Is the US doomed?

A new Pew Research Center Poll was published this week  concerning the impact of the news media and colleges/universities on society and I’m not entirely sure why I’m surprised by the results, but I am.

“A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year.”

The poll goes on to say:

As recently as two years ago, most Republicans/Republican leaners held a positive view of the role of colleges and universities. In September 2015, 54% of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country; 37% rated their impact negatively”

By 2016, Republicans’ ratings of colleges and universities were mixed (43% positive, 45% negative).

Now, nearly two-thirds of conservative Republicans (65%) say colleges are having a negative impact, compared with just 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans.

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I’m really curious as to why the increase has been so drastic in such little time. I’m in no way an advocate of everyone going to college. I don’t believe you HAVE to go to college to be successful. Hell, I’m a college graduate (in debt) who’s working at a job that doesn’t require a degree. College isn’t for everybody (and it’s way too expensive), but I’d never say that it’s having a negative impact on society. I think that doctors, engineers, etc and their college degrees are positively impacting society. If we’re talking in terms of personal debt, then I could see viewing it in a negative light, but what other possible reasons are there?

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The other information that surprised me in this poll is how distrusting everyone has become of the media.

Democrats are divided in their views of the effects of the national news media. Nearly half of Democrats/Democratic leaners say the news media has a negative impact on the country (46%) while about as many (44%) view its impact positively.

This marks a major shift from just a year ago, when 33% of Democrats said the national news media had a positive effect and 59% said  it had a negative effect.

Currently, 85% of Republicans/Republican leaners say the news media has a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, up 76% two years ago and 68% in 2010. 

As a person who went to college for journalism, this is hard to hear. Yes, it’s absolutely true that most news sources have some level of bias and it’s fair to question what you hear instead of blindly believing it, but it’s not hard to find relatively unbiased sources.

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This is a pretty basic summary that can be found with a simple Google search

NPR, BBC, AP, Reuters and FactCheck  are my go-to sites to check the information I’ve heard from mainstream media.

Please, instead of accepting what you hear from the president/Twitter trolls about the media being liars and “fake news” (which honestly, Repub distrust being up 76% from two years ago has to be majorly influenced by that), don’t just decide to be distrusting of all media. Do some work and find whatever unbiased source satisfies you. They are out there.

Why do you think Republicans’ views on colleges/universities has become so negative in such a short amount of time? What are your views on college? What about mainstream media? Do you trust it? What are your favorite news sources?

 

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A Journey Through Time and Space: A research paper on black holes, white holes, wormholes, and the possibility of time travel.

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” Carl Sagan was the man who had once spoke this quote. If we take time to look at the big picture, the human race and the Earth we inhabit really is insignificant when it comes to the whole scheme of the universe. This is one of the reasons why so many people wish time travel and travelling to other universes were possible. We wish to figure out the universe in entirety, and we want to know if we’re alone or if there’s more than our version of “life.” Currently, time travel and travelling to other universes is nothing more than fiction that movies like Star Wars and books like The Time Machine by H.G. Wells have created. However, there are some real, as well as some theoretical, objects in space that could, theoretically, allow us to travel throughout time and space. These objects are: black holes, white holes, and wormholes. In this paper I will discuss what these objects are, how they work, and how they could, together, allow space travel.

A black hole is an invisible object in space that is so compact that, within a certain distance of it, even light isn’t fast enough to escape. Black holes are thought to be born from stars or other massive objects that collapse from their own gravity to form an object whose density is infinite. Once all the dying stars’ fuel for nuclear burning has run out, what’s life is the core; In a black hole, otherwise known as a singularity. The space surrounding the singularity, where the escape velocity must be equivalent to the speed of light is what’s called the event horizon; or “the point of no return.” (Seidel).

Speculation of black holes has dated back as early as 1783 when John Michell theorized that there might be an object massive enough to have an escape velocity greater than the speed of light. Simon Pierre LaPlace theorized not long afterwards that it is possible that the largest luminous bodies in the universe would be invisible (Is a Black Hole Really A Hole?). Black holes really came to light, though, after Albert Einstein developed and published his theory of relativity in 1915, in which he predicted space time curvature; going against Newtonian physics, which stated that all things in space travelled a straight line unless acted upon.

