EDITORIAL: Diversity recruitment does not end with students: hire more diverse faculty and staff

This school year, Elmhurst College welcomed the most diverse freshman class in campus history. It is no surprise the student body is getting more diverse, with student activity groups on campus one of the best examples of this inclusion.

But the buck does not stop there. For the campus to have real inclusion, it needs to start top-down from faculty and staff first.

Studies show that when students have role models that look like them, they have a better chance at success. For example, female undergraduate students are more likely to take a leadership role when a female role model is present. A diverse range of faculty has proven to be beneficial for everyone, not just underrepresented groups, as it allows for robust discussions with a variety of perspectives in the classroom, preparing all students for the real world.

Good representation is when any student in any department has an equally likely chance of having a class with a white straight male teacher as a black lesbian teacher.

Will nursing students meet Latinx nursing faculty or even a male professor? Will the computer science department have more female professors? There may be some select diverse faculty in these programs, but while it is guaranteed that all students will have white professors, it is not guaranteed or likely that all students will have a minority professor.

There are currently departments on campus with little to no representation of minority groups. How does the school expect to retain students of color, other minority groups, or give white students diverse perspectives with a lack of representative faculty and staff?  

Race and gender is just the most obvious piece of the puzzle because it is an identity we can see or assume. The school is launching the new True Colors Community, a resident community “specifically to support students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community.” It is great that a space like this is being developed, but what happens when queer students cannot see themselves among faculty? What happens when they feel they have no authority to turn to when something goes wrong?

Diversity needs to be seen in higher administration as well. When students walk into the Blume Boardroom in the Frick Center, they are greeted by large portraits of former EC presidents—12 white men and one white-passing man of color. We would love students to one day walk in and see a woman, a person of color, or someone else from an underrepresented group depicted on those walls, but that will only be a reality if the campus starts to invest in diverse recruitment all around, not just with students.

Without representation, the diverse school EC fetishizes will not exist outside of a given year’s freshman class. This is to say that students may enroll, but many will drop out. It is just common sense to assume that if a student desires resources and does not receive them, they will leave.

EC puts heavy focus on recruiting a diverse student body; why should the recruitment of a diverse faculty and staff be any different?

Letter to the editor: Critique Yourself

*Editor’s note: Student Government Association (SGA) president responds to The Leader’s editorial opinions

To the Editors,

As I end my senior year and tenure on Student Government Association, I thought it was necessary to “wield the pen”. So here are my thoughts about, and advice to, this newspaper.

I am humbled that you believe in the prominence of SGA enough to be featuring us at least once a month. I only wish that you would ever choose to consult with our organization before putting out false claims against the very group that supports your existence. I believe that you have motivated writers, and I hope that you use that fervor to be better writers. This means being critical, while being understanding of the barriers that exist for those that you are criticizing. I, at the end of the day, am a student and can only do so much in my position. Moreover, I and those on the board with me are only human—always capable of making errors, learning, and growing.

The Leader’s relationship with SGA, or any Elmhurst College entity, does not have to be so negatively charged. It’s college. Your paper often seeks perfection from everyone besides itself. As the college is growing, we need to be bringing the community together. The Leader’s beratement on a different group or initiative every issue does the opposite.

You have claimed SGA wages wars and cuts budgets (we don’t), that the group is bias in their choices (we aren’t) and closed off to the student body (we constitutionally cannot be). In fact, looking at an article about SGA written by editors just two years ago—March 2016—we have successfully implemented or supported all initiatives listed. Unfortunately, there is rarely ever any recognition that in fact, SGA is working to serve the student body. I hope that your paper attempts to do the same.

Sincerely,

Madiha Ahmed
2018-2019 SGA president

COLUMN: You cannot pick and choose

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

With the recent anti-abortion laws being introduced in states such as Ohio and Alabama that would only allow abortions if the mother’s life was a risk, or if the fetus would not be able to live, it is important to talk about what it really means when someone says they are pro-life. Often times, it feels as if pro-lifers only care about a fetus when it is being threatened by an abortion, and not so much when children are relying on public assistance to simply eat a meal everyday.

We often forget that the decision of getting an abortion leads to many other things along the line. Making it hard to get an abortion legally will lead people to begin harming themselves by getting illegal abortions, and more children will be born into an oppressive system where they might not have access to healthy food, shelter, or education. Denying an abortion to someone who became pregnant due to rape could even lead to child abuse down the line.

If pro-lifers want to be so loud about their decisions, they need to advocate for mental healthcare for parents and children. They need to advocate for education for all children, including proper transportation. They need to advocate for access to food, and healthy food as well, and they need to advocate for the funding of public assistance programs that help needy families.

Not every pro-lifer acts hostile towards children in the same way they act hostile towards individuals who have to enter a Planned Parenthood, yet they also are not as compassionate towards children who rely on public services and are often the same individuals who are rallying for public service budget cuts. It seems a lot of pro-life individuals pick and choose what children they support, and unfortunately, with a stance such as pro-life, you cannot do that.

Abortions are not for everyone, and you are never forced to ever get one, but the option is still easily obtainable if you were to ever need one. Pro-choice is about the individual and their reproductive needs. Pro-choice never has been about murder. Some people are pro-choice but will never get an abortion due to religious beliefs, or because they just will not get one, yet they do not shame those who do get abortions, as it is not their place. It is not their body, so it is not their choice, and that is the beauty of pro-choice laws and legislation.

