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ADDISON DEL MASTRO Opinions Editor

Last November, President Barack Obama announced a new immigration enforcement policy, consisting largely of rules which protect immigrants who have US-born children or who have lived in the country for several years from deportation. As with any issue raised in Washington, debate is still raging, and lawsuits are forthcoming, even as the federal government prepares to implement the rules.

The Republican objection is that the president does not have the power to change enforcement protocols like this and is effectively immunizing millions of people against the enforcement of the immigration laws. Legal experts are divided over exactly how much the president can “customize” enforcement protocols, and the Republican argument may turn out to be right.

But I would like to talk about the immigrants themselves, who are often overlooked in these debates.

Sometimes, they are worse than overlooked, and though some who oppose Obama’s plan really are concerned about the enforcement of the law, some of them certainly wish to see fewer Mexican and Central American immigrants. It is convenient and easy to hide anti-immigrant sentiment under the cloak of “rule of law.” If it happened to be mostly white Western Europeans entering the country illegally, I doubt immigration enforcement would be a top conservative talking point.

Putting aside the legal questions, let’s look at the immigrants themselves. We know, for example, that immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans (and yes, bodegas count as businesses). They tend to have a strong work ethic, contrary to the notion that they come to America to go on welfare.

Hispanic immigrants in particular, and Hispanics in general, are perceived (sometimes rightly, but of course not always) as family-oriented and religious. They are often, at least according to the conservative idea of “American,” more American than many Americans.

To those who raise “racial purity” concerns (admittedly a small fringe of conservatism) over non-white immigration, we should remember that race, or outward appearance, is merely one human characteristic, and far from the most important.

There is enormous diversity within Europe, as there is within every continent or region. America may have been historically white, but culturally, we have always been very diverse. Even the definition of “white” has changed over time—the Irish were once considered non-white. Think about that one.

And finally we should remember, particularly when worried about the potential of immigration to change American culture, that much of what is now comfortably a part of our culture was itself the gift of immigrants. Images liket he Jewish lawyer, the Irish cop, the Catholic priest, the Italian pizza-maker, the Chinese restaurant—to name only a few—would all once have been rejected as polluting America’s culture. Now we cannot imagine it without them.

One day it will be the same with what the Hispanic immigrants will bring to America, if we let them. We can disagree over immigration law, but we cannot dispute the historical fact that immigrants—millions of them from all over the world—have made America, economically and culturally, what it is today.

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It’s three weeks into the semester, so it’s time to check in and see how things are going. Here’s to hoping that we have no more crippling blizzards, pipe explosions or serious illnesses.

First up is the food. We love the EC meal plan exchange. This allows us to use a meal swipe at lunch, which used to be reserved for the Commons, at the EC snack bar. There are options at every food station, giving us plenty of choices. We would, however, like to see the meal exchange made available for dinner as well.

And one more thing: it would be nice to see more consistency in the preparation of snack bar items, particularly sandwiches, which are often made very differently by each worker.

Second, we’d like to mention the Hall of Sciences pipe burst. This could be described as our President’s first test of leadership, and she rose to the occasion. The incident happened during an open house weekend, and President MaryAnn Baenninger ran from the open house events to the Hall of Sciences to survey the damage.

The school has done an excellent job of sending out updates on the situation, and especially in rescheduling classes smoothly and quickly.

Finally, there’s one place where we’d like to see the school work a little harder: campus maintenance. Many of us have noticed recently that the brick patio in front of the EC is warping, with many of the bricks having sunk a couple of inches below the rest. For something built less than three years ago, that’s disconcerting. Still, it’s a fairly simple fix that should be done before the bricks start to come loose. Then, there’s the brick step in front of the Hoyt side entrance, or rather the pile of loose bricks that are supposed to be a step—the cement has disintegrated for the second winter in a row, causing a safety hazard.

This needs to be fixed right away, and with an improved cement. There are other more minor maintenance issues, such as walls requiring new paint which should be addressed.

Overall, things are good for the first three weeks. Maybe after Spring Break, we’ll check in again, and hopefully the report card will be just as good.

