HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW
THE WORKING STUDENT
CHINA’S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN
THE ARCTIC’S HUMAN VOICE
VOLUME XLII NO. 3, FALL 2015 HARVARDPOLITICS.COM
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THE FUTURE OF WORK IN A CHANGING GLOBAL ECONOMY
NOW PLAYING ON HARVARDPOLITICS.COM
A Harvard Political Review Original Podcast A collection of personal narratives putting a human face to the headlines.
The Working Student Donovan Keene
14 Rise of the Robotic Workforce Melody Guan
12 Art for Art’s Sake Hana Connelly
18 Who Watches the Watchmen? Alex Wang
BOOKS & ARTS
36 PSY Speaks the Truth Moses Kim
Zero to Zuckerberg Yehong Zhu
21 Food for Thought Christopher Cruz
40 Jim Daly Christopher Cruz 42 Medhi Jomaa Andrew O’Donohue
WORLD 27 China’s Forgotten Children Joe Choe 24 Kurdish Peshmerga Eduardo Gonzalez
30 The Arctic’s Human Voice Marty Berger
ENDPAPER 44 Preserving the Forum Rachael Hanna
33 Running Through the Pain Elizabeth MeLampy Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. ISSN 0090-1032. Harvard Political Review. All rights reserved. Image credits: Flickr: Cover- Matt Wiebe; Front Interior- Rocky Sun; 1- Mario Micklish; 3- Maurizio Pesce; 11ptwo; 12- Futurilla; 17- Steve Jurvetson; 18- Angela N.; 23- U.S. Department of Agriculture; 25- Kurdishstruggle; 27- Drew Bates; 28- Kate Janis; 30- P J Hansen; 33- Phil Roeder; 35- Ted Eytan; 37- Republic of Korea; 44- Tim Sackton. Wikimedia: 4- DJ Shin; 27- Sabine Deviche; 32- U.S. Department of State; 40- Focus on the Family; 42- Arbimestro. Pixabay: 21- OpenClipartVectors, 21- ClkerFreeVectorImages. Photographer: 6- Kyle McFadden; 8- Kyle McFadden.
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FROM THE PRESIDENT
HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW A Nonpartisan Undergraduate Journal of Politics, Est. 1969—Vol. XLII, No. 3
EDITORIAL BOARD PRESIDENT: Priyanka Menon PUBLISHER: Ashley Chen MANAGING EDITOR: Matthew Disler ASSOCIATE MANAGING EDITOR: Rachael Hanna ASSOCIATE MANAGING EDITOR: Emily Wang STAFF DIRECTOR: Harry Hild CAMPUS SENIOR EDITOR: Joe Choe CAMPUS ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Clara McNulty-Finn COVERS SENIOR EDITOR: Pooja Podugu COVERS ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Mark Bode U.S. SENIOR EDITOR: Advik Shreekumar U.S. ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Quinn Mulholland U.S. ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Andrew O’Donohue WORLD SENIOR EDITOR: Sarani Jayawardena WORLD ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Perry Abdulkadir WORLD ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ali Hakim B&A SENIOR EDITOR: Hana Connelly B&A ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Emily Zauzmer INTERVIEWS EDITOR: Gavin Sullivan HUMOR EDITOR: Julianna Aucoin BUSINESS MANAGER: Angela Yang ASSOCIATE BUSINESS MANAGER: Enrique Rodriguez DESIGN EDITOR: Alec Villalpando ASSOCIATE DESIGN EDITOR: Celena Wang MULTIMEDIA EDITOR: Mattea Mrkusic ASSOCIATE MULTIMEDIA EDITOR: Solange Azor WEBMASTER: Vikram Sundar
SENIOR WRITERS John Acton, Aisha Bhoori, Jenny Choi, Colin Criss, Colin Diersing, Avika Dua, Nancy Ko, Johanna Lee, Paul Lisker, Tom Silver, Kim Soffen.
STAFF Jack Boyd, Arjun Byju, Victoria Berzin, Antonia Chan, Derek Choi, Amy Chyao, Jaime Cobham, Christopher Cruz, Flavia Cuervo, Aidan Dewar, Matthew Estes, David Freed, Jenny Fung, Sam Garin, Samarth Gupta, Jonah Hahn, Olivia Herrington, Eric Hollenberg, Nian Hu, Elena Monge Imedio, Candy Janachowski, Minnie Jang, Alicia Juang, Humberto Juarez, Samuel Kaplan, Daniel Kenny, Shahrukh Khan, Gal Koplewitz, Emma Kromm, Bree Lalor, Kyle McFadden, Lauren Nicholson, Farris Peale, Samuel Plank, Tess Saperstein, Erin Shortell, Wright Smith, Julia Steigerwald-Schnall, Camille Schmidt, Melody Tong, Camila Victoriano, Anthony Volk, Lawrence Wang, Nathan Luke Williams, Carolyn Ye, Fiona Young.
ADVISORY BOARD Jonathan Alter Richard L. Berke Carl Cannon E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Ron Fournier Walter Isaacson Whitney Patton Maralee Schwartz
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The Force of Work Since its inception, the HPR has been a magazine produced entirely by undergraduates. Our writers, designers, and editors are, above all else, students. The process that culminates in the creation of the magazine before you takes place before, after, and (occasionally) during class time. Because of this, it is not immediately clear why we have chosen to write about work; after all, most of us have yet to hold full-time jobs. But the very fact that we have chosen to write about this topic demonstrates the overwhelming centrality the concept of work possesses in our lives. It largely defines how we interact with the economy, our peers, and sometimes even our friends and families. Even in its absence, work influences the character and timbre of our experiences within our communities. It determines who we are. The question remains, however, whether this is something to be lauded or lamented. Our work-dependent identities represent the effects of a very specific structuring of society around employment and arguably could be responsible for the increasing economic inequality present in the United States and around the globe. It is only by understanding the fundamental characteristics of work that we are able to confront the question of how it constructs our identities. Within these pages the HPR presents the diversity of perspectives that characterize the concept of work. Donovan Keene documents his own experiences with the Federal WorkStudy program, a crucial component of Harvard and many other college’s
financial aid packages. Staying with the theme of the connection between work and education, Hana Connelly describes the ever-present uncertainties of careers in the arts and the role of art school in mitigating these. Melody Guan turns our attention to man’s relationship with machines, tracking the changing nature of the workforce in light of advancements in artificial intelligence. Together, these articles allow us to better understand and question the nature of work, employment, and its politics in today’s world. Despite being the work of students, the magazine before you represents some of the most thoughtful, nuanced coverage available. In print and on our website, writers from the HPR produce articles that speak directly to those issues that matter most, those questions upon which the fate of societies are decided. We may not be professional journalists, but our work makes democracy possible by building the free and open exchange of ideas that allows scholarship and community to exist. From Harvard’s campus to the frozen lands of the Arctic, the articles we publish foster serious public discussion. They eschew the shrill tone of outrage for sustained argumentation, allowing our readers to engage as equals and creating the necessary conditions for a functioning society. Our staff may not be full-time journalists, but what we write matters.
Priyanka Menon President
FROM ZERO TO ZUCKERBERG THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO HARVARD STARTUPS Yehong Zhu
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pon hearing the word “startup,” you might imagine a cluster of Zuckerbergs donned in hoodies and ratty jeans, wired on enough coffee and adrenaline to code for days in front of a glowing screen, living in a dark basement and confident about one day changing the world with the next Facebook. Americans have glamorized this illustration of startups through TV shows like Silicon Valley, movies like The Social Network, and the immense hype surrounding the biggest success stories in tech. With the tremendous opportunities for impact and growth—coupled with the alluring possibility of fame and fortune—what was once considered an ostracizing pursuit has now become the hottest new trend in entrepreneurship. This has become especially apparent in today’s blooming college startup industry. Stanford is a well-known mecca of innovation on the West Coast, but another beacon is emerging in the East as the entrepreneurial community at Harvard begins to make a name for itself. As Harvard students increasingly become involved in startups during their college careers, the entrepreneurial scene at Harvard is becoming less homogenous than tech stereotypes might imply. Instead, the community is growing, and the culture is changing. Lean and self-selecting, well-funded and passionately diverse, the startup community is transitioning into a demanding yet remarkably supportive ecosystem—although one in which only the fittest survive.
FROM THE GROUND UP When Paul Bottino came to Harvard in 1996, he noticed that there wasn’t a culture of acceptance of startups on campus. “I was looking around and I thought, ‘The whole world is doing this—why aren’t we doing this?’” he told the HPR. A lawyer by trade, Bottino proposed several initiatives to the Dean of Engineering, who hired him immediately afterwards. To promote startup culture, Bottino created the Technology and Entrepreneurial Center at Harvard (TECH), founded the Harvard College Innovation Challenge, and designed several startup-focused classes. Nearly 20 years later, a wealth of resources now exists at Harvard to help student founders with their ventures. The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has recently received multi-million-dollar donations, with well-funded classes like CS50 acting as a catalyst for emerging software startups by teaching students how to code. Incubators, competitions, and seed-level venture capital funds have made it easier for students not only to engage in entrepreneurship, but also to get funding for their ideas. Taken together, these resources are creating the start of a positive feedback loop for future innovations. Bottino now describes the entrepreneurial community at Harvard as “robust,” citing the greater Cambridge and Boston areas as positive influences. Although less established than similar
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communities on the West Coast, the startup scene at Harvard is quickly gaining traction. According to student entrepreneur Erik Schluntz ‘15-’16, “There is a smaller scene here than at Stanford, but it’s more concentrated; people take it more seriously. When I was in California and at Stanford, everyone had an idea, but it doesn’t go much further than that. At Harvard [the students] are a lot more committed when they say that they have a startup idea.” Bottino echoed this sentiment: “It’s very hard to compare to Silicon Valley, where they have decades of head starts. As for its size, I think it’s very comparable—we’ve got a ton of young, entrepreneurial talent.”
ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101 Currently Bottino teaches ES95r, a startup R&D class that helps student entrepreneurs develop their existing ventures and explore new opportunities in startup design. He works with student founders on every aspect of their startup, and many have credited his mentorship and his class as influential to their success. Startups that have developed out of his class and have achieved critical acclaim include Quorum, a Congressional data analytics platform; GIFYT, a popular GIF-making site; and Spray Cake, a sprayable aerosol cake batter. Spray Cake co-founder John McCallum ’16 described Harvard students as “well-equipped” to handle the challenges of a startup. “Harvard has all these resources at its disposal,” he told the HPR. “We get classes that teach us how to develop our startup ideas—and where there are ups and downs and tougher points, we have a community of student entrepreneurs who are all going through the same issues.” Because community is a focal point for aspiring startup founders, courses like ES95r with strong entrepreneurial subcultures often attract budding entrepreneurs looking to bond with friends, mentors, and potential co-founders while simultaneously developing their technical skills. The most prominent among these classes, however, is “Introduction to Computer Science,” known colloquially as CS50. Despite its notoriously high workload, CS50 has experienced record-breaking course enrollments in recent years. This past semester alone more than 800 students signed up, making it the most popular course at Harvard. Much of the credit for this has been given to professor David Malan, who is well known for his magnetic onstage persona, his cult-like following, and his dedication to the course. CS50’s influence on the Harvard startup scene is largely by design. Over the years, a number of working startups have developed out of CS50 final projects. One is CoffeeGo, a food service app that is currently a part of the Venture Incubation Program at the Harvard i-Lab. Another is Posmetrics, an iPad-based customer feedback service that was co-founded by Schluntz and Merrill Lutsky ’15, backed by Y Combinator—a prestigious Silicon Valley seed accelerator in Silicon Valley—and acquired in 2013.
CLUBS, COLLABORATIONS, AND VENTURE CAPITAL Students who are interested in startups often tap into existing entrepreneurial networks, both to meet like-minded individuals on campus and to establish relationships with industry professionals. Extracurricular organizations like Harvard Ventures and the Harvard College Entrepreneurial Forum regularly host events—ranging from student socials to panel discussions with experts—to facilitate such connections. The student group HackHarvard also sponsors a week-long startup incubation program over Wintersession in January, and the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative provides a similar outlet for social entrepreneurship. According to CoffeeGo co-founder Hugo Yen ’18, “I would say that Harvard’s entrepreneurial community is still rather young, compared to other communities like Georgia Tech or Stanford. But the i-Lab and CS50 can definitely spur innovative ventures.” Added his co-founder Jason Herrmann ’18, “I think the freshness of the new ideas is giving [the community] life. Having people try new risks and new approaches adds to the overall creative vibe of the community.” As Yen mentioned to the HPR, one of the most valuable resources for students is only a 15-minute shuttle ride away. A sleek picture of cut glass, painted wood, and polished steel,
the Harvard Innovation Lab, or i-Lab, stands not only at the intersection of Harvard and the greater Boston community, but also at a collaborative crossroads between the graduate and undergraduate schools. Opened in 2011, the 30,000 squarefoot space strives to foster “cross-disciplinary, cross-university collaboration” by offering an abundance of resources: reserved space for incubated teams, office hours with legal and startup professionals, and a variety of startup-related programming. In addition to the resources offered through Harvard, many small venture capital funds are eager to support student entrepreneurship as well. The Experiment Fund (or X-fund), Dorm Room Fund, and Rough Draft Ventures all offer young entrepreneurs access to early-stage capital, providing guidance from VCs and a network of contacts from various industries and top-tier schools. “The idea is to give people small amounts of seed capital without forcing them to drop out of school,” said Schluntz, who told the HPR that he took time off during his sophomore year to develop Posmetrics. “That’s really cool, but all the people who end up doing it end up leaving Harvard and not coming back.” For many student founders, however, funding from outside sources is critical to sustaining their idea during the early stages of growth. “[Funding] is what enabled us to hire our early employees,” Quorum co-founder and recent graduate Jonathan Marks ’15 explained to the HPR. Starting in the spring of their junior year, he and his roommate and co-founder Alex Wirth
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The Harvard i-Lab is the premiere entreprenurial start-up space on campus.
’15 worked ceaselessly on their political big data startup, which has grown into a thriving enterprise with almost 30 employees. Since graduation, “Quorum has become Alex and mine and several other students’ full-time jobs.”
