Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Judicial system fails sexual assault victims

Published in the September 14, 2016 issue of The Bells Three months. Three months is how long it takes Mercury to orbit the sun, how long it takes to get over a broken heart (scientifically speaking), how long it takes to create a new habit, and how long we get for summer vacation. Three months is approximately 90 days, 2190 hours, or 131,400 minutes. Three months is NOT a long time. And yet, according to our judicial system, three months is enough time for rapist Brock Turner to learn his lesson. Given the name “Stanford swimmer” in the news, each article contained a picture of a smiling young man, seeming to be an upright citizen. On January 17, Turner took advantage of a girl who was intoxicated, assuming that her lack of a voice was consent. After what his father called “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” Turner left the girl when two students approached. The two men then chased and apprehended Turner when they realized the girl was unconscious. Since then, the case has turned into a circus. After an eye-opening and very personal statement from the victim, much of America watched in horror as the proceedings continued on. Hoping for the longest sentence for such a crime we watched as the media portrayed Turner as an innocent kid, who had simply made a mistake. Butthat is not what he is. On pins and needles leading up to the final decision, I strongly opposed leniency for Turner. How could one use the excuse of intoxication as to why they “messed up” when no consent had been or could have been given? And yet, as I watched the proceedings, I continue to see a picturesque depiction of him as the typical “stand up guy.” And while all that happened over the course of this summer, it seemed as though he was the only one depicted in such a manner while his crimes were far more severe than others portrayed in the media. And when the judge’s final judgement came out, I lost my breath. I lost my breath for every victim, every mother and daughter and sister out there that had ever felt the emotional sting of sexual assault. He was given just six months of jail time, because Turner was “just a kid.” And then as if that wasn’t bad enough, Turner was let out three months early because of “good behavior”. And here I am, like all other media outlets, focusing only on Turner himself. What about other victims who are too scared to come forward, who are now being shown...

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Your voice counts: Why everyone should vote
Aug24

Your voice counts: Why everyone should vote

Published in the Aug. 24, 2016 of The Bells Two candidates have officially been chosen to run for the office of the presidency-Republican nominee billionaire Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Senator Hillary Clinton. But despite having devout followers, these candidates might not see very many people come to the voting booths this November. Due to Hillary’s email scandal and Trump’s notorious outspoken attitude, it seems like many Americans are contemplating whether or not they should vote at all. According to www.americancla.org, 40 to 50 percent of Americans are projected to skip the voting booths in November. Many of these apathetic voters are millennials But despite the statistics, it is important to vote, whether you’re a Hillary or Trump supporter. For this election you are not only electing the next president, you’re also deciding the fate of the Supreme Court. Half of the Supreme Court officials are expected to retire in the next four years. Currently, there is an even number of conservatives and liberals. But this could change once the new president chooses the new judges. And once the judges have been chosen they are in office for life. You may think your vote doesn’t count, but it does. It’s anybody’s race. According to the New York Times, as of this printing, Hillary leads Trump 43 percent to 38 percent. Those who don’t vote will determine the outcome of the election more than those who do vote. And if you are thinking of foregoing your right to vote, think about the generations before us who didn’t even have the chance to cast their ballot. Before 1920, more than half the population of America couldn’t vote simply because they were women. This means that the great or great-great grandmothers of today’s millennials (the same millennials who aren’t voting) weren’t allowed to vote for part of their lifetime. Today anyone can vote no matter their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. But even though we all have the opportunity to vote doesn’t mean we should do so blindly. It’s equally important to do your research and find out where each candidate stands. Don’t just vote the same way as your parents or friends. because it’s not their vote, it’s yours Even if you’re not too crazy for either candidate, one of them is going to be elected to be the next President of the United States for the next four years, so make your vote count. Whether it’s Trump, Hillary, or another candidate, it’s up to the American people to make the...

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Domestic charity work should be first priority
Apr20

Domestic charity work should be first priority

The United States of America is known for their dabbling in foreign affairs and coming to the aid of countries in need. Almost everyone has seen the commercials filled with heart-wrenching images of starving children in Third World countries, who need water and food to fill their bloated bellies. As viewers, we are compelled to call the 1-800 number and donate to save a life in a country far away paying no mind to the homeless population in the streets of our own country. This begs the question, is it right to help those suffering in other countries when we have people struggling to make ends meet right here at home? In Third World countries the undeveloped infrastructure provides little to no means of basic living essentials to its citizens like food, clean water, adequate housing, and some form of commerce. The United States on the other hand is a super power amongst most countries, having in place a democratic form of government, successful infrastructure, and health care. America has so many avenues for individuals to access the “American Dream” but many people continue to hover near the poverty line. Homelessness is not okay in any area of the world, but it is even more unacceptable in a nation that is perfectly capable of adjusting its system to help those in need. Meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer in our country’s time of financial deficit. Austin has an average of 2,300 people on the street. Of that total 900 are chronically homeless according to the city. Chronic homelessness refers to those on the street for one year or more or over four times per year and 40 to 50 percent face death everyday. People don’t have to turn on the TV to see homelessness because it is right here in our back yards. If aid is given to those in need here in the United States, it threatens the money and status of the elite class. Taxing the higher class could be beneficial to helping get those less fortunate on their feet so that they can work to sustain a livelihood. The American upper class is so consumed with monetary value that aiding those of their own country isn’t as important as keeping their fortunes. Instead, people turn a blind eye to the issues of our homeland. In the question of home versus foreign affairs, no one wins because all of those in need deserve help. But there is no excuse for a great country like America not to exhaust every option to sustain its...

