LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ministers from United Church of Christ hope for an adjunct union in good faith

On October 17 we four ministers of the United Church of Christ delivered a letter to President Troy VanAken concerning the current discussions among non-tenure track faculty at Elmhurst to determine if they want to form a union, allowing them to negotiate with a collective voice regarding their salary, benefits, and working conditions.  

We were grateful for our gracious reception by President’s office staff and their promise to deliver the letter which was signed by over fifty of our United Church of Christ colleagues.

In the letter we reminded President VanAken of the historic and ongoing ties to the United Church of Christ and of the UCC’s commitment to the rights of workers to organize for the right to collective bargaining.  

We cited the 1995 General Synod resolution stating that “commonly accepted standards of decency, compassion, and respect. . . should inform the labor relations policies of UCC organizations and related organizations.” 

 The letter went on to urge the College administration to remain neutral during this process so that these faculty can make their own informed and considered decision free of pressure from their employer.  

Finally, our letter urged that, should the non-tenure track faculty vote to form a union, the College will immediately enter into good faith negotiations toward a contract that will further a healthy and respectful workplace environment on campus.

Elmhurst College has an impressive history of commitment to the rights and dignity of all persons, exemplified in recent years by its embrace of LGBTQ students, its support for students of many diverse religious traditions, and President VanAken’s outreach this fall to students imperiled by President Trump’s abandonment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  

These actions reflect the justice commitments of the wider United Church of Christ and are to be commended.  It is our hope and expectation that a similar commitment will be seen in the College’s response to its own employees.  

Know that we will remain interested and attentive as this process moves forward.  We urge all students, staff, and faculty to be supportive of these non-tenure track faculty who play such a critical role in the liberal arts education we all cherish.

 

The Rev. Jason Coulter

Ravenswood United Church of Christ

Chicago, Illinois

 

The Rev. Scott Oberle

First Congregational Church, UCC

Downers Grove, Illinois

 

The Rev. John H. Thomas

Former General Minister and President

United Church of Christ

Elmhurst, Doctor of Divinity, 2007

 

The Rev. Dr. Oscar Varnadoe, III

WideAwake United Church of Christ

Benton Harbor, Michigan

 

Contact:

John H. Thomas

1642 E. 56th St., Apt. 1111

Chicago, IL   60637

312-576-9526

jht31950@yahoo.com

EDITORIAL: SGA’s bylaws must change to demand transparency from it’s members

Given the current composition of SGA’s infrastructure, there is much room for conflict of interest in the handling of tuition money utilized for the funding granted to EC’s student organizations. As such, we believe that SGA should generate laws influencing their executive members’ integrity. 

SGA’s Vice President, Maria Anguiano, is currently facing harsh accusations of a conflict of interest following recent allegations in violating SGA’s funding bylaws. 

The onslaught of accusations was sparked by Anguiano’s role in privately proposing funding for an outside student organization, Hablamos, in which she holds a position as president. 

In the past,  it has been acknowledged that executive members have held distinct executive roles outside of our student government. Yet they are unquestionably given leeway to surface proposals representing the interests of the student organizations they lead. 

The nature of this situation is entirely ridiculous and calls for deliberation.

While individual members of our student government are not to blame for this mishandling of funds, SGA’s constitution is void of any restrictions that give room for these conflicts of interests. 

Given this insight, it is truly concerning that our student government operates under such leniency, especially given that they control the purse strings.

Of the 3,000 individuals that comprise the student body, only a handful of students have the ultimate say in where our tuition dollars are allocated.

The nature of our student government is wholly unrepresentative and leaves much room for biased motives. 

While we believe the magnitude of this problem necessitates a total dissolvement and restructuring of our student government, it is perhaps more practical to start by imposing restrictions on executive members of SGA from taking upon additional executive roles in outside student organizations.

As a student-run newspaper, our ability to effectively inform the student body relies on the unbiased role of our editorial board in which our editor-in-chief is restricted from functioning in separate executive positions within other student organizations. 

Furthermore, the individual members of the editorial board and staff are banned from writing articles and columns regarding student organization in which they are a part of.

We expect the same code of conduct from SGA, a student-run government that should ultimately function as an unbiased arbiter of what is necessary for the student body.

The approval of Hablamos’ funding, was a decision made through a private email in which the executive members of SGA deliberated and discussed the granting of $150 dollars. And while we acknowledge that this small amount of money may seem insignificant, the entire ordeal raises some concerning questions. 

When were non-executive members of SGA part of this discussion? Why was the student body entirely unaware of such a decision? And most importantly, how long has this been going on?

We suspect that similar instances have happened without question. Where it not for the vocalized concerns of a member of SGA, we would not be holding this discussion to begin with and SGA members would have continued this behavior.

SGA has invited the collective student body to take part in discussions every Thursday in the Blume Board room, and that is precisely the environment in which discussions surrounding funding should be surfaced. They should be in an environment in which everyone has free reign to assert their opinions.

We believe that steps need to be taken to vocalize and advertise these discussions as there is the impression that SGA meetings are entirely exclusive to SGA members throughout the entirety of the student body. 

EC is notorious for the lackluster participation of the collective student body in such matters which is perhaps why these conflicts of interests have existed for so long. 

Still, the lack of student involvement simply rests on what is being done to tackle the issue of student apathy. More students need to be informed about these meetings and that requires a whole set of effort beyond a mere Facebook post or a poster pinned to a bulletin board.

But whether SGA forums are held in a packed auditorium or a nearly empty Blume Boardroom, the executive members should maintain the same level of integrity throughout.

COLUMN: Find some space for me time

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

Behind the straight “A” transcripts, the prestigious academic titles, and endless work hours is a student who struggles with their own self-care. I must confess, one of them is me.

