Creating a “Safe” Space

DSmith

Dillon Smith ’16

On campuses across the nation, students are calling for memorials to be redone, statues to be taken down, and buildings to be renamed. This is due to the “safe space phenomenon”.

At Princeton University, one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, a group of students called the Black Justice League have demanded that buildings and statues in honor of school alumnus Woodrow Wilson be torn down for his racist views despite his numerous accomplishments that benefited humanity. Yale students have petitioned to rename the school’s Calhoun College, named after John C. Calhoun for his views regarding African Americans that he held in the 1800s. The petition states, “The monumental task of eliminating the vestiges of racism must include all monuments and symbols dedicated to people and institutions that fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy.” At Harvard University, faculty running the individual “houses” on campuses can no longer be called “House Masters” because the title “master conjur[es] connotations of slavery”, although its roots are from centuries-old European terms for a teacher, chief servant or head of household.

Personally, I see this as a horrible part of today’s society. We culturally have become over-sensitized and have stepped on our own civil liberties by limiting free speech to “acceptable” speech. While I do believe that it is important that we grow and develop in a safe environment in which we are protected and free to do so without interference, we cannot value our own “safety” over our own freedom. The real world is not a “safe” place. Millions of people have millions of different opinions, and sheltering our ears from them does not make them cease to exist. Exposure is the only way for us to develop our own complex opinions, so “sheltering” us from “harmful” language will end up doing more harm than good. We culturally need to become less sensitive to others’ ideas and more concerned with our own development. Hiding from what we do not want to hear is no way to do so. For more information on these occurrences and other perspectives, please see the links below.

At Harvard Dorms, ‘House Masters’ No More

The White-Supremacist Lineage of a Yale College

 

GOP Presidential Race

AP GOP 2016 DEBATE A ELN USA CO
Republican presidential candidates, from left, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul take the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

If you’ve been even somewhat involved in doing your civil duties as an American citizen, you’ve heard more than a few words about and from the various candidates for the Republican ticket of the presidential race. And by various candidates, I mean many candidates. There are nine “leaders” in the race, but aside from them there are tens more. It seems that becoming a Republican presidential candidate is as much a fad amongst politicians as taking a selfie is amongst teenagers. A few of the leaders are real-estate mogul Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Governor Chris Christie, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and former CEO Carly Fiorina, to name a few. After a morally reasonable beginning of the race to win the republican primary election, the various candidates’ campaigns have resorted to mudslinging against their competitors. To put this into context, here are a few quotes from the candidates:

“Jeb Bush is a low-energy person,” Donald Trump on Bush

“He’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president.” Jeb Bush on Trump

“That’s exactly what President Obama has said. I’m amazed to hear that from a Republican presidential candidate.” Carly Fiorina on Trump

“If you are in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.” Rand Paul on Christie

As you can see, the campaigns are turning dirty, and in order to shed some light into the aspirations and pasts of the candidates, here is a bit of information on some of the leaders.

Donald Trump has, predictably, been very fickle with his political affiliations. During his young years until 1987 he was affiliated with the Democrats, but from 1987-1999 he became a Republican. From 1999-2001 he recognized himself as a member the Reform Party, but he then became a democrat again. This was until 2009 when he became affiliated with the Republicans for two years. Then from 2011-2012 he was an independent but switched back to the Republicans in 2012 with whom he has remained involved through the present. Affiliations aside, Trump has made repeated controversial statements regarding illegal immigration, ISIS, the Syrian refuge crisis, and, most notably, Muslim immigration calling for a total ban on Muslims entering the United Sates. Trump’s campaign slogan is that he will “make America great again.”

Ted Cruz is a senator out of Texas who served as policy advisor to George W. Bush during his 2000 presidential campaign after being Texas’s solicitor general. He is considered by many to be an ultraconservative, and thus appeals to many right-winged thinkers as well as many born-again Christians and citizens of the Bible belt. Cruz is pro-life and against same-sex marriage, promotes legal immigration, acknowledges the presence of climate change but questions the science behind its effects, and, on the topic of ISIS, believes something needs to be done and that “political correctness is killing people.”

Marco Rubio, the second child of Cuban immigrants to be running for the presidency, is current Florida senator and former Speaker of the Florida House who has shifted to a more moderate-conservative position on the political spectrum. He garnered much of his support in his early career from the Tea Party and is pro-life, like Ted Cruz, but his transition towards more moderate politics may alienate him from his initial supporters. He believes in immigration reform, that climate change was not caused by man, that the budget should be both more balanced and more focused on defense, and that the president’s power to attack, particularly regarding ISIS, needs to be increased.

Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon known for performing the first successful separation of twins conjoined at the back of the head. He has become respected among the GOP for his Washington Times columns which revealed his mostly-conservative-but-sometimes-moderate political standpoints. He believes climate change is cyclic and an irrelevant issue, that we need more school choices citing higher successes in home schools, private schools or charter schools than in public school, that the Affordable Healthcare Act did help some but had bad effects on health care in general, that the U.S. should establish a flat tax system, and that the U.S. needs to be more aggressive in its attempts to stop ISIS.

