Story & Photo by Ahmya Williams
Co-Editor in Chief
Class, homework, work and repeat. This is a typical day in the life of most college students, and this does not include the student athletes or the clubs and organizations in which a student may participate. College students have full days and nights of school and work. When is there time to get enough rest?
The average amount of sleep required for adults is seven to nine hours. Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is just one essential element to maintaining a properly functioning body. Many college students have had at least one incident of sleep deprivation.
Hunter Snow, a nursing student in his second year at Rose State, is also a shift manager at a restaurant and normally works 40-50 hours a week. Snow said he sleeps about four to five hours daily. He noticed being a full time manager and student has affected his sleep schedule.
“I have pulled many ‘all-nighters’ to stay up and study for my exam or finish homework because I was at work,” he said. Psychology Professor Richard Wedemeyer explained how lack of sleep can negatively affect the body and daily life
“Sleep deprivation may be the most pervasive health problem contributor that we face,’’ Wedemeyer said. “Not getting enough quality sleep easily causes us to be moody, short-tempered and causes us to make more mistakes, including omitting steps, making careless errors, and it impairs our learning and decision-making. Lack of sleep also causes us to gain weight and then suffer additional consequences.”
Snow also mentioned how his lack of sleep could be affecting his body negatively.
“I’m always trying to drink energy drinks and coffee,” he said.
The amount of sugar and calories most energy drinks and coffee contain can cause weight gain and can be unhealthy.
Wedemeyer can relate to being a sleep deprived college student.
“I was particularly stressed during a period in the ‘80s when I was working two jobs and going to school four nights a week,” he said, “My sleep suffered then much as it does for many students now who are working and going to school while also attempting a social life.”
Many college students today work at least one job while going to school full time, and trying to keep a social life is just as hard as trying to get enough sleep.
“It seems that our culture has presented us with the notion that doing a lot is somehow valuable, a reward in itself,” Wedemeyer said. “It is easy to reach a point wherein quality sleep is sacrificed.”
While it may feel good to get a lot accomplished daily, it is also essential to one’s health to get enough rest.
“I think it is important to recognize that nightly sleep – long enough and of the right structure – is as important as any health initiative in self-care,” Wedemeyer said. He also outlined ways to try to get good rest at night. “There are many sleep hygiene recommendations that can assist this, such as making a routine of the rituals surrounding bedtime, not drinking alcohol or caffeine within four hours of bedtime, leaving your phones and TVs off, and so on.”
There are many other tips to try to achieve proper rest at night. Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day will help set the internal clock and help with having better sleep at night. Keeping a regular wake to sleep cycle will keep a good routine for your brain and body to know when it is time to get rest.
Taking a nap anytime after 3 p.m. would cause someone to stay up later throughout the night and create an irregular sleep schedule. It is also best to avoid doing homework or studying in bed. Keeping the bed as a place just to sleep will make it easier to get rest.
Listening to soft music or nature sounds can help with falling asleep, these sounds can help calm the brain, which makes it easier to fall asleep. Making a to-do list before going to bed will help get rid of worrying thoughts on the brain so rest at night can be easier to come by.
Allowing an adequate amount of rest each night will improve physical and mental health. Sleep is one of the best forms of self-care.
“We are mammals after all, and so it is our destiny to spend a third of our lives sleeping,” Wedemeyer said.
Story by Hollye Carrol
As the 2020 presidential campaign cycle kicks off, this column will serve to deconstruct and demystify the American political system. In conjunction with “One Nation Under Pod,” available on the RoseRadio SoundCloud page, we will cover the current presidential candidates, debates and issues that are important to our demographic: student debt loan forgiveness, healthcare, the environment and job creation.
The second round of the presidential candidate debates was held in Detroit July 31 and Aug 1. Due to the high number of candidates, this will only discuss the heavy hitters we all know by name and who are doing the best in the polls.
The first night included Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’ Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. A stark contrast to the first round, Tuesday’s debate saw Warren and Sanders go head-to-head. Buttigieg, or Mayor Pete as he’s more commonly known, and O’Rourke both made valid points and appealed to their ever-growing bases but everyone involved knew this night was for Warren and Sanders. In an attempt to set themselves apart from one another, both candidates articulately stated their differences without infighting; unlike night two but we’ll discuss that shortly.
Warren’s student debt forgiveness plan includes a two cent tax on the 0.1% of Americans making over $50 million a year. A two cent tax will be placed on every dollar made after the 51 millionth dollar, which would effectively cancel student debt for 95% of the population.