There are four different kinds of black holes that we know of: Static, Charged, Rotating, as well as a Supermassive. All four kinds are made up of the same three elements: The Photon Sphere, the Event Horizon, and the Singularity. There are always exceptions, though, which will be covered in greater detail later in this paper. The Static black hole, which is often referred to as Schwarzschild black holes after Karl Schwarzschild postulated them in 1916. The static black holes are the simplest of the bunch because they are simply defined as having a mass but no electric charge or angular momentum; when something doesn’t have angular momentum, that simply means that it is stationary and doesn’t spin (Research Paper on Black Holes). This type of black hole is said to have one photon sphere, one event horizon and one singularity. It’s also the only vacuum theorized that is spherically symmetric; meaning there is no observable difference between the gravitational field of this type of black hole and any other object with the same symmetry and mass.

The next kind of black hole, the charged black hole, is one which possesses an electric charge. It is said to have one photon sphere, one singularity, but two event horizons. Hans Reissner and Gunnar Nordstrom are responsible for theorizing this type of black hole and coming up with an equation to explain its possible existence. They discovered that if a small charge is added to a black hole, the event horizon would shrink and a second, inner horizon would form just above the singularity.

The more charge that this type of black hole had, the smaller the outer horizon becomes, while the inner horizon expands (Jillian). What happens, then, if the magnitude of the charge becomes as great as its mass? Reissner and Nordstrom predicted that both horizons would eventually vanish and leave a naked singularity. Having a black hole with no outer or inner horizon and simply a singularity would create a problem for those people who would attempt time travel. You would have absolutely no warning as to where the black hole began and you would instantly be sucked in and ripped apart by the hole’s tidal forces.

The third type is called the Rotating black hole and was proposed in 1963 by New Zealand mathematician Roy Kerr. His concept hinges on neutron stars, which are massive collapsed stars the size of Manhattan but with the mass greater than that of Earth’s sun (Kaku). Kerr postulated that if these dying stars collapsed into a rotating ring of neutron stars, their force would prevent them from combining into a singularity. Since this black hole wouldn’t have a singularity, Kerr believed it would be safe to enter without the fear of the infinite gravitational force pulling and stretching you until you were ripped to shreds. Because of this reason, this is the only type of black hole that is used when the theoretical discussion of time travel arises (Bonsor and Lamb).

The Supermassive black hole is the final type. Theoretically, it could be any of the three types: static, charged, or rotating. The only difference is that it is much, much larger. Supermassive black holes range anywhere from one million to billions of times the mass of our Sun (Research Paper on Black Holes).

According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, black holes (at least the static ones), do exist in space. Applying these black holes to time travel, though, seem to be impossible currently because of his Theory of Relativity, as well as the principles of the speed of light. The Theory of Relativity states that a particle (that has rest mass) with a subluminal velocity needs infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light. However, to allow for time travel, one would have to be travelling faster than the speed of light, which is currently impossible (Bonsor and Lamb).

A stellar-mass black hole in orbit with a companion star located about 6,000 light years from Earth.

White holes are often called “anti-black holes.” This is because they’re black holes running backwards in time. Just as black holes swallow things irretrievably, white holes only spit things out. These objects would have a negative gravity and emit an extremely bright white light. However, it should be noted that white holes violate the second law of thermodynamics, and are only a thing of speculation (Hamilton).

Karl Schwarzschild not only proposed his own theory of a black hole with his Schwarzschild metric, his system also consists of a white hole and two universes connected by a wormhole (a topic which will be covered in just a few paragraphs).

In order for white holes to be of any use when it comes to time travel, parallel universes must exist. These parallel universes would exist alongside one another in hyperspace (Mendez). They would not be on the same plane of space; there would be no way of reaching them with simply a spaceship because they are not in the same dimension. Since they are parallel, they are in different dimensions, and in order to reach them one would have to travel, theoretically, through a black hole and exit in the other dimension through a white hole. These two holes would be connected by a wormhole, which will be discussed later.

One reason why white holes cannot exist in space is because they violate the second law of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics says that any ordered system becomes more disorganized with time, and so a system which adds order, such as a white hole, is not at all possible (Wojcik).

A wormhole is a funnel in a region in space which connects two different places within the same space time or connects two asymptotically flat times (i.e. parallel universes). Wormholes, like white holes, are also purely hypothetical since it would require exotic matter, or matter with a negative energy density, to hold the tunnel open (Black Holes and Quasars). However, Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the existence of these since it states that any mass curves space time.