Getting an abortion is often a very tough decision to make, and abortions are not always free. Many individuals who get abortions do it because they need to, whether it is due to financial reasons, school/career reasons, family reasons, or traumatic reasons, not because they want to be murderers.

Pro-lifers often have a privilege that they will never or have never experienced the hardships that come with being forced to have an unplanned child. Although some of the people spearheading these anti-abortion laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio are women, many of them are upper class cisgender men who do not have to make a choice of carrying a baby or not.

Pro-lifers cannot pick and choose the lives they speak out for. They need to either advocate for helping every life, including children in high risk conditions, or they need to call themselves something else.

COLUMN: Stop pretending politicians reflect your interests

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

Politics are the tool of lobbyist and large corporations to enact their will in the name of their own profit. Politicians are the pawns that enact and protect those interests in their name. If these interests ever intersect with your own, it is because a billionaire said so, not because that politician has any actual desire to advocate for your interests.

Elections are characterized by catchy slogans, appearances in key states, and empty promises. Politicians kiss babies, meet local organizers, and make grand statements about the change they wish to enact, and when they speak to change we want, we feel inspired and hopeful that someone at the top actually cares about us and our needs. This is simply not true.

People have normalized the amount of money politicians spend and receive to the point that we think someone being paid 21 million dollars by real estate companies (Barack Obama in 2012) is saying anything other than what those investors want them to say. Us little people do not have 21 million dollars to contribute to manipulate policy, so why would politicians give up that kind of money to act in our favor?

Over two billion dollars was raised for the five major candidates in the 2016 election. Five people raised over 30,000 times the median household income in the U.S. We cannot continue to act as if our voice, as people who represent that median, can ever have our needs at the forefront of a politicians interest unless we are happen to align with the interests of major corporations.

The idea that the average person, that poor people, that middle class people, that anyone in this country without several million dollars laying around can do anything to impact the status quo through voting or political action alone needs to be abandoned. It is manipulative, but more than anything it is just not true.

If you want to see change, be change. Act, do not just vote, do not just expect politicians to take care of you. True justice has never been awarded to anyone through a ballot box, and even the right for everyone to vote was fought for with literal blood, sweat, and tears.

Feed your community and communities near you, teach people in your community to read, start funds to help members of your community pay rent, whatever it is just do it, do not wait for the mouthpiece of some billionaire to promise it for you.

Obviously policy has massive impacts on our everyday lives, but we have to understand when policy negatively impacts us, using those systems to advocate for ourselves has never and  will never be effective.

EDITORIAL: Retire the unfabulous FAB

The Fee Allocation Board (FAB), composed entirely with SGA members, is a biased and archaic way of providing funding for student groups. FAB was created to so that student groups would be given funding from an entity totally independent of SGA.

Clearly, that is not happening.

FAB was created in 2011 as the solution to a funding conflict of interest between The Leader and SGA and was intended to be a place where a diverse range of students determined budgets based on student proposals without SGA. Students from any groups could apply and student organizations would make appeals to ask for a specific amount of funding.

This year, each of those students is a member of SGA, which defeats the purpose of FAB. FAB needs to be abolished and replaced with an improved way of allocating student funds.

One proposal has been a media board where student media on campus would receive funding from an entity separate from SGA. The media board would be made up of students, teachers, and a professional who represent the different parts of campus that make up media (English, digital media, etc.). This way, the entities that comment on the campus and SGA are not going to pressed by the bias that these organizations may hold against them.

Beyond just the Leader, FAB is never necessarily fair to any organization. Students on SGA hold biases, and representation in SGA is not equal across campus groups. Throughout the year, SGA has funded certain groups that directly correlate to the majors and interests of the members represented on SGA.

For example, several music majors serve on SGA and approved a request for recognition for the Elmhurst American String Teachers Association chapter even though the group only affects a small amount of students. In another proposal, which was submitted by Pre-Law Club, several SGA members who were also members of Mock Trial, expressed disfavor of the club because they felt it went against their own activity group, Mock Trial.

Both of those groups above were eventually approved by SGA, and we are not saying that they should not have earned recognition or funding—we are simply highlighting this as some examples of bias within SGA that have come up this year. These are just some examples, but if there is bias in SGA, what insurance is there that any of that bias goes away in FAB when there is even less representation? All students have preferences, associations, interests, and friends on campus that, if not carefully balanced, can inform which students receive funding and which do not.

SGA has demonstrated bias throughout the entire year. Whether it is against the press or in favor of only select student groups, the impact is obvious, and there is nothing that suggests it would stop with FAB.

Since FAB has diverted so much from its original vision, the obvious solution is to abolish it and develop a system of student funding with representatives from multiple majors and clubs. Additionally, student media should have a media board or some form of funding totally independent of the school and SGA to avoid an inherent conflict of interest.

COLUMN: It is time to stop policing fat bodies

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

Being fat is not a bad thing, and embracing the word “fat” has become the new wave of body positivity. The body positivity movement has been exclusive to only some bodies, excluding the fat bodies, and this defeats the purpose of the movement itself. But now overweight people are taking back the term “fat” and embracing their fat bodies, giving the body positivity movement we have known a run for its money.

