Category Archives: Politics

Opinion: “#WalkUpNotOut” hashtag points fingers at the wrong people

Sarah Thurman, Staff Writer

Instead of walking out of class, walk up to a student who is isolated and be nice to them. While this seems like a good idea at first, when it is looked deeper into it, this is victim blaming.

The entire point of the walk out was for students to take a stand as they feel that the Government is not doing their job of taking care of this situation. After the shooting on February 14th in Parkland, Florida, students have begun to demand better reform on gun laws and for people in control to stand up.

Instead of helping the students, people are choosing to call out students. Telling them to walk up instead of out is such a typical thing for today’s conservative Americans who like to ignore real everyday situations.

The youth of today is trying to stand for something they believe in and are asking for support from the American community only for them to be told that they are in the wrong.

It’s not unusual for people to try and change a movement to become inclusive to all. For example, “All lives matter!”, which was used to combat the “exclusive” political stand of “Black lives matter.”

They chose to ignore the problems at hand and make them into something that will bring less attention. Once students began to express that they were going to walk out and protest gun violence people on social media began to tell them how the idea was wrong. Telling students to walk up, not out began to spread on social media and soon enough everyone was posting about it trying to ignore the real problem at hand.

Is walking up going to show the government that we need reforms on guns or that the students are sick of being ignored and told they are too young to have opinions? Walking out is something that allows them to protest and make headlines.

Walking up is victim-blaming. Yes, it wouldn’t hurt kids to be nicer, but telling them that they are the cause of school shootings is wrong. Walking up is suggesting that the kids who have died in these shootings would have lived if they had been “nicer.”

This is also making kids across America feel more excluded and seemingly like an outcast even more. The logic of a walk up is telling students to walk up to the kids that they feel like would be the ones to bring a gun to school.

Imagine being one of those misjudged kids to get on social media and see that the kids only came up to you because they fear that you would kill them. This hashtag is telling students that it is their fault that school shootings are happening. This entire trend is taking away from the fact that the problem we face is an epidemic of gun violence and is placing the blame on students.

They act as if the entire problem of gun violence can be solved by just being nicer to people.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Opioid Crisis Presents Alarming Challenge to both County and Country

Savanna Harris, Staff Writer

The opioid crisis is an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent here in our country. In 2016, there were over 63,600 overdose deaths in the United States alone, and more than two million people here are thought to be dependant on opioids, which are defined as drugs that replicate the pain-relieving effects of opium, such as morphine and oxycodone.

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Photo Credit: Savanna Harris From left to right, Trey Robinson, Jarrod McCraw, Lt. Brian Huncke

In order to raise awareness about this increasingly worrisome situation, the Batte Center here at Wingate University hosted a Lyceum this past Sunday, March 18, the third Lyceum in what is being called the Engaged Citizenship Series.

Throughout the program, a panel of ten speakers in total shared compelling information, as well as personal stories, regarding the crisis. Eddie Cathey of the Union County Sheriff’s Department began by saying, “We cannot arrest our way out of this.”

One major cause for this seemingly sudden crisis is the evolution of drugs that people are using. They have changed from what is expected, such as heroin and cocaine, to substances like bath salts and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  

The main reason for this change is research chemicals, which are chemicals used by scientists specifically for research and scientific purposes. They are more toxic and therefore more dangerous than other drugs, and due to their scientific necessity, can cheaply and easily be ordered online. Ann Hamlin, who worked as a forensic scientist for more than 30 years, summarized this perfectly by giving the statement, “The normal rules do not apply anymore.”

In order to provide a personal aspect, Wesley Keziah, who is a former addict, and Stephanie Cox, whose son died of an overdose, spoke next. Wesley described the way his addiction began with a prescription for oxycodone following back surgery. By age 19, he had transitioned to using heroin.

According to him, “It was normal to be high.” He went on to say that he was in and out of the Union County legal system more than 80 times, and that he tried to get help but was never sure where to go for it, and that he overall felt misinformed about the true consequences of drug use. Thankfully, however, he is now three and a half years sober, is married with four children, and teaches addiction ministry.

Stephanie Cox then told the heartbreaking story of her son, Trenton Phillips’ death. On May 12, 2015, he died of a heroin overdose. She recounted how they thought that Trenton’s addiction was under control, but went on to say, “I was fatally naive.”

Wesley and Trenton’s stories were both local. Many people who attended the Lyceum, including myself, were surprised to discover how strongly the opioid crisis is affecting not only our country, but Union County as well.

