Same-Sex Marriage, Sustainability, Gender Issues and More: Student Press Corps Potpourri

Glenn Ricketts


1.      President Obama’s public endorsement of same-sex marriage generated plenty of commentary among student editors, who were largely supportive.  One columnist for The Dartmouth describes his own reaction and some surprises from unexpected sources as well.  The editors of the Michigan Daily are on board, as well.  But an otherwise supportive writer for the Indiana Daily Student asks why it took the President so long to state the obvious.  A colleague sounds a somewhat different note:  it’s fine, he affirms, if the President wants to take the position he has, but constitutionally, gay marriage is something that the states, not the federal government, are authorized to address.  Other columnists suggest that there’s a lot of work left to do toward changing public attitudes and entrenched opposition.  At MIT, for instance, a guest writer for The Tech explains how to go about educating people such as the ones who just approved North Carolina’s ban of same-sex marriage.  A colleague at the Temple News concurs, and notes the pressing need to foster a climate of tolerance and respect in the 21st century. 

2.      Tolerance is what it’s all about, or should be, especially on college campuses.  But it’s rapidly disappearing at Williams College, according to a pair of undergraduate guest columnists in The Record.  But keep reading, because the “intolerance,” they argue, is coming from some campus-based “hyperactivists” who often so shrilly demand it for themselves.  The result is that free speech and expression increasingly don’t apply to certain topics, and “tolerance” is fine as long as it always moves in one direction.  Free speech is OK, it’s just that not everyone deserves it, right? 

3.      The Occupy Movement, now apparently a spent force, continues to generate some commentary among campus journalists, who on the whole are less and less enthralled.  One such at the Yale Daily News notes the recent eviction of local occupiers from a nearby public park and says good riddance.  That was also the view of a west-coast colleague writing at Berkeley in the Daily Californian.  The local occupiers, he concludes, are both lawless and undemocratic.  And what about this: did you ever stop to think, asks an op ed writer for the OSU Lantern, that if the “1%,” so-called, have more money, it could possibly be because they worked for it? 

4.      Feminism is a part of the furniture on college campuses, and recurrently inspires numerous op ed pieces and some surprisingly spirited controversy.  Take for instance the response to a recent campaign at Duke intended to promote feminist ideas and counter the “negative stereotypes” associated with them these days. Similar comments are attached to a piece in the University Daily Kansan, where an editorialist argues that, even when women are power holders, they aren’t treated in the same way that men are.   On a different note, a writer for the Daily Mississippian takes the measure of a recent campaign flap over full-time homemakers vs. working moms, and finds the whole thing very silly.  At the Washington University/St. Louis Student Life, an editorial page staffer supports the idea that Facebook should “diversify” its board of directors by adding a few female members, while at the U of M Diamondback, a features columnist advises readers to beware of “feminist” male film makers, who often use the most degrading stereotypes in their scripts. 

5.      The sustainability movement continues to solidify and expand its presence on college campuses, and the president of Swarthmore describes for readers of the Phoenix how firmly committed she and her administration are to the movement.  That probably sounds good to the editors of the Chicago Maroon, who wish that the U of C administration would do more to encourage sustainability programs there.  Everybody isn’t quite so enthusiastic, though, and a self-designated “liberal” columnist for the UT/Knoxville Daily Beacon tells his readers that they shouldn’t thereby assume that he’s an automatic jenvironmentalist, because he’s not.  Meanwhile, a guest contributor for the UW/Madison Daily Cardinal notes that the whole “green jobs” program was a complete bust, and would have been far better served by a free-market policy approach.  But be all of that as it may, a very happy green enthusiast tells readers of the North Dakota Student to go to Portland Oregon if they want the real “green” thing and have  lots of fun at the same time. 

6.      If you think that there's big trouble in American higher education, you'll find agreement from a staffer for The Dartmouth.  He describes his recent experience as a tutor in a local high school, and concludes that the problems are deep-seated, and are in place long before students arrive on college campuses. A columnist for the University of New Mexico Lobo also thinks American education is in really, really bad shape, and wonders what to do about it. But it’s the college level that most concerns the editors of the Daily Princetonian, who strongly protest their university’s newly implemented policy of grade deflation.  A big problem for this columnist writing for The New Hampshire though, is the proliferation of “social justice” courses that focus on various contemporary political issues.  Very often, he contends, these courses are ideologically loaded and academically lightweight.  That’s in contrast to the view of a writer for the Columbia Spectator: she argues that such courses should be included in the university’s undergraduate core requirements.  For a colleague at the UCLA Daily Bruin, a similar problem exists in the economic illiteracy of most undergraduates.  They really need exposure to some alternative ideas apart from the academic mainstream.  That’s a view shared by an analyst at the Pitt News, who sees a need to challenge the easy acceptance of socialism that prevails on campus.  But to do that, he insists, you need to present cogent and rational arguments, instead of knee-jerk rants or slogans.  The editorial board of the same paper conclude that, while online courses may have a place in the curriculum, they’re no substitute for the traditional college classroom variety. 

7.      There’s always plenty of ink devoted to an endless variety of campus-specific issues and scenarios.  Thus, a confirmed non-smoker explains in the Daily Mississippian why he’s opposed to the university’s aggressive smoking ban, while a colleague at the Emory Wheel argues that there ought to be a limit to the signage permitted on campus, even if it’s for good causes.  Meanwhile, the departing “sex columnist” for the U of Wyoming Branding Iron reflects on the experience, a writer for the Daily Princetonian ponders what having a Harvard/Yale-style “sex week” might consist of locally and a life style writer for the University Daily Kansan observes that serial monogamy seems to be the relationship preference of many students, herself included.  At the Brown Daily Herald, a graduating senior and former food service cashier describes the rampant thievery she’s observed among her fellow students; a Utah Statesman contributor suggests a code of etiquette for the use of public washrooms. Finally, a regular for the Cornell Daily Sun explains why her freshman roommate assignment proved to be a valuable lesson in diversity.











































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