Sanders’ plan is to effectively cancel all student debt by a new tax on financial transactions, which he expects could raise more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The tax plan will include a 0.5% fee on all stock trades, a 0.1% fee on all bond trades and a 0.005% fee on all derivatives trades.
Night two ushered in Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang on the stage. This night was a stark comparison to the first because the bulk of the night was spent trying to attack both Biden and Harris’ political careers.
Yang and Gillibrand were definitely the dark horses of the debate and used their time wisely to introduce legislation and focus on appealing to voters. Booker made incredibly compelling points but the highlights revolved around the quips thrown Biden’s way. Michael Bennet also delivered but is barely polling and sounds like Matt Damon’s character from “Team America: World Police.”
It’s understandable that the candidates have to beat each other first before becoming the nominee but night two saw too much infighting and that served as a distraction. The rule of thumb should always be country before party and the candidates from the first round seemingly pursued this much more.
The winner of night two was Yang with his proposal to put a monthly stipend of $1,000 in every American’s pocket starting from birth. Yang also discussed future job creation and the inevitable job loss brought on by the advancement of technology. The other candidates may still be on stage trying to discredit Biden and Harris.
By no means am I pledging allegiance to Yang Gang but his closing remarks have stayed with me and encapsulated the mindset each candidate should have, “This isn’t about left or right; this is about moving forward.”
Story by Selena Williams
What does it actually mean to be more than one race? It seems like such a simple question to ask; however, it can be difficult to answer without feeling like a racial impostor.
The phrase “what are you?” is not an appropriate way to ask someone about their identity. Unfortunately, that does not stop people from saying it, or from questioning or even correcting someone’s self-identification.
Rose State student Haley Thatcher, who is mixed - African American and Caucasian- has had difficulties being biracial. She explained her school experience growing up.
“Well, since I went to a 95% all white school it was tough,” Thatcher said. “Finding friends wasn’t all that hard, but still challenging.”
Thatcher said she first realized she was biracial when she was 10 or 11, always received comments about her hair and even stares.
“I did get a question one time how I got my hair so curly, which I thought was kind of strange,” Thatcher said.
Thatcher thinks race is just a way to identify or categorize what we look like. She thinks it’s a good thing because if we did not, we would feel alone.
Former Rose State student, Kourtney Love, who is also African American and Caucasian, lives in Midwest City with her husband and daughter.
“In junior high, I didn’t like being called white because at that time I found out about slavery, so I didn’t want to be referred to as white. It was either just mixed or black; and this guy called me a white girl, it upset me, you know. I didn’t want to be the white girl. “I think at that time it was kind of like, I don’t fit in with one crowd, and I didn’t experience anything like that again until I was 26.”
Love explained how when she was 26, a man called her a black girl and she said it didn’t make sense that all of a sudden she was considered a black girl. That’s when she noticed that being mixed was a thing and some people didn’t like it. She felt like people thought she was either too black or too white.
In high school Love began hanging out with more black kids or mixed kids instead of white kids, because they didn’t interact with her, so she didn’t interact with them. She never experienced what it was like to have white friends or the white culture other than from her dad’s side of the family.
“I would think that if you’re colorblind, then race doesn’t exist, people are just people,” she said. “You know, if we didn’t live in the world we live in, and people weren’t so into colorism then it’s false. People put that in our minds or taught us that because you look different, race exists. In a perfect world, if you raise your kids to be colorblind they won’t know, so race wouldn’t exist. We can interact the same way, we can have the same conversations and if nobody looked at color, we could get the same education and textbooks. So, race [shouldn’t]exist, but it does.”
Love explained how she addresses silly or misguided questions from the outside world regarding her daughter.
“Being mixed, I have had problems with my daughter because she’s brown. She’s much more brown than I am and so people ask ‘is that your real daughter, like you gave birth to her, you had her?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah’,” she said. “I’ve had kids or adults come up to me and say ‘why is she so dark?’, and I’m like it’s because I’m not white and her dad is black, she’s black. It felt like they were saying she couldn’t be my daughter because we were two separate shades.”
On the surface, colorblindness seems like a good thing, since it says we should treat each other purely as individuals. However, race influences our perceptions and treatment of others, whether we want it to or not, and that trying to ignore race effectively means trying to ignore racism, which lets the current racial inequities continue.