Being fat has problems that should not be ignored. You have a higher risk of conditions that might not be risks if you were thin; however, everybody comes with unavoidable risks. Human life is not infinite, so why should only certain people be able to love the skin they are in while fat people must always live in shame with their own body? The shame becomes an internalized debate between whether or not they should love or hate themselves.

Embracing the word “fat” as a way of describing an overweight body is a liberating moment for many fat individuals, but a scary moment for people who are not fat. It allows a group of people who have been belittled with a term to now use it as a positive physical description rather than an insult.

When a fat person calls themselves fat and gorgeous, it feels better than someone else calling them fat just to be a bully, and it is the power behind embracing this word that gives a fat person confidence to be unapologetically fat and to love themselves, whether they are on a weight loss journey or not, which is the exact reason for the body positivity movement in the first place.

As a fat person, you already make others uncomfortable just by existing. Whether it is the way you walk or the way you look, there is something about the fat body that makes people uncomfortable, yet pair that with confidence, and people are sure to start policing fat bodies and telling them that you should not be proud of your size.

Most fat people do not condone being fat. There is a difference between promoting obesity and accepting your body as it is in the moment, and that seems to be something the current movement just does not understand, or if it does, does not address. Thin people can live unhealthy lifestyles just as much as fat individuals, but they do not go flaunting it if they are aware of how their life may be unhealthy. Both ends of the spectrum can be unhealthy and dangerous, yet the main focus is loving the skin you are in as it is right now.

It is okay to be fat, and the sooner we can realize that fat people are just like everyone else, the sooner the body positivity movement will become more inclusive. Being fat does not need to be a curse or a label that society stamps on your forehead. Embracing being fat and not limiting the word “fat” to be a negative term should be how the movement supports fat people. It should not police them.

Body positivity is not a movement that can just pick and choose what it supports. The movement was born from the restrictive nature of society’s beauty standards, yet in some ways it has become just as restrictive. Either everyone is allowed to love their own body for what it is, or no one is allowed to.

COLUMN: Retire the conversation on gun control

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

The only real solution to America’s gun problem is a universal ban on all firearms. Because this solution is unrealistic, the conversation serves us no purpose and should shift to a more productive conversation on prevention.

Every time there is a mass execution by firearm, the same tired calls for sensible gun control resurface only for no or little progress to be made. There has been stricter and stricter regulations on where one can have guns, who can have guns, and what kind of guns/accessories one can uses on their guns.

While on paper these solutions appear beneficial, if there are guns anywhere, there are guns everywhere. In 2015, the New York Times found that 50,000 guns used in crimes were transported illegally over state lines from states with loose laws to states with stricter laws. In New York and New Jersey, two states with some of the strictest gun laws, over two-thirds of all of the guns connected to crimes came from another states.

Additionally, much of the legislation proposed to end gun violence is stricter regulation on who gets to own a gun. However, historically legislation like this has been intentionally and unintentionally discriminatory against black and brown individuals.

It should be obvious that repeating the conversation calling for discriminatory gun legislation that does not even work should adapt and change, but that has yet to be the case. A federal ban on all firearms is the only solution, and so long as guns are legally trafficked anywhere in this country, they will be illegally trafficked everywhere.

Since we live in country where politicians are bought and laws that would regulate guns are written by the organizations that sell them, this solution is impossible.

The conversation now has to shift away from the stalemate we reach when talking about guns to a conversation about how to be preventative in a world where guns run rampant. We have lost that battle, and that will always be the case, so let's talk about how we can prevent children from dying en masse in the world we actually live in, not the gun free utopia we want.

For starters, let’s confront the fact that identity is often a motivator for many of these mass shooters—maybe fostering a more equitable culture where people are not motivated to murder other people on the basis of their race. Let’s continue the conversation about how we can support individuals in high risk environments instead of allowing their environment to lead them to create harmful decisions.

The pandering and foolishness in the mainstream conversation about guns has to end. Evidence supports the fact that guns are far stronger than any state legislation and that the law is determined by those who stand to make money from what it says.

The violence has to end as well, and that starts by moving past proposed solutions that just will not work, and putting in the time to have an honest conversation about what we actually have control over.

EDITORIAL: Student Government Association (SGA) should revisit legislator meetings

The last of SGA’s monthly legislature meetings is this Thursday, wrapping up the year with cookies and sandwiches provided.

At the end of the spring 2018 term, SGA ratified a new constitution. Part of that constitution introduced legislator meetings, which are monthly meetings that a representative or legislator from every student organization on campus must attend, or have their funding/ability to apply to Co-Op cut.

SGA has long been struggling to connect with its constituents with the lack of attendance from the student body in SGA meetings. The legislator meetings have been the first time people who are not a part of SGA are consistently coming to meetings.

However, these meetings are a failed attempt at a great idea. Crowded, unproductive meetings are not the way to bring campus organizations together, and certainly not worth cutting funding over.

There is no need to call for abolition, but there is a need for drastic reform.

Why does every single organization come to one meeting rather than dividing groups up throughout the month? Why is SGA not being more proactive in sponsoring and attending other groups events, but threatening to defund organizations who do not obey?

The meetings have been about things such as how to order food from Chartwells, how to reserve a space, and how to apply for Cooperative Funding (Co-Op). This may be great for new organizations who may not be familiar with the existing processes, but certainly not necessary for everyone.

