Dear Alaska State Legislators, Seven of my 16 staff are able to go to school because of the Alaska Performance Scholarship. Without it each of us probably wouldn’t have come to UAA or stayed in Alaska. On behalf of my staff and myself, I thank all of you in the senate finance committee who decided…
Editorial by Danielle Ackerman,[email protected]
As a lifetime Alaskan who was educated only in public schools and married into a family full of educators, I feel an immense obligation to express my concern regarding the outrageous and acutely influential budget cuts that our public schools could face. Closing the potential $29.4 million budget gap will force the Anchorage School District to cut more than 100 teacher positions. While there would be cuts in most programs in the school district, I believe the elimination of teacher positions will be the most detrimental. By all means, I can recognize the necessity of a balanced budget, and I understand there are economic realities that our state is facing, but there is no exception for this drastic of a cut that will affect so many people.
The elimination of more than 100 educators in our public schools will not only affect the livelihood of educators and their families, but most of all, the students. There is an abundant number of students who are already not meeting their potential due to the shortage of employees and larger-than-normal classrooms.
I know of many new teachers who are very concerned for their positions, as they were recently hired and are not considered “tenured.” There are numerous graduates every year who have just earned their bachelor’s degree in education and will be subject to unemployment and or taking a job that they are overqualified for due to these cuts. Before any decision is made, I hope that there are changes made in order to strengthen our investment in public education and make sure that all students have an even playing field.
The formula that has been used is in need of reform. Obviously this will not be an easy task, nor will it happen overnight. Our public schools will need strong leadership and collective will power in order to prioritize education, as it should be. There is truly nothing more important than ensuring that our future leaders are educated.
Editorial by Maria Lilly,[email protected]
Students on campuses around the United States and around the world are finding themselves in the middle of a rhetorical struggle between two competing groups: anti-Israel groups and pro-Israel groups. For our purposes I would like to focus on two particular groups from opposite sides of the issue: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Students for Justice in Palestine’s name claims to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. But in effect SJP is more a slander platform. On campuses SJP chapters criminalize the State of Israel with claims Israel is an apartheid state.
Christians United for Israel’s On Campus division combats such rhetoric with fact-based advocacy. They argue with legitimate sources, intellectually undeniable facts and first hand accounts that Israel is in fact not an apartheid state because fundamentally Israel does not meet any of the requirements set to define apartheid in South Africa.
Rather than being a state endorsing racism, in Israel citizens of every ethnicity, gender and religion are allowed to vote and hold office. Israel welcomes immigrants from all over the world. All people are afforded equal rights under a democratic government, including women, a rare occurrence in the Middle East. Rather than forbidding mixed racial marriages, Israel welcomes them and is one country in the Middle East where same-sex couples are not threatened with death for their sexual orientation.
Unlike in the case of apartheid South Africa, all Israelis are invited to freely participate in the economy; all people are free to own property. When it comes to land ownership the ones segregated against are actually Israeli citizens, their government forced them out of land which historically and legally is their own, in an attempt to both protect Israelis from those who wish to kill them as well as in hopes of achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The argument that Israel is an apartheid state, emotionally arousing rhetoric, is simply empty.
Apartheid in South Africa was a globally recognized atrocity involving segregation, legal and economic inequality. It was blatant, unadulterated racism in its most purely evil form. Apartheid is a noun meant to make every man’s skin crawl. To associate apartheid with the state of Israel is an insult to all humanity and most especially to South Africans and the South Africans’ struggles for freedom.
Associating a free and democratic state with an institution which wronged and abused thousands because of racism ultimately results in the negation of what apartheid is and how it looks. It is the dissolution of justice in valid cases of racism and a discredit to every person who has ever faced racism. It is the equivalent of spitting in the face of Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr., giants who looked racism in the face challenged it and suffered for the cause of justice.
By contrast the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the groups governing the Palestinian territories, persecute, discriminate against, confiscate without just cause the property of and even kill Christians, homosexuals, and anyone who disagrees with regime policy. They murder those brave enough to defend their right to free speech and independent thought. Those who have the courage to speak out.