“I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be any other race,” Love said. “To be just black or just white, I don’t think I would want to be either. I’ll stay in the middle because each race goes through its own things. But, I couldn’t imagine just being whole when being half you go through what you go through, or you hear the things you hear. Like how much worse could it get, so I’ll just stay in the middle.”
Regardless of race, everyone will encounter some sort of identity crisis in their lives. Many multiracial people find themselves between the racial and ethnic boxes society has put in place. Instead of having our own box, people dip in and out of preexisting boxes that fit depending on the situation they are in. The most important thing to remember is to not make assumptions about a mixed person’s racial identity. If a person discloses their identity, take their word for it. No two multiracial people are the same. All individuals have different stories and backgrounds, but everyone’s story is valid. Recognize and celebrate that.
Story & Photo by JaNae Williams
Since April 20, 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School and went on a shooting spree that lasted 49 minutes, there have been a number of shootings, in schools and elsewhere - many of which have gone unreported by major news outlets. Typically, only government-defined instances of “mass shootings” make it into the headlines.
What determines a “mass shooting?” There is a bit of a disagreement amongst groups that weigh in on the matter.
The FBI offers no definition of what constitutes a mass shooting, only a mass killing or mass casualty event: Three or more killings in a single incident.
Other institutions suggest different definitions. Mother Jones, a non-profit investigative news organization, defines mass shootings as “indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed by the attacker.” They exclude more conventional crimes such as armed robbery or gang violence. Mass Shooting Tracker, an online, crowd-sourced database states: “We define a mass shooting to be an incident of violence in which four or more people are shot.” Gun Violence Archive’s definition is similar, but they do not include the shooter in the number of victims.
With so many definitions available, it is hard to know how to differentiate a mass shooting from a casualty event. By only considering the number of people killed, some of these sources negate the severity of the situation, often ignoring those who do not lose their lives. Brushing aside instances in which fewer than three people are killed - while dozens are injured - does a disservice to many victims. After facing major trauma, the human body takes months or even years to fully recover. For the human mind, full rehabilitation may never occur.
A Google search reveals countless lists of preparatory measures for college campuses. Preparation is emphasized enough, it seems. But are we really as prepared as we think we are?
In the wake of the most recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Donald Trump pushed for arming teachers as a way to prepare schools for these situations, even proposing bonus pay for those teachers willing to commit to training. This suggestion is flawed for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the funding. As school districts in some states are struggling to even pay instructors a competitive wage or have resorted to four-day school weeks, it is unclear from where the additional money would come. Many teachers have vocalized their personal aversions to the idea of being armed.
Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services and a 30-year veteran school safety expert (no relation to the president), said in an article that “it is short-sighted for those supporting the idea to believe that educators who enter a profession to teach and serve a supportive, nurturing role with children could abruptly kick into the mindset to kill someone in a second’s notice.”
In light of events that occurred during the Stoneman Douglas shooting, there is also the question of whether law enforcement is even prepared for this task, yet the call to do so is now being placed on educators and those with no training, without regard to the repercussions.
The responsibility and potential liabilities involved “are beyond the expertise, knowledge-base, experience, and professional capabilities of most school boards and administrators,” added Ken Trump.
Who is liable if a student discharges a teacher’s weapon, harming others, accidentally or otherwise? What if school personnel shoot someone mistakenly? The whole idea lacks common sense. It’s no surprise that creating actual legislation for it has since been regarded as the responsibility of the states, despite the idea originating on the federal level.
“If you see something, say something.” The adage penned by advertising executive Allen Kay the day after 9/11 is one most of us have grown up hearing regularly. It gets mentioned after every major tragedy in the U.S. and many international incidents as well. It stands as a reminder that when we all take an active part in being aware of the world around us, we have the power to prevent tragedy. But are there better methods of prevention that are overlooked?
Whenever a shooting occurs, there is an instant reaction from some people to argue it is “too soon” after the tragedy to talk about legislation and change. While we are all implored to give the families time to grieve, the reality is once a mass shooting has occurred, it’s too late to talk about prevention. Prevention is a result of proactivity. Fire prevention does not come from pretending fire isn’t real. Theft prevention doesn’t come by pretending robberies cannot occur. Disease prevention isn’t based on the idea that germs are just figments of our imagination and that if we ignore them, they won’t infect us. Yet, mass shootings, their causes and the means by which perpetrators obtain weapons are readily ignored by government officials and lawmakers.