MORE THAN A ZERO-SUM GAME While money is often necessary to ensure the viability and future success of a new enterprise, venture capital is not the only way to finance a startup. Prizes and grants can also be won through business innovation competitions, which abound on campus. At Harvard, the largest and most publicized startup competition is the Harvard College Innovation Challenge. Students compete for mentorship, workspace, and thousands of dollars in cash prizes while receiving feedback on their ventures. Other university-sponsored initiatives like the President’s Challenge and the various Deans’ Challenges offer similar awards, incentivizing students to create entrepreneurial solutions to pressing problems in the world. Support for student ventures extends into the greater Boston area as well. Boston-based startup competitions include the Harvard Business School-sponsored New Venture Competition, the MIT 100k Entrepreneurship Competition, and MassChallenge Boston. Yet despite the abundance of high-stakes startup competitions, the startup culture at Harvard is far from cut-throat. University-sponsored contests encourage collaborative projects
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from all Harvard-affiliated schools, resulting in startups that are often as diverse as the student body itself. According to Bottino, “It’s a mistake to focus too squarely on the transactional value of entrepreneurial programs, by which I mean the number of jobs that get created, the amount of equity that gets sold, the amount of money that gets raised.” While successful teams are undoubtedly driven and passionate about their goals, the overall atmosphere is one of innovation and accessibility, not competition and exclusivity. With so many resources to sustain them, fledgling entrepreneurs are able to find their niche within a growing community— and student founders are no longer taking the road less travelled alone. “There’s an incredibly supportive entrepreneurial culture here,” remarked Herrmann to the HPR. “There are so many different resources as long as you’re willing to reach out.” McCallum similarly described how “those resources encourage other students to step out there and try being founders … and that can be an incredibly enriching experience.”
THE DOWNSIDES OF STARTUPS While talent, work ethic, and unfaltering conviction in an idea seem to be prerequisites for success, juggling a startup on top of a full academic schedule is no easy task for any student founder. On top of the demands of classes, there is also the stress of managing a team, raising capital, and pushing an innovative product forward.
Lean and self-selecting, well-funded and passionately diverse, the startup community is transitioning into a demanding yet remarkably supportive ecosystem— although one in which only the fittest survive.
“The people I interact with are very passion-driven and earnest and doing something because they want to make a difference in the world,” said Bottino. “You don’t last if your heart’s not in it.” “Because it’s such a time-intensive process, you have to be invested in it,” said McCallum. “But if you’re doing a startup just to do it, and you don’t have the drive, it would be very, very difficult to continue with it. The odds are already against you.” Even for the passionate, project staleness is a major obstacle. “To keep an idea fresh and engaging while you’re working on it is very tough,” admitted Herrmann. “You have to be selfmotivated to work on something you’ve been working on for ages. Being able to stick with it even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress is difficult.” Yen added, “We have to be really on schedule in order to get things done. School just kind of gets in the way.” According to Marks, “Alex and I managed to run a startup while also being normal Harvard students. We both turned in our theses, we both graduated on time, we both were involved in other extracurriculars. We certainly got a lot less sleep … [but] in order to get everything out of it, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.” However, the founding team at Quorum seems to be the exception, not the norm. “For most people, startups take 100 percent of your effort,” said Schluntz. “It’s a ton of really hard work that you’re not necessarily going to see in popular depictions of a startup. If you really want to make an impact, you
would really want to drop out. And the best thing that Harvard can do is encourage dropping out.” However, despite the high-profile successes of Harvarddropouts-turned-technology-scions Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, dropping out of Harvard is no guarantee of success. Patrick Pan ’18, who took a semseter off to work at the Harvardborn startup GIFYT during his freshman spring, described dropping out as “objectively more difficult, because you have to worry about every aspect of your life. You have to find a good balance between working too hard—because you don’t want to burn out—and finding what you really want to do.” Added Schluntz, “If it’s just a neat idea, it might not be worth it. For me, the biggest downside was losing out on the social experience at Harvard. I’m very close with my blockmates, so being away from them for a semester was hard. There are costs of leaving school … you can manage it, but it is something to worry about.” There are many different definitions of success in the startup world, ranging from financial expansion to successful acquisitions to self-improvement and personal growth. But Bottino takes an optimistic standpoint, telling the HPR, “I would say that startups can fail but entrepreneurs rarely do. It’s a bit of a self-serving definition, but entrepreneurs keep trying.” He encourages students to keep innovating, noting, “One idea may not work, but success is having the perseverance to push [yourself ] to new learning curves—to create something that creates value for other people.”
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THE WORKING STUDENT Donovan Keene
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ith a comatose swiftness, I shut off my chiming alarm to prevent my roommate from waking up. It was 6 a.m., an hour unknown to most Harvard students, except perhaps athletes and the most ardent of partiers. I crept to my part-time job where I would perform mindless tasks until my 9 a.m. class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As for the other two weekday mornings, those were consumed by early training sessions on the water or in the weight room. I had an average freshman course load, nothing markedly easy or difficult. However, I noticed that very few of my peers in my classes or on the crew team were working part-time. I practiced the NCAA maximum of 20 hours a week, worked between eight and 10 hours a week, spent 13 hours each week in class, and juggled a workload for those classes that, according to Harvard’s course evaluation guide, added up to an estimated 18 hours a week. Although there are surely students whose class schedules, athletic commitments, and extracurricular pursuits exceeded mine, I can assure you that working part-time in order to offset the cost of college is not a simple task. It requires something beyond exceptional time management: sacrifice. Sometimes this sacrifice might entail losing a couple of much-needed hours of sleep, or it could mean putting off an assignment or withdrawing from a club or social community. Students’ term-time employment may allow them to attend Harvard financially, but the greater question is whether their jobs permit them to remain wholly a part of Harvard and fully able to take advantage of the resources it has to offer. Harvard’s
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financial aid system has enabled a significantly higher number of students of low socioeconomic status to attend in past decades— but at a steep cost. The continuation of the Federal Work-Study Program, along with a term-time work expectation included in many students’ financial aid packages at Harvard and other private colleges, highlights and perpetuates economic inequality among students by limiting the pursuits of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
term-time employment, which consumes nine hours a week for almost the entire academic year. Yale and Cornell both have financial aid packages that often include FWS on-campus employment. Most private universities expect some sort of student employment as part of a financial aid package, especially in the Ivy League and at other top colleges in the United States.
WORKING FOR AID
I wiped the drop of blood off my fingertip and drowsily tagged the remaining six dozen sweatshirts before my 9 a.m. French class. It didn’t hurt; all I felt was the tranquility and aggravation that arose from listening to the same Pandora channel for the past two hours. After clocking out, I rushed to my class with a protein bar for breakfast, just like every other Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In my experience, working part-time was monotonous and only served to take away precious time that I could have spent studying, training, talking with my professors, pursuing new interests, or catching up on sleep. It prevented me from writing for the Harvard Political Review during my freshmen year, as well as from joining many other extracurricular and pre-professional groups, which required commitments of time that I simply could not dedicate. While it may have been a step up to attend Harvard, my job was a step down once I was here. It was not rewarding. It just expanded the division between my peers and myself. I couldn’t afford to attend Harvard, and Harvard couldn’t afford me all it had to offer. Although some campus employment opportunities or FWS Program jobs may be rewarding, many are not engaging for students and simply serve to fulfill term-time work expectations. Cormac Conners ’18 reported, “My job was not very demanding. I was allowed to do homework while I worked” at his part-time job at Crimson Callers, a Harvard organization dedicated to soliciting donations from alumni. Furthermore, many outside awards given to high school seniors and college freshmen are non-renewable, and although they may temporarily alleviate the cost of attending college for freshmen students, they also may solicit larger student contributions in following years. When asked how he will pay his student contribution in the future, Conners responded that he expected to take out loans. Shelby Martinez ’18 worked three jobs during the 2014-2015 Harvard academic year to pay her student contribution. In reflecting on her experience working, Shelby said, “While I did not view one single job as demanding, the balancing act between three was particularly stressful. If I were scheduled off for one job, most of the time I had to work at another location, making my hours individually flexible but altogether very demanding.” When asked if she believed a term-time work expectation increases socioeconomic inequality and division among students at Harvard, she answered without hesitation: the requirement to work as part of the FWS Program limits poorer students’ exposure to different social circles and ultimately causes a division
Harvard College’s financial aid is need-based for all matriculating students. For the class of 2018, the total cost of attending Harvard for one year was $64,000. Of this, Harvard covered an average of 76 percent, or $48,850. As part of this financial aid package, students had a term-time work expectation of $1,750, in addition to the student asset and summer work expectation of $1,250. Although this combined student expectation of $3,000 comprises a little less than five percent of the total cost of attending the university, it is based on students working a “reasonable number of hours during the semester—often around eight to 12 hours per week,” according to the Harvard College Griffin Financial Aid Office. The effects of non-negotiable, government-enforced student employment compound this issue. According to its own description, the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program consists of “funds for part-time employment to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education.” According to the Federal Student Aid Office of the United States Department of Education, the FWS Program “emphasizes employment in civic education and work related to [students’] course of study, whenever possible.” However, there are often few opportunities in students’ fields of choice, and work schedules frequently conflict with course times, resulting in very little flexibility for students to fulfill their work expectation. FWS also prevents students from working more for personal spending money, as the amount student earn cannot exceed their total FWS awards. A majority of FWS programs at schools use students’ earned funds immediately for tuition and other educational expenses, preventing students from paying their own contribution or having access to earned money. The FWS Program thus generally allows low-income students to graduate debt-free through campus employment. In reality, however, students at Harvard University and campuses throughout the United States essentially become modern-day indentured servants through the FWS program, merely as a result of their backgrounds. These problems afflict other campuses as well. Stanford University expects no parent contribution from families with incomes less than $65,000 and covers tuition costs for parents making less than $125,000. However, students are still expected to contribute through savings, summer income, or part-time work during the school year. Likewise, 75 percent of Princeton University students graduate debt-free, but many do so through
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PUNCHING THE TIME CLOCK
between working and non-working students over time. Martinez firmly believes that most working students are forced to sacrifice social time in order to work, which hinders their ability to make new friends and feel a greater sense of community—an essential part of the adaptation to college.
BRINGING DOWN BARRIERS Since President Obama announced plans to make community college more affordable in early 2015, many private institutions have responded in order to allow more students of low socioeconomic status to apply and attend. The University of Chicago recently introduced a new program to do so called “No Barriers.” It waives application fees for families applying for aid, ends loans as part of financial aid packages, and expands funded opportunities like internships, study abroad, and research positions while eliminating work-study programs. No Barriers effectively enables students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to have the same opportunities as their wealthier counterparts, graduate debt-free, and access unprecedented resources within the university. A viable solution at Harvard and other universities would be to expand the proportion of operating expenses appropriated to financial aid and eliminate student employment as part of financial aid. Currently, Harvard maintains the largest endowment fund of any university in the world: a cool $37.6 billion, a value larger than half of the world’s economies, and staggering when compared to the average college endowment of approximately $355 million. Although only 30 percent of Harvard’s endowment funds are not restricted to specific departments, programs, or
schools, that still leaves $10.92 billion. For the fiscal year 2014, Harvard’s total operating expenses were approximately $4.41 billion, which is about 12 percent of the endowment. Of that amount, merely three percent was dedicated to scholarships and other student awards. This means that less than 0.4 percent of Harvard’s endowment was spent on financial aid that year. Typically, 60 percent of the approximately 6,700 undergraduates at Harvard College receive financial aid: a total of 4,020 students. If all of these undergraduates had the same work expectation of $3,000, like the class of 2018, then the cost of removing this student expectation would be less than $12.1 million—0.003 percent of the university’s operating expenses and just 0.0003 percent of Harvard’s endowment. Thus, removing students’ term-time work expectation could easily be accomplished from a monetary standpoint. Harvard University’s misallocation of its resources and inaction concerning the student work expectation is inconsistent with its desire to remove economic barriers for admission. By reallocating more of its considerable resources to financial assistance, the university could easily help to create the inclusive and egalitarian atmosphere for students that it nominally strives towards. Ultimately, admission to college should extend to all of its opportunities and resources, especially in this critical time of transition and independence in students’ lives. Work-study programs and term-time employment requirements prevent students who worked hard to be admitted from taking advantage of all a university has to offer. This reality must change, and the change will certainly benefit the college experiences of students throughout the nation, including me.
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art for art’s sake do artists need art school?
hen Alfred Guzzetti began his career as an artist in the 1960s, he was motivated in part by the war in Vietnam. Although he had never seriously considered a career in the arts previously, the pursuit of graduate school and a fellowship in England presented tempting options for avoiding the war. Even so, art school did not seem like a prerequisite for becoming an artist. If anything, it represented the kind of establishment of which his generation was fiercely skeptical. Instead, Guzzetti chose to study literature in the United Kingdom and travel widely before beginning to produce and direct prize-winning experimental films and documentaries. Four decades later, Annie Kennedy began her own artistic career by attending the Rhode Island School of Design. For
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her, art school offered a group of likeminded people who shared the enthusiasm for painting that had been absent in her Utah high school. RISD helped to validate her interest in art and provided her with a network of peers whom she could fall back on even when she moved back to Utah. Working primarily as an artist has always been a challenge. Relying on personal passions and hand-made creations to make a living can be financially and emotionally draining when a society’s demand is not high enough to meet an artist’s supply. As Kennedy put it to the HPR, being an artist can be like spending a lifetime standing on a hill, observing the world from an important but lonely position. Over time, the tools for uniting artists and keeping their careers afloat have evolved,
from Parisian cafés and countercultural movements to the Internet. Art schools embody these transformations and juggle students’ sometimes-conflicting needs for creative fulfillment and financial stability. The changes these influences provoke in educational institutions may also transform artists and their work.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD The divergent experiences of Alfred Guzzetti and Annie Kennedy in regards to higher education speak to more general trends in the shifting role of art schools across the nation. For Guzzetti, now a visual arts professor at Harvard, going to an art school in the 1960s seemed un-
necessary; instead, he recalled in an interview with the HPR, he focused on becoming well-traveled and well-rounded in preparation for eventually becoming a successful independent filmmaker who could offer unique contributions to his field. In his time, film schools were mainly a European phenomenon and a rare find in the United States. Even today, Guzzetti concurs with the advice of his colleague, the photographer and Harvard professor Chris Killip, who told the HPR that he advises prospective art students, “Take half the money you would spend on school and use it to travel, instead.” For Annie Kennedy’s generation and its successors, art school has taken on a different role. Today, as the practices of getting together in coffeehouses and connecting through vast networks of underground movements have become outdated, art school can offer the rarity of a welcoming community of artists with whom to connect, learn, and grow. Especially in the formative years of an aspiring artist’s life, this kind of community can be crucial in encouraging a future career in the arts. As RISD Dean of Fine Arts Sheri Wills explained to the HPR, “Every important art movement has been about a group of people who have gotten together and critiqued each other’s work. If you think about it, artists have almost always had formal education, and art has always involved a rigorous process of the guild, master, and apprentice. I’m not sure that this has changed much over time—it may look like change on surface, but fundamental principles have remained the same.” Whether these spaces retain the traditionally nonconformist attitude that characterized earlier artist communities or add problematically commercial elements into the mix is up for debate. To Wills, schools like RISD help to fight back against the overly pragmatic American attitude that seeks for every action to yield dividends. Art schools provide an environment in which those kinds of anxiety-inducing concerns can be put aside and offer a space in which students can develop the kind of deep understanding of the tools, techniques, and history of art that they will need to discover what they can personally contribute. At an art school, students are taught about their own roles as culturemakers, and they can focus on making something meaningful instead of worrying about whether their career choices are as practical as those of their peers.