According to the Institute of Black Solidarity with Israel, Palestinian territories honor killings are up 300 percent just over the past year. The Palestinian government receives funding not only from countries like the United States but also the selling and trading of African refugees as slaves. The Palestinian government surrounds her people, including young children, with anti-Jew propaganda. They call for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews, and socialize their children to believe such action would be just. They simultaneously deny the Holocaust and laud Adolf Hitler.
Students for Justice in Palestine claims to defend a victimized Palestine when in fact, as an organization it demonizes democracy, freedom and equality while tolerating and justifying the massacre of innocents by their government. SJP defends persecution and murder of minorities, the criminalization of free speech, modern slavery, interfamilial murder, as well as a corrupt judicial system.
Students for Justice in Palestine uses misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric to disguise their funding and support of human rights violations. Christians United for Israel endeavors to use truth as a catalyst for the promotion of critical thinking and a knowledge based point of view of Israel’s and the Palestinians’ situation in the world.
Apartheid in the Middle East is not in Israel, it is in Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Justice would be criminalizing the criminals not attacking democracy.
So why then is SJP finding wide support on the campuses of our nation? Our Universities, which of all the places in the world, ought to be the greatest defenders of intellectual integrity, truth and social justice are being hijacked and our students’ very human urge to fight injustice is being taken advantage of.
Our Universities should not be standing in solidarity with injustice for Palestine. Rather America and her Universities ought to be actively defending justice’s cause.
On April 6, 2013, likely the most wonderful person I’ve ever met was stabbed to death. He was a friend, a son, a brother — and he was a Seawolf. I believe I was one of the last people to see him, and I want to tell you my story — his story, what happened…
Universities across the country are aiming to create what UAA has already had for decades. Let’s not fall behind, but rather continue to lead.
I was a student at UAA’s Tanaina Child Development Center over 30 years ago. The skills I learned at Tanaina as a small child have been the basis of my entire education. The fellow children I met are still some of my closest friends today. I have heard that the university is moving and possibly cutting support for this essential part of any healthy, well-functioning campus community. This would be a serious mistake with long-term consequences.
High quality childcare that is located on campus and reasonably priced is essential for young faculty, staff and students to fully participate in campus life. When I became a tenure track professor myself at a well-respected college, I ended up leaving the position in part because the school had neither on-campus daycare, nor decent parental leave.
Programs like Tanaina also give children the grounding they need to succeed in life. It is a win-win. Now that I am a parent, I realize it is rare to find childcare as high quality as Tanaina anywhere. UAA’s Child Development Center should be getting awards, not the boot.
I strongly encourage the University to keep Tanaina on-campus and to invest in Tanaina and the UAA community that depends on it.
— Monica Aufrecht
Chances are we have all said something we wish would have never come out of our mouths. It happens to all of us. But we shouldn’t let these moments hold us back; we should use them as a learning experience. This happened earlier this month to The Northern Light’s news editor, Stephen Cress. In attempts…
Ashley Snyder, Executive Editor
Tulsi Patil, Managing Editor
In the wake of the assaults in the past few weeks at UAA, there is a growing concern for students’ safety on campus. While one man allegedly punched four victims in the face — though he claimed to be dancing — another allegedly attempted to forcefully kiss seemingly random women on campus. While UAA has fairly good safety ratings, such assaults sometimes raise a hint of fear in students about being safe on campus.
“I worry about safety sometimes especially after all of the shootings and rapes and other stuff you keep hearing about in other colleges,” said junior Caleb Markuson.
All of the victims appear to have been randomly selected — just students going about their daily business and being attacked without cause. Both assaulters in the past two attacks were male and nearly all of the victims were female.
“It’s disgusting. That guy should be listed as a sexual predator so that he actually suffers for his stupid decisions,” sophomore Ashleigh Davis said. “If someone did that to me I would not hesitate to totally do some serious damage to his manhood.”
According to the 2013 Campus Security and Fire Safety Report, between 2010 and 2012, there have been eight cases of sexual assault and six cases of aggravated assault in housing and on the main campus. These statistics seem to be on the incline this year with two cases coming to light in just the first two months of the year. As students ourselves, we begin to worry for our own security as well as our friends on campus.
