Story & Photo by Hollye Carroll, Online Editor
The ongoing partial government shutdown officially became the longest-running shutdown in history with Jan. 17 marking its 27th day. There’s no end in sight after the president’s refusal to sign any appropriations bills that don’t include more than $5 billion for a wall along the country’s southern border and this has left workers in the lurch.
Unfortunately, this is not the first shutdown during the Trump administration; on Jan. 20 2016, the Senate Democrats overwhelmingly voted no on a short-term spending bill after the lack of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program which lead to a government shutdown lasting three days and leaving 700,000 workers furloughed.
This shutdown is impeding 800,000 workers in nine out of 15 federal departments and a number of agencies are affected by this shutdown, including the EPA, the IRS, and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Justice, State, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, State and Treasury.
The following departments and services have been deemed “essential” or fall under “mandatory spending”: Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare although new applicants may face a wait, USPS, Veteran hospitals and benefits, Food Stamps (Dept. of Agriculture has only limited funding to maintain them without newly approved appropriations in the past but USDA says it can continue funding through Feb.), and according to a contingency plan for the Department of Homeland Security active duty military members are exempt from being furloughed, border patrol, air traffic control and TSA.
According to AmericanProgress.org, Americans are missing out on $2 billion in total for each pay period they go without a paycheck. By the White House’s own estimate, this shutdown will likely reduce quarterly U.S. GDP by 0.1 percent every two weeks that it continues. Since first-quarter GDP is projected to be roughly $5 trillion, Trump’s shutdown will cost the U.S. economy $5 billion in lost output every two weeks it continues based on the administration’s own impact estimate. That’s $2.5 billion per week, $357 million per day, or $15 million per hour.
Scotty McCorkle, the Superintendent of Bureau of Indian Affairs Concho Agency, has been with the BIA since 1975 and experienced each of the 20 shutdowns since 1976 when the current budgeting process began. Despite the fact budgets for all departments are supposed to be completed by Oct. 1, when their business year begins, McCorkle said that usually does not happen.
“In the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only on four occasions: in fiscal 1977[first full fiscal year under current system], 1989, 1995 and 1997.”
McCorkle explained the reality of uncertainty facing furloughed workers at the BIA.
“[Employees] are standing by anxiously waiting to be called back to work,” McCorkle said. “Each agency has one or two employees designated as essential or excepted to collect the mail and be ready to respond to situations involving the protection of life and property. Those going without pay are starting to consider finding work through other jobs because they are tired of going through this almost every year.”
Another populous feeling the repercussions of the government shutdown are college students.
Lorenzo Rodriguez-Sedillo, a 19-year-old Chemistry major at Rose State College, narrowly avoided a financial-aid disaster this semester.
“Like most students, my education relies on federal aid. The government isn’t processing any new requests for federal aid and I can’t afford to pay my tuition out of pocket so I had to ask my stepdad for help. It’s very inconvenient because I shouldn’t have to make my stepdad pay for my tuition like that but I’m just thankful I could enroll,” they said.
Rodriguez-Sedillo said the only other option was to not enroll this semester and lose their scholarship.
“If I wouldn’t have enrolled this semester, my scholarship wouldn’t be processed for the next semester. When the government reopens, all of my paperwork will be processed and hopefully I am reimbursed,” they said.
“My stepdad is only paying this time because we are expecting a refund from financial-aid.”
As far as an end to the shutdown, the prospects continue to look bleak. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested to President Trump that his State of the Union address should be delayed or delivered in writing. Citing the fact that no sitting president has delivered a State of the Union address during a government shutdown and later told CNN that the address requires hundreds of people to help organize and ensure security, and many of those staffers are now furloughed. She added that Trump could give the State of the Union from the Oval Office.
Trump responded by cancelling Pelosi’s upcoming trips abroad to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan until the government reopens. In the same letter, Trump suggested that Pelosi could fly commercial if she still wanted to visit said countries.
Story & Photo by Julie Archer, Co-Editor
The Oklahoma Mission of Mercy is hosting their 10th annual free dental clinic. It is a two day event taking place at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds on Feb. 1 and 2. The clinic opens at 5 a.m. each day, with courtesy overnight waiting beginning at 10 p.m.
