Social Justice Can’t Succeed Without Open Dialogue

22 Feb

Omair Ali

Perspectives Editor

America has experienced various waves of social justice and associated reform throughout its history. Some of the more prominent periods of social justice include: social justice preceding the Revolutionary War, the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, the era of “Progressivism” facilitated by President Theodore Roosevelt, and the great Civil Rights movement in the mid-20th century. The era we live in today can also be considered a significant period of social justice, as we are experiencing a brand new wave of reforms centered around various ideas.

Now, with the advent of an administration that is bent on fulfilling its personal goals, it is no surprise that social justice is one of the hottest topics in our society. The Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) defines social justice as the “virtue” that guides the creation of institutions that would provide socially good resources and also enforces individual contribution to the greater good so that progress can be made in “personal and social development.” In other words, social justice is the instrument by which all human beings would remain entitled to rights and resources in the form of institutions and upholding the law.

Failures in Today’s Social Justice Movement

While social justice in the past incorporated Social justice fails to adhere to one principal: Being representative of the needs of all people. Unfortunately, social justice, as defined by current conventions and mainstream media, is now identified in tandem with a clear political agenda, in which the supposed “victims,” or ethno-racial minority groups, have risen to become the principal plaintiffs of the social justice movement. Black Lives Matter, third-wave feminism, and many single-issue groups demonstrate these single (or few) issue agendas, often sharing opinions with only one political party without encompassing a holistic approach to social justice. Not only that, proponents of social justice are admittedly less tolerant of opposing views, making it hard for politically stagnant individuals to sympathize with these groups.

While social justice of the present has largely been a peaceful movement, there have been violent elements that have plagued the collective efforts brought forth by social justice. The recent University of California, Berkeley demonstration is one instance of social justice that was obscured by violent measures taken by extremist groups. The violent demonstration at this event perverted the ideas of social justice and obstructed the right to free speech, which has made many members of the public less fond of social justice. It also important to note that Berkeley wasn’t the only instance of violent action taken in the name of social justice in recent times.

Social justice has not only become a movement that fights only for “victims” but also a vehicle for antagonizing political entities. In particular, proponents of social justice appear to denounce the current presidential administration rather than trying to work with it, all the while social justice has become a big-name player in the game of post-truth politics. This also makes social justice organizations unrepresentative of the wishes and needs of the majority of people, let alone all people, which ideally it should strive to be.

Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the current model of social justice needs to be amended and adapt to the existing conditions: Divided communities and hatred among each other. If the point of social justice is to improve the overall goodness of society, then this means that the social fabric within every community must be strengthened. And what I mean by social fabric is the quality and quantity of interactions between members of the community, excluding no one. So how can the social fabric be strengthened in communities? Well, community-wide engagement in political dialogue is one feasible way of improving the love of diverse ideas in the community.

Political dialogue strengthens the social fabric of our community by providing a safe environment for people of all beliefs to share their thoughts. As well, political dialogue challenges the existing notion of political dissonance because the point of dialogue is to listen to and share a broad range of ideas, meaning that opposing sides of the spectrum must be willing to respect each other. In fact, forceful indoctrination of beliefs is the antonym of the open-minded discourse that dialogue has to offer, which is why political dialogue can be used to facilitate social justice in all aspects of American life without offending anyone. Personally, I find political dialogue to be very rewarding because I always become inspired by ideas and stories that I hear during dialogue, and through this build-up of information I am able to construct and refine my own political beliefs and ideas.

Would you be surprised if I told you that there are platforms for open dialogue on campus?

Become Involved with Dialogue Groups, Forums, and Other Events on Campus

It is a fact that students on campus are interested in participating in events that are dedicated toward social justice. Events from last semester such as the talk on undocumented immigration, the panel on criminal justice, and the post-election reflection were packed with curious students and staff, indicating that social justice is something that the Benedictine community wants to partake in. Luckily, Benedictine University is not short of these activities in the near future.

