Student Press Corps on Politics, Marriage, Sandwiches, Middle East

Glenn Ricketts

1.  The presidential race continued to draw extended commentary from undergraduate political analysts, who assessed Mitt Romney’s designation of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate.  One pundit at the MSU State News thinks that Ryan will really juice up the ticket, a view shared by another guest columnist.  Meanwhile, a Ryan supporter at the Oklahoma Daily attempts to parse the nominee’s conservatism, and assures readers that he’s not a devotee of Ayn Rand.  A colleague at the Duke Chronicle thinks the Democrats hip-shot criticisms of Ryan could well backfire.  But the editors of the Iowa State Daily see Congressman Ryan as one of more polarizing figures in Washington, and a guest op ed writer for The Daily Pennsylvanian rates the Romney/Ryan ticket as pure disaster for the GOP and for the country as a whole. Another columnist for the U of Alabama’s Crimson and White scored the GOP for a nasty campaign based on negativity and divisiveness. 

2.  Voter registration and voter ID laws got lots of ink, and the editors of the Oklahoma Daily urged readers to register and to persuade others to join them.  But a while writer for the Michigan Daily thinks that it’s fine to register voters, he wonders how many of them have any idea just what they’re voting for.  How about somehow informing the electorate, as well as registering them?  At the same time, voter fraud and voter eligibility were also in the mix, and the editors of the Daily Texan (here) and an individual writer at the Daily Pennsylvanian (here) were critical of their respective states’ voter ID laws, arguing that they tended to disqualify certain groups disproportionately.  Things looked even grimmer to a regular for the Independent Florida Alligator, and she accused the state GOP of purging lots of voters under largely specious pretexts.  That was also the view of a colleague at the UCal/Irvine New University, who accused Republicans of whipping up a phony campaign against fraudulent voting as a handy way to get rid of voters not likely to support them, especially racial and ethnic minorities.  At the Michigan Daily, a political commentator notes that while voter fraud is an inescapable reality, most state laws addressing it are poorly written and disproportionately, if unintentionally, affect minority voters.  But at the Oklahoma Daily, a guest columnist concludes that the entire election system is simply a farce since both parties are controlled by big corporate money.  The solution he proposes is direct democracy, since the country’s fortunes would then be directly in the hands of the people. 

3.  Specific issues, odds and ends:  A staffer for the USC Daily Gamecock finds the GOP hypocritical on everything from jobs to healthcare, and thinks they serve only the interests of big corporate money.  That’s why a contrarian at the LSU Reveille argues  that the Bush-era tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest among us should be allowed to expire. Reflecting similar thinking, the editors of the UWV Daily Athenaeum are supporting a Senate bill that would require full disclosure of big campaign donors, since the public needs to know who gets money from whom.  By contrast, a regular writing for the Indiana Daily Student explains why much-maligned “big banks” are necessary and good for the economy.  And on the subject of the economy, a colleague at the same paper complains about the stifling government regulations that obstruct recovery and job creation. At the Michigan Daily, another economic columnist argues that a proposed increase in the state’s minimum wage law, although quite popular, is actually not a very good idea.  On another live issue, a guest columnist assesses the probable electoral consequences of the Democrats’ support for same-sex marriage.  Less visible, but with plenty of potential, is a military vet’s call in the Daily Texan for Congress to reinstate a military draft.  Finally, a reporter for the Auburn Plainsman is really weary of the Obama “birther” folks, and wishes that they’d tone it down or, better yet, take a hike. 

4.  Sustainability and the environment always attract some attention, and this observer at the Michigan Daily thinks that immediate action is needed to avoid a climate catastrophe.  It’s getting much hotter, and no one seems to notice.  Similarly, a regular op ed writer for the Oklahoma Daily calls for drastic steps to save the Amazon rain forests which, unfortunately, haven’t been in the news recently.  Too bad, because the deterioration is already far along, and we’d better pay attention.  At the Duke Chronicle, however, a sympathetic columnist psychoanalyzes campus environmental activists, and offers them some tips on how refine their delivery to skeptics or those less intensely committed to the cause.  And at the Syracuse Daily Orange, a self-designated tree hugger explains how you can get involved in local sustainability programs. 

5.  International Affairs: Writing in the Michigan Daily, a summer sojourner to Europe urges readers to backpack rather opt for the routine tour package that she took with her parents – you’ll miss everything that’s really worth seeing otherwise.  One of her colleagues at the Daily recounts the lessons she about happiness that she took from a summer in South Africa, although a respondent in the comments thread isn’t impressed.   By contrast, a correspondent for the Stanford Daily, strolling through Cairo this summer, was struck by the enormous chasm between rich and poor.  There was very little in between, and the lot of the poor was wretched beyond words.  Elsewhere in the Middle East, a writer for the Harvard Crimson, just back from a trip to Israel, expresses great surprise after reading a classmate’s account of the same tour.  Campus.  At the U of Houston’s Daily Cougar, an international relations analyst finds the Syrian civil war pretty grim, with no hope of cessation or resolution in sight, while his counterpart at the UCal/Irvine New University is similarly pessimistic about the war in Iraq.  Finally, an op ed columnist for the U of Tennessee Beacon ponders the implications of the prison sentences given to three members of a Russian punk rock band.  He finds it difficult to grasp how simply expressing an opinion in public could get anyone into so much trouble. 

6.  Chick-Fil-A update: It’s really hard to find a reasoned middle ground on this issue, at least in the opinion of an avowed moderate writing for the UCLA Daily Bruin.  What if you support same-sex marriage, but also think that the chicken sandwiches are pretty good?  He concludes that the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. Same for a reporter at the KSU Daily Collegian. He favors gay marriage, but thinks the fast food chain’s waffle fries are irresistible, and he plans to keep eating them.  Besides, there’s too much posturing and hypocrisy all around on the issue, so he doesn’t regret his stance at all.  His colleague at the paper, however, supports a boycott.  At the UCal/Irvine New University, an exasperated columnist tries hard to reconcile competing constitutional and moral claims all around, but gets heavy flack from angry respondents.  Perhaps that’s why a regular for the U of Nevada Las Vegas Rebel Yell finds the whole subject a polarized mine field that’s long left reason and civility behind, whatever your position.  Finally, a staffer for the University of New Mexico’ s Daily Lobo places the controversy within the larger context that considers the political consequences of your eating choices


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