This dental clinic is for any- one who does not have access to dental care from either being uninsured or underinsured.
In 2017, CBS News report- ed a study stating 28 percent of Americans do not have dental insurance, 56 percent only went to the dentist if their dental problem was serious and 51 percent do not know how they can afford dental insurance after turning 65 years old.
“The privilege of being able to go to the dentist is something that you and I have been en- joying while the lack of it are costing others their lives,” Samantha Doughty, a dental assistant for OKMOM, said. “This societal problem will take years and enormous effort to solve but until then, people will continue to suffer and endure their dental problems.”
“Anyone can be a patient. We even have people travel from out of state,” Doughty said. “Some of the things we take care of are cleanings, filings, extractions and anterior root canals. We also take care of patients who need a partial when missing a few teeth.”
People often forget the real importance of dental care or outright lack the money or access to care. A simple toothache can be a cavity, and if untreated, it will need more than just a filling. That tooth could need a root canal or various other procedures depending on the severity of the cavity.
“[People who ignore their dental health] develop a perio disease where the gum tissue comes away from the teeth because they get food down inside there and they get so much buildup and plaque,” Carol Boston, practice manager at Gentle Dental in Midwest City, said. “It can cause bone loss and loss of the teeth if they don’t get it taken care of.”
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 12 percent of adults ages 20 to 64 have not been to the dentist within the past five years. A lot could happen to a person’s teeth in five years time, even in just one year, a lot could happen.
“When we ask a patient why they haven’t gone to the dentist for so long it’s usually one of two things, either ‘my children needed it more’ or ‘I’m terribly frightened and I had a bad experience and couldn’t bring my- self to go back,” Boston said.
The OKMOM is run by volunteers ranging from dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists and even non-dental related volunteers to help the event run smoothly. They have been able to help more than 2000 people every year with their dental services.
Story by Yesenia Gonzalez, Co-Editor
Legislation protecting the rights of people with disabilities was limited prior to 1990, when former president George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Dis- abilities Act into law. Prior to the ADA, legal rights of Americans with disabilities were limited, as well as accommodations in pub- lic and private spaces. The ADA made it illegal for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities. Since then, accessibility has improved and equal opportunities for employment now.
On college campuses across the country, students can visit student access services to arrange accessibility. Students can file paperwork and receive services to aid in their education for a variety of disabilities, including learning disabilities and for mental illnesses and disorders. According to Director of Special Services Dr. Joanne Stafford, although college students may request accommodations, one of the key differences between public schools and institutions of higher education is that students may have an individualized education program (IEP) in their public school where they receive a modified curriculum.
“A college student is expected to meet the essential components of every course,” Stafford said. “So, that is defined primarily by the instructor but it’s pretty evident that it’s important for students to do the same work that all student do.”
Accommodations are used to ensure equality so that each student has a baseline level of opportunity to succeed. According to the amended version of the ADA, students must be provided with reasonable accommodation which lowers barriers for students with disabilities. Rose State offers services such as adaptive listening devices, text- books in alternate formats, assistive software and accessible parking.
The Human Resources office is another campus resource where students can file discrimination and sexual harassment com- plaints. Employees in the human resources department receive training to better assist students with disabilities.
“A section of our Grievance Procedures explains the complaint process, and within that process, the procedures detail the level of training and experience one must have to review, handle, investigate or adjudicate a complaint of sexual harassment,” Senior Director of Human Resources Bertie Nutter said. “Those individuals comprise the College’s Title IX team, and include our Deputy Coordinators, investigators and advocates. Since research suggests people with disabilities are among the populations who may underreport or be underserved when incidents of sexual harassment occur, our formal annual training includes modules addressing the considerations of the ADA accommodation needs of parties in a sexual harassment complaint; whether those parties be the complainants, respondents or witnesses. We also have local organic quarterly meetings which feature special emphasis exercises, including ADA scenarios.”