This year, organizations, including SGA, faced extreme cuts to their budget, and unfunded organizations are facing harsher Co-Op guidelines than they have in the recent past. Is additional pressure really the best SGA can do to better our campus?

SGA is using strong arm politics to blackmail people into attending something they simply do not care about. We get it. Student apathy has been one of the biggest issues on this campus since forever, and there has not really been an effective solution for it. But bad politics is bad politics, and this method is simply not working nor does it promote unity.

Disorganization is the enemy of all student organizations. Whether it is within the organization, whether it is conflicting programming with other groups, or even just poor marketing. However, it is not impossible to beat.

Just last week, every Greek organization worked together with Student Affairs to organize one cohesive week of programming. The cultural identity groups have been doing the same through the Coalition of Multicultural Engagement.

There are models on this campus of what true unity among organizations can look like, and none of them involve threats of cutting budgets. Not only does SGA have examples to learn from, they also have the resources to do better. What they do not have is an excuse for wasting our time thus far, and that needs to be changed.

COLUMN: Vote radical: tradition won't beat Trump

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

What do Hitler, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Donald Trump have in common? They were visionaries of what seemed like preposterous goals at the time, but every single one of them, with the possible exception of MLK Jr., was immensely successful.

Trump has made a mockery of every part of American politics. He has attained the highest political position in the world with a platform that accused an entire nation of people of being rapists and alleged crimes ranging from tax evasion to rape.

He did this, however, because like MLK Jr., he had a dream. A dream that to rational, intelligent people was a nightmare, but to many in this country—ranging from dirt-poor voters down south to some of the biggest powerhouses in Washington—was a godsend.

All this while Democrats pushed forward powerful, qualified, and dignified candidates, who made the fatal flaw of preserving the status quo. They pushed forward members of the establishment, using the powers of the establishment, and promised to protect the establishment.

Even though they were wrong in their decision to vote for Trump, those who did did so because they finally had a candidate who was promising what they wanted.

None of this justifies Trump’s behavior, and the kind of radical we need to win is not one who will give false promises on a bigoted platform, but one who has some kind of vision of the world their voters wants to see, and for them to make it happen.

Trump was a wrecking ball to the American political establishment. What we do not need is someone gatekeeping and defending the wreckage; what we need is someone who is willing to be a wrecking ball that will knock down his wall. There is no sense in preserving political tradition when we have entered an era where political tradition has been the butt of every sick joke this president calls political action.

When MLK Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to speak to the whole country, he did not say “Let us wait, our time will come” he said “I have a dream that one day little black boys and little black girls will be able to hold hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers” to an America that blew up churches with black children inside, and beat and hosed black people for sitting at the wrong lunch counter.

In the same way black people needed MLK Jr. to articulate the dream and inspire the country to achieve it, many people in this country needed Trump to bring their racist dreams to light. The civil rights amendment was born from a radical’s dream, and so will be the wall between us and Mexico. It will need to be a radical to take that wall down, but that can only happen when America is ready, and time is running out.

EDITORIAL:

Recently, one of our own editors at The Leaders returned to her dorm to find some of her belongings stolen. Last semester, an out of state man broke into a dorm, waited in the bathroom overnight  and threatened a student.

Elmhurst is a relatively safe campus, but these breakings are becoming increasingly common and they seem to have a trend to them—students being too nice and opening doors for people.

While everyone should be smarter and aware of their surroundings, it is simply not sustainable and safe to rely on students to be proactive as the main security protocol for residence halls.

Student possessions, and possibly there safety is being threatened by inadequate dorm security policy and that needs to change.

The fact that there is no record of who comes and goes in a building, and no way of knowing whether or not a person is a resident or not.

Security should consider having a representative, whether it be a hall coordinator, R.A., or even an officer stationed at the front of every hall that checks the I.D.’s of those who enter, and requires that non-residents sign in and out of the building.

Protocols like this are common among other colleges and require little resources, just one attentive figure in each dorm hall.

Currently, security’s best defense against people who do not belong in dorms coming into dorms is a reminder to students that they shouldn’t let strangers in. It is not their fault that this defense is flimsy, but something needs to be done to remedy it.

There would be difficult obstacles to overcome when implementing a check in system, where to place a monitor in more cramped or back entrances.

The other difficulty would be the traffic of students coming in and out of the buildings that would now need to take time to show ID’s. However, many large schools such as Depaul University which has over eight times as many students as EC use these exact security practices and more, such as keeping the ID’s of nonresidents with the security guard and only allowing up to two guests per resident.

One might say that there are already protocols in place for our protection, such as only 2 guests per resident or a 3 night maximum for overnight guests. This is good, but the only way to enforce these rules is a very attentive R.A. who already has other responsibilities or a student willing to tell on their peers.

Several years ago, The Leader conducted a test with a reporter who did not live on campus to see if he could gain access into any residence life on campus. He got access to every dorm room with ease simply by asking to be let in.

We now know that there could be man waiting in a residence hall bathroom overnight. We no longer have an excuse to think we are safe because we are not, and solutions need to be explored, and implemented before it is too late.

COLUMN: One step forward, two steps back

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

The True Colors living community is a mediocre answer to a very real problem for residential students of the LGBT+ community on campus: Safety and accessibility. While the college is providing a safe space, it still is shortchanging its students of a safe and accessible living experience and that needs to be changed.

