PittOpinion

  • Homecoming is a Gorilla family reunion

    | Steven A. Scott PSU President |

    As Homecoming week unfolds, it brings added energy and emotion to the campus. There’s no doubt it’s a special time of year, and to me, the campus has never looked more beautiful. Homecoming is a time of reflection and connecting to our past through some of the most important traditions we have, including the convocation, Yell Like Hell, the parade and, of course, the football game.
    This year we will add something new to our list of rich and enduring traditions. Just before the kickoff on Saturday (at 12:13 p.m. to be exact), we will reveal an amazing campus feature that will celebrate our passion for being Gorillas and our aspirations to be champions in all that we do.
    In some ways, the role of university president allows me to be in homecoming mode on almost a continuous basis. It’s one of the best parts of my work. As I meet with alumni throughout the year and throughout the country, I hear them reflect on what Pittsburg State meant to them as students and what it continues to mean. They talk about the Oval, the beauty of the campus, and the faculty and staff who supported them, and they talk about the friendships they made while they were here. It reminds me that today’s students are creating similar memories, building relationships that will last a lifetime, and developing a foundation for a professional life and career.
    So, as our alums return to campus and reconnect with us, and as they see the progress we’ve made since their graduation, we should all embrace the fact that we are in many ways a family. Let’s welcome their return. Together, let’s acknowledge that homecoming is not just a reunion, but it is in essence a family reunion. We are not just Gorilla Nation; we are a family of Gorillas!
    I wish all of our students, faculty, staff and, most importantly, our returning alumni the best homecoming ever. Enjoy your time on the campus and enjoy your time together.

    Steve Scott is president of Pittsburg State University.

  • Avoiding the rape culture

    | Taylor Cunningham |

    If you’ve been reading the headlines lately, you will know that we are facing an epidemic on college campuses across the country: sexual assault and the obvious mishandling of abuse cases.
    The neglect that many individuals have faced after reporting the crimes committed against them is disgusting; the effects can only be assumed to be devastating to survivors after the bravery of their voices.
    As institutions become increasingly complicit in the perpetuation of sexual assault on campuses, we must ask ourselves what ways we aid in the suffering of other human beings who have been victims of sexual assault. An honest, soul-searching question must be asked: Am I aiding in the perpetuation of rape culture?
    For those unfamiliar with the term, rape culture refers to a society in which sexual violence and inappropriate sexual language have become normalized, encouraged, or ignored. While most students at PSU would never blatantly encourage the acts of rape or abuse, there is a habit that is insulting and offensive that must be stopped: the casual and flagrant use of the word rape.
    I have heard this word – this inherently violating and gruesome word – used in phrases since my middle school days. “Dude, I totally raped that test,” or, “We totally got raped by the other team” are just two examples of this. Just last week, I was sitting in class and heard a freshman behind me loudly exclaim, “This class is totally f*****g raping me.”
    There are many excuses given when individuals are confronted about their flippant usage of the word. I’ve been told that it’s an accurate description of what happened to them. I’ve been called an angry feminist for openly airing my grievances with it. I’ve been told that “it’s not what they meant” as if that makes its meaning any less detestable.
    Rape is not triumphant. Rape is not the equivalent of failing a test. Rape does not accurately describe your sports team win or how you won an argument. Rape is an act of sexual violence so disgusting and violating that many who are victims of it need lifelong mental health rehabilitation. And every time you claim that you’ve “raped” something, you are trivializing a word that is associated with many ruined lives and broken homes. You are associating your own academic weakness with the soul-crushing offense that many have faced bravely.
    So please, for all of the people who have to endure flashbacks of abuse when you open your mouth, stop. For the girl sitting in front of you with a keen awareness that one in six of her friends will be raped, stop. For the sake of just being a decent human being, stop.

    Taylor Cunningham is a senior in sustainability

  • Slavery all over again

    | Staff Editorial |

    Everyone assumed the Supreme Court would take on at least one of the five cases appealed to them regarding same-sex marriage.
    The Supreme Court, with its ability to decide the constitutionality of prohibiting same-sex marriage for the entire country, chose instead to deny the cases. By doing this, same-sex marriage became legal in those states where the cases originated: Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. It also will leave room for expansion to include another six states in those allowing same-sex marriage. However, the rest of the country is left to fight over the legalization of same-sex marriage on its own.
    Why did they basically run away? The situation is going down a similar road as the issue of slavery. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the delegates proposed the 3/5 Compromise that counted three out of every five slaves as people and voted that the country would not have to face the issue of slavery again until 1808, when Congress would then have the power to ban the slave trade should it wish to do so.
    The issue was then pushed until 1861 with the start of the Civil War and even after the war was over and the Supreme Court granted freedom, citizenship, and voting rights to black males, African Americans were still denied rights.
    The Supreme Court kept pushing the issue of civil rights and refusing to rule on the unconstitutionality of segregation until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    The Supreme Court has continually backed out of a fight that has been a long time coming and will continue to be in its face until the court finally takes it on.
    The issue of same-sex marriage has grown exponentially and must be resolved before things potentially get out of hand. The Supreme Court has a duty to take on such challenging cases as these; it’s why it was created. The justices are the people with the knowledge, experience and responsibility to be able to determine the outcomes of cases that can affect the nation as a whole.
    The issue of slavery was pushed and ignored for almost 200 years, led to the bloodiest war in American history and a major movement that left a huge impact on the country.
    If the Supreme Court chooses to do the same with the issue of same-sex marriage, there could be severe long-term implications.
    If a war broke out over the issue of letting black people have freedom in the 1800s, what could happen in today’s times over the issue of letting gay people marry? In both cases, a group of people was denied a right that most people are entitled to.
    If we want to avoid the issue festering and blowing up, the Supreme Court needs to act now.

