How to Achieve Your Goals for 2017

How to Achieve Your Goals for 2017

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If you’re like most Americans, you probably made some New Year’s resolutions. According to a report from NBC, some of the most popular ones are getting healthier, getting organized, and learning new hobbies…but most are forgotten about after a few weeks. For a lot of people, they start with unrealistic resolutions, don’t know how to manage their time and then give up easily.

Goal setting

I know how frustrating it is to set a goal and then completely give up on it. Fortunately, I think that keeping these three tips in mind can help you achieve whatever resolutions you’ve made for yourself this year.

  1. Focus. To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen. Moreover, make sure that your goals are SMART:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

  1. Momentum. Goal setting is an ongoing activity. Make reminders in your phone or planner to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain the same over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.

  1. Bloom. One of my favorite quotes is, “Learn to bloom where you are planted. Even if you find yourself planted under some concrete at the moment, look for the crack in the concrete to find your way out.”

And finally, don’t give up and no matter how fast or slow your progress is, make sure you take the time to celebrate the little victories! By utilizing these tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals in the new year.

 

College Kids Don’t Understand the First Amendment, Hate It Anyway

College Kids Don’t Understand the First Amendment, Hate It Anyway

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Last spring, I wrote about college students hating free speech. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer to explain why 22 percent of college students believe that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.” Students are done a disservice when administrators promote “safe spaces” and systems to report microaggressions for situations where students face speech they don’t like or can’t handle.

the_worst_thing_about_censorship-4ea871c-introBut now, I think that that 22% of American students just don’t understand the freedoms protected by the First Amendment – and they hate it because it’s the cool thing to do.

If you haven’t seen the news coverage, countless protests have taken place around the country that are, essentially, against free speech. The irony abounds.

Most recently, Jake Goldberg, a Tufts University sophomore, proposing a sweeping free speech resolution to the campus community, was viciously attacked and maligned on social media by peers who suggest he’s only lobbying for free speech so he can be free to say racist and oppressive things. This is often the tactic taken by those looking to limit freedom. They take the most vile example to become the argument that those advocating for freedom are fighting for.

Tufts University has some of the most restrictive free speech policies in the country, and Goldberg’s resolution calls for an end to campus anti-free speech rules. These rules include vague administrative provisos that crack down on the “use of nicknames,” “hurtful words,” “bias-fueled jokes,” “comments on an individual’s body or appearance,” “innuendos of a sexual nature,” and “gender bias.”

Goldberg created the resolution on behalf of a new organization he co-created called Students Advocating for Students. But many students reacted to the resolution in fits of online rage. Using social media and campus email, students called him every NSFW/K name imaginable.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

How can these students not understand the concept of free speech, and how it’s protected by the First Amendment, when they immediately “peacefully assemble,” or protest, when they’re met with ideas that they don’t like?

In an age where censorship is running rampant on college campuses, students need to realize that it’s their freedom that is at stake – the freedom to say, write and think what they want.

Who’s On Your Short List?

Who’s On Your Short List?

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American industrialist and businessman, J. Paul Getty, wrote in his book, “How to Be Rich,” that:

“…it has always been my contention that an individual who can be relied upon to be himself and to be honest unto himself can be relied upon in every other way.”

TeamworkAs one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs, Getty’s soundbites about living richly are definitely something to take to heart.

In the full year I’ve been outside the comforts of university life, I’ve learned more about the importance of reliability than I ever thought I would. At first, I learned how to rely on myself and my own skills when I moved a few hundred miles away from my family. Then, I learned to rely on those around me, which helped me create a new support system. Now, I work each and every day to be someone that others can rely on.

It is my hope that I’m on many “short lists.” Meaning, if a friend, family member, or co-worker had something important they needed help with, that I would be on their short list of people to call.

For example, I received a phone call from a college friend that I haven’t seen since graduation. She was in the Indianapolis area and wanted to know if she could potentially stay with me in case she was too tired to make the long drive home after a few meetings. I was  humbled that she thought of me – during my undergraduate years, I tried my very best to make sure that those around me knew that I could be someone who they could depend on.

Sometimes though, I drop the ball – I’m only human. We all are.

But even if people that occasionally drop the ball are honest with themselves and with others, as Getty mentions, it makes a difference.

I unfortunately can count on more than two hands (and two feet) the number of times I have encountered those who appear to be reliable, but end up doing more harm than they do good.

Even worse are those who use outlets like social media to gloat about how they used their time and talents “for good” without realizing how badly they set back the team, group, or project.

There was a saying that became popular during my last year in college:

“When I die, I hope [class project group member] lowers me into my grave so that they can let me down one last time.”

Although it’s hilarious (and morbid), think about it.

Do your actions make others want you on their short list? Or are you just going through the motions?

Don’t Just Depend On A Piece Of Paper

Don’t Just Depend On A Piece Of Paper

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This week, I participated in a panel discussion for new students beginning their college careers at my alma mater, Ball State University. I shared my experiences on campus, talked about leadership, how to find the right job after graduation, and what I am doing now with The Advocates for Self-Government with the Class of 2021 C.L.A.S.S. participants.

Ball StateDuring the Q and A portion of the panel, a student asked if earning my degree was more important than the professional experience I gained by completing internships during undergrad.

This is what I told him:

I wouldn’t be where I am professionally without the networking I did as an undergrad. Networking led to internships which led to my professional career. However, the journalism, history, graphic design, and political science classes I took gave me the technical skills I needed to succeed in professional clubs and internships.

In other words, I don’t think that it is important for students to depend on a piece of paper alone. A degree in a subject that one is truly passionate about is great – but it’s not the be-all and end-all of your education.

I have friends that never earned a college degree but have incredibly successful careers. I have other friends that have multiple degrees and are stuck in jobs that make them miserable.