The ADA is a fairly recent civil rights law and has undergone revisions. In 2008, former president George H.W. Bush signed amendments to the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act overturned Supreme Court decisions which limited the extent that an impairment could be considered a disability. Under the ADA, a disability is defined as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The amended ADA kept the ADA’s definition of disability but the overturned Supreme Court rulings because they defined disabilities too narrowly and limited which individuals could receive accommodations.
Life before the ADA excluded people with disabilities from participating in public life. Places like parks and museums were largely inaccessible for people with wheelchairs; public and private transportation did not take into account those with limited mobility or vision impairments; people with disabilities were routinely sterilized without their consent. Children with intellectual disabilities did not have access to specialized curriculum in public schools. Many US cities enacted so-called “ugly laws” which prohibited people considered unsightly from being out in public spaces. In fact, Chicago was the last US city to repeal such a law in 1974. Now, the ADA continues to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
“Disability law as a whole is relatively young,” Nutter said. “The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first federal law to suggest disability as a protected class, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990) expanded those protections to include the private sector. More than 25 years elapsed between the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the ADA. Disability Law has continued to evolve. For example, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended by President Clinton in 1998 and the ADA was amended by President George W. Bush in 2008. Based on the number of emotional support and service animal incidents in recent years, another amendment may be on the horizon.”
Last year, American Airlines refused to allow a woman to board a plane with her emotional support peacock. Emotional support animals, therapy animals and service animals are not one and the same. An individual can obtain an evaluation from their doctor or therapist stating that their pet is an emotional support animal. This means that a landlord cannot refuse to rent a home for that person if pets are prohibited on the property. However, emotional support animals do not undergo training to assist their owners as a service dog or service miniature horse would, for those who have dog allergies.
“What I say is, [service animals are] an extension of that person,” Stafford explained. “And just like you wouldn’t come up to me and [start pawing my ear], it’s performing a service for me. It’s part of my body, don’t touch me with- out my permission. A service animal is performing an essential function for their owner and we are not to distract them or touch them because that’s the law. They’re at work.”
Rose State has its own therapy dog; Carly, a soon-to-be three-year-old Bichon Frise. Unlike service animals, other people can interact with a therapy dog and are free to pet them while on duty.
“She knows when she’s at school, with me, she’s working. And her job is, what I say, a therapy animal is kind of like a thermostat in a room. It’s to make the room feel more comfortable. And that’s the purpose of a therapy dog, to make the person, the environment feel more comfortable.”
Civil rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s paved the way for legislation that exists today. The ADA gave millions of Americans legal rights to equal opportunities, particularly for employment. Disability law is still evolving and changes may be in the horizon.
Story & Photo by Kessley Miller, Advertising & Social Media Director
There are many opportunities for students to attend events and be- come involved within the school, but what most people do not realize is there are also many different things that go on behind the scenes to allow for RSC to hold events.
This is what the Physical Plant does. Students have most likely seen them around campus, either swiftly driving by in a golf cart, or working to beautify the school’s butterfly garden.
Kenzie Holland, Rose State early childhood education student, said, “I appreciate what the Physical Plant does for Rose State as a whole.” Holland continues, “They do so many projects and jobs that go unseen but make a huge difference here.”
These are the people who work from sunup to sundown to make sure Rose looks its best for the students and faculty. The Physical Plant is available 24 hours a day, with a staff that takes shifts in to help RSC whenever needed.
“Well, in a nutshell, we keep the campus running,” Richard Andrews, Associate Vice President for Campus Operations at RSC, said. “There are around 120 acres that we have to maintain here.”
They help keep the campus operating by maintaining any buildings, parking lots, landscape, or indoor areas. This also includes buildings not on the Rose State campus itself, which are located on Midwest Blvd. and the Atkinson Heritage Center located in Midwest City.
With a staff of only 43, taking care of so much can be overwhelming. Andrews explained that the operations staff takes pride in what they are doing and receives a great deal of satisfaction from making the campus look good.
There are several different teams that are within the operations team that work together. There is the facilities maintenance crew which takes care of all the electrical and structural needs, the grounds maintenance crew that takes care of the outdoor needs, the motor maintenance crew who takes care of all vehicles that are at Rose and the office staff that does all the paperwork for the whole operations team.
