Hugs and Drugs

BY ANDREW BLOM // APRIL 19, 2012 // 

In 1934, Henry Miller’s sexually explicit novel “Tropic of Cancer,” a semi-autobiographical account of his own exploits as a struggling writer, was published in Paris, France. Due to Miller’s descriptions of his sexual encounters, it wasn’t until 1964, after the Supreme Court ruled the book was not obscene, that it was published in the United States.

Its popularity in the U.S. may have been because of evolving sexual attitudes and social behaviors, and those results are still felt across the country today, particularly on college campuses.

The 1960’s saw liberation of sexual restrictions that had been placed on people and art for decades.  There was an acceptance of sex outside of marriage as well as a somewhat greater acceptance of people’s homosexuality. There was also the invention of the birth control pill for women.

Sex was the counterculture for many. Students and “hippies” practiced and preached the concept of “free love” as a form of protest during the turbulent decade — a time that saw military action dominate the news.  But the term “free love” was not intended to mean multiple sexual partners. Rather, it was one’s ability to have sex beyond the restrictions of law. A result of increased free love came from President Lyndon Johnson, who strongly advocated for the birth control pill for women. Sex became a normal part of ordinary everyday life and no longer was it a taboo subject.

At the height of the sexual revolution, the summer of 1967, San Francisco saw more than 100,000 people descend onto the city during what is now referred to as the “Summer of Love.” San Francisco had always been the center of the 1960’s movements in music and culture. Now, the sexual revolution would take hold there and it would join forces with the psychedelic drug culture, and at the forefront was LSD.

LSD altered people’s perceptions and brought a more spiritual experience. Musicians such as the Beatles, the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, as well as author Ken Kesey and psychologist Timothy Leary brought the drug into popular culture.

We see the impact of the sexual and drug revolution in the 1960’s today. Because of a loosening of conservative values in certain areas throughout the country, colleges in the late ’60s began allowing co-education residence halls. Here at Curry, all but Green House, Brown House, White House and the Cottage are co-ed. And while psychedelic drugs may not be as prominent as they once were, the wide usage gave way to today’s increased societal acceptance of marijuana.

Fifty years later, the changes in attitudes toward sex and drugs continue to impact our world.

In Search of a Student Debt Plan

BY NICK IRONSIDE // APRIL 12, 2012 //

I have a gripe about America’s education system. The worst part of it is called “college debt,” and I’m pretty sure others feel the same way.

When my dad left Cambridge University (England) in 1983, he was free. Free from any college debt. His parents didn’t have to save for years on end, either. They paid roughly £4,500 total (about $7,200 American) for his tuition, and that was it. The system was recently tinkered with in England, and now students pay roughly twice that amount to attend a college or university…which still isn’t a bad deal.

His experience with college debt sounded wonderful compared to what mine will be. Unfortunately, the U.S. has a different system. No matter how much I whine, it won’t change to the British government’s style anytime soon.

This morning, I decided to look around and see what President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney (who is pretty much the Republican nominee, barring a drastic event of some sort) think about college debt. Is there a way out of paying an arm and a leg for my education?

According to Romney, there isn’t. In a New York Times article, Romney said, “Don’t just go to (a college) that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully, you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

Wow. Thanks a lot, Mr. Romney. I’m not sure about other students, but this might well mean his name isn’t checked off in the voting booth this November when it’s my turn to place a vote.

Our current president seems to be a bit kinder toward college students. An article on CBSNews.com from October 2011 stated that Obama wants to do something about college debt. When our country’s outstanding student loans statistics were within touching distance of $1 trillion, Obama spoke up. He has an idea called the “Pay as You Earn” plan.

His plan would speed up “…the timeline for an already-approved loan repayment plan that would lower monthly federal student loan payments for Americans whose burden of debt is disproportionate to their earning abilities.” In short, your per-month student loan repayments should be proportionate to what you’re earning.

That’s more like it! In fact, it seems to align itself a little with a way England makes students pay back loans. The government across the pond says students have to start paying back loans “once you complete your course and start earning more than £15,795.” That’s a salary of $25,200.

There’s still six-plus months until the presidential election, but it’s safe to say that Obama is at least thinking about college students more than Romney is.

Political Debates: Comedy or Educational?

BY NICK IRONSIDE // MARCH 22, 2012 //

After Mitt Romney’s Republican primary victory in Illinois on Tuesday night, the former Massachusetts governor is now hoping to dismantle President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

There won’t be many Republican debates left, for better or for worse. In fact, a March 19 debate was canceled due to a lack of candidates’ participation, according to a Boston.com report.

The Republican candidacy might well be locked up in Romney’s favor fairly soon, indicating the next debates on FOX or CNN will be between Romney and Obama. But the Kansas State Collegian, the Kansas State University student paper, ran an article last November that was fairly interesting. With tongue in cheek, it gave a number of positive reasons to watch the Republican presidential debates.

Presidential debate at Saint Anselm College during the New Hampshire primary, June 2007 // PHOTO BY ERICCI8996

The piece pokes fun at the way the 2012 GOP debates went. In the “10 good reasons for students to watch Republican debates” article, it turns out that politics can pose a threat to the number of viewers for popular shows like “Jersey Shore.”

In all seriousness, should students watch debates because they’re as bad as good reality TV shows? (Someone copy Rep. Michele Bachmann on this.) Or is there the opportunity to actually learn something meaningful, more than being enlightened by Newt Gingrich on how many Americans it will take to petition for the moon to become a state?

While there are many ways to poke and prod fun of people running for the job of president of the United States, there’s also the opportunity to learn. After all, whether you like it or not, one of the people debating this October will be your next president.

More likely than not, one of them will change your life – economically, in terms of employment, geographically – and you might not like it. So, why not take the time to learn about the three* people left (*Rick Santorum is included, for now), who might be the next commander-in-chief?

When November 2012 rolls around and it is time to vote, keep in mind what’s important to you as an individual. Vote for whoever agrees with your views/needs more!

There is a lot to learn from debates, but there’s more to politicians barking at each other than what Kansas State’s student newspaper wrote about. Yes, it’s fun to make fun of people on television. But when one of them will be affecting your life, it’s a little more important to pay attention instead of using a candidate’s comments for a drinking game.

@BarackObama: Keep Social Media Presence #ItWorkedIn2008

BY NICK IRONSIDE // FEB. 23, 2012 //

An unprecedented political move that championed President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 is already being used heavily for the 2012 election.

Obama’s decision to make social media a priority of his last campaign paid sweet dividends. But how will his Republican opponents use social networking sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to boost their chances of derailing the Democrat this November?

President Barack Obama

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney is already using campaign tactics similar to Obama’s from 2008. Romney’s idea to have followers post pictures of themselves on Facebook – “Stand with Mitt”  – with signs showing support for his campaign has already tapped into more than 1.4 million Facebook users.

A Fox News article reported that Facebook’s number of active users is eight times larger today (more than 800 million) than it was in August 2008. It also said that Twitter has gained more than 393 million more users within the last 14 months. These are obviously worldwide numbers, but the growth is still staggering.

One of the main ideas behind social media use in campaigns is that it will get young voters – people ages 30 and under – out to the polls when Election Day comes in November.

Despite performing a post-State of the Union Address interview exclusively on Google+ and YouTube, Obama is losing the group of voters that helped him parade triumphantly to Washington, D.C., in 2008. A recent Washington Examiner article reported that Obama’s approval rating among young voters has dropped 12 percent in the past two years.

To win back those voters, you can bet the Obama campaign will further pursue its social media strategy, reaching out to young people where they live and communicate. It’s a trend, and an election, worth following.