PittOpinion

  • Cracking the whip

    | Robert Clark Guest Writer |

    Today, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 the Campus Administration threatened me.
    They threatened to steal my bike and destroy my lock.
    In a strongly worded email to all students they threatened a growing population of cyclists on campus for improperly parking our bikes against railings, poles, etc. Instead of looking at the problem and trying to solve it in a way that would behoove everyone on campus, the administration determined that the best course of action was to crack the whip. But, if they simply looked at the problem for two seconds, they could’ve seen that simply moving bike racks from the KTC (there are at least five bike racks that I know of at the KTC and often times I only see four to five bikes taking up spaces) to Russ, Grubbs, and Whitesitt Halls, they could solve the issue.
    There’s also another one rarely used because it’s in such a bad location it’s near the water fountain between Porter, and Russ hall.  A simple move would suffice in reducing or even eliminating the issue. Why not instead of threatening us, try to work with us in a proactive way, instead of being reactive and jumping to punishment. This is not an attack on the university; this is a plea, please in the future work with us because we want to work with you. It doesn’t have to be ‘us vs. you’.
    A way to handle future on campus problems is to call a campus wide meeting and the students causing the problem can better find a solution to the behaviors that the administration doesn’t like. I wouldn’t expect high turn out or anything abundantly surprising, but instead of trying to punish us like we’re a bunch of felons or children, look at us for what we are: paying customers who want to make the most of our experience here at Pitt State.
    I’m not chaining my bike up to a pole or a railing because I want to get in anyone’s way. It’s because I don’t want to have to fight to pull my bike out of the bike rack and I also don’t want to have to park it too far away from the building where I’m going to class.
    Instead of threats, show faith in the student body to act as mature adults and you will be surprised.

  • SGA President

    | Jordan Schaper Guest Writer |

    Hello, Gorillas,
    I hope everything’s going well for you all as this year starts to pick up. It’s crazy to think we’re already a month into the semester! In the student government realm, we’re starting to find our stride as the last couple weeks have been extremely busy.
    We have filled all of our open positions, and all 15 new senators were briefed on their duties this past weekend at our retreat and are ready to dive right in. We are also actively trying to find solutions to the parking situation that seems to be a growing concern all across campus.
    The transportation work group, led by Sen. Bryce Schuetz, currently has a survey in the SGA office (207 Hartman Hall) about potentially using the PACT bus to shuttle students from some of the more undesirable lots to the main campus, concerns about biking to class, as well as other topics dealing with parking. If you get a chance, feel free to stop by and let your opinion be heard.
    We are also coordinating with the White House to get the ball rolling on a nationwide campaign against sexual violence on college campuses. This initiative would call for Pittsburg State to come together and for students to sign a pledge saying that we will not just stand by while a potentially dangerous situation is unfolding. It’s up to us to make this university as safe of a place as possible for everybody. If this is something you or your organization would like to be a part of or would like more information, contact your campus affairs director, Danielle Walker.
    On top of all this, we are also accepting applications to fill open spots on our Judicial Board. It’s a great way to get involved and protect the interests of every student on campus. This is a very important component in how we operate, so if this sounds like something you’d be interested in we have applications up by the front desk in the office.
    I’m very excited about what we’ve done thus far and I will definitely be updating everybody on the progress of these plans as the year goes on, but for now it’s a very promising time to be a Gorilla.
    Jordan Schaper is president of the Student Government Association.