For women who would like to learn some basic skills in order to fend off an assault, UAA offers a women-only Rape Aggression Defense course, where attendees learn the basics of self-defense. More information on this program can be found here: http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/upd/rad-training.cfm. For men and women, learning skills like those taught in martial arts can also be a good way to defend one’s self or stop an attacker.
Whether on campus, in the residence halls, walking trails or even waiting at the bus stop, it is important to be prepared and able to handle a situation if it rises. If anything suspicious arises, don’t hesitate to call the police immediately. Call boxes are located around campus and in case of an emergency, UPD advises you to call 911 directly. You can also call UPD at 907-786-1120 or visit their office in the Eugene Short Hall.
“I’ve been seeing the (university) police around campus a lot lately. I wonder if there is more going on than what we know about and we just don’t know about it because they are so quick to handle the situation,” said sophomore Lana Peterson.
Witnessing an assault, whether sexual or otherwise, can sometimes be equally traumatic as being victimized. However, UPD urges students to come forward if they witness any kind of criminal offense. They offer the Silent Witness program where confidential reports of crimes can be made on their website, so as to ensure your protection and safety as well. However, in order to report crimes in progress, they recommend calling 911 in case of emergencies.
We want to feel safe when we are on campus. We are already worrying enough about studying, grades and graduating without having to worry about whether or not we will be kissed or punched randomly in the hallways. Be safe everyone!
On July 12, 2007, two United States Army Apache helicopters opened fire on nine to eleven men in Baghdad, according to United States Central Command. After the dust settled, eight men lay dead.
The August 2013 cover of Rolling Stone magazine is the subject of national buzz lately. It doesn’t feature a glammed-up actress or a bedazzling singer, like one would normally expect of the generally music-oriented magazine. Instead, readers come face-to-face with a figure whose hair is unkempt with eyes like deep black pits. There is no real expression on his face as he gazes out at everyone who looks his way.
This is the image of the person who injured over 250 people and killed three—including an eight-year-old boy. It is the face of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was dubbed the Boston Bomber. The tagline underneath gives insight to the topic of the article inside the magazine: “How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”
Screams of outrage, chants of boycotting and expressions of anger swamped Rolling Stone. People all around the country were disgusted, saying the magazine was glorifying the killer, that the way the story was written was trying to defend the murderer in some ways by blaming parents and peer pressure. There were complaints that it dishonors those who died and it brings back pain for those who were still alive. It got so out of control that the Rolling Stone editors even had to release a statement that they felt justified their choice. While the whole letter can be read online, the most important part of it that should be highlighted is probably this:
“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.”
Despite the letter of ‘reassurance’, many stores around the United States—such as CVS, Walgreens, Wegmans, Rite-Aid, and some 7-11 stores—are refusing to sell the controversial issue. Maybe even more importantly is that the Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino, was so appalled by the decision he wrote a letter to the magazine stating, “Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”
This isn’t the first time Rolling Stone has made a provocative decision on their cover choice. In a 1970 issue of the magazine, the cover featured the notorious Charles Manson. Granted, he was a musician, but the topic of the article was about his criminal history. Even though Manson himself did not kill anyone by his own hand, it was still a bold decision to feature him during that time period.
This is by no means something that is singly done by Rolling Stone. Other magazines have also made editorial decisions to feature notorious domestic terrorists. Time magazine has had the Unabomber, the Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh, and the Columbine shooters featured on different covers.
The controversy isn’t that magazine covers inherently glorify murderers. Seeing criminals, dictators and warlords on the cover of Time magazine is rather normal, and those go without public outcry. Rolling Stone simply did something out of its genre norm, and when Tsarnaev’s image is compared to the other rock stars who have shared that same cover, there is room for misinterpretation. His face is an unexpected sight for Rolling Stone subscribers, and that makes the general public uncomfortable.
Will Rolling Stone’s marketing attempt ruin their reputation? Doubtful, because the magazine has been operating for over 50 years, and one poor decision often cannot destroy a company. However, the obviously insensitive cover choice has already caused negative repercussions, and more may be to come before the topic has faded from people’s minds.
Many cases throughout the U.S. history have caused shock and upset as jury members decide the fate of those standing accused of heinous crimes like kidnap, rape, and murder.