A GATED COMMUNITY? But there is undeniably a financial component to the rise of art schools in America. In general, most higher education across the country experienced a rapid expansion and contraction between the times when Alfred Guzzetti and Annie Kennedy went to school; the problem of too few professors initially led to overcompensation, and eventually to cutbacks. Although the United States now boasts an impressive number of art schools, these institutions can also come with an exorbitant fee. As Guzzetti pointed out to the HPR, “Parents of prospective art students must often pay an enormous cost to put their child through school. These worries then get internalized by the young people, and going to art school becomes a consumer decision. … Once money becomes a big issue, you become more concerned with getting training to remain professionally qualified, and you also start your life off in a big hole.” With the price of tuition factored in, art school can take on a role that comes closer to vocational training than to a Parisian
cafe. Instead of a decision made on the basis of passion and the search for community, going to an art school can seem like an investment. Higher education generally offers the promise of increased prestige and qualifications that can help graduates to secure employment, and schools that focus on art are no different. Those who pursue a career in art know that they are faced with tough competition and a sparse job market. With those stakes in mind, attending an art school may seem like a necessary step towards becoming a competitive candidate. Viewing art school as an investment can detract from the community-building role that it could otherwise fulfill. When prestige, pre-professional training, and prohibitive costs are the most important aspects of an art school, its community necessarily gets altered. Only certain kinds of students have the selfassurance and financial means to make the type of investment that many art schools represent. Wills says that these students tend to come from stable economic backgrounds or have shown enough promise (and received enough praise) at a young age that they are confident in their abilities when they enter college. Such filters can also rule out artists with skills in less traditional areas, even though they may be able to provide the kind of unique perspective and innovative attitude that could advance the entire field.
AFTER ART SCHOOL What lies ahead for those who do manage to resolve the conundrum of whether or not to attend an art school? At first glance, job prospects for new artists may seem bleak. Alfred Guzzetti, Annie Kennedy, and Sheri Wills all agree that grants and fundraising are no longer a sustainable means of supporting a full-time artist. According to Guzzetti, the 1960s could boast of a substantial amount of public funding for the arts, but the money available today is made up of “nickels and dimes, relatively speaking.” Guzzetti has produced numerous documentaries, experimental films, and tapes. He has worked on gallery installations and has collaborated with other filmmakers and musicians on a variety of different works. For all intents and purposes, Alfred Guzzetti is an “artist.” At the same time, he also happens to make his living as the Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Arts at Harvard. Annie Kennedy has an extensive artistic repertoire, as well. She has shown her work across galleries in Utah, has produced installation art, and sells some of her work commercially. She has also worked in art education for museums but has found that a full-time position in such jobs detracts too severely from her own artistic pursuits. Instead, she has stayed on as an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. Despite her lessened job security, she finds that she is happiest when she can dedicate herself whole-heartedly to her craft. Without a steady source of funding, a career in the arts can demand less traditional trajectories than those that are typical of most other professions. “Most graduating students may want to consider art as their ‘career,’ but they also need to get creative about how they make a living,” Wills said. Getting creative about making a living often means combining more than one job—yet even for most professions outside of the arts, flexibility ends up being one of the most important traits that new graduates can have.
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RISE OF THE ROBOTIC WORKFORCE 14 HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW FALL 2015
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN BOTS TAKE OUR JOBS Melody Guan
he press has recently been awash in stories of worker robots of ever-increasing ability making human labor obsolete. Is it true that we are approaching a future of a mechanized workforce where humans need not apply? Experts’ opinions on the future of technological development vary spectacularly, as do views on the nature and magnitude of robotics’ impact on society and mankind’s ability to adapt. But one thing is collectively agreed upon: robotics has begun and will continue to transform the workforce in profound and inevitable ways. Fears that automation will lead to unemployment have existed for centuries, but humans have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to modernization of work. While the percentage of Americans that plowed the fields dwindled from 33 percent to two percent over the last century, for instance, countless unforeseen occupations materialized. Some people believe the present situation to be no different: if robots eventually do some kinds of labor more efficiently than humans, people will simply move on to other work. As University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science dean Vijay Kumar told the HPR, “The implication that jobs will disappear and not be replaced is, I think, completely false.” What makes this round of innovation potentially different is that robots have become smart. “Computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power … what the steam engine and its descendants did for muscle power,” write MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy co-directors Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson in The Second Machine Age. A 2013 paper by Oxford academics Carl B. Frey and Michael A. Osborne predicts that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of automation. Smart technologies already exist that demonstrate the vulnerability of white-collar service jobs to automation. There are computers that can make medical diagnoses with fewer errors than humans, and one venture capital firm has given a computer algorithm a voting position on its board of directors. Creative jobs are not immune, either. There are song-writing robots whose compositions are virtually indistinguishable from humans’, and, according to at March 7 op-ed in the New York Times by Shelley Podolny, robots are responsible for writing a “shocking” amount of news stories. All prompt the question: how will these technologies affect human employability?
FORECASTING MACHINE INTELLIGENCE Experts disagree immensely in both their outlook for future advances and their perception of the aptitude of present-day robots. On the one hand, some believe that technology will never be able to fully compete with the human mind. MIT economics professor David Autor told the HPR that the short- and medium-term consequences of robotics are over-hyped, because progress is “relatively close to a standstill. … Moreover, robotics and machinery are still extremely limited in terms of flexibility, adaptability, autonomy, and the ability to make independent decisions.” Autor cited recent stumbles at the DARPA Robotics Challenge 2015, which required robots to compete tasks that would have allowed them to enter nuclear reactors and prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. “These bots were incredibly slow and incredibly fragile. There’s a viral video of one falling down crashing,” he recalled. “All these headlines and articles saying robots are going to take your job tomorrow are ridiculous.” On the other side of the spectrum, a group of thinkers believes that it is simply a matter of time before robots surpass the intellectual capacity of humans—some even predict that this will happen in the foreseeable future. Proponents of the “technological singularity,” like futurist Ray Kurzweil in his book The Singularity is Near, believe that humans will design a machine smarter than themselves and launch a “cycle of machine intelligence’s iteratively improving its own design,” leaving mankind in the dust. Based on the reasoning that technological progress has been increasing at an exponential rather than linear rate, some in this school expect this event to unfold within this century. The theory is highly controversial, but it has the support of a substantial number of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers. Median estimates in a 2012-2013 survey of around 550 AI experts were that high-level machine intelligence will develop in the 2040s with a 50 percent chance, and that a superintelligence, or “any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest,” would develop 30 years thereafter. Perhaps it would be an anthropocentric fallacy to set human intelligence as an upper limit.
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While it is easy to become mired in dissension about the future of technology, it is more illuminating to consider the different possible effects on the human workforce over the range of technological prospects. To begin, consider scenarios where people maintain distinct advantages over robotics and employment remains high, a situation particularly germane to technological skeptics and near-future predictions.
THE HUMAN NICHE OF THE FUTURE Even the most conservative projections see robots playing a growing part in the workforce and replacing people in many important roles. Under certain forecasts, however, humans will continue to be employed, albeit in novel ways. Those like Harvard Kennedy School science and technology studies professor Sheila Jasanoff expect the robotics industry itself to engender new forms of occupation. “If you introduce revolutionary new technologies, you change the entire system. These robots won’t maintain themselves, right?” she remarked in an interview with the HPR. “When personal computing devices were introduced, people didn’t imagine that the app industry would take off.” Human employability optimists also tend to view robotics as powerful but fundamentally inadequate tools that aid rather than replace humans. “Humans are better than robots at abstraction, generalization, and creative thinking” and robots can only solve structured problems in familiar environments, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory director Daniela Rus wrote in a June article in Foreign Affairs. Instead of the singularity, many believe in what University of California, Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg dubs a “multiplicity,” where humans and machines work together in integrated teams, each complementing the skills of the other. This is the vision held by some industry leaders like InTouch Health founder Yulun Wang, who told HPR that his company’s medical robots are meant not to supersede medical staff but to “extend the reach of physicians and nurses.” Some trust that even if the technical deficiencies of robots are overcome, humans will remain indispensable due to the importance of their unique qualities. According to the Universitty of Pennsylvania’s Kumar, only humans can be counted upon for navigating the ethical decisions constantly required of us: “Imagine you are driving a car and see a big truck and a mother with a baby stroller. A self-driving car will think about self-preservation and will run over the stroller. You would make the moral judgment and most likely hit the truck.” The desire for a human voice or perceived empathy could lead humans to price human receptionists over automated ones. And the part of our brain that lights up at the phrase “authentic handcrafted” may perpetually guarantee a market for the human brand—even if we manage to churn out AI capable of perfect emotional intelligence, humans may prefer having a warmblooded personal trainer to one of plastic and metal.
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WHEN HUMANS WORKERS ARE SUPERFLUOUS At the other side of the debate are experts who envision a future where the number of employable humans reduces substantially. Their more pessimistic predictions stem from a belief that current automation technologies will become more widespread, cheaper, and easier to integrate into the workforce. They may also doubt that people can always find replacement jobs for those lost to technology, or that humans will maintain a competitive advantage against AI. Many question the optimists who say that as many new jobs will be gained as will be lost from automation. In a Wall Street Journal essay from July 2014, former Secretary of the Treasury and Harvard University president Lawrence Summers warned of lasting structural unemployment due to robotic workers. “There are more sectors losing jobs than creating jobs. … If current trends continue, it could well be that a generation from now a quarter of middle-aged men will be out of work at any given moment,” he predicted. After all, a worker laid off by a bot likely needs to be retrained to achieve a higher skill level than before to secure a new job. Increasing the educational level of an entire population, however, is a highly daunting and perhaps infeasible task. Training is costly and time-consuming, and moreover, as Harvard Business School assistant professor Gautam Mukunda said, “The bar for ‘this is how skilled you have to be to not be replaced by a computer’ keeps going up and up. It just might be reaching a point where it’s just not reasonable to have some people reach that bar.” Besides demonstrating their value, new-age workers must also justify their cost, a task where automatons may again have the competitive advantage. Robots do not get tired and are immune from many human foibles—like greed, pride, and carelessness—that undermine businesses’ productivity. A 2014 report by the British international management consultancy Jomati Consultants LLP claims that robots will eventually match the work of “a dozen low-level associates” at law firms. Between ever more stringent eligibility requirements and a price war with machines, a large swathe of humanity may indeed become unemployable. Is there any evidence that humans are losing out in a race against the machine? The data seems to undermine what Mukunda calls “the traditional economist’s answer [that] jobs will appear because when productivity goes up there are always more jobs.” In Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, Martin Ford claims that the shift by which “tools that increase the productivity of workers [are] themselves turning into workers” is responsible for phenomena like the unprecedented zero net job creation of the first decade of the 21st century. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, MIT’s McAfee and Brynjolfsson similarly described how national
Tesla’s Model S sedan relies heavily on robotic construction.
wealth and productivity have grown while incomes and jobs have remained stagnant over the same period in many countries. “The fact that the middle class has been hollowing out in country after country [shows that] there seems to be a common underlying force that’s affecting all these countries,” Brynjolfsson said. “We think that force is technology.”
IN THE SHADOW OF THE IRON GIANT With such a dizzying array of plausible arguments leading down different paths, it may seem like trying to predict the future as far as techno-unemployment is concerned is a futile exercise. But societal shocks are almost guaranteed to occur as a result of these technological changes. “In the short run we know with some certainty that some workers will be displaced by robots and by technology,” said Harvard Law School labor and industry professor Benjamin Sachs in a conversation with the HPR. “If robots become intelligent enough that … we do see a long-term displacement of human labor by technology, we need to rethink a lot of fundamental things about the way to struc-
ture work, the way we structure tasks, the way we structure the social contract.” As Mukunda noted, the wave of robotization has already begun. Jeff Burnstein, the president of the Association for Advancing Automation, a trade association for promoting automated technology, told the HPR that even at present, “just about every industry is increasing its use of automation these days”—from cars and electronics to the aerospace and food processing businesses. China Daily recently reported the start of construction for the “first zero-labor factory” in Dongguan that will scale down Everwin Precision Technology Ltd.’s human workforce by up to 90 percent, and Midea, a Chinese electronic appliance manufacture, plans to cut a third of its 30,000 workers by 2018 in favor of automated systems. Even if Lawrence Summers is wrong that employing workers in a automated industries is the central “economic challenge of the future,” he was certainly correct that the trend towards increasing automation is “inexorable and nearly universal” and that it will usher in upheavals that will be profound in numerous dimensions, maybe unimaginably so.
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WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN? THE FUTURE OF POLICE BODY CAMERAS
he people demanded it, the police officers’ union supported it, and the city council would fund it. Yet curiously, Washington, D.C.’s proposal to put body cameras on its police force threatened to grind to a halt in May. Of the $5.1 million requested to purchase body cameras, the D.C. Council approved only $1.9 million. This massive funding shortfall was in part due to a public outcry over the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPDC) plan to exempt body camera footage from the Freedom of Information Act, which would deny public access to the videos except at the discretion of police administrators. Citizens and local government officials alike argue that leaving the police as the sole arbiter of who gets to view the videos defeats the entire purpose of the body cameras—namely, to increase police accountability and transparency. The MPDC responded that because it would need to anonymize any and all videos released, usually by blurring faces and masking voices, the cost of the project would quickly spiral into infeasibility. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has developed a new proposal that would dramatically increase access to body camera footage in public places; however, the shift only occurred after a monthslong standstill, and much of the issue remains unresolved in Washington and countless other American cities.
