The Olympics brings the world together

As I am sitting in an English Pub in the middle of South Louisiana watching Russia play Brazil in the men’s volleyball final, I think back to all the amazing things I have witnessed during the 30th Summer Olympics. I have seen the U.S. conquer and strive, I’ve seen camaraderie, sportsmanship, and most importantly unity. The unity of nations, athletes, and fans.

In a world where sports fans can be jaded by the world of over paid athletes with egos to match their paychecks, watching the Olympics is a breath of fresh air. These athletes competing don’t get paid big endorsements for what they do and while some athletes like U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas will receive a big payday, most will never see a dime for their hard work and dedication.

Take for example U.S. female weightlifter Sarah Robles, who depends on the help of family and friends to continue with her Olympic dream. According to nbcolympics.com, Robles has been living off a stipend of $400 a month to train and compete. In the article, she says, “I think a lot of people when they hear Olympian or Olympic athlete, they think that you are bringing in the big bucks just because you are an Olympic athlete, that the United States Olympic Committee is giving you tons and tons of money,” she said. “I think getting my story out there will help people look (at) some (other) sports and really learn to appreciate them.”

She hoped her performance would help her gain sponsorship for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

These athletes do it for their love of the sport. They prepare their whole lives for one small moment.

Even though the audience cheers for their home team, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed watching Chad le Clos from South Africa beat Michael Phelps in the 200 meter butterfly, something he was always told no one would achieve. Or watching Mo Farah of Great Britain reach the finish line in first place to win the gold and double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa make it to the finals. Even though Pistorius did not place in the finals, his historical run was inspirational.

While the Olympics, at its heart, is a competition putting country versus country, it also an effort that takes the whole world working together to happen. For instance, many athletes are born in one country, raised in another, and train in another, but will ultimately compete for their home nation. The unity also reflects in the behind the scenes people and events that must happen for the audience to be able to enjoy the events. According to the official London Olympics website, over 200,000 people from all over the world staffed the games with 2,961 of them acting as technical officials.

While there are many other great things to write about this Olympics, like it being the first year that every sport was represented by a woman and that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei were also represented by a woman for the first time, this story would go on for too long. Too  much to write about and so little space.

For more great moments in the 2012 Olympics, to learn more about the events, or to watch recaps of events, visit NBC’s Olympics website and the official London 2012 Olympics website.

Informed students give predictions on elections

By Alexandra Hedrick and Rande Robinson

Nov. 2 is Election Day statewide and a few well-informed students at Southeastern have given their predictions and opinions on this year’s midterm elections.

The race for Senator between David Vitter and Charlie Melancon has turned ugly, with each candidate using airtime to bash the other, said Ann O’Connor, a graduate assistant in the Department of Languages & Communication. She also finds the constant telephone campaigning to be a nuisance.

O’Connor said although Vitter’s private life is a matter that needs to be settled between him and his wife, the fact he made the phone calls to his mistresses from the Senate floor is deplorable.

Hunter Carter, president of the Southeastern College Republicans, thinks Vitter will win the spot for Senator. The other day he saw a poll showed Vitter had 51 percent of the vote and he doesn’t think Melancon has enough time to recover from that. He also adds nothing is set in stone and polls are not actual votes and we will have to wait until Nov. 2 for the decision.

Carter said he thinks the Republicans will take back the House of Representatives but not the Senate. He said the Republicans are projected to have 230 members and only about 218 are needed to take control.

“The Democrats said they were going to provide change but it just hasn’t happened yet,” said Carter. “The American people are just fed up with it and they’re going to give the Republicans a chance to fix what President Obama has promised to fix and hasn’t delivered on yet.”

O’Connor said Louisiana, with the exception of New Orleans, is majority Republican and this will help the Republicans win the House.

“The campaigning by the GOP has been tremendous,” said O’Connor. “The demonizing of our president for the march to the White House amazes me.  It truly is a dog-eat-dog nation of professional politicians.”

Carter will also be keeping an eye on the Second Congressional District race between Joesph Cao and Cedric Richmond. According to Carter, the race is very close at this point. President Obama even campaigned for Richmond and backs him as the new Representative. Even though it is a tight race, Carter predicts Richmond will win the seat, but the rest of the Congressional Delegation, with the exception of Mary Landrieu, will be Republican.

