LETS STAND UP TOGETHER

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Responses from Morton College students to a survey question concerning gun control.

The American public has become desensitized at these occurrences because we’ve seen this cycle before. The cycle is, there’s a shooting, we grief and pray for the families of those injured and passed, we call for action from politicians for gun control, nothing gets heard, nothing gets done and eventually, it happens again. The cycle repeats.

I wasn’t surprised about the news until I saw the videos from some of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. What I  saw, was a phone recording by a student that was huddled with other classmates for protection. There were loud gunshots, but what made me realize that this was something horrific, were the frightened screams from the trapped victims. Piercing screams far worse than those in scary movies. These demonstrated helplessness, and a desperate plead for mercy. That video wasn’t a minute long, yet it made me feel uneasy. I cringed at the thought of being there.

In an interview by ABC News, Jonathan Blank, who was seen in that video, laying on the floor, cowering, said, “I saw them on the ground after they were shot, there was blood everywhere, it was horrible.”

After seeing that, I began to imagine how terrifying it would be to witness a day in celebration of love and affection, turn into a nightmare. To watch, as it turned into a day where they prayed and pleaded to not die. To make it out alive. A day that these victims  began saying their goodbyes via text or call, almost accepting that they might die there. Ultimately, a day that would change their lives forever.

“No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” -President Donald J. Trump

 WHAT WE KNOW

“Blood is being spilled on the floors of American classrooms”         

 -David Hogg (victim).

As reported on TIME magazine, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stated that gunman Nikolas Cruz (19), after taking an Uber car ride to the high school, began to “fire into five classrooms across three floors of the building at 2:21pm.”

According to CNN, “On the third floor, he dropped his rifle and ammo. Ran out of the building, blending in with students and staff who were pouring out of the school, many with their hands in the air.”

Officer Michael Leonard, said Cruz “looked like a typical high school student,” and was walking on a nearby neighborhood. From there, he was brought into custody without resisting. Cruz is now being charged with 17 accounts of premeditated murder. Currently held without bond.

THERE WERE SIGNS OF TROUBLE

Cruz has been reported by The Star to have been a member of The JROTC marksmanship program used air rifles special-made for target shooting, typically on indoor ranges at targets the size of a coin. The program had received $10,827 in non-cash assistance from the NRA’s fundraising and charitable arm in 2016. This was only one out of 18 schools total in just the state of Florida, more than any other state.

Another member of the JROTC program who gave Cruz rides to shooting competitions said, “He was a very good shot, and he would tell us about how fun it was to shoot a riffle, shooting pistols and owning an AR-15 at home.” Not knowing he would shoot up their school one day with that same gun he spoke so profoundly about, “as if it was therapeutic to him.”

“Why does a teenager legally have an AR15? Somewhere along the line, these guys (politicians) forgot they work for us not the NRA.”

-Jimmy Kimmel.

Cruz, a former student of the school had been expelled for disciplinary problems. Math teacher Jim Gard reported to TIME magazine that at one point Cruz wasn’t allowed to school with a backpack after making threats. Ultimately, shattering his plans of joining the Army after graduation. His peers described him as a loner, troubled kid, outcast and with violent tendencies.

It was also reported by various sources that he used to kill animals for entertainment.

HIS SUPPORT SYSTEM WAS GONE

Also, reported by TIME magazine, his mother passed away in November 2017. He and his younger sibling were legally living with a couple, family friends, who referred to his as a “monster” in an interview and mentioned they felt betrayed. They also stated there weren’t signs, other than “he seemed depressed.”

The Miami Herald stated that Florida’s Department of Children and Families had previously investigated Cruz after he posted Snapchat videos of cutting his arms. They reported that he was victim of medical neglect and inadequate supervision but was identified as “stable”.

BLAMING MENTAL ILLNESS

Cruz’s attorney argued that he had brain development issues, as well as mental illness. TIME revealed the response from The President of the American Psychological Association, Jessica Henderson;

“Framing the conversation about gun violence in the context of mental illness does a disservice both to the victims of violence and unfairly stigmatizes the many others with mental illness. Most important, it does not direct us to appropriate solutions to this public health crisis.”

I interviewed Morton’s psychology professor, Mr. Wood on his opinion, he responded;

“I agree, because mental illness has a broad range of different illnesses… if we could just pinpoint those who are pre-dispositioned to be violent…”

On February 15th at 6:12 AM, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior, neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

Once again, President Trump reiterates what we already know and blames. He always blames mental health to deviate from the real problem, guns. Even if he thinks mental illness is the cause, he’s a hypocrite for de-funding mental health care.