Chris Christie is most known for his position as governor of New Jersey, but also was appointed the State Attorney of the same state after George W. Bush was elected president. As governor, Christie garnered support for being more moderate than many of his Tea Party contemporaries and has also gained a reputation for being able to find agreement between both sides of the political spectrum, as during his tenure as governor he worked with democratic legislature in a somewhat liberal state. His time governing New Jersey, however, was tainted by a scandal involving the Port Authority and large traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge, but responsibility for this has fallen on the shoulders of Bridget Anne Kelley, his former deputy chief of staff. Christie disagrees with the Common Core and aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act, believes in slightly stricter gun control, wants to raise the retirement age, and is willing to take military action to fight ISIS.

As a soon-to-be voter in America, I worry about the fate of American politics and the fate of the presidency, but I will be able to do something about it. Many citizens shirk their civil duties and choose not to vote, but I will not be one of those citizens, and I hope you won’t either. I hope this article revealed a bit more about some of the candidates and either changed or assured you of your political opinions. I leave you with a quote from former-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”

Northwood Acquires Two Million-Dollar Lake Placid Properties

Bill McKibben Talk Hits Home

McKibben

Northwood students saw McKibben speak in Keene in October. (Photo: Steve Liptay)

Bill McKibben is a name that brings to mind the fight to do something about climate change when it is mentioned. McKibben dedicated his life to the environmental cause in 1980, but before this he attended Harvard University in Cambridge, MA where he was editor of the Harvard Crimson, the school’s newspaper. After graduating, he spent a few years freelancing, writing environmentalist articles for magazines including The New York Times, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. In 1989, his first book, The End of Nature, was published. [Read more…]

On Curiosity

DSmith

Dillon Smith ’16

A few weeks ago, Mr. Maher stood up at school meeting and talked to you all about a very important personal trait: integrity. I am here today to talk to you about something else. Something that I value very highly, I would say as highly as I value integrity. That something is curiosity. Now, some of you may have been cautioned against curiosity by the old adage “curiosity killed the cat.” This of course is referring to Schrodinger’s cat, who famously was put in a box with a flask of poison in order to prove that, unless the box is opened, the cat is simultaneously dead and alive. Thus, out of curiosity, opening the box to find out whether the cat is dead or alive effectively kills the cat. This, however, is not the way we should look at curiosity. Curiosity, to me, is one of the most important characteristics of human nature. It is what drives us to ask questions, to learn, to broaden the stretch of our understanding and the breadth of our creativity and imagination. Without it, no one would ever have asked what the bright spots in the night sky are or why hundreds of different bird species live on islands separated by mere miles. (The answers here are stars and evolution in case that needed clarification). Curiosity is the root of human discovery. It is the reason Shakespeare proposed the transcending question “to be or not to be?” just as it inspires each and every one of us to ask as children why the sky is blue and why the grass is green.

Without curiosity, we would live mundane lives in a mundane world, each day exactly the same as the preceding one without any variation or excitement. Curiosity leads to change. It causes people to stop for a moment and ask “why do we do that?” and then leads us to do something different, something new, something better. Asking questions is what led to the desegregation of America, to the student protests about Vietnam, and to all other social reforms. It led to the development of the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, and Newton’s three laws. Curiosity is one of a select few traits that has influenced all aspects of humanity across all parts of the world. Chinese intellectuals have developed DNA brakes. European scientists discovered antimatter with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Americans have revolutionized the world’s understanding of how we view genetics. It is even the only trait that is working to learn more about another planet. The Curiosity Rover, launched by NASA in 2012, is currently roaming the surface of Mars looking for evidence to answer the age-old question: are we alone? It has been up there on the little red planet gathering data for over three years thus bettering human understanding of the universe and how planets are formed. Curiosity has taken us from the darkest depths of the ocean to the core of the sun, from the smallest quarks that make up atoms to the biggest galaxies that make up the universe, from the darkest depths of the human mind to the most amazing actions of human kindness. Curiosity is a beautiful, amazing thing that deserves more attention than it gets.

Personally, I believe that curiosity is one of the most undervalued traits in American society. Students are trained in rote memorization throughout grade school, and it is not until late in their educational career that they are taught how to ask questions and seek answers. This thought is quite troubling to me, as ever since I was a child my parents raised me to be inquisitive. Watching my peers simply accept what they were being told was upsetting and led me to develop the idea for my Eagle Service Project, a rejuvenation of an outdoor, enclosed courtyard where students could find an environment that fostered intellectual growth. In the end, after over 530 hours of work, I, along with volunteers, had created an environment filled with youthful flowers, bright colors, comfortable furniture, and a contemplative sand garden where students could go to find a serene environment conducive to asking questions. The elementary school held its first class in the renovated courtyard days after the opening ceremony, after nearly seven years of disuse. I had bestowed what was, in my eyes, the most valuable gift a person could give to a child: the opportunity to ask a question.

Now, contrary to what you’ve been told your whole lives, there is such thing as a stupid question. But stupid questions are not what you would expect. They are the questions you already know the answers to. Why would you ask about what you already know when you can ask the other questions and expand your knowledge base? There are so many questions out there that have yet to be asked, that have yet to be answered. I put it to you all. Faculty, I put it to you to never dismiss a student’s valid questions. But more importantly, students. I put it to you all to ask the right questions and find the right answers.

Photo of Dillon Smith ’16 by Mr. Michael Aldridge.

The Mirror was established in 1927
© 2015-2019 by the Staff of The Mirror
The Mirror's Policy Manual and Style Guide.
The Mirror is funded by gifts to the Northwood Fund. Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: