COLUMN: White gun owners: defend black gun owners from the police

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

When shootings occur in kindergarten classrooms, movie theaters, mosques, black churches, high schools, gas stations, hospitals, and all the other places monsters target, the NRA and countless white gun owners are quick to defend themselves, their right to bear arms, gun manufacturers, and in some cases, the shooter.

When black gun owners are shot by the police in front of their family after disclosing the fact that they have a gun, the NRA and countless white gun owners rush to defend the officer, and criminalize a law-abiding citizen.

This discrepancy needs to stop, and it starts with white gun owners.

While there are a number of reasons officers have no right to shoot and kill completely innocent black men, armed or otherwise, it just becomes extra preposterous when the same body of people that defend racist mass murders refuse to defend black men trying to access the same rights they claim for themselves.

If you are white and believe in the right to bear arms, ask yourself if your race has ever influenced who and what you support or believe in.

If you do support the NRA, ask yourself if you could do the same if you were black. Without suggesting that your right to bear arms is jeopardized, ask yourself if the NRA or NRA-backed politicians and policies are truly just.

At some point you have to ask yourself: does being a gun owner mean you have to be racist? Does the NRA treat everyone the same? And are you accidentally supporting the execution of other gun owners at the hands of police?

The conversation about guns too often revolves around how to purchase them, what kinds of guns are allowed to be owned, and who is allowed to sell or own them. However, we rarely have the conversation about who is actually held accountable for an abuse of their right to bear arms.

Although we see a trend of white men causing mass shootings, police do not approach white gun owners with their guns drawn. Black gun owners are held to a higher standard of safety/caution.

If you are a gun owner and believe that to be a right all Americans to have guns, then you need to step up and check yourself as well as the organizations and politicians you support. If everyone has an equal right to bear arms, that means more than their right to buy them.

Black people cannot be criminalized for exercising a constitutional right. While guns are a problem in this country, if anyone has the right to own a gun, then we cannot allow some people to die while doing it.

Philando Castile, Korryn Gaines, and even falsely accused children such as Tamir Rice (shot by a police officer who misidentified his toy gun) do not deserve to have been killed for using a right white men use to kill 5-year-olds.


EDITORIAL: Students deserve a seat at the table

As a part of the body that makes up the Elmhurst College community, we deserve a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions. It is just common courtesy.

EC is considering changing its name from Elmhurst College to Elmhurst University or University of Elmhurst. The faculty will be voting in December with the results of their vote being revealed in February, and the Board of Trustees will make its absolute and unchanging decision in March or June.

What is missing from this process is any disclosure to the students that this is happening, let alone consultation of the students opinion on the matter. We deserve to at the very least to know what is going on.

Since the beginning of the year, faculty have had open forums to discuss the matter. Where is the student open forum?

What will the name change bring? Will the school have to rebrand every single item and advertisement that says “Elmhurst College” on it? What happens to those who already have degrees from EC? Is the money for that going to come from our tuition or from the Board of Trustees? If the money comes from us, why should the board have a final say, regardless of how the students feel?

These questions may not be questions that are even on the table, but students would not know.

It appears that the students who are aware of the upcoming vote are those who are student leaders that work closely with administrators, those who have professors who talk openly in class of it, and those who have heard it in rumors.

Some teachers have gone so far as to survey their students on their opinions to influence and better gauge how they should vote. SGA has also disclosed this information in an SGA legislature meeting.

While this is useful, this responsibility does not fall on faculty or student leaders; it falls on the administration, and they need to pick up the slack.

As attendees of EC, formal notification that such a change is being considered is just a decent and respectful thing to do and also the bare minimum, as we should have a say in which direction EC votes in.

It is just plain rude  to keep us in the dark, and there is no indication that the school itself plans on changing that.

In the meantime, The Leader has created a survey for alumni and students so there is at least some record of our opinions for the BOT to consider. Students and alumni can find the survey on our website ecleader.net and on all Leader social media platforms.


COLUMN: Disagree, but disagree politely

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

It often costs a pretty penny for organizations to put on larger events such as QSA's drag show, but it costs very little to keep a negative comment off a social media post. While you can have an opposing opinion, there is a time and a place for discussion, and a simple advertisement post is not that place.

QSA advertised their event through a social media post in the unofficial Elmhurst College Facebook group, and while many liked the post, a couple people had some negative comments towards the event.

While everyone is allowed to express an opinion, their comments had no merit in the discussion and merely were to bring negativity towards this event: the first event of its kind.

Among the comments was opposition to the event being funded, but no real reason as to why. The events that are held by organizations are completely up to the organization, and the college has no real say in the content of event. Some organizations have to proposal to Co-Op for funding, but, besides that, organizations are free to do as they please and as they see benefits the campus community.

While you are allowed to have an opinion, you also need to be aware of how you get your point across.

People will disagree with campus events, but every comment on the post itself boosted it to the top of the group and gained more attention, which was ironic if the intention was to have the post taken down or have a lesser audience.

These events and organizations are at a collegiate level, and the way we communicate should be at this level too. The way things happened were childish.

Rather than comment on a post, you could have sent an email to open a discussion with the members of QSA or attend some meetings held by QSA, especially the one where they provided information about what drag was before the event.