Both students urge the public to do their homework before entering the polls.

Carter recommends going to the Secretary of State’s website to get information for voting day. The site can give you where to vote, voting times and even the things up for vote in your area. O’Connor said look at the left, right and moderate views and look into extreme claims made by candidates.

“Look around you,” said O’Connor. “What is the state of Louisiana today?  Who causes the problems/success?  What does Louisiana need to rise above the current level?  This is why we vote.  Our forefathers gave their lives for our freedoms.  If we don’t vote we are casting our freedom away.”

“Soldiers have spilled their blood to give people the right to vote,” said Carter. “So that’s why it is so important you go and take advantage of that and if you don’t vote, you don’t matter.”

SGA makes changes to grant budgets

This semester, the Student Government Association has implemented new rules for organizations seeking grants.

A meeting for all organizations registered with the Office of Student Organizations took place on Aug. 25 and 26 to tell them of the changes. According to the packet handed out at the meeting, it was required for these organizations to send at least one officer to attend. If an organization did not attend the meeting or is not registered, it is not eligable to receive grants this year.

In a letter to the organizations, SGA President David Cavell, said the new regulations call for events to be educational . The grants will help defer costs for the event. Although an organization is allowed to apply for half of the cost of its event, the SGA will only award a maximum amount of $500 a semester.

In the letter, Cavell said the reasons for the changes in the grant process and the amount awarded is due to the current economic state of the university. Although the SGA is not experience budget cuts, they are trying to prevent using rainy day funds.

“We have spent the summer evaluating our fiscal policies and regulations to be as effective and responsible as possible,” Cavell said in his letter to the organizations.

The guidelines state that faculty advisors will also become an integral part of the application process. All faculty advisors must sign off on the grant applications and purchases. They must all keep all receipts for their records.

Travel grants will have similar rules as the organizational grants. Aside from the faculty advisor regulation, organizations must give a brief presentation to the SGA Senate about the event or conference.

The rules go on to say that the students recieving the travel grant must have at least a 2.5 GPA and be in good standing with the university. No grant request is to exceed $1,000, and no more than three students attending the same conference may apply for the travel grant. The grants are not to be used for international travel.

A complete expense report must be presented to the university no later than two weeks after the return of the student. The organization must also create a travel authorization before applying.

Stephanie Katz, secretary of the Southeastern Press Club, said she felt the changes are necessary.

“With the current state of the economy, more and more people are having to learn to manage their money more prudently, so I think it’s great to see the SGA doing the same thing,” Katz said.

Katz said from what she heard at the meeting, the SGA is trying to simplify the application process, and they are trying to look closely at which organizations are receiving grants and how they are using the funds.

Any failure to follow the guidelines set up by the SGA will cause the applying organization or student to lose all grant privileges for two academic years.

Press club announces competition for upcoming conference

Jeff Spurlock, president of the Southeast Journalism Conference has announced the Nov. 16 as the due date for Best of South submissions. This year’s SEJC will be held at Troy University in Alabama on Feb. 17-19.

The Best of South is a competition that allows students to turn in their work to be judged by journalism professionals before the conference. The submissions has to have been published between Nov.15, 2009 and Nov. 14, 2010. The entries are scored, ranked and announced at the conference. The Best of South competition allows schools to submit one submission for each of the categories.

Southeastern’s communication department hosts its own competition called the Best of Southeastern to choose the student submission for each category. Dr. Amber Narro, a professor at Southeastern, says that a group of journalism professors are put together to judge the entries in the Best of Southeastern competition.

Students who want to participate in Best of Southeastern and get a chance to compete in Best of South must have their submissions turned into Narro by Nov. 8. All submissions must be the original publications, not copies, and must have been published.

This year’s conference theme will be “25 years of excellence” to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the SEJC.

This is Spurlock’s third time as president of the SEJC and his second time hosting the conference at Troy University. He was also president in 2003 and 2004.

Spurlock says that even though he has hosted the conference before, he is still picking up the phone to call schools that have hosted the conference recently. One of the schools he called was Southeastern Louisiana University, which hosted the conference last year.

