Monday, November 16, 2015

News Briefs 11.16.15

Student Activism versus Anonymous Free Speech

While I'm sure I could write a news brief on nothing but the recent student uprising at the University of Missouri, I'm fascinated by one specific element of it. So here's the short version: Mizzou students have, for almost a year now, been agitating in the light of perceived racist activity on campus. Their anger is concentrated at their administrators, who they say have done little to combat this activity and help them feel safe on their campus. Hate to link to Wikipedia, but with the spate and range of incidents, this article actually provides a decent timeline. Black students complained of racist language on campus and responded by confronting the university president, Timothy M. Wolfe, over a period of months, and eventually began calling for his resignation. One student went on a hunger strike. Members of the football team refused to play. Others took over open house events and used them as a platform to describe the incidents on campus. Last week, Wolfe actually did resign from his position, an action the student leaders counted as a victory.

This brings me to Yik Yak and its use by Mizzou students.

First, a definition; Yik Yak is a location-based app that, essentially, creates an anonymous message board. It's most commonly used on college campuses for students to comment and gossip on facets of their lives that they don't, necessarily, want attached to their names. Everything can be Googled nowadays. It's no surprise that some social media apps have embraced anonymity, filling a void and detaching names from social interaction. It's oddly cyclical, considering the Internet originated in anonymity, then gave people names, and now allows them to depart from those personas all over again.

The problem, though, is Yik Yak at Mizzou has been used to post threats to students in the wake of student activist agitation. Again, since Yik Yak is location-based, only people within range of Mizzou can access the posts, and since Yik Yak is anonymous, there's no immediate way to tell who posted something. Local police say there's no reason to worry, that they've apprehended a suspect via IP tracking, but the incident presents an interesting contrast. On one side we have named student activists, people who put their personas and faces out there for the sake of their campaign. On the other, we have unrestricted free speech being used for hate, threats spewed by the nameless.

To me, the Internet is merely a subset of humanity at large. There are always going to be rotten people in the world. The Internet gives them an easier way to get their voices out there, but at the same time, the Internet gives that ability to all of us. Anyone can go out and write something online, connect with other people who you might have never met otherwise, and learn from each other. Clearly, words have power - words led to the resignation of the university president, after all. We have to learn how to use that power for good instead of bad, by drowning out the voices of hate that may never fully go away, but can be shut out.



- Adjunct professors get paid around $15,000 a year, while being expected to research, publish, and live.
-Even some tenured professors lack a solidly livable salary, and often skirt the lines of poverty.
-An undercover NYPD officer infiltrated multiple Brooklyn College clubs without due cause, including the Islamic Society.
-Up to $300,000 of CUNY tuition money funds prisons.

Remember, it takes a heavy, radical gale of protestors' opinions to push the legislature one step forward.


Guys, I've been trying to find a good reason for application fees and I can't think of one. 

The argument seems to be that application fees deter non-serious applicants but come on, have you ever filled out an application? Sometimes it's more work than you do once at the school you've just applied to. You know we're serious about this. 

The other argument is that the people reading your application deserve to be paid for reading your application. I get that. Everybody has got to eat. However, if that is the case, is upwards of a hundred dollars per applicant considered 'eating' or at some point does it become a little gluttonous? 

Application fees are classist. They keep the poor out and halt all hope for upward mobility. I wish I could say more about this and explain but I think it's almost self-explanatory.


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