True Colors is a living community dedicated to providing a safe housing option for members of the LGBT+ community and their allies, however it is located in an old building with no air-conditioning, not easily accessible, and not to mention the chances of flooding that can occur. It is these restrictions that make it impossible for someone with asthma, allergies, or any other medical condition that requires air conditioning to live in this housing, thus they have to make a decision between safety and their health, which isn’t one someone should have to make when living on campus.

If we began updated dorms, then we wouldn’t run into this problem. There should be no excuse why some students have air-conditioning options and others don’t, especially at an expensive school like Elmhurst College.

Every residential student deserves to be able to live and learn safely.

A lot of LGBT+ individuals have no place to escape as they are harassed by fellow residents, or have little resources provided to them by residence staff. True Colors is supposed to combat this, but how effective is it if they can’t even find refuge here due to things out of their control?

LGBT+ housing has been proposed in the past, but has been rejected numerous times, but when the honors program proposed their living-learning community in the same location, it was met with a yes, and now True Colors is in the lower level of Schick Hall. People say it is because the honors program brought up their proposal first, but this is the first year anyone has really been hearing about it, whereas conversations about LGBT+ gender inclusive housing for several years.

The biggest issue is not the honors community, but with the accessibility and quality of the dorms both communities were given. It really looks bad for Elmhurst College.

The minority community who face safety issues on a daily basis solely on their sexuality and/or gender identity, are given an old dorm that is barely livable during the first few weeks of the semester due to the temperature, while the honors community who are held in prestige get to live in a newer dorm with better living conditions all around.

If Elmhurst College was an ally like they market themselves, they would either update the Schick space to be more physically inclusive, move both communities into Cureton, or find a more inclusive space for True Colors because this “solution” just isn’t it.

Just because we are grateful to have the option doesn’t mean it’s all perfect. Many of the dorms need to be updated, but the location of True Colors should start pressing the college to update the buildings or risk it seeming like the college plays favorites.

COLUMN: Boycott The Joker

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

Popular media tends to paint people with mental illnesses as people with an inclination towards violence. These portrayals are inaccurate and while fictional, shape public perception of people with mental illnesses.

The Joker is a classic character that gets revisited every several years, and every time his role is characterized by stereotypes of mentally ill people, and people applaud and celebrate these portrayals en masse.

He is a mass murderer, bank robber, and terrorist on a grand scale and besides his clown makeup, is known for his instability and his “insanity.”

Often the Joker’s origin is that of a man who is abused and turns his abuse against society through violence. In this upcoming Warner Bros. depiction, he is a mentally ill person whose illness becomes so unmanageable, he devolves into violence.

The trailer makes specific reference to the Joker being someone who is mentally ill. They even go so far as to show imagery parallel to how people with mental illnesses can be treated in real life, however, the idea that he would then become a massive terrorist is simply not true.

The reason this is especially problematic is because in real life, people with mental illnesses are criminalized for their behavior as opposed to helped, and are criminalized at a disproportionate rate to the amount of crime they are responsible for. While making up only 3-5% of violent acts, they make up for a rising percent of the prison population.

In New York in 2000, there were only 5,000 patients with a mental illness in a hospital, but 72,000 in the New York Department of Corrections, 8 times as much as it was in 1973.

While we cannot define any one problem as the cause of this kind of discrimination, negative representation in a likely box office breaking film is not helping.

Art has always shaped the way the public perceives groups of people. When “Birth Of A Nation” came out, there was a resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan, and they began using their iconic burning cross after it was used in the movie.

When writers chose to create characters based on problematic stereotypes, it is on the consumer to respond. We have the option of supporting harmful stereotypes by seeing the movie, or the option of telling these creators we are not willing to support stereotypical characters and boycott movies like the Joker.

While fiction has no obligation to be based in reality, creators need to be considerate about how their characters, although not fictional, will have an impact on how people act in real life. This is especially true for marginalized groups of people, and we can no longer let problematic projects gain such wide success.

We have come too far as a society both educationally and creatively to support a tired trope such as a person with a mental illness becoming unhinged and hurting people. There is simply no excuse for us to continue to support films like the joker. Many more will come, but the Joker is a quickly upcoming opportunity to show Hollywood that these problematic tropes will no longer be an option and we can only do that by not showing up.

EDITORIAL: Stop complaining and join us

It is time that the critics of The Leader put their money where their mouth is. If anyone has an issue with the content of The Leader, come write for us. If you think we are too liberal or too negative or too biased for some reason, come join our staff.

Time and time again, whether on social media or in formal petitions, the student body has demanded transparency from the school. However, when The Leader does its job and reports information that would otherwise be kept hidden from students, it is met with backlash.

Our staff is small. We would love to cover everything, but we do not have the resources to do so. If you see a deficit, or see a group being misrepresented, you have an opportunity to be the solution by joining us. If you want to let the campus know about something, submit a Letter to Editor or audition for a column, but complaining is not beneficial for any party.

Across the nation the press is under fire, and even the president has declared the press the “enemy of the people.” Many pass judgement on media simply because the content of the stories seem to be negative. But the number one job of the press is to deliver the truth to the public, whether it is seen as good or bad.