Spurlock says that thanks to the recommendation from Southeastern communications professors Drs. Joe Mirando and Narro, he was able to get Frank LoMonte as the Friday night dinner speaker. Spurlock is also getting help from two student co-presidents and 25 other students he calls his ambassadors.

“We hope every school that comes and attends will say, ‘hey Troy put on a good show and we hope to come back again’,” said Spurlock.

Thursday night will be registration, and the university will also offer free pizza and live guitar music. On Friday, they will hosts workshops and on-site competitions at Troy University.

Friday night, there will be a business dinner where the winners of the Best of South competition will be announced. Troy University will also be hosting a dance with a live band after the dinner is over. The next morning will be more workshops and the closing luncheon.

Spurlock has requested that students attending the dinner be dressed appropriately for a business dinner. Men must wear a coat and tie, and women are requested to wear dresses or formal business attire.

“We think having a dinner and dance after will give students the chance to network with everybody and just have good time,” said Spurlock.

Friday night dinner’s keynote speaker will be Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. Saturday’s luncheon speaker will be Glenn Halbrooks, managing editor and anchor for WAKA, Montgomery, Ala.’s CBS news affiliate.

“The best thing to do is organize as best can and just go with it,” said Narro in her advice to Spurlock.

Narro says that in the past, SEJC has experienced unexpected weather occurrences, such as snow and a tornado, and it also has had cancelled speakers. She said SEJC committees just cannot expect everything that is going to happen, but if they have a good plan, everything will fall into place.

Slideshow shows pictures of SEJC in 2009 at Belmont University and 2010 at Southeastern Louisiana University

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Holocaust survivor addresses community on his experiences

Irving Roth shares his experiences as a Holocaust survivor with Fanfare audiences at First United Methodist Church in Amite.

Irving Roth, a survivor of three death camps during the Holocaust, reminded listeners to not stand by as people are degraded and turned against.

Roth spoke to a large group of people at First United Methodist Church in Amite. The lecture was a part of Fanfare and put together by the Amite Arts Council.

Charley Vance, president of the arts council, said that he had gotten to idea to bring in Roth to speak because his wife teaches his book in her English class at Sumner High School in Kentwood.

“There is so much polarization in today’s society, I thought this was just one way to help that problem,” said Vance on why he chose to have Roth come speak.

According to Gavin Genringer, a student in Lynn Vance’s high junior honors English class, the class created haikus for each chapter of the book and painted card stock with watercolors and then put them together on a board. They also made a copy of the poems and bound them together in a book for Roth to take with him wherever he goes.

Roth grew up in a quiet, small, close-knit community in Czechoslovakia. He came from a good family. He lived in a house with his grandparents, parents, older brother, and nanny. His father even owned his own business.

Lynn Vance's high school junior English honors class created boards deocrated with haikus about each chapter to give to Roth

He said growing up he never recognized the difference between different religions. He said all religions lived harmoniously together in his hometown.

 

“I could say my life was beautiful,” said Roth.

All of that changed in 1939, when he started witnessing the slow segregation and demonization of the Jews.

One day when he was 10 years old, he went to the park to play with his friends, but a police officer told him he was not allowed to enter the park because of his religion. Later that year, he was told Jews couldn’t own luxury items or wool. He was forced to turn in his prized sheep skin coat to the police.

Peter and Shan Grout meet with Roth and get their copy of his book, “Bondi’s Brother” signed
That same year, his nanny, a friend and the woman who helped raise him, was forced to quit her job because no woman was allowed to work for a Jewish family.

In 1940, on his first day of school, he was denied entrance from his school because he was Jewish. When he went to soccer practice that afternoon, he was told he wasn’t allowed on the team any longer.

Roth said no one ever said anything or stood up for him because the Nazis had penetrated the minds of everybody else with hateful propaganda.

That same year, the Nazi party made a law saying no Jews could own businesses. To prevent him from losing his business, Roth’s father signed over the business to a close family friend, Albert. At first, Albert did not interfere with the business, but as the months went on, he gained more control. Eventually Roth’s father became just a manager in his own business.

In January 1942, the Nazi’s implemented their last phase of the eradication of the Jews, death camps. By summer 1942, six death camps were operating all over Europe.