  • Racial injustice still reigns

    | Staff Editorial |

    Over a month after the incident where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson, Mo., the community and police officers are no closer to achieving peace. Most of us know at least a little about the situation: that Darren Wilson, the police officer, shot Brown, who was unarmed, supposedly in self-defense. We also know that Brown was African-American, making this case especially touchy.
    The racial disparity in Ferguson is immense, with more than two-thirds of the population being black. Yet the police force does not reflect the community in any way. Of the 53 members of the police force in Ferguson, only three are black. This misrepresentation of the community has led to growing tension over the years between the community and the police.
    Because the officers are mainly white, the black residents may feel uncomfortable or afraid to talk to them. Because the majority of the population is black, officers may be uncomfortable or afraid to patrol their sectors and respond to emergencies effectively.
    Though the police department in Ferguson has been working on improving relations with the community, through increasing diversity of the department and trying to interact more with the citizens, that project came to a standstill with Brown’s death. Yes, there have been other shootings of young black males by the police in Ferguson. But Brown was the tipping point, and the people demand justice, not just for Brown, but also for every black person in Ferguson. The protestors have a right to be angry.
    Even though not every black person in Ferguson has been a target or victim of police racial prejudices, they are all affected. People should be able to trust the officers who are sworn to protect them, not be wary that they might be the next shooting. Officers should be willing to interact with the people in their jurisdiction and get to know them.
    Ferguson has a lot to go through besides the trial of Darren Wilson. The people want justice and they will not rest until they have it. Though Brown’s death was the kicking point, this situation will not be over until the citizens and the police department of Ferguson are able to come together and fix the underlying tensions that have been building for years.

  • DId Facebook create a narcissistic generation?

    | Val Vita guest writer |

    My dad always told my sister and me that we were part of a narcissist generation. I used to think that he was overreacting, but lately, I’m not so sure.
    If you rationally think about it, we are very narcissistic. And I would blame social media for that. Especially Mark Zuckerberg’s creation: Facebook.
    We are part of a generation that has the urge to post every single thing we do. Almost nothing is private anymore. I knew someone who said, “It’s not on Facebook, so it didn’t happen.”
    That was one of the most idiotic statements I’ve ever heard – and one of the incentives that led me to choose Facebook as the central point for my future studies in the graduate school of communication.
    The things people post on Facebook remind me of a theory we call Uses and Gratifications. Basically, the theory says we use media to get some kind of gratification out of it. It is not just the media that use us – we also use the media. And I strongly believe people use Facebook for a single purpose: to get “likes.”
    Admit it. “Likes” make you feel good. You feel confident. You feel better. It’s like you are selling on Facebook an image of what you would like to be – but not the one that you really are.
    Because of this crazy search for likes, in the last months, I talked to several people about selfies, trying to figure out what’s behind this self-obsession trend. And the majority of them actually told me they post pictures of their own faces hoping to get likes out of it. Many even admitted that they delete the picture if they don’t get a meaningful number of likes.
    It’s kind of sad, because if you think about it … why is that really important? I mean, in real life (aka life outside of Facebook) what’s the importance of having 50, even 100 likes for a picture or for a Facebook status?
    In the last few weeks, it was impossible not to see someone posting the Ice Bucket Challenge. It is for a good cause, they said. But I know a lot of people who didn’t even know why they were throwing cold water on themselves (try to ask them what does ALS mean and I guarantee you will find many who would be nothing but clueless about the answer).
    Regardless if people are doing it for the likes or for the cause, the ALS association got more than $100 million in donations. A good marketing example of how you can make money out of social media where people would do anything for likes.  
    The Ice Bucket Challenge has cooled off and it’s no longer the topic of the day.
    But the “me, me, me generation” is eagerly waiting for the next Facebook trend.
    I guess my dad was right after all.

  • Where were you that September day?

    | Staff Editorial |

    With the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks upon us, we at the Collegio reflect back on those tragic events and look forward to what the future may bring because of it.
    Many of us at Pitt State remember when the towers fell. Most of us were in school at the time and our teachers stopped classes to turn on the news. We watched the clip of the first tower falling and were kept riveted as we watched the second get hit live. Some of us were in elementary school classrooms and hardly understood what was going on, while some did understand. Some people who might be older were in high school or working and understood the impact it had on our lives.
    Many students, young and old, may have decided then to join the military and serve their country. Professors and campus staff may have had family directly affected by the events. Whatever the case, 9/11 changed, both dramatically and subtly, our day-to-day lives in America.
    Most people tend to forget that America used to be more relaxed on security. The military’s security measures tightened, both at bases in the country and for people stationed out of the country. Airport security became a huge issue and we struggled to come to terms with what had happened.
    Time went on, though. As we continue to go about our lives, the effects of 9/11 fade to the background of our minds. We have grown accustomed to heightened security measures at airports. We pushed the constant fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan away through the media, instead focusing on trivial or less important matters. We take pictures at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, yet the impact of where we are standing is not always as great as it once was.
    So as we take time on the 13th anniversary of the attacks to look back and remember, we must never forget those who lost their lives in the attacks and those who gave up their lives afterward to guard our freedom away from home.