There are a few different types of theoretical wormholes. The Schwarzschild wormhole has an unstable throat and is connected to a black hole. This theoretical wormhole would be one where you could go past the black hole’s horizon without being torn apart by its tidal forces (Hamilton). As you travel further and further inside, you will eventually be able to see through the mouth on the other side, and eventually you would pass through the black hole, reach the white hole, and be spit out into a different universe.

Another type of wormhole is a Morris-Thorne wormhole. It differs in a few aspects from the Schwarzschild wormhole. First, this wormhole’s throat is more stable, and even though it still has an enormous tidal force at its mouth, it has no horizon. Because of this, it would only require planet size masses, which is much less than the other wormhole.

A Visser wormhole is formed by knitting together two ‘deep’ potential wells to form a throat. The inconvenience, though, is that it requires a lot of exotic matter to keep it open. Unlike a Morris-Throne or Schwarzschild wormhole, the Visser wormhole has significantly less tidal force due to this exotic matter.

The final type of wormhole is called an Ellis wormhole. There really aren’t many differences in this special case from the general case, other than that time flows smoother and the mouth is completely spherically symmetrical (Schimelpfenig).

Since wormholes would significantly shorten the amount of time it would take to travel from one point in space to another, many scientists have theoretically speculated that if any type of wormhole were connected to a black hole at one end and a white hole at another end, space travel would be possible (were these objects to exist).

As with every theoretical situation, there are problems that exist whilst considering the possibility. There are paradoxes, such as the Grandfather Paradox. Also, there are issues like an inconsistent casual loop and a consistent casual loop could occur and need to be considered.

“Imagine, you’re a time-travelling assassin, and your target just happens to be your own grandfather. So you pop through the nearest wormhole and walk up to an 18-year old version of your father’s father. You raise your laser blaster, but what happens when you pull the trigger? You haven’t been bon yet. Neither has your father. If you kill your own grandfather in the past, he’ll never have a son. That son will never have you and you’ll never happen to take that job as a time-travelling assassin. You wouldn’t exist to pull the trigger, thus negating the entire string of events.” (Bonsor and Lamb).

This is what is known as the Grandfather Paradox, and it is probably the most famous paradox relating to time travel. This sting of events is also called an inconsistent casual loop.

While considering the possible issues with time travel, one must also consider the idea of a consistent casual loop. According to physicist Paul Davies, such a loop might play out like this: a math professor travels into the future and steals a groundbreaking math theorem. The professor then gives the theorem to a promising student. Then, that promising student grows up to be the very person from whom the professor stole the theorem to begin with (Bonsor and Lamb). These issues and paradoxes make the thought of time travel an even more complicated possibility.

If time travel were to exist there would need to be black holes to act as an opening of a portal, a white hole, as an exit point of the portal, and a wormhole to act as a link between the two. While it is very interesting to theorize about how time travel could be possible, because of the different issues and paradoxes that would go along with it, time travel is a much more complex theoretical speculation than we had previously expected.

Sources:

Continue reading A Journey Through Time and Space: A research paper on black holes, white holes, wormholes, and the possibility of time travel.

The Trends in the News Concerning the Prevalence of Entertainment

 

            If you visited CNN.com you would notice that they have an entire section dedicated to entertainment. When pressing that link, you can learn anything about any celebrity you want. They’ve got a photo gallery of celebrities, a page of quotes by celebrities, and even a page titled” “The Justin Bieber Saga.”

            CNN isn’t the only website dedicating a large section of their website to celebrities, Fox News is also guilty. Their celebrity headlines range from Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s breakup, to the most recent drama on New York Housewives.

            Additionally, if you watch television you can watch shows like Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America or even entertainment segments during local, national and world news broadcasts. If you flip through the newspaper there’s an entire section dedicated to entertainment and there are entire magazines such as Elle, Cosmo, Men’s Health, Vogue and Women’s Health, just to name a few, that are strictly for entertainment.

            Entertainment news can be defined as information about movies, radio, television and celebrities, as well as games like puzzles, comic strips, cartoons and horoscopes. CNN’s website has an entertainment section, Fox News’s website has one, even the Associated Press’s website has a section for sports and oddity stories.

            “The more relevant you make celebrities the less relevant you become,” said Cory Anton, a communication professor at GV in a Communication Theories lecture. This made a profound impact on me. So profound, in fact, that I’ll be dedicating this entire article to how relevant entertainment news in general is in our society and how it is potentially harmful to ourselves and our society.  

            With the accessibility of Cable TV and internet, the supply of media content has multiplied drastically, which has resulted in greater diversity of content. It’s a well known fact that mainstream media exists to make a profit and it’s sad but true: entertainment sells more than hard news stories, so many of these media outlets have resorted to having entertainment segments or sections to increase ratings.