Roth recalled one Friday night that over 1,800 of the Jews in his hometown were taken to the synagogue and locked in there for 36 hours. After the 36 hours, they were taken to a train station and sent away. Roth and his family were spared because his father was still working in Albert’s business.

Roth and his family escaped to Hungry where he was separated from his parents. His parents had gone to Budapest for jobs and the boys and their grandparents moved to a small town in Hungry.

In spring 1944, Roth, his brother, and grandparents were taken from their home, brought to a ghetto and then taken to Birkenau, where he received his new identity, a number tattooed on his arm. After a few days, he was moved to Auschwitz.

There he was forced to do chores, follow the rules, sleep in over capacity quarters, got very little food, on the good days.

On the bad days, Roth said, they were taken to the gas chambers and told to strip. From there a doctor would examine you to see if you were still healthy enough to work. If you weren’t, you never came back from the gas chamber.

On Jan. 18, 1945, he became a part of the death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald. He said Auschwitz was a hotel compared to the conditions at Buchenwald.

One day, the gathered all of the prisoners up, they started separating the men from the boys and picking out different boys. Roth’s brother, Bondi was one of the boys. Roth said that was the last time he ever saw his brother.

A few weeks later, Roth decided he had to escape or he was going to be killed. He was able to hide for many days before he was found. When the guards caught him, they took him out to kill him, but then an American air raid started and they were forced to take cover.

The next day, all of the guards were gone and the only people left were the prisoners.

Peter and Shan Grout meet with Roth and get their copy of his book, "Bondi's Brother" signed

“You may not know what the Messiah looks like, but I do. One is black and one is white,” said Roth about the first time he saw the American soldiers that came to rescue them.

Roth was taken care of by the American troops and medical personnel before returning to his home in Czechoslovakia. There he found his mother and father. They had survived thanks to a nurse, her daughter and son-in-law, who was a party of the Nazi army.

“Their legacy is when you see hate, prejudice, murder, unfairness, do something,” said Roth about the people that took a stand and help keep his parents and many other Jews alive during the Holocaust.

Roth emphasized standing up for what is right and when you see something you know it wrong, do the right thing because he said, with the Holocaust, the world stood by and did nothing.

“Glee” starts religious debate between viewers

On Oct. 5, FOX’s “Glee” debuted its episode “Grilled Chessus” about religion and the various issues that revolve around this topic. Many audience members were split on whether the show was well done or over done.

The episode revolved around one of the character’s reaction to his father falling into a coma and the uncertainty of the outcome. Kurt, an openly gay character on the show, states in class one day, after his friends and glee club members says that their prayers are with him, that he doesn’t believe in God.

Kurt’s comment in class starts a debate on religion and spirituality in school, views of atheism and Christianity, and shows a division of friends over the topic of religion.

The episode starts out with one of the main characters, Finn, making a grilled cheese sandwich and when it is done cooking, the face of Jesus is on the sandwich. He then starts praying to the “Grilled Chessus” asking for things like being able to get to second base with his girlfriend and becoming the star football player.

Some students felt that the episode leaned strongly toward the atheist viewpoint and mocked the Christian faith.

“I felt the portrayal of religious issues was unfairly one-sided and at some points blasphemous,” Stephanie Katz, 19, a student at Southeastern Louisiana University said. “The idea of reducing Jesus, the cornerstone of the Christian faith, to a magic eight ball on a sandwich is highly offensive”

Katz felt that religion was trivialized and not dealt with in a respectful and tasteful way. She said that if any other religion had been portrayed so negatively, it would have been seen as hateful and disrespectful.

Kelly DeGering, 23, an atheist and recent graduate of University of Colorado said she thought the episode gave equal airtime to both the atheist and Christian viewpoint. She thought even though it gave equal airtime, it still felt it was more about finding God after you have lost faith and less about the actual religious view.

“It was nice to see everyone exploring their own faiths and what their past life has done to make them believe what they believe,” DeGering said. “But I think a lot of the show was spent helping Kurt understand the beauty of religion. While Finn did have his meaningless Grilled Cheesus “wishes” disproved, it just didn’t quite have the same ring of truth to it that Kurt’s spiritual journey had.”