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Jared Sutton 

 

After the massacre of 12 innocent people at the Charlie Hebdo offices in January in response to the satirical magazine’s portrayal of the prophet Muhammad, the escaped terrorists stormed a kosher market in Paris. One of the employees, Lassana Bathily, a Muslim immigrant from Mali, saved several Jewish patrons from certain death at the hands of the terrorists.

On that frightening afternoon in France, the crisis in Gaza did not matter. Anti-Semitism in Iran did not matter. Islamophobia in France did not matter. In that instant, the only thing that mattered was humanity. Globally, after many attempts to pit the Jews and the Muslims of the world against each other, the narrative seems to write itself. The argument can be made that both sides have committed atrocities against the other. But in that moment, the belief systems of the people involved did not matter. Jews and Muslims alike worked together to save lives. People trumped politics.

In light of the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks and general trends domestically and internationally, it is time to be frank: methods on how to eliminate anti-Semitism and Islamophobia need to be discussed. The Pew Global Attitudes Project notes that anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim feelings have “steadily grown” in Germany, Poland and, you guessed it, France, in the past five years.

To me, this indicates a global trend in increased intolerance. Many assume that this problem just goes away, but unfortunately, we are not that lucky. Generations of ignorance, stigmatization and media- and family-fueled bigotry and stereotyping have yielded nothing but a fragile and volatile environment that does nothing but hinder the rights of many.

The assaults on mosques and synagogues are not limited to Paris, Warsaw and Berlin. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia exist in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Gallup reports that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have both increased in the United States. Swastikas scribbled on synagogue walls and television pundits referring to Islam as a “barbaric and violent religion” whose adherents should be all killed is nothing short of disturbing and disgusting. Regardless of what you believe, prejudice is prejudice, and when we avert our gaze from the continual suffering of our fellow humans, we are complicit in the deterioration of human decency. In a country that guarantees me the right, not the privilege, to freely practice my faith, I expect that right to be upheld. Unfortunately, the United States federal government cannot end the stigma that besets certain religious sects in this country.

At this critical juncture in human history, we have three broad options: We can engage in dialogue, we can exacerbate the situation or we can sit by and be complicit as Jews and Muslims around the world, and at home, are persecuted for their beliefs. Religion is a tricky topic to cover, because comparing your faith to another makes some people very uncomfortable. However, in this moment, doing nothing makes us complicit in the downfall of one of the rights we hold most dear: the right to freely express yourself.

Although national dialogue has begun, localized dialogue is extremely important. Interfaith relations on Drew’s campus have been strong, and the student body at Drew University has admirably upheld a tradition of speaking out against injustice, whether it occurs in Madison or in Madison, Ferguson or South Africa. The time has come for us as a community to discuss our faiths in a non-confrontational setting. As academics, we have the responsibility to collaborate and forge a path that leads to the cessation of injustice, especially where faith is concerned. Politics, practices and other preferences play a role in, but should not dominate, the conversation on how to end Islamophobia and anti-Semitism domestically and abroad.

Most of us were not directly affected by the atrocious events that occurred in France in early January. However, as human beings who believe in the concept of freedom of religion, we have a duty to make note of what happens in Paris and Parsippany. We have a duty to collaborate, inspire and discuss. The conversation needs to begin not with administration, staff or professors, but with us.

Miho Watabe - Graphics Editor

From left: Sam Valkos – Graphic Artist, Jess Benitez – Graphic Artist, Joe Gotto – Assistant Graphics Editor and Miho Watabe – Graphics Editor

Almost everyone has at least seen a headline about the deadly terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in early January. Many opinions around the world have already been voiced about this tragedy, but as a newspaper we wanted to discuss it here in our first issue of the semester.

It should first be noted that we can hardly compare ourselves to the murdered Charlie Hebdo editors in terms of the issues we face. While we at the Drew Acorn never do and likely never will come close to facing violence or even death for anything we write, we have sometimes struggled with whether or not to publish things that we know would offend people or anger them. There is also the consideration that just because we enjoy free speech does not mean we must offend anyone.

