Religion, Sustainability and Wisconsin Recall Engage Collegiate Press Hawks

Glenn Ricketts

1. Religious belief and its impact on life can get people going in a variety of ways. Some of them are rather surprising, as this potpourri of opinion pieces illustrates.  One writer for Berkeley’s Daily Californian, examines the ubiquitous idea of “tolerance,” and concludes that it doesn’t seem to include religious believers, whatever their creedal attachment.  Similarly, an avowed atheist with the SDSU’s Daily Aztec wishes that some of his fellow unbelievers would drop a silly lawsuit against a religious-themed memorial at nearby Camp Pendleton. The comments thread indicates that some of them don’t think it’s quite so silly.  And a guest columnist for the Washington University/St. Louis Student Life thinks that opponents of a proposed Arizona law that would allow elective high school course to include teaching of the Bible as part of the West’s cultural legacy are simply off base. But by contrast, a regular staffer for the Iowa State Daily argues that one can derive great inspiration from many sources other than religious ones.   At the Stanford Daily, a professed Christian examines the tensions between his religious beliefs and homosexuality, and adds a follow-up in this addendum.  For a couple of other opinion makers, religious beliefs are a serious impediment to progress and politically intrusive. Thus, one writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle thinks it’s imperative to keep religion wholly separate from politics, while a science major tells readers of the OSU Daily Barometer that he feels the need to combat religious belief because of its intransigence toward evolutionary theory.    

2. The gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin caught some attention, and a number of collegiate editorial boards, such as the one for the UW/Madison’s Badger Herald, enthusiastically supported the ouster of incumbent Governor Scott Walker.  When that didn’t happen, a columnist for the Daily Cardinal attributed the outcome to Walker’s heavy support from out-of-state big money.  The editors of the neighboring Minnesota Daily concurred, but also concluded that the extensive out-of-town intervention on both sides was inappropriate, since the election was specifically for the voters of Wisconsin.  It’s not such a big deal in any case, says a political analyst in the Syracuse Daily Orange since, despite all the hoopla, the national significance of the recall vote is probably minimal. 

3. In various other issues, the editors of WVU’s Daily Athenaeum think it’s really just too bad that partisan wrangling has prevented Congress from finally, finally passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, while a guest columnist for the Collegian at Kansas State concludes that the recent prosecution of former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards was an unnecessary farce.  At the Daily Mississippian, a policy analyst thinks it’s about time for fiscal conservatives in the U.S. and Europe to face the fact that their cherished “austerity” approach has flopped; the editors of the ISU Daily Vidette wonder if racism will possibly affect this year’s presidential election; three staff writers at the UCal/San Diego Guardian offer some quick takes on the pending implementation of the Obama administration’s health care policies in August; at the neighboring SDSU Daily Aztec, a colleague doesn’t think a state ballot initiative on the death penalty is a good idea. Finally, a snarky columnist for the Oklahoma Daily wishes everyone would develop tougher hides and stop taking offense so easily. 

4. Sustainability and healthy living are omnipresent in the student media, and the editors of the ASU State Press urge their readers to shop with greater discernment, since their purchases have social consequences.   A pair of co-writers echo the theme in the Amherst Student: twenty years after the 1992 Rio conference, the global environmental crisis continues to worsen, and governmental intervention, while imperative, isn’t enough: each of us has an individual contribution to make as well.  Individual initiative is also highly touted by a guest columnist at the Arkansas Traveler, where he argues that, despite all of the talk of health care reform, it’s up to each of us to modify our diets. Unfortunately, there are also unexpected false starts or negative side effects, and a writer for the Georgetown Voice laments the consumerism – ironically part of the overall environmental problem– that’s infiltrated the Green movement.  In the Stanford Daily, meanwhile, a regular assesses the costs and benefits of desert-based solar panels, while her counterpart at the USC Daily Trojan does likewise with a recently enacted  ban on plastic bags in LA.  In other local initiatives, the editors of the Daily Pennsylvanian echo widespread recent reactions to New York’s ban on large sodas, which they don’t think will effectively combat obesity, while their west coast counterparts at the Daily Californian are solidly behind a state ballot initiative that would levy a dollar-per-pack tax on cigarettes to raise money for cancer research.  At Oregon State University, a campus-wide ban on smoking to take effect in September is the topic of discussion for readers of the Daily Barometer: one columnist heartily supports the new policy, while another finds it misconceived and unenforceable. 

5. The recent NO NATO demonstrations in Chicago prompted a columnist for the DePaulia to measure them against the legendary 1968 protests in the same city, when his father was a participant.  On a similar note, a writer for the Independent Florida Alligator notes the inspiration that she and many others have taken from the Occupy Wall Street movement.  But a colleague at the Daily Pennsylvanian, while also a supporter of OWS, describes the problematic internal contradictions and tensions which were in evidence among the demonstrators in Chicago last month. 

6.Thoughts on graduation or what to do during summer break can provide some intriguing copy.  For example, a departing senior at West Virginia reflects in the Daily Athenaeum on a student culture that imparts some very bad habits that won’t serve you well in the real world that he’s about to enter.  What exactly awaits recent grads in any case doesn’t look nearly as promising or certain as they’d like, in the view of the Harvard Crimson’s editors, although one member of that class wonders what she and her peers can do to rebuild community in America. Many grads must have thoughts similar to this one at MSU’s State News: it’s a very tough haul to pay for college these days, and President Obama’s proposals aren’t really much help. A writer for the Oklahoma Daily, meanwhile, comments on his first experience with summer courses and concludes that they’re a bit too laid back and academically soft.  In the view of a colleague at The Dartmouth, a number of his classmates will end up in unpaid summer “internships,”  which he denounces as sheer exploitation.  There’s also some friendly advice for those soon to arrive next Fall.  A staffer for the Arkansas Traveler tells them how to escape the clutches of their “helicopter parents,” while an incoming freshman in Berkeley’s class of 2016 introduces herself and wonders how she can make friends on campus. Some wry comments follow.  Finally, one regular for the Daily Iowan departs for summer vacation by leaving readers with thoughts of three things that really bug him.




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