The U.S. has up to 310 million guns legally owned within its borders - nearly one for every man, woman and child, according to a 2013 Pew Research survey. The same survey, however, also shows that same number of guns is owned by only about 37 percent of the population. That means roughly 120 million Americans own nearly three times as many firearms.
While a minority of people are owning guns, a Gallup poll from 2015 shows 86 percent of people surveyed would favor “a law which would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the U.S. using a centralized database across all 50 states,” and a separate 2011 poll showed that the top two ways Americans believed would prevent mass shootings were via stricter gun control laws and better mental health screening and support, respectively.
Despite overwhelming numbers of Americans wanting reform, Congress remains resistant to change. After all, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” according to the ever-popular first line of defense for gun lobbyists and Second Amendment advocates. While it’s true guns are not the perpetrators, there is obviously work to be done.
Without significant work on issues regarding mental health, the problem will remain. However, there is no evidence showing mental illness alone is enough to make a person a threat for violent behavior. Many of those involved in past mass shootings showed no signs of mental illness, were able to pass background checks or merely exploited loopholes in the current laws and systems to obtain their weapons.
The Second Amendment states, “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But what does that mean and how does it apply to preventing mass shootings?
“A well regulated Militia” is what is called for, but regulated by whom, and under what circumstances does it come into play when providing for the “security of a free State?” We no longer live in a time when the states have their own organized militias, a system that existed when the country’s military, state and local law enforcement lacked the organization, funding, skills and mobility of today. Instead, the majority of modern militias operate on anti-government sentiments focused only on their own security, stating that they will defend their right to bear arms in both federal and state governments.
With the existence of law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level, the Amendment lacks the pertinence of the 18th century. Weaponry, ammunition, modifications and enhancements have advanced dramatically since the Amendment was created. During Revolutionary times and the decades that followed, muskets and pistols could only be fired three to four times per minute because of the time reloading required, and their effective range was less than 300 yards.
Today’s weapons can fire upwards of 45 rounds per minute, and certain enhancements can increase that number to hundreds of rounds per minute. Effectiveness can range up to 1,900 yards and reloading takes less than a second, compared to 15-20 seconds per shot. The Second Amendment was clearly not written with this kind of weaponry in mind.
Most proponents of gun laws are not advocates of the seizure of all weaponry, but rather the limitation of access of certain and specific weapons, modifications and ammunition. Armor-piercing ammunition, used in the Las Vegas shooting, is available today, rendering the protections of our military and law enforcement useless.
Meanwhile, high-capacity magazines further increase the lethal threat of assailants. Modifications such as bump-stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at rates closer to fully automatic speeds nullify the few pieces of legislation currently in place, which prohibit the purchase of automatic weapons. Loopholes in laws surrounding gun shows and private purchases, a lack of accountability for registration due to arguments over privacy, and the flaws in the country’s effectiveness in maintaining those methods are all easily modified with legislation. Many bills already exist that could make changes that would save lives.
We require all vehicles to be legally registered and owners to be tested, even maintain licenses and liability insurance with penalties for failure to do so. Yet, anyone over the age of 18 can purchase weapons, modifications, ammunition in mass quantities with zero federal, state or local intervention.
With preparedness fully in question and a lack of viable options on the table, the common sense idea would seem to be preventing rather than just preparing for tragedy. Students from Stoneman Douglas have become vocal following their experiences, advocating for change from law makers that eliminate the threat rather than merely anticipating it. For their sake, and the sake of all Americans, let’s hope we don’t continue to ignore this very real and pressing matter.
Story by Mina Onar
As humans, feeling connected to something or someone greater than ourselves makes us feel secure and like we have a goal in life. This is why religion plays such a big role in people’s lives. However, even if someone has beliefs on a specific religion, as we all know, that does not mean that there is only one true religion. There are roughly 4,200 religions in the world, but the most common religions are Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Since people do not feel the need do further research on things that they hear on a daily basis, it is easy to assume things are true without doing any kind of fact checking. There are many misconceptions about every religion which can be offensive to the believers of those religions. Dec. 25 is celebrated by many people as Jesus Christ’s birthday; however, other countries who do not celebrate Christmas think it is the celebration of the New Year. And even though we think they are, atheists are not necessarily anti-religious. So how educated are we, really?