Better yet, just keep your opinions to yourself.

It is not that hard to have a discussion about something to gain some knowledge on the other viewpoint, even if you do not agree with it.

We live in a country where people can have opposing viewpoints and on a campus where organizations have control over the events they put on, but it is up to the individual on whether or not they want to respond politely or if they want to be malicious.

We are college students, not high school students, and we will all face opposition at one point or another. Respond with respect if you do not like something, or do not respond at all. An opinion expressed disrespectfully is not one that deserves to be acknowledged.




EDITORIAL: Governments should not shut out the public

At their November 15 meeting, Student Government Association (SGA) closed their meeting while disregarding public protest from The Leader.

SGA should not close meetings to the public. All non-SGA people in the room are asked to leave while SGA deliberates; however, why should this discussion be held outside of the public eye?

In the past, The Leader was allowed to remain in closed discussions regarding club proposals. This allowed The Leader to inform the public about important decisions to the student body.

When the matter of registering clubs arises, the public, which includes the press, should have access to the conversation. These meetings should be open, and the public should able to observe the validity and fairness of SGA’s process.

Various SGA senators and executive board members have boasted about the transparency and accessibility of their meetings, but when the public and the press are barred from observing, this no longer is true.

Under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, all public bodies must hold open meetings, and all government decisions must be made in the open, subject to a few exceptions.

While SGA is not required to follow the Illinois Open Meetings Act, it should consider it because it is still a governmental organization, even though it is at a student level, it makes major decisions on the behalf of students. No government should operate behind closed doors. It bars participation and collaboration of the very people they intend to serve. SGA is supposed to serve student interests, and students deserve to know about the decisions that affect them.


LETTER TO EDITOR: Trans people are here to stay

*Editor’s note: student responds to Hanna Sicurella’s letter to editor submission in issue 5

The transgender and nonbinary community is here, vocal, and due our respect.

It is a privilege to not have your pronouns, name, or identity questioned by others who do not seek to understand but judge. It is not the public's business what is in our pants, and it is the most simple courtesy to use the name and pronouns we introduce ourselves with; to do otherwise is to degrade and to other.

Transgender is not a dirty word, and it is our duty as a community to end stereotyping and stigma. “Stereotyping deploys a strategy of 'splitting'. It divides the normal and the acceptable from the abnormal and the unacceptable. It then excludes or expels everything which does not fit, which is different” (Hall 1997: 258). When this is applied to people of diverse identity and their well being, it can mean alienation and disaster. “We are not dealing with peaceful coexistence but rather with a violent hierarchy” (Derrida 1972. 41). Education and compassion is the means to end this abuse against transgender lives, to which everyone is responsible. It is also essential to vote. Remember, “ally is a verb.”

Trust that us trans people know ourselves and what is best for us. We are walking a path that is not chosen nor easy, but one that leads to authenticity and happiness.

I do not disagree that one group's beliefs should be dominant over another's, but it would be hypocritical to use this to justify deadnaming or using the wrong pronouns. Correct pronoun use is not about beliefs or ideas: it is about respect and honoring truth.

The trans community is strong, beautiful, and brave. We are acutely aware of who we are. We Will Not Be Erased.


With love and pride,

Nathan Dorband, he/him, EC student.


COLUMN: Some leaders are mediocre at best

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

Student leaders on campus get the special treatment, not only with being invited to networking events with the Board of Trustees, being a part of exclusive committees, but also with their behavior outside of being in front of important administration, faculty, and staff.

Often student leaders are associated with contributing to the campus culture, being inclusive, and standing out, but that is just what some of them want people to see, and it is a smart move, but when some students know about the ugly truths behind these individuals, it calls the question about the standards these leaders are held to.

The banners around the campus with familiar faces of student leaders left a sour taste in my mouth, especially having known, or still know some of the people and their negative behavior outside of the public eye, and some of it even being public knowledge.

To be put on promotional material and banners that are associated with EC is to become a sort of poster child and mascot of the school, and obviously someone had to think they were a good enough candidate for this publicity to be put into these positions, but what about the student input?

What defines what EC sees as a leader? Someone who shows ambition but deliberately disrespects certain minorities, or how about someone who is involved but cannot make deadlines in the classroom?

Student leaders are meant to be people that the average student can look up to, and while we do have some who go above and beyond, we have those who say one thing and do another. So what is it that defines a glorious leader on this campus? Is it a high GPA? Number of extra-curriculars? Executive positions?

It should be understood that the banners are meant to show the various students on the campus, including commuters, people who have traveled abroad, etc, but it is still something to be critical about.

There are so many requirement questions when releasing promotional material with students and their stories for EC, but also, how in depth EC really cares about the actions of the student. Some of the people they used have done negative things, and although we cannot hold someone accountable for their past actions all the time, the knowledge is still there.

If these are the people that we, the students, want representing us to the outside world, we should have some say. At the end of the day, EC will give space to those they trust and think are best to represent the campus but will rarely look into anything that is not presented at face value, and they should.

Some of these students do not deserve the glory they have, or they should provide public apologies for things that many students know about. Past or present, you have to be held accountable and if EC will not do it, the public should.


