Though Pullman is a smaller setting than those of other Occupy protests, the local group feels they are making a difference.
By Kari Bray
As the fall 2011 semester draws to a close at Washington State University, the local branch of the Occupy movement is putting things on hold for Winter Break but aims to come back strong in the spring.
The group has staged protests in the streets of Pullman, along Glenn Terrell Mall on campus and at the Dad’s Weekend home football game. Next semester, members hope to continue starting conversations and establishing connections in the community, said Sina Sam, a 29-year-old women’s studies major and organizer for Occupy the Palouse.
It can be difficult to establish a long-term presence in a community where a large portion of the population is there for four years at the university and then leaves, she said. However, by connecting with students and community members to start meaningful conversations about politics and business, Occupy the Palouse aims to leave a mark.
About a month after the September debut of the Occupy Wall Street protests, a group of WSU students got in touch through Facebook and founded Occupy the Palouse.
The group, started by a handful of members, has gained more than 130 followers on Facebook and about 20 regular attendees at their meetings and protests, Sam said.
“To my surprise – and I’m definitely pleasantly surprised – it has continued to grow,” Sam said.
Jonathan Mintz, a 20-year-old physics major and member of Occupy the Palouse, said the message the group is trying to get across is that there is money in politics and it has generated inequality. He said policies that get instated over decades often go unnoticed even though they benefit corporations and wealthy members of society while disadvantaging the working class.
“There’s a lot to it,” he said. “Really it’s just about economic injustice.”
He said the group’s most effective protest to date has been outside the Dad’s Weekend home football game, where Occupiers clarified their message for people who were not familiar with the group. Some critics believe Occupiers blame either corporations or the government for economic inequality, but the problem is actually the whole system, Mintz said.
Genevieve Briand, an instructor in the WSU School of Economic Sciences, said while she agrees with some ideas of the Occupy movement, particularly that corporate welfare is unjust, she does not agree with the movement’s standpoint on income inequality.
“I don’t have a problem with income inequality like the movement does,” Briand said. “First of all, it’s Utopia to think you can have income equality.”
Without income inequality, there is no motivation for entrepreneurs to put in the time and effort to create wealth and jobs for other members of society, she said. The ability to make more money is a driving force behind innovation, which helps the entire nation.
“Corporate wealth is being chastised by the Occupy movement, and I don’t think that’s very productive,” Briand said.
Christopher Faricy, an instructor in the WSU Department of Political Science, said in an email that the Occupy movement as a whole has gained momentum throughout the country because its message is attractive to those who are suffering from tough economic times.
“Social movements that are successful create a message that resonates with a large group of people outside of their group,” Faricy said. “The Occupy message that claims our system works for the rich and not the middle class resonates with many people during this recent economic downturn.”
Occupy the Palouse is in a significantly smaller setting compared to protests in larger cities like Seattle or New York, which has presented some challenges for local members. Organization and participation can be problematic among students who are busy with final tests and class projects, Mintz said.
The lack of organization, particularly the lack of a hierarchical leadership structure and definition of specific policies, is both a strength and a weakness for the movement nationwide, Faricy said in an email. Locally, size could also become a factor.
“These are movements successful if they provide a sustained presence in communities,” he said. “It is harder to do that with a smaller group.”
Ryan Thomas, a 28-year-old doctoral candidate and instructor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, participates in Occupy the Palouse and said the smaller size of the movement is not a weakness, but is rather expected.
“This isn’t Seattle, this isn’t Portland, and anyone who thinks we can get those numbers is flat out unrealistic,” Thomas said. “I think being in what’s fair to say is the red part of a blue state, not having a city population to draw on, are challenges that any movement would face in a city this size.”
Change will never happen if no one does anything, Thomas said. Even if the group is small, Occupy the Palouse is making progress.
“It’s quite easy to be jaded as a graduate student, but I’ve gained insight that undergraduates care and are involved in something,” he said. “Generation Y is often characterized as apathetic, which can be true, but these students are challenging that stereotype, and I think that’s great.”
Briand said she encourages people to make up their own minds about public and private spending. Greed is not only found at the top of large corporations. It can be seen at any level of society, and the most democratic option is to permit the private sector to manage itself and income inequality will allow for innovation and production. Wealth is not created through either corporate or middle class welfare, she said.
“You should make up your own mind by going to the source of the data,” she said. “Learning more about economics is important and the economic background is a little weak in the Occupy movement as far as how we produce wealth.”
Mintz said the nation has seen change sparked by the Occupy movement and he believes Occupy the Palouse and the many other branches across the country have already succeeded.