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This type of conflict heralds the latest roadblock in the race to implement police body cameras that has swept the nation in the past year. As Luke Lappala, a spokesperson for Vievu, a major body camera manufacturer, explained in an interview with the HPR, the path to deploying the technology involves a series of hurdles. The initial hurdle was public sentiment, overcome in the wake of events such as those in Ferguson and Staten Island that brought body cameras into the public eye and turned public opinion overwhelmingly in their favor. Shortly after came the hurdle of funding, a problem that still prevents many police departments from launching body camera programs. However, money is becoming more available: President Obama intends to dedicate $75 million over the next three years to deploy body cameras across the country, and experts view body cameras as inevitable. In an interview with the HPR, Harvard Law School professor Ron Sullivan, a specialist in criminal justice, said he believes that body cameras “in the next ten years will be routine.” Seattle Police Department chief operating officer Mike Wagers is even more optimistic, claiming to the HPR that “in two years, [body cameras] will be a part of every officer’s uniform.” Now, with debates similar to those in D.C. taking place from
coast to coast, the hurdle on the horizon is one of policy: writing laws that will govern cameras and the footage they capture. The gravity of the situation is evident. At their best, body cameras can act as a powerful force for justice, not only by providing irrefutable evidence when police officers abuse their power, but also by laying a foundation upon which to repair citizens’ trust in law enforcement and government. At worst, as Chad Marlow, author of the ACLU’s model legislation on body cameras, said in an interview with HPR, body cameras could produce not only a squandered opportunity to reduce police brutality, but also a further erosion of police accountability—especially if officers learned what the videos “failed to capture” and started to “play fast and loose with the facts” or even tamper with the videos. Thus, Wagers stated, “No technology should be developed without [the] proper policy in place—and proper training.”
RIGHT THOUGHTS, RIGHT WORDS, RIGHT ACTION Early body camera adopters have implemented many policies that even the harshest critics support. For example, an early concern was that having cameras constantly on, even in
personal moments such as trips to the bathroom, would compromise police officers’ privacy. In response, the San Diego Police Department requires officers to turn on the camera only before an “enforcement or likely enforcement contact,” explained San Diego media relations officer Mark Herring in an interview with the HPR. He added that aside from some “growing pains,” such as veteran officers forgetting to turn on the cameras, officers have largely been compliant with such policies. Furthermore, recorded footage cannot be edited or deleted, and all access is logged and audited on a regular basis, quieting the common complaint that police could tamper with footage. Finally, though the specifics vary by departments that have adopted the policy, most footage is kept for around six months unless it involves a use of police force, in which case it is maintained for a longer period. This helps to address concerns that embarrassing or compromising footage could be floating around indefinitely. Even more encouraging, noted Herring, San Diego police have assisted “10 other [police] departments both in state and out of state” in developing their body camera policies, giving reason to believe that these best practices, largely developed internally by police administrations in San Diego and other major cities, will diffuse and become a standard as other towns and
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Without citizens’ ability to review the videos and hold officers accountable for their actions, transparency and accountability will not improve.
cities initiate their own body camera programs. Still, the policies in place are not perfect, as the situation in D.C. suggests, and the most contentious consideration is video access. On the one hand, police forces across the nation are seeking to block public access to all footage recorded by body cameras, except under particular circumstances, such as when the footage is relevant to a court case or when the police themselves decide to release footage. From the perspective of law enforcement, there is good reason to do so. First, according to Herring, body camera video is viewed as evidence, on par with a bloody knife found on a crime scene. California law does not allow public access to evidence except with the consent of the chief of police; thus, much as the public would not have access to a murder weapon, it would also not have access to body camera video. Releasing evidence to the broad public before court proceedings, Herring continued, could “blow the integrity of an investigation” and “taint the jury pool” by biasing the judge and jurors. Furthermore, because a camera “only catches what’s in view,” the footage may not be a complete representation of the circumstances at the time of the recording. Second, unfettered public access to body camera video could violate the privacy of the videos’ subjects. In the most extreme case, this could enable an expansion of the mug shot publishing industry, wherein a malicious website posts incriminating videos or photos of an individual online and the victim must pay a fee to remove them. Furthermore, special considerations need to be given to those injured on camera (for medical privacy reasons) and minors. An obvious solution to these challenges would be to anonymize videos so that subjects’ identities are not compromised. However, this is often impractical: handling a large volume of requests often requires hours of manual, frame-by-frame editing, drastically driving up the cost of such programs. In one extreme case, a single individual requested that Seattle police release thousands of hours of anonymized body camera footage, which was so infeasible due to manpower and budget constraints that officers had to sit down with the individual to develop a better solution.
I’LL BE WATCHING YOU Transparency activists argue that not allowing the public to view footage defeats the purpose of the videos. Without citizens’
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ability to review the videos and hold officers accountable for their actions, transparency and accountability will not improve. As Seattle’s Wagers told the HPR, if police are given the choice of “what to put online, of course [they are] going to only put the good stuff out there.” The ACLU’s Marlow agreed, warning that giving police unilateral control over access to these videos allows them not only to conceal video evidence of police misconduct, but also to whitewash their image. Inklings of this practice are surfacing already even near San Diego, where body cameras have been in place since 2014. Nearby towns, such as Escondido, have released numerous videos display acts of police heroism, but body cameras failed to capture a recent fatal police shooting. While San Diego has seen as much as a 40 percent reduction in complaints against police and a nearly 50 percent reduction in use of force, Marlow said that body cameras threaten to become a “propaganda tool if police are left as arbiters.” Marlow and others have proposed and implemented solutions to the concerns raised by police in regards to releasing body camera footage to the public. Wagers explained that Seattle addressed the issue by creating software to automatically anonymize body camera footage—cutting hundreds of hours of labor— and by releasing “the good, the bad, and the ugly out there” on YouTube. Another solution supported by Marlow would be to open video access to the subjects of a particular video and their families. This straightforward policy change would allow individuals to hold the police accountable for their actions without compromising their own privacy or any potential court cases that may arise. These solutions, though still in their early stages, could meet the demands of both citizens and police. When asked about the possibility of implementing some of these solutions, Herring declined to comment, but he noted that San Diego and most other recent adopters in the United States have only utilized body cameras for less than a year, and their policies are still liable to change. Wagers attributed the success of the Seattle Police Department’s program to the entire department’s commitment to “be as transparent as possible” and “rebuild public trust.” Though he also declined to comment about other departments’ policies, his view is that within the next three years, public pressure will push the “video access problem [to be] solved”—and that, even in cities that have not yet embraced body cameras, future officers will look back and view these policy solutions as a “no-brainer.”
food for thought how school meals became political Christopher Cruz
raduation caps had been tossed in the air, diplomas handed out, and students released for the summer. But for the IT department in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the work was just beginning. LAUSD’s cafeteria management system, which helps order food for schools and manages meal account data for over 640,000 students, needed major software upgrades, and the only opportunity for the IT department to implement them was during the short time between graduation and summer school. “It was down to the minute. At 3:00, schools were to be off the system … and by 9:00 the central office upgrade would take place,” LAUSD deputy director of food services Laura Benavidez told the HPR. If the time crunch didn’t place enough pressure on the IT team, there was also the fact that a failed upgrade could disrupt the first day of summer school for thousands of students and cafeteria workers. LAUSD’s Food Services Division prepared for the worst, ordering a month’s worth of food in advance and preparing manual backup processes in case anything went wrong. Extensive pre-planning allowed LAUSD to implement one of the largest school cafeteria management system upgrades in U.S. history. About 21 million of the nation’s children rely heavily on school meal programs to meet their dietary needs. For school
districts like LAUSD, where nearly eight out of 10 students live at or below the poverty level, federally assisted meal programs are especially vital. LAUSD’s upgrade of its cafeteria management system highlights the technical challenges that school districts across the country face in feeding their students. However, school districts also face a host of organizational and regulatory challenges as they try to adequately feed their students nutritious meals—and the rules governing the cafeteria have become more contentious.
“SUMMER MEAL CHAMPIONS” For decades, child developmental researchers and educators alike have known that a healthy diet can help students concentrate better in school and may improve academic performance. Congress also understood the role that food and nutrition played in education, passing the National School Lunch Act in 1946 and the Child Nutrition Act in 1966 to ensure that students had access to healthy and nutritious school lunches. Since then, the government has expanded the federal educational meal program to include provisions for breakfasts during the school year and meals during the summer through the Summer Food Service Program.
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School districts also face a host of organizational and regulatory challenges as they try to adequately feed their students nutritious meals—and the rules governing the cafeteria have become more contentious.
While the Summer Food Service Program helps reduce child hunger by providing summer meals to 3.8 million children, this number pales in comparison to the 21 million that rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year. This alarming reality has lead the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education to launch a campaign to encourage local governments and schools to partner with community leaders to provide summer meals. Using social media to promote the campaign and providing a toolkit for so-called “Summer Meal Champions,” the two agencies hope that the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Summer Food Service Program will be marked by a 13 millionmeal increase over last year’s performance. Some school districts and communities have answered to the call to action. For example, LAUSD, the L.A. Recreation and Parks Department, and other local partners provided meals at a total of 407 different sites this summer. However, Benavidez explains, the difficulty lay in getting students to come to the meal sites. “We do a media release, we present in the paper, and we do some other media-related promoting. Our end result is that we generally serve 35,000 or 36,000 meals a day in the summer. But that’s not even 10 percent of what we serve for lunch on a daily basis [during the school year].” While LAUSD benefits from its size and extensive administrative leadership, other school districts and communities are often unable to make the accommodations necessary to run a successful summer meal program. As Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation deputy director Emily Broad Leib told the HPR, fully funding summer meal programs is also an issue: “There’s a per-meal reimbursement but not really additional money for the time spent by the people running and administering the program.” Some school districts that successfully implement a summer meal program often only do so for a portion of the summer due to the administrative challenges.
THE CAPITOL HILL FOOD FIGHT Sometimes federal programs are able to cover these costs; however, school meals have recently become the center of a Washington, D.C. policy battle. When the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed in 2010, Democrats hailed its new nutri-
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tional guidelines as a step forward in improving children’s health while Republicans retorted that it was overly strict and would unnecessarily burden school meal programs across the nation. This year, Congress is considering whether to reauthorize the provisions for school meals before they expire on September 30. The current Republican-dominated Congress has drawn attention to the setbacks caused by the nutritional regulations set in 2010. On June 24, South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp testified to the House Education and the Workforce Committee that several school districts in her state have dropped out of the school meals program because of the regulations. Democratic leaders on the committee, however, insisted that these regulations are necessary. A week earlier, ranking member Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) highlighted the fact that the United States has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the world, adding that 95 percent of schools have been able to comply with the regulations. In fact, many school districts were able to implement the 2010 measures rather quickly. LAUSD, for example, implemented the measures by 2011, three years ahead of the deadline—although it was already taking measures to implement healthier school meals prior to the law’s passage. Benavidez cited the district’s Healthy Beverage Motion of 2002 and Obesity Prevention Motion of 2003 as examples of the local push for nutrition in schools.
CORPORATE COMESTIBLES Other opponents to the national food legislation argue that nutritional regulations discourage students from eating school meals. North Carolina Chief of School Nutrition Services Lynn Harvey testified to the Education and Workforce Committee on June 24 that in her state, “student participation in school meals has declined by five percent under the new rules—a loss of nearly 13 million meals in two years.” Harvey reported that food waste has gone up as children throw away the healthy meal items they are mandated to receive in their lunch. If the new regulations were causing some students to opt out of eating a school lunch, it would seem to contradict the goal of the original Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act: to ensure that all students had
About 21 million children in the United States rely on school meals during the school year.
access to lunch during the school week. However, some disagree with the notion that nutritional regulations deter students from eating school meals. Dr. Eric Rimm, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health who has studied the effects of nutritional regulations in Massachusetts, told the HPR, “What we found was that by the time they got to the end of the year, [students] were actually throwing away less food than they were before the regulations went into place.” Rimm added that the students who chose not to eat school meals after the regulations took effect were often the same ones who refused to eat school meals before the changes. Thus, while the regulations may have discouraged some students from eating school lunches, his research suggests that most students have accepted healthier school meals. As of the writing of this article, Congress only has a few weeks to decide whether to keep school meal regulations rigid or to loosen the standards to permit greater flexibility and ease for school districts. As the deadline draws near, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) has introduced the Healthy School Meals Flexibility Act, which would lower the restrictions on schools lunches enacted five years ago. With Republicans bringing in new proponents of the bill to testify at each Education and the Workforce committee hearing on the subject, it seems that the legislation may move forward. For many health experts, the proposed bill is frustrating. “The regulations were put into effect because this is where the best science was for health in children,” Rimm said. “And now through lobbying some of these are being rolled back.” Rimm sees a financial motivation behind the effort. “There’s a lot of money in it for [the regulations] to be rolled back so large food companies can continue to sell relatively unhealthy foods through the National School Lunch Program.”
Indeed, large food companies have a financial incentive to oppose the regulations. Schools spend billions every year purchasing food products. Even before Davis introduced the Healthy School Meals Flexibility Act, major food companies lobbied for a separate bill that would have allowed schools to receive one-year waivers from the nutritional regulations. They often did this under the guise of larger umbrella organizations with benign names, such as the School Nutrition Association, an association funded in large part by food companies like Schwan’s Food Service, a major provider of pizza to schools. For Broad Leib, another major concern is that if nutritional guidelines are relaxed, they will be difficult to reinstate later. However, local action may still ensure that nutritional and healthy meals are served to students even if federal regulations are rolled back. The Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation is currently working to produce a toolkit to improve school food and nutrition education at the state and local level. Broad Leib said that a central component will discuss changing school food culture so that students become more educated about what they eat and more eager to eat the healthier options they are served. “We need to have kids connect more with the food their eating,” Rimm added. Some school districts are already taking these suggestions. LAUSD, for example, serves breakfast in the classroom and meals on round plates rather than square trays to create a familial atmosphere for students. Steps like these may help reduce food waste and encourage students to take their healthy habits home. Laura Benavidez believes that such measures are crucial to ensuring that students get fed. “Eating well is not a privilege,” she said. “It’s a right.”