COLUMN: Your anger is all you have left: don’t let them take that from you

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor
You are entitled to your anger. Do not let anyone try to tell you otherwise.

This issue is prevalent and familiar for marginalized groups in America. Racism, erasure, anti-blackness, xenophobia, and every other “ism” and every other form of discrimination has stripped marginalized groups of almost everything.

When we react to horrific atrocities such as terrorists shooting up black churches or black men being killed by police on camera and the police getting off free, we often react angrily.

While this is a completely normal way to feel, the common narrative is that we are supposed to remain calm.  

While our people are executed, becoming enraged is compared to the actions of the individual who carried out the execution.

Some people go so far as to blame the anger of an individual for their own death, such as in the case of Sandra Bland after dying under mysterious circumstances while being held in jail for a traffic violation, or Korryn Gaines who armed herself against police who pointed guns at her newborn child.

This country has demonstrated since before its inception that it has no regard for the lives of individuals who do not represent the majority. It is unfortunately no surprise when monsters in this country act on their time proven ideals.

While we may no longer be surprised, we cannot allow ourselves to no longer be angry. There is no justification for oppression, and the only sensible reaction is anger.

So often the oppressor uses language like “he should have complied” or “she should not have gotten aggressive”. What makes this language so dangerous is that prior to analyzing it, it sound perfectly acceptable.

It is so easy to think “if I was in that situation, I would comply and leave with my life”. However, this is immediately disproved because there are documented examples of white men literally threatening to kill an officer while charging at them and not facing the same consequences as a 12-year-old black kid with a plastic gun.

This extends beyond police shootings. Often times anger is used as an excuse to dismiss genuine feelings of the oppressed.

All of the rhetoric about the left being anti free speech, all of the rhetoric about the left being dismissive and angry again seems very valid at first, but when one pays attention to why someone may be dismissive, it extends beyond simply getting frustrated, but being past the point of being able to have a conversation.

It is abundantly clear that the issue is not about one party getting mad at the other. What is happening is that people are using anger as an excuse to justify unjustifiable behavior. They know what is happening is wrong, but by pretending their issue is not about what is wrong but about the fact that someone is getting angry about it, they appear as the rational, and we appear as angry.

And we are the only ones who pay the consequences.


LETTER TO EDITOR: Men can get cancer too

Hello! My name is Daniel Crusius (EC political science major), and I was assigned male at birth.

Last year, I noticed a lump beneath my nipple, and I soon became very concerned. I contacted the Male Breast Cancer Coalition about this to see what they recommend, and they recommended I see a doctor immediately. While unfortunately (due to a lack of medical awareness) my doctor didn’t fully think a person assigned male at birth could get breast cancer at my young age (nor did the medical forms have a spot for breast lump for males*). Nevertheless, we scheduled an ultrasound. We found a pea-size lump, and I was given two options: have a biopsy or have it surgically removed. For reasons I am not comfortable sharing, I hesitated on what to do next. But again, I called Peggy Miller, who helped found the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, whose son Bret developed breast cancer at age 17, among the youngest detected at the time. She was adamant that I get it removed and shared stories of men who had died from breast cancer because they took no action. Indeed, I chose to have a lumpectomy, and the mass was removed from me. It was tested, and fortunately, it was not cancerous. Nevertheless, I write this today to raise awareness about how people assigned male at birth can also develop breast cancer. Just as cisgender women can develop breast cancer, so can cisgender men, transgender women, transgender men, and non-binary folks from any physiological background. For more information on male* breast cancer, visit malebreastcancercoalition.org  .

Readers’ note: I asterisked “male” to be expansive in this complex medicalized gendered context because some folks medicalized as male do not identify as men and some folks medicalized as female identify as men or non-binary.

Sincerely,

Daniel Crusius


COLUMN: Dia de Los Muertos visibility

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

You may have encountered sugar skull props, makeup packs, and costumes at your local store or pop-up Halloween shop and most likely brushed it off as another costume option, but seldom have you thought about the origins or even if it is right to dress up as a sugar skull for Halloween. Also, that sugar skull makeup that beauty gurus like to give directions on is called calavera and is meant to mock death, not necessarily impress your friends.

The history behind Dia de Los Muertos is very rich, and the days of celebration are often very important to those who celebrate. Dia de Los Muertos is a latinx holiday, primarily Mexican, held from November 1 to November 2.

During this time, alters are set up with special flowers, candles, sugar skulls, and various foods and drinks. The entire premise of the holiday is to celebrate life after death and that death is a part of the human experience. It is not a time to mourn but to reconnect with past and present family.

For many in the latinx community who celebrate, this holiday is more than just a one night costume or craft to do with friends while drinking tequila. That is why the Spanish language department has been having these colorful alters displayed in the library for the past four years. This year was the first time it was held in Founders Lounge due to construction, but also to help stir the conversation and confusion around the holiday itself.

Dia de Los Muertos is often called the “Mexican Halloween”, but it is not even held on the same day as commercial Halloween, and rather than trying to scare off evil spirits, Day of the Dead is a time of happiness, joy, family, and fun. Dressing up on Day of the Dead is meant to mock death and show it that there is no fear of death, something that does contrast Western death ideas.