The operations crew works constantly to take care of the campus.
Andrews stated, “Our administrative and executive staff of operations have a combined years experiences of 155 years here at the college.” He added, “I think it is a great honor to be associated with the operations, they are all such overachievers in everything they do at the school.”
Story & Photo by Selena Williams, Features Editor
Depending on a student’s living situation while attending college, they might stay on campus. If that person decides to live in a dorm, they will most likely have a roommate. Cohabitation can be complicated, especially when the person is a complete stranger. Knowing what to expect beforehand can make things easier for students living on campus.
Alyssa Loveless, Director of Residence Life, said students who are living with a roommate should respect one another and have clear principles and expectations.
“Having clear guidelines about expectations from the beginning is always the best practice,” Loveless said.
When roommates have a disagreement such as someone eating their food without permission, they need to be proactive about having a face to face conversation about it. She explained things can get misinterpreted over text messaging.
“It’s when little things go unchecked that they fester into bigger issues,” Loveless said.
“Residence Life staff is always available to mediate roommate disagreements, but the roommates need to first have a conversation amongst themselves to try and resolve the issue.”
Loveless recommended having weekly roommate dinners, and cooking together, attending Residence Life events together, and keeping the lines of communication open are other important tips for students to remember. Knowing someone else who is living on campus can help make a student feel a sense of security while staying in a dorm.
Rose State sophomore Artavia Walker is a political science major who has lived on campus before.
“I recommend that students living on campus should at least know someone personally who will be living on-campus as well because that way the student doesn’t feel alone,” Walker said.
Learning how to see people for who they are and understand that no one is the same is key for students trying to get along with their roommates. To do this, a person must be willing to abandon any assumptions or emotional baggage, such as resentments or ego clashes, that prevent a person from seeing someone clearly. The key is to remain unbiased and receive information without preconceived notions.
Amber Mitchell, Director of Trio Student Support Services, said that a student should have an open mind, appreciate people for who they are and recognize that not everyone has the same life experiences or perspectives that you do.
“A student should come in with a positive attitude and communication is key,” Mitchell said. “Also, a student should be strong enough to express when they’re frustrated or upset, but be patient with those that are frustrated with them.”
Mitchell has some personal experience living with roommates. When she attended the University of Oklahoma, she did a six-week summer internship in Washington D.C. and attended classes at Georgetown University. She was housed in the dorms and had to live with a couple of students. She said that it was a part of other the learning experience at Georgetown.
“Living in a dorm was a good experience because I had already been in college for several years and I never lived in a dorm,” Mitchell said. “Most of the time I think we have options if we don’t like someone. We can walk away or choose not to spend time with them, but living with someone that isn’t your choice forces you to find alternatives to develop that skill set. So, you can say, I’m in this situation, and I have to make the best of it.”
Story by Bailey Walker
It is difficult to argue that someone would prefer to live in any other time than the present. Food, healthcare and luxury goods are more accessible than ever. The modern world is ripe with bounty, but it is not perfect. Depression diagnoses have risen sharply, and though some of the surge can be attributed to greater attention to the issue and a reduction in stigma of mental illness, it’s not the only explanation. A 2012 study by Dr. Brandon Hidaka, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found obesity, sedentary lifestyles caused by computer-based working, sunlight and sleep deprivation, competition, inequality and loneliness are key problems from the modern world that contribute to rises in depression. The over-saturation of goods, though riddled with drawbacks, has massive usefulness but in this time of abundance many are left out of the lion’s share.
Punk artists Chris Calvin and Hannah Jones argue in their piece “Laziness is Next to Evilness,” “... This luxury comes from slavery in some far, far away place. Always think about the things you buy and where they’re from and how they’re made. Always try to keep in mind that your privilege comes on the backs of slaves.”
Luxury goods, such as those from Apple and Nike, are manufactured cheaply overseas using unprotected workers and are then sold domestically. Worker exploitation supports the everyday lifestyles of billions of people.
