FEBRUARY 5, 2015
State Of The Union: A new America in 2015 BY Jennifer wright news Editor
On January 20, 2015, President Barack Obama addressed the nation for his sixth State of the Union Address, where he faced a Congress divided among party lines. Listing many bold plans of action, he continuously brought the focus back to morals – doing the “right thing” – urging Congress to work together despite their differences. After listing catastrophes that have challenged America over the last fifteen years, he said that “Tonight, we turn the page,” and began to outline a new, hopeful strategy for America. He constantly referenced the various successes America has had recently, from more individuals receiving health insurance, higher graduation rates, less reliance on foreign oil and an end to combat mission in Afghanistan and opened his address by stating that “the shadow of crisis has passed, and the state of the Union is strong.” This State of the Union address showcased the work of the White House to reach its more technologically-savvy audience. There were 1.5 million tweets and retweets using ‘#SOTU’ on Tuesday January 20, along with a sharp spike in followers of @WhiteHouse, showing that the office has been able to adapt to this platform and engage with its audience in a new way.
Prior to the speech, the White House office also released a variety of social media content including short videos expanding upon issues President Obama addressed in the speech. President Obama even used the word “Instagram” in his speech, a first for a State of the Union Address. As per usual, President Obama focused heavily on the welfare of the middle and lower class. Speaking directly to the audience at home – over 1.2 million were watching the enhanced live stream – he said, “you are the people I was thinking of” when he was first elected. Although details will be included in the budget he sends to Congress two weeks after the speech, President Obama stressed the importance of middleclass economics and focused on the values at stake. He repeatedly used the example of Rebekah and Ben, an American couple who struggled to get by and had to work hard to get where they are today. He said that they found even Friday night pizza a splurge, and stressed that the middle class are not looking for a hand-out. He said, “We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success; we want everyone to contribute to our success.” Having established this relatable example, President Obama outlined specific measures Congress should take to help people like Re-
bekah and Ben continue to succeed. First was affordable child-care. Rather than making it a woman’s issue, President Obama called it a “national economic priority,” and proposed tax cuts of up to $3,000 per child per year. Next, he called for guaranteed seven days of paid sick leave for all employees, as well as a paid maternity leave program. When discussing the wage gap that still exists between male and female employees performing equal work, President Obama simply said, “It’s 2015. It’s time.” He continued the theme of fair pay by calling for the fulfillment of overtime pay for all employees and a higher minimum wage, smartly challenging Congress: “And everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage I say this: if you truly believe you can work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.” Understanding that he was speaking to a divided and heavily Republican Congress, President Obama constantly praised recent and historical achievements in America to unite the room. While leading up to his call for free community college, he reminded the room of the huge impact making high school free in the 20th century and sending G.I.s to college had on America. He challenged America to continue to stay ahead of
the curve and make universal community college available to Americans for two years, as long as they graduate on time and receive high grades. He also called on Congress to reduce monthly payments on existing student loans. President Obama then said he would work for fair and free trade deals with other countries, calling on businesses to bring jobs back to America and continue to increase its rate of exporting. Once again focusing on the middle class, President Obama argued to close loopholes for companies that operate overseas to escape taxes and to stop allowing the “top 1% to avoid taxes on accumulated wealth.” With a mainly Republican Congress, this was not favorably received. However, President Obama reminded the audience that these taxes are necessary for the infrastructure that both parties want. Turning to international matters, President Obama argued that it was better for America to lead a coalition – including Arab nations – to combat ISIL, rather than “get dragged into a war.” With another memorable quote, President Obama called for the end of the Cuba embargo, telling Congress “when what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.” He stressed focusing on strengthening relationships with allies and
stated that he would veto any sanctions sent to him, as they would ensure that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. He was blunt about his thoughts on climate change. He called out Congress for claiming that they didn’t know any better because they weren’t scientists, and said “well, I’m not a scientist either, but you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists.” With 2014 being the warmest year on record, he cited economic reasons to work together internationally to end climate change. Finally, President Obama called on the Congress to make the right decisions. He recalled their continuing efforts to prohibit torture; limit the use of drones; speak out against anti-Semitism; “reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims, the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace;” and “condemn persecution” of women, religion minorities, and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. He called on Republicans and Democrats to come together and said that he still believed that “together we can do great things, even when the odds are long.” He concluded his sixth State of the Union Address with his now famous ad-lib: “I have no more campaigns to run… I know because I won both of them. My only agenda for the next two years… is to do what I believe is best for America.”