College brings about the excitement of this new sort of independence that often comes with the tendency to neglect one’s own well-being. As such, we need to acknowledge this sort of cultural acceptance of college as something we need to fix.

Dark circles form under sleepless eyes that have ceaselessly skimmed through every page of notes, coffee and ramen-fueled stomachs give way to the phenomenon jokingly referred to as the freshman fifteen, and anxiety inducing deadlines make you wish that last cigarette would just last a little bit longer. 

College is a social life killer, a stress inducing cesspool of unhealthiness that makes us dream of naps, a short mental escape from the walls of adulthood. 

Who or what is to blame for our tendency towards self-neglect? 

The answer is many things. Yet one thing is for sure, and that is the necessary shift in perspective to put our own health beyond anything and anyone. 

I know that this may seem like a selfish and almost impossible task.

Many of us have been raised with the mentality that hard work will lead us to a path of success and guaranteed happiness.

However, there is a pure distinction between what even our own parents understood about college in contrast to this present belief that self-sacrifice is necessary for the sake of financial stability.

We see this through the rigorous lifestyles that often accompany majors in nursing, engineering, pre-med, and an endless sea of promising careers that often lead students spiraling down an unhealthy path of self-neglect.

Don’t get me wrong, I fervently look up to this straight-up badassery. The willpower to keep striving is unparalleled to most people’s work ethic. Yet, in the long run, our educational system needs to stress the importance of health just as much as it stresses the importance of perseverance. 

We lose sleep to keep up our grades, we neglect our dietary needs because of what little healthy food we can afford, and we tend to skip trips to the gym because there simply is no time.

Being in our early 20s, this is the time in which we should start practicing healthier habits, yet not strictly in a physical sense.

As a student applying to graduate school, I’ve countlessly struggled with the fear and anxiety of failing. It took some time for me to grasp that a single “A” on an exam is but a single drop of rain in this collective sea we call life.

If we all take a step outside of our present qualms, outside this town, and outside this world, the miniscule details that comprise our grades and little achievements that we deem so important aren’t what we truly want to define our whole existence.

Life is too short.

Take that weekend road trip with your friends and loved ones, your hours of studying can sometimes wait. Binge watch a whole Netflix series if you have to. Bury yourselves in emotionally enriching journeys through books, trips to the museum, or a date at the zoo. Envelop yourself in the heavy music at that one concert you’ve always wanted to go to.

If life is feeling a little out of your own control, take that mental day off; whether it be from work, class, or other commitments.

It may seem unorthodox to periodically let go of your responsibilities but we are human and we  aren’t meant to sit on chairs for hours at a time regurgitating vocabulary and cramming calculus equations in our already tangled minds.

Take a look at where you presently stand and remember the instances within your own life where it almost seemed impossible to keep going. If today is one of those days, remember how far you’ve come and remember that you can overcome any beast that adulthood hurls at you.

Along the way, remember that perfection is never truly achieved and acknowledging that almost proves to be releasing.

COLUMN: Kevin Spacey, go home

by Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor Follow her at @Roxlobster

by Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

Last issue, I mentioned the necessary understanding that we as a community must recognize that sexual assault reaches beyond the heterosexual norm. This week is no exception with Anthony Rapp’s recall of an incident from his youth involving Kevin Spacey trying to seduce him, including throwing him on a bed and trying to get him to stay with him.

As shocking as it is, the apology that came after was the most appalling coming out story I have ever heard.

“I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter; it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.

This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

Using your sexuality as a shield is an immature and inexcusable.

I should not have to keep writing about this situation, but I applaud those coming forward. However, never would I expect someone to use their sexuality to defend sexual assault and pedophilia. Kevin Spacey puts all queer people in a horrible light with this apology, especially in a world where some view all people of the LGBTQIA community as “pedophilic” already.

Along with Spacey’s flawed apology is how major media outlets decide to write the headlines on these situations. One Google search reveals a slew of “Kevin Spacey comes out as gay after sexual assault allegations.” What is more important, his sexuality or the fact he coerced a 14 year old child in a drunken stupor?

This type of media coverage is not helping the situation by putting more light on the “surprise” of him coming out more than the assault.

As a part of the LGBTQIA community, I feel stunned and sickened by this “all about me” apology given to Anthony Rapp. I remember tweeting out mockingly, “As a member of the LGBTQIA delegation, we hereby reject Kevin Spacey and send him to the trash community,” which I honestly agree with. 

If you are willing to outwardly associate your mistakes on your sexuality, pinpointing a minority group as a part of your excuse, you do not deserve to share the pride we have worked hard to show the world. Gay people are not the problem and our lives are not a defense for your terrible decisions.

COLUMN: Don’t be S.A.D

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

It’s that time of year. Winter coats are being pulled from the back of the closet. Hot chocolate sales are booming. Sneezes are heard all around. No more sitting outside to talk on the phone by the fountain or to do homework out on the patio.

As the weather gets colder, there is a shift. Sure, the holidays are slowly approaching, and many are beginning to get into that spirit. And of course, as college students, the semester is getting scarily close to ending.

While these can both be fairly happy times, many people experience more and more “funks” when the weather gets colder. Feelings of fatigue and general tiredness start settling in. Depression and agitation become more prominent with no apparent reason behind them. Maintaining good health feels like it is on the decline.

Even though it may feel isolating at times, if you have been experiencing any of these symptoms lately as the temperature drops, you are not alone in this matter. You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D, especially if these feeling are reoccuring around this time every year. While S.A.D can develop over the spring and summer, it is most prominent in the fall and winter months.

Although it may not seem like a big deal, S.A.D is an issue that needs to be dealt with properly. Many may shrug this disorder off as just “winter blues” that will eventually pass as time goes on. While, yes, conditions may improve as the weather gets less gloomy, it is still important to recognize and properly treat in order to make life during the harder times more bearable and even more enjoyable to go through.

