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For a school as small as ours, management and interdepartmental communication often feels fragmented. It seems as if the entire University is rarely behind anything. Jesus said, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” The slogan for Drew’s administration seems to be “Do not let one department know what the other department is doing.” This dynamic contributes to many problems on campus, but we see it especially in regard to our struggle to follow through with our strong environmental reputation.

Look at our semesterly Drew It in the Dark and Recyclemania events, respectively an energy-saving competition and a recycling competition, between the residence halls. While the events are sponsored by the Sustainability Office, it is generally left to students to promote and advertise them. Student involvement is great, but it isn’t enough on its own. It doesn’t feel like the University as an institution is backing these efforts. For example, Drew It in the Dark happened a few weeks ago and most students didn’t know about it. The results were announced via a Drew Today posting, and that was that. And never mind the fact that heating in the halls is often turned up so high that students open windows for relief. We aren’t saying turn off the heat, but why doesn’t Facilities turn it down a bit, both for student comfort and energy savings? Are Facilities and the Sustainability Office on the same page? They really should be, because Sustainability is actually a sub-department of Facilities!

Then there are the compost bins in the EC, which students still regularly misuse more than a year after their introduction. While there is a sign explaining how to use them, we would appreciate something like a pamphlet box explaining Drew’s commitment to composting and how to do it, or something similar. What’s more, Dining Services in the EC doesn’t actively promote the compost bins–they were actually set up by the Sustainability Office. We wonder if they even realize they exist. The recent change in the EC from plates, which can be composted, to the foil-paper wrapping, which cannot, makes separating trash, recycling and compost even more confusing than it used to be.

There are other examples–conflicting information about recycling, for example–but these two examples give an idea of how fragmented management can make it hard to keep good programs running and gain momentum over time. We’d like to ask for more cohesive management. And in this case, it’s our environmental reputation on the line.

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Jared Sutton – Contributing Writer

Geographically and socially, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and Olympia, Wash. are as different as it gets: Olympia is cold, rainy and extremely liberal, with minimal ethnic and racial diversity. Alternately, Ft. Lauderdale is hot, humid, with some conservative influences and a wide array of ethnic and racial varieties. However, both cities join a list of 71 cities that have implemented “food sharing bans.” Effectively, the law places a ban on handing out food to the homeless.

Most recently, a 90-year-old World War II veteran was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale for handing out food to over 100 homeless people. Criticism of Ft. Lauderdale’s mayor rained down from all ends of the United States, with people questioning how someone can get punished for a good deed. This raises the question: why are these laws in place?

When considering the vantage point of these laws, it is unfortunate, yet necessary, to keep them in place. The overwhelming majority of the cities that have adopted these laws are located in in the Southeast and Southwest, particularly in Florida, California and the rest of the Sunbelt. As such, there are many factors to consider when determining why. One compelling argument rests on the issue of safety. Due to the relatively warm climate, homelessness is a year-round phenomenon.

Unfortunately for both themselves and the general populations, many homeless individuals constantly walk in and out of traffic, knock on car windows and harass people walking on the street. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness explains, 46 percent of homeless people have a severe mental illness, making them a higher risk to the general population and to themselves.

Another reason why these laws need to remain on the book is that homelessness affects tourism. As the Georgetown Journal on Law and Public Policy points out, “get-tough” policies are often enacted to make tourism more viable. In states such as Hawaii and Florida, tourism accounts for an astounding percentage of income on the personal, local, county and state levels. Many Southern states are less affluent than those in the Northeast (where the laws are significantly less strict), so leaders fear that less income correlates with decreased budgets, which diminishes what leaders can do.

Ultimately, these laws need to stay on the books in order to ensure long-term viability. Homelessness hinders an area’s economic viability; however, there need to be changes to policies surrounding homelessness.

The most valid critique of these laws is something I agree with: if these laws are going to be in place, there needs to be an alternative for the homeless. Florida, for example, has started to cut back on funding homeless initiatives, investing, instead, in private companies such as the Homeless Voice to house and feed the homeless. Unfortunately, even that funding has begun to be cut.

The newly elected governors and state legislatures need to make it a priority to increase funding to homelessness programs if they want to have any sort of justification to keep these laws in place. If these laws remain on the books without any sort of solution, the public absolutely has a justification to continue to protest.

 

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Letter to the Editor

I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks to Wajiha Azaz and Naeem Khan from the Muslim Student Association. They spent an afternoon at the Theo School with my Religious Landscapes of the US class this past week. Not only were they gracious and thoughtful, they helped us understand more about what it means to be a young Muslim in the United States. This is a clear example of what is possible when we break down the barriers between the graduate and undergraduate schools, I was so thankful for their time and presence. If you can ever go to one of MSA’s events, I strongly encourage it. The students are open and hospitable, modeling what it truly means to have inclusive space.

 

Sincerely,

  Laurel O’Connor

  Student, Theo ’15

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Sarah Temraz – Contributing Writer

 

Is there a global oil war in progress, in which the United States and Saudi Arabia are pitted against Russia and Iran? Thomas L. Friedman, author of “The World is Flat” and op-ed columnist for the New York Times discusses this possibility in an article entitled, “A Pump War?”

The main objective of this war on the U.S. and Saudi Arabian side is, according to Friedman, to “pump Russia and Iran” to death. What Friedman means by this is that the U.S. and Russia are seemingly attempting to bankrupt Russia and Iran by bringing oil prices down to a level below what those two countries need to sustain their countries’ economic needs.

The price of oil has been falling since mid-June of this year, but hit a low in mid-October, setting the price of oil at $80.67 per share. The reason for this substantial decline is due to a variety of reasons: slower-than-expected growth (particularly in Europe and China), America’s allowance of its “tight oil” (extracted from shale) to be exported and Saudi Arabia’s headstrong decision to increase oil production in order to lower oil prices as well as maintain its market share.