Dia de Los Muertos is not a holiday that many latinx communities try and keep from others. For the alters done on campus, anyone was able to submit photos of loved ones, as it was not specifically to Mexican students on campus, and it is this invitation to participate that gets lost.

Want to learn more about the holiday and even participate? Attend Day of the Dead events held by latinx communities and people rather than “themed” parties that are flowing with “Mexican” alcoholic drinks. Ask your latinx friends, if they celebrate, why. Who do they do it for? Who taught them about the holiday?

At the end of the night, if you want to just be a colorful skeleton and drink tequila, do not do calavera makeup or wear Day of the Dead items, steer clear of the section at stores, and be cognisant of how you might look to others. Cultural appropriation is costume deep; cultural appreciation is community deep.


COLUMN: Revolution starts with nobody

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

Every individual has the capacity to be revolutionary. It does not start with massive coalitions and networks of like minded people; sometimes all it takes is one person to stand defiantly against what is to show the rest of the world what can and should be.

On June 5, 1989 in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, one nameless man stood directly in front of a procession of four tanks in protest of the massacre of what some estimate to be over 10,000 student protesters.

There is still no confirmed identity or whereabouts of the man who did this. What this means is that one man, not an army or a group of any kind, possibly gave everything to show the world that the way things are were not appropriate.

Although nothing specifically changed following this massacre, it exposed for many people what oppression and what protest can really mean.

While we do not live in place where we can observe 10,000 people dying and the government censoring it even 29 years later, we live in a place where our president self identifies as a nationalist, where anti-semites and racists target places of worship to execute those inside on the basis of who they are, and where children are executed in school. A lesson can be learned from tank man.

We are not powerless. There is no need to wait for thousands of others to take to the street. Any one of us can be a revolutionary.

This is not to say that our lives are the only currency we may pay, but that does not mean we cannot all contribute.

The nationalists, the anti-semites, and the racists are always among us. They, like us, are individuals. We can stop them before they get the chance to hurt others. When we hear it in our classes or when we see it online, no matter how small it is we have the obligations and the power to say something and stop it.

Our country is not so far gone that we are unable to protect ourselves. However, complacency can no longer be an option.

Throughout history, difference has always been made by those of us who were willing to stand firm in our belief sets. We do not negotiate our visions for what the world can be, and even when confronted with tanks and a military willing to fire freely on its own people, we have refused to move out of the way.

The future of this country is in the hands of those who are willing to stand out. Currently, that is the aggressors. Those who are willing to fight for what they want are those who want violence, discrimination, and genocide.

If you stand against any of this, it is essential that you are not violent about expressing it. Rather, we need to be relentless in how we educate, in how we call out, and in how we demonstrate that there is absolutely no room anywhere for those who wish to hurt others on the basis of who they are.

Do not underestimate what any of us are capable of. While it may seem small, it is better than doing nothing. The day we require individuals like tank man is the day we have already lost. Our country deserves better, we deserve better, and we are responsible for making it so.

While we may feel like we are nobody, we are up against that it seems like nobody can defeat. It is time to stop looking at that as a deficit but as the key to our success.


EDITORIAL: SGA, it's time we got a divorce

Student Government Association (SGA)  has mandated that a representative from every organization attend a monthly meeting called a legislator meeting. Refusal or failure to participate can result in the review, freezing, or cancellation of an organization's funding.

The Leader should not have to be represented at legislator meetings because The Leader is obligated to report on meetings. This is not unique to The Leader, under journalism ethics, no journalist participates in an event they happen to be covering.

No governing power should be able to force the press to their will by threat of cutting their funding period.

The Leader sends a reporter to every SGA meeting, legislator or otherwise. The job of a reporter is not to participate in an event, but to cover it.

Regardless, we will not send a representative in addition to this reporter in an act of protest against SGA’s unjust mandates. We will not participate in what inevitably will lead to our own censorship.

The Leader is not a typical student organization and should not be funded in a typical manner.

The Leader is student media. Part of the function of media is to serve as a watchdog and report on the government.

Additionally, participation in The Leader is recognized by at least four departments as course credit, internship credit, or as media practicum.

The Leader does not deny that we are a considered a student organization. However, unlike other student organizations, The Leader holds specific responsibilities and bears specific burdens, and as a result our resources should be treated differently than other student organizations.

We exist simultaneously as a student organization, an academic lab, and a student media organization. Because of our unique position, we require unique rules.

No other organization is responsible for reporting on SGA. No other or very few organizations are endorsed and are a part of academic departments, much less by four.

How can The Leader ethically report on the very body that provides its funding?

At other colleges, college media boards, independent of any governing or administrative bodies, allocate funding to student press so that this conflict of interest and potential censorship is avoided.

This is an old debate and other colleges have already found solutions, why hasn’t Elmhurst College caught up with the times?

SGA is responsible for allocating and managing the budgets of these organizations, but grouping us with the rest of them makes no sense and violates the fundamental responsibilities of the media.

The government should not have any say in how or what the media reports and should never have power over the media's funding. This conflict of interest is a stepping stone into blatant censorship.

We as a student newspaper refuse to sacrifice the responsibilities of student media in the name adhering to the archaic rules put forth by SGA.