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KURDISH PESHMERGA DIVIDED FROM WITHIN
ovember 24, 2014: Kurdish Peshmerga loyal to the Kurdish Democratic Party advance upon ISIS militants lying in wait in Kharabarut, Iraq. They manage to take the city—temporarily. The KDP forces soon face an aggressive ISIS counterattack and decide to retreat to avoid any losses. Meanwhile, a nearby unit of Kurdish fighters loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan blindly prepares to advance on Kharabarut themselves, unaware of the amassed ISIS fighters. The lack of communication and coordination results in the death of at least 11 Kurdish fighters. This scene presents a critical question: why were the Peshmerga forces disorganized and disconnected? The Peshmerga—literally “those who face death”—are the Kurdish fighting forces based in Syria and Iraq, and are widely regarded as the most effective force currently fighting ISIS. Kurdish forces in Iraq have managed to reclaim key cities such as Kirkuk without the help of the Shiite Iraqi Army forces, and Syrian Kurds famously withstood the six-month siege of Kobane last fall. But the Peshmerga have claimed these victories in spite the absence of a proper state, organizational troubles, funding and arms shortages, and lack of coordinated support from outside their organization. Furthermore, the Peshmerga have managed their accomplishments even as a political rift threatens to prevent them from reaching their full potential in the fight against ISIS.
PEERING INTO HISTORY Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq that emerged as a de facto state after the Gulf War. The region has two major political parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which have long been at odds with each other. Famed Kurdish politician Mustafa Barzani founded the KDP in 1946, and Jalal Talabani subsequently led the PUK to split off of the KDP in the mid-70s due to political and ideological differences—the PUK had a more left-leaning, social democratic ideology, while the KDP retained its conservative and tribal political philosophy. The two parties enjoyed roughly equal support well into the mid-90s, when they fell into conflict. The Iraqi Kurdish Civil War began in 1994 after international support split; Iran supplied weapons to the PUK, while Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces eventually aided the KDP. The conflict ended in 1998 when KDP and PUK leaders Masoud Barzani (the KDP founder’s son) and Jalal Talabani signed a Washingtonmediated peace deal. The agreement ensured that the parties would, moving forwards, share political power and revenues garnered from across the region. However, the longstanding legacy of the interparty conflict continues to divide Kurdish society
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between the KDP-dominated region, centered around Erbil, and the PUK area, including its capital, Sulaymaniyah. Today, Kurdistan is governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a parliamentary government which includes elected officials from both the KDP and PUK. While the KRG’s parliament passes legislation, it is up to the independent bureaucracies of the PUK and KDP to enforce that legislation and govern in their respective regions. The HPR was granted an interview with Captain Nyazi Abdulwahid, a commander of a Peshmerga battalion in Altun Kupri, a town north of Kirkuk. He explained that the administrative split has military ramifications: rather than being loyal to the KRG, most Peshmerga “belong to one of the two parties, the PUK or the KDP.” Thus, the military remains largely divided and loyal to separate parties despite the unity of the Kurdish government and the emerging unification of its forces.
DIFFERING OPINIONS The effects of the military split have been disputed. While some Kurds feel that the administrative split allows for more effective fighting against ISIS, others believe it instead sows disunity. In an January interview with Al-Monitor, PUK party member Omar Mohsen commented, “The best thing that could happen to the Kurds is if the PUK and KDP Peshmerga united. Peshmerga are the soul of Kurdistan.” Indeed, Michael Knights, a Washington Institute fellow who specializes in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf states, also sees the military split as a complication in the fight against ISIS. In an interview with the HPR, Knights detailed several disadvantages faced by the Peshmerga, noting that the split military results in unequal distribution of equipment: “First of all … you have some very well equipped units, the Praetorian party elite units, and you have some very under-equipped units. There’s probably not optimal distribution of equipment across the units.” He elaborated that this is particularly troublesome when facing a highly mobile enemy like ISIS, which can choose to exploit weak points across the long front line. Furthermore, the split can contribute to disunity among the Peshmerga at a time when they would benefit from nationalist, rather than sectionalist, pride. “When something goes wrong, the Kurds tend to start blaming each other on party political lines,” Knights explained. “If the KDP suffer problems around Sinjar or Mosul, some PUK will begin to criticize them, and vice versa. You’ll see that the national solidarity that you want to have is not there.”
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DIVIDED THEY STAND? Nevertheless, despite the political tension between the Peshmerga forces, Abdulwahid offered a different opinion on the situation. He explained that because the Peshmerga forces are essentially autonomous, there are few mishaps and negative side effects. “We PUK Peshmergas fight in the areas administered by our party, close to the areas of Erbil, Kirkuk, and Sulaymaniyah. The KDP Peshmergas fight ISIS in an area from Erbil to Zakho. That is why there is no problem in reality on the ground.” The military victories of the Peshmerga seem to provide support for the captain’s argument, and Knights also noted certain advantages enjoyed by the split Peshmerga forces. Party loyalties among Peshmerga fighters create strong military bonds that cannot be matched by forces in the Iraqi military, Knights said. The distinct fighting forces develop “military traditions, myths, famous units, famous commanders, and a certain way of dressing and speaking to each other … things you can’t make overnight.” Knights explained that these differences lend to the effectiveness of the divided Peshmerga—distinct cultures inspire military pride and prowess. Thanks to their effective military mores as well as partybased funding, the Peshmerga are “amongst some of the more professional and elite forces in the region.” They enjoy an extremely fast rate of mobilization when compared to traditional Iraqi forces. “If the party says, ‘Everybody come to the front,’ it will happen very quickly,” Knights stated. Peshmerga fighters temporarily released to civilian life stay in cities near the battlefront, enabling recalled forces to mobilize in hours. In contrast, Iraqi units often face the problem of soldiers rotated hundreds of miles away from their bases, resulting in a delay of up to several days during mobilization. Moreover, the Iraqi forces face the financially draining issue of ghost soldiers, men who are listed on the payroll but do not fight, choosing instead to split the false paycheck with their corrupt commanders. This further strains the effectiveness of their units, and highlights the positive effects of the Peshmerga’s split—fighters who are incentivized to professionalism by their political loyalty.
FOREIGN PERCEPTIONS While opinions from within Kurdistan vary on the functional split within its military force, the division has prevented the Peshmerga from receiving potential international support. In 2009, American general Ray Odierno attempted to offer training and aid to the Peshmerga. But according to reports by Al-Monitor, when he met with Kurdish leadership, Odierno explained, “Funds have been put aside by Congress to prepare, train and arm the [Peshmerga] force … but I can’t give it to two separate Peshmerga forces … unless they are unified.” These comments were corroborated by the Bayan Center, a Baghdad-based think tank. The group reported on Odierno’s
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meeting with the Kurds: “[T]he Americans wanted to create a unified and professional force that was non-political, but the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party officials missed out on the opportunity.” American training and support for the Kurdish military never materialized. Even as the Peshmerga take on ISIS, the political rift is still hampering foreign aid efforts. Abdulwahid agreed, saying, “They trust us less in a time when we need assistance more than anything else.” His comments ring particularly true at a time when the divided Kurdish forces struggle to gain direct foreign support despite the continued ISIS onslaught. As recently as June 29, the U.S. Congress voted against directly arming the Peshmerga. This was in part due to fears of stoking Kurdish nationalism in a divided region, but also because of the Americans’ standing policy to only send aid to internationally recognized states. However, with the Peshmerga effort so crucial to hopes of degrading ISIS, foreign countries may have to decide if delivering aid is vital enough for internal divisions to be overlooked. “There’s coming a moment when countries of external aid will have to decide: do we keep providing aid in absence of security sector reform, or should we make it conditional?” pondered Knights. If the United States and other Western powers stop providing aid, it’s possible that the Peshmerga might simply look to other allies for assistance, thus decreasing Western influence in the region.
A KURDISH FUTURE As the Peshmerga continue their fight against ISIS, the issue of their divided nature has come to the attention of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Last August, the Kurdish parliament passed a resolution decreeing that the Peshmerga become a united, apolitical force. However, despite a six-month deadline outlined by the parliament, 10 months have passed without serious strides toward unification. Unification of all Peshmerga forces would allow for coordination between fighter units, increased nationalist rather than sectionalist pride, and a greater move toward a more unified Kurdistan. Furthermore, the creation of a professional armed force loyal only to the central government would lessen the possibility of future inter-Kurdish conflicts. However, these benefits could only be fully realized if the new, unified forces were as professionalized and efficient as the current, divided forces, which benefit from party loyalties, funding, and a distinct military culture. Daunting administrative hurdles remain to be cleared for the successful unification of the Peshmerga. In the meantime, Abdulwahid remains realistic but upbeat: "We will be loyal to the political decisions of the leaders of our parties. However, we believe that the decisions are made by the two party leaderships collectively and we are hoping that in the future the differences between the two diminish and we have one united Peshmerga force.”
CHINA’S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN Joe Choe
t’s 5 a.m. in Liaoning Province, and a shrill whistle pierces the still air. All of a sudden, the lights turn on, and a small group of eight-year-old boys springs up from the ground where they had been sleeping and starts folding their blankets. They quickly put on their clothes and rush outside, meeting up with a group of slightly older children. They form an orderly line and begin running as the man they call “Father” looks on with a proud glint in his eyes. These 11 children have one thing in common: they are orphans. However, they are not orphans in the traditional sense. In fact, they all have at least one biological parent who is still living, but all are in prison. Some children “lost” their parents very early in their lives—in Hai Mei’s case, her mother was pregnant with her when she was convicted for illegally dealing drugs. Others led seemingly normal lives with both parents until more recently—Hai Jing’s father murdered her mother in front of her just two years ago. Normally, these children would have been left on the streets to fend for themselves without their parents to care for them. However, in recent years a small network of orphanages in China has emerged to support them. These so-called Children’s Villages operate under the principle that the children should be given a second chance rather than be left to suffer for their parents’ mistakes.
ONE LESS JAILHOUSE Dalian Children’s Village is one of nine in China that work together to house underage children whose parents are in prison. Their stated goal is to provide an environment in which the children can “live a life of dignity and responsibility.” These children are in a unique situation: they are not officially recognized by the Chinese government as orphans because their parents are still alive. Thus, they do not qualify for admission into normal orphanages and foster homes, making the Children’s Villages their only safe havens. Before the Children’s Villages, the lives of the approximately 600,000 children who lost their parents to incarceration were often dire. In some lucky cases, relatives would take in the children and raise them until their parents were released. However, this is rare for several reasons, ranging from the cost of raising an additional child to societal disdain for anyone directly associated with a criminal. Thus, many children are forced to survive on their own and often become victims of human trafficking. In addition, several of these children do not have Resident Identity
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A handful of Chinese orphanages take in children with jailed parents.
Cards and therefore do not qualify as legal citizens of China. There are two main scenarios in which an ID can be withheld from a Chinese-born person: when a child is born out of wedlock or when a child’s birth violates the One Child Policy. Unfortunately, many jailed parents broke one of these two laws in addition to committing the crimes that led to their incarcerations. Living without an ID in China makes life extremely difficult. Without official identification, these children do not qualify for insurance, cannot attend college, and are restricted from travelling. There are currently an estimated 13 million people in China without IDs. Of the 11 children currently at Dalian Children’s Village, seven lack official identification.
EATING LEFTOVERS Wang Gangyi became the head of Dalian Children’s Village in 2007 after a near-death experience while swimming in subzero water in the Arctic Ocean. He won a Guinness World Record for the feat, but despite his achievement, the harrowing episode caused him to reflect on his life. He tells the HPR, “I sought to find something more meaningful to do: the true purpose of life. One day, I visited a prison and met an inmate who could not locate his child. Seeing his despair, I decided to go out and look for her. I found her under a bridge, freezing, and with her
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hands cracked open. This was when I decided to become more involved with this particular cause.” Wang is also a lawyer, and he teaches law at Dalian University of Technology. He knows that the main obstacle for these children is their lack of IDs. He has spent years trying to find a legal route to provide them official identification, but he has so far been unsuccessful. When asked about what they want to be when they grow up, the children’s answers include musician, professor, artist, and lawyer. However, Wang explains that “without an ID, it is impossible for these children to achieve their dreams. There is no way for them to attend college.” Despite this, he still encourages them to dream big. He hopes that one day there will be a solution. Because of these unfortunate circumstances, Wang tries to make sure that the children will be equipped with the necessary skills to survive outside the orphanage. For example, he and one of the orphanage directors teach the children traditional Chinese medicine. Wang also stresses the importance of being well-rounded by encouraging the children to pursue their ambitions in arts, music, and sports. He works with local community members to provide resources such as dance and music lessons. Every day after they wake up, the children run three kilometers to stay physically healthy and build mental willpower. Wang proudly recalls how one child, Hai Zhu, won her school’s run-
ning competition last year. However, even for the four children who are fortunate enough to have IDs, life will not be easy. According to Wang, because their parents are in prison, they “will always be looked down upon by society—with or without IDs. They will not find prestigious jobs. In fact, one child recently graduated from Dalian University of Foreign Languages, but he hasn’t found a job yet. The only available jobs for them are menial, minimum wage jobs.” To many members of society, these children will always be known as the children of criminals, a harmful stigma that can lead to overt discrimination. The children feel this societal marginalization from a young age. Hai Zhu looks visibly upset as she recounts her experiences at her former school: she was routinely bullied, not only by her peers but also by her teachers. They let every other student eat lunch first while she and the other orphans were required to stay behind. Because the orphans could not pay the full price for lunch, they were only given leftovers. Furthermore, because the orphans could not afford school uniforms, they were not allowed to attend the weekly flag ceremonies. Hai Zhu and her fellow orphans were also restricted from using buses, so they had to walk 45 minutes every day to their school. Only after Wang’s efforts has their situation improved. He has worked with school administrators and teachers to make sure the orphans are treated fairly. Wang says that he tries his “best to make up for the lack of affection and try to make these marginalized children feel the warmth of home. In other orphanages, the director isn’t called ‘Father,’ but I am here. I believe that a father’s responsibility is greater. It is more humane and more cordial. We want our children to live just like the other children in society.”