As the 15th Street News Staff, we realized there are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to religion. We would like to open this column for anyone who would like to share his/her experiences based on religious topics. For this issue, I would like to share my own experiences, and would like to share my own knowledge. I have never considered myself a religious person, though my parents raised me to be respectful of all people who have different ideas and beliefs. I do not consider myself a Muslim, but I carry the culture with me, and I grew up learning different aspects of Islam.
There are about 50 countries that are Muslim-majority. The Republic of Turkey is one them. I was born in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Turkey is located between Eastern Europe and Western Asia and has borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. Contrary to popular belief, Turkey does not have a main religion, but 98 percent of the population is Muslim. In fact, it is the only popularly Muslim country that has no state religion. The Constitution guarantees religious freedom and tolerance is the rule.
Most people who did not grow up in a diverse environment directly assume that Islam has specific rules, which a Muslim person should be following: If that person is female, she has to be covered. He or she cannot eat pork or any meat outside his or her country because the meat is not halal, or cannot drink alcohol. Basically, many people assume that Islam is based off of these restrictions and nothing else. This is not necessarily true.
People often make these assumptions largely based off portrayals by the media. Unfortunately, we have witnessed many incidents that have escalated stereotyping, whether it’s toward Muslims, refugees, immigrants or different cultures. Starting with 9/11, the world began to look at Muslims as if they were terrorists, radicals or unacceptably different from other people. One of the main and disturbing forms of stereotyping is considering every Muslim person and ISIS militants or supporters of ISIS as equal. What we do not realize is this is the same as considering every Christian as a supporter of Irish Republican Army or other Christian terrorist groups. We do not see the media covering such things, so why are Muslims the target?
The main question I am asked is where I am from, which is understandable since I have an accent that reveals I am foreign. When I say I am from Turkey and studying in Oklahoma, most people get excited. Some people start asking me questions, and while I do not normally mind answering questions, I think the questions should be educated ones, which leads us to this column.
When people find out I am Turkish, some look directly at my hair and ask me why I do not cover it. I kindly inform them that not every Muslim female or a female who grew up in a Muslim country has to cover her hair.
Another form of stereotyping people practice, even though their only intention is to be kind, is informing me about the meat when I eat around them. I am told what kind of meats are my options. They say I should be careful because there might be pork inside the food that I am eating or ordering, because they assume I certainly cannot have pork. So, they always warn me about the food in front of me. To be honest, pork is not my favorite meat of choice; however, I grew up eating it occasionally. In my family or when I am with my friends, it is never an issue.
It should be understood that many people only take some parts of a religion, and regulate it according to their own personal views. Or maybe the culture they grew up in has strict rules and their religion has nothing to do with it.
Even though I do not take any questions or concerns personally, some other person might. Stereotyping can grow into wrong information, and even racism. We all should be less biased and more kind to each other, not just when it comes to religion but also when it comes to politics, personal views or just the characteristic features of ourselves. We are not the same person, but we are equal.
Gallup Incorporated conducted a poll on the opinion of the American tax payer. The poll asked, “Do you regard the income tax which you will have to pay this year as fair?” 50% said, yes( fair), 47% said no(not fair) and 3% had no opinion. “If you make money then it benefits you to pay, because you’ll get a lot more of that money back as a refund,” said Oklahoma Tax Commission,Communications Division Director Paula Ross.
Either way, preparing taxes by one’s self can be grueling, so the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers what it calls IRS Free File. Inside of Free File there are a number of ways to file for free: Turbo Tax, H&R Block and Tax Slayer. Just remember to read the fine print to see what adjusted gross income applies. According to Ross, online filing software assists the prepper by correcting mistakes. “They’ll calculate the math, if you type something in that doesn’t make sense it’ll flag it and you’ll look and make sure you have the correct information in it.”
IRS.gov will assist with file preparation for free over the phone. In Oklahoma there are four offices that are available to help; however, an appointment must be made prior to asking for help.
Outside of the IRS there are many ways to file, in some cases there is the one person in the family or group that does everyone’s taxes, some go to a brick and mortar location and pay for accuracy while others are confused as to why others are so anxious to do taxes since they have never filed in their life. “When your income is not at a high level, they’ll let you file for free,” said Ross.
No matter which option, filing taxes can be easy and it is always vital.
