogue. That is how to remove intolerance, not through censorship.

People often tell me something along the lines of: “Emory is a private institution, though. Shouldn’t we have not only the right, but the responsibility, to regulate what message we send about ourselves?”

My answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Yes, we are private, yes we should monitor what message we send to the world, but no, we ought not to send this particular message. It is the role of the university in its abstract to question the status quo and push the limits of society.

The university is an institution founded to progress the sciences, arts and culture, and Emory is a leader amongst universities. By allowing the majority to control speech and, by extension, thought that deviates from our norms, we run counter to our mission to better society.

If our universities are not free to push boundaries, then who will? It is left to us to lead the charge to defend our freedom of conscience, because it seems that if we do not, no one will.

Connor Crum is a College junior from Maryville, Tennessee.