You open up the mail and receive a letter that says “Congratulations! Your outstanding grades and/or achievements have opened up the opportunity to be a part of our awesome honor society.” So you run to the computer and say, “Sign me up!”
However as soon as you get to the join organization page you stop when you realize that it costs around $80-$120 to join, depending on the organization. Joining one organization isn’t too bad, but when you end up receiving offers from four to five different organizations it would be simply silly to accept every single one. So before you decide which society to join you must think to yourself if you actually want to be a part of a society as more than just a resume filler.
Take a look at the organization’s national or regional page and first determine what they can offer you. If you hope to go to grad school, look for an organization that gives you connections and scholarships to graduate schools. If you want to get money for school, see which ones offer the best scholarships that you are actually eligible for. If you want to give back to your community, see which ones are big on volunteering, host summits, and have opportunities for travel around the world. A lot of societies also offer discounts from companies like Geico and Dell. If you like discounts then see if any of the organizations offer them for companies you like to buy from.
The next step would be to look at your University’s chapters. See if they have a chapter homepage, a Facebook page, a collegiatelink page. Are they active? Do they host local events, consistent meetings, etc.? There is nothing worse than attempting to join a national organization and finding out that your chapter doesn’t do diddly-squat.
If possible, try to go visit informational booths during events like Kickoff to get a sense of what the chapter does. Also try to go to the organization’s meetings or events and meet the leaders and members. See what they have to offer you and let them know what you can offer them.
Figure out your time commitments. If an organization requires an induction process or mandatory volunteer work, make sure that you can actually find the time to complete them. What’s the point of joining an organization just to be stuck in limbo between non-member and full-fledged member?
Decide if you are able to be a part of more than one organization. This goes kind of with the figuring out your time commitments aspect of it. There is nothing wrong with being an active member of multiple organizations, but don’t be a part of so many that you are unable to contribute to them all.
Finally, figure out which one(s) will be the most fun. A society is meant to be a place for people to come together, make friends, do great things, reward accomplishments, and give back to others. If you don’t enjoy what you are a part of, then why be a part of it at all?
Despite the gloom and overall lack of greenness, summer has arrived. While most students will go away to visit family or find some other adventure to occupy their summer vacations, some will continue to come to campus several days of the week to work a student job and earn some extra money.
There is not a lack of interest in Alaska’s oil supply. So the old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” is not applicable to how legislators should be doing business with oil companies.
A better adage for the situation is, “If you sit and do nothing, they will still come — because it’s oil.”
But that’s not what happened in March when the Alaska Legislators voted to pass Senate Bill 21, which gave away multibillion-dollar tax cuts for oil companies with no guarantee on a return investment.
How much are these cuts costing Alaskans? Nearly $6 billion by 2020.
These cuts were made as an alleged “investment” in the state’s future. However, there has been no guarantee from lawmakers or oil companies that there actually will be any rewards for Alaskans to reap. There is no assurance that oil companies will use those savings to responsibly produce oil faster. Therefore, there is no certainty that jobs will be created on a long-term basis because of the cuts. There’s not even a guarantee that ensures the oil companies will use the saved money in Alaska.
The only guarantee granted in the passing of Senate Bill 21 is that it would pass.
The intricate conflicts of interests that ensured the passage of this bill run deep.
It seems like everyone had something to gain from padding the pockets of big oil businesses — from Governor Sean Parnell, a former ConocoPhillips lobbyist, to legislators employed by ConocoPhillips outside of the session, who endorsed and voted for the bill.
Because saving oil companies billions of dollars in taxes is a sure way to ensure job security and campaign funding.
The Vote Yes petition initiative aims to stop the tax cuts.
If enough signatures are gathered on the petition in each house district, it goes on the ballot in 2014 so Alaskans can have a say about how their state oil is used.
So take advantage of the moment and make your voice heard.
Sometimes it is hard to look into the future optimistically. There is always going to be something along the path has not gone the way you had planned. There is always going to be some hope that burns inside you but slowly fades away as you realize that it may not be as attainable as hoped.
Everyone already knows how important it is to take a five-minute break while studying and working.
These mini-breaks increase productivity and brain power. But what about a semester long break? Or a year-long hiatus? Even the thought of taking a break from college strikes fear in the heart of people.
