Common Sense

Anti White Supremacy 101

I pay for my education, so I take it very seriously. I try really hard to learn as much as I can in every class. This semester I took a women and gender studies 101 to fill a requirement. Lets just say I got much more than my moneys worth.

3 Things I Learned in My Women and Genders Studies 101 Class:

1. People of color are not afraid of home intruders.

I thought the last day of class was just going to be a quick wrap up but no, my diligent professor made sure to throw in one last lesson. How dedicated is that?

She began telling us about Oscar Pistorius the South African Paralympic champion, who became the first double legg amputee to participate in the Olympics. In 2013 Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend through their bathroom door, because he throughout she was an intruder.

Oscar Pistorius- Please note the pigmentation of his skin. (My professor made sure we realized this was the most important fact about him.) Photocreds- Wikipedia

With all of her expertise, my professor went on to explain what caused Pistorius to shoot his girlfriend. She first made sure that everyone in the class was aware Pistorius is a wealthy WHITE male, who lives in an affluent neighborhood. She then when on to say “white fear” caused him to shoot his girlfriend.

Try to stay with me, I know this is a difficult concept. I was confused by this at first too, but don’t worry my amazing professor explained it!

Pistorius claimed he thought the person behind the bathroom door was an intruder. My professor posed the question “what do you think he thought the person behind the door looked like?” After a long pause someone in the class called out “Black!” My professor quickly said “you don’t have to answer it out loud, just consider it….”

Of course my professor wasn’t insinuating that oscar only shot the intruder because he thought it was a person of color was she? and if she was… does that mean if Pistorius was a person of color he wouldn’t have been afraid of an intruder?

My take away from that lesson- only white people are afraid of intruders- because all intruders have to be a person of color, and no people of color are afraid of people breaking into their homes. MAKES PERFECT SENSE RIGHT?!

2. A child called IT

We learned about “political correctness” and sensitivity. We talked about pronouns and how to correctly address people. My professor told us that it is better to ask what pronouns a person would be called. Personally I identify as a straight female and like the pronouns “she and her” to be used for me.

Of course there are going to be situations where it is either inappropriate or too difficult to ask someone what pronouns they like to be called, but no need for worry! My all knowing professor told us the best way to deal with this is to refer to someone as “it”.

She pointed out a perfect example of this. She told my class that in his testimony that Officer Daren Wilson said “it looked like a demon”, and then she went on to say HOW UNACCEPTABLE AND HORRIBLE it was that Officer Wilson called Michael Brown an “it”.

He should have asked what pronoun he wanted to be called…

Oh wait… I decided to look up the piece of testimony so that I could fully understand how awful Officer Wilson is…

Officer Wilson's testimony.

Officer Wilson’s testimony.

Oh! By “it” he was referring to the intense aggressive face.. not Michael Brown. So the lesson isn’t ask people what pronouns they want to be called, the lesson is take things out of context and porput them as truths and mislead people to make your point! Duhhh?!

3. The Single Story

My professor told us that if we didn’t learn anything else, she wanted us to make sure that we understood the concept of “the single story.” She explained this as the idea that history and the media, well society in general portrays everything through the perspective of the white male.

She told us that it is important to destroy the idea of the single story, and instead entertain multiple perspectives from all different kinds of people.

She then went on to teach the entire course saying things like “ALL police officers are white supremacists” and she even had members of the campus protest group THE general body come in and talk to us… but she never had anyone from the administration come in to talk to us.

Hmm seems like if you want to entertain multiple perspectives you should have both sides of the issue talk to your class…

Oh no. I’m sorry! I misinterpreted what she meant by multiple perspectives. By “Multiple” she actually meant perspectives that line up with hers! Silly me, why would I ever think that dissonance could actually be used to teach a college course!

By Kyra Azzato

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Police Chief: The Greatest Racial Disparity in the city of Milwaukee is getting Shot and Killed

Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn was verbally attacked by protestors, angry with police for shooting a suspect that authorities say assaulted an officer.

Flynn fired back, saying that police doing their jobs are not the problem. Take a look:

Flynn also had harsh words for some of the protestors: “They know all about the last three people who have been killed by the Milwaukee Police Department in the course of the last several years. There’s not one of them that can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had in this city.”