In 2017, there were 372 drug-related arrests in Union County, and the number of arrests and deaths continue to rise as the years pass. Contrary to popular belief, the most prevalent age group these arrests and deaths are occuring in is not young adults, but rather people age 50 and over.

However, the problem is beginning to be seen in young people and in schools. According to Jarrod McCraw of Union County Public Schools, there are approximately 43,000 students in the county, and school officials are seeing alcohol, marijuana, and Xanax frequently appear among them.

Abusing these substances can lead to the abuse of those that are even more damaging, as well as acting as a gateway for other crimes, such as stealing, human trafficking, driving while under the influence, and murder. Trey Robinson, who is the Union County District Attorney, said that, “Our courts are filled with drug-related cases.”

Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. Measures are being taken at both a local and state level to combat and end this crisis. Operation Medicine Drop is in place for people to properly dispose of prescription pills that are no longer needed.

An opioid crisis hotline is being proposed. A nasal spray called NARCAN, which is an emergency Naloxone treatment for overdoses, is now in use. This is greatly beneficial, seeing as in order for a doctor to administer Suboxone and Methadone, which are other overdose treatments, they are required to receive special training and are therefore few and far between.

Additionally, Representative Craig Horn of North Carolina House District 68 said that they are working to limit the length of time that drugs are prescribed to five to seven days maximum, thus reducing the number of pills prescribed annually. In 2016 in North Carolina, this number was 555,000,000.

They are also trying to get rid of prescription pads and lessen the number of prescription drug commercials that are legally allowed to be shown on television. All in all, remarkable efforts are being made towards bringing this crisis to an end.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Opinion: Changing Americans’ Attitudes on Drug Policy

Amanda Alling, Staff Writer

The problem to be discussed here is one that requires a radical shift in not only foreign and domestic policy, but more specifically a deviation in perception of substance abuse. For far too long, we as Americans have viewed the consumption of drugs in a negative light – as a vice. And while undoubtedly drugs can, and often do, weaken societal structures and ruin the lives of individuals, they are also powerless until they enter the bloodstream.

The issue in our current American drug crises is one of not only supply from places such as Latin American, but also – and this is a topic that we as Americans tend to ignore or attempt to wish away – a problem of domestic demand.

The United States is currently the largest consumer of narcotics in the world, and regardless of what the current administration believes, symbolically shunning our neighbors to the south via the construction of some wall along the southern border will not solve our current ills.

So what do we do? How do we “solve” this? There are three current strategies used domestically: prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

Prevention programs typically target elementary aged children, but studies show the methods are largely ineffective. Treatment programs are after-the-fact mechanisms, and have been proven to be the most efficient tool for combating substance abuse. The last element to current domestic drug policy is that of enforcement – targeting users and sellers. However, increased incarceration has not stopped the illegal flow of narcotics.

Leaders of Latin American countries are urging the United States to change the attitude about consumption. In the 2011 report provided by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso suggested that there be a shift in global drug policy to treat “drug addiction as a health issue, reducing drug demand through educational initiatives and legally regulating rather than criminalizing.”

The argument for legal regulation maintains that the elimination of the “illicit” term that precedes “substance” would help to reduce cartel related violence by replacing criminal markets with formal ones. However, that in and of itself would not “end” or “solve” our drug crisis– the consumption of hard drugs would still remain an issue.

Decriminalization may end some stigmatization that comes with substance abuse, and governments who try such policies could see an increase in abusers seeking effective treatment.

For the last thirty years, the United States has spent, on average, about two thirds of its anti-drug resources on the supply-side, focusing the war on drugs inside of Latin America rather than domestically. And here’s the kicker: while the budget for supply-side solutions continues to grow every year, demand-side drug policy expenditures have essentially remained stagnant.

There are no easy answers, but at the very least we should rethink our strategy here. It’s halftime in the war on drugs, and our coaches need to make adjustments.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Dr. Cannon speaks at Union County Library on how to discern facts from fake news

Leah Joyner, Staff Writer

Monroe, N.C.– Community members in Union County may have felt like they had gone back to college when they attended a program taught by Dr. Keith Cannon, the Chair and Professor of Journalism at Wingate University in the Communications Department.

He spoke on Tuesday night at the Union County Monroe Public Library with the subject on news media being fact or fake and how to discern the truth.

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Photo Credit: Leah Joyner

Cannon decided to title his talk “Today’s News: Fake, Fair, and Balanced… or Something Else Entirely” and focused on the news media and the depth of reporting. Similar to his teaching style, Cannon encouraged audience participation in his lecture. By engaging the attendees in open discussion, he was able to tailor his answers to them and help them understand his views and knowledge on the subject matter.