            According to Thomas Patterson in an article from Harvard College titled “Doing Well and Doing Good: How Soft News and Critical Journalism are Shrinking the News Audience and Weakening Democracy—and what News Outlets Can do About it,” entertainment news is weakening the foundation of democracy by diminishing the public’s information about public affairs and its interest in politics.

            Americans devote more hours of the day to media consumption than any activity except sleep and work. If during this time, we are steeped in entertainment and distracted by remote incidence, the contribution that the news could make to the quality of public life is diminished, and possibly unnecessarily. According to the article, entertainment news may actually be eroding people’s interest in news.

            After surveying the student population at GV, 40 percent of the votes (26 individuals), said they preferred entertainment news over hard news. Some of the reasons ranged from not being able to understand hard news, having too many things to worry about in life already, being too controversial to watch, to not enjoying politics.

            One anonymous survey taker said they preferred entertainment news because “life has enough bad news in it. I don’t want to spend my little free time watching or reading something that’s only going to make me feel worse about the world we live in.”

            At the end of the survey, 70 percent of respondents believed that citizens are less informed about current events because of the prevalence of entertainment news in our media today, while only 24 percent didn’t believe citizens are less informed today.

            One survey taker responded: “Depends on the definition of ‘current event.’ If it’s defined as war, famine and pestilence, then quite probably yes. If current events include the upcoming release of a new Justin Timberlake album, it seems people are right on top of it.”

            The most interesting result of the survey was that individuals that answered they preferred to watch or listen to entertainment news still agreed that the growing coverage and interest in entertainment news is a problem for our society.

            “I think [the prevalence of entertainment news] is a major problem. It’s creating a society of uninformed dimwits that don’t possess the ability to make a rational decision on anything important because they’d rather watch a video about Justin Bieber’s DUI than pick up a newspaper and read about what Congress is doing,” answered one anonymous survey taker.

            Another anonymous survey taker answered: I believe that a growing percentage of the population is more interested in soft news. It seems that they do not want to think, or work to make changes in our society. This means that it is easier for others to have their way, be it good or bad, because there is no opposition or watch-dog group to ask questions or point out flaws or better/other ways to accomplish something.”

            Another answered: “Sadly, I do think the increasing interest in entertainment news is a problem. Any time a person lets their brain rot it’s a problem. Entertainment news is sugar for the brain.”

            On the same subject, someone responded “the media force-feeds us entertainment news and yes this is a problem. As a society we are effectively lobotomizing ourselves with this nonsense!”

            Returning to Anton’s quote: “the more relevant you make celebrities the less relevant you become.”  To be a good functioning democracy, the public must have a clear grasp of the daily workings of its government. Entertainment news provides little beneficial political information and American’s are overdosing on stories of stupidity, scandal and corruption. Entertainment news is causing apathy toward politics, which will eventually turn into apathy toward all news that isn’t entertainment. Ultimately, American’s will become disenchanted with their best source of political information and voting and participation in government, if done at all, will be performed blindly.

            The survey I conducted did have a silver lining: 60 percent of responders said they preferred hard news over entertainment news and their reasoning restored some of my faith in society. One anonymous taker responded:

            “I have no desire to find out what crap the celebrities are up to. I want to know what psychotic crap the politicians are handing to teachers now, if a tornado is about to take out my house, or if I need to donate food to the food banks because some politician has decided food stamps are too expensive.”

             So it seems that there is an increasing prevalence of entertainment news in our media today and there is still a lot of hard news coverage. Some believe that the prevalence of entertainment news is ruining our society while others disagree.

            “I definitely think people are more interested in entertainment news but I’m not sure it’s a huge problem,” one survey taker responded. “The people that want to be interested in hard news will be.”

            Another answered “In some degree yes, I think citizens are more interested in entertainment news, but I think the problem has to do with education. It’s OK to like entertainment news more than hard news, just as long as you’re keeping up with the hard news. However, when people don’t understand the importance of being an informed voter, it’s only natural that media is going to focus on entertainment news to stay afloat. Teaching people to think critically starts with education, and our education system in America is so messed up right now.”

            So based off the Harvard article and my survey, it seems like the best approach to the news is watching, reading, or listening in a healthy balance. It’s okay to like entertainment news more than hard news as long as you continue to educate yourself with what’s important. It seems that the prevalence of entertainment news in society and our media only becomes problematic when that’s the only type of news a person watches and when they’ve become entirely clueless about what’s happening in the world around them. 