Unfortunately, many people do not understand this, and if the story does not agree with them, the press is the one who faces backlash instead when they are simply the messengers.

This national sentiment against the press has even come to our campus with The Leader, which has faced threats of defunding and papers being vandalized and even stolen.

We are not alone, for other colleges have faced backlash as well. Loyola University has passed a policy requiring the campus newspaper to contact the marketing department who then writes all quotes related to university affairs, regardless of the department or position of the subject of the quote—something that is alarming because it prevents objective reporting and censors the press.

Another campus newspaper, the Hilltop Views from St. Edwards University, had around 2,000 copies of their paper stolen following a front page story about a former professor being accused of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church.

No member of the press, including college media, should be subjected to this type of treatment. It suppresses free speech, but more importantly, why not be constructive and help make the organization you are criticizing better?

Do not get it wrong, we appreciate and welcome comments from our readers, and accountability is important for all press organizations; we are simply asking that instead of criticizing everything you think is wrong with the media, actually do something about it and join us to facilitate the change you wish to see.

COLUMN: Respect black performance spaces

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

Support for black artists is important. However, when nonblack people enter these spaces, there needs to be an increased sense of respect and a willingness to learn.

Too often audiences are not prepared for how black culture manifests in performance art. It is loud, it is unconventional, it is impure, it is edgy; it is everything nonblack performance art is and more that many nonblack people are ready to perceive.

When black actors and comedians use African American Vernacular English, it is met with laughter; when black musicians perform well but are not as proficient technically, they are written off as bad musicians.

What is worse than any of this is that it happens regardless of the context. Even if black performers are expressing pain or race related trauma, their powerful testimony is disregarded simply because they said “you is” instead of “you are.”

Audiences laugh at racial slurs and talk during quiet scenes simply because the means of expression used in a given artform are different than those in nonblack traditions.

Black artists have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white artists in any performance space. When black artists take the initiative to create their own spaces in line with their own traditions, they are still mocked.

When attending a performance, it makes sense to be critical: performers mess up, things go wrong, and it makes us feel smart to comment on it and laugh.

However, it is important to understand where it is appropriate. When we watch operas in Italian, we do not judge them on their ability to speak English. When we attend a gallery, we do not judge the artist on their ability to play the drums.

Criticism can be great, but when we see black art, why should we judge it through a white performance art lens?

All art can be enjoyed by everyone, but a sense of respect and a gauge of who we are in relation to the audience is needed.

Just because a performance is not what we are used to does not mean it is not good, and it does not mean mocking it is okay. When having the privilege to observe another culture’s art in action, an audience should be grateful. An audience should be trying their best to observe the norms practiced by others in that space, and certainly should not act in ways they never would otherwise.

Respect should be the standard, even if we are not totally sure what is going on. We owe it to all artists to give them an opportunity to showcase their best, but that is impossible if they are being judged according to a standard they never set out to meet.

COLUMN: SGA is slacking

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

As an organization run by students for the students, Student Government Association has been slacking on including the voices of the individuals they are supposed to represent. It really has not been clear what they have done for the students besides approve budgets, cut budgets, and reprimand organizations for not attending legislator meetings.

The information SGA provides to the students seems to be skewed in the direction of student leaders and individuals who are involved in organizations, and they miss the mark with the rest of the student body. Most of the information they are relaying to students is done in such a way that unless you are an active student leader, you just might miss.

In between a crammed protective hour when meetings are held, the navigation of Engage as an every day student for the minutes, and legislator meetings every now and again, the information they discuss and the way people can get their concerns to the Board of Trustees needs to be clearer and more accessible.

Unfortunately, the BOT meetings are closed to the public, and in order to be able to sit in, you must be invited. This is a big issue as well since SGA could simply sugar coat everything as to keep the board members happy or oblivious.

Student Government Association is meant to bridge the gap between the student body and administration, as well as the BOT; however, it seems this year they have almost closed the bridge, or at least have not been maintaining it.

The SGA executive board meets with a select few BOT members during the Student Life Committee, and all they do is show the trustees what they have done for the year.

Last year, there was a survey sent out before the BOT, by SGA, that asked for student input. It was sent to the student body, and SGA received and presented the feedback.

This year, no such thing has happened; they did not ask for the voices they are supposed to be representing, and not many events connecting with the students has happened either, or at least it has felt that way. No more civic conversations, open forums, or even metra pass giveaways. It seems like there has been more drama and entitlement as a replacement.

Not every issue that students bring up can be addressed in one meeting nor does every issue have a simple solution the board members can just sign into action, but simply bringing something up to the trustees to have them think is a reasonable goal that should not take much from our SGA.

Until they have public sessions, we have to settle for the image that the members of SGA create on our behalf.

Let SGA know your concerns sooner rather than later. The BOT members have meetings once a semester on campus, so tell SGA what you want them to hear.

We can only hope that SGA does their job, and as of right now, it seems like a lot is being swept under the rug. Maybe someday the BOT will see the need for public sessions, but until then, we have to hold SGA to a higher standard.

EDITORIAL: Pros and cons of changing the EC's name

The Leader editorial board is divided on this issue. Check out our pros and cons for changing the name.

Pro (Students: 62%, Alumni: 31%)

Elmhurst College should change its name to University. Whether it is Elmhurst University, or University of Elmhurst, it is a decision that will positively impact the school.