  • You can help, too

    | Ali Smith guest writer |

    We live in a culture where our society, more often than not, ignores, trivializes, normalizes or makes jokes about sexual assault, rape and violence in general. I see this every day on the news, in social media, and I hear it in the conversations around me.
    When the journalists and news anchors blamed Janay Palmer for being abused because “she chose to marry” Ray Rice, I saw the prevalence of victim blaming in our media. When 16-year-old Jada’s sexual assault was videotaped, published on the Internet, and eventually goes viral, I see how our society trivializes and jokes about the violence that happens to our friends, sisters and daughters. When I see the words “When No Means No” and then see the caption “Walking around campus alone at night leads to great vulnerability for sexual assault,” I see how far myths have perpetrated the minds of ordinary people.
    I want to change this. We need to create an environment where sexual assault is not acceptable. We need to create a society in which victim blaming does not exist. We need to create an environment where victims and survivors are supported and loved, not looked down upon and mocked.
    Sexual assault happens here at PSU. It is an issue that needs to be taken seriously by not only the administration, but by the faculty and the students who have the power to step up and stop it.
    The article published in the Collegio two weeks ago, “Sexual-assault concerns hit colleges,” did a good job of focusing on how the university administration handles sexual assault and how victims can report it to the university and the police; however, the article did not focus on how victims can receive help.
    PSU has a campus victims’ advocate, Brooke Powell, who also works at the Safehouse Crisis Center in Pittsburg as an advocate. Advocates are trained to be with victims in the hospital, to go with them to law enforcement stations, provide counseling, and provide specific information about sexual assault.
    Sometimes victims choose not to report. This is up to them. It’s their choice. The PSU campus victims’ advocate is an invaluable source to students who have been a victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crisis and everyone handles a crisis in different ways. Victims can go into shock, experience overwhelming anger, shame or anxiety. Each victim’s experience is different. Advocates are experienced in helping, supporting and counseling in these situations, and everything is absolutely confidential.
    If you have been a victim of sexual assault, it is not your fault and it will never be your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, what you were drinking, if you were alone or with friends. Whatever the situation was, it is not your fault. You can find help, support and love.
    If you or a friend has been a victim of sexual assault, you can contact Brooke Powell at 620-231-8692 or 620-235-4831 or email her at brooke-cunningham@hotmail.com. For more information about Safehouse Crisis Center go to www.safehousecrisiscenter.org

    Ali Smith
    Student coordinator, Students for Violence Prevention

  • SGA tackling several projects

    | Jordan Schaper guest writer |

    Hello, Gorillas,
    I hope everything’s going well with you all as we get closer to the halfway point of the semester.
    It’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks in SGA as we’ve been trying to tackle a variety of issues. We are still looking for feedback on the parking situation via our transportation survey in the SGA office. We are actively searching for solutions that students can get behind and working with the administration to make those a reality. It’s only going to be available for a little bit longer, so make sure you have your voice heard.
    We will also be in the Oval the rest of this week running our voter registration drive. With an upcoming gubernatorial election this November, we think it’s of utmost importance to get registered as soon as possible. We have all of the forms needed to get you registered; you will only have to send in some kind of proof of citizenship to the Crawford County clerk either through the mail or via e-mail. Feel free to stop by the Oval for more information or contact your legislative affairs director, Lindsay Ong.
    On top of this, we are also collecting children’s shoes for the students of Meadowlark Elementary School. The Kicks for Kids program is beneficial to local youth who may not be able to afford new or fitting shoes. We would like to provide these students with shoes ranging in sizes from 10-children to 6-adult. If you or your organization would like to participate in this great cause we would be very appreciative of your contributions.
    Good luck on your upcoming exams, and in the next installment of this SGA update, I’ll be letting you all know of some of our Campus Capital Improvement projects to benefit the campus as a whole.
    Jordan Schaper is president of the Student Government Association.