DISCIPLINE AS NECESSITY The pre-sunrise jogs that the children have every morning are just one example of the strict discipline that can be found at Dalian Children’s Village. When Dalian Children’s Village was first founded, Wang recalls, the children would spit, steal, and throw objects at each other. Because of this, he believes it is important to adhere to strict discipline and teach them to discern between right and wrong. Dalian Children’s Village is located on a farm, so each child is assigned chores such as cleaning out manure and feeding the livestock. Even though many eight-year-olds would balk at the idea of doing such tasks, these children do not complain and
instead carry out their chores with smiles on their faces. I notice during my visit that except for a small, red English-Chinese electronic dictionary, there are no electronic devices to be found. However, the children say that they do not mind that the entire orphanage is almost devoid of any possible digital distractions from their work or studying. In fact, when they first introduce themselves, every single one of them cites reading as his or her favorite hobby. The children are also expected to be entirely self-sufficient. Even the youngest, six-year-old Hai Fei, cleans his own clothes and washes his own dishes. The orphanage receives many visitors throughout the week from neighboring cities, and volunteers come from various organizations to help out. Harvard China Care sends Harvard College students to Dalian Children’s Village during school breaks to teach the children and help with daily chores. However, the children are considerate of their guests and respectfully turn down any help. When I volunteered with Harvard China Care this summer, it quickly became apparent to me that they looked towards the needs of others before their own. Even when they were given snacks and gifts, they politely accepted them and then turned everything over to their Father. Yet, even with strict rules discipline, the children do not hesitate to describe their happiness and gratitude for having been given this chance to start over after their parents were taken away from them. Society may view these children unfavorably because of the crimes their parents committed, but they do not let this discourage them. Dan-Dan Li ’15, the former Orphanage Liaison of Harvard China Care, explains to me, “I know that these children are disdained by many, but they are still really happy and outgoing. This really surprised me. During my stay at Dalian Children’s Village, they would always take my hand, show me all these places, and share about their lives. They’ve been through a lot of hardship, especially for their age, so you can see that they have matured greatly.” *** It is now 5 p.m., and all of the children have just returned from school. Everyone decides to take a short break and take out paper to draw. Hai Jing draws a butterfly. When she finishes, she pauses and looks down longingly at her artwork as her eyes well up with tears. When I ask her to describe her feelings, she replies, “I hope that one day, this butterfly will be able to fly to my father. I want it to tell him that I am okay and let him know that I forgive him—that I love him no matter what.”
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THE ARCTIC’S HUMAN VOICE Marty Berger
roms County, Norway, July 2014: At the foot of the Bassecohka mountain, thousands of reindeer lumber in tandem. In a sea of antlers, fur, and hooves, they seem indistinguishable.
But closer inspection reveals several patterns notched gently and painlessly on the skin of their ears. Those patterns belong to various families of the Saami, an Arctic aboriginal group. After weeks of arduous herding, another annual earmarking begins. The reindeer funnel into a series of fenced enclosures. Anders Oskal, an experienced Saami herder, scours the pack for his insignia. Finding a match on a mother reindeer’s ear, he lassoes her unmarked calf away. The younglings return to their mothers marked with the pattern that will bond them to Oskal for life. They have become part of his herd. “We follow the reindeer,” Oskal said in a conversation with the HPR. “While we try to guide them, the reindeer itself knows where to go.” Reindeer husbandry in Saami culture dates back beyond the reach of ancestral memory. But today, development threatens this time-honored practice. According to a 2009 International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry report, human development has damaged 25 percent of grazing land in northern Norway. At this rate, 78 percent of pastures will be “strongly disturbed” by 2050. The Saami, unsurprisingly, resist development. “Every extended family [member] we have has a few court cases going on from time to time,” Oskal explained. For his part, Oskal works with a nonprofit to advocate the preservation of reindeer pastures. In 2000, he also found an international platform for his work: “We’ve done several projects for the Arctic Council.”
AN INCLUSIVE CONSENSUS The Arctic Council is a consensus-based intergovernmental forum that recommends research topics and facilitates best practice sharing between the eight Arctic nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the
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United States. Senior Arctic Officials convene at least biannually to discuss climate change, marine shipping, search and rescue operations, and other regional issues. During biennial ministerial meetings, diplomats assess the Council’s progress and explore new strategies for success. The Council’s objective is dialogue, not binding international policy. The Ottawa Declaration of 1996 established the Arctic Council and partitioned its representation into three categories: member states, observers, and Permanent Participants. The third category can include any aboriginal group that represents “a single indigenous people in more than one Arctic State” or “more than one Arctic indigenous people resident in a single Arctic State.” Today, six indigenous groups serve as Permanent Participants: the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Aleut International Association, the Gwich’in Council International, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami Council. With its incorporation of indigenous voices, the Arctic Council is an anomaly amongst international political organizations. Research utilizes traditional knowledge. Reindeer husbandry and climate change are discussed concurrently. The Saami have speaking preference over China, Spain, and India. The Permanent Participants hail from across the circumpolar north. Not all of their constituencies live traditionally, but some do. Nationality, history, and geography underlie their diverse perspectives. On the Council, however, they share a concern for the environmental and cultural preservation of the Arctic. In an interview with the HPR, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada president Duane Smith explained that “for the most part we [the indigenous groups] always agree because the Permanent Participants are the ones providing the human perspective.” Across the Arctic, native communities experience the brunt of environmental catastrophe. In 1987, researchers at Canada’s
Laval University found that as a result of water pollution, Inuit breast milk contained the highest concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the world. PCBs are linked to a variety of health problems, including skin diseases, birth defects, and some forms of cancer. In 2004, Aleuts watched as the ship M/V Selendang Ayu spilled over 350,000 gallons of oil into the waters off of the Aleutian Islands. Environmental shifts go hand in hand with cultural endangerment. Climate change alters temperature and migratory patterns, impeding elders’ gauge on issues as diverse as the thickness of the ice and which game to hunt. “Subsistence is cultural: how it’s caught, stored, served, eaten, shared,” Aleut International Association executive director Jim Gamble explained to the HPR. “When something happens to prevent that, it’s impossible to state how significant that is.” The broken attunement with nature jeopardizes traditional practice and cultural values. So despite their varied backgrounds, the Permanent Participants find themselves united by a common plight. Yet although they represent key stakeholders in the future of the Arctic, indigenous organizations often receive insufficient support from member states, which hinders their ability to protect their communities’ cultures and homeland.
THE MONEY PROBLEM Circumpolar activities face a severe lack of funding, raising financial challenges for indigenous organizations. Inadequate aid from member states, which provide limited assistance to communities in their respective domains, hardly helps overcome monetary barriers. Permanent Participants may have the funding to attend conferences and ministerial meetings, but Arctic Athabaskan Council executive director Cindy Dickson told the HPR, “Getting involved in working groups is another thing.” The Arctic Council includes six working groups and several task forces that perform their duties in the interim between regular Council meetings. Some of the Council’s most meaningful work occurs in these subsidiary bodies. According to Dickson, indigenous organizations struggle to “find the resources to participate, whether it’s for travel or for input.” Even at regular meetings, Permanent Participants struggle to convince member states to fund their projects. Take the language issue, for example: any native languages, such as Gwich’in and Saami, are on the brink of extinction. “When you lose a language, you’re losing knowledge, you’re losing a whole perspective on the world,” Bowdoin College anthropology professor Susan Kaplan affirmed in an interview with the HPR. In response, the Inuit Circumpolar Council spearheaded an initiative to put together a compendium of best practices to preserve native speech. The primary obstacle: money. “We’re not funded
according to what priorities we want to see,” Okalik Eegeesiak, the group’s chair, said in an interview with the HPR. “We’re funded according to what governments’ priorities are.” Now the project is on hiatus. Some Permanent Participants think that member states intentionally provide less support to indigenous organizations in order to prevent them from accumulating power. “I can't help thinking it is a way to restrict that we don't get too influential,” Gunn-Britt Retter, the head of the Arctic and Environmental Unit at the Saami Council, offered in an interview with the HPR. Smith concurs, describing what he sees as a “controlling mechanism.” While many laud the Council for its innovation, the control and dominance over indigenous groups recall a long history of oppression.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE Yet in other respects, the Council has begun to elevate and empower the role of indigenous voice in its work to a degree not seen before. The incorporation of traditional knowledge into research and discussion represents a turning point in the relationship between Permanent Participants and member states. For the Council’s purposes, “traditional knowledge” refers to indigenous communities’ profound connection to the Arctic, which stems from generations of knowledge and practice. The Arctic Council has long extolled the value of traditional knowledge, at least nominally. Every ministerial meeting produces a declaration, nearly every one of which contains a holistic affirmation of traditional knowledge. Although some of those validations engendered progress, many initially failed to advance the role of traditional knowledge in the Council’s work. Some Permanent Participants view these declarations as vacuous words bereft of any follow-through. “It’s repetitive,” Retter stated. “It’s been on the table since the foundation.” The Aleut International Association echoed those sentiments at the 2015 ministerial meeting in Iqaluit, Canada: “[Our founders] might be frustrated that issues identified in the earliest declarations of the Council—things like the support of the Permanent Participants and the use of traditional knowledge in the work of the Council—are still being discussed.” Yet despite the persistent frustration, the Council’s words seem to be evolving gradually into action. Many Permanent Participants view the past two years, during which Canada has taken its turn as chair, as a period of progress. Canadian officials ran two sets of workshops upon assuming leadership. The first focused on strategies to use traditional knowledge in the Council. The second discussed how to better support the Permanent
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Representatives attend the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit, Canada.
Participants as well as develop a project support fund. The Sustainable Development Working Group has finalized its Recommendations for the Integration of Traditional and Local Knowledge into the Work of the Arctic Council. If the Council accepts these recommendations, all future working group projects will be required to explain how they plan to use traditional knowledge in their proposal templates. “The Arctic Council articulating that as a goal: that, I would say, is a clear indication of the impact of increasing due deference to traditional knowledge,” Special Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State on Arctic Science and Policy Fran Ulmer stated to the HPR. On the ground as well, traditional knowledge is being increasingly incorporated into working group activity. At the 2015 ministerial meeting, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group released a progress report detailing the success of its “Community Based Monitoring Strategy,” wherein indigenous groups help monitor Arctic biodiversity. The Permanent Participants compiled a compendium of best practices titled Keeping Our Traditions Alive. Along with its accompanying video, the publication catalogues several practices that help sustain native culture, from an Aleut “culture camp” to Foundation Protect Sápmi, a Saami organization that provides professional expertise in disputes over traditional practice. Permanent Participants lead some of the working group projects, putting them in prime positions to ensure the use of traditional knowledge. “In the earliest stages of the Council, that was never being done,” Smith noted. With the Council’s revitalized commitment to traditional knowledge, the Permanent
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Participants see a more promising future. “We’re going to try to keep that going,” affirmed the Aleut International Association’s Gamble.
TWENTY YEARS A TEENAGER What is the role of the Arctic Council? How should Permanent Participants fit in with its objectives? To what extent should the Council directly support their work? Not even Senior Arctic Officials know the answers with certainty. Smith describes the Council as a “teenager.” On top of more concrete challenges, Permanent Participants must also navigate a dynamic political landscape as, 19 years since its establishment, the Arctic Council strives to find its identity. Yet, even after weathering a storm of obstacles, the indigenous organizations mostly see the Council as a success tempered by its shortcomings, not vice versa. “If we really want to protect what’s here, I think that we really need to strengthen the work under the Arctic Council,” Dickson said. The Arctic Council is going on 20-years-old. But in the lifespan of intergovernmental partnerships, it will stay a teenager. Rich with ambiguity, the teenage years and their unpredictability entail added challenges for the Permanent Participants. But even in the face of such adversity, these organizations have mobilized in a collective attempt to ensure that the Arctic’s human voice remains a central fixture in the conversation. If the Arctic Council is indeed a teenager, then the Permanent Participants are seasoned sages.