Now, it is impossible to generalize that everyone who experiences these negative symptoms, such as low energy and feelings of sadness, has Seasonal Affective Disorder. Nonetheless, whether properly diagnosed or not, it is still important to take steps to properly take care of your mental health. Bad mental health, as seemingly minimal as it may be, is not something to be taken lightly. 

A great way to attempt to counter gloomy feelings is to surround yourself with light. Even though it may be generally dark out nowadays, it still may be helpful to open up the blinds to let any sunlight that could be peeking through the clouds into your room. It is also helpful, contrary to popular belief, to go outside and get some fresh air and natural sunlight instead of being cooped up inside.

Health may be hard to keep up with during a stressful time, but it important now more than ever to maintain it well. Eat well despite all of the scrumptious temptations that this season brings. Exerce despite the yucky weather discouraging you from going out. Get enough sleep at night despite all the things that need to get done before the semester comes to a close.

Of course, if S.A.D-like symptoms feel like they are completely dominating your life, it is important that you seek professional help where therapy and medication may be necessary.  The Wellness Center on campus offers free counseling services. Every enrolled student receives a total of 30 individual counseling sessions to use throughout their time at Elmhurst College. There is also group counseling sessions that take place, which are unlimited. S.A.D could be linked to other mental health disorders, so there is no shame in receiving extra help.

These next few chilly Chicago months could be really sucky, but with proper care and recognition of your mental health, you can make the most of them.

COLUMN: #metoo, minus me

Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor Follow her at @Roxlobster

Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

The recent Harvey Weinstein situation has released a flood of “#metoo” statuses and tweets all over social media giving hope in a disturbing situation. It is shocking how many people sexual assault and harassment affect, yet almost everything I have seen so far has been going after men as the abusers.

I honestly get it because yes, me too. I have heard people say “nice honkers,” “smile, beautiful,” and listened to horror stories of friends trying to escape creepy encounters with men. 

One of the more notable additions to the “me too” issue is Terry Crews, who himself was assaulted. But even his experience was with another man. This is not a man’s issue; this is everyone’s issue. We are all capable of sexual violence no matter our gender, just as we are all able to prevent it.

It’s the general stereotype; men are “creepy” and “vile” when they make sexual advances, and women are “straightforward” and “sexy” when they do it.  However, I think that the moral of this story is not that men are the problem, but it seems like that at times.

“Me too” scares me as a sexual assault victim in the LGBTQ community. The purpose is impactful, but it creates this isolation in myself that I cannot explain in a simple Facebook status or tweet. This campaign seems to be steered towards empowering women, so I feel like an enemy if I voice my story.

    Two years ago, I was sexually assaulted by another woman who I thought I trusted. I remember crying, asking for her to stop, trying to push her off of me. I was left shaken, unsure of what to do, and with a bright red bite mark on my cheek that lingered for weeks. 

How do you recover from a situation where you felt powerless, when it was someone from your own community, your own sisterhood? You are supposed to “raise” other women up, but what about those who choose to violate and take advantage of others?

I thought about writing this column and searched for advice from my peers as it seemed like such a small occurrence that maybe it was not worth complaining about. It did not take long for me to find statistics that proved this isn’t a “once in a blue moon” situation.

 According to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault report of 2005, 1 in 3 lesbians have been sexually assaulted by another woman and 1 in 4 have experienced violence within a lesbian relationship.  

I didn’t know anything about these statistics. Two years after being sexually assaulted by another woman, I find some kind of reassurance in these numbers. The situation of terror happens too often and goes unnoticed, especially when women are already predisposed to being quiet about their experiences. 

It’s tough to put a finger on a solution to a movement that is doing a lot of good things. I applaud those willing to speak up, but recognize not everyone will.

 Many people of all genders refuse to speak up because of the fear that they will not be believed or won’t be taken seriously. Sexual harassment and assault are not only defined as a stereotypical old geezer taking advantage of a starlet. All our experiences need to be listened to and given the reassurance that yes, I’m here, and it happened to #metoo.
 

COLUMN:Fear everything and fear nothing

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

You are on top of the Empire State Building looking down. Saying the people look like ants is an overstatement. Suddenly, the world goes dark and you cannot tell what lurks around you. Danger could be anywhere. Before you can react, you feel something creeping and crawling all over your skin. Spiders. Many of them. Flinching, you take a few steps and, all of a sudden, feel yourself fall.

Fear drives everything we do. Whether a fear of heights keeps you from high places, or a fear of spiders makes you jump and flee every time you see one, fears dictate your actions. Although some people may come off that way, no one is truly fearless.

Even though fears carry a negative cognition, they are by no means a bad thing. Most times, fears keep us out of danger; that is their purpose. If fear did not exist, the human race would be reckless, and we would certainly be close to extinction (if we were not extinct already). Fear doesn’t just keep us alive, however. It could be argued that all of our other fellow animals use it as well to survive. The moment a gazelle hears a lion coming, it knows to flee. Fears are the key to survival.

But we can’t let fear get in our way.

Although beneficial in some cases, fears also stop us from reaching our full potential. Fears keep us out of danger, but sometimes what we are scared of will not actually kill us. And, as that famous pop song says,“what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

The dark, a common fear among children, may hold danger in certain circumstances. More than likely, though, a bedroom at night with all of the lights off is not going to be dangerous. While some spiders are poisonous enough to kill a person, most spiders that we encounter on a day to day basis are essentially harmless. Not saying that caution shouldn’t be taken in the dark or around spiders, but rather we should be aware of how much are fear drives us around these things.

Fears almost keep us too safe. If we don’t face our fears every once in awhile, we will never venture out of our comfort zones and staying within the bounds of a comfort zone hinders any chance of growth and development in self. We can’t always play it safe.

A shy person, who may be scared of talking to people, needs to face their fear in order to make friends. A person who never takes the elevator all the way up will always miss out on a beautiful view.