On the spectrum of exploitation, slavery may be the pinnacle, stealing all forms of agency from a person and profiting entirely from their bondage. Exploitation beyond slavery exists in varying forms and degrees; underpaying immigrant workers, whether they work in agriculture or construction, poverty wages, sweatshops and prison labor, are all differing forms of exploitation.
Noticeably, across these forms of exploitation is a unifying motivation: profit. Wealthy business owners choose to outsource work to nations with lax labor laws. The notion “immigrants drive wages down” is a misnomer, business owners being the ultimate deciders in the matter choose to pay immigrants less. The minimum wage has remained stagnant since the ‘70s because business controllers make more money that way, landowners supported and perpetuated the institution of slavery to sustain profits from their plantations. Structurally speaking, exploiting workers is one of the most apparent cost-saving measures and therefore the most common. An Economic Policy Institute study in 2017 found that in the 10 most populous states, around $8 billion were lost to minimum wage violations. This amount is a quarter of their total earned wages, and is equivalent to $3,300 taken per worker per year.
The current condition of the United States was built on the basis of forced labor from African slaves founded in approval from northern and southern institutions. Economic gains that cemented the U.S. as a global superpower were made using slave labor and the contemporary U.S. benefits from that legacy.
The Americas were invaded and colonized by the European powers beginning in 1492 with Christopher Columbus and, as early as 1526, slavery took root on the continent. Slaves were brought to what would become Brazil, four years after being brought to North America. Over the next 300 years until abolition, Brazil received 40 percent of all imported slaves to the Americas. Comparatively, North America received around 10 percent of all imported slaves to the Americas. Forced labor was essential to quickly extracting wealth from the continent, taming and cutting back the rain forests of South America and working the fields of the labor-intensive cash crops spanning both the North and South continents. Slaves were liberally utilized in the Colonial U.S. before their relegation to the South in the era leading up to the Civil War.
In 1703, 42 percent of households in New York state owned slaves; only Charleston, South Carolina had more. In 1740, one-third of Manhattan’s workforce was made up of enslaved black men. The idea that the North divorced itself from slavery is half true, in that at one time they owned many slaves and then reduced their numbers drastically; however, the North did not stop benefiting from the institution nor did racism weaken.
Edward Baptist is a history professor at Cornell University and author of “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.” Baptist argued the industry of the North, as well as American industrialization generally, relied heavily on the global trade monopoly America controlled on cotton that was achieved using slave labor.
“Slavery’s expansion shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics of the new nation-not only increasing its power and size, but also, eventually, dividing US politics, differentiating regional identities and interests, and helping make the civil war possible,” Baptist wrote.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History concluded similarly; “One crop, slave-grown cotton, provided over half of all US export earnings. By 1840, the South grew 60 percent of the world’s cotton and provided some 70 percent of the cotton consumed by the British textile industry. Thus slavery paid for a substantial share of the capital, iron, and manufactured goods that laid the basis for American economic growth.”
This interdependence of North and South made the economic gains and rapid industrialization undertaken by the US a direct product of slavery.
The Global Policy Forum reported, “The value of that critical “contribution” to United States’ industrialization and export of capital, with an interest of six percent compounded through 1993 is a staggering bill of $97,100,000,000,000.”
The United States and therefore the world as it is currently known was created through the subjugation of African slaves and their subsequent generations. Profit motivated the kidnapping and brutalization of millions, and only once profit became untenable were they then freed. Both ‘halves’ of the prevailing North-South narrative profited and actively contributed to the prolonging of the institution of slavery. Slavery acted as a jumping off point for the industrialized global economy, but exploitation in other forms is continually used in pursuit of profit and cost-cutting. Multinational corporations routinely utilize unprotected workers; those in countries with even more lax labor laws than the U.S., undocumented immigrants who have come to The States, and those incarcerated within the country.
Read Part Two in the next issue of the 15th Street News.
Story by Julie Archer
Photo by Kessley Miller
Why do people not report sexual assault? This question is asked often, especially with the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh amidst sexual assault allegations from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. People tend to blame survivors because they do not understand why they would hesitate to report assault. When people affected by sexual assault don’t immediately come forward, people generally tend to think they are less credible.