Everyone has heard that waiting to go to college or taking a break from college will reduce one’s chances of completing a degree in higher education. But there’s no recent research to suggest that.
While a 2010 report from Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the non-college attendees have an immediate 33.4 percent unemployment rate, there are no long-term statistics about how many of these people later attend universities and earn a degree in higher education. So to say that at one point in a young person’s life they’ll be unemployed is a feeble argument against taking a break from school, especially when unemployment rates for graduates is the highest it’s been in generations and is generally accompanied with a mountain of debt.
Online search results turned up plenty of good reasons people have taken a break from college. These instances include money troubles, being unsure about one’s major, taking time to volunteer or intern fulltime in a career field and being in the midst of a distracting personal crisis. That’s not to say that there aren’t real risks to taking a break from college. But when it comes to a graduate possibly earning a degree in something they have no interest in or having to drop classes mid-semester, taking a break from college actually sounds like a good choice.
It certainly beats the alternatives of a lifetime of unfulfilling jobs and endless payments to loan collectors. And don’t worry about feeling out of the education loop. Remember, everyone has their own timeline for their life and nobody’s is exactly the same.
Forcible rape rates in Anchorage are the highest they’ve been in 30 years.
The name of the crime itself presents a problem.
It implies there is such a thing as non-forcible rape. That’s incorrect. The only other category of rape is statutory rape.
If you didn’t know any of that, we can’t say we blame you.
When the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report initially released that information, it was hidden behind a headline in the Anchorage Daily News story commending the city for a decreasing crime rate.
To be fair, reporter Casey Grove addresses the issue immediately in her story. But on the other hand, she also does not call out Police Chief Mark Mew for the insulting sexual assault prevention tips he mentions are posted on the police department website.
Some of the ridiculous tips offered include locking doors and windows, ensuring vehicles are gassed up, walking confidently at a steady pace and wearing clothing that allows for free movement.
Other tips are outright insulting.
“You may be able to turn the attacker off with bizarre behavior such as throwing up, acting crazy or picking your nose,” the website states.
Surely, people are grateful for the unprecedented advice.
But this is not an editorial meant to slam the Anchorage Police Department. Not at all! Because a quick online search shows that many universities and cities offer the same advice, with no evidence that it works.
This city’s general “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” attitude toward rape is not adequate.
April is Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. People who do not speak out against these issues are saying volumes. They’re saying it’s okay by them for these crimes to continue.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (quote attributed to Edmund Burke [1729-1797],
It has been five weeks since the introduction of the “Amazing Stories” campaign. The hype built up immensely through a week of festivities and promises of flashy commercials, great stories and a new chapter in UAA’s history.
It has been four weeks since the hype died down.
Welcome to The Northern Light’s Women’s History Month special edition.
This is not the “feminist” or “angry girl” edition. The purpose of this week’s newspaper is to shine light on topics frequently ignored by mainstream society.
But why women?
Let’s take a look at some current women’s issues.
Last month, the University of North Carolina informed sophomore Landen Gambill that she is being charged with violating the student honor code because of her involvement with a U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights class action complaint against the school.
She takes issue with the fact that the school ignored her claims about being raped and abused by her boyfriend, another student.
The university claims her participation with the class action complaint are “disruptive” and “intimidating” to her alleged rapist.
Because even when women are at their weakest and most vulnerable, our voices about our vaginas are considered “intimidating.”
And let’s not forget the Oscars where the ever-sexist movie industry stayed true to its entire history of degrading women.
Attendees laughed in unison at domestic violence being a punch line in a Chris Brown and Rihanna joke and the claim that the nonfiction film “Zero Dark Thirty” is an example of “a woman’s innate ability to never let anything go.”
Yes, many were laughing hysterically.
But it would actually be funnier if it didn’t reinforce an entire living history of direct oppression and inequality against half the world’s population.
And the sad fact is, we could have chosen to write about nearly any minority group for a special edition.
Because Mississippi’s failure to pass the 13th Amendment for 148 years after the abolition of slavery is nearly as gut wrenching as the fact that nobody noticed.