The Leader rejects this force of will. We cannot be treated and funded the same as other organization simply because we do not function the same way. If SGA can control the press’s budget, they can control the press’s story and in the name of free speech, this cannot happen.

The relationship between us and SGA simply needs to end. It’s time that we develop an independent media board. Without it, tension between SGA and The Leader will be endless and inevitably end in war.


LETTER TO EDITOR: student responds to Nova Uriostegui's Oct 9 column "Problematic Pronouns"

I disagree that students and faculty should be subject to pronoun use. I would like to point out that the transgender community was described to be “not a small one”. A study by the William Institute from 2017 determined that in the U.S. 1.4 million adults (0.6%) and 150,000 adolescents between 13 and 17 (0.7%) identify as transgender out of 325.7 million people.

This does not address the increasing amount of regret after a sex change, as brought to light by Miroslav Djordjevic, a leading specialist in sex reassignment and genital reconstructive surgery.

A study conducted from 1973-2003 concluded that persons that go through sexual reassignment also have increased rates of mortality, suicidal behavior, and mental illness.

Statistics aside, the issue is the idea that others should conform to an ideology as dictated by a singular community, transgender or not. I don’t believe that one group’s beliefs and ideas should be dominant over another. There should be respect of a person’s opinions, just as there is meant to be in this response.

Regardless of the fact that the transgender community in the U.S. is actually a small percentage of the population, I recognize that the community is not non-existent. Steven Crowder gave this example: It is generally taught that people have ten fingers and toes or two arms, regardless of the fact that there are exceptions. In cases such as this, majority rules.

The current construct of pronouns isn’t based on “social norms” but is consistent with a fact of biology that there are only two genders, male or female, except the 1.7% of people that are born intersex due to differing sex chromosome combinations.


Sincerely,

Hanna Sicurella, EC student


COLUMN: The unity of the left starts with liberals

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

During the build-up in the 2016 election, tensions between traditional democrats and leftists were constantly growing. The conversation about the unity of the left has been about making sacrifices for the greater good, but the burden of sacrifice has been on the leftists as opposed to the traditional democrats.

To be clear, the difference between leftists and traditional democrats or liberals is that liberals believe in reforming an imperfect system while leftists believe in tearing it down and starting back up from the grassroots.

As made clear by the blatant racism and the radical conservatism coming from the Trump administration, it is time for that burden to be placed on the traditional democrats and for the left to unite under a set of truly leftist ideals.

To give a little context, democrats or liberals in this case refer to those who believe in the system; they believe that the issues in government or issues like racism and sexism can be fixed with reform. They call for the election of more people who represent communities that are not traditionally represented in places of power.

The issue is that when those in power betray the interests of the communities they claim to care about, they turn a blind eye.

The leftists refuse to look away.

Instead of joining the post-Obama administration hype train, the leftists were the ones who said “good riddance” to the man who deported more people than any U.S. president in the history of this country.

Instead of wearing pussy hats and shouting “I’m with her”, the leftists were the one who had doubts about voting in a woman who claimed at-risk black youth were an emotionless group of people called “super-predators”.

Historically, including the last presidential election, the leftists have always been the ones having to vote for these objectively problematic politicians in the name of unity. The lesser-of-two-evils conflict has been necessary in the past, but in 2016 this thinking worked against all of us.

When the Trump administration promised change and used fear mongering and racism, the democrats put forth a career politician promising she would keep things the same but insisting that her being a woman would mean something.

The fact that we put our faith in the lesser of two evils and the greater evil still won is a call to abandon that thinking and put forth not the lesser of two evils, but very simply put forward a representative of our best interests who simply is not evil.

Trump managed to gain support because even though it was through evil means and with evil intentions, he provided hope that all the things that have hurt his supporters will be changed.

The left has historically represented marginalized groups, but the democrats we are forced to vote for insist on supporting the establishment even when in turns against marginalized groups.

How can we expect unity when we are asking marginalized groups to vote against their own well-being?

Unity most comes from the abandonment of liberal ideals. Politicians on the left, in order to save the left, have to stop protecting the system and move farther left. It is time to stop calling for reform, to stop calling for compromise, and call for revolution.

Trump is a racist, billionaire, TV show host who was capable of doing the same; what could happen if the left decided to do the same, but instead of fear mongering and ignorance, they advocated for a country and for institutions that act in the interest of those who have been disenfranchised by it?

The state of this country is the fault of a broken left. The broken left is the fault of liberals who for too long demanded that their radical counterparts follow them for the sake of the greater good.

The greater good has been abandoned. If we wish to do anything good without dramatic change then we have already lost.


COLUMN: Invisible diseases are physical diseases and we need to treat it as such

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this year, Elmhurst College is not shying away from the pink ribbons, free t-shirts, and pink suits. The president of EC was given an opportunity to show his support, and he has not shied away from it, but it begs an important question.

Where was everyone for Mental Health Awareness month?

Does it need to be visible to be considered “physical” and worthy of the same amount of awareness?

Breast cancer kills, and the statistics say that 1 in 8 women will develop some form of breast cancer, but what about the statistic that says 1 in 4 individuals will develop a form of mental illness?