Regardless of the facilities a school offers,  regardless of the employment rates of graduates, the name of a school will create a first impression of a school. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be that universities are the prestigious and good schools, and colleges are schools that are lacking.

To make matters worse, in other countries, universities are four-year degree-offering institutions, and colleges are schools more akin to community colleges. There is nothing wrong with a community college setting, but the word “college” has little international appeal, which is a main argument presented by President VanAken.

Even domestic students and faculty at other American schools mistake EC to be a community college or a commuter college (no dorms).

Why should EC suffer at the hands of misconceptions? If EC is possibly compromising its enrollment from domestic and international students, why should the BOT not vote in favor a possible solution?

What makes these misconceptions more ridiculous and more damaging to EC specifically is the fact that EC already is a university, according to the Carnegie Foundation’s classification system.

Calling ourselves a college is not only a possible hindrance to enrollment but simply inaccurate. It is not logically sound.

Furthermore, the question to change the EC’s name to university has been an age-old discussion under every president. This question now seems inevitable with already being classified as a university and large campus support, especially from students. It is now or never.

BOT should make the decision to change EC’s name to University, and we should embrace this change to further the institution.

CON (Students: 38%, Alumni: 69%)

Elmhurst College should not be changing its name. Our college reputation has not hurt us and is a part of who we are. We have been a college for nearly 150 years; it just would not be right to go into that anniversary not as “Elmhurst College.”

It seems strange that the school is making a push for increased enrollment, specifically among our international population, when we are having few issues with enrollment.

The school is observing a period of record breaking enrollment rates with the freshman class being the largest and most diverse in EC’s history. We cannot necessarily attribute this increased enrollment to the name, but the “Elmhurst College” brand has appeal, and to change that could put that at risk.

Why jeopardize who we are for the sake of a population of students who do not yet attend this institution?

One must consider the cost of rebranding. Although there is no official estimates, one can assume that the cost of reissuing diplomas to all graduates and rebranding all signage and merchandise will be a lot more than a slice of pizza.

EC has an identity, and that identity is as a college. People came here for a reason; to change that would be to disregard what many people found appealing about EC in the first place, especially when they are left with the bill.

In the same way people prejudge universities as better institutions on the basis of their name, many assume colleges to be smaller, more comfortable environments where creating deeper relationships and getting around is much easier.

Whether or not it is true is beside the point, when high schoolers apply, the name is the first thing they see, and if those looking for a smaller and calmer environment, a university can be an instant turn off.

All stakeholders in EC, especially the BOT, have to look at why they invested in the first place. A name is what represents the very core of a schools identity, and ask if changing that for the sake of one or two stakeholders is worth compromising that.



COLUMN: It is time to stop celebrating firsts, and start creating dynasties

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

Representation matters. Everyone loves to see people like them trailblaze and become the first person of their race/religion/gender to break glass ceilings. However, when no one follows in their lead, their triumph was ultimately for nothing.

At this year’s Oscars, we celebrated many firsts such as “Roma” being the first Mexican film to win the Best Foreign Language Picture or Ruth Carter and Hannah Beechler being the first black women to win Best Costume Design and Production Design for “Black Panther.”

While any win is good for black people, what struck me more than these “firsts” was Mahershala Ali’s win of Best Supporting Actor for “Green Book”, making him the second black  actor to win multiple Oscars for acting—second to Denzel Washington.

It is disappointing that in 91 years of Oscars, there have been so many firsts, but only two black actors have won more than one Oscar.

This is a problem because I do not know if anyone can name the first white Academy Award winner, and I feel people are even less likely to be able to name the second.

This does not stop with Academy Awards. This generation has seen few, if any, white firsts in any field from the Oscars to the White House, a field where we are still observing firsts for minorities.

In 1870, five years after the abolition of slavery, America saw its first black congressman. Almost 150 years later, states like California are just now electing their first black representatives.

What is the point of blazing a trail that will ultimately remain empty for 150 years? We complain about a lack of representation in all aspects of our lives, but we do not invest in representation.

We must shift from a culture that does not leave “firsts” behind. What this will take is in-depth involvement and political education.

This year Chicago will be electing its first black female mayor. We have reached a historical point in which no matter what the outcome of this election is, the winner will be a black woman.

We can be proud of this, we can call this progress, but the true demonstration of progress will be in four years.

We can celebrate firsts, we can break down walls, and we can shatter glass ceilings but if our firsts have no walls, no roof, and no one to protect them, then progress will never actually be made.


COLUMN: Our name should not be the priority

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

Elmhurst College vs Elmhurst University should not be a conversation our campus should be having, at least not right now.

We need to talk about how we can set the campus up to be worthy of the prospective students we are trying to appeal to, not just rebranding or structural changes.

If we are going to market ourselves as a university to rope in future students and international students, we need to take care of our own students first. We need to take care of our campus.

We need to be talking about the new living spaces such as True Colors or Honors housing, and how Honors has an air conditioned space, and True Colors does not.

We need to talk about how we can prevent another student experiencing heat stroke in their own dorm and having to be moved within the first few weeks of the fall semester.

We need to be talking about the older buildings on campus that flood, and the outdated classrooms all across campus.

Why does Circle Hall have smart classrooms for majors like psychology and speech pathology, yet art majors are still having to use chalkboards in Old Main?