And because it’s thought that the state of Texas is moving in a liberal direction because it finally made it illegal for Border Patrol Agents to shoot undocumented immigrants from helicopters. I can think of another country that condones shooting boarder crossers. It’s called North Korea and the border is often called the DMZ.
By choosing one of 33 print issues a year we hope to present little-known facts about a historically oppressed group of people.
Maybe it will start a dialogue in the community. Maybe it won’t.
That’s not for us to decide.
But like every story we publish all year, we hope our readers take the facts we’re presenting and make informed decisions based on them.
I can’t guarantee that a special issue, much like this one, will become a TNL tradition because I won’t be the Executive Editor at TNL next spring. But I hope it does — we owe it to ourselves and each other to shine light in the darkest corners of the community.
Recently, a Facebook page entitled “UAA Confessions” appeared on the TNL Facebook wall asking us to “like” them. We did.
Our voice was heard.
The student body collectively decided to add $3 to student fees for those taking three or more credit hours in the November 2011 general election at UAA.
This is the first semester the university is collecting the fee.
But why would college students vote to pay more fees?
It can be inferred that a majority of voting students felt that green is good because the money is allocated for student-led sustainability projects,
But last year, recruiting efforts to bring students onto the USUAA-led board didn’t yield results until toward the end of the semester.
But now that USUAA has fulfilled their responsibility of staffing the board, it’s time for students to embrace a responsibility of their own and pitch sustainable ideas that can be implemented at the university.
The pitching process is simple and boils down to the project being practical, affordable and supported by a faculty member or other “expert.”
But to be honest, these projects are about more than personal achievements or making changes at UAA.
This is about Alaska, our home by birth or choice.
It’s the fishing holes, camping trips and wildlife encounters that define our culture.
Every time we flip on a light, gas up our vehicles or type a paper for a class, we are doing our small part to destroy the environment.
This is not to suggest that everyone should throw their cell phones into the ocean and succumb to a conservative Amish lifestyle.
But if we want Alaskan culture to be preserved for the next generation, we’ve got to start somewhere.
We’re already paying for the fee.
So use it.
A penis or tongue can fit into three holes commonly associated with the loss of virginity.
If you’ve been putting or receiving a body part in any of those holes, you should take advantage of the free STI testing taking place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Student Health and Counseling Center in Room 116/120 of Rasmuson Hall.
We know we’re preaching to the choir here.
This generation of young and middle aged people has grown up hearing that unsafe sex kills.
That’s awfully lucky of us.
Because the generation before us grew up witnessing the reaper claim their friends.
Like most monumental times in history, however, you had to be there to believe it.
“A whole new generation has come of age since then, some of these kids shockingly cavalier about the dangers of unprotected sex. That era, when funerals were more common than birthdays on one’s social calendar, has, mercifully, become history,” wrote David Ansen, a former Newsweek reporter.
He essentially wrote about how HIV and AIDS destroyed people’s lives in the arts during a time when the diseses were considered an epidemic.
While Ansen is right about the decreased number of deaths from STIs and STDs over the years, he’s actually only partially correct.
While the number of deaths has gone down, the number of STD and STI diagnoses are slowly beginning to rise again.
Chlamydia reports rose 8 percent in 2011 to 1,412,791 cases, and gonorrhea rose 4 percent from in 2011 to 321,829 reported cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control website. The statistics are compiled annually.
Those are numbers meant to shock people — because, really, who can really imagine what a million people even looks like?
But it begs the question, is your partner one in a million? In this context, perhaps people would hope not.
And speaking on being one in a million, it is estimated by the CDC that there are 1.1 million people in the country living with HIV.
One in five of those people are unaware they’re infected.
Yes, it’s scary to sit in front of a stranger knowing that your life may be about to change forever.
But it’s better than not knowing.
Being afraid of the dark is not a childhood fear — not in Alaska and not in any city.
In the past year, The Northern Light has been through a lot of changes.
There were times when there was no executive or managing editor; times when writers had to put all hands on deck and design, take photos and draw graphics for the newspaper; and times when staffers were still working on the newspaper at 3 a.m.
The snow and slippery ice on the streets is becoming a permanent fixture around town.
Next, turkey will be in our bellies, and holiday decorations will be carefully strung through trees and lining sidewalks.