This is not necessarily trying to say that one is worse than the other, but they both are physical ailments that do not necessarily have a cure and can be fatal. They both share a large impact that can even hit close to home for many of you.

Anyone who has had to face these illnesses know that there are ways of stalling the progression or preventing manic episodes such as with chemotherapy and medications, respectively.

It is hard to talk about two physical issues that can have grim outcomes, but mental illness does not seem to be taken quite as seriously by the majority as is cancer or other fatal physical illnesses.

It takes the death of celebrities like Chester Bennington from Linkin Park and Robin Williams for the media to talk about warning signs and phone hotlines, but in a matter of a few days or weeks, it gets quiet again, or at least until the next big news tragedy involving a mentally ill person, such as with mass shootings.

It is not something that just exists in a bubble. More and more people are developing mental illnesses, but without proper education and discussion, many of them are not getting the help they need.

In worst case scenarios such as with James Eagen Holmes (Century 16 Movie Theater  shooter), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine shooters), their mental illnesses played a large part in why they did what they did in these tragedies.  

If their illnesses were caught, discussed, and treated early on, there is a possibility that these historic events would have never happened.

The reality is that mental illness have played a role in tragic events that are a part of American history, but often times the spotlight comes off of the individual and focuses on other things.

If mental illnesses get brushed off on a grand scale, imagine what it is like to try and even talk about it at a smaller scale.

Whether we want to be aware or not, the topic of mental health and illness is still stigmatized. People with illnesses, and we are talking about ALL mental illnesses, have to deal with it alone and behind closed doors.

Often times, trying to find help leads to dead ends that consist of “It’s all in your head”, “Just be happier”, or “It’s just a case of the Mondays”.

Whenever we excuse physically ill people for missing class or work but do not excuse mentally ill people for the same things, we reinforce that an able body is equal to an able mind. Just as there are invisible conditions like diabetes, mental illness should be in the same category.

When someone breaks their leg, we do not blame it on them for not being more careful. When someone is in the hospital for cancer, we do not blame them for it, but when someone cannot physically get out of bed because of their depression, we are so quick to say they are lazy and making excuses.

The notion that mental illness are not as serious as physical conditions needs to end. The idea that a mental illness cannot affect your everyday life needs to end.

We need to start talking about mental health just as much as we talk about cancer. Discussing mental health is the beginning of a chain of reactions that could prevent future tragedies, whether historic or local.

If you came out this month, I hope to see you come May.


EDITORIAL: With students struggling to pee, it is time for EC to step up

For a school that advertises as queer friendly, EC’s gender neutral bathrooms are difficult to find, improperly advertised, and sometimes even locked.

EC needs to be held to a higher standard if the school wishes to fully support queer students (see page 3)

Gender neutral bathrooms should be in every building, all should be unlocked, and all should be accurately mapped. Society as a whole puts plenty of negative pressure on trans* people.  

In several regards, the school does pull through. The Staff and Faculty for Equality (SAFE) is a coalition of staff and faculty who identify themselves as those who can be trusted to be an ally or provide a safe space for queer students.

The school also advertises the Queer Straight Alliance as a resource on the website as a group that promotes “understanding, awareness, and inclusion”. This shows that at the very least the school wants students to know their resources.

However, this is not enough. Both of those resources are groups that came together independently of the school. School support is good but also could be a cop-out of taking any actual responsibility.

Because the school advertises some resources but not others, we are obligated to question the priorities of the school and what being queer friendly actually means to them.

Gender neutral bathrooms are an essential part of an inclusive campus. Trans* individuals are put in a dilemma where regardless of the bathroom they use they may appear or feel out of place.

There are some cases where it goes even further beyond comfort and becomes a safety issue. No one wants to feel threatened while simply trying to use the bathroom, and not having gender neutral bathrooms reinforces that threat.

And yes, there are some gender neutral bathrooms, but what good does a gender neutral bathroom in the library do if it is not on the campus map? How helpful is a gender neutral bathroom in the basement of West Hall if it is locked?

The amount of trans* students on this campus should not matter. As long as there is even one, or as long as the school claims they care, that needs to come through in their actions not just their words.

They go through enough without having to also have nowhere to pee.


COLUMN: Problematic Pronouns

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

Elmhurst College prides itself in being a pioneer of asking if you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, but it lacks education and discussion on gender pronouns. From being denied pronouns on name tags due to “lack of space” to being misgendered on a regular basis by people of authority, it is tough out here to be anything but cisgender.

You can see just how bad it is on the first few days of classes, when every professor and organization makes you do the same icebreaker just in different variations. Most spaces ask for name, major, year, and a fun fact about yourself, whereas the minority of spaces asks for pronouns.

Whenever these introductions are done, people stumble on the pronouns and act like they have never heard of one before, and if you are one of those people, here is a quick English 101 lesson for you: a pronoun is a word used in place of a proper noun to describe the subject being talked about or to describe an unknown subject.

This inconsistency and downplay of the importance of pronouns makes it difficult for trans* people to navigate in these suddenly unsafe spaces.

For some of us, it has become a regular thing to say pronouns right after our name, even if we are not asked because if no one asks, then we will be misgendered. It has fallen on us, the individual, to have to educate whole classes, peers, and even faculty and staff. Even then, it still never sticks.