By Carlos Salinas
Oklahoma has had a very mild start to the winter, some would argue that winter has not even truly begun with how hot the weather was in the month of November. Temperatures have been as high as 86 degrees and that was on Nov. 16, right in the middle of the month. I do not think anyone was expecting a winter wonderland at this point in the season, but to still be considering Hawaiian shirts to wear outside in the middle of November is a little unexpected to say the least. The reason “the most wonderful time of the year,” is beginning so slow, is up for debate. Of course it is hard to narrow it down to a single cause but for some people it is undeniably the cause of global warming.
Global warming is a scientific fact and has been for years. It is a part of nature and would be occurring even if humans were not influencing it, but the fact is that humans are accelerating the warming of the earth through pollution, from emissions from giant factories or simply through the burning of fossil fuels in our homes for heat or through our vehicles. Now the emissions from our vehicles are not as intense as the emissions from a factory but still they do not help the earth.
If we as a people continue with our fossil fuel dependence future generations might not get to make future generations as the Earth will no doubt be in peril. Oklahoma has no doubt always benefited from the oil and natural gas industries which some would argue are very big causes towards the speeding up of global warming, luckily we are making steps towards the right direction.
More and more wind farms are beginning to sprout up across the state and across the nation as well. Will we be free of fossil fuels in the next 20 years? Unless development of renewable energy sources accelerate tenfold, then probably not, but as renewable energy sources become more efficient and affordable hopefully we as a country and eventually, the world, can help turn back the tides of global warming.
We must start thinking of the future and care for the Earth around us. Think globally, but act locally. Carpool if you can, reduce, reuse, recycle, picking up trash and properly dispose of it.
These acts will not stop the melting of the ice caps by themselves, but if more people follow these practices, hopefully those ice caps will stop melting.
Story & Photo by Mina Onar
Terrorism is one of the most crucial problems of the 21st century. We have seen hundreds of terror attacks in the last two decades. Some of them left great marks on humanity. For example, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. On Nov. 13, 2015, the Paris attacks, where three locations were bombed in one night. The airport bombing in Belgium on March 22, 2016, and lastly the attack in Nice on Bastille Day on July 14, 2016.
These are the attacks that we know in a very detailed way. We prayed for the victims. We stood in solidarity with them. We became Paris by saying “Je Suis Paris,” and went as far as condemning the attacker who drove a bus into the crowd in Nice. But, unfortunately, no one talked about the Istanbul airport bombing which happened just a few days before the Nice attack. Yet again, no one changed their profile pictures to Iraq or Pakistan flags due to the attacks in Iraq and Pakistan, which killed more than 250 people each. It is not surprising that most people do not know because it was not in the news. This is because some of the countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran have no freedom of press.
On March 13, 2016, Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, bombed the center of Turkey’s capital, Ankara. The PKK bombed the main location for bus stops, subways, and workplaces. Nearly 40 people died and 125 people were injured. It was one of the biggest terror attacks in Ankara’s history. After the attack happened, Turkish government immediately blocked the main social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Also, RTUK, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, created a broadcast ban for all the main channels in Turkey. Some may think that not reporting the news of such attacks could be beneficial to the communities. It is understandable to think that reporting may create chaos among the people. There are people who would prefer not to hear about the bad news that is going on around the country. They choose to live as if nothing is wrong and go about their daily life, and choose not to see the real, more serious incidents around them. These decisions are made with the intent positively about the future. One might think that reading the bad news every day would not help us to see the bright future. But is ignoring the problem the real solution?
Journalism is supposed to be objective and transparent. Journalists’ essential goal is to inform the community. When one cannot find anything about a great incident, it may feel like some things are trying to be kept secret from the community. For example, during the terror attacks in Turkey, after the blackout, a new generation users of social media drilled all the bans and did everything to get access illegally by changing their VPN settings. Suddenly, accessible DNS settings became the most popular subject among the users. Banning the media outlets was not a problem for the new generation, on the contrary it had an appealing effect. Though, there were still many others who cannot have access to any information. During important incidents and terror attacks, some lost their parents, siblings, children, etc. When it is already hard for the people who have to go through such events, it is even harder not being able to gather details on the event.
Terror attacks affect a large number of people. Even if it does not affect someone physically, it affects mentally and spiritually. People who choose not to hear about the news are able to ignore the environment. However, people who choose to learn about the incidents that happen in the country are not actually able to reach the details because of the media blackout.
“A short while later, a court in Ankara issued an order blocking access to social media in an effort to prevent the dissemination of photographs from the bombing scene,” Ceylan Yeginsu (reporter for the New York Times) said.