  • Classes online fee increase

    | Zachary Botkin Guest Writer |

    I was equal parts shocked and confounded when I learned of the university’s decision to double the fees associated with online classes. For many years, the college has levied an additional $18 fee from the students for every credit hour taken online. Unfortunately, this fee was recently changed to $36 – meaning that students enrolled in online courses would now have to pay as much as an additional $54 for each class. I did not feel that this increase reflected the best interests of the student body and, as a member of the SGA, I decided to investigate the individuals who invoked the increase, to learn the rationale behind it, and to actively oppose the increase if the rationale was inadequate.
    First, I needed to learn the identities of those who passed the increase. To this end, I spent weeks attempting to contact officials from the Offices of the Registrar and of the Provost, though I was unable to learn anything useful. My fruitless attempts were finally redeemed when I received an email from Trish Peak who, at the request of fellow senator Elizabeth Marks, informed me that the individual whom I was seeking was Dr. Pawan Kahol, the recently installed Dean of Graduate Studies.
    Using email, I contacted Dr. Kahol and, a few days later, he graciously responded with the rationale for the fee increase – although he denied being a part of the President’s Council that passed the increase. The rationale he provided me, which had been reviewed by the Provost and John Patterson, claimed that the increase was necessary because it “supports the development and delivery of online courses” and because PSU charged students significantly less for online courses than other major universities. The emails containing our correspondence and the detailed rationale from Dr. Kahol can be found posted on the wall in the SGA office.
    While waiting for Dr. Kahol’s response, I chose to compare data concerning online enrollment for both the current semester and for fall semester of 2013. The results of my comparison yielded the following three important conclusions. First, the number of online classes currently offered is 10.3 percent higher than the previous fall’s. Second, the number of credit hours in which students are enrolled has increased by 22.5 percent. Third, and most importantly, the increase in profit, primarily generated by this fee increase, is 158 percent. The profit increased from approximately $110,000 to $280,000. A more detailed data sheet is on display in the SGA office.
    I do not think that the provided rationale justifies the increase in price and profit and I intend to spend the following weeks gathering more information on the issue so that the decision can be effectively protested.

  • SGA needs your ideas

    | Jordan Schaper SGA President |

    Hello, Gorillas. I hope you’re as excited as I am as we kick off the school year. It has been a busy first couple of weeks here in Student Government, and we’re just getting started.
    As some of you may know, we have the Collegiate Readership Program in three locations now across campus: in Grubbs Hall, the Kelce College of Business, and the Kansas Technology Center where you can pick up free newspapers with your ID card. We have experienced a few bumps in the road early on, but we should have everything ironed out. Additionally this year, this opportunity will again be open to faculty members.
    We have also been running vacancy interviews this week to fill in a few remaining Senate openings. We’ve already had the chance to talk to a lot of the applicants and we are all excited about the new faces and new perspectives these senators can bring. We are also accepting applications to fill our Judicial Board this year, so if that’s something that might interest you, come by our office in 207 Hartman Hall.
    With it being so early in the year, however, a lot of our goals are still in the “information-gathering stage.” So if you see us out in the Oval with surveys or passing out free stuff, stop by and tell us what you’d like to see on campus.
    We’re here to benefit everybody’s college experience, even in just a little way. Nobody’s opinion matters more than the students’; and a campus of a well-informed and passionate student body is a powerful thing.
    We have quite a few ideas of how we can make all gorillas’ lives a little easier, but there are more great solutions out there that we’ve never thought of. So if you have an idea to make Pittsburg State even better, don’t hesitate to let your senators know.
    I hope you all are enjoying being back on the grind, and I’m really excited about what we can do this year. Good luck on Saturday, fellas, and GO PITT!