By Cole Ellenbogen

You’re So Vain You Probably Think This Post Is About You

A friend sent me a comment that someone else posted about my open letter to the chancellor, earlier today. This commenter insinuated that I am a bigot that wants to stamp out ethnic diversity at Syracuse because I disagree with THE General Body.

Interestingly enough, they also claimed they tried to reach me for comment on Facebook but couldn’t find me because I’m, “conveniently enough, not searchable.”

The elusive and deceptive Cole Ellenbogen, trying to hide from public scrutiny by concealing his identity on the internet.

The elusive and deceptive Cole Ellenbogen, trying to hide from public scrutiny by concealing his identity on the internet.

Did you try Google? I’m really not that difficult to find: the entire first page of search results for Cole Ellenbogen is entirely comprised of things I’ve written, or things written about me, as well as twitter, g-mail, and pictures. I’m sure you could’ve figured out a way to get in touch with me with all that.

Commenter, either you’re just bad at the Internet, or didn’t look at all.

I digress.

This person’s accused me of lacking factual evidence and being somehow motivated by racism, which is odd because most of my arguments were about finances.

But I’m not petty, and I can take a little heckling. The reason I bring all this up is because this person brought something up that could cause confusion amongst students.

The commenter suggested that the university has 1.08 billion dollars from a fundraiser that the Chancellor is trying to keep under wraps, which is now just laying around collecting dust.

Syracuse University's alleged cash-stash, probably hidden in the Chancellor's office. Photo Credit: Business Insider

Syracuse University’s alleged cash-stash, probably hidden in the Chancellor’s office.
Photo Credit: Business Insider

To those who are under the impression that the university does have this lump sum just sitting around, completely understand if you’re frustrated with the administration. But, I would like to take the opportunity to dispel some of the mystery surrounding this donation that you may or may not have heard about.

Over the course of a few years, the university did raise over 1.08 billion dollars. Here’s the breakdown.

  1. This money did not come from an annual fundraiser. This was an ongoing affair, and it took seven years to accomplish. The effort began in 2005 and ended in 2012.
  2. To reiterate, this effort has been over for two years. Since then we’ve remodeled Newhouse II, built Newhouse III, built an entirely new law school, and finished the life sciences complex – and that’s just naming a few off the top of my head.
  3. The commenter also claimed the funds were never allocated and kept a secret, but the allocation of the funds was disclosed two years ago, before the fundraising was completed.

a. 177 million dollars went directly to adding scholarships “for students of merit who demonstrate financial need.”

b. At the time of the fundraiser’s completion, 28 million – roughly 2 percent of the total donation was not allocated.

c. If you still have a problem with lack of transparency about where the money goes, you’re complaining about the wrong chancellor: Nancy Cantor was the one that handled the disclosure of the donations, not Kent Syverud.

  1. Again, this was a long-term effort. Syracuse does not receive annual donations of over one billion dollars every year.

All of those stats can be found here, and again, this was two years ago. The money has been allocated and most likely spent. A good chunk was actually spent on some of the same things THE General Body was complaining about: expansion of scholarships for students who would be otherwise unable to afford a college education, and attracting top professors who could help diversify the campus.

As of last year Syracuse University was 400 million dollars in debt, larger than average for a university its size. I’m a firm believer in the fact that money doesn’t appear out of thin air, and the mindset that one can just willfully throw money around because that they can always borrow more is both damaging and unsustainable.

To wrap up: we’re in debt; we don’t actually have 1.08 billion dollars to fix all of our problems. Most of our budget comes from student tuition, so the assumption that student tuition will rise if we continue renovating buildings, adding programs, and reversing budget cuts is not only realistic, but also fairly logical.

And if you still think my arguments are “shallow banter,” as this heckler suggested, I would implore the rest of the readers to take caution in taking advice from anyone who uses the phrase, “but like, also no,” in a serious written piece, or one who digresses from their point to talk about their horoscope. You know who you are.

By Cole Ellenbogen

 

 

Speak For Yourself: A Petition Against THE General Body and the Consequences Their Actions Have on the University

If you do not agree with the actions of THE General Body sign this petition.

Although THE General body calls for increased diversity, they attack their fellow students because they are “privileged” because they’re white, straight, male, christian, cisgender, able bodied, and class enabled.  All things they did not choose to be.  They purport that they are speaking for those “who can’t” on campus, meanwhile bashing their fellow students for being things they can’t help…

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Syracuse Student Ben Castaneda refutes THE General Body’s idea that only white, straight, male, christian, cisgender, able bodied, and class enabled students can disagree with them.