Freedom of press is not only about media blackouts, or media blackouts on terror attacks. For example, there have been several Turkish journalists who were arrested or warned because of their stories. Even the photographs they used in their stories were a problem for the minister’s or even for the President of Turkey himself.
“Now even publishing a not-nice picture of Erdogan would be trouble,” said one prominent journalist, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because she feared she would be arrested, as many of her colleagues have been. “Now we even have ministers calling us and saying, ‘Why did you run that picture of me? I don’t like the way it looks,’” she said. The aftermath of those calls and warnings, might end up with the arrest by the police.
Can Dundar, a Turkish journalist who covered a story about the relationship between the Turkish Intelligence Service and the Islamic State of Iraq/Syria (ISIS), was arrested after releasing a government secret to the public. How can one be a real journalist if he or she will not work for public? “We call on Turkish authorities to stop imprisoning journalists for their views,” said Nina Ognianov, the coordinator of the Europe and Central Asia program of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
By Jackson Parker, Chief Photographer, Photo by Kelsey Morgan
British writer G.K. Chesterton said, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was up.” A reasonable statement that still rings true today and should be applied to modern issues, in particular the Electoral College.
Over the past few election cycles, the Electoral College itself has gained more and more scrutiny from the public eye. A majority of this discontent comes from social media and people who clearly do not understand the workings of the Electoral College.
So let us shed some light on the matter by answering a few questions.
What exactly is the Electoral College and where does it come from?
As established in Article II of the Constitution, the members of the Electoral College are voted for in November, and they vote for the President later that December.
Who’s in it?
The College is made up of 538 electorates from each state. The number of electors is based upon the number of representatives and senators in Congress at that time. This means every state automatically gets two votes plus votes based on population. No matter how small the state, they are guaranteed at least one population vote.
So I don’t vote for the president?
That is right, you do not. The aforementioned people that your state sent to represent you based on how you voted are the people who actually vote for the president.
How is this democracy?
Well, it is not. One of the most common mistakes made about the U.S. government is its status as a democracy, when in fact the government is a republic.
But isn’t that the same thing?!?!
No, and this another common mistake that was even made by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. In a democracy everything is voted on by the people, while in a Democratic Republic we elect representatives to vote on our behalf for what they believe to be the best course of action for the nation.
Why even use the Electoral College? Why not make it a straight popular vote?
Think of it as another check and balance in the government. With a little study of history, it is easy to see that pure democracy will cave in on itself over time. A popular way of explaining it.
Technically, citizens still have a popular vote. However, instead of one giant election, we have 51 based off of each individual state. This is where some of the controversy of the electoral college comes in, because if you count all the votes together it is possible for a candidate to lose the overall popular vote. Yet, in individual states, they won the electoral college votes.
But doesn’t this system put all the power in the “swing states?”
That is avoided if the idea of “swing states” and “safe states” was accurate. These states alternate between safe and swing so much that it is almost inconsequential. Until 1988, California was considered a safe state for the Republican Party, but not today. Texas, on the other hand, used to be primarily controlled by the Democratic Party.
How is the Electoral College better than a straight out vote?
If the Electoral College did not exist, it would be easier for candidates to centralize their vote, focusing their campaigns on largely populated areas instead of small states with a higher count of electoral votes. The candidate can have a central demographic but for a successful campaign they must have support from other groups, even if it is only because they do not like the opposing candidate.
Is this how the Electoral College is supposed to function?
For the most part, yes. Where our use of the Electoral College differs from its original intent falls more on the states instead of the federal government.
In fact, a majority of states have made it illegal for Electoral College members to vote differently than their pledged party. When members do this, they are deemed “faithless electors.” When the electoral college was founded, this act was not frowned upon; it was actually encouraged by founder Alexander Hamilton.
Why would they allow the electors to vote against what the people want?
Throughout the history of the nation, there been those who worried that the people’s voice would not be heard. This is a valid concern, but restricting the electors to only vote one way may not be the best solution to this problem.
So what are we supposed to do with this information?
That is up to the American people, as we as a nation decide if we want to keep the electoral college intact, revise it on a state level to align it closer to the original intent or, even more extreme, get rid of it all together.
It is up to you, America.
Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer stopped at Tulsa's BOK Center on their "Sounds Live Feels Live" world tour, following a two week hiatus during the North American leg. Photos by Kelsey Morgan.