My advice to college students is to take advantage of every single opportunity this upcoming school year and throughout your college career.

Do your best in your classes and ask for help when you need it. If there is a professional club on campus that is relevant to your major, attend a few meetings. If your department is hosting an alumni mixer, GO, and introduce yourself to professionals. Ask for their business cards and keep in touch.

One of my favorite quotes comes from actress Tina Fey:

“Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”

College is where you’re supposed to take risks, learn, and GROW personally and professionally.

Now, get out there and grow.

Be Your Own Advocate

Be Your Own Advocate

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I have the unique experience of sharing the same alma mater as my parents. I grew up hearing stories about how things were when they were at school, the friends they made, and the professors who helped shaped their worldviews. When it was my turn to attend college, I remember my parents making a lot of comments about how different my experience was going to be from theirs. And as a recent graduate, I agree.

AdvocateThe ‘culture’ of college campuses has changed greatly since my parents were in school. Recent events at Mizzou, Yale University, and Occidental College have garnered national attention. Moreover, the way that college administrators have reacted to those events have shown how they are contributing to the creation of, in my opinion, the most coddled generation.

I think one of the most important aspects of growing into adulthood is learning how to handle one’s self professionally.

During my undergraduate years, I had multiple classmates with difficulties discussing issues or grievances with professors, faculty, and other students. Rather than confronting the issue in an adult way, they would often take to social media to complain, would involve a department head when it was unnecessary…or would have their parents take care of it.

I think that there are some very extreme situations in academics when it’s important to rely on others for help.

But when the issues at hand can be resolved in a short, face-to-face conversation, it’s important to rely on one’s self. My advice to incoming freshmen is simple: be your own advocate.

Nothing is going to boost confidence more than learning how to stand up for one’s self. Life lessons like this one can transcend the majority of material in a classroom and can help in the workplace, too.

College is a time of growth. Do you want to take an active role in that growth or do you want to take a backseat and let someone else drive?

 

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

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In the last year, dozens of student protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address microaggressions on campus. From Mizzou to Yale University and Occidental College, these
demands have garnered national attention.

ClevelandBut one of the most recent incidents that happened on a college campus? A “safe space” that was provided by Case Western Reserve University in order to “assist those psychologically or physically traumatized by the prospect of Republicans being in Cleveland and giving speeches,” that hardly anyone utilized.

Located a few miles from where the Republican National Convention was held, the university made a statement in The Daily, that the private school’s Social Justice Institute “will host a ‘safe space’” in the basement of Crawford Hall for the duration of the convention.

“After extensive consultation among our leadership team and discussions in last week’s open forums, we have decided that the university will reduce its on-campus operations significantly from Monday, July 18, through the close of the convention Thursday, July 21,” the statement explained.

Classes were cancelled or moved off campus. Essentially, faculty, staff, and students were told to take the week off. The statement also reminded students that University Counseling Services would “continue to offer walk-in services for students who want to talk with someone about their concerns related to recent events and/or the upcoming convention.”

According to The College Fix, Case Western closed down most of that week because it allowed hundreds of police officers to stay in their residence halls for the duration of the RNC. (And that made a few groups very unhappy.)

“Recent events” in the university’s statement must have referred to the number of altercations between police officers and civilians this summer. The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas have had this country on edge. Protests leading up to and during the Republican National Convention were expected to be large and violent, but according to The Washington Post, they were small and uneventful.

It’s understandable that the university wanted to look out for the safety of faculty, staff, and students. But as an institution of higher education, isn’t it important to teach young people that fear should never win or dictate action?

Instead of using current events as a teachable moment, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in drawing attention away from what was really important for students – their education.

There Is Hope! – How to Safeguard Free Speech On Campus

There Is Hope! – How to Safeguard Free Speech On Campus

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For the last year, I’ve written more than a dozen articles about free speech on college campuses. From safe spaces, to microaggression reporting systems, and multiple campus protests that received national attention, it is clear that our nation’s universities are doing its students a disservice when administrators create nonsensical consequences for forms of speech that they don’t like.

UCAlthough it seems like the First Amendment is a fading part of campus life, there is hope, and a few simple ways to safeguard free speech at colleges and universities.

On Tuesday, a professor at the University of Chicago wrote an opinion piece for RealClearPolitics, outlining a five-point plan for reversing the trend of restricting potentially offensive speech.

In it, Charles Lipson argues that free speech on college campuses is on the verge of becoming extinct, and that administrators are largely to blame for the increased censorship.

“Today, dean-of-students offices are devoted to comforting delicate snowflakes and soothing their feelings. If that means stamping out others’ speech, too bad.”

His solution? It starts with communication at all levels. Step one, he says, is to make sure that the board of trustees “demands to know if free speech is protected on their campuses, in principle and in practice.” Then, he says that university presidents and top administrators should be held accountable for those results.

Second, he says that college acceptance letters should stress that, “our school believes in free speech, open debate, and diverse opinions. You will hear different views on controversial topics. You are urged to read, write, and develop your own views, but you may not suppress others.”

Lipson points out that students who are afraid of intellectual challenges should go to school elsewhere.

Third, he argues that one administrator should be appointed strictly to monitor free speech activities and to make sure that open debate happens on campus. Next, he demands that, “student affairs offices stop suppressing basic academic freedoms and start supporting them.” Lipson mentions that the office of student affairs shouldn’t exist to shield students from uncomfortable ideas or to suppress their speech.

Finally, Lipson wants students to know that they have every right to protest peacefully, but they have no right to disrupt others, and they will be punished if they do. He expresses that administrators who “coddle rabble-rousers” often ignore their corrosive effects.