Violence of Religion

           Cavanaugh’s article “The Violence of ‘Religion’: Examining a Prevalent Myth” gives an interesting definition of religion which he then goes throughout the paper to criticize. He also writes a critique of the secular liberal view that “religion is violent,” which, before reading this article, I had never thought about. The article gave me a new perspective which I will discuss throughout this paper.

            Cavanaugh begins his article stating “one of the most prevalent myths in Western culture” that widespread religion causes violence, or is at least a significant contributing factor in many conflicts of human history. At the end of his long list of ‘violence done by religions’ he says that the definition of “religion” isn’t clear. He says that “religion and culture” often get grouped together but are never distinguished from one another. He goes on to admit that there are numerous religions which support that violence is helpful and necessary but the attempt to divide them into “religion” and “secular” phenomena and claim that the former is more prone to violence isn’t helpful.

            I think the definition of religion that’s being criticized, that religion and culture have become indistinguishable from one another makes sense and there are many examples of it in daily life. For example, when people in the west talk about the middle east, we tend to call the people there “Muslims.” We don’t call them “Iraqi’s” or  “Afghan’s,” which would indicate their culture and where they’re from. Instead, we identify them only as their religion.

            That leads into Cavanaugh’s  main critique of the secular liberal view that religion is violent. On page 7 Cavanaugh says that he’s trying to separate out a category called “religion” which is prone to violence because it’s absolutist, divisive, and non-rational, compared to a ‘secular’ reality that’s less prone to violence, presumably because it’s less absolutist, more unitive, and more rational. He goes on to give a list of ideologies, practices, and institutions that have been known to support violence under certain conditions but says this, which I found to be the most important line in his article thus far: “what is not helpful is the attempt to divide the above list into ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ phenomena, and claim that the former are more prone to violence.”

            I somewhat agree with Cavanaugh’s argument that religion causes violence because it delegitimizes certain kinds of violence (namely Muslim) and legitimates other kinds of violence (namely, secular western ideals). I do agree that certain cultures are delegitimized and I do agree that others are legitimized, but I don’t agree that it’s mainly secular ideals that cause ‘violence in religion.’ Actually, I believe the problem is between non-secular westerners and non-secular non-westerners.

            If we’re going to argue that Muslim’s “haven’t learned to privatize matters of faith” we should also argue that non-secular western culture hasn’t, either. Cavanaugh states that Muslim culture, for example, is absolutist, divisive and irrational, whereas western culture is modest in its claims to truth, unitive, and rational. I don’t agree with this.

            Westerners have a skewed view of Muslim’s. Because of the terrorist attacks and our media portraying Muslim’s badly, we lump all people of the Muslim faith as extremists (and even terrorists). For this reason I don’t think it’s fair to say that Muslim cultures haven’t learned to privatize matters of faith or to call them irrational. If we apply the same standards to a non-secular western culture, for example, Christians, they can also be called irrational and be accused of not knowing to privatize matters of faith.

            To illustrate my point I’ll use the example of anti-abortionists. In the United States there is an underground terrorist organization called the Army of God. It has been responsible for a substantial amount of anti-abortion violence. In addition to numerous property crimes, the group has also committed acts of kidnapping, attempted murder, and actual murder. Law enforcement officials have found the Army of God Manual, which is a tactical guilde to arson, chemical attacks, invasions, and bombings. This group is clearly a non-secular monotheistic terrorist group, so why don’t we view all non-secular monotheists as terrorists (as we do Muslims)?

            To summarize, I do agree with Cavanaugh that religion oftentimes gets confused with culture and that the two are intertwined. I also do agree that some religious violence is deemed acceptable, whereas other religious violence is delegitimized. The point I do not agree with is that it’s the secular western groups causing the problems. I believe the “clash of religion” or “culture wars” are caused both in part by non-secular western groups as well as non-secular non-western groups.

            Going back to Cavanaugh’s critique of the secular liberal view that religion is violent, I do agree. I believe the majority of secularists view certain groups in certain religions to be violent or the cause of violence in the past but I don’t agree that secular liberals think religion as a whole is violent. I’m certain there are some ignorant secular liberals that do believe that all religion is bad because it causes violence but I don’t believe it does. Muslim’s view suicide bombers in their religion the same way we view the members of the Westboro Baptist Church; that is, every religion has extremists but as a whole they aren’t violent or necessarily “bad.” 