According to the National Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime. Rape is the most underreported crime, as 63 percent of sexual assaults are unreported.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, sexual assault is defined as “illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the assailant (such as a doctor) in a position of trust or authority.”
Examples of sexual assault may include but are not limited to rape, attempted rape, any sexual contact with someone who is unable to consent, incest, sexual contact with a child, fondling or unwanted touching, exhibitionism, sexual threats or harassment, forcing someone to pose for photos and sexual coercion, according to HealthyWomen.org.
Fear of Repercussions
Consequences of what will happen if they report sexual assault is a major obstacle that many survivors face. There are constant fears; fear of safety, fear of losing their employment or fear of losing trust are a few of the fears people could have. Some people experience their abusers threatening their lives if they ever spoke out about their trauma. Some abusers could be or have connections to a position of power.
Many people do not report sexual assault because of the fear of losing their credibility. There are cases in which survivors are not taken seriously because of the power their abusers may have. When the perpetrator is in a powerful position, reporting such acts could make things worse for the survivor.
When survivors report, they are often faced with judgment as opposed to support. Instead of being asked about the perpetrator’s actions or explicitly blaming the victim, equally insidiously, those told about the assault may focus largely on what the survivor could have done to prevent their trauma. They are asked about what they were wearing or how much they had to drink. As stated above in the Merriam-Webster definition of sexual assault, it clearly stated, “a person who is incapable of giving consent,” yet they are still held at fault if they were intoxicated.
“The biggest impact society has is blaming the victim, giving all the reasons why they ‘deserved it’, and the overall stigma we associate with being the victim of sexual assault, it is one of the few crimes where the victim is judged,” Tara Hall, Professor of Sociology at Rose State, said.
Children and young adults do not always understand the concept of consent. If they are survivors, they may think that what happened to them was their fault because of their lack of action.
Who is the abuser?
According to The NVRC, 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. When a victim is assaulted by someone they trust, it can be hard to tell anyone because the person they may be closest to may be the same person who assaulted them. This is a common issue with sexual assault in children, since it is usually a family member or close friend who is the perpetrator. The NVRC reports that 34 percent of people who sexually abuse children are family members.
Survivor of sexual assault often do not see a way out of their situation. There can be a feeling of powerlessness after any traumatic event. Statistics show that 81 percent of women and 35 percent of men report significant short-term or long-term impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing sexual assault.
Survivors sometimes feel it is useless to report their sexual assault because they see how both survivors and assailants are treated after sexual assaults are reported.
Instead of receiving help and support when needed most, there is a risk of making matters worse when reporting an assault. Given these odds, a lot of people feel that there is no hope.
Where is the evidence?
While being sexually assaulted is traumatic on its own, reporting it forces the person to relive the whole experience. There is a fear of not having enough evidence to support their claims. It is recommended that the survivor receives medical attention. There are also sexual assault forensic exams to check for DNA evidence. Rape kits are used during a rape examination. During the examination, hair, urine, nail and blood tests are taken to determine if the person was raped. Rape exams can take four to six hours. The thought of going through an invasive and uncomfortable exam can keep survivors from reporting.
Without the evidence that the public wants, it is easier for people to victim shame or make the survivors look like they are not telling the truth.
Survivors can often downplay their own experience because they do not want to think about what happened to them. Some people think that their situations are not as serious as others, so they feel that it is not necessary to report it. After a person goes through a traumatic event, the human brain can block out the event. This makes it difficult to recall the details while reporting their trauma. There is a tendency for people to feel shameful and blame themselves for what happened to them.
There are many reasons why people do not report sexual assault. According to University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault and Awareness Center, there were 136 victims among 99 sex offenders. Later, during treatment, they confessed to 959 victims between them. Perpetrators that go unreported end up doing the same thing to another person.