Similarly, administrators at Gettysburg College created a new speech policy in April, which stresses the college’s commitment to free expression – even when forms of expression are seen as offensive. This comes after some student groups became upset about pro-life posters on campus.

The policy reads in part:

“Any effort by members of the College community to limit openness in this academic community is a matter of serious concern and militates against the freedom of expression and the discovery of truth. Each member of the community is therefore free to express their point of view on, or opposition to, any issue of public interest within reasonable restrictions of time, place and manner. Each member of the community is also expected to help guarantee the ability of other community members to express themselves freely. No group or individual has the right to interfere with the legitimate activity of other authorized persons and groups as interference with expression compromises the College’s goal of creating an environment where issues can be openly discussed.”

Although some of the steps proposed may seem small, they could do wonders for free speech on college campuses if implemented by administrators.

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

UC at San Diego Sued to Enforce First Amendment Rights

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Last week, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the University of California at San Diego and the Associated Students Council defunded student organizations in retaliation for a controversial article published by a satirical paper, The Koala.

KoalaThe student paper, which has been published at UCSD since 1982, made fun of politically correct or “PC” culture last November in an article entitled, “UCSD Unveils News Dangerous Space on Campus.”

It mocked the use of “safe spaces,” repeatedly used the “N-word,” and mentioned the opening of a “dangerous space” to accommodate “individuals who do not like feeling safe…continuing the university’s theme of inclusion and equality.”

In a 22-3 vote on Nov. 18, the student government association eliminated funding for all 13 active student-funded media outlets on campus. Gabe Cohen, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper The Koala, known for its vulgar shock-value humor, said his publication is being targeted specifically.

The council’s vote came the same day UC San Diego administrators posted an online denouncement of The Koala as “profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel.”

Cohen criticized the budget cut, calling it as “thinly veiled censorship” aimed at The Koala in particular. He pointed out that The Koala’s $3,000 annual budget makes up a small portion of the total student government budget — less than one percent.

“The decision sends a dangerous message to the campus, which is essentially, ‘If we don’t like what you’re saying, we’ll do everything we can to shut you up, even if that means harming innocents in the process,’” he said. “A.S. hoped this would make us go bow down and go away, but in reality they challenged a belligerent drunk to a fist fight.”

So far, The Koala has raised $1,000 in addition to securing advertising contracts, Cohen said, adding that San Diego State University’s chapter of the publication draws its funding solely from ad revenues, “proving it is not impossible to run without school funding,” he said.

Now, with help from the ACLU, Koala staffers hope to overturn the cut by taking legal action.

The ACLU’s legal filing quotes extensively from the Bias Incident Report Forms, submitted to the college by students offended by The Koala’s article.

“[The publication] propagates insensitive mindsets with its sexist and racist comments masked under cruel humor,” one complaint said. “Screen works to make sure that there is no propagation of these attitudes.”

Another complaint demanded the university “immediately take the initiative to end any hate speech, actions or crimes that offend any groups represented on this campus.”

The Bias Response Incident Reports apparently prompted action, with one administrator noting, “we do not typically receive so many reports regarding single issue.” The student government responded by ending funding for all printed student media, even though it continues to pay for other forms of speech like forums and events with speakers.

The ACLU argues that “however offensive or outrageous it may have been, the article remains protected speech on topical issues of public concern, including but not necessarily limited to the nature, purpose, and appropriateness of trigger warnings and safe spaces on college and university campuses.”

Cohen agrees.

“Part of attending a university is learning through considering opinions and voices that differ from your own, which you might not agree with,” he said. “Cutting funding to print media is a slippery step in the direction of anti-intellectualism and paternalism that should have no place on this campus.”

A motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard in federal court on July 18, 2016.

Elkhart, Indiana Thrives Despite Obama Administration’s Policies

On Wednesday, President Obama returned to my hometown, Elkhart, Indiana. It was the first city he visited after becoming president in 2009 during the middle of the Great Recession. The “RV Capital of the World,” our county’s unemployment rate jumped to 18.9 percent – the highest in the country. Now, the administration views Elkhart as a symbol of America’s recovery.

I was a sophomore in high school at the time and the majority of my friends had parents who had been laid off or who were underemployed. Everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status, struggled.

I remember in that first speech at Concord Community High School, an optimistic president promised that under his administration, we would be able to rise above our current struggles. Jobs would be created, everyone would have healthcare, and we would reinvest in our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

Following that visit, Obama urged Congress to pass an $800 billion economic stimulus package to keep the nation from slipping further into a recession that “we may be unable to reverse.” Elkhart was pushed to diversify its industry and promised millions of dollars of grants to jump start an electric car industry, specifically. With a $39.2 million federal grant, officials at Navistar Inc.predicted they could create 700 jobs.

But, it never came to fruition.

South Main StreetIn 2012, I had the opportunity to interview Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary, about what else was going to be done by the administration to aid Elkhart County. He touted that we [Elkhart] should be, “proud of the current unemployment rate.”

At that time, the unemployment rate was around 10 percent.

Currently, Elkhart County is in a better place than it was in 2009. The unemployment rate is around 4 percent, but it is delusional to attribute this growth to the empty promises of our current administration.

Promises and policies like cleaner air and water, universal healthcare, and higher wages were said to have contributed to some of Elkhart’s successes during Wednesday’s PBS town hall, even though this administration has polluted the Animas River, severely worsened the national debt, and is rewarding states for Affordable Care Act exchange failures.

Despite all of the government waste and abuse, Elkhart has thrived. But, how?

Elkhart County is home to some of the most hard-working, dedicated, and determined people that I have ever met. When times got tough, I saw families (including my own), reinvent their businesses and take a chance on a wavering economy. The community put the economy first and made shopping local a priority.