We’ve heard this from President Trump before, after the Texas Mass shooting in a church that left 26 killed and many injured, he said;

“Mental health is your problem here” called the shooter a “very deranged individual.” As a response to that, Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, the gun control group started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said to NBC News.

“Blaming mental health is a tactic straight out of the gun lobby’s playbook that’s meant to paralyze Congress. Donald Trump’s goal is to make people think our leaders don’t have the power to prevent gun violence.”

Yet as reported by NPR’s Scott Horsely nearly a year ago, The Trump administration signed a bill that “rolled back an Obama-era rule that would have required the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries with severe mental disabilities to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

This is what NRA’s spokesperson Dana Loesch blamed at CNN Townhall when meeting with shooting survivors,

 “He passed the background check because the system is flawed… it is not federally mandated to report those that have convictions and have been adjudicated mentally unfit…that’s how this madman passed the background check.”  

Not to mention, President Trump’s 2019 budget is expected to cut spending for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration by $665 million. Additionally, Bloomberg reported the National Institute of Mental Health would see a 30 percent reduction in funding — a half a billion dollar decrease — in 2019.

THIS IS DIFFERENT

In the article, “The Righteous Anger of the Parkland’s shooting’s Teen Survivors” author Robinson Meyer, editor for The Atlantic, focuses on the importance of this shooting not only because it is the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary (2012) but because it’s the largest high-school shooting in the social media age. The survivors not only grief and tell their stories but are also calling for political action because they “understand the tragedy as adults but are as blameless for it as children.” Meyer writes that many of the victims were talking about the happenings as something that “just happens, not as an unforeseeable tragedy” because they have “visualized something like this before” and now we all visualize something like this happening to us. This cycle seems almost normal now. “Preventable, therefore political.”

I agree with Meyer, this shooting brings back the importance of stricter gun control. Myself, being a young adult and a student, I felt connected to these victims as they spoke of their lost peers and faculty. Watching the interviews of the survivors, reading their social media posts made me realize that we never think about this happening to us, until it does to us or someone we know.

Teens all over the country went back to school and felt scared or worried. Colleen Lance (16), told The Washington Post,

“It’s very anxious to go to school after a school shooting. It makes you more aware that you’re not safe.”

STUDENT OPINIONS

From personal experience at Morton College, I always feel safe in campus. That’s only because we have our very own campus Police Department, located in Building C, which we can dial (708) 656-8000 Ext. 2200 for any in-campus emergencies, and able to use one of over 30 emergency phones around campus. Although, reality is that we may never know when something like this could happen to our schools.

I began to question how other Morton College students felt about the subject. I asked the question; After hearing about the Florida high school shooting, do you think there should be stricter gun control? Which would include thorough universal background checks, more paperwork, various monthly and yearly examinations to obtain and keep a weapon(s).

I received a total of 68 anonymous votes.

57 voted yes, while only 11 voted no.

I originally asked for only a “yes or no” answer, although I received some comments on their opinions.

One student answered NO, but believes “the government, or schools themselves, should put more safety regulations.”

Another student, answered YES, and believes that “there should be fees added with the application process.”

A student that answered YES offered that, “besides stricter gun control, the government should provide more Americans with mental health awareness/help programs.”

STUDENTS STAND UP

Students of Stoneman Douglas demand action. Even when being interviewed by local news, shooting survivors like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez were quick to call for action, and have been in various interviews. So far, they forced a CNN town hall and got new commitments from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. There have been millions of dollars raised for protests such as The March for Our Lives and there’s a National School Walkout and many more to come according to Vox. Whether you think guns or mental health is the primary factor of mass shootings, whether you think the police and FBI failed for missing tips and taking action from that; it’s worth speaking out on. Let’s share our opinion, not simply ignore it. Bringing awareness to these issues is of extreme importance because these tragedies will keep resurfacing over and over if congress doesn’t act. Laws need improvement and that starts with raising our voices and concerns.

An Introduction From the New Student Trustee

By Estefani Hernandez

Hello everyone,

It is a true honor to be the 2017 elect student trustee. My motivation to run for student trustee was my desire of wanting to make a difference. Therefore my campaign was focused on the change we all want to see. As a student and employee of Morton College, I’ve learned to see that there is always room for improvement.

