Collegiate Journalists Ponder Summer Pursuits, Politics and Popular Culture

Glenn Ricketts

1. As summer vacation commences, a staffer for the Indiana Daily Student suggests using your leisure hours for some worthwhile reading, while a colleague at the University Daily Kansan marvels at the prospect that Hollywood’s appropriation of movie  themes from popular novels might actually be prompting viewers to go back and read them.  For the LSU Reveille, a reviewer attempts to gauge the actual impact of Fahrenheit 451, the signature work of the late Ray Bradbury.  At some remove from reading but not from youth, a columnist for the Daily Nebraskan proffers advice for summer romantic pursuits, while another at the Michigan Daily explores the shifting contemporary notions of “romance.”  The downside of romance doesn’t change though, and another writer for the University Daily Kansan provides some tips on coping with the difficulties of a breakup.  Meanwhile, the departing managing editor of the U/Mass Amherst Daily Collegian uses her farewell column to describe how she came to this point, mistakes and all.  And whatever you do over the summer, the editors of the Pitt News urge you to think twice or three times if you’re inclined to smoke hookah.

2. The editors of the Auburn Plainsman analyze the mix of instant news, racial tension and recent shootings at their university, all fanned into a frenzy by the instantaneous social media of Twitter and Facebook.  But at the same time, a columnist for the Minnesota Daily doesn’t find the mainstream national media a whole lot better in its coverage of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.  The facts in the case, she argues, mattered much less than the pre-packaged “race narrative” they reflexively plugged in.  Race relations were the subject of a column in the U of M Diamondback, where the author concludes that minority staff and maintenance personnel are regularly abused and victimized, although the heated comments thread indicates that some readers take issue with her allegations.  The editors of the Oklahoma Daily conclude that mug shots, whatever other considerations may be involved, are vital to law enforcement, and should not be withheld from public accessibility.  And notwithstanding a flurry of media controversy, a columnist at the same paper doesn’t think that a recent “heckling” episode during a White House press conference was racially motivated.  Rather, he says that it indicates a fundamental lack of respect for the office of President of the United States. 

3. It’s hard to get away from politics, whether national or local, and undergrad analysts continued to weigh in on a variety of issues.  The editorial board of the Iowa State Daily offers some thoughts on history, election year politics and the rancorous partisanship which currently hampers Congress.  The same theme was taken up by their counterparts at the Minnesota Daily, who urge both parties to be gracious in defeat and magnanimous in victory, whatever the outcome of the November elections.  But it’s all just a bit much for another columnist with the Iowa State Daily, who invokes a pox on both their houses.  But for all of the intense partisan wrangling, the public seem uninterested in national politics at the moment, which leaves the editors of the Daily Illini wondering why the two parties are pumping out so much campaign money so early.   And when the campaign does get rolling, a political writer for The Dartmouth doesn’t expect to see measured discussion of issues replace attack adds and hyper partisanship.  In any case, attack adds probably can’t do much for the GOP’s Mitt Romney, who just isn’t very exciting, in the view of a regular for the Michigan Daily.  She ventures that the voters won’t take to him in November.  And as the day approaches for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Obama health care law, a colleague at the Daily finds the social media political banter beyond inane.  At the same time, a guest columnist for the MSU State News criticizes a legislator’s lack of decorum in the statehouse chamber and arouses some heated comments in response. 

4. President Obama’s recent policy shift on deportation of some illegal immigrants continued to receive praise from collegiate editors and commentators, although two writers for the UC/Berkeley Daily Californianhere and here – think there’s much that remains to be done after a rather modest start.  That was also the view of the editors of the Michigan Daily, who hope that the president will follow up.  The subject can often generate some impassioned combox exchanges, as this piece in the U of M’s Diamondback illustrates.  In another immigration-connected issue, the editorial staff of the UCLA Daily Bruin endorse the idea of merit-based green cards for outstanding graduate students. 

5. In various and sundry political issues: a professed Catholic writing for the Indiana Daily Student says that he can live with president Obama’s compromise on the HHS contraceptive mandate for religious institutions, while a political commentator for the Iowa State Daily expresses indignation at some inappropriate gestures from ill-mannered attendees at a recent White House ceremony.  Whatever your views, please have a little class, she asks.  At the Syracuse Daily Orange, one op ed writer thinks its time for the FCC to stop trying to enforce standards of “decency,” following up a recent Supreme Court decision involving the scope of the agency’s authority.  A columnist for the USC Daily Gamecock thinks it’s time to stop busting so much on public education, while another one for the U/Tennessee Knoxville Daily Beacon thinks that Americans weigh far too much and has some nice things to say about NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large sodas.  Finally, a staffer for the North Dakota State Spectrum ponders how the super rich rule us all, and how that might actually contain possibilities for making things better. 

6  When it comes to popular culture, girls really like Girls: the managing editor of the Auburn Plainsman describes how the new HBO TV show connects to her life and speaks for her generation.  The show is evidently a hit all around, and a reviewer for the Smith Sophian gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up, in company with two others in the U of P’s Daily Pennsylvanian.  Another reviewer at the Minnesota Daily also likes the show, and dismisses complaints from some quarters that it lacks “diversity.”  On another theme, a writer for the Daily Nebraskan doesn’t think DC Comics is doing much of a job integrating queer characters into its story lines, while a cultural critic for the U of Missouri/Kansas City University News thinks the present system of rating movies doesn’t work at all.  At the Kansas State Collegian, a regular op ed writer concludes that, despite the music industry’s complaints about illegal downloads, it’s really in decline due to the parallel decline of its middle class customers 

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