With over 40 years of journalism experience, he is a qualified teacher to speak about fake news and the news media in general. In addition to teaching about the history of news media, Cannon talked about the hot button topics like discerning propaganda in the media and how to fact check news sources. Cannon listed websites like Politifact and FactCheck.org to help individuals do their own research.

If some people are skeptical about fact-checking sites that they consider untrustworthy, Cannon suggested they can do their own research by going straight to the primary source. He continued to share a fake story about a Supreme Court decision that was posted on social media that people couldn’t actually find on the Supreme Court website.

“Something that I tell my students all the time is I’m not here to tell you what to think…the basic thing I am telling you is to test it for yourself,” said Cannon.

Cannon motivated the audience that to have journalistic standards, one must use objectivity, strive for accuracy, be thorough in their research, and write well. He also encouraged young professionals that now is a good time to become entrepreneurs in this market.

Since 1994, Cannon has been a Wingate faculty and has been a department chair since 2010. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a past president of the Charlotte Pro chapter of SPJ. He is very involved on social media where people can follow him at @KeithCannon on Twitter and search Keith Cannon on Facebook.
To learn more about the types of programs the Union County Public Library offers the community, visit http://www.co.union.nc.us/departments/library.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Dreamers of Wingate share their stories 

Savanna Harris, Staff Writer

DACA has been a hot news topic in recent weeks since the Trump Administration announced that the policy will be allowed to expire. But, what exactly is DACA?

Simply put, DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that was put into place by President Barack Obama in 2012 to protect children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

It also allows them to acquire important documents, such as work permits and driver’s licenses. Not only that, DACA is the reason that many of these children, who have been dubbed “dreamers,” are able to attend college. This includes students right here at Wingate, who are currently faced with possibly having to return to their birth countries in the midst of obtaining a  college education.

Affected students on campus knew that more people needed to be made aware of what is happening to them and many others, so the Latino Club sponsored a Lyceum last Wednesday, appropriately named, “Dreamers of Wingate.” The event also was supported by the Modern Languages and History and Political Science departments.

At the event, political science faculty member Dr. Steven Hyland, who was the host; the pastor of a local church; an immigration lawyer; and three of our DACA students all came together to tell their stories.

Father Benjamin Roberts, pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Monroe, began by giving an emotional perspective. He said, “We want to maintain a vision of people, not numbers,” in reference to many viewpoints on immigration being based on the number of people who come here instead of why they come here. His speech paved the way for the informational portion of the program.

Following Father Roberts, Cynthia Aziz, an immigration lawyer who works out of Charlotte, provided details about the specific conditions and requirements of DACA, and gave insight into how it is being handled in Washington D.C. “DACA has become a political football, and it shouldn’t have. It was meant to be a humanitarian act,” she said.

She also went on to say that she has clients from places all over the world, such as Canada and even Lebanon, contrary to the stereotype that most or all of DACA recipients come from Central America or Mexico. The audience listened with great interest, but when the students began to recount their own personal experiences, all eyes were on them.

Alicia Rubio Gomez, sophomore, was the first of the students to speak. She described in great detail how it constantly feels as though she is up against a great opposition. “Regardless of the support, the thing that hangs in the backs of our minds are those who hate us,” said Alicia, whose parents brought her to this country from Mexico and settled in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Despite her struggles, the main one being unable to apply for colleges in Georgia, Gomez was able to come here thanks to a full scholarship designed specifically for DACA students.

Cristo Carrasco, from Charlotte, shared a similar experience, and said it has pushed him to do better. “DACA has personally influenced me to work harder, because I have been forced to carry the weight of being a ‘dreamer’ on my shoulders,” he said.

Maria Perez, freshman from Gainesville, Ga., closed out the Lyceum with the heartbreaking story of her father being deported, and went on to say that ultimately, she was not discouraged even through the heartbreak. “We will fight for a permanent solution,” she said.

Dr. Hyland said that recent polls indicate that a great majority of Americans support the right for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to become legal residents.

He said  he was pleased with the turnout of about 320 people for the event, which included students, faculty, staff and community members.“I think it was an important display of interest in DACA and its impact on Wingate and of solidarity on the part of our students for their fellow classmates and peers,” he said.

Edited by: Brea Childs

My Vantage Point of History: The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump, 2017

Nick Vaughn, Staff Writer

Washington, D.C.- inauguration_1Last Friday was not your average day. Normally, Fridays at school would include me attending classes or having a grilled cheese at lunch with my friends or if I am at home you could catch me simply going about my daily activities.