G. University provides support for military members

**Names and location have been changed for anonymity**

                Since Sept. 11, 2001, there has been record numbers of veterans returning from war and heading to college. This is because the government created a special bill that would pay all the cost of a four-year degree. Since this bills creation it has helped more than 860,000 veterans go to school.

                These veterans aren’t like traditional students, however. Many have been to war and have emotional or physical scarring. Many of the veterans are older than traditional students and aren’t accustomed to life outside the military. These students come with their own set of needs and colleges are attempting to find ways to accommodate the growing number of student veterans.

                G. University is one college that has found a way to successfully integrate its veterans into civilian and student life. Victory Media publishes a list each year honoring the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are “doing the most to embrace military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus” and G. University has made that list for the fifth consecutive year.

                The data Victory Media collected was from a survey of more than 10,000 Veteran Affair approved schools nationwide. The findings are compiled and weighted according to the following categories to determine a final score:

                24 percent military support on campus; 20 percent academic credibility; 10 percent of military students enrolled; ten percent academic credit for military service; ten percent flexibility for military students; five percent for veteran graduation rates; five percent for student tuition assistance; five percent on results of a student survey; five percent for military spouse policies; and one percent on government approval.

                There are a number of things G. University has done to help ensure their student veterans are getting the support they need to succeed. In every department of the school there are designated primary contacts to help with issues pertaining to veteran struggles.

                Melanie works in admissions and is the contact person for veterans. “We have a group called the Veterans Network which is made up of experts in their designated areas that come together to support the specific needs of folks in the military,” she said. “I’m just the contact point for admissions, as there is no one person in charge of recruiting veterans to campus. In fact, most of our veterans are transfer students,” she said.

                Melanie said there is anywhere from 250 to 400 undergraduate applicants each year that indicate they are active military, veterans or dependents or spouses of someone serving in the military.

                According to the Registrar’s office at G. University, veteran enrollment over the past 20 years since every fall from 1994 to 2003 has averaged 250 student veterans. However, after the post 9/11 bill was introduced in fall 2009 enrollment doubled from the prior year and has still continued to grow.

                Nicholas works in personal, professional and career assistance at G. University and has been designated as the department’s veteran contact. His job has two main components, the first is providing personal counseling and the second is providing career counseling.

                “I often work with veterans presenting with deployment or reintegration concerns,” he said. “I also have experience working with trauma survivors and often help veterans cope with difficulties related to their military involvement,” he said.

                “In career counseling, I focus on helping veterans who are confused about their career path or deciding on a major. This often includes self-exploration, finding congruent careers and majors, researching careers, and developing a career plan,” he said. “Also, I have helped veterans identify ways to translate their military experience to strengthen their marketability in the job search process.”

                Nicholas said between the two positions the main focus of his work with veterans and service members is being a resource and support for any career or personal concerns and connecting them with helpful university and community resources.  

                G. University has also created a Veterans Network, which includes a designated lounge area in the K. Center, for student veterans to study, relax, and meet other veterans. The lounge was dedicated by President T.H.  on Nov. 11 of this year and it includes a TV, walls adorned with past military medals, and a spacious area for individuals to meet.

                The Veterans Network has meetings every Wednesday where they discuss military related issues or just come to enjoy each others’ company. Christopher spent eight years in the Army and is now a freshman at G. University and he serves as the Veterans Network’s secretary and risk manager. He says his personal experiences working with G. University veteran liaisons has been positive and the staff has done a fantastic job but there are some things he would like to see change.

                “The only thing I believe G. University needs to do is to advertise the service a bit more throughout the campus and not just through email,” he said. “We are pushing a population of 600 veterans and I believe many don’t even know about the services provided or even that there is a student veteran’s organization here on campus,” he said.

                Duane is also a veteran on campus. He served four years in the Air Force and is still in the reserves and his transition to G. University in the summer of 2012 was very smooth. “The veteran aids were great,” he said. “They answered all my questions and signing up for classes and doing funding paperwork was really easy.”

                There’s another new group on G. University’s campus starting winter semester called G. University Military Support, which aims to provide a place for wives, girlfriends, or children of active or inactive duty military members to gather and meet one another.

                Alexandra is the student on campus that started the group. Her husband has been in the Army National Guard for six years and she says she has felt like part of a minority since she began at G. University.