There have been numerous times where people have been misgendered by faculty, staff, and even administration, but the blame does not solely fall on those people. What is to blame is the lack of education about pronouns on this campus. Many people know about he/him/his and she/her/hers, but a lot of people cannot wrap their minds around they/them/theirs.

For all the grammar junkies who think that they/them/theirs are not proper singular pronouns, check the dictionary because “they” can be plural, and “they” can be singular, so this should not even be a valid excuse. Pronouns are definitely not something new when you enter college.

Just because pronouns are not important to you does not mean they are not important to somebody. We need to have more pronoun dialogue, whether it be consistent with having pronouns in all introductions done by professors, speakers, students, etc. or to have pronoun workshops held by QSA and any other groups on campus. Whatever is going to happen needs to start happening sooner rather than later.

The trans* community is not a small one, and as the lines of gender become blurred, the discussion of pronouns needs to become more and more prominent. We as a college want to consider ourselves allies, and many of us on the campus have already done things to warrant that, but we cannot stop at QSA, all-gender housing, and all-gender restrooms.

Just because you do not think they are important does not mean they should be disrespected. If someone tells you their pronouns, use them, correct yourself, and ask questions. It is no longer valid to say “I don’t feel comfortable with that” because we also do not feel comfortable with you assuming who we are.


COLUMN: Van Dyke is in jail but Laquan is still dead: are we really better off?

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

There are professions on this planet in which cowardice should be a disqualifying factor, and being a police officer is among them.

In 2014, a coward feared a black teenager with a knife exhibiting no signs of aggression and fired 16 shots—killing him with one and mocking him with 15 more.

Four years later, we now have an opportunity to say that this coward has been duly convicted for 2nd degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm: one for every shot he used to project his pathetic fear onto Laquan McDonald.

This is a victory for anyone who is tired and frankly afraid of being feared by the wrong pathetic individual. Any person who has ever worried that getting pulled over would become a death sentence, any person who has told their child not to play with toy guns outside, and any person simply trying to get by with black skin has taken a collective sigh in shock of the fact that the system that enables and celebrates cowards like Jason Van Dyke actually put him in his place.

However, that joyous feeling will expire.

For Van Dyke, it took dashboard camera footage being leaked, a controversial police cover-up of the incident, the firing of the chief of police, Magnificent Mile being completely shut down by protestors, three years before an indictment by a grand jury, and four before he was finally convicted for one of the most aggressive, excessive, and cowardly acts of the police ever documented on camera.

Is this what justice takes? If so, are we really in a better world than the one that killed Laquan?

What is so unfortunate about this victory is the same thing that makes it a victory in the first place. This is an unusual and revolutionary win. The executioners of Rekia Boyd, Philando Castile, Korryn Gaines, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, or anyone on that haunting and unending list of black lives lost will never be held accountable for their cowardice.

It means so much that the use of our constitutional right to protest had an effect on the justice system, but even then it was not for three years after we shut down Magnificent Mile that we saw the system do the job it was supposed to be doing anyway.

Not everyone can afford to take to the streets every time a racist cop decides to promote himself to a judge, jury, and executioner.

It simply is not fair that in order for someone who was documented fatally shooting someone and then continuing to fire 15 more bullets into a lifeless corpse to even receive an indictment, we as ordinary people had to fight tirelessly for it, just for a body of people to rule that there is probable cause that a crime was even committed. Even then, there was no promise or even a high probability of this man being found guilty of a crime America watched him commit.

This is a significant historical moment. Of course, this is what we want, but we really have to ask the question of whether or not this will mean anything for trigger-happy scared cops in the future.

So yes, celebrate this one time victory of achieving the judicial bare minimum. Sing jubilee just as newly freed slaves did before beginning careers as sharecroppers and leased convicts. Just do not celebrate too loudly or in public, we would not want to scare anyone.



EDITORIAL: Are we doing enough?

Is the mandatory Title IX training as it currently stands at Elmhurst College effective?

The recent protest in front of Irion Hall demanded that Title IX training be updated to create firmer consequences for those who do not complete it. In order to effectively stand with survivors, the school needs to reform our system of Title IX training.

At the student level, we are told it is required for us to take it every year. Faculty are also required to take it annually. However, while this training is mandatory, many students admit to not having taken it. There is no reprimand beyond pestering emails and reminders from R.A.’s; there are no consequences for faculty or students for not completing the training.

Transfer students have also revealed that there is some uncertainty as to whether or not they have to take it, and some have never even heard of it.

What we have an issue with is not the content of the training, but with the ambiguity that surrounds it. If mandatory Title IX training is effective, EC would not be an example of that simply because we struggle with getting people the training in the first place.

The Leader calls on the school to reform our Title IX training to have stricter and more clear consequences for incompletion.

The Dean of Faculty has contemplated creating a task force to search alternative methods of the online Title IX training. We endorse this idea of the Title IX task force.

Since the protest outside of Irion Hall, the Dean of Faculty and the head of the music department have also met with the organizers and discussed the demands for moving forward. At the most recent all-faculty meeting, the Dean of Faculty encouraged department heads to ensure their department is completing the training.