Many groups encourage people to report sexual assault. Women’s March is one such organization. Members said people should feel safe through proper, public support systems to speak up so the abusers are brought to justice, and said it is time to evaluate as a society why we allow sexual assault and harassment to continue. One way to do this is instead of asking victims why they did not report it, give them the support they need and ask what can be done to prevent future assaults.
If you or anyone you know have been sexually assaulted and need help, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673.
Story by Katie Duer
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that if a person’s basic needs, such as food, water and shelter are not being met, then it may be extremely difficult for a person to concentrate on anything else.
This is the reality for children who are homeless or nearly homeless. When a child is consumed with worry about where their next meal will come from or where they will be sleeping that night, how can going to school even be on their radar? Fortunately, for all students in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas there is a solution. A school is taking all of these factors into consideration and helping children with their education. Positive Tomorrows is a school for homeless children, focusing on academics as well as teaching the children social skills by giving them the resources needed to overcome obstacles they may be facing.
The Positive Tomorrows mission is simple: Educate homeless children and their families to break the cycle of poverty.
“Positive Tomorrows is Oklahoma’s only school for homeless children,” Rachel Durham, developmental officer for Positive Tomorrows said. “These children typically live with their families at any given time. About a third of our kids are in the local shelters and that may be the City Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army or the YWCA domestic violence shelter.”
One issue of utmost concern to Durham and Positive Tomorrows is that of safety and security for the children attending this school.
“We keep our location confidential, also we are really careful and keep the building secure,” she said.
They want these children not only to have a safe environment to learn, but to actually feel safe as well.
“We’ve had families living in abandoned buildings and even storage units, whatever parents can do to get their children off the streets and a roof over their head, they will do,” Durham continued, “As you can probably imagine, there are a lot of barriers that make it really tough for our students to be successful in traditional schools.”
Transportation can be one of those obstacles.
“Not only can we provide transportation to and from school every day, but we try and keep up with these families,” Durham said. “If a family has to move in the middle of the night, it can be tough sometimes to find them. Public schools don’t typically have the resources to keep up with these highly mobile students and their families.”
Many of the children are experiencing hunger and food insecurity; Positive Tomorrows provides for the children so that they can focus on learning by providing the children with snacks and two hot meals a day. The school also participates in a food program where they send home food backpacks on Fridays so that the children can have food over the weekend.
Positive Tomorrows provides a backpack on the first day of school with all of the supplies the child might need. They have a closet on site filled with brand new tennis shoes, socks, underwear, deodorant and toothbrushes.
Positive Tomorrows currently serves pre-k through fifth grade and are at full capacity with 74 students. Each classroom has 16 students with a certified teacher as well as an aide. Students receive one-on-one classroom attention, and if a student has a certain deficit they focus on it.
The school’s goal is to get the students caught up academically while they are there. All of Positive Tomorrows’ teachers are trauma-informed. It is common for domestic violence and other trauma to be the leading cause of the homelessness that led them there.
“Our teachers, you don’t hear them yelling at the kids.” Durham said. “They know that if someone is cutting in line in the cafeteria, it is most likely because they’re hungry, not because they’re acting up.”
Positive Tomorrows works to understand the underlying cause behind what some schools might consider behavioral issues.
“Instead of saying ‘What is wrong with you, why are you acting this way?’ Our teachers turn that dialogue internally,” Durham said.
Positive Tomorrows also helps parents understand how to advocate for their children, how to attend parent/teacher conferences and even helps them find careers, aiming at the root causes to ultimately end the cycle of homelessness.
Positive Tomorrows looks at the complete situation at home. They offer extracurricular programs during the summer like swimming lessons and even summer camp. They also have physical education, music, art and a basketball team. The support that these children have at this school and among each other is unprecedented. They are giving children hope again and for some children, they may not have had any hope before.
Positive Tomorrows is a private nonprofit organization. The school is not receiving any public dollars from the Department of Education. Its goal is to raise funds every year to keep the doors open, keep the lights on and keep their school buses running. Positive Tomorrows welcomes all donations. This school that is making a way for children who may be less fortunate. For more information or if you would like to help Positive Tomorrows, visit positivetomorrows.org.