Having fears is essentially the equivalent of having a double edged sword. There is no shame in having fears, for they are a natural instinct for staying safe. However, without them, we have the potential of becoming better people. We need to find the perfect balance of embracing and letting go of our fears in order to live the most fulfilling life possible.

COLUMN: The sheer amount of your friends saying #metoo should horrify you

Noah Pearson, Columnist Follow them at @tbhimscared

Noah Pearson, Columnist

Follow them at @tbhimscared

Due to a combination of social media and EC’s title IX training, statistics surrounding rape and sexual assault are well communicated and largely known by EC students. For anyone who may not be survivors themselves, it is not hard to see the amount of survivors who have to show up as we do and pretend as if their trauma is not a constant weight on their everyday lives.

All people who are not survivors need to do better. Whether it’s calling out harmful behavior, boycotting harmful speakers and media, or even going so far as to cut important but toxic people out of someone’s life.

When we allow our language, or worse, our actions, to normalize sexual assault or even try to justify it we create a culture that not only accepts rape, but encourages it.

Rape culture is what happens when men in fraternities let their “brothers” take a girl who has clearly had too much to drink up to their room.

It is when politicians suggest “grabbing them by the p*ssy” is an acceptable means of getting a woman to do what men want them to do, and see no repercussions.

It is a culture that demands that men remain silent after being sexually assaulted because coming forward wouldn’t be manly.

It is when our sisters, daughters, mothers, cousins, teachers, role models, heroes, and best friends say #metoo in droves and the rest of the population remains silent.

It is hard enough to bear the weight of the trauma that survivors do, it is even harder to come forward. I believe that true justice comes from how we treat survivors of trauma more than anything.

Even if a survivor does not choose to pursue their perpetrator, how can they ever recover and how can we, as their loved ones or even as decent human beings, say we love them when we see them say #metoo and we ignore them or even deny their truth?

Last weekend I saw women I have looked up to from the moment I met her say #metoo. Some of the strongest women I have ever had the privilege of talking to disclosed that they too have been traumatized and all I could be was mad.

I have never been a neutral party in my life under any circumstance. I have made myself clear in this regard from all of my columns, and all of my personal interactions. I recognize that this is not a view shared by everyone and while I disagree, it exists and I have to accept that.

What I cannot accept was a uniquely deafening silence from my male friends while their loved ones confronted what might be the hardest thing they have ever had to deal with. This, more than anything else, is not a time to remain silent.

You should look at your brothers with a contempt and disgust unmatched by any other. Just one #metoo status should send you spiraling.

I have never been good with understanding how institutional change is made, especially concerning rape culture. It is an abstract idea that exists in social constructs, not necessarily political ones. This requires abstract and social solutions. This means that personal sacrifices might have to be made to realize justice.

Criticize this culture, criticize your friends. It is hard, but sometimes difficult conversations need to be had and sometimes relationships need to be severed if it means a future where culture is not built on the mistreatment of and sexual violence against women.

The end of #metoo starts with you.

COLUMN: My heritage is not for Halloween

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor Follow her @_marsbarz23

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

Follow her @_marsbarz23

Being my favorite past time, Halloween presents itself as a night of pumpkin spiced lattes, horror movie marathons, and the freedom to dress up as anything or anyone your heart desires.

Among the array of grim reapers, Disney princesses, and Ninja Turtles, comes the all too familiar culture-based costumes, namely Indian chiefs, Japanese geishas, and religious deities which are notoriously chastised as instances of cultural appropriation.

Disney’s recall of Moana costumes in response to allegations of racism serves a recent resurfacing of this problem. While it appears that we’ve become overly harsh critics of seemingly innocent children’s costumes, this only serves as an instance in which we’ve failed to learn from our country’s chronic cultural insensitivity and invalidation of the experiences of minorities.

Being a Pacific Islander, I was initially baffled at the outpour of parents admonishing the idea of young, white girls donning a Moana costume. The spunky brown-skinned Disney princess proved herself to be a popular role model to many young girls throughout the globe just as previous generations of young girls looked up to Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine.

The problem, however, isn’t that young, white girls are dressing up as Polynesian warrior princesses for Halloween, but rather the impression and level of ignorance towards minorities that some young, white girls grow up with with while getting away with dressing up in that particular minority’s culture.

Instances of these cultural mishandlings in Halloween costumes are merely the tip of the iceberg and cultural appropriation reveals itself in many forms throughout first world countries like our own.

We see this through the cacophony of dreamcatcher tattoos donned by “edgy” non-native teenagers and  the incessant presence of Indian headdresses in EDM festivals. Meanwhile, the lowest-income and most neglected communities in our country consist of Native American communities struggling to escape the effects of our history’s blatant cultural genocide.

Frida Kahlo's iconic face fills the graffiti clad walls of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods. Yet, little resistance has been able to stop the continuing gentrification of predominantly Mexican neighborhoods like Pilsen.

Perhaps one of the most notorious, if not most prolific, instances of cultural appropriation clearly points towards our country’s picking and choosing of Black culture while continuing to get away with the dismissal of  racially charged police brutality and institutionalized racism that impacts so many Black Americans.

Still, as much as minorities seek to decry this insensitivity, many are quick to paint them as “fascist social injustice warriors.”

Scrolling through social media, I chanced upon a poignant quote that perfectly captured these frustrations.

“When they want the thick hair but not the thick eyebrows. When they want the 'forehead jewel' but not the 'dothead.’ When they want the third eye but not the perspective. When they want the henna but not the history. When they want the bangles but not the troubles. When they want the flavor but not the smell. When they want the practice but not understand. When they want the benefits but not the disadvantages. When they want the light but not the heat. When they want the culture but not you.”