BOOKS & ARTS
RUNNING THROUGH THE PAIN The Boston Marathon, 2013, and Beyond Elizabeth MeLampy
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BOOKS & ARTS
n the morning of April 15, 2013, I packed a bag of bagels, a Gatorade, a water bottle, five bananas, a few GU gels, my running watch, and my race bib, and I boarded a bus to Hopkinton, Mass. The drive took about an hour, and every minute on the bus carried with it the unfathomable fact that the only way back to Boston was by foot. I was about to run the Boston Marathon. As I sat on the bus with my fellow marathoners, we listened to the radio to hear the wave of elite athletes take off at 10 a.m. Discussions about nutrition, hydration, anxiety, bathroom necessities, and family buzzed through tiny Hopkinton. 27,000 runners descended on the town that morning, all to run the 26.2 miles through Massachusetts into Boston. I am an unlikely marathoner. In 2013, I had only been running for about a year. Twelve months earlier, as a high school senior, I had embarked on a semi-insane journey to train for a half marathon in the midst of a New England winter. I didn’t have a valorous reason for taking on the challenge—I needed to satisfy an athletic requirement. After the first few weeks of painful walk-runs, I finally completed a run without walking, a simple four-miler with one hill. I was so proud of myself. I remember later excitedly reporting to friends when I had completed my first 10-mile run, a massive feat for a girl who had only ever run a mile—under duress—during middle school P.E. classes. When the day of the half marathon arrived, I had never actually run a race before. But I chugged along for 13.1 miles with one of my friends, finishing with a final sprint and a huge smile on my face. I wore the finisher’s medal all day, and I wore the race t-shirt to school the day after. I fell in love with running. During my freshman fall at college, I turned to running as a solace from the difficult transition to a new place. I ran until I was tired. Six to 10 miles became a normal distance for a daily run that fall. My times dropped, and I signed up for another half marathon. I cut my time by almost 10 minutes from my first race, not by training particularly hard, but just by running four or five times a week without a real plan. I learned to appreciate the challenge of increasing distances and training for a race. I decided to test this romance with running by signing up for a marathon. *** The shape of marathoners has changed over the past few decades, allowing less ostensibly athletic people like me a chance to experience the glory of running. The formation of charity running programs has contributed significantly to this popular shift. Instead of running in major races by qualifying, which requires having run a prior marathon at an elite pace, runners can raise money for a nonprofit in order to enter the racing field. Susan Hurley, the founder of Charity Teams, was on the forefront of this movement. A former Ironman triathlete, she switched to marathons and wanted to share her love of athleticism with everyone. The director of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which hosts the Boston Marathon, asked her to organize and train a group running the 2008 race for charity,
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and she then founded Charity Teams. Over nine years, Charity Teams has grown from coordinating one charity with 15 runners to 24 charities with over 300 runners, raising almost $3 million for various nonprofits each year. The success of marathons for charity is staggering. Hurley has expanded her business on the assumption that anybody can run a marathon. “When you look at some of the individuals who succeed at running marathons, whether it’s amputees or blind people, you see that people can do this, it is an achievable goal,” she explained to the HPR. Hurley encourages anyone who is thinking about running to try it. “It’s going to take hard work, commitment, responsibility to yourself, and responsibility to your charities,” she said. “I think it makes you be a stronger human being, physically and mentally.” On her website, Hurley is already recruiting runners and charities for the 2016 race. At Harvard, this charity running movement gained momentum in the past decade, too. Craig Rodgers, a counselor at the Bureau of Study Counsel, started the Harvard College Marathon Challenge (HCMC) in 2006, modeled after a program at Tufts University. Every year, he and others encourage non-runners to train for the Boston Marathon and raise money for the Phillips Brooks House Association, a Harvard student-run nonprofit organization. Rodgers ran his first marathon in 1996; his longest run before training had been 11 miles, a far cry from the 26.2 needed. He understands what it means to undertake a marathon feeling completely under-qualified, as many students do. Rodgers cites the importance of non-competitive running for fostering relationships and maintaining a healthy attitude. “Most things on campus have a threshold, some minimum bar, to participate,” he said, but in an effort to combat that mentality HCMC “promote[s] community running in general among students, faculty, and staff.” There is a waitlist every year to run with an HCMC bib, which speaks to the success of the program. The only prize HCMC offers is for the “officially-registered undergraduate runner who crosses the finish line as close as possible to the 6-hour time limit without exceeding it,” which encourages inexperienced marathoners to participate, no matter the pace. This type of program has enabled many non-runners to take a shot at a marathon, myself included. I ran the 2013 Boston Marathon for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, part of Charity Teams, and I raised over $5,000. The commitment to fundraising is as ambitious a goal as the commitment to training, and both prongs are crucial to success in the marathon. Fundraising adds a level of dedication, and it is an extra hurdle to clear. Charity runners are a special breed. *** While running is certainly a physical exercise, marathons require a unique mental capacity as well. When your body is tired, you have to be able to keep going. Susan Hurley repeated a mantra to me and my fellow marathoners, which Craig Rodgers has also used to encourage his runners: one foot in front of the
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This makeshift memorial was erected near the finish line following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
other will get you there. Running is a mental sport. Every training run requires going farther than you’ve ever gone before; it requires determination and hope, a deep trust in your own ability to surprise yourself. Most runners, then, run for something: for a charity, for a family member, for a cause, for themselves. You need an inspiration to keep going, because otherwise it makes much more sense to stop. Haruki Murakami, the acclaimed Japanese author who titled his memoir What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, wrote in an article for The New Yorker, “If a marathon is a battle, it’s one you wage against yourself.” Negative thoughts race through your head as your body starts to hurt, and long distances train you to fight the impulse to stop. Susan Hurley says, “Marathons teach you a lot about yourself. Life is like a marathon. Parts of life are not going to be very easy, and parts of a marathon aren’t, either.” Success in a marathon, as in life, is marked by overcoming the hard parts, and that is a battle hard won inside your own head. *** As I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013, I visualized the finish line. Mile 17 was especially hard for me, and I felt my body hit what is popularly known as “the wall”: a feeling of complete exhaustion usually reached somewhere around mile 20, caused
by depleted glycogen stores in your body. Limbs feel leaden, every step feels harder than the last, and your mind reels with the fact that you aren’t done yet. The mental component of the wall is as real as the chemical one, and breaking through it requires incredible determination. Runners speak about the wall with an air of mythical surety and communal empathy, because everyone knows what it feels like but no one can accurately predict when or if it will happen. The Boston Marathon carries an extra difficulty—between miles 17 and 21, the point of the marathon where runners often hit the wall, the course meets a series of hills, each longer than the last. The final one, Heartbreak Hill, is enshrined in marathon lore for its psychological and physical difficulty, not because of its size but because of its placement on the course. I crested the infamous summit at mile 21, breaking through the wall, and began my descent into Boston, weary but determined, monomaniacal in my goal to finish. In retrospect, I should have known something was wrong. Around mile 23, ambulances started screaming past the runners still on the course, and people were crying around me. But it was my first marathon; I had cried in mile 17, and people probably needed medical assistance at the finish line, I thought, because marathons are hard on your body. So I and thousands of others kept running towards the finish line, unaware. At mile 25, my parents ran up to me, tears in their eyes, relieved to have found me. I felt delusional when I saw them there,
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Running is a mental sport. Every training run requires going farther than you’ve ever gone before; it requires determination and hope, a deep trust in your own ability to surprise yourself.
instead of at the finish line. “There’s been an explosion,” they said. “It’s bad. You can’t finish.” It took hours for me to understand what had happened, and even now, years later, I’m still struggling with it. After 25 miles, my brain wasn’t quite working, and my body didn’t quite understand why the race had stopped. My heart was broken. The explosions that year irrevocably colored running for me. I barely ran for six months, and then reluctantly began training for Boston 2014. I had to finish the race. I raised another $5,000 for the same charity, and I went through the same mileage. On a beautiful, unseasonably warm day, I finally got my “Boylston Street Moment,” the last half-mile of the Boston Marathon course. Runners turn onto Boylston Street and find thousands of people waiting, even five or six hours after the elite athletes start and finish their races, cheering for you, celebrating with you. The 2014 race defied the tragedy of the year before and proved that the human spirit is, against all odds, indefatigable. The ancient Greeks used to run athletic races and games at funerals as a way to mourn losses while reaffirming life. The 2014 Boston Marathon felt a bit like that, a reverent homage to the loss of the year before combined with a cathartic celebration of the fact that yes, we can still run, and yes, we will. The slogan “Boston Strong” covered the course, an emblematic reminder that the marathon is a triumph over all hurt. I finished the race, collected my medal, and hobbled to dinner with my family, relieved and proud. But running one marathon is simply a sip of water for an insatiable thirst. The logo of the BAA, which appears on every finisher’s medal, is a unicorn, an elusive, mythical creature that has long been sought after and imagined but never quite captured, much like the pursuit of the marathon itself. So I decided to run Boston again in 2015, this time for WalkBoston, a charity dedicated to pedestrian safety and accessibility. In 2015, Marathon Monday was pouring rain, and as we bussed out to Hopkinton, the threat of rain and a headwind terrified us all. Having trained through the worst Boston winter on record, we were sturdy runners, but no one wants to run a marathon in those conditions.
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But 26.2 miles later, I crossed the finish line again, in a baptismal downpour, witnessing even in horrible weather the celebration that accompanies a marathon. Craig Rodgers says the best part of the marathon is the spectators; they complete the experience, they make it something other than a long run. And it’s true. As you high-five children along the course, and as thousands of people you’ve never met cheer you across the finish line, you feel part of a human family far greater than your own. *** Running has a healing power, a connecting power. Even in ancient Greece, the original marathon runner Pheidippides was running for a purpose, sharing a message of victory on the battlefield, uniting people miles apart from each other. Running is humbling in its power to join, in its power to prove with each step the staggering burden that we all share. Since freshman year I’ve had this quote taped on my wall: The longtime runner has negotiated a complicated relationship with pain—what it is and what it isn’t, what it does and doesn’t do. … He thinks about comfort as a steady-state that brings nothing to the party and eats all the Cheetos. Comfort is coasting, and all coasting leads to stillness, and he doesn’t want stillness, this friend of mine. Running any distance at any speed fights stillness and monotony, and it hurts. You are pursuing the impossible, going after the great white whale, searching for the unicorn. Running is proving that you are more than your body, that you can overcome hurt and loss. In your lungs, legs, and heart, you have the most incredible capacity to breathe deep and go, to challenge this body and this life, to tap into a higher reality that ignores the limits you otherwise have to obey. You can go farther and longer than you ever realized, just putting one foot in front of the other, if you’re willing to be humbled by the pain without sinking into it. In striving, you are a runner, so rejoice—you have won.
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PSY SPEAKS THE TRUTH LESSONS ABOUT SOUTH KOREAN IDENTITY
he first time I heard a PSY song was probably sometime in middle school, during a family gathering where my cousins and I were lounging around the couch. The oldest, two months my senior, pulled out his phone, and, as we waited for YouTube to finish buffering, promised us that it would be crazy—the kind of video we shared with our friends via email, the subject line “OMG” in all capital letters because all of us were 13 once. The song didn’t disappoint. But “Right Now” was also plain good, a monument of a pop song that only PSY could pull off: everything from the chunky guitar riff to those massive drums screamed with a formidable attitude. More than anything, though, it was his voice: brimming with a punkish devil-maycare attitude but never slipping into apathy or irony. He was biting, sarcastic, but there was a vitality pulsing beneath; in the pre-chorus’s cries to shout, shout, shout until your neck has burnt to a crisp; in his booze-soaked oh-oh-ohs in the chorus, off-kilter yet so on the mark; in that delicious emphasis on the title, the hunger in his snarled right now. My suggestion would be to watch the video. Observe his picture of a typical morning in Seoul, where everybody is as tired as the banter on the radio. Roll your eyes as the radio hosts spin traffic banter into a constipation joke (or giggle, nobody’s judging) before we pan in on our hero, steaming in the driver’s
seat of his car. Once the blather dies down and the music begins, though, something new happens, something PSY’s always done very well—tearing conventions apart, sure, but bringing people together in the process. Years before anybody knew what a “Gangnam Style” was, PSY was inspiring commuters dancing together in traffic; office workers knocking tables over, pulling tiles off of the ceiling; suburban stragglers wreaking havoc in grocery store lines. It’s a rebellion, one not without a cause, that’s been brewing for years whether listeners know it or not. Culturally, I often feel like a foreigner in both of the countries I call home. Friends from California compare favorite K-pop groups while I resist the urge to ask who these people are. The only experience I have with Korean drama is asking Mom to turn that shouting down just a little, please. I take no side in the great EXO shipping war. I can’t even remember the names of the nine girls in Girls Generation. My experience with Korean pop culture takes me back to swim classes at the YMCA: memories of dipping my toes into the shallow end, wading in only to find my head submerged, breathing staggered. But from the beginning, PSY felt like he was on my side. Like me, he had spent considerable time in the States (to be fair, so have many other Koreans), spoke fluent English, and rapped and danced as if he had designated himself the cool uncle of the K-pop family. Unfortunately, not all the similarities were good:
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He sounds like somebody who has found himself in an unexpected place. He sounds like somebody who has survived.
like many Korean celebrities, he was an alleged draft dodger, which only made it easier for conservative critics to dismiss him as a cultural outsider. The day I transferred to a Korean middle school, my dad warned me about kids who would not see me as one of them; boys that would reject my masculinity based on my citizenship. I wanted to ask him why but bit my tongue. “Right Now” was PSY’s first song following his two years of service in the Korean military: although he never alludes to this, it offers some good context for what the song is about. Like me, PSY had to grapple with what it meant to be both Korean yet not Korean enough when being Korean itself is so loaded, when it demands so much more of you than a bloodline. “Right Now” is not a direct response to this problem, but it is a song about finding the willpower to define yourself in ways you like. It’s about how conventions can hurt you in small but not meaningless ways, whether it is the heels crushing your feet from the inside out or the necktie slowly strangling you; about dismantling those conventions, and more importantly choosing to dismantle them; about how sometimes the best way to free other people is to first free yourself; about finding solidarity not in exclusion, but in breaking down in-groups and out-groups, in celebrating everybody for their differences and experiences. Looking back, I had learned Pop Philosophy 101, but I hadn’t realized it at the time. It’s funny how much a pop song can become a part of you without you even knowing. Sometimes you hear a melody you didn’t know you needed, and when you do, you grasp at it, a slippery thing falling apart in your hands before you stuff it into the wound in your chest, let it pulse in your veins, hear yourself breathing to the beat, stronger than you ever thought you could.
COMING INTO GANGNAM STYLE You’ve probably heard the song, seen the video, and read enough pieces and arguments about both to last a lifetime. Indulge me as I talk about them one more time. It’s July 2012 and I’m in my parents’ bedroom with the doors and windows shut, my netbook plugged in, my backpack shoved into the opposite corner of the room, and the AC on full blast. I tap my fingers on the screen, waiting for the video to buffer until it does—the first seven seconds, at least. A plane flying through
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the air; a woman clad in short shorts wielding a comically-oversized fan; then pitch-black sunglasses reflecting all of this back at me as the camera pans out to reveal a familiar face. This scene has now been viewed over two billion times worldwide. “Gangnam Style” is written as a satire of consumerism and elitism in South Korea, both of which are prominent in a certain district of Seoul. While the message is well-crafted, it is not why the song took off like it did. In the wake of its success, it’s easy to forget that “Gangnam Style”—not to mention its star—was never meant to be a worldwide smash. It was a quiet domestic hit at first, snagging a #1 on M! Countdown (for non-Korean readers: think MTV before The Real World). Then came a few tweets from fringe celebrities, then a listicle on Buzzfeed, then everybody on my News Feed—all sharing the most ridiculous music video they’d ever seen: the one with the crazy Korean guy breaking into horse stables and screaming at butts. Now it’s the most-watched video in the history of YouTube, something I hope we’ll all go back to 20 years from now as we laugh about how ridiculous 2012 was. Things, however, have changed for PSY after “Gangnam Style.” He had the eyes of a world audience on him, many beaming but not all. The Macarena’s shadow loomed over him: who was this swanky, loud, sunglass-slinging man at the center of everything? The reaction back home was even more intense. That video was all my classmates talked about in the cafeteria; all I saw on the subway screens; all that played in the 7-Eleven stores sprinkled around my neighborhood. His history as a Korean turncoat was wiped. We had our hometown star, and we embraced him. I watched the fascination unfold with a cocktail of pride and reservation brewing in my gut: K-pop’s recognition outside national borders had previously been limited to enthusiasm from some of the friendlier corners of the Internet and “music is dead” fatalism from about everybody else. People talk about the Hallyu wave, but the reality is that nothing before or since “Gangnam Style” has washed over an international audience like it, and I wanted to see how far it could go. PSY’s victory was, in some part, ours—maybe even mine. Even so, my joy was tempered. It wasn’t so much the song, really: even beneath those party-streamer synths and that boom-
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ing beat, PSY’s voice was as distinct as ever. What I feared was the uneasy feeling that maybe everybody was laughing at him, not with him. “Gangnam Style” was innocuous enough when it was just a funny foreign novelty, but as the video smashed record after record, the consensus of favor curdled into disgust: the same people who had annotated in excruciating detail every one of the video’s ridiculous moments were now calling it overrated, undeserving. Summer ended. The leaves changed color; I redirected attention to my plummeting grades. We all moved on, and “Gangnam Style” faded, only resurfacing briefly as a capstone to a tumultuous year. Maybe that was for the best, I decided. Maybe that was a blessing.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE GENTLEMAN The thing about basing a career on audacity is that it inevitably leads to diminishing returns, and after “Gangnam Style,” PSY’s next hit, “Gentleman,” felt like a regression. If my subjective feelings aren’t enough, it was also a regression commercially, the kind of setback any one-hit wonder would face. On paper, the song’s music video featured everything that had made its predecessor so beloved: celebrity cameos for Korean fans, goofy antics, even the attractive femme fatale—“Gangnam Style” had 4Minute’s HyunA cavorting in the subway; “Gentleman,” Brown Eyed Girls’ Ga-In knocking PSY off his cheap plastic stool—but everything felt more tempered. Even the beat was tired. I like “Gentleman” more now than I did one year ago: at the time I wasn’t ready to appreciate it. Granted, he does not make it easy, because he goes full ham in the music video, pushing women off of chairs and kicking children’s balls away. To me, the act felt somewhat mean-spirited in a way “Gangnam Style” wasn’t—calculated, even. The song’s release also coincided with the beginning of my senior year, when I was having a crisis of identity between cramming for finals at the library and scribbling bad poetry in a notebook meant for college essays. I couldn’t even pick up chopsticks without thinking of my interrupted heritage. I feared that if I allowed myself to laugh, I’d be laughing at PSY as the weird Korean guy, the outsider. The “mother father gentleman.” Myself. But here’s the thing I wished I had picked up then: PSY knows we’re looking at him. He’s not unaware of the fact that there will be viewers who frame him as a foreigner, who will laugh at him as he gets red-faced drunk, but what matters is that he does not buy into this conception of himself. The chorus’s cry of “Mother father gentleman” plays into the hands of viewers looking to mock a foreigner’s Engrish. It’s also a wink at the kind of judgmental person who would do that, and it’s his delivery that defines it: bold, without a hint of hesitation or shame. If there is a takeaway from this, it is that empowerment is not always about dignity. Sometimes empowerment is about relinquishing dignity. Sometimes empowerment is about acting like a buffoon and owning it without regard for what anybody else thinks. Empowerment is about the confidence and strength of mind to refuse putting yourself in boxes, to be your own mess: honest and relatable and human. Which leads us into “Hangover.”