Student Center insights, updates and more BY Jennifer wright news Editor
According to Dean of Student Affairs J. Andrew Shepardson’s email to the student population on January 16, 2015, the eagerly awaited renovations in the Student Center are coming to a close this spring semester. After several delays due to construction challenges, many of the new offices and food options will open in early February, with the remainder of the new addition opening mid-April. The renovations will be unveiled periodically as they are finalized in order to allow students to access as much of the Student Center as possible. First, in early February the following will open: the north entrance (near Bolyston), WBTY, Harry’s Pub, Russo’s and its associated dining area, Argo Tea, the Cultural Lounge, and the Equity Center (previously the Women’s Center). Students have already noticed some changes upon their return to campus: some of the walls were painted a light green and temporary walls were removed over Winter Break.
Though everyone else will have to wait for the unveiling, South Asian Student Association (SASA) will have a special preview tour this week, a prize they won during the Winter Activities Fair. If all continues on schedule, the remainder of the new addition will open in mid-April, including: the Bentley Bubble, new living room, study rooms, and patio with a fire pit. Final touches will continue throughout the semester and into the summer, including signage, wall graphics, A/V, and a renovation of Seasons. These new additions to the Center are in response to the need for additional space for student organizations, group study rooms and general lounge areas for students to use. Paul Stanish, Associate Director of the Student Center, says “students should be excited to have a truly student-centered space. From the early stages of design, we sought student feedback on what they need and want in a student center. Student input is very much part of the final product.” During these renovations, Student Center offices were moved to Lewis Hall, which is
often used as a temporary location for any office on campus being renovated. When part of the building opens in February, Student Activities and the Business Center will move back into the Student Center on the third floor. The remainder of the offices -- the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Residential Center, Multicultural Center, Center for International Students and Scholars, Spiritual Life, and Student Systems – will move back after the spring semester. Due to the construction, space within the Student Center has been limited this school year. Without the Living Room or Pub, Student Activities resorted to transitioning Seasons into a meeting area for students after it closes at night. Student Event staff carry dividers and signs from the basement of the Student Center to Seasons each night in order to transition it into either the Lounge @Seasons or the Pub @Seasons (during the weekend). Late night food options, Mein Bowl and Yella’s, have been available at Mongolian Grill, and Student Activities put on a variety of events. These have ranged
from Trivia Nights, Karaoke Nights, Open Mic Nights, Dance Parties, and more. As many of the Lounge @Seasons events feature the arts in some way, it has allowed many students to show off their creative side, which they appreciate. Many of these events will continue in the new space once it opens. Student Activities is doing more than just physically renovating the Student Center – it is also bringing in new personal to continue improving the Center as a whole. On January 24, Student Activities sent an email to the entire school advertising the need for a Pub Programmer, who will help develop evening Pub programs in the new space, as well as a Graphic Designer. The recent emails from the Student Center have shown a shift in branding, using better designed posters for announcements, and the student Graphic Designer would help continue these new marketing initiatives. In addition, the Student Center hired three new staff this summer: one new Associate Director, Alana Anderson, and two new Program Coordinators, Melissa Mayard and
Matt Galewski. In general, it seems students are excited about all of these new changes. Bentley has outgrown the small Student Center and needed to expand to better fit the needs of its students. Many have expressed excitement over the new food options, meeting areas, and fire pit in particular, and are happy with the efforts Student Activities is putting in to make the temporary spaces enjoyable. The Student Center started a 5-year furniture replacement plan in 2012, which led to the new lounge furniture, conference tables, and custom high-top tables with the Bentley Falcon that students have seen put in the Center over the last few years, but this major renovation was necessary to meet the needs of a growing student population. However, students recognize that Bentley is growing, and that the temporary sacrifices will eventually result in a better experience for everyone. The Student Center is a huge part of student life on campus, and having a Center that fits the needs of its expanding student population is worth the short-term hassle.