DuFullSizeRenderring my term, I would like to improve communication between staff, faculty, and students. As first generation college student, I’ve learned that communication is key for success. Improving communication will be a challenging project to work on, but I know that it is possible and definitely worth it.

I am also looking forward to increasing the exposure of Morton College. With that being said, I’d like to work on creating and increasing community activities. Exposing the college will bring many great changes and increase student involvement with more enjoyable experiences.

Another direct goal I have is to increase the opportunities for students who do not qualify for financial aid. A lot of students in our community do not have enough resources to pursue their education and as a student trustee, I will love to find ways to help open more doors.

Although there are many things I will like to do as a student trustee, these are my main goals. I am aware that I represent the student body and I will like to encourage every student to send me their ideas/needs to Estefani.hernandez@Morton.edu. I will try to work on everything I can to make our student experience the best.

 

 

 

Morton College “under monitoring” by the Higher Learning Commission

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By Marcela Ruiz

On Friday, March 10th, Morton College released a letter of announcement concerning the college’s accreditation status.  The letter entitled “Morton College Earns Reaffirmation of Regional Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)” stated the next reaffirmation of accreditation to be in the 2026-2027 academic year. This statement was created by the college’s administration from the official letter delivered to President Stanley Fields on March 2nd.

The official letter was released in the HLC website. The letter states that before the next reaffirmation takes place, the college has been placed under “Action with Interim Monitoring”.  While the HLC maintains the accreditation of Morton College, a focused visit is required to determine improvement in the following areas:

“extent of Board engagement with policy development; professional development plan for the president; participatory governance; and a comprehensive internal communication plan. Additional focus on financial accountability responsibilities”.

Morton College had previously been placed “on notice” by HLC in 2005 and again in 2012 but both sanctions were removed in 2006 and 2014 respectively. The College’s faculty were concerned that during the college’s last comprehensive evaluation visit in October 17, 2016,  the outcome would be similar. Although this was not the case, the final report did conclude that HLC has:

“serious concerns with the Board of Trustees at Morton College. Specifically, how the board perceives its role in governing the college. It appears to the team that these issues still exist and are having a negative effect on the overall operations of the college. The board and faculty must come to a mutually understanding of the meaning of shared governance. The board is aware of their responsibility to address these concerns and is taking measures to address the issues.”

The College will face a focus visit sometime before January 31st, 2018, most likely this fall. The Higher Learning Commission will at that visit determine if Morton College has met the stated requirements.

A previous version of this article contained the error that Morton College had been place On Notice. That error has been corrected in this updated version.

Morton College Tuition on the Rise

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By Marcela Ruiz

Beginning the fall semester, tuition will increase by $7 dollars per credit hour.

This change will result in an increase between $84-$112 for full-time students who attend 12-16 credit hours per semester. Similarly, part-time students taking 6-11 credit hours per semester, should expect an increasing between $42-$77.

On March 27, 2017 President Stan Fields issued a statement to inform students of this upcoming change. The e-mail stated: 

“This change is designed to ensure that Morton College is able to offer our college community access to the very best resources including skilled faculty and staff, enhanced campus facilities, and course programming that supports your success.”

The statement briefly mentioned the new Dual Enrollment Program, which is a partnership with J. Sterling Morton High School District 201. The new program will give high school students an opportunity to enroll in courses eligible for college credit at their school.

President Fields encourages students to contact the Business Office or the Provost to inquire about the program and ask questions regarding tuition increase. Morton College’s current Provost is Keith McLaughlin and can be contacted at Keith.McLaughlin@morton.edu or 708-656-800 ext. 2277. Mireya Perez is the director of business and can be reached at mireya.perez@morton.edu or 708-656-8000 ext. 2289.

Chicagoans Speak Out for Equal Job Rights for Women as They Celebrate International Women’s Day

20170308_184339By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On March 8th, prestigious speakers and nearly 400 men and women assembled outside the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. They spoke about the importance of women within the workplace and the economy while celebrating International Working Women’s Day.

Workplace inequality between male and females has long been an issue in the world and in the United States. In 2015, full-time American workers who were female only earned 80% of what American men earned, measuring up to be a wage gap of 20% between the two sexes.

Prestigious speakers, from organizers, editors, and activists of differing organizations supporting women’s rights, equality for all, and a global minimum wage, came out to speak in support of International Working Women’s Day.