LIFE PERPETUALLY HUNGOVER The sad part of having a breakout hit is that it looms over the rest of your career: even if you’ve had five—five!— albums before, you will always be held to a different standard. Everything you release afterwards will be held up in comparison; whether you try to recapture a Top 40 hit in a bottle or to break away, you’ll probably inspire eye-rolls. What’s a rebel decked out in pop-star goods to do? Answer: collaborate with Snoop Dogg and confuse everybody. “Hangover” is a song about drinking, which is both a big topic in South Korea and a risky one for PSY to tackle without completely risking or compromising his image. If the theme is expected, however, the music is not. It’s weird, weirder than any of the post-Gangnam singles and probably most of what came before: a mishmash of trap rhythms, abrasive jazz sounds, and hip-hop conventions that would sound even more unstable were it not for the chutzpah of PSY and Snoop Dogg: the former as bold as ever, the latter delivering a relaxed performance that lets everything around it settle some. What’s most surprising to me is how “Hangover” integrates Korean sounds in a way that none of PSY’s mainstream singles have ever really done before—how closely that saxophone riff resembles a traditional Korean flute; how the thundering drum rhythms and metallic clangs filling out the background take me back to watching my high school’s folk music club dancing, a tapestry of harsh but warm sounds overpowering the August heat. Even so, it sounds uneasy, and maybe that’s the point, because drinking is not as simple as the movies make it look. Neither is identity or living or being. I turned 19 last year, legally allowing me to drink in South Korea. Last year, I harbored fantasies of what that meant: hazy adventures stumbling around midnight streets. I was going to be bold, fearless, invulnerable. As it turns out, it does not quite work that way, not only because alcohol actually kind of sucks but also because even sober, I live a life that’s constantly shifting; an identity that is layered and nuanced and evolving. You do not have to be drunk to feel hungover. I do that well enough on my own. And for the first time, I am learning to be comfortable with that. I am and will always be drunk on life. As with every PSY single, “Hangover” has stirred up a new round of the Internet’s favorite pastime: is this the end of the world? Time has lauded the video as delightful, while others have lamented the downfall of the goofy Korean with the beer gut and the song that, for one brief moment in time, took over the world. But maybe they’re not listening hard enough, because through the thick of it all, he’s still there, sounding more like himself than he has in a long time: slipping in and out of English and Korean with the masterful ease of a party host; making a mockery of his own slurred speech before sobering right back up; at one point literally becoming a record scratch effect, fading out only to jump right back into the action. He sounds like somebody who has found himself in an unexpected place. He sounds like somebody who has survived.
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INTERVIEW: JIM DALY
with Christopher Cruz
What do you believe are currently the biggest challenges facing Focus on the Family and other similar Christian organizations?
Jim Daly is the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, a Christian nonprofit organization that promotes a variety of positions on family-related issues through media and outreach programs. Daly also hosts Focus on the Family’s flagship radio show, which premiered in 1977 and broadcasts daily on 2,000 stations.
I think that as a Christian organization, some of the biggest external challenges we face and that we’re concerned about would be 501(c)(3) status tax deductibility, that has worked so well for this country forever. … By reducing the wonderful work that many faith-based and non-faith-based organizations do for the culture, when you start eliminating tax deductibility for their work, you’re going to see natural reduction in the capacity for those organizations to deliver—and I would suggest a more cost-effective way to deliver—those social services. So that’s one thing we have our eye on right now: the progressive, more left-leaning interest groups beginning to force this issue of taking away tax deductibility for groups like ours. Looking at other factors that can be of a difficulty to us in this moment, one obviously is the redefinition of marriage and what that means moving forward. My sense is that right now what we have to do, in the Christian community particularly, is concentrate on our tribe, on our group, to be healthier than we are today, because so often when I would sit down with gay activists or others, one of the arguments that they would often make is: “You haven’t done so well with marriage. Why not let us try?” That’s a fair question—I was not offended by the question. My answer would be: “I hear you, and it’s true. The Christian community, by and large, has not done well with marriage. We have too high of a divorce rate, but it doesn’t nullify the truth of God’s word. It just means we are pathetic living it.”
Could you tell our readers about why you think Focus on the Family’s work is so important in today’s world?
Some Christians are not opposed to the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. In fact, some are embracing the decision and see upholding gay marriage as compatible with their faith. What are your thoughts on this?
I have so many people, every day, tell me, right along the political spectrum, that the work of the family is so critical today. … You’re seeing more and more left-center, center, and right-center researchers come to the same conclusion that we have a crisis in the family. We’ve been saying this now for 38 years. In that regard, I think that Focus’s position is to be at least an answer to a segment of the population that is faithoriented; to say, “Okay, how do we do a better job in our own marriages? How do we do a better job in our own parenting to really help launch young people in a way that they can be successful?” That’s our bread and butter. That’s what we do each and every day.
It’s understandable that people, both inside the church and outside the church, are feeling pressure to conform. In fact, I had one journalist ask me after the Supreme Court decision, “When will the Christian community pivot away from their archaic view of human sexuality and get caught up with the 21st century?” I was a little taken back by the question. I said, “You know I’m not the author of the Scripture. I’m not the editor of the Scripture. I’m a follower of the Scripture and by that very definition I don’t have the control or the permission to rewrite what’s written.” I think people can explain Old Testament scripture like Leviticus and say, “Well, that was done to protect the people at
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that time.” But when you see that Jesus himself, in the Book of Matthew, reaffirms the Genesis account of marriage being “[a] man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh,” or in other areas where Paul is saying that they are doing this horrible thing—which is to lie with each other, men giving up the natural function of lying with women and in fact lying with each other—it seems to be an ample amount of evidence to say that in our human sexuality, God has a specific design. It’s not meant to be mean-spirited or bigoted or any of that. It’s simply saying Scripture seems to be clear. God doesn’t want us to have sex outside of marriage. That’s called adultery. He doesn’t want us to have sex with people of the same sex. That’s called homosexuality, and neither of those is appropriate under God’s design for human sexuality. We don’t mean to be mean-spirited towards the adulterer. We don’t mean to be mean-spirited towards the homosexual community. All we’re saying is “This is what we read in the Scripture and this is what we’re trying to live by.” … I think that’s going to create legal conflict, social conflict, family conflict, and it’s starting.
A recent Pew Research Center study released in April claims that by 2050 the global Muslim population will nearly equal the Christian population. Why do you believe the Islamic faith is currently spreading at a faster rate than the Christian faith, and what should Christians do to see similar growth?
dreds, and then thousands, and with the benefit of time and history of 2000 years we can look back and say that Christianity has grown significantly into the world’s largest faith. For us to be fearful of Islam taking over as the number one faith, I don’t think that’s the calculus. I think for us, it’s: “Are we living it well? Are we living it truly?” And by doing so [we can attract] more people into this faith, a faith of hope and love, as opposed to rigorous tradition and promises.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add? I would come back to marriage and parenting, which is the core for Focus on the Family. I think again, even as I meet with Democrats and Republicans, politicians, educators, all levels of society, a very common statement that I hear is: “Focus on the Family is in the exact position to address the core issues that are facing the culture right now.” There’s broad agreement that the family is struggling right now and that the family is at the epicenter of the culture, and I agree wholeheartedly. I think that when families are healthy, culture is healthy. When families are unhealthy, the culture is unhealthy. I think it’s in all of our interests, regardless of political [position], for us to consider family as the most important institution in the culture and [think about] what do we need to do to help bolster its well-being. If we can do that, I think that we’ll be in a better position down the line. This interview has been edited and condensed.
On the one hand, they think the Muslim faith is attractive to many people because it promises if you do these certain things then you get a reward. In fact, if you look at the ultimate promise it is that if you die in jihad fighting the infidels, if you die in that struggle, you’re rewarded with 70 virgins and you immediately go into their version of heaven. So I think from that standpoint, for some people, it can be a very compelling argument and a very compelling structure: if I pray five times a day and do the right things, live in essence under a kind of almost Old Testament law, then there’s a promised reward for me. I think in Christianity the difference is, and it’s an old statement, but it’s not us trying to earn our way towards God, it’s God providing a way for us to be in a relationship with Him. For me personally, I think that’s a far more compelling faith expression and a much more real one with the evidence of who Jesus was and the apostles and all that took place archaeologically and historically and the evidence for what it is that Christians believe. But fundamentally, I think we don’t need to be overly concerned with numbers. I mean, this whole thing started with one person, and then 12, and then hun-
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INTERVIEW: MEHDI JOMAA with Andrew O’Donohue mandatory for us to do this because the revolution in Tunisia was for freedom, for more jobs, for more opportunities, and for more balanced [regional] development. We have a big difference [in development] between the inland and coastal areas of the country, and we must address that. We can’t address these social and development imbalances and other issues without making fundamental economic reforms.
Many countries look to Tunisia as a model for democracies in the Middle East, but what country do you see as a model for your democracy? I don’t think we are a model for anyone, actually. Maybe we are an example, but we don’t like to say “model” because we have our specificities, and certain things cannot be replicated anywhere. But ours is an experience in creating hope, and that could inspire other countries. And it’s especially good for the young people. Similarly, we don’t have a single model to follow; every country has its own specificities. But with other countries we share many of the fundamental values that are included in our constitution, like freedom of expression, freedom of belief, and many other universal values. These do not come from one specific country but are common values.
His Excellency Mehdi Jomaa served as Prime Minister of Tunisia from January 2014 to February 2015. After two jarring political assassinations and months of conflict between secular and Islamist parties, both sides chose Mr. Jomaa to lead an independent government and oversee democratic elections under the new constitution. Prior to assuming this position, he served as the Minister of Industry in Tunisia’s second transitional government.
Tunisia has been widely praised as the only successful democratic transition that occurred during the Arab Spring. What do you think is the single greatest challenge facing Tunisia’s nascent democracy? I think the first one is the economic challenge. Having succeeded in the political transition, we must also succeed in making an economic transition as well. We have to make many reforms, and it’s not simple to make economic reforms. And it’s less simple when you know that we are again in a period of transition, but we have to find enough courage to do it. It is
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Politics in the United States is very polarized, and compromise is difficult to achieve. But you came to the prime ministership as the result of a remarkable compromise. Why do you think compromise has been successful in Tunisia, and what will help make it successful in the future? I think it’s the history of Tunisia. It’s a country with 3,000 years of history based on tolerance and compromise, really. And when you see the history of Tunisia you see that every time we have had a big crisis, the exit was compromise. So it’s inherent and inherited from our history and tradition. That’s the first point. Second, we have a good civil society, which exerted a lot of pressure on political parties to push them to find an agreement and compromise. It was very important, and we have a very active civil society, and women in the civil society are more active than men. If you know Tunisia, you know how present women are, and that’s one of the key factors of Tunisia’s success.
During your year in office, what do you think was the most important decision you made, given the political crisis that was the backdrop of how you came to office? The first thing was how we managed the political crisis and security situation in order to bring about stability and allow for free and fair elections in a safe environment. We also prioritized the fight against terrorism. We put a lot of energy into this struggle and achieved great success. Tunisia is now safer, and we have more protected boundaries from all the threats coming from outside or inside.
Was there a particularly important decision for enforcing security? Yes, there were many that we made. We laid out the concept of a “crisis cell,” and I consulted on these decisions around the table with leaders in the different ministries: Interior, police departments, et cetera. It’s an organization that helped us make decisions quickly but also with a strong base of the right inputs and information. We call this our “crisis cell,” but it’s really a crisis management committee. It allowed us to face the decisions we needed to make in a quick and efficient manner, and we now see that some other countries are also doing this.
ies, and we cut the flow. So it wasn’t democracy but the lack of the state that was the challenge caused by the revolution. I think things are better now, but the problem now is how to deal with the people coming back from Syria and Iraq. But it’s not a question that we have to face on our own. Many other countries, even in Europe now and throughout the world, are facing this question, and we are working in collaboration with these other countries to address this issue.
The final question is with regards to your personal plans now that you have just left office. You came to office in an apolitical, technocratic government, but over the last year you have become a very popular public figure. Even though you don’t have a history in traditional politics and political parties, do you think this is something you might do in the future? In the near future, I think I will first recover and resume having a civil, normal life. In the future, it depends on whether the country has any need for me and my team. If so, we will serve in any position, either political or not, where we have the qualifications to help support this country and continue to contribute. Anyhow, I will not set up a political party today, and we will see for the future. I can’t forecast, really. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tunisia is the largest source of foreign fighters for ISIS, and some suggest that new democratic freedoms are fueling the problem. Do you think the move to democracy has contributed to this problem, and what do you think is necessary to solve it? I don’t think the move to democracy produced combatants. This [radicalization] happened just after the revolution, when the state was weak. As you know, the aim of the revolution was to shake