Other students did not agree with DeGering.

“I felt like Kurt was made to be the bad guy, especially when the writers had him team up with Sue, who is the villain of the series, to put an end to the harassment he was getting from his friends,” Jess Smith, 22, a recent graduate of Loyola University in Chicago said.

Although Smith felt the episode turned Kurt into the villain, she did feel the show did a good job in showing that different people experience religion differently.

Sarah Flake, 21, a Christian who attends Southeastern Louisiana University said that she felt each viewpoint was given equal air time. She said it is important that all viewpoints are shown on the episode because religion is something people face in their everyday lives. She said that Mercedes, Kurt’s best friend and firm believer in God, was one of the best portrayals of a Christian on the show.

“I believe it is important to just show the love of Christ and not beat someone over the head with the Bible,” Flake said. “It is a person’s personal decision to accept Christ and if someone chooses not to that is his/her decision.”

The ending of the episode shows Kurt standing behind his atheism even though his beliefs became the topic of debate everywhere he turned, his friend Mercedes brought him to her church and two other members of the club prayed over his father in the hospital.

Despite all their different opinions, all four students said they were happy that Kurt did not convert to Christianity at the end of the episode.

“I especially liked when he said “I don’t believe in God, but I believe in you” because so many believers say that atheists don’t believe in anything and I felt like that demonstrated that we do believe in tangible, realistic and hopeful things,” Smith said.

Regardless of their thoughts and opinions on the episode, none of the students said they would stop watching the show. Flake and Smith both said the episode showed them that Glee depicts all aspects of everyday life, even the controversial ones.

Louisiana celebrates unique part of its history

Revolutionary war rifles fires could be heard, smoke billows, people stop and stare in Downtown Hammond Oct. 1 thanks to a group of re-enactors celebrating of the bicentennial of the West Florida Revolt.

The West Florida revolt consisted of a group of settlers revolting against the Spanish rule in 1810. The settlers overtook the Spanish fort and for 74 days it became the West Florida Republic before the federal government disbanded it.

The West Florida revolt is a unique part of American history because there are only two other places that a similar event has happened. Both Texas and California also had revolts against the Spanish empire and they continue to honor that on their state flags to this day.

“In Louisiana, we have forgotten this momentous event,” said Hyde.

The Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the event that included the changing of the flag from the Spanish flag to the lone star West Florida Republic flag, re-enactors talking about the revolt and teaching the community about this forgotten event.

Sam Hyde, a chairman of the West Florida Republic Bicentennial Commission and history professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, said that the celebration events commissioned by the State started in Oct. 2009 and will end in Jan. 2011.

Hyde said that the events in Hammond and Southeastern are happening at the perfect time.

“We’re at the high water mark because Sept. 23, 1810 is when they stormed the fort in Baton Rouge proclaiming they were an independent republic,” said Hyde.

The celebration of the bicentennial came to Hammond, La when Jim Winters, a Southeastern professor, was commissioned by West Florida Republic Bicentennial Commission to write a play about the revolt called ‘Only in Louisiana: The Not-Quite-True Story of the West Florida Revolt”.

Due to the commissioning of the play, Emily McKneely of the Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau said that it grew into an opportunity to do a flag rising, bring in re-enactors from around the state and have locals be able talk to re-enactors and ask them questions.

“It’s been a neat process because most of us don’t know our own history,” said McKneely.

Hyde says he has been contacted from all over the nation and world by people telling him how happy they are that such an unrecognized event is now being honored.

Pirates, Patriots and Settlers of the Spanish Mane, a group of re-enactors were there with a display of colonial items teaching the locals about the weapons and tools colonials used in war and everyday life.

David Smith, president of the organization, got involved in the celebrations happening all over the state when his friend Norwood Miners got him involved with the West Florida Revolt group.

Smith grew up in Chalmette, La. and spent his childhood playing at the Chalmette battlefield. He said that this sparked his interest. Once he found out how to get involved in teaching others about the history he loved, he said the rest is history.

There were also other re-enactors dressed as West Florida Rangers and West Florida Mounted Rangers that fired the rifles, changed the flags and were available to speak to after the event.