Sapna Bhavnani, an India based celebrity hairstylist, alluded to this quote amidst the cultural appropriation of Indian culture. These words strikes me as so utterly relevant in our society in which first world countries practice exploitive tendencies as a norm.

Culture is not a trend.

You are not doing us a favor by masquerading our culture as an “exotic” item.

As collectively diverse our country is, this does not excuse us of cultural conscientiousness and we can do better this Halloween by refraining from insensitive costumes.

COLUMN: Don’t be a Ditka

Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor Follow her at @Roxlobster

Roxanne Timan, Managing Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

Recently, Elmhurst College announced Mike Ditka would be visiting campus as part of the Roland Quest Lecture series. With the knowledge given at the ‘Dare to Disagree’ teach-in on what free speech really is, I respect his right to come speak and welcome him to EC. However, I think of all the successful people we could invite to speak to our students, Mike Ditka is a horrible choice.

It’s no surprise that excitement surrounds his appearance on campus. The Chicagoland area has come to admire Ditka, who is considered one of the best tight end players and NFL coaches ever. These fans are overlooking a few flaws in the football star, starting with his obnoxious political banter.

According to ESPN, when speaking of the Colin Kaepernick situation in 2016, Ditka made the bold statement,  “I think it’s a problem ... anybody who disrespects this country and the flag,” adding, “If they don’t like the country [and] they don’t like our flag ... get the hell out.” As a nation that holds free speech so highly and is called “the land of opportunity,” doesn’t that constitute the opportunity to disagree with our values and protest for change?

He went on to defend himself, saying, “My choice is, I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.”

This is just another typical case of obvious white privilege. There’s a difference in not seeing atrocities of police brutality and hate crimes and just ignoring them, Ditka.

Political oppositions aside, even the name of the lecture is laughable. “On Leading and Winning” is strewn across the poster of him plastered all across campus. Sounds reasonable from a football coach and hall-of-fame member, but we are a D3 school where chances of athletes making it big are slim.

So if he isn’t talking to players, he might be directing his words to students. However, it doesn’t take more than simple research online to find out Ditka did not graduate college. He was a few credits away before being drafted to the NFL. 

So what does a college dropout have to teach students who are trying their hardest, staying up late and paying thousands of dollars in hopes they will make their career goals a reality? Very few EC students are looking for a career in athletics, so if all you know is success in sports, you don’t have much to teach us.

I can already hear people yelling about other influential people who didn’t graduate college, but the thing is, what has Ditka done for us? He is a caricature of a man disguised as a businessman. Once your name is big, business will come easy, so saying his restaurant chain and merchandise are successful is based only on the name attached. He doesn’t have anything to offer students besides a loud mouth and some football recognition.

As an advocate for free speech, I believe in welcoming Mike Ditka to our campus, but that doesn’t mean I still find this appearance to be uncredible and useless to our student body. I question his integrity to leave a positive impact on students as someone who got by on their athletic talent and nothing more.

COLUMN: Relearning the value of constructive criticism

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

In The Leader’s last issue, my debut column was printed and put online for the world to see and read. Being that this was my debut column, I felt that the occasion was momentous enough to post on Facebook. My parents were also so proud of me getting published that they also posted the column on their profiles.

Between the three of us and all of our friends on Facebook, at least a couple hundred people potentially had my little column pop up on their feed. Maybe they read it, or maybe they didn’t. Typical me being me, I worried a lot about what people were going to think about my writing, yet I got nothing but love and support. Nobody on any post commented anything negative about my piece.

At least those who voiced their opinion did not say anything negative.

Facebook was not such a joyful medium a week or so ago. Upon getting out of class one afternoon, I noticed my father engaged in a somewhat hostile conversation with one of his former classmates and my neighbor regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The conversation did not start off as hostile. It merely started out as a discussion of beliefs — and a perfectly respectable one at that — until somebody said something the other did not particularly like and the nasty words ensued.

People are allowed to have their own beliefs and preferences. Unfortunately, it becomes discouraging in society to voice opinions nowadays, even though opinions are essentially the driving force for most of what goes on in society.

As aforementioned, I was afraid of people giving me criticisms of my piece. However, as I should have remembered from having my writing critiqued by many fellow writers over the years, criticisms only make writing stronger. Of course,  it is impossible for everyone to completely like every single thing, but criticisms give insight into a different perspective that could be beneficial to consider.

The same applies with my dad’s politically charged debate and in politics in general. Collaborating with somebody of different beliefs has the potential to create compromises that could help many more people. In reality, it seems like when people of different beliefs work together, chaos begins and nothing gets done.

Arguments should not be about winning or losing. Arguments should be conversations rich with evidence and facts, not curse words and insults. In a perfect world, nobody should feel like they have lost an argument; they should feel like they have learned something new and gained a new perspective from the other party. 

We should not run away or shut down someone who has a different opinion than us. We should be encouraged to have a thoughtful conversation with them about it. No insulting. No crying. We can all be winners in this sense.

I appreciate my colleagues for giving me their opinions on my work because they do it out of love, and they want my writing to be the best it can be. Why can’t that mentality be applied to other discussions?

 

COLUMN: Put an end to the apathy around gun control

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor Follow her @_marsbarz23

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor

Follow her @_marsbarz23

Scrolling through social media, it was inevitable to come across the gut wrenching videos recorded by terrified concert-goers during the Las Vegas shooting that ensued on Oct. 1. In what seemed like an eternity, bullets relentlessly sprayed the crowd of many unassuming people, 58 of which lost their lives. 

In the wake of the Sandy Hook, Orlando and San Bernardino shootings, we must ask ourselves what has collectively been done and what we have learned from these tragedies. The answer is clear.

Nothing.

Is it apathy? Acquiescence? Or perhaps both? Regardless, our country’s wounds are still fresh. Shock, anger and helplessness riddle the minds of countless Americans like myself and we’ve asked ourselves what can be done about something that seems so terribly complex.