                “It can be difficult to initially fit into a new group of young people simply because they don’t understand how we think and feel,” Furman said. “It was my goal to find a group here at G. University that catered to military significant others for support, friendship and information. When I was informed there was no such group here, that’s when I started this journey of branching out to men and women like myself,” she said.

                “It’s not easy to network for a group of military significant others, especially since those that aren’t spouses aren’t technically attached to any of the service members info, but that’s why this group is so crucial,” she said. “The people who are nothing significant in the military’s eyes are in need of the same support, friendship and information, and my hopes for this Military Support group is that we can reach out to other significant others and raise awareness of yet another source of diversity on campus,” Alexandra said.

                Julie is a wife of a medically retired Army combat medic and a member of the new group and she feels it’s about time there was a group like this. “I think G. University focuses more on the veterans and tends to forget about the family members that are affected by the veteran,” she said. “I feel the military spouse group will be a great asset to G. University because it will allow the women to have an outlet and to interact with others who are in the same boat as them,” she said.

                “We are non-traditional students and it’s difficult to feel like we fit in when we have been through so much,” she said.

                Nicole shares those sentiments. Her boyfriend has been active duty in the Air Force since 2012 and she’s relieved G. University is finally recognizing significant others of military members.

                “I feel like everyone likes the fact I have a man in a uniform but they don’t understand that you’re not doing it for the uniform, you’re doing it for the person,” she said. “I do get depressed when I see my friends with their boyfriends on campus and how easy it is for them to hang out with their boyfriends every night. It’s really hard for me and I feel like my friends don’t understand just how hard it is so I think this network will help a lot!”

                Amanda’s husband has been active duty in the Army for seven months and she says she has felt isolated on campus but hopes that will change with the new group. “I mostly feel isolated due to not many people being able to understand,” she said. “I’m hoping it will allow me to connect with more people that understand what I’m going through.”

                G. University’s President T.H. believes G. University’s is doing a good job incorporating veterans but he wants to continue improving.

                “As we look ahead we see more veterans coming back to civilian life and many of them have skills and values needed in the workplace. G. University wants to serve those who have served with offering opportunities for service members who have potential and the desire to achieve their degree,” he said.

                “G. University has seen a dramatic increase in the number of veterans and they come from more than Michigan, therefore, our desire to offer in-state tuition to all veterans no matter which state they come from or are going to is important,” he said. “We have significantly improved our services to them in financial aid and in academic advising, as well as creating a welcoming university with the new Veteran Lounge,” Haas said.

                “We continue to seek input from veterans, students, faculty and staff to ensure that we are doing the best we can in our service to our students and doing it right for the right reasons. We aim to create opportunities for those who have served us!”

Understanding Islam: GV Muslims looking for understanding and acceptance

**Names and school title have been changed for anonymity**
 

                GV’s population is made up of students with many different religious beliefs ranging from typical popular Christian faiths to the Jewish student organization. However, there is a very small percentage of students on campus that identify as Muslims, or followers of the Islamic faith.

                Islam is a monotheistic religion just like Judaism and Christianity. It believes in the same prophets as Christians with one exception being the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe Muhammad was a prophet and a messenger, like Moses and Jesus, who spread the word of God through scripture. Two key differences between Christianity and Islam is Islam believes God has no sons and their book is the Holy Quran.

                “Muslims don’t worship a different God than Christians or Jews worship. It’s the same deity, however in Islam you’ll hear God being referred to as Allah, which is literally the Arabic translation of the term God,” Amoon, leader of the GVSU Student Muslim Association said.

                Amoon takes her religion very seriously and considers it her way of life.

                “One of the most importantly daily lessons is the importance of serving God in everything you do,” Amoon said. “When we pray we serve God; when we do charity we serve God; when we are kind to others it’s also a form of service to god.”

                Three members of the Muslim Students Association have all had incidents with bullying and discrimination because of their religion and all three believe that the media gives their religion a bad reputation. This group doesn’t only get together to pray and discuss their religion but also in hopes to clear the negative stereotypes that go along with Islam.

                “Often times the religion of Islam is portrayed very negatively in the media so it leaves very little room for question and a lot of room for anger and fear,” Amoon said.

                Because of the negative portrayal Muslims are given in the media in America, Amoon has faced blatant discrimination while wearing her hijab (headscarf).

                “I have had a professor who stated that he believes Muslims are uneducated and extreme terrorists,” Amoon said. “The one thing I wish people knew about Islam is that they probably have more similarities with Muslims than they think they do.”