October is the best month of the year.
The trees turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange; pumpkin becomes a common ingredient used in coffee shops and restaurants; the mid-semester slump is tackled by students; and people herd themselves in costume shops looking for just the right costume to indulge in some childish (or maybe some grown-up) fun on Halloween.
But there’s something offensively wrong with the innocence of costume shopping and planning: the seemingly endless supply of racist costumes.
From the stereotypical Mexican wearing a poncho and sombrero, to the sexy “Indian” costume complete with a hair feather, it is becoming increasingly acceptable for people to berate other people’s cultures and traditions for the sake of laugh.
But let’s be serious, racism ruled the way this country functioned for hundreds of years, and regardless of what people think, it’s still alive and well.
Because the casual comments people make among friends about black people, white people, Mexicans, Samoans or Native Americans is a lingering effect of racism.
And for some reason, people think it’s okay to make an offhand comment about a race because they have friends of that race.
You know what I’m talking about, and you know what the answers to these questions are:
What are three things you can’t give a black person? Why doesn’t Mexico have an Olympic team? What’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza?
But think of it this way, as a young college students, some may never have experienced overt racism, but our grandparents likely did.
Imagine what it would be like if your friends and family fought and died for a cause and, in your lifetime, it became someone’s joke.
Wait a minute — that’s already happened.
Well before the 10th anniversary of the death of 2,753 people in the 9/11 attacks, highjacker, al-Qaida and suicide bomber costumes can be found in Halloween shops. And worse yet, people actually buy them.
Not only is this tasteless, but it’s also disrespectful to the soldiers still fighting for our country overseas.
It’s not funny.
So this year, let’s make a vow to not let our costume choices be ruled by the racism that somehow still defines our society. There are other ways to be shocking without being hurtful.
There are a lot of smells that could make a student living in on-campus housing not want to go home.
A roommate’s funky culinary extravaganzas, incense that smells like a smoke shop and the overwhelming, wafting scent of a roomie’s cologne or perfume choice can be daunting for some.
But there are two smells all people can whole-heartedly agree are bad: poop and mold.
For those living in Main Apartment Complex 2 or 4, they were greeted with one of those two smells for several days.
It’s true that maintenance responded in a timely manner to both of those incidents.
Anyone speaking to Jodi Inman, associate director of housing, or Tom Sternburg, interim director of maintenance and operations, would quickly come to the conclusion that the men were aware of the problems and quickly worked to solve them.
That is appreciated and commendable.
But what were MAC residents supposed to do about the smell?
Inman suggested students contact their resident adviser or resident coordinator about the smell in the carpet caused from the leaks. The adviser should then contact housing maintenance to fix the problem.
But that’s not what happened.
Where did the breakdown in communication happen?
Were the students to blame for not taking the initiative to complain about the smell? Were the advisers to blame for not keeping track of the status of leaks in building they’re responsible for? Was maintenance to blame for not following up or failing to leave students instructions for caring for the carpet when they know mold can develop?
Perhaps blame can be distributed to all these people.
But one thing is for sure: for the sake of future residents, there should be a system in place involving maintenance, housing and students that keeps a line of communication open for financial, ecological and general wellbeing.
It’s painful to think the revolution of Generation Y will be remembered as a joke. It hurts to think that we will be remembered as jobless, homeless vagabonds who started the Occupy Wall Street movement a year ago Sept. 17.
If you are a full-time student employed at UAA, you already know that students can’t work more than 20 hours in one week.
That sentiment is understandable.
Students working only 20 hours a week should, in theory, be better students because they have more time to study.
But this is pre-recession thinking.
A few years ago, students could probably depend on parents to help foot the bill for at least some higher education expenses. They could depend on their parent’s sparkling credit scores to help get private loans.
However, with unemployment in this country still at its highest rate since the Great Depression and, according to a DailyFinance article published July 2, the average level of debt in America is more than most people make in a year, and students are faced with the burden of figuring out how to pay for college themselves.
That means a lot of hours working, apparently, two part-time jobs and staying up until 3 a.m. to get homework done.
The hourly limitation can obviously do more harm than good.