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Student Conner Renaud explains he is at Syracuse because of his hard work, even though THE General Body says it’s because he is privileged.

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Syracuse Student Keelan Erhard informs a THE General Body supporter about diversity.

THE General Body even admits they do not represent the entire population saying “WE DONT SPEAK FOR YOU” referring to those members of the university that are white, straight, male, christian, cisgender, able bodied, and class enabled.

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Sierra Lee posts admitting THE General Body does not represent ALL the students at Syracuse.

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Student Kevin Spectre notes that THE General Body contradicts itself by demanding diversity, yet condemning the privileged.

THE General Body is making demand as if the university were a democracy, even though it isn’t.  I would like to remind students of THE General Body that they choose to come to school here fully knowing the level of diversity, and accessibility.

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THE General Body supporter Kareese Kirby complains about going to a school she CHOOSE to go to, because it’s “not diverse enough”.

Yet supporters of THE General Body protest as if it is their right to be able to change the school they choose to go for and are paying a service for. Even though it is a private university- AKA a corporation.

Students confused about the meaning of "corporation" take a break from patting themselves on the back to wave a poorly painted banner. Photo Credit: THE General Body

THE General body is clearly confused about the meaning of “corporation” .
Photo Credit: THE General Body

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Student Sarah Mikal understands the meaning of a private university, and explains to THE General Body coming to Syracuse was a choice.

Next thing you know they’ll be camping out in Macy’s and Target saying there is not enough diversity, and demanding that the store force customers to also buy culturally diverse attire. Then they’ll protest and refuse to leave because the store reduced a sale from 30% off everything to only 20% off everything.

Sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it?

But this is exactly what THE General Body is fighting so hard for.

They want to force other students customers of the university to pay for services they don’t want diversity classes. They’re mad the university the private corporation cut back one of the many scholarships sales they graciously provided.

Theres nothing wrong with wanting change. But lets put an end to this ridiculous protesting and go through appropriate channels. Join the Syracuse Student Association. Their mission is “to represent and be the defender of the students.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 8.03.42 PM

Hmm now this might just be me… but doesn’t it seem like a better idea to go through the Student Association instead of camping out in the administrative building with an outrageously long list of demands, protesting that immediate change be made (which is unrealistic), even though as students we really have no say because it is a PRIVATE university. In case you’re unsure, the answer to that question is YES,  it is a better idea to go through the Student Association! 

Please stop this protest so that the productive members of this university, including Chancellor Kent and his administration, can get back to work.

By Kyra Azzato

Are We Losing the Space Race?

The Philae Spacecraft.
Photocreds: NASA

Unless you live under a rock (no judgement, if you do) then you’ve probably heard that today marks the first day a space probe has landed on a comet.  The European Space Agency’s Philae lander successfully touched down on Comet 67P/C-G (not that this name actually means anything to anyone). A live broadcast of the landing is going on now.

The Philae Spacecraft.  Photocreds: NASA

The Philae Spacecraft.
Photocreds: NASA

At the end of last month, an unmanned NASA rocket exploded just off the launch pad. Six seconds off the launch pad to be exact.  The video below shows the explosion. I suggest skipping ahead to 2:50.  Seriously don’t watch the entire video, I did and it’s really boring and nothing happens.

The EXACT SAME WEEK the United States saw a failure in their space mission Russia successfully completed a similar mission. The Russians were able to launch and dock their rocket, bringing about three tons of food and supplies to the space station.

Which brings me to my big question? Is the United States falling behind, or even losing the space race?

The term Space Race refers to a competition between the United States and Russia to prove which country had superior space flight capability.

So where does the United States stand? Europe and Russia have recently had immense success in their space missions displaying clear superiority over the American space program. Hopefully the U.S. will be able to step up their game and defend their title as the winner of the space race.

What do you think? Take the poll to vote whether or not the U.S. is losing the space race

What Makes You Qualified to Define a Hero?

Since 1983 November 11th has been celebrated as a day to honor those who have served in the military. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors, veterans who dedicated their lives to selfless service are all hailed as American Heroes.

However some people disagree saying that  “Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy.”

The author of this article applies what I like to refer to as the “everyone wins, so no one wins” philosophy, or in this case the “no one can be a hero because there are some people who are called heroes that don’t deserve it” philosophy.