Knowing that education could help us solve our community’s long-term problems, I saw students study harder – my graduating class was the first to earn more than $1 million in scholarships (mainly from private institutions.)

Elkhart County is living proof that the American dream still exists: you just have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work when your government won’t.

A Rough Week for Free Speech – Fraternity Edition

A Rough Week for Free Speech – Fraternity Edition

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It’s been a rough few weeks for free speech on college campuses with regard to Greek Life. In two separate instances at Illinois colleges, fraternities came under fire for…hurting feelings.

PaintMembers of the Millikan University chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon will no longer be allowed to wear face and body paint at recruitment events according to Nicki Rowlett, Assistant Director of Inclusion and Student Engagement.

Face paint is “cultural appropriation,” according to a student complaint last year.

In her email to the TKE president, Rowlett states:

“Members of [Tau Kappa Epsilon] are prohibited from wearing black and red paint, wigs/and or clothing items that mimic or depict an ethnicity or culture. Failure to comply with the expectation will result in immediate removal from the event, and additional student conduct sanctions.”

At Northwestern University, fraternities apologized for hanging anti-sexual assault banners on their houses after feminists on campus got offended.

Northwestern’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) soon “faced criticism over the banners,” with some students saying they were “in poor taste due to the pervasiveness of sexual assault in fraternities,” while others argued that simply putting up banners was not enough to stop sexual assault and doing so was offensive.

Banners featuring statements like, “This is everyone’s problem” and “(fraternity name) supports survivors,” had been hung on the houses for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which was in April. Students were so upset with these banners that the IFC issued a public apology:

“We recognize now how this campaign may have been emotionally triggering for survivors, and we want to make a deep, genuine apology for anyone that may have been affected,” the board said in the statement. “This was not our intent, but it is our fault for not being cognizant enough and not considering how it might affect others in our community.”

Because of these criticisms, the IFC announced plans to create a four-year sexual assault education program.

Both universities involved are private and should do what they want, of course. But, where will the “harsh consequences for feelings sake,” end?

No one at Millikan owns the colors blue, red, or black. And the only “appropriation” they were doing was of themselves – it’s the fraternity’s tradition. Will administrators start banning face paint at school sporting events, pep rallies, and activity fairs?

And why are students at Northwestern so upset about fraternities showing their support for victims of sexual assault during Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

Outraged students claim that these banners were in poor taste, but according to the Northwestern Annual Security Report, there were only three rapes reported on the Evanston campus in 2014. (And the report doesn’t say if those crimes were committed by fraternity members or not.)

Regardless of a student’s’ affiliation in Greek Life or not, ALL students are done a disservice when administrators and others create these nonsensical consequences when they are faced with forms of speech they don’t like.

TRIGGERING! – Political Correctness Gone Too Far at UMass Amherst

TRIGGERING! – Political Correctness Gone Too Far at UMass Amherst

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Last week, students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst redefined mass hysteria at a discussion on political correctness hosted by the College Republicans.

The discussion titled, “The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?” almost immediately turned into a screaming match as some in the audience attempted to deny the panelists a chance to speak.

UMassThe panel was moderated by Kyle Boyd, president of the UMass Amherst College Republicans, and consisted of Milo Yiannopoulos, a British journalist, Steven Crowder, Canadian comedian and political commentator, and the “Factual Feminist,” Christina Hoff Sommers.

“We have organized tonight’s event to explore a single question – has political correctness gone too far?” Boyd said over shouts of support and disgust. However, the panelists didn’t back down and purposefully made provoking opening comments.

“Feminism is cancer,” Yiannopoulos said.

Hoff Sommers was greeted with shouts of “racist!” from the audience as soon as she approached the microphone.

The full YouTube video (contains NSFW/K language) of the ordeal is confusing, and I can’t imagine how members of the audience who were there to listen could follow along.

Student protesters interrupted the panelists, accused them of being racist, and told them to get their “hate speech” off of campus. Supportive audience members did cheer while the guests talked about heightened sensitivity on college campuses and microagressions.

The most widely-viewed clip (contains NSFW/K language) from that night was of a single protester who shouted every time Yiannopoulos tried to speak.

Hoff Sommers tells her to “calm down, young lady.” Instead, the protester responds with an impassioned expletive.

Then, the woman begins loudly asserting that “hate speech is not welcome here” and demanding that the speakers “keep your hate speech off this campus,” all while insisting that she is the true embodiment of free speech.

“Stop talking to us like children!” she yelled.

“Stop acting like a child and I will,” Hoff Sommers coolly replied, who is currently a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.

One of the organizers of the panel, senior Nicholas Pappas, said their panel had drawn more attention than any previous event they have hosted – the online videos have more than a million views. He told the Massachusetts Daily Collegian that the discussion was intended to “give other students our perspective.”

It is very discouraging to see how overtly disrespectful these students were to this panel – especially when they couldn’t go more than 20-30 seconds without interruption! The purpose of the college experience is to grow and expand beyond one’s own worldview. If these students can’t sit through a two-hour panel on ideas they may disagree with, how will they ever be expected to hold their own after graduation in the real world?

If You Don’t Vote, You Can Still Complain

Originally posted via www.chloeanagnos.com on the day of Indiana’s Republican/Democratic primary election day.


Ah, it’s Indiana primary day, baby. And as a lifelong Hoosier, I’ve never seen more yard signs, rallies, and political ads in a primary season than in 2016.

Presidential candidates on both sides have made stops across our state and it’s actually kind of cool to see Indiana come into play.

But when candidates roll in, so does political rhetoric.

In 2012, I used to be one of those people that told others that they couldn’t complain if they didn’t vote. I made the obligatory Facebook status about the importance of voting on election day. But as Indiana heats up, I’ve cooled down on groupthink rhetoric – mainly because it’s bogus.