It is necessary to admit that the school is acting in favor of the students. However, it is appropriate to question the motivation of the school and the effectiveness of their actions.

Whether Title IX training is effective or not should not be a question asked only when the issue has pushed students to a breaking point and not a question that should fall on students in the first place.

We support survivors and call on the college to do the same. The school should be challenged to step up and do the bare minimum. If mandatory Title IX training is the answer, then the school needs to prove it or move on to an option that does not force students to call meetings and for policy that EC simply should have been doing on its own in the first place.


EDITORIAL: Honey, I shrunk the budgets

Last week, The Leader discovered that student organizations budgets were reduced by SGA: some by a little, some by a lot. After investigation, we came to find that SGA was no exception and that their budget was reduced as well, apparently due to a reduction in the allocation provided by EC administration.

SGA and other large organizations, including The Leader, will survive. Although we have been inconvenienced, and justifiably frustrated, we have the funding to continue with a few adjustments.  

But what of the organizations that do not have a five figure budget? What of smaller organizations with a demanding presence on campus like Black Student Union? What of clubs that have an opportunity to travel but may not be able to do so anymore? Or clubs that may have to end their programming in March or April?

Although the size of every club is different, the effort, the passion, and more often than not the contribution to the campus is the same. A college such as ours is nothing without the hard work of dedicated students trying to share their passions with their peers.

More important than the budget reductions themselves, we were hardly given an explanation why. Some organizations were informed of their budget as late as a week ago, and some have yet to know what their budget is and thus have been unable to schedule programming.

Why were our budgets cut? Was it Student Affairs? After all, they did create two new positions; could it be that that came from our budgets? Are we being fairly consulted on how our student activity fees are being distributed? EC has been reporting a drop in enrollment and an increase in commuters; could it be that the decrease in people attending the school and staying in dorms is hurting EC to the point of taking our budgets?

Some answers to these questions are sensible, and possibly maybe none of these questions are the right one. The cause could be something completely off of our radar. What becomes an issue; however, is when we have zero explanation and have to ask these questions in the first place.

This does not have to be a loss; it could serve as a wake up call to all of us that maybe our system is not the most effective way to allocate fees.

Some clubs have already demonstrated examples of self advocacy and networking that in a way deflects the effects of their budget loss.

One example is the cultural clubs. On campus, we have clubs that represent a variety of students from different cultures, races, genders, orientations, etc. Together, under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, they have created the Coalition of Multicultural Empowerment and as a unit create programming like Culture Fest, where for a week all of the clubs are represented and are in part supported by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Their example might be relevant to the rest of us.

We all work hard to do whatever it is our club was created to do. Even if you are not an active participant in clubs, we all pay a student activity fee.

We are all affected. Student organizations provide a service to all students, and we all pay for it. In this case, there is a lack of transparency that we should all be angry about.

Simply, something needs to change.   


COLUMN: The problem with professionalism

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

The traditional American understanding of professionalism is dated. We exclude and judge people who cannot fit in within our confining image of a professional. Is it possible that our standards of professionalism are not meant to be a standard of excellence, but an excuse to exclude and judge?

In the job world, some things are standard. Even if you are applying to flip burgers at a McDonald’s, you do not wear a red T-shirt to the interview. You break out a suit and tie, or a nice dress with some heels—anything that looks clean enough to set you apart from the rest of the interview pool.

However, none of these items come cheap. When we ask people to appear a certain way, we make a statement about the type of people we want applying in the first place. We tell job candidates to look like they hang out on Wall Street, even if in their personal life—or the job they are about to receive—they never look this way.

This standard also does not work for every body type. There are some people who may be overweight or have abnormally shaped body parts. People who do not fall into this category can shop at any clothing store and find items that fit them.

People who do not have that luxury have to go out of their way and sometimes pay more to ensure that they can appear in accordance with an antiquated understanding of professional.

Even then, not all body types are complementary to the attire “professional dress” calls for, and while that should not be a disadvantage in professional settings, because we have such a standard for appearance, it ends up becoming one.

Professional appearances also largely fit the demands of a Western aesthetic. If I am a visitor from another country with a professional wardrobe from my home country, the elaborate cultural textiles or style of clothing may be deemed inappropriate for a workplace in America.

In addition to Western aesthetics, professional dress falls within an unfair binary. Whether we like it or not, some people are not comfortable with traditional labels of men and women, and sometimes the expectations of what men and women are supposed to look like are challenged.

In the music world for example, at EC and abroad, appropriate attire in many venues is considered to be a tuxedo complete with a cummerbund and bow tie for men and a floor length black dress for women.

Some directors of musical ensembles go so far as to remove trans individuals from their ensembles because they chose to dress with the gender they are, not the one the teacher perceives them to be.

In addition to appearance, many individuals must work intentionally to change their speech in “professional” settings in order to maintain the illusion. Even if their normal speech has nothing to do with the context of the setting, unless it fits within a strange and useless understanding of proper and professional.

Is the quality of their work reduced? No, but are the chances of respect or success reduced? Absolutely.

Our groundless understanding of professionalism both in attire and attitude is discriminatory and provides employers, coworkers, teachers, and even complete strangers a socially acceptable means to discriminate, and frankly that has to stop.