This same concept can be applied to mothers and fathers. Why bother celebrating Mothers or Fathers Day when there are so many terrible parents. Every day social workers have to remove children from their homes because they are abused both mentally and physically. What about teachers? Teacher appreciation day should be immediately be stopped because of crimes committed by Mark Berndt.

Former Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt who was arrested for felony molestation of 23 kids.  Photocred: Ap Photo/ LA Police Dept.

Former Los Angeles teacher Mark Berndt who was arrested for felony molestation of 23 kids. Photocred: Ap Photo/ LA Police Dept.

It’s obvious we should determine teacher appreciation day based off this guy.

If I were to suggest that mothers and fathers, or even teachers should all be judged based on the actions of the mothers who abandon their children or fathers that abuse their children, I would be called ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense to judge all mothers or fathers based on the actions of others. Nor does it make sense to stop celebrating Mother or Fathers day based on those judgements. So why is it okay to judge the military as a whole based on the actions of a few? Why is it okay to suggest that Americans should stop honoring and calling people in the military heroes?

By no means am I suggesting that people who commit terrible crimes should be considered heroes. Actually I’m suggesting that why not for one day, November 11th we dedicate to those who deserve it. The real heroes. The men and women who dedicate their lives to service. Cant we just have one day we don’t focus on the few who ruin it for everyone?

And yes; I mean few.  I’m not really sure why so many people feel that the number of sexual assaults that occur in the military is so egregious. Of course even one assault is too many, but being a realist I think we should speak comparatively and examine the national averages.

A comparative look at percentages of sexual assaults.  Source: The Department of Defense, and The Center for Disease Control.

A comparative look at percentages of sexual assaults.  Source: The Department of Defense, and The Center for Disease Control

 

We should be careful to fact check things we read. It’s easy to formulate opinions based on fictional or one sided information.  Suggesting that practically everyone in the military commits sexual assault crimes, or that we are no longer fighting for our freedom, or that the only real heroes are those who oppose war is obnoxious and ill informed.

Lieutenant Hal Moore once said “Hate war, but love the American warrior.”  Today at a Veterans day speech the speaker said ” Military personal are A-political, they’re just following orders.” I don’t care how much you hate the President, or the government, or what is happening in the Middle East, I actually encourage dissonance, however these are not reasons to strip the members of the military of their title of a hero.

God Bless America

Oh and feel free to weigh in on the discussion by taking our poll.

By Kyra Azzato

Don’t Stick That in Your Mouth

Have you ever come across a warning label that makes you wonder why the maker even felt the need to put it on the packaging? I’ll throw in an example:

A sticker placed on a power tool, cautioning the user not to stick the device in their mouth.

A sticker placed on a power tool, cautioning the user not to stick the device in their mouth.

(If you can’t quite make it out, the highlighted portion of the image kindly suggests that you use this drill on wood, and not your teeth.) While this may be perfectly sound advice, to me it seems unnecessary. I personally have never finished up a project around the house, looked at my family’s DeWalt and thought, “I could probably save myself a trip to the dentist here.” And this is just one example; there are plenty of others.

The thing that separates me from the poor sap who tried to give himself a root canal – I’d imagine someone had to misuse the product before they made that little addendum to the warning – is common sense.

Earlier today we saw this video of a kid microwaving a glow stick. Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, he holds and shakes the now supercharged rave accessory until *spoilers* it explodes in his face. If you’re impatient, skip to about 1:00, the father’s reaction is prime, and you should go into this video armed with the knowledge that glow sticks are non-toxic so you won’t feel bad for laughing.

Webster defines common sense as: “the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions.” We would love to believe that most people possess this trait, but I’m a realist, and I know that the proof is on the internet. Plus in my book, common sense is about more than knowing how to avoid getting sprayed with glowing green goo; it’s about understanding how the world works.  It’s about knowing that “free” just means that someone else paid for it for you, knowing how to be a responsible adult, and an informed citizen. Our goal is to educate those who want common sense, and entertain those who have it.

Follow us on twitter for more brutally honest insight, and keep up with The Modern Common Sense for new stories.

By Cole Ellenbogen and Kyra Azzato

And cast your vote in our poll: some people are book smart, some are street smart, and some are both. (Some are neither too, but nobody likes a full-time cynic.) Where do you think America stands?