As a supporter of the right of individual gun ownership, the harrowing details that have surfaced from this particular massacre have certainly compelled me to take a step back and to reevaluate my stance on gun control. 

As disturbing as these videos are, these personal accounts allow us to sympathize with others’ loss. That is precisely what separates this massacre from others and, in some ways, that is a good thing.

My eyes have been opened to the fact that we are almost helpless at the hands of people who should not have been able to purchase firearms to begin with.

In what can only be deemed as one of many “American” tragedies, onecan only question why more efficient and intelligent gun regulations have not been implemented.

Our country is a reservoir of regulations that have improved the lives and safety of countless Americans. Intelligent automotive regulations in response to car-related deathsare testament to that fact and today, the vehicles that we drive are insurmountably safer than their outdated counterparts. 

Additionally, airport security has dramatically changed since the events of 9/11 and there is little reasoning to challenge this initiative. So, why has our action been lagging on a gun epidemic that our country alone is notorious for?

There isn’t a single opinion or act of counsel that has been left unsaid about gun control and gun safety. The effort to put forth smarter gun regulations has been long past due and more haste needs to be taken to make sure change happens. 

This change isn’t going to happen overnight and there is nobutton that can simply “delete” thethousands of gun related deaths that happen on U.S. soil each year, especially with the surplus of 300 million firearms that populate our country. 

Still, it makes a substantial difference to implement better policies in the way we handle firearms as a country.

For starters, the legalage to purchase a gun is 18 years old. Yet, the minimum age requirement to legally consume alcohol is 21 years old. If an 18 year old is legally restricted from purchasing alcohol, then why should they be able to purchase firearms?

Among other possible regulations that have been brought up, four out of five Americans are in support of universal background checks for any individual purchasing a gun. This could prove to be a pivotal policy that will essentially ban those who have a history of domestic violence from possessing firearms. 

As a student, I would want to see more changes on campus security in slew of the fact that our safety practices aren’t keeping up with the leniency of gun control. Literally anyone can walk into campus with the intention of causing harm, and it is quite unsettling to know that we haven’t taken any measures to prevent a possible shooting.

Gun lobbyists will argue that this is not the time to politicize gun control; yet, this very mentality is precisely why we hold these debates and why we are forced to have these conversations in slew of these tragedies. 

Enough with the stagnancy. Otherwise, history will simply just repeat itself and the Las Vegas massacre, along with many others, will have happened in vain.

EDITORIAL: Splitting the difference on ‘College’ vs. ‘University’

In The Leader’s last issue, a story titled “EC enrolls most new students in history” featured President VanAken acknowledging the open discussion of changing the name of Elmhurst College to either University of Elmhurst or Elmhurst University. The decision of whether to change the name of the college has split the editorial board of The Leader, and we have thus written a split editorial to present an argument for both sides.


PRO-ELMHURST COLLEGE

Elmhurst College has been Elmhurst College since 1928 and in that long history, no administration has seen it fit to change the name of the school. 

We have gotten this far under the name of Elmhurst College, so what pressing matters could possibly be dire enough to prompt a change?

Changing the name of the College would not be a simple matter of changing the name on top of the Gates of Knowledge. It’s a process that would include changing the signage of literally everything on campus. 

Every single item, sign or piece of merchandise would have to be removed and rebranded to reflect the school’s new name. And that process is certainly not free.

Is spending money on changing signs and merchandise for literally everything related to the school something we as a campus feel comfortable doing? 

This is a school that can’t even provide proper air conditioning to its own residents and as a result has to allow them to sleep in the Frick Center when a heat wave hits. The comfort of the students that pay tens of thousands of dollars to live on campus should be placed above the frivolous need to rebrand. 

Aside from that, a change to the college’s name would likely affect nobody currently on this campus. A decision as drastic as changing the name of the school would require long periods of bureaucratic discussion and would likely take years. 

As a result, it is unlikely that anyone besides perhaps the current freshmen would even get the benefit of attending the University of Elmhurst. If the name did change, it would do nothing but leave the rest of the current student body with a degree from Elmhurst College, a college that would no longer exist. 

While many perceive the title of ‘University’ as being inherently more prestigious than that of ‘College’, this perception is misguided. In a world where schools like DeVry and Phoenix are granted the rank of ‘University,’ we can hardly say the rank holds any weight at all. The for-profit industry is one that has been federally investigated for fraud by the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission, and yet many of its schools still bear the title of ‘University.’

Not a soul would argue that EC is an inferior learning environment to these for-profit schools, so let’s not dwell so much on the perceived importance associated with being called a University.

 

PRO-ELMHURST UNIVERSITY

Let’s be honest, ‘Elmhurst University’ has a nice ring to it. It comes of no surprise that a majority of the student body would be in support of taking the leap towards rebranding our college’s name. 

Perhaps it is due to the prestigious undertones of a university itself or simply because of the positive outcomes that can come out of having ‘Elmhurst University’ on one’s resume. Regardless, we can all agree that EC is fully qualified to deem itself a university. 

As an institution that offers graduate level courses and enrolls over three thousand degree seeking students, EC, by definition, is already a full fledged university. 

By 1994, the Carnegie Institute reclassified our college asa Master’s College and University. Thus, it only makes sense to take one step closer towards exhibiting this status by renaming the college to Elmhurst University or University of Elmhurst.

Much of the hesitance to commit to this change is due to the large investment necessary for rebranding. For years, many have argued that our resources should be refocused on more necessary changes. Still, the long term outcome of such an investment will likely benefit enrollment rates triple fold. We say this in light of other liberal arts colleges that have witnessed dramatic increases in enrollment. Among others, Aurora University, previously called Aurora College, serves as a prime example as a school that witnessed a 279 percent increase in enrollment, both domestically and internationally, following their name change. 