  • Register to vote

    Staff Editorial

    The 2014 Kansas general election is fast approaching on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Many students may not know that, as students, we have the right to register to vote in the state we are going to school. The constitutional right is to register to vote wherever we consider home. This means that, regardless of how temporary our residency here may be, we are able to register to vote in Crawford County if we so choose.
    A lot of students may not realize just how important it is for us to be able to vote in Kansas. The government of Kansas has authority over our school as a public institution. Therefore, legislation can be enacted that does affect us as students. Voting in Kansas also means we get to vote for senators and representatives who will be sent to Washington. If we want a chance to change the government for the better, we need to do our part by voting for the people who will best be able to help.
    SGA this week has been promoting student voter registration, to give us a chance to have a say in the government. We have the chance to register for the state of Kansas and vote in the elections coming up next month through SGA. There are no extra hoops to jump through, no conditions, we just register now and vote when the elections are held. So why aren’t more students getting involved?
    Yes, politics can be boring; but they are important. Politics affect us and our university whether we realize it or not. We have a right and a duty to make sure that the state we go to school in gets the best representation in Congress so that we can have the best college experience we can. If we are complacent and just let the government slide, we are cheating the country, the university and ourselves.
    Even though SGA is done with its voter registration table on Thursday, Oct. 2, we still have until 21 days before the election, Oct. 14, to register in Kansas.

  • Letter to the Editor

    Don’t blame the victim

    Dear Editor,

    I’m writing regarding the lead story on Sept. 18, “When no means NO.”  The photo used the cutline, “Walking around campus alone at night leads to great vulnerability for sexual assault.”  First, this is not a cutline. More importantly, this statement blames the victim. If a woman is walking alone and is assaulted, it is NOT her fault for walking alone, it is the assaulter’s fault for attacking her! A story covering how wrong assault, of any kind, is would be much more beneficial than printing something that gives perpetrators justification for their actions. I am so disappointed in the Collegio.  

    Jennifer Bristow, MSW, LCSW
    Graduate student in communication

    Article ignored important sources

    Dear Editor,

    I recently read the article “Sexual-assault concerns hit colleges” by reporter Kyleigh Becker. I have some concerns I would like to share with you. I would also like to say that I was very surprised to see the article this morning, because I knew that neither myself nor Brooke Powell were contacted for this article.
    Brooke Powell is the PSU campus victims advocate and is also Students for Violence Prevention’s adviser. She works part time at PSU and full time at Safehouse Crisis Center as a victims’ advocate. Brooke is the person who works with victims of sexual assault directly and would have been an excellent resource for this article. 
    Students for Violence Prevention is a student organization on the PSU campus whose mission is to raise awareness and educate others about issues such as domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and bystander behaviors; to inform victims of where they can go for help; to lead by example.
    I am saddened that we could not contribute to this article on this extremely important topic; one that is close to our hearts and is the reason our organization exists. I know the reporter mentioned us as well as Gorillas in Your Midst at the end of the article, but did not talk to anyone in either organization. 
    This was written in the last part of the article: “Gorillas in Your Midst, Students for Violence Prevention and the Safehouse Victims’ Advocate are organizations for students who need help or want to get involved.” 
    I’d like to clear up the last part of this. “Safehouse Victims’ Advocate” is not an organization. This is actually Brooke Powell’s job title. Safehouse Crisis Center is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to aid in the reduction of the incidence of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Agency services include crisis intervention, emergency shelter, victim advocacy, public education and community awareness, statistical analysis, and involvement in legislative reform. You can learn more about them here: www.safehousecrisiscenter.org 
    One of my biggest concerns of this article is the photo caption: “walking around campus alone at night leads to great vulnerability for sexual assault.” This photo caption does not help create an environment on this campus where sexual assault is unacceptable. It supports myths about sexual assault and victim blaming. 
    There is a myth about sexual assault that says rapists are men who hide in the bushes and jump out and attack women when they walk alone at night. However, in 7 out of 10 sexual assaults, the victim knows the perpetrator. It is not a stranger who jumps out of the bushes. In most cases, the perpetrator is someone that the victim knows and even trusts, like a friend or family member. 
    If you’d like to see similar statistics on offenders visit RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Here is a link:https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-offenders
    Students for Violence Prevention hope that in the future we are contacted to comment on articles that concern us. Myself, Brooke Powell, and any of our members would be more than happy to get a call from the Collegio or any of your writers. 
    We are currently working on collaborating with Student Government Association on a new campaign put forth by the White House called “It’s On Us.” There was also an article by Marcus Clem about this on page 6 of the Collegio. Brooke and I were both a part of the conference call with the White House on Tuesday night representing SVP. We will be actively working with the new campaign on our campus. 

    Thank you for your time, 

    Ali Smith
    Student Coordinator, Students for Violence Prevention (SVP)

  • 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.

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