Last Friday, however, was not that kind of Friday, because I had the honor of attending the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. As I woke up that Friday morning and I looked out my window to see a cloudy and rainy Washington, D.C., I couldn’t believe that I was actually there.

One moment I will never forget was walking from the metro and seeing the beautiful Capitol dome get closer and closer. As my friends and I were going through the gates, pass security, and then to our seats, it hit me. We had a front row vantage point to history.

I was sitting there thinking while the Marine Band played and as the former Presidents and First Ladies walked out onto the Inaugural platform, “How am I here?”

During that moment, I began to reflect on my last year. I had felt pretty lucky. Lucky to be able to not just watch history on television like I have done for years which inspired me to get involved in the first place but to witness history first hand. To live the history that would be talked about centuries from now.

In the past year I had the opportunities to attend a Presidential Debate in the primaries; the Republican National Convention; where the now President accepted the nomination; and now on January 20, the Inauguration.

One of the most vivid moments of my experience was when President-Elect Trump was announced and walked out on the platform, then all you could hear was the voices and cheers of Americans from all walks of life, backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, and religions behind me. It felt like there was a heavy force against my back, that kept me from standing still.

The swearing-in and speech was absolutely incredible to see and hear. Plus, to have friends beside me, and all around me, made it all the more incredible.

The line in President Trump’s speech that I loved the most was, “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” In order to produce results for our country and we will, we must work together.

At the close of what was a beautiful ceremony with a few drops of “good luck” rain, we ended by praying for our country. Afterwards, it was time to head back and prepare for the Inaugural Ball that evening.

It wasn’t until we arrived at the ball, that I realized how massive the crowd actually was. The Ball was absolutely spectacular. It was everything I thought it would be and more. I met many journalists, celebrities, and politicians. It was also special to see old friends there and make some new ones as well. My favorite run-in of the night had to be meeting CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper. As a matter of fact, we took a selfie that absolutely made my night.

Another great moment was when the band played “Hail to the Chief” and the President and the First Lady emerged, the huge crowd was electrified. I remember being so close and seeing all those phones in the air taking pictures and videos, mine included and thinking to myself, “just enjoy the moment.” So for two minutes I completely put the phone away and took in the moment of history before me. As the President and the First Lady danced to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, my all time favorite song coincidentally, I felt so honored to be there.

On a personal note, I learned a lot this weekend. About myself and the future, things I knew before, but needed reminding of in some way. I was reminded that if you work hard and keep pushing through hard times, as we have all experienced, it will look up and things will turn around. As for now I’m going to enjoy the moment.

In closing, I ask of my fellow students and Americans who are not supportive of this President a simple task: Give the President a chance, because he is our President. Support him when you think he’s right and fight back when you think he’s wrong. Pick up the mantle of leadership. Get involved in either party you agree with and try to change things for the better however you view.

Always remember America’s best days are ahead of us.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Students get opportunity to learn more about upcoming election

Columnist John Fund visits Wingate University, many students still undecided.

Nick Vaughn, Staff Writer

John Fund, a National Affairs Columnist for National Review magazine and a frequent contributor to Fox News, CNBC, and CNN spoke at Wingate University on October 24 to discuss the upcoming presidential election.

This event was in conjunction with the BB&T Lecture Series and was sponsored by the Jesse Helms Center. The basis of conversation in the Batte Center Recital Hall was on the topic of the Executive Branch Power Expanded Under President Obama.

The question that was focused on was post election, “What Can We Expect from Hillary or Trump?”

The event was a lyceum credit for students who attended. Junior Caitlin Villela attended the lyceum. “I found the lyceum very interesting. It really gave us an insight at how the two candidates for President would serve,” Villela stated.

In Fund’s lecture he talked about the differences between the two candidates and what their attitudes would be like as President when it came to certain decisions made by the Supreme Court or through executive orders.

“With a Clinton presidency you will see Supreme Court Justices appointed that will overturn decisions like Citizens United,” Fund said.

“A Trump presidency will see the repeal of Obama’s executive orders,” Fund added.

Many students and millennials in general are less than impressed by the choices that we have when it comes to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Randel Caldwell, a junior at Wingate University, considers herself one of those individuals. “This lecture and the speaker did not give me much more insight than I already had.” Caldwell said.

Caldwell has followed this election very closely for the past year. “I’m still unlikely to give my vote to either one of these candidates,” Caldwell added.

This election is now in the final few days, with many citizens still undecided and puzzled at this election cycle, the choice will soon be made.

Edited by: Sara Gunter