As a free-thinking community, Benedictine University houses multiple platforms for discussion that are not exclusively pertaining to social justice. Student political groups that host political dialogue, such as the Political Science Student Association, exist on campus. Faith-based groups affiliated with the Campus Ministry such as Interfaith Dialogue provide additional, safe places for people to share stories, opinions, and ideas. Several other clubs have missions that resonate with the core principles of social justice. Events are also held throughout the school year, featuring guest speakers from a variety of disciplines and activities that encourage civic engagement. In fact, the most prominent of social justice events, Teach-In day, will take place all day on March 6. This event will focus on several aspects related to social justice and race, with guest speakers and activities focused on enhancing civic engagement. This day is important for all advocates of social justice as well as politically active individuals who want to learn new perspectives about our society.

All of these opportunities would enable all of you to become free thinkers and interact with people of different backgrounds, both of which would help promote social justice in an effective manner. So what are you waiting for?

One Month In: Has Trump “Made America Great Again” Yet?

22 Feb

Lubna Ziauddin

Staff Writer

During his Presidential campaign, President Trump famously stated that he would “make America great again”. That he would rescue the failing country from the destruction of President Obama and restore peace and prosperity back to the land of the free. But according to a Gallup Poll, it took only one week in office for President Trump to have a majority disapproval rating. Unlike Mr. Trump, President Obama maintained majority approval for 306 days, and his predecessor President Bush maintained 1107 days of approval. Despite his majority disapproval, the current administration maintains optimism as they communicate with the press. This is exemplified when White House aid Stephen Miller said that President Trump “has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration.” While campaigning, President Trump had high claims for his first 100 days in office, but being almost a third of the way though his first 100 days, what has Trump really accomplished so far?

One of the first executive orders President Trump signed was the order to “minimize the economic burden of the patient protection and affordable care act pending repeal”. Contrary to public speculation, Trump didn’t immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act, since that would be a lengthy process that would require the approval of Congress. Instead, Trump could use his executive order to instruct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other departments to interpret the Obamacare regulations as loosely as possible in order to minimize the financial burden on individuals, insurers and health care providers. While this is one of the first steps to dismantle Obamacare, it doesn’t entirely repeal the Affordable Care Act. And Obamacare will continue to exist until the Trump Administration can come up with a plan to replace it.

President Trump also reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The policy bans federal funding for non governmental organizations that promote or provide abortions. Since it was originated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, this policy has been rescinded and reinstated depending on the political party, so it was no surprise that Trump had it reinstated.

In regards to fighting terrorism in the United States, President Trump suspended the US Refugee Admissions program for 120 days and froze travel to America by non-citizens from 7 Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. At a law enforcement conference in Washington DC, Trump said that he enabled the executive order for the immigration ban because “it was done for the security of our nation, the security of our citizens.” Yet, within the past 15 years, no terrorist attacks in the United States have come from any of those countries that are banned. Inf fact, according to Global Research, of the 2,400 terrorist attacks on US soil between 1970 and 2012, only 60 or 2.5% of attacks were carried out by Muslims. His executive order ended up failing due to the actions of  U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart of Seattle, who issued a nationwide restraining order to block the travel ban. So in efforts to fight terrorism, President Trump decided to focus his safety concerns on bending the truth rather than the real problems that lies within our country, such as the high homicide rate that plagues many cities.

On February 16, 2017, President Trump held his longest press conference, which lasted 77 minutes. In regards to Russia, intelligence leaks, and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation, President Trump said, “The news is fake, because so much of the news is fake.” However, in that same conference President Trump claimed he had, “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.” As for Trump’s own report of fake news, CNN proved that President Trump actually had one of the slimmest wins in Presidential History. Several presidents after Reagan, including Obama and Bush had more electoral votes since Reagan than did Trump, contrary to his statement during the conference. After being called out for his error by NBC correspondent Peter Alexander, Trump said, “I was given that information…Actually, I’ve seen that information around. It was a very substantial victory. Would you agree with that?” It seems that Trump has focused much of his efforts to lash out on the media and label them as fake, yet he enjoys providing the country with alternative facts.