  • We must all protect press freedom, everywhere

    | Marcus Clem guest writer |

    A masked fighter for the “Islamic State” beheaded photojournalist James Foley in the desert of Iraq and Syria on Aug. 19. On Tuesday, Sept. 2, we learned how the same man proudly murdered another U.S. reporter, Steven Sotloff, in the same way.
    It seems incredible, horrifying and unforgivable, and it is. But it’s not entirely unfamiliar, nor is this kind of problem restricted to the Middle East.
    “I don’t know why you’re videotaping,” said Ralph Hudgens, insurance commissioner of North Carolina, at an Aug. 23 political rally to the journalist recording his speech.
    That journalist, Nydia Tisdale, ended up beaten, cuffed and charged with a felony after organizers ordered her to stop filming the public event and she refused. Incidentally, Tisdale had learned that very morning of her successful lawsuit against a city council that demanded she stop taping its meeting.
    “I was so upset at how they handled it – I walked out,” the Republican Party county chairman later told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the rally. The charges against Tisdale are still active, though the arresting officer was recently cleared of wrongdoing.
    During recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., several journalists were arrested, assaulted, and saw the freedom to perform their duties curtailed both by police and by participants in the protests and rioting that occurred there.
    People who apparently didn’t approve of his videotaping their intent to loot a store seized David Carson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; he ended up having his head repeatedly smashed against the street and his belongings stolen.
    On Aug. 13, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post were dragged out of a McDonald’s in Ferguson after police kicked everyone out of the restaurant – a staging area for the media – and the two didn’t move fast enough.
    Reilly was shoved against a wall, and a police officer smacked his head against a window, before offering a sarcastic “sorry.” The two were later released with the apologies of the Ferguson police chief.
    We’re fortunate in that when events like these happen in this country, they’re rare enough to cause the kind of public interest and, one would hope, outrage that gets them circulated far and wide.
    We can make sure that happens when such abuse is on American soil, be it the responsibility of a criminal or a government actor.
    We’re less equipped to address the heartbreaking fate of Foley and Sotloff. Sympathy has to do. I can only hope that they’ll be in your thoughts and that this writing will have helped you understand what their sacrifice means.

  • Letter to the editor

    I am very disappointed by the errors and name-calling in the Collegio staff editorial of August 21 entitled “Governor Sponsors Delusion in Pittsburg.”
    The Awakening Freedom Tour is incorrectly called “Awakening for Freedom” by the Collegio. The event was not sponsored by Governor Brownback, but by Donna Lippoldt of Wichita, Kansas. Lippoldt is the founder of Culture Shield Network, not the “Cultural Shield Center.” Apparently The Collegio did not check these facts.
    The featured speaker, Neil Mammen, is neither a crackpot nor an idiot, but a brilliant and compelling young immigrant skilled in logic. Born to East Indian parents, he has degrees in Solid-State Physics and Computer and Electrical Engineering and among other accomplishments has founded start-up companies in Silicon Valley. The Collegio did not cover the foundational ideas of Mammen’s presentation, which were as follows:
    The government is not the reason for declining morals in America. The Christian church is, mainly because of apathy and fear. A happier, healthier, safer and mutually prosperous America can only happen if Christians begin to truly follow Jesus Christ, and are unafraid to become involved in political issues.
    Many in the American Church believe that political involvement is unchristian, but Jesus was involved in the politics of His nation which was not Rome, but Israel. He boldly confronted national leaders on many issues.
    Mammen did not say or imply that “public welfare is a theft of tax dollars,” He said that an engaged Church would be more effective at fighting poverty than the government is.
    Word count restriction does not allow me to address other inaccuracies in the editorial.
    The Collegio may disagree with ideas presented during the Awakening Freedom Tour, but there is no need for inaccuracy, name-calling and outright mockery.