While most Americans refer to colleges and universities interchangeably, there is still aninherent bias that treats colleges and universities as separate entities. Often, universities are placed in much higher regard in terms of prestige. Such is the case in many countries abroad, in which prospective international students find more appeal in universities than in colleges. 

EC has always been known for its close knit community, one in which students and faculty are given a more intimate educational setting. However, changing these structures won’t necessarily be a bad thing. Instead, it will only further diversify our community that opens more room for diversity, inclusion and expansion. Such are the motives that make up EC’s core values. These changes should be welcomed with open arms as there is plenty of room for exciting opportunities for both students, faculty and EC as a collective whole. 

COLUMN: Weird People Unite

By Jordan Slonke, Press Play Reporter/ Columnist Follow him @JumbaDaniels

By Jordan Slonke, Press Play Reporter/ Columnist

Follow him @JumbaDaniels

       Being the crazy wrestling weirdo is tough. Often, I will say wrestling-related jokes or connect the world of professional wrestling to a current event going on in the world. Most people usually give me a strange look as I wait for their laughter. Middle school me would probably walk away with tears in my eyes, being rejected by society. College first-year me has learned to embrace it.

        Being weird is something I pride myself in. I don’t even classify myself as weird. I classify myself as unique. I value the fact that people around campus know me as the “crazy wrestling guy with too many wrestling shirts.” I value the fact that I can rap John Cena’s whole verse in his song “All Day” with Wiz Khalifa. I value the fact that I spend over a thousand dollars on “fake” wrestling merchandise. I value the fact that I trust Bray Wyatt, a Louisiana-raised man who plays a character that has superficial powers on TV, more than I can trust my parents.

        Things like that let me know that I mean something. I’m not like the standardized college student (wearing sweatpants and an Elmhurst College hoodie with flip flops). I walk into class wearing my $24.90 Bullet Club t-shirt that I enthusiastically bought at Hot Topic. As I walk into the door and get many confused looks, I tell myself in my head, “You’re unique.” That gives me the confidence that many people struggle to have.

        Outcasts like myself are often rejected by society. We’re judged for the way that we look, the things that we say, and what we like. But I’m here to say one important thing: who cares? Who cares what other people think about me? I value who I am and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. It upsets me that people get self-conscious about themselves and try to dress a certain way to be embraced by a community. I would rather be single being myself than be in a relationship acting a certain way to please a significant other. I would rather have one friend who truly understands me than many who I try to please by acting like a yes-man.

        The point I’m trying to convey is that I’m not alone. There are other people who feel the exact same way. And to those people, I tip my hat to you. I respect your values and I respect how you view your surroundings exactly how I do. Don’t be a follower in this community, be a leader (yes, I made a pun regarding the title of this newspaper). Be innovative. Don’t be afraid to wear something because someone else might be judgmental. At the end of the day getting through college is an individual’s job. Depending on what others believe in distorts inner beliefs and can persuade one to think a different way than what they truly believe in.

        Like any “weird” person would, I feel like the best way to sum up this column is to share a quote by my favorite wrestler, Bray Wyatt. Bray Wyatt said something when he first debuted on WWE television. “I am the red in this world of black and white,” he said. That is what I carry with me every day. I embrace that “red” and walk on the sidewalk with my chin up high. And, like me, fellow outcasts, embrace that red. The world wasn’t made for us. That’s why we’re going to be the ones to take it over.

COLUMN: Love thy neighbor

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor Follow her at @Roxlobster

Roxanne Timan, Multimedia Editor

Follow her at @Roxlobster

Earlier this week, I headed to Wheaton College representing the Leader to help get some information on the hazing incident from 2016. I sat down on a bench in the blazing September heat, I cracked open the Wheaton Record to read, “Wheaton no longer the most LGBTQ-unfriendly college, says Princeton Review”.  

So many things went through my head. What does the term LGBTQ-unfriendly even mean? I also question why the paper even decided to run something like this, as if it is an honor to be considered just slightly less homophobic.

To mention all their bible-thumping definitions of the LGBTQIA community in this column would be a disgrace, as they allot two full pages of hate in their handbook to bash what they don’t understand. 

While examining their handbook, it’s plain to see that they have “good intentions”, but recognize that their goal is to change and manipulate people to be their straight-laced poster children- literally.

“It is our goal to have this community be a respectful, loving and accepting community that engages with loving and confident respect those who embrace views of sexual identity discordant with ours, and in which those who experience gender identity struggles can grow and flourish. This is not, however, a directionless support; rather, we view growth in godliness to be directed toward alignment or reconciliation with their biological birth sex as God’s creational intent for those individuals.” is just one example of their contrived thought process.

In essence, if you aren’t straight, you need guidance in order to become “right”. However, isn’t the whole point of college is to expand your mind and gain new knowledge for the future in the “real world?” Gay people are out here living without your ignorant guidance, and we are doing just fine.

 Each of their hate-filled bullets are injected with a quote from scripture, citing religion as their main excuse to denounce trans people for who they are and not recognizing preferred pronouns.

Ok, so why would LGBTQIA students choose to go to school here if it was once announced to be “the most LGBTQ-unfriendly college” by the Princeton Review? Simple. Not everyone knows they are gay or trans right from the get-go, and college is the prime time to recognize that. 

It doesn’t make them perverts or suggest that they “became gay” in college, this might be their first chance to express themselves and find their identity. However, in an environment that manifests these hateful ideals, we need to come together to help these students. One outreach comes from the Elmhurst College Queer Straight Alliance, who welcomes newcomers from Wheaton College to their future meetings and events.

I don’t come from a religious background, but I specifically remember the quote “love thy neighbor” being thrown around by the Christian community quite often growing up. I don’t think the quote is “love thy neighbor unless they are gay”.  Unfortunately, the recent events combined with these blasphemous, discriminatory rules created by Wheaton College administration make me question whether or not WC is trying to build a better community or just build a wall around their campus.