During the Obama Administration, President Trump had a lot to say about former President Obama’s “habitual vacationing”, making sure to remind the American people that their hard earned tax-paying money was being used for the President’s luxury, rather than fighting terrorism. However, according to the Independent, President Trump’s past 3 trips to his Mar-A-Lago club in Florida have cost approximately $11.3 million, almost surpassing President Obama’s average annual expenditure of $12.3 million. Even though Mr. Trump claimed he wouldn’t take a presidential salary, that does mean he isn’t using taxpayer money for his own luxury. This shows that Trump isn’t living up to his own tweets on the financial responsibilities the President should have.

According to Mother Jones, President Obama banned the use of torture by the CIA, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as well as a $787 billion stimulus bill, and had a net job approval rating of +27 percent, all within the first month of his presidency. On the other hand, President Trump has signed no legislation and only standard executive orders for pay/hiring freezes, reinstated the Mexico-City Policy that most of his republican predecessors have done before, made no statement to North Korea’s missile launch, and has presided over an administration where bets are being made on when officials will be leaving office.

So has Trump made America great again? I believe the answer is a resounding no. Within 1 month, President Trump has demonstrated hypocrisy not only with spending taxpayer money lavishly but also with his claims of “fake news” being spread by the media to present false facts at his own press conference. So despite Stephen Miller’s claims that Trump has done more in office than any other President, the answer to that is Trump really hasn’t made any real progress in comparison to President Obama, other than having his net job approval rating drop by 8 percent. Miller’s claim really is just another instance of “fake news” provided by the Trump Administration.

 

BenU names new Provost

15 Feb

The following is a press release from the university –

Payne

Payne

Benedictine University has chosen James E. Payne, Ph.D., as its next chief academic officer.

Payne, dean of the J. Whitney Bunting College of Business at Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA, will succeed outgoing Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria J. de la Cámara, Ph.D., who last year announced her retirement.

With more than 28 years of experience in higher education at a variety of institutions, Payne brings a wealth of experience in academic program development and assessment, strategic planning and budgeting, and accreditation.

In his most recent role as dean at Georgia College, Payne helped lead reaccreditation efforts for the college of business by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and initial accreditation of the college’s computer science program by ABET, a nonprofit that accredits applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology programs. He also helped expand the college’s fundraising efforts.

In addition to his extensive administrative experience, Payne has continued to be an active scholar, serving on several editorial boards and as a journal editor. He was a 2000 Fulbright research scholar and 2007 Fulbright senior specialist to the Institute of Economics in Zagreb, Croatia.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Berea College and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Economics from Florida State University.

Payne will assume the new role at Benedictine in May and University leaders believe his experience and vision will make for a seamless transition.

“Dean Payne has the leadership experience and visionary aptitude to help not only maintain our University’s high academic standards, but also to provide guidance for setting a balanced academic infrastructure that will make Benedictine University a first-choice university,” said Benedictine University President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A.

 

Benedictine University at Mesa Opens First Residence Hall

15 Feb

By: Michelle Reilly

News Editor

On Tuesday, February 7, the Mesa campus turned a former hotel into its first residence hall. The Alhambra Hotel is located at 43 S. MacDonald Street in Arizona.

“We took a beautiful landmark that is at the heart of downtown Mesa and made a great thing happen,” University President Michael S. Brophy comments on the grand opening.

The renovation project cost $3.3 million and turned what was once a transient hotel into single- and double-room suites. The building comes with study areas, lounges, a café, kitchens, laundry and exercise rooms, an outdoor commons area, patio space and parking. The new facility can house up to 53 students, but with a second phase buildout, it will house roughly 10 more students. Nearly 100 people attended the dedication and ribbon-cutting, including students, faculty, staff, city officials, property developers and members of the general public.