We need to talk about our bad retention. Why are students not returning? We have a big enrollment, but it means nothing if those same students are not following the path to become graduates of EC.

It seems that all these issues are being tabled for the name change discussion and who will pay for the rebranding of the campus (which will probably be students in the end), as well as the timeline of when these changes will happen.

There is so much information hidden from the average student, and that is wrong. The everyday student deserves to know when the Board of Trustees talk about tuition increases, and what the numbers look like beforehand, not after the vote is already placed.

We should not be focusing on whether or not EC should change its name while at the same time, EC rarely involves students in decisions such as this.

EC feels like it is more focused on the quantity of students it brings in rather than the quality of campus and resources it provides once they arrive and become settled.

The campus has moved too fast on the vote and provided little time for student feedback.

The Board of Trustees members are supposed to vote on the name change March 16, and we just recently got the survey for our opinions on the idea.

The only ethical step would be for the Board of Trustees to table the discussion until student responses have been considered.

We have students who are being put at a disadvantage of the campus because of our mediocre buildings and resources, and all EC seems to be thinking about is how we can bring more students in when we barely are helping the ones we already have.

Our priorities need to change before we think about changing our name. We need to table this discussion.


EDITORIAL: All buildings should be held to the same standard of livability and accessibility

Elmhurst College should ensure that all spaces are accessible for every member of its community.

Students with mobility disabilities have limited options for accessible spaces. Even in buildings where elevators are present, there are still small or heavy doors and narrow hallways to get in and out of the elevator, making it difficult to access.

On top of that, some spaces have all of the above issues, and do not even have an elevator.

When space in Cureton and West Hall fills up, some students find themselves in a dorm with wheelchair accessibility, such as in Schick, which has a ramp, but also has small rooms, no air conditioning, and only one accessible floor.

Some faculty offices are only accessible by stairs, and some classrooms are cramped and require extra tables to accommodate students, and at that point, space becomes limited.

Some classrooms are set up on risers that would require a wheelchair user to sit directly in front of the teacher or to lift their chair over a step to sit at a desk.

Another example that hits close to home is The Leader newsroom, which is located in the basement of Dinkmeyer. If an editor or a staff member who uses a wheelchair wanted to join The Leader, they would not be able to access our office.

Students deserve an education that goes above and beyond to ensure their equal inclusion and opportunity to succeed. Is this not what the school proudly boasts in their mission?

Even if these standards are acceptable within the American Disabilities Act’s rules, we believe EC should be responsible for more.

Our handbook mentions disabilities and accessibilities, and it puts the burden of requesting “reasonable accommodations” on the student.

While EC cannot anticipate everything, the handbook should mandate certain guaranteed protections, resources, and processes for students with disabilities beyond “reasonable accomodations.”

The school covers several bases and stays within the parameters of the law, but we should hold the school to the highest standard possible.

Our living and learning environments are limited to only certain populations of the campus, and that is not fair. It is not enough that certain buildings have elevators; the entire campus needs to accessible beyond the requirements.

The school should explore the possibility of creating a more inclusive environment to live up to its own expectations of inclusion.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn comfortably, and EC must be held accountable for ensuring this beyond the bare minimum.

COLUMN: They are humans, not 'bad hombres'

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

Border security is not something new; however, the dialogue around it has become filled with misconstrued information. It is time to challenge and fix to have more educated discussions and not just uninformed arguments.

The misconception that all immigrants are monstrous rapists and drug dealers has become the main stereotype when talking about undocumented citizens.

This is far from the truth.

We have actually observed a decrease in violent crimes in certain areas where the undocumented population has actually risen since the 1980s.

Individuals who come to the United States have no interest in breaking the law, especially when that means deportation.

Additionally, many immigrants come to the United States for a better life, new opportunities, and even asylum, and bring with them only what they can carry while they dangerously depart to the United States. Most of them are not even guaranteed entry.

When they do arrive, many have no family, no money, and can have hard times finding an employer that will even hire them.

Most jobs require social security numbers, and they do not have that, so they settle for jobs that do not ask questions, often leading to poor working conditions, being taken advantage of, and getting little pay—all with the threat of deportation being held over their heads.

It is also a rumor that these undocumented citizens do not pay taxes, yet they are able to abuse the welfare programs.

Many employers who hire these immigrants actually do take taxes out of their pay, yet unlike individuals with social security numbers, they are not able to file for tax refunds at the end of the fiscal year nor are they able to even apply for welfare.

You need a social security number for all of these things.

Yet people still believe much of this rhetoric when discussing border security, and very few tend to fact check or investigate any further than surface level.

The undocumented citizen story is often very unique and different than the common misconceptions that are blindly followed.

There are stories that need to be shared to show the flaws and struggles in the journey of becoming a legal citizen.

The journey boils down to money, lawyers, and a bit of luck, but even then, nothing is promised.

Just as the journey into the country was one of ambiguity, the journey of finally being recognized by the government is just the same.

While border security is something that needs to be discussed, the citizenship process and bold stereotypes need to be addressed as well.

The misconceptions need to be challenged.

Just because it aligns with one’s political affiliation does not always make it true, and not every undocumented person you meet is going to be a “bad hombre” simply based on their citizenship status.

There is a reason you cannot tell the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’.