Zerlina Smith, 29th Ward and Action Now activist, was the most prominent speaker at the event. She spoke about the importance of their battle for the future, as her young daughter and another girl, sat at her feet.

Because we need our legislators to actually write some real policies that will not just affect us now, but will affect these little ladies later on in life.”

Men and women, bracing the windy conditions, spoke out positively about women in the workplace and their importance to the United States economy.They also gave reasons on how equality in the workplace can be achieved. Some suggested that equality can be achieved through changing people’s attitudes, others noted that legislation that support women needs to be promoted and passed, and others suggested simply fighting for it.

Juan-Carlos Parker, a former Morton West graduate who was at the rally supported this final point of view. “When you’re asking for a seat at the table, the people already at the table aren’t usually happy about it.”

Morton College students support women’s equality, in and out of the workplace. Women and men all voiced their support for women, but all acknowledged the long fight ahead for them. A Morton College student, wishing to remain anonymous, said, “I will most likely not see the end of the fight for women’s equality in and out of the workplace.”

But Morton College students also stressed the importance of being one. Eunice Bonilla said she found it encouraging to see men and women, “Band together toward the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.”

The fight for women’s rights, in the workplace and out, will continue to be fought over in the next coming years. And their determination is not lost out to the people, as the 400 men and women ended their protest outside James R. Thompson Center by shouting, “Stand up and fight!” as passing bystanders looked on in curiosity, and some clapped in support.

 

The National General Strike: Halting the Reign of Terror

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By Veronica Fernandez

It has been less than a month that President Donald J. Trump has taken office, and in such brief time it seems as if all havoc has been unleashed. The president has signed eight executive orders thus far, which include to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the immediate construction of a physical wall between Mexico and the United States. Many fear the power of these executive orders, as the United States proceeded to cease pass to individuals from seven Muslim countries a week and a half ago. In this case, the entire world has witnessed firsthand the immediate consequence generated from this executive order. What is to say about the executive orders before and proceeding it?

However, in response, the American public has not sat by the sidelines, in turn they have demonstrated its discontent with protests all over the nation in major cities ranging from New York City to Los Angeles.

The National General Strike that is to take place February 17th through the 20th is yet another step to contribute to impede this reign of terror. Strike organizers encourage participants to refrain from going to work, school, and to refrain from shopping. Although the call to action is to partake in a crippling action that will affect the economy to attract attention to the malfunctioning political system in place, the complications are deeply embedded into considerably more than just the political system. There are components of racism, ignorance, misinformation, lack of accountability and fact checking, among an array of others.

What remains is the crucial question, is it enough to simply stay home from daily obligations and responsibilities?

As the strike quickly approaches, participants should take this opportunity to vocalize all concerns about the political and social tribulations that are currently being undergone. Participants can contact Congressman Daniel Lipinski serving the 3rd district of the state, Congressman Luis Gutierrez serving the 4th district of the state, and finally, Congressman Danny K. Davis serving the 7th district of the state via letter or email. Partakers can also contact their state representatives Lisa Hernandez or LaShawn K. Ford, and senator Martin A. Sandoval in the same manner.

Another alternative in which participants can approach the National General Strike is to combat ignorance and prejudices with phenomenal enlightening reading material:

1984 by George Orwell

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Notes on a Native Son by James Baldwin

Racism without Racist by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

The Chicago Guide to Fact Checking by Brooke Borel

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

In a time when there is significant strain, torment, deception, fear, discomfort, and constant anxiety of the days to come, the people of this diverse nation must unify as one. Action is required to keep from the complete derailment of decades of progression. We must prove that the individuals that fought vigorously and relentlessly before us did not sacrifice themselves in vain.

These are the individuals that were voted into office to represent and serve the people; now it is time for the people to raise their voice.

The National General Strike Proposes to Thump the Economy on President’s Day

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By Marcela Ruiz

Monday, February 20th will mark one month since the presidential inauguration. Many opposed to the President’s ideals have taken to the streets, airports and Washington D.C. in protest to demonstrate their disagreement with new policies and executive orders.
In attempt to reach more people, The National General Strike Association is organizing a strike inviting citizens across the U.S. to disrupt the economy by refraining from, as their slogan states:

“No Work. No School. No Shopping.”

Their Facebook page alludes a demand of reconstitution by cooperative action from all citizens. The strike will commence Friday, February 17th through Presidents Day on Monday, February 20th.