“We’ve had a major effect on politics that maybe the media doesn’t want to acknowledge,” he said. “I think we’ll see some backlash in the upcoming election.”
Sina Sam - email@example.com
Jonathan Mintz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Genevieve Briand (interviewed in person) - email@example.com
Christopher Faricy - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Thomas (interviewed in person) - email@example.com
1) The core issue is whether or not a 5-year-old girl who has just experienced something horribly tragic and life-changing should have her photo broadcast through the media to an international audience so that millions witness her darkest moment. However, on the flip side, her story is a representation of a serious problem in a war zone, and is it worth protecting a 5-year-old when publishing the image could generate changes or at least make people more aware of and emotionally involved in the issue.
2) Alternative 1: publish everything, including the image, name, situation, date, who was involved and what happened to the family and soldiers. Alternative 2: publish nothing at all. Alternative 3: publish selectively. Do not include name or photo of child, but tell the story.
3) If the image is published, this can be explained to readers because it illustrates a larger issue and the harsh realities of war, which international audiences often times turn a blind eye to. Change can’t happen effectively if no one is aware of the problem.
1. “Megan Fox is a man!” Headline on Weekly World News Web site
No. No one will buy into this.
2. “Up until the day he died, he was a brilliant writer. But the drugs made him a thief, a pimp and a liar,” said friend Karen Smith, who was with Johnson at the time of his death.
No. Friend Karen Smith can state her opinion and we can publish it. It is not flattering, but it is attributed to someone who knew him. Also, he’s not around anymore to sue for libel.
3. “In my opinion, Kevin is a murdering rapist,” the prosecutor told the jury.
No. Obviously, this could hurt Kevin’s reputation, but if he is on trial and the prosecutor makes this statement during the case, it is publishable. We’d want the other side of the case, too.
4. “In my opinion, he’s a murdering rapist,” the man said at the rally.
I wouldn’t publish this. Attribution is lacking.
Facebook, as a public tool for communication, can and should be used to get in touch with people. So with the J.D. Hop case, if he is friends with someone prominent on Facebook, a journalist could definitely consider getting in touch with that person to ask about their interactions with Hop after his arrest. However, as far as simply reporting that he is Facebook friends with certain people, this is unnecessary and I think should be avoided. After all, people are often Facebook friends without having many or any personal interactions with the person. Simply reporting he is Facebook friend with someone prominent could easily take this out of context. Perhaps this prominent person friends everyone in the community as a political or campaign move.
GI Bill brings more veterans to WSU
Student veterans who could not otherwise afford to attend college are taking advantage of the bill in tough economic times.
By Kari Bray
In the lower level of the Compton Union Building, four veterans sat in the ASWSU Student Veterans Committee (SVC) office, visiting between classes. Together, they have dedicated more than 20 years of service in the U.S. military. They served on tours around the world, including in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
None of them could have attended college without financial support from the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
“My parents couldn’t afford to help me go to school, so without some grants or whatnot I wouldn’t have been able to go to college,” said Stephon Westfall, a 26-year-old management and information systems major who served six years in the Air Force.
Westfall toured in Southeast Asia and serves with the Air National Guard. WSU waives about 50 percent of his tuition, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers half of the remaining 50 percent.
“I’ve just been really grateful of the opportunity to go to school through the GI Bill,” Westfall said. “I feel like it’s kind of a thank you for your service.”
This year, nearly 1,000 students at Washington State University are paying for school with help from a GI Bill. Two years ago, only about 620 students used the bill.
WSU veterans coordinator Matthew Zimmerman said the university, including branch campuses and distance learning, saw a 40 percent increase in students using the GI Bill in fall of 2010, followed by a 10 percent increase in fall of 2011.
The increase is the result of the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill on Aug. 1, 2009, he said. During the 2009-2010 school year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) educated service members about the new bill. Veterans started taking advantage of the opportunity in 2010, Zimmerman said.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides funding for higher education to veterans who served in active duty after Sept. 11, 2001. Those who served 36 months or more can receive 100 percent of their tuition and fees, $1,000 for books and a living allowance based on military calculations of cost of living by region, which is $934 a month in Pullman, Zimmerman said.
The post-9/11 bill offers better benefits than the previous Montgomery GI Bill, Zimmerman said. In a tough economy, many veterans choose to go to school because the cost is covered.
Jake Fischer, a 24-year-old food science major, served four years in the Air Force, where he was stationed in Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan. He said without the GI Bill, which pays 100 percent of his tuition and expenses, he could not have attended school.