“You can tell this is not a typical institution of higher education,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles. “Benedictine is very special.  What a great addition to downtown Mesa,” he added. “To have 24/7, these vibrant, great students who are going to be a part of this neighborhood, who are going to keep businesses alive and attract a lot of exciting activity to the downtown area … this is the start of a very healthy community housing development in our downtown. That’s worthy of our celebration.”

picture1

Photos from Mercy Robb Executive Director of Marketing and Communications

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Photos from Mercy Robb Executive Director of Marketing and Communications

The building first opened in 1894 as the Pioneer Hotel. It was then named the Alhambra and was one of the most popular places to stay, it was devastated by a fire in 1921. Although it did endure the test of time, the hotel fell into neglect and eventually served as a transitional-living facility and residential hotel.

“If you know anything about Benedictine, history is important to us,” said Charlie Gregory, campus executive officer at BenU at Mesa. “Community is everything, and we are proud to be a part of this community.”

The project all began back in August when a Phoenix-based developer, Venue Projects, and California-based Community Development Partners, bought the building for $1 million. The teams then reached out to Benedictine at Mesa because they knew they were in need of a residential facility for students. They then both came to an agreement and leased the property to BU at Mesa. Some students were in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony and could hardly contain their excitement.

“The facility is amazing,” said Ana Gonzalez, a junior Management and Organizational Behavior major. “I couldn’t ask for more. Everything is new. Students love the fact we are in Mesa, and that we are so close to school and all of the restaurants and businesses. We are really thankful that they chose this location,” she continues. Gonzalez, a Queen Creek, Arizona native, was named the first official resident assistant for Alhambra Residence Hall.

Before the new residential building opened its doors, student housing was available through an agreement with the Phoenix Marriott Mesa. The new residence hall is located near the Mesa Arts Center, which is only a mile away from the main campus building at 225 E. Main St.

 

Men’s Volleyball Defeats North Central in Straight Sets

15 Feb

Logan Hanson

Sports Editor

The Benedictine Men’s Volleyball team defeated North Central College 3-0 on Saturday night at the Rice Center. The Eagles won the first set 25-20, the second set 27-25 and the final set 25-23 to give them the set sweep.

“Our team has to keep battling,” said Head Coach Dan Buehring according to Benueagles.com, “If we do that we can start pulling out more victories. It was nice to get a win to end the day.”

In the first set, the Eagles came back early in the set to tie the score at eleven a piece. From there the Eagles took over, never trailing in the set. The Eagles defense stepped up during the run holding the Cardinals to only seven kills.

The second set was a back and forth match between the two teams as no side could take a sizeable lead. Junior Middle Hitter Zach Loeding gave the Eagles a lead late in the set and a hitting error by North Central gave the Eagles the set 27-25.

In the final set, North Central controlled the scoring and lead for most of the set. Fueled by several hitting errors by North Central, the Eagles were able to get back into the set and tied the game at 22. Some intense play by both sides brought the game to a head, but a kill by Junior Outside Hitter Sterling Glover gave the Eagles the set and the match 25-23.

The Eagles next game will be on the road when the team travels to Olivet College on Friday night at six p.m.

NFL Offseason Predictions

15 Feb

Daniel Dalenberg
Staff Writer

Dallas Cowboys Backup Quarterback Tony Romo Celebrates a Touchdown Photo by: nydailynews.com

Dallas Cowboys Backup Quarterback Tony Romo Celebrates a Touchdown
Photo by: nydailynews.com

 

Congratulations! If you’re reading this you made it through the first Sunday without NFL football. While sad that Sundays will no longer be filled with actual football games, we can now set our sights on the NFL offseason.

  1. Where will Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo land?

After a preseason injury gave way to rookie sensation Quarteback Dak Prescott, Romo’s future in Dallas was in constant question. With Prescott leading the Cowboys to a 14-2 record while taking home NFL offensive rookie of the year, it became clear Prescott was the QB of the future. So, unless Romo is content with being a backup, he will likely leave Dallas.

Some of the frontrunners to land Romo, according to USA Today, include the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals. Recently, the Broncos front office has made it clear that they want to move forward with their two young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Similarly, Cardinals Quarterback Carson Palmer announced he will return next year. That leaves the New York Jets. Two years ago, the Jets were 10-6, but 2016 went much differently. The Jets finished 5-11 with struggling Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm most of the season. With an aging roster, the Jets likely want to win now, so Romo makes sense for them. He would be surrounded by a defense with a good front seven and offensive weapons that include Wide Receivers Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker. While the Jets would still not be a team likely to win the Super Bowl, a shot at the playoffs would be an upgrade after a dumpster fire 2016 campaign.

  1. What will happen with Patriots Backup Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo?

Quarterback Tom Brady has made it known that he does not anticipate retiring anytime soon. After backup Quarterback Garoppolo performed well through Tom Brady’s suspension, what will happen to the 2014 second round pick is up in the air. Some believe keeping Garoppolo is in the best interest of the Patriots so he can be the heir to Brady, but demand for Garoppolo may never be higher.

Therefore, the Patriots could come away with a bevy of draft picks for their backup QB. This is the route it seems the Patriots want to go. The main suitors for Garoppolo include the Cleveland Brown, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears. The Bears seem like the team most likely to pull the trigger on Garoppolo. General Manager Ryan Pace is heading into his third season with the Bears and if the team’s record does not improve, ownership could send Pace packing.  Therefore, trading for Garoppolo is a safer bet for the Bears compared to drafting a rookie quarterback and having to endure a possibly shaky year. The move would also be received well by fans, as Garoppolo is a product of Chicago suburb high school, Rolling Meadows.

  1. What will happen with Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins contract situation? After a breakout 2015, the Redskins decided to franchise tag Cousins, basically making 2016 a tryout for a long term extension. According to ESPN, Cousins passed for nearly 5000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2016, but the Redskins missed the playoffs after being a wildcard in 2015. Cousins seems to have cemented himself as a good NFL quarterback, but the Redskins do not seem to be sold on Cousins for the large price that he comes with.

Therefore, the most likely scenario is that the Redskins apply the franchise tag to Cousins again. Shortly after, long term contract talks will fall through and Cousins will play 2017 under the franchise tag for the Redskins. If Cousins continues his high level play and the Redskins improve on their 2016 record, look for Cousins to finally get the long term deal he has been coveting.

 

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards: Was it a hit or a miss?

15 Feb

Jacqueline Gorr

Scene Editor

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards aired on Sunday, Feb 12, 2016. James Cordon was the host of the night and started the night off with his monologue right after Adele sang her popular song “Hello.” He made a hilarious entrance while trippin, falling and losing his shoe. He broke out into a rap from the musical “Hamilton” and had the crowd going wild.

With the Grammys being such a big event, there weren’t many celebrities in the audience. The only ones that were there were Beyoncé, Lady Gaga,   Adele, Katy Perry, Rhianna and Jennifer Lopez. That surprised me because multiple stars were nominated for awards. The night was filled with performances rather than giving out awards.

The major performance of the night was done by Beyoncé. She is expecting twins and it was a great way to show off her baby bump for the first time. Her performance was a video montage and was all about her being a mother to her daughter Blue Ivy and now to her twins.

Other performances included Katy Perry debuting her new song “Chained to the Rhythm,” Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood and Chance the Rapper. Adele did a tribute performance for George Michael and stopped halfway for going off key and restarted. She swore in her performance and apologized to the crowd for it but, exclaimed she had to start over because she couldn’t mess this performance up for him.

Bruno Mars did a tribute to Prince that had the crowd dancing on their feet. Many of the awards weren’t given on the live show and instead was more performance based. The big winner of the night was Adele, she won all five of the awards she was nominated for Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. She made history by winning Album of the year twice. Other winners were Beyoncé for best music video for “formation” and best urban contemporary album. Chance the rapper won best Rap album and 21 pilots won best pop duo/performance. Overall the Grammys was full of performances and a couple awards were given so, was it a hit or miss with the minimal celebrities and not many awards given?