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Ad council’s common sense campaigns a waste of gov. funds
Apr20

Ad council’s common sense campaigns a waste of gov. funds

We’ve all seen the commercials; an anthropomorphic bear telling you to put out campfires, smokers telling the dangers of tobacco. Public service announcements run rampant on television, radio and just about every other form of mass communication. But what we don’t question is whether they’re an appropriate use of government funds. The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that produces public service announcements for a wide range of non-profits, agencies and even the United States government. The organization was founded in 1941 and soon became a major contributor to World War II efforts, encouraging Americans to enlist, buy war bonds, and support the war effort in many other ways. Seventy-five years later, the country is in an era where most people have access to a multitude of information in their pockets. So, is it really necessary to spend government funds pumping out ads that most people think are common sense? Let’s look at the Ad Council’s most notable campaign, Smokey the Bear. The iconic bear is the product of a collaboration between the US Forest Service and the Ad Council. The campaign was created in 1944 to spread awareness about wildfire prevention. Smokey’s warning that “if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave” is good advice, but one would think campers could use their own common sense when it comes to putting out campfires. If someone needs a cartoon bear to tell them that leaving a roaring fire unattended in the woods is a bad idea, then humanity as a whole probably has bigger problems. Another reoccurring PSA subject is tobacco awareness, with frequent ads that show the side-effects of smoking. But in 2016, do people really need to be told that filling their lungs with smoke could have negative health effects? It may be different if campaigns had a noticeable impact, but it’s not clear that they do. According to United Press International, a recent study on hundreds of PSAs worldwide produced mixed results. The study concluded that while anti-smoking campaigns seem to be effective, campaigns warning about the dangers of alcohol fall flat. Ads with additional content – from nutrition to health screenings – were all over the map. So, if it’s not clear whether or not the ads even have the desired impact, then maybe it’s time to consider shutting them down. After all, it’s not the government’s place to make life decisions for everybody. It’s time we used a little common sense to make our own...

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Social media: A breeding ground for bullies
Apr20

Social media: A breeding ground for bullies

With the advent of social media, we can constantly keep up with everyone and everything. While having instant access can be good, it also allows social media users to comment anonymously. This can sometimes lead to cyberbullying. Recently under fire from social media, is 20-year-old R&B singer-songwriter, Kehlani Parrish, who releases her music as Kehlani. Kehlani is from Oakland, California and prior to fame was part of the teen pop band PopLyfe, who finished fourth place in the sixth season of America’s Got Talent. Kehlani came under fire when rumors popped up that she cheated on her boyfriend, professional basketball player Kyrie Irving, with her ex-boyfriend PartyNextDoor, a fellow singer-songwriter. Once news sources leaked the information, social media lit up with negative comments. Commentors shamed Kehlani and called her inappropriate names. Even though this did not become a trending topic on social media, it was still a mass cyberbully attack. According to Dictionary.com, cyberbullying can be defined as the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages, usually anonymously. While those who posted about Kehlani might not have been anonymous, they fit the first half of the definition really well. These users were posting things that they would not say to Kehlani’s face, if they ever met. The cyberbullying got so bad that Kehlani attempted suicide. Her friend, PartyNextDoor, found the singer and called 911. Fortunately, she was found in the right amount of time and survived her attempt. When she awoke from her living nightmare, she posted a picture of her arm with the IV in it to her Instagram account, detailing what happened and how thankful she was to be safe. The picture went viral with the hashtag, #staystrongKehlani, trending on social media sites. One thing most people forget when making not-so-pleasant comments, especially about their private life, is that there is an actual person behind that public persona. Kehlani’s post made people realize that their comments did actually effect someone. Many celebrities reached out to Kehlani, while some added to the cyberbullying noise. Singer Chris Brown took his opinions to Twitter, shaming Kehlani and implying that she posted a picture from the hospital in order to stay in the media. Fortunately, other celebs called Brown out on his actions and his followers began dropping like flies. While the advancement of technology and social media has been great, it has also made people more susceptible to bullying. Cyberbullying is a category of its own, because while it may not be physically painful, it can cause a lot of mental and psychological damage. And because cyberbullies are often anonymous, it can make it impossible for...

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Tension builds with North Korea

The United Nations is supposed to enforce laws in all countries, and it seems to be with the help of America. Being an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, I believe in an entity designated to keep all parties in line. When North Korea tested an H-Bomb and nobody reacted, it exposed a weakness in us. Iraq committed crimes and we went to war, but North Korea tested an H-Bomb expressly forbidden by the United States, Britain, Japan, and China and we sent North Korea a letter. By the principles that America stands for we should go to war with North Korea for simply having weapons of mass destruction. I spent 31 months in Iraq helping my country find weapons of mass destruction that our enemies were keeping hidden. North Korea doesn’t even try to hide their WMDs. They are on TV playing with them. When North Korea tested that H-Bomb, I believe it was a clear message to America. If America does not put North Korea in its place then that will lead to trouble for future American generations. We must stand by the principles and rules that we have enforced in the past, or it may seem as if we are for hire. Obviously North Korea will not stop the constant bullying. When Kim Jong-Un dies, his son will probably be worse. North Korea claims America is a gang of cruel people that harms others. So the dictator feels he is backed by righteousness. This could mean war is imminent. North Korea has the guts to constantly push the limits and break the rules, but we seem to be doing nothing.. We waged war against a nation that did not even have uniforms. But yet we can’t wage war against a country that has imprisoned American students and dropped an H-bomb that they weren’t supposed to have. North Korea clearly has no intent of doing anything America...

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