COLUMN: Hire me, please

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor Follow her @_marsbarz23

By Marielle Decena, Opinions Editor
Follow her @_marsbarz23

Long sleeve shirts and a plethora of sweaters populate the abysmal selection I call my wardrobe. For years, working for big name companies like Starbucks and Michael Kors heavily dictated my fashion choices and that was mainly because of my incessant need to cover up the huge floral tattoo that permanently seeped through the dermis of my forearm. 

While I respect the image of professionalism that these companies seek to exude, employers should assume a more progressive role by being more accepting towards the individual’s choice of self expression and avoid mandating policies that practice conformity as a norm.

Tattoos had once represented a huge cultural taboo. It was a notorious subject that was often associated with gangs and social deviance. In the Philippines, where my parents grew up, tattoos were especially associated with ex-convicts and prisoners,0 which is why I had been met with such strong opposition by my family upon choosing to get a tattoo in the first place. 

I could not blame them. Having visible tattoos in this society tends to influence your life in many forms. For instance, I constantly worry about finding internships in hospital settings, places that are notorious for “no visible tattoo” policies. For job interviews, I make sure to wear a long sleeved shirt or a sweater so as not to create the wrong impression to potential employers.

At times I realize that I’m sort of teetering on the edge of habit, a habit that has been perpetually drilled into my lifestyle through policies that have reminded me that visible tattoos are not desirable and professional in the workplace. Thus, I constantly find myself choosing clothing that will reveal less of my body art and often times, the feeling of cold air hitting my exposed ink makes me feel uneasy.

The frustrating part of this whole ordeal is that many people like myself may very well be qualified for these positions in the professional world; yet the existence of a tattoo may very well influence the perceptions of potential employers towards our character. 

My choice to eternalize a piece of art on my skin should not have to be considered unprofessional. Rather, what I choose to place on my skin should be what is used to judge my competence. 

I am in total acknowledgement that a person donning a nazi symbol and other profanities as their chosen body art should be deemed unqualified for most jobs. Yet, I highly doubt that a floral tattoo or other tasteful art would be offending or harmful by any means.

According to Inked Magazine, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo. 40 percent of people aged 14-26 choose to get inked, indicating that it is a need for self expression that drives them to do so. 

 

Tattoos had once represented a huge cultural taboo. It was a notorious subject that was often associated with gangs and social deviance.

 

Really, this whole dilemma over self-expression versus professionalism is obsolete and many companies are more than aware that denying persons with inked skin an opportunity to apply their skills and to attain a job is a rather narrow-minded ethic. Today, many companies take a more lenient philosophy towards tattoos and yet still adhere to strict policies that force employees to conceal their ink.

Among others, Apple, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Lululemon have chosen to take a more progressive route in allowing their employees to show their ink and be their most authentic selves. These are the same companies that, according to Glassdoor, are the most top rated companies to work for.

Not only do these highly successful companies seek to provide benefits and fair wages to their employees, they also refuse to practice discriminatory policies with regards to appearance. 

Acknowledging that people are not meant to be carbon copies of what a company deems ideal moves us one step closer towards getting rid of these lingering discriminatory dress codes. By setting this example, it feeds into a more positive mentality on tattoos in society.

COLUMN: Recognizing where diversity and inclusion fails

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Diversity and inclusion are the rallying cries of our generation. It has gotten to a point where at schools like EC there are positions, both administrative and at the student level, that have diversity and inclusion in the title. 

Some schools have even gone so far as to make diversity and inclusion an active part of their mission. Other academic institutions have recognized their shortcomings in assisting marginalized students and cater their programming to ensure the safety and retention of these students

Note the difference.

Noah Pearson, Staff Writer
Follow them at @tbhimscared

Language of diversity and inclusion is antiquated and frankly useless. Diversity is nothing more than a buzzword. When the foundations of an institution’s principles are set in something that has no literal meaning, there is no way to hold that institution accountable.

 The literal definition of diversity is “a range of different things.” When we talk about people and students, the cry for “a range of different things” can be met by the school recruiting a student body that is comprised of 30 percent people with blond hair. 

Even when we specify the need for racial/ethnic diversity, what good does it do if we recruit to a campus that does not have the interests of the least advantaged in mind? 

What needs to happen is a shift from language of diversity and inclusion to retention of reparations. Institutions like EC can either heal or continue the damage created by other, much more evil institutions. 

For example, Elmhurst has a 5.5 percent black population as of 2016, according to the school’s website. The college also reports that 4.7 percent of the faculty population is black. It appears that the proportion of black faculty mirror the population of black students. 

If this is the case, a college with an authentic dedication to social justice would emphasize the importance of hiring black faculty members to increase the enrollment of the black population. It would also seem that maybe the comfort of black students is related to their ability to see people like them holding positions of power. 

Retention won’t happen if an entire demographic feels uncomfortable being at the school.

We as a student body have an opportunity to create or dismantle the dominant narratives of this school as we see fit. I personally am not comfortable with a narrative that uses students of color to create a false and frankly masturbatory self-image despite EC not actually serving them. While simply changing wording won’t bring about change in and of itself, change cannot even begin if our foundation has no meaning. 

The words “diversity and inclusion” are just words. If colleges focus on the recruitment of a diverse student body, but do nothing to ensure their safety, they have done nothing. Our school, and many like it, think that this is the goal and boast of their commitment to diversity and inclusion but show no commitment to students. What talking about equity requires is talking about reparations. 

How can institutions be specific in their initiatives to support students of color? How can institutions make up for the harm they have allowed to exist, or perhaps even perpetrated? If specificity and accountability aren’t something to consider then Elmhurst College’s diversity and inclusion rhetoric is doing a terrific job.