Here’s why:

Georgetown political philosopher Jason Brennan, author of The Ethics of Voting, has an excellent post refuting the mantra that “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.” As Brennan points out, this argument fails to consider the unlikelihood that your vote will actually have an effect on government policy:

The most obvious explanation is that if you don’t vote, you didn’t do something that could influence government in the way you want it to go. You didn’t put in even minimal effort into making a change…..

But voting isn’t like that! The problem is that individual votes don’t make any difference. On the most optimistic assessment of the efficacy of individual votes, votes in, say, the US presidential election can have as high as a 1 in 10 million chance of breaking a tie, but only if you vote in a swing state and vote for one of the two major candidates. Otherwise, the chances of breaking a tie or having any impact are vanishingly small….

[defenders of the argument that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain] are really saying something like this:

I ran into someone this morning who complained about how poor he is. I told him, “If you’re not playing the lottery everyday, you forfeit your right to complain about being poor.” The problem with poor people is that they don’t buy enough Powerball tickets.

In my opinion, it’s better to abstain from voting especially if you lack sufficient knowledge of the issues to vote in a minimally informed way. People shouldn’t be stigmatized for abstaining in situations where their participation is likely to make the situation worse, as well.

(And unfortunately, the people that stigmatize are often the ones that further this rhetoric.)

But even if you don’t vote, you can complain if you’re not happy with election results.

No matter who wins either party nomination today, or even the White House in November, every citizen is affected regardless if they vote or not. It’s not like voting is the miraculous way out of big government’s grip – we’re all still expected to pay taxes and live with outdated laws.

So, go to the polls. Or, stay at home. The choice is yours and no one should make you feel any differently.


Chloe Anagnos is a Media Director and PR Specialist by day – lover of liberty, lipstick, and alliteration every other second. A Pretty, Smart Girl began as a way to celebrate beauty and brains through multimedia. Enjoy a hodgepodge of posts ranging from current events to styling tips, international affairs and more.

Why Do College Students Hate Free Speech?

Why Do College Students Hate Free Speech?

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I had the opportunity to spend some vacation time in Washington D.C. this month. The cherry blossoms were beautiful, the food was excellent, and I found a new favorite museum: the Newseum.

Opinion For a complete news junkie like me, it was the perfect place to spend two consecutive days. Exhibits ranged from interactive media ethics games to every Pulitzer Prize-winning photo since the award was established in 1917. The most interesting exhibits, in my opinion, were centered around free speech around the world and on college campuses.

A giant world map showed which countries had the greatest amount of freedom of the press. A green-colored country meant the most, yellow was somewhat, and red was least to none at all. It was no surprise that the U.S. was green, some of Europe was yellow, and almost all of the Middle East was red.

The other side of the exhibit held interactive multimedia displays that showcased the history of free speech on campus. Highlights included the Civil Rights movement, protests at Kent State and Columbia University, and an ethics game about college newspapers.

One board in particular intrigued me. It asked: “Should college campuses limit free speech to protect students from hateful comments?” Attendees could take a sticker and put it on the “Yes” or “No” side to cast their vote.

I watched two college-aged girls look at the board, pause for a moment, and put their stickers on the “Yes” side.

Although the majority of stickers disagreed with the statement, I really wanted to ask these two why they thought that way. Here they are surrounded, literally, by maps of the most oppressive places in the world for journalists, and they believe that colleges should censor student speech.

It was a little baffling.

So, why do college students hate free speech?

According to a Gallup Poll released on Monday, college students want free speech on their campuses but want administrators to intervene when it turns into hate speech. However, they disagree on whether college campuses are open environments and on how the media should cover campus protests.

Roughly 78 percent of students surveyed said that colleges should allow “all types of speech and viewpoints,” while 22 percent noted that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.”

The survey’s organizers wrote that, “Students do appear to distinguish controversial views from what they see as hate speech — and they believe colleges should be allowed to establish policies restricting language and certain behavior that are intentionally offensive to certain groups.”

However, 54 percent of students said that “the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive.”

Along with the Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute, Gallup conducted another similar survey of college students and found that they are highly distrustful of the press. Students believe that universities should be able to bar the press from campus in some instances. Lastly, they think that schools should be able to restrict students from wearing costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups.

Although I’m not entirely sure why college students hate free speech, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of them are done a disservice when administrators create “safe spaces” and microaggression reporting systems when they are faced with speech they don’t like. Students would be better served if their campuses truly had open discussions that exposed them to opinions other than their own and that challenged their viewpoints.

Lorelai the libertarian

Airing from 2000-2007, the comedy-drama television series, Gilmore Girls, followed the atypical (and sometimes enviable) mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series developed a cult-following due to the witty writing, fast dialogue, and dynamic cast of characters in fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut.

A smart and sassy woman, Lorelai Gilmore is definitely a libertarian because of the way she upholds the principle of individual freedom and sets a positive example to others, especially her daughter.

Born to an affluent family Hartford, Connecticut, Lorelai grew up with the best of everything. Her parents, Emily and Richard, sent her to the best private schools. At 16, she found out that she was pregnant shortly before her “coming out ball” – a high society event for area debutantes.

The Gilmore’s and the Hayden’s (her boyfriend, Christopher’s parents), put their heads together and decided that the two teenagers would get married right away and that Christopher would go to work for Richard’s insurance firm. Embarrassed that her daughter was pregnant out of wedlock, flashbacks throughout the series show just how condescending and controlling Emily Gilmore was during and after Lorelai’s pregnancy.

Tired of being suffocated by her parents, Lorelai decides to control her own happiness. Leaving just a note behind, she takes her infant daughter, Rory, to the nearest town and asks an innkeeper for a part-time job and a place to stay.

Fast forward 16 years later, and Lorelai is now managing the chic inn where she used to work as a maid. She owns her own home, car, and has raised her daughter to put forth the effort in school to eventually attend an Ivy League university.

Lorelai makes it very clear that she won’t accept help from anyone, until she needs financial support from her parents to send Rory to a rigorous prep school. Her inner-struggle between wanting what’s best for her daughter and being independent from her parents makes for seven seasons of hilariously, dramatic television.

Even though there is constant tension between Lorelai and her controlling mother in almost every episode, Lorelai never ceases to teach Rory that it is best to live an authentic life.

For example, in Season 2, Episode 7, a guidance counselor approaches Rory during the first few weeks at her new, expensive school about being so shut off during lunch hours. Rory usually eats alone while reading and listening to her Walkman. The counselor explains that Rory isn’t fitting in very well and that she would probably make more friends if she socialized at lunch.

Rory tells her mom about this encounter and is self-conscious about how she spends her free hour as any shy, 16-year-old would be.

RORY: I don’t know. Maybe there is something wrong with me.

LORELAI: Oh, don’t say that.

RORY: Maybe I am a loner. I mean, you were mocking my backpack today. I might just be one step away from carrying a mysterious duffel bag.

LORELAI: Oh no, no you don’t. Don’t you go doubting who you are or how you should be. How dare that woman do this to you!

RORY: It wasn’t just her. The whole meeting was [Headmaster] Charleston’s suggestion.

LORELAI: Well, good. It’s time I called on old Schnickelfritz Charleston to tell him to stop messing with my kid’s mind.

RORY: Mom.

LORELAI: No, I’m sorry. I don’t like this. Schools like Chilton try to stamp out every vestige of individuality and I’m not gonna let that happen.

Devastated that Rory is so upset, Lorelai calls a meeting with the Headmaster.

HEADMASTER: How nice. So why did you want to see me?

LORELAI: Well, I wanted to talk to you about Rory and uh, this ridiculous accusation about her being a loner and how that’s somehow something bad.

HEADMASTER: Well, it is bad.

LORELAI: No, it’s not bad, it’s just her. I raised Rory to do what she wants as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. And I don’t see how her reading a book or listening to a Walkman is hurting anyone.

Lorelai spends the rest of the episode (and truly the majority of the series) empowering Rory, who in turn stands up for herself even when it isn’t the popular thing to do.

College Holiday Party? Better Skip the Props

College Holiday Party? Better Skip the Props

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Ah, today is St. Patrick’s Day. In college towns across America, students are probably skipping class to drink and attend parties while dressed in every green piece of clothing they own.

SombreroShamrock glasses and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” tee shirts are usually the norm for St. Patrick’s Day party goers. But, as holidays come and go, traditional shirts and accessories could be another opportunity for college administrators and perpetually offended student protesters alike to bypass free expression rights as part of a misguided effort to prevent offense and hurt feelings.

Case in point, a tequila-themed birthday party at Bowdoin College caused quite the uproar a few weeks ago due to guests wearing…tiny sombreros.

When photos appeared on social media of the party and its guests, the entire campus took action.

Bowdoin administrators sent multiple school wide emails notifying the students about an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.”

A few days later, the Bowdoin Student Government unanimously adopted a “statement of solidarity” to “[stand] by all students who were injured and affected by the incident,” and recommend that administrators “create a space for those students who have been or feel specifically targeted.” The statement deemed the party an act of “cultural appropriation,” one that “creates an environment where students of color, particularly Latino, and especially Mexican, students feel unsafe.”

A week later, BSG introduced articles of impeachment against two student representatives that attended the party. However, impeachment proceedings were postponed until further notice by the BSG President, Danny Mejia-Cruz, and then later rescinded.

As for the rest of the others? According to The Bowdoin Orient:

“They will participate in an educational program facilitated by a faculty member, attend Active Bystander training and write a letter or paper on these experiences—other aspects of their punishment seem arbitrary. They were forced to move out of their room in Stowe Hall and relocate to doubles in Chamberlain Hall and they are banned from Ivies and Spring Gala.”

However, on the very same night of the “tequila party,” Bowdoin held its annual, administration-sanctioned “Cold War” party. Students wore fur hats and coats to represent Soviet culture and one referred to herself as “Stalin,” making light of a particularly painful era in Slavic history.

What makes one party deserving of school sponsorship while participation in the other will get you kicked out of your dorm room? The mixed messages are even more troubling considering an event last year in which the university provided students and alumni with sombreros and other hats and props for a photo booth. Those photos are still available on the school’s public Facebook page.

It is concerning that Bowdoin can argue that these “tequila party” attendees should have known better than to treat sombreros as silly props if the administration itself didn’t either.

One Microaggression After Another

One Microaggression After Another

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Now more than ever, college campuses are offering training, courses and even online portals for students, faculty and staff to understand and report microaggressions. Failure to acknowledge harm caused by microaggressions on college campuses is resulting in the resignation of administrators.

Microaggression Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on the surface to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a tiny form of violence nonetheless.

For example, by some university guidelines, asking an Asian American where they are from is a microaggression because the questions implies that the person is not a real American.

Occidental College in California is instituting a microaggression reporting system, which comes as a response to recent student protests of President Jonathan Veitch, among other things.

Protests took place this past semester in support of other students of color at The University of Missouri, Yale, and Claremont McKenna College.

Although Veitch did not step down, he agreed to meet students’ demands which included: diversifying the faculty, creating a black studies program, increasing funding for diversity initiatives and training all campus staff on minority student needs, along with the microaggression reporting program.

Agreeing to student demands did not work for Ithaca College’s president, however.

In January, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon announced he would retire in 2017 which, appeased the groups of students and faculty members that called for his resignation. Rochon was accused of improperly handling racist incidents on campus, and offended student-activists and faculty wanted him out.

Really, only two incidents were reported. The first, an alumni panel discussion in which one panelist, an older white man, called another panelist, a younger black woman, a “savage” after the woman described herself as possessing “a savage hunger.” When the older man was told that his comments could be considered racial and malicious, although he did not mean them to be, he apologized. Rochon put out a statement and apologized:

On Thursday, October 8, we conducted a Blue Sky Reimagining kick-off event, featuring a conversation among four alumni followed by work in small groups brainstorming on how to make the Ithaca College educational experience more immersive.

Insensitive comments were made during the conversation. Immediately following the event, I (Tom Rochon) apologized to the alumna to whom the comments were addressed. We regret that what was intended to be a visionary moment for our community was diminished by insensitive comments.

In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus. Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise disrespectful. Even so, we reaffirm our commitment to making our campus an inclusive and respectful community.

We recognize the concerns raised by members of the campus community about the language used during the Blue Sky event. We reiterate our commitment to the principles of respect and inclusion and to the goal of ensuring that Ithaca College is a place where all students, faculty, staff, and visitors feel safe and respected.

The other? A “Preps and Crooks” theme party that was hosted by a fraternity around Halloween. The dress of the “crooks” was racially insensitive according to some students. Ithaca’s vice president did indeed condemn the “destructive impact” of the event, but it did not satisfy Ithaca students.

By playing into student demands, college administrators are doing students a disservice for not adequately preparing them for the real world where one won’t be protected from speech, actions, or non-verbals that they may not like or agree with.

Breaking Big Government

I really love AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad.’ If you’re unfamiliar with the show, the award-winning drama follows high school chemistry teacher turned drug dealer, Walter White.

Walter’s life comes to a halt when he finds out that he has lung cancer. In order to pay the bills, he recruits one of his former students to help him produce and distribute methamphetamine.

breaking badWalter and his accomplice, Jesse Pinkman, attempt to cook crystal meth in the New Mexico desert without anyone finding out – especially Walter’s brother-in-law – Hank, the Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

I started re-watching the series because 1) I love the story line, and 2) I wanted to catch any “Big Government strikes again” moments that I might have missed since the series ended in 2013. Without even making it halfway through the series, I realized that there were far too many to even mention in just one article.

Those watching can’t help but feel sorry for Walter – the cards are stacked against him. When his doctor tells him that he has lung cancer, his wife is out of work and is about 5 months pregnant. His son is an angsty teenager who just so happens to have cerebral palsy. We learn that Walter is an extremely overqualified chemist that is making about $43,000 a year. In order to make ends meet, he works a second job as a car wash attendant.

It’s crazy the amount of road blocks Walter, and those around him, have to face because of Big Government. The obvious drug war aside, Walter encounters tons of red tape when it comes to health care, health insurance, wrongful search and seizure, and my personal favorite, getting ticketed for a broken windshield.

In the second season, two planes collide over Albuquerque and as a result, debris from the wreckage falls all over the city. Walter’s car is hit with small plane parts, and the windshield cracks. While driving down the highway, a police officer pulls Walter over. Perplexed because he had the car on cruise control, Walter asks what the problem is.

The officer simply replies with, “Your windshield is severely cracked and is therefore unsafe to drive.”

Walt explains to the officer that his home was in the area where debris had fallen and that it was an extremely well-known news story. He even points out that the officer is wearing a ribbon pinned to his uniform in honor of the flight victims. The officer says that he understands…but the windshield is cracked and is still still unsafe to drive, so he has to give him a ticket.

Walt reacts the same way most people probably would in that situation – he goes ballistic.

In what world should he or any other citizen be punished by Big Government for the mess ups of others? And better yet, who is supposed to pay for his windshield? Even if Walt wasn’t rolling in drug money, replacing something like that would definitely set a family back for awhile.

This reminded me of plenty of real life examples that Americans have seen recently, especially in Flint, Michigan.

Like the drug wars, which arguably caused Walt to start cooking meth, Big Government caused the water crisis in Flint. The citizens of Flint are paying for the incompetence of Big Government with their pocket books and sadly, their health. Most people in the area, especially children, have lead poisoning and are abandoning their homes. The example in Flint, sadly, isn’t the first and won’t be the last in government incompetence when it comes to one of the most basic necessities like water.

Late last summer, an EPA-contracted firm released millions of gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas River, a critical source of water for the Navajo nation. Fast forward six months later, and the EPA still hasn’t taken responsibility for the disastrous spill.

More often than not, Big Government comes in with good intentions and leaves with bad outcomes. ‘Breaking Bad’ is a fabulous piece of television that helps to expose those who are not familiar with the liberty movement of the negative aspects of government overreach.

Mizzou Professor Faces Assault Charge, Suspended

Mizzou Professor Faces Assault Charge, Suspended

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On Nov. 9, 2015, the nation paid close attention to massive protests on the University of Missouri’s campus following the resignation of President Tim Wolfe for his failure to adequately address a series of racial incidents on campus.

Later that afternoon, assistant communications professor, Melissa Click, was filmed by student journalist Mark Schierbecker, in a video that has since gone viral. In the video, Click is seen having a verbal and physical altercation with another student journalist, Tim Tai, who was trying to photograph student protesters who had formed a large circle in the middle of campus.

Click

Claiming that it was a “safe space” for protesters, Click is seen trying to push Schierbecker and Tai away. At one point, Click calls for “some muscle” to remove them both from the protest area. Then, she appears to grab Schierbecker’s camera.

This week, the Columbia, Mo. city prosecutor’s office announced it had filed a Class C misdemeanor assault charge against the professor, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail. Two days later, the University of Missouri Board of Curators formally suspended her of her teaching duties.