It is sobering to see how much more some in the news and media world must deal with than we do, but dealing with the right use of free speech, and with the threats against it, unite us in a small way with Charlie Hebdo.

Some publications, like Charlie Hebdo, make their entire purpose to stir the pot and to offend. Not all of us do, or need to like what results: For example, one Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Christian Trinity performing an orgy is outrageous, and we all know their Mohammad cartoons were offensive.

But it is exactly in these cases, where some people deeply dislike what is said, that free speech is truly tested. If that right is not upheld, then it ceases to mean very much. And while Charlie Hebdo was attacked with guns, not every threat to free speech is so obvious.

The freedom of Charlie Hebdo to entertain—and offend—the world is linked to our freedom to publish mostly inoffensive campus news.

And in a free society, both of these things are necessary.

 

NOTE: The Lead Editorial reflects the collective opinion of the Drew Acorn’s editorial board. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinions of their respective authors.

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Hello Drew!

 

Welcome back to our home in the forest.  I would like to begin by thanking the Acorn for giving Michelle and I the opportunity to speak to you all regarding a few of the initiatives Student Government will be pursuing this upcoming semester.  Just recently, Dean Merckx, alongside  Student Government, scored quite a win for the student body when he finalized the Meal Plan Equivalency that is now offered in the EC during lunch hours.

We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback regarding the change, but we would very much appreciate it if any concerns or issues would be brought to our attention so that we can continue our discussions with dining services.  However, even with this step forward, Michelle and I plan to continue working to improve the experience here at Drew.

 

As some of you may be aware, there used to be two arms of Student Government that were tasked with assisting club leaders: the Student Organization Advisory Board (S.O.A.B.) and the Budgets and Appropriations Board (B&A).  Starting this year, the two board have been combined to remove some of the bureaucracy for club leaders and to simplify semesterly club reviews. The new Budget and Organizations Board (B.O.B.), chaired by Chief Financial Officer David Njoroge, will continue to be our top priority for the upcoming weeks as we will be looking to improve the club leader process and gin up Drew Pride through the various event held weekly.

Many of you might not be aware, but within the past two years, club leaders have been being charged for room rental and usage of common areas such as The Space and Crawford Hall in the EC.  Thankfully, former President Hetika Shah (’15)  and Vice President Dylan Jones (’15) placed the burden of payment on the back of SG.  They fought against the chargebacks throughout most of their administration, as will Michelle and I.  Until chargebacks are eliminated, Student Government will continue to pay for room rental charges for most of the spaces available.

In addition to B.O.B., Student Government is going to be going through constitutional revision.  Run by Attorney General Aaron Arias, a committee of senators will be in place to practice a bit of self-reflection and revision to alter Student Government in such a way that will make it more open and receptive to the issues facing the campus.

 

The ideas currently on the table include increasing the representation from each class, altering the position of executive secretary to better keep the campus informed and up to date and creating a cabinet position specifically concerned with the trials and tribulations of INTO and commuter students.  It will be a long process with many revisions, but these revisions will be coming to the student population for a vote likely sometime in early April.

 

Alongside these rather large undertakings, the two of us have made it our mission to continue to advocate for the awareness and prevention of sexual assault.   While “Not Anymore” was a step in the right direction for Drew, Michelle and I plan to work on taking it a step further.  We live in a time where sexual assault and sexual harassment should not exist, yet they do, and we want to continue finding ways to educate the campus and make Drew a safer, more enlightened place.  It won’t be a simple job, but I think by improving upon what is already present, such as increasing the number of clearly distinguishable blue lights placed around campus and offering more seminars on the topic, not unlike the one available to the first-year class during the 2014 Orientation, would be a great way to unite the campus against this issue.

 

As always, feel free to reach out to your class senators with any questions, comments, or concerns.  Senators will be sending out class wide emails through Drew Today with their information so please keep an eye out for that.  As always you can email me at sgpresident@drew.edu if you would like to bring anything to my attention.

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