“I think it’s awesome that I can go to class and not have to worry about where my money comes from,” he said.
Brian Michael Beleau, a 27-year-old civil engineering major who also receives 100 percent support through the bill, said veterans earned the money they receive for school. Beleau served six years in the Navy, touring the Malaysian islands and coast of Africa.
“I paid for my school,” he said. “I put the years in.”
The transition for veterans from combat to college can be challenging because they do not have a peer group, Zimmerman said. Generally, veterans are older than students they take classes with. They are also on a timeline to finish school in the four years covered by the bill.
“They just want to get their education done with the least amount of frivolous stuff,” he said.
Stephen Bassham, a 26-year-old hospitality business management major, served for six year in the Air Force in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. He said one challenge in going from military to university is adjusting to significantly less structure in university life.
Fischer said not only the lack of structure but also the age difference can be challenging. The younger students in class do not always have the same notions of what is entertaining or funny.
“It’s kind of awkward taking classes with people who are 18 years old,” he said.
Westfall said his transition has been different from other veterans’ because he continued to serve in the Air National Guard and had less of a clean break from the military.
“My experience is just one snapshot of a whole spectrum of experiences out there,” he said. “But it’s been a good one so far.”
Beleau said the change from combat to college has been tough for him, but the SVC and their office in the CUB helps.
“It’s a nice kind of snug hole in the wall,” he said.
Zimmerman said WSU offers resources for veterans such as the SVC, counseling and a new veterans seminar class, UCollege 304. However, he said WSU faculty and staff treat veterans as they would any other student.
“We try not to single them out too much,” he said. “The input we get from veterans is that they don’t want too many special classes or anything. They just want to get in and get it done.”
Zimmerman said he expects to see a continued increase in students using the GI Bill at WSU during the next few years, but he is not sure how drastic the increase will be.
“Who knows what we’ll see with the end of the Iraq conflict,” he said.
Matthew Zimmerman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephon Westfall – email@example.com
Brian Michael Beleau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Bassham – email@example.com
Jake Fischer – firstname.lastname@example.org
1) GET is the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program. It allows parents to prepay their children’s college tuition today and their account value will keep pace with rising tuition.
2) More than 119,000 GET accounts have been opened by families since 1998.
3) One change to GET will be that S&A (Services and Activities) Fees will not be included under the prepaid program so the students must pay S&A Fees when they enroll in college.
4) The bill did become law, though the governor vetoed part of it.
5) Aldo Melchiori prepared the report.
6) Sponsors: Representatives Hunt, Dammeier, Darneille, Liias, Carlyle, Roberts, Jinkins, Orwall, Kenney, Hasegawa, McCoy, Fitzgibbon and Tharinger.
7) Bill Digest: Requires the Washington state school directors’ association to work with school districts to develop and implement a comprehensive statewide reorganization initiative to streamline and provide efficiencies in the administration and operation of school districts and educational service districts. Establishes the commission on statewide school district reorganization to develop and recommend a comprehensive plan for the reorganization of school districts and to consider and determine appeals of or alternatives to the reorganization plan if the plan is adopted by the legislature. Requires the joint legislative audit and review committee to conduct an independent review of the comprehensive plan. Authorizes school districts whose organization is changed by a reorganization plan adopted by the legislature to appeal the reorganization. Provides contingent expiration dates and a contingent effective date.
8) The most recent hearing of the bill was Feb. 10, 2011, at 8 a.m. The House Education Committee heard the testimony.
9)I get 122 results for Washingston + State + University.
10) The most recent bill signed into law is HB 1087 Relating to fiscal matters.
11) HB 1103 Relating to the use of television viewers in motor vehicles could be interesting. Also, SB 5000 Relating to mandating a twelve-hour impound hold on motor vehicles used by persons arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In the face of another budget shortfall, the legislature must look at reducing services such as higher education, healthcare and offender supervision, Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a letter to state legislators Thursday.
An anonymous source claiming to know firsthand that a senator who has historically voted against the gay community is gay sounds extremely questionable. It could easily be someone trying to ruin the senator’s reputation because of anger about his voting record. Without more information, I don’t think the claims merit an article. However, with the senator’s press release, it might be interesting to look into that voting record and possibly address the blogger’s claims in the context of the senator’s claim that his voting record reflects the desires of his constituents.
More than $41 million has been raised for initiatives this year. Almost $61 million was raised in 2010, a little more than $7 million in 2009, and about $9.5 million in 2008.