“MU Professor Melissa Click is suspended pending further investigation,” said Pam Henrickson, chairwoman of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “The Board of Curators directs the General Counsel, or outside counsel selected by General Counsel, to immediately conduct an investigation and collaborate with the city attorney and promptly report back to the Board so it may determine whether additional discipline is appropriate.”

This suspension is appropriate because Click was overly driven to squash the First Amendment rights of the student journalists. As Tai said in the video, he and his colleague had just as much of a right to be there reporting as did the protesters. It is alarming that Click did not seem to understand the basic principle of free speech that she, and members of her former department, were entrusted to teach to budding journalists.

Multiple Threats Made Against US School Systems Following San Bernardino Shootings

Multiple Threats Made Against US School Systems Following San Bernardino Shootings

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In the weeks following the shootings in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people, multiple threats have been made against school systems in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Indiana.

Members of the Los Angeles Board of Education received a crudely written email that prompted officials to close all 900 schools in the nation’s second-largest school system Tuesday. School officials for the New York City school systems and local law enforcement dismissed an identical threat as a hoax.

On Thursday, school officials in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and Dallas said they received threats similar to the ones received by the Los Angeles and New York school districts earlier this week.

School

Two schools in Indiana canceled classes after also getting threats. The Danville Community School Corporation said two students were arrested after allegedly making threats against schools in separate incidents.

The Miami-Dade County, Dallas and Houston school districts announced on their websites that “less-than-credible” threats were received by email late Wednesday evening, and that schools would be open Thursday. Officials from Broward County Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale said they also received a threat.

The districts are among the nation’s largest — Miami ranks fourth, Broward is sixth, Houston is seventh and Dallas is 14th.

In Dallas, officials with the Dallas Independent School District said some teachers and staff members at two schools — Pinkston High and Martinez Elementary — received threats via email and notified district officials. The district’s police department activated its emergency response protocol and began working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure the schools were safe.

“We need to make sure that we don’t overreact to fear,” Dallas police Chief David Brown said. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings agreed, adding, “Obviously someone is trying to scare Dallas and that is not going to work.”

Robert Mock, police chief for the Houston Independent School District, said random overnight searches by explosives detecting dogs and patrol officers turned up nothing after district officials, including the superintendent, received the threat by email.

So far Thursday morning, “everything’s been normal, schools are in session, kids are learning,” Mock said.

He added that he doesn’t want to downplay the message because “a threat is a threat.” But he said the message referred to weapons and explosives among unsophisticated content that was “so far over the top the logistics just didn’t pan out.”

Details about the threats in Miami and Fort Lauderdale haven’t been released yet, but said on their websites they were similar to those received in New York and Los Angeles earlier in the week.

It’s unfortunate that some of the largest school systems in the U.S. let fear win – and dictate action. Instead of having the foresight to recognize hoaxes coming from some of these schools’ own students, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in distracting students from what is really important – their education.

“Safe Spaces” Used to Silence Political Speech

“Safe Spaces” Used to Silence Political Speech

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In the last year, dozens of protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address racial microaggressions on campus. These protesters and students alike call for “safe spaces” on campuses so that they can have an open dialogue about these issues. But what they don’t realize is that these “safe spaces” are being used to silence political speech – especially speech that they don’t agree with.

Free Speech

For example, George Washington University police ordered a student to take down a Palestinian flag that was hanging from his dorm window because it was not “respectful of your peers,” according to an administrator.

Ramie Abounaja, a 20-year-old pre-med student, was visited by a GWU police officer in October. The officer claimed he had received “numerous complaints” about the flag and wouldn’t leave the room until it was removed. Abounaja complied, but later questioned whether he had actually violated any university policies.

According to Abounaja:

Then, on Tuesday, to my alarm, I received an email from the Graduate Fellow Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities stating that they “received a report from the GW University Police Department regarding [my] behavior” that I was “found to have had a flag out [my] window” and that the letter “serves as a warning that this behavior is a violation of the ‘Code of Student Conduct and/or the Residential Community Conduct Guidelines.’” The letter also warned me to be “respectful” of my “peers” that “my behavior had the potential to leave a profound impact on the community.” The letter (attached) did not provide any details as to which provision, article or rule I violated.

According to The Intercept’s Andrew Fishman, GWU has no policy barring flags on the inside of dorm rooms, but it does prohibit flags hanging outside of the dorms – even though numerous amounts of flags have been seen flying outside of GWU dorm windows.
It seems as if the police are only called to remove flags that have offended others. Certainly, Abounaja is a victim of viewpoint discrimination. This kind of censorship—censorship of pro-Palestinian speech—is common according to Fishman:

Campus free speech and so-called “political correctness censorship” have been vigorously debated over the last two decades. That topic received particularly intense attention from journalists and pundits this year in response to controversies at the University of Missouri, Yale and other campuses.

In the first half of 2015 alone, Palestine Legal, a U.S. civil rights advocacy organization, has reported 140 instances of suppression of Palestine advocacy, 80 percent of which has happened on college campuses.

A Jewish student at the University of Michigan was recently investigated by a student government ethics commission after Palestinian students took offense at him aggressively criticizing a pro-Palestinian display. According to The College Fix, the commission affirmed that the student had a First Amendment right to question the demonstrators.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fired Professor Steven Salaita for his anti-Israel tweets and his lawsuit is currently moving forward in a federal court. The University of California is attempting to label all criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic hate speech and Occidental College may institute a microaggression reporting system.

The First Amendment rights of everyone are in danger if one person’s freedom of expression can be diminished by an administrator, campus police officer, or an emotional student. The words “hateful” and “offensive” are relative terms. We cannot protect the kinds of speech we find to be agreeable unless we can also protect the kinds of speech we find disagreeable.