An extra 10 or 15 hours per week at an on-campus job could be enough to help a student pay rent and keep them out of the stressful situation of having to work two part-time jobs while going to school.
It would be tight. A student would still have to be thrifty with their cash. But it could work.
Don’t blame the university for the policy, though. Point your finger at Uncle Sam.
According to the United States Department of Labor website, “The Full-time Student Program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. … The certificate also limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out.”
Want to know more about the program? Good luck.
Two research librarians at the consortium library and a chat with a librarian at the Library of Congress yielded only vague information about the program. (But TNL is on a huge waiting list to speak to a law librarian. We’ll get that call … someday.)
So it seems that this law, affecting millions of students in the country, was passed without too much uproar from students, lawmakers or media outlets.
What does that mean?
It means we all need to pay attention, because the decisions made in Washington are decisions that affect everyone.
The tuition increase proposed for the University of Alaska system is unwarranted. While most people can understand and appreciate the fact that the proposed 2 percent increase is the lowest in ten years, what can’t be understood is why the increase is necessary.
Pat Gamble, University of Alaska President, is correct in saying that the increases in tuition still put Alaska in the running for some of the most affordable tuition in the western region. But it pretty much has to be in order to exist.
An online search revealed that the University of Alaska system, a public institution, and Alaska Pacific University, a private institution, are the only two universities in the state.
The western region Gamble is referring to encompasses big, historically expensive universities such as the University of Southern California, charging about $21,081 per semester for a full-time undergraduate student, and Boise State University in Idaho, charging almost $10,000 a semester for a full-time undergraduate student.
Of course these larger campuses have more expensive tuition than UAA!
Also, a national hot topic right now is public education funding.
Most states being forced to raise tuition are battling budget cuts caused by severely decreased state funding.
The UA system is lucky. For the past ten years, the state has annually increased the amount of money it gives to the system.
Yet, tuition still rises.
Surely there must be a way to cut expenditures another way and leave tuition alone for at least one year.
University officials found a way to fund a new sports complex center at UAA (costing $109,000,00) and keep their salaries fat (Gamble has a baseline salary of $295,000 per year and Chancellor Thomas Case has a baseline salary of $225,000) but not a way to prevent tuition from increasing?
It seems like the opportunity to keep tuition from increasing is available, just not acted upon.
It’s the little things that make my eyes water and my stomach clench.
Sweat beads on the brow of my lip at 10 a.m. The crunch of a flour tortilla as beans and homemade salsa gush into my mouth. Stetsons and ranchero boots galore. I miss gaudy turquoise jewelry on old women; seeing faded Selena posters at every Mexican restaurant in the city while “Coma La Flor” plays in the background; and seeing the San Antonio Spurs logo slapped on everything from T-shirts to tattoos.
They’re the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that are home to me.
A very close look at people during this time of year is bound to reveal a teary eye or a wistful sigh from someone in a crowd. Homesickness is creeping into newbies at UAA.
While it’s easy to call a friend or family member to remind oneself of home or to seek out, in my case, the closest Mexican restaurant serving bean and cheese tacos, I have to remind myself not to always go for the easy fix. Because, sometimes, in mournful bouts of missing the familiar, I can forget that Anchorage is a beautiful city.
I left San Antonio for probably the same reasons other people leave home. I wanted to be in a new city to have new experiences and meet new people. I wanted to eat strange food and see foreign sights and hear people talk without a Texas twang in their voice. I wanted an adventure to look back on when I’m an old woman.
In the three weeks since I’ve been here, I’ve climbed a 5,184-foot mountain, seen five moose and two black bears, played Frisbee golf in a beautiful park, started working for a new student-run publication, had terrible tasting food and met a lot of interesting people.
Despite the unexpected homesickness, coming to Anchorage is already the adventure I was expecting. Remembering that will likely be the difference between crying myself to sleep in the winter and strapping a pair of skis to my feet for a day of exploring trails.
All of us homesick puppies on campus probably thought filling the tank with gas or hopping on an airplane would be the hardest part of leaving home.
As it turns out, the hardest part is walking out the front door in search of the adventures Anchorage might be hiding.
But, if the past three weeks are telltale enough, the effort will most definitely be worth recanting to other old ladies around the bridge table someday.