These actions taken by the United States and Saudi Arabia to decrease oil prices are making it difficult for countries whose revenues come largely from oil to manage their economic budgets. Iran, for instance, along with countries such as Venezuela and Nigeria, are straining to stabilize their currencies and make payments on foreign debts, alongside attempting to fund their budgets. Russia, too, is currently running the risk of going into an economic recession if oil prices continue to drop well into 2015, which some analysts believe prices may do. Russia’s newly developed international relations policies could be reversed as a result.

The actions taken by the United States and Saudi Arabia should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. For those who aren’t, one of the reasons many Russians believe that the U.S.S.R. fell was due to the United Kingdom increasing oil production exponentially, thus decreasing the price of oil.

The decrease in the price of oil led to export revenues dropping in Russia at the time, which was something Russia was unable to deal with.

So why exactly are the United States and Saudi Arabia targeting Russia and Iran? Some analysts believe that the United States and Saudi Arabia are working together to weaken Russia and Iran’s position in negotiating over Ukrainian sovereignty or, possibly, the Iranian nuclear deal.

Relations between the United States and Russia have never been ideal, especially since the emergence of the issue of Ukrainian sovereignty, on which an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council was held on Aug. 28, 2014.

The United States, at the meeting, proclaimed that Russia had “outright lied” about its militaristic activity in Ukraine. They claimed that separatists backed by Russians had been fighting Ukrainian military forces. Similarly, in regards to the United States and Iran, the United States has placed sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program. The latter ordeal may be in the best interest of the world, but perhaps the United States and Russia should cooperate to end their ongoing conflicts of interest.

Perhaps it is time for the United States to revert to its original isolationist policies, acting strictly for the global good, by way of aiding impoverished countries and those at war. The United States’ understanding of the successes of non-democratic countries, as well, would prove beneficial for U.S. foreign policy.

 

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Sarah Temraz – Contributing Writer

The year is 2011. It’s mid-January and Facebook and Twitter are flooded with opinions regarding the widespread corruption of Egyptian politics. Rumors of peaceful gatherings emerge not too long after, which quickly develop into protests for greater political freedom. At home, my father is eyeing the TV like a lion, analyzing everything a popular news channel in Egypt, Al Jazeera, is reporting. Million-man marches, protests in Alexandria and Cairo (most famously the Tahrir Square protests) and worker strikes are being aired for the entire world to see.

All over Egypt, Egyptians, both Muslims and Christians, are united in arms to fight for a common cause. In a multifaceted effort, Egyptians are coming together to oust autocratic ruler President Hosni Mubarak (of three decades!) and to ultimately democratize Egyptian politics.

Fast-forward to the year 2014. The Arab Spring is somewhat forgotten, written off as “old news,” and, even more shockingly, Egypt is dismissed as having had a failed revolution. Moreover, Egypt is concluded to be simply “not ready for democracy,” and its failed attempt at a revolution is believed to have diminished its chance at the implementation of a stable democratic government. To many proud Egyptians, the Egyptian revolution is viewed as successful due to the revolution’s main objective being achieved: the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is called a failed revolution, however, by many others due to various reasons.

The first is that democracy was not immediately established after the removal of oppressive ruler Hosni Mubarak. The second is that the election of Mohamed Morsi into office was a step back from implementing democracy in Egypt, as Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood with Islamic extremist ideas that opposed the liberalism of democracy. The third is that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, was sworn into the presidential office simply due to Egypt’s overwhelming need for stability. The fourth reason, however, was due largely to the majority of the Egyptian population’s misinterpretation of political liberalism.

Samuel Tadros, author of the 2014 book, “Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt,” builds a compelling case on the notion that many Egyptian revolutionaries described as liberals were not, in fact, really liberals. Tadros explains that these Egyptian revolutionaries were rather a mixture of groups who took a stand against Mubarak’s oppressive regime. The two groups comprising the majority of Egyptian revolutionaries were Nasserists and socialists, according to Tadros, although proto-liberals formed a minority.

Nasserists were against Mubarak’s regime on account of him going against Gamal Abdel Nasser’s, Egypt’s second president (1918-1970), many promises. Nasserists did not agree with Mubarak’s internal policies and policies concerning Israel and the United States. Socialists were not in agreement with the Mubarak regime’s liberal economic policies or the notion of political liberalism. They did not want an open economy or procedural democracy influencing decision-making. Proto-liberals are basically intellectuals without strong convictions or a real understanding of political liberalism, and who believe that the term “liberal” sounds fitting to their group. They believed this as a result of everyone abroad discussing the idea of liberalism in Egypt and adopted the idea without having a developed understanding of the ideas that come with liberalism.

Has the majority of the Egyptian population’s misinterpretation of liberalism diminished its chance at democracy in Egypt? My answer is “Yes.” Revolutionaries’ overwhelming misinterpretation of liberalism has affected its chance at implementing democracy, but democracy in Egypt is still possible if active measures are taken, such as institutions being put in place in order to educate the Egyptian public about political liberalism as well as economic liberalism.

Understanding both of these terms is vital for Egypt’s survival in the global trading order and for its adoption of democracy. Moreover, in order to Egypt to further prepare itself for an implementation of democracy, norms around pluralist thinking must be crafted, which will, in turn, promote democratic thinking.

At the most basic level, in order for a country to run a successful democratic government, the following principles must be adhered to: equality of citizens, impartiality and fairness of policy-making, equal and wholesome participation of citizens in government, election processes and the spirit of openness (as opposed to decisions without consultation being made by those few in power).

Political liberalism is one of the core values of democracy and for a country, such as Egypt, to successfully democratize, its citizens and those in power must have a thorough understanding of political liberalism.

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