    L. Michelle Thomas
    2007 Alumnus

  • Letter to the Editor

    Fraternizing with our money

    Fraternal Leadership Summit, FLS, Greek Weekend, the answer to “Shark Night”, call it what you will but I call it a waste of money and an unnecessary burden on the financials of all PSU students.
    I recall when FLS was first created. It caused quite a debate. Was it really responsible to spend tens of thousands of dollars, at least $20,000 of which is student fees, to send 15-18% of the student body out of Pittsburg for the weekend of freshman move-in? At the time of the creation, I was a non-Greek student, but yet, I paid to send these Greek students to a “Leadership Programming” conference that was hosted on foreign campuses with classes and sessions hosted by a variety of individuals from PSU alumni and staff members to high dollar guest speakers. Why?
    I for one am a firm believer in leadership programming. I’ve taken multiple classes on leadership behavior and theory at PSU, I’ve gone to more than half a dozen conferences through my fraternity after I became a member (on my own dime), and I support individuals attending these conferences. However, I also believe in equal access, especially when student fees are in the mix.
    Why is this event catered toward only Greeks? If the Greeks want this event as badly as the university portrays it, why can they not foot the bill for it? Why are Greeks required to attend and issued a fine of at least $75 for not attending? Of all possible weekends, why must it be the first weekend of school? Why not the second when students are actually moved in and have had a chance to catch their breath? These are all questions that have been asked, but yet no real answers have been given, at least not that have been made public…
    I would like to see a change. If FLS is not abolished in its current state (which I hope it will be soon), it needs to open up to drastic change. First, it should be held on the campus of Pittsburg State University. The completion of the Fine and Performing Arts Center more than secures enough space to accommodate the event. Secondly, it should be rebranded as a “Campus Leadership Summit” open to all students and organized by the most widely known campus organizations, Student Government Association, Student Activities Council, as well as Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council. Last but not least, it should be held on the second weekend that school is in session, once students are settled in and have found their footing. I find it slightly disturbing that some students will never get to spend their first weekend in Pittsburg free to do what they please because after formal recruitment new members of sororities are sent on this “summit.”
    I hope that FLS will finally be brought into the spotlight. Increases in tuition and fees over the past 5 years have been immense, and it’s time to cut the fat. I hope that it starts with SGA and Fee Council. I implore you, the current students, to tackle this reckless spending and stand up for your rights. You are the majority stakeholder in PSU, it’s time to fight for your rights to a reasonably priced education. While leadership training is undoubtedly invaluable and essential, what is worth more, a conference that lasts less than 12 hours and ends with a trip to Worlds of Fun, or a new class offered to all students that is taught every semester?

    Rodney Kimlin is a PSU alumnus.

     

    Governor candidate differences

    “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history,” said James Madison in 1817 in the William and Mary Quarterly.
    As everyone who has followed the history of Gov. Sam Brownback knows, he was previously a Washington, D.C., “C” Street congressman, whose church-related missionary visit to Africa has well-motivated him for foreign service.
    Further, I know Paul Davis, longtime leader of Democrats in the Kansas House of Representatives, and he is very well prepared to become the next Kansas governor.

    Gene Garman is a resident of Pittsburg.

     

    Brownback’s experiment failed

    The evidence that Sam Brownback’s economic experiment has failed is undeniable. Our state’s credit rating has been downgraded three times in a little over a year.
    Kansas is No. 45 in new business creation. Our job growth is lagging behind our neighboring states and the nation. The nearly $400 million surplus Kansas had on July 1 is projected to become a $1.3 billion budget deficit just a few years down the road.
    The responsibility for this crisis rests solely on Sam Brownback.
    Kansas public schools have always been my top priority. I will be the “education governor” Kansans deserve. My daughter is about to walk into a public classroom for the very first time and I want to make sure she – and all Kansas kids – get all the resources they need to be successful. We can ever do that if we hit the accelerator on the failed Brownback experiment.
    Sam Brownback created the equivalent of a second recession for Kansas. If he doesn’t like the commonsense approach I offered to clean up his mess, I welcome him to take responsibility for his mistakes and offer a plan of his own that addresses the budget crisis.
    No matter how much he denies it, the $1.3 billion budget deficit is real and it is a threat to our kids’ classrooms.”

    Rep. Paul Davis holds a seat covering most of Lawrence in the Kansas State Assembly and is the Democratic nominee for governor. The election is on Nov. 4.

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