Story by Yesenia Gonzalez
The holiday season is synonymous with things like overpriced pumpkin spice beverages, holiday gift shopping and spending time with loved ones. Conversation topics around the holiday dinner table can range from a mundane discussion about the weather to full-fledged conversations about political topics. A wide range of opinions comes with sharing a meal with family and friends who come from different walks of life.
Political polarization refers to how much of an ideological overlap or gap exists among different political parties. According to the Pew Research Center, a 2018 survey revealed that nearly 8 in 10 Republican and Democratic voters cannot agree on basic facts surrounding key issues. The research also found a sharp divide between the younger population, aged 18-29, and people 65 years or older. Sixty-nine percent of younger voters think Democrat and Republican voters disagree on basic facts in addition to various policy issues while 83 percent of older adults think the same thing to be true.
Various factors contribute to a person’s political perspective. According to Sociology Professor Tara Hall, family plays the largest role in a person’s development of their world view. Education level, peer groups and media follow in descending order of importance. Undoubtedly, a person’s political beliefs form an integral part of their identity and how they relate to the world.
A 2016 study from the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute, Hard-wired: the brain’s circuitry for political belief, studied the human brain through MRI scans when presented with information that challenged political and non-political beliefs. Of the 40 participants, the ones who showed high brain activity in the amygdalae, the area of the brain involved in emotion and decision-making, were the most resistant to changing their minds.
Birds of a feather flock together, and that expression is not solely applicable to the avian realm. Humans are susceptible to forming groups because of their natural socialization tendencies. The environment a person grows up in influences how they view themselves and to which groups they can relate to. Contention begins when a person or group feels attacked by another entity with a different ideology. Since political beliefs contribute to an individual’s sense of self, any opposing or challenging viewpoint triggers a knee-jerk reaction because the differing viewpoint is perceived as a personal attack, according to Professor of Philosophy Dr. Guy Crain.
“There’s something about attachment to [our own beliefs] that’s associated with our deep sense of safety and security, which means, again, right, that it’s not really about the issue itself so much is it about me feeling secure and my group is clearly doing a lot of work in making that happen and my expression of those beliefs is somehow solidifying that security. And so, when people question those beliefs, it’s not so much about guns or evolution so much that it’s ‘I feel under attack’,” Crain said.
So then, fear is at the root of political polarization. Since a person’s identity hinges on being validated by others in their group, defending it is a natural, emotionally-driven response.
According to Crain, emotion is not an inherently bad reason to support a cause, since emotions are an unavoidable part of human nature and can drive a group to do better work and motivate the group to devote resources to the cause. On the contrary, emotionally driven arguments can be void of real substance. Instead, the opportunity could arise for an opponent to implement the ad hominem fallacy. Ad hominem is Latin for “against the man” and describes a type of logical fallacy where an argument about a person’s personal flaws ensues rather than a critical conversation about the topic at hand.
Even within similarly-minded groups, there are differences and subgroups, which can lead to disagreements among members.
“Well, I think one of our problems as groups and as a society, as a whole, is that we assume since everybody falls into group A, B or C is that they’re alike … Now the problem is, when we’re fighting for rights, or we’re looking at social justice issues or whatever it may be, we often forget that those other people might’ve had those different experiences,” Hall said. “And we kind of assume that our experience is everybody else’s and that that’s the natural experience. So we have in-groups and out-groups and, from a sociological perspective, if I’m in an in-group, I naturally don’t understand those others in the out-group. I’ve got a bias towards them because there’s something I don’t connect with, I don’t understand and I don’t recognize.”
Hall had advice for those potentially difficult moments at the holiday dinner table.
“When somebody believes differently than you, stand firm and believe in what you do but show them the same amount of respect you would want for your opinions and thoughts … If you’re gonna make an argument or take a stance, know what you’re talking about, have something to back yourself up instead of making these large, [overall assumptions; have some facts],” Hall said.
Crain also offered advice. “There are some times when it is just more important to value and relate to the person in front of me than it is to be worried about who wins and who loses and that, in my view, the loss of those relationships or openness to them, is probably more tragic than me losing some sort of [competition],” he said.