                Amoon isn’t the only Muslim on campus to deal with discrimination. Sokina has also dealt with it but she has her own way of fighting back.

                “In the media I have read about people who are hateful towards Islam and Muslims, deeming us to be incompetent, oppressed and ignorant and this only made me love my religion more,” Sokina said. “After that I began wearing the hijab to show I’m a Muslim. I wear it to show that I’m an educated Muslim woman who is not oppressed, who’s capable of making her own decisions, and who isn’t violent. I wear it to be a living, breathing example of Islam.”

                Zaineb, another member of the Student Muslim Association, also wishes outsiders and the media wouldn’t judge them for their religion.

                “I used to have a bully whose parents rotted his brain into thinking that all Muslims and Arabs were terrorists,” Zaineb said. “But now that he’s older and more educated about the people and the religion he’s actually a good friend of mine.”

                Despite being judged for her religion Zaineb still embraces it daily.

                “Whatever decisions I make during my day, I think ‘God is watching, is this something I should be doing?’” Zaineb said. “Islam gives me boundaries to live within because of that and comfort when I need it. It’s a peaceful religion, contrary to what the media has portrayed it.” 

Jean Paul Sartre on Existentialism and Indeterminism

“Humans are not only free, but condemned to be free; condemned to create themselves and their own reality.” Jean Paul Sartre’s quote addresses two theories: Existentialism and Indeterminism. He believed that man is not only ‘condemned’ to be free, but we also have the freedom to make decisions entirely on our own. I agree with Sartre’s theory of existentialism and indeterminism based on the fact there are numerous real world examples that clearly demonstrate humans have the freedom to make decisions free of external forces and can attribute their own meanings to the world around them.

Existentialism is the theory that humans are entirely free, and are thus responsible for what they make of themselves. Sartre was an atheist, which, I believe, influenced his diction in saying that we are ‘condemned’ to be free. Since there is no God, no moral laws exist; therefore individuals are free to make their own decisions and will be held responsible for the outcomes. A high school dropout, for example, isn’t forced by any outside factor to make that decision. They didn’t have any predisposition to doing it, either. Dropping out is a choice they are able to make entirely on their own, without the forces of anyone (i.e., God or the Devil) or anything (i.e., society) making them do it.

When Sartre said we are condemned to create our own reality, he was referring to the free will we have to make decisions and to deal with the consequences. Free will goes along with indeterminism, which is the theory that humans are able to make their own decisions based entirely on deliberate choices, instead of preceding events or conditions. Let’s say I have two test to study for: algebra and English. I can freely choose to study for one, the other, or both. The decision to only study for English instead of algebra had not been previously decided, therefore, I had the option to choose what to study for.

Sartre combines both existentialism and indeterminism in his quote. To further show how much evidence there is of both, let’s say you’re walking into a store and there is a man with a donation bucket sitting outside. What do you do? You could either donate money or ignore the man. There is nothing forcing your decision, it’s entirely up to you. Now, let’s say you choose to ignore the man. Was your mind already made up before you saw him? Or did you choose an option while approaching him? The fact that there is nobody telling you which to choose and the decision wasn’t previously decided shows that Sartre’s theory of existentialism and indeterminism are both likely true.

There are many arguments that can be made against both theories. Taking a look at existentialism, one could say that the government is a controlling force in our lives. The government enacts certain laws that tell us what we can and cannot do, and therefore we base all of our decisions on the expectations of this external force. However, this can easily be argued against. Laws are broken all the time. Humans are guilty of theft, destruction, and even murder. If government were really the controlling force in all of our decision making, then there wouldn’t be any crime at all.

There are also many arguments that can be made against indeterminism. If you look at Newtonian physics, the argument is that everything in the universe operates according to a fixed set of knowable laws. If a glass plate falls from a certain distance at a certain speed, you will (in theory) be able to predict how many pieces it will shatter into. However, if you look at the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, it is impossible to predict where an atom will hit when being shot repeatedly from the same spot. There was no pattern; the atoms hit randomly by chance.

There are many examples in life that show humans are not being controlled or guided by any outside forces, nor is everything that happens based upon previous events. Existentialism can be confirmed from the ostensible ability of humans to attribute their own meanings to the world. Indeterminism, likewise, manifests itself in the practice of human understanding and can be freely stated to exist and therefore falsify determinism. I believe that Sartre’s existential and indeterminist outlooks are correct; this believe creates a world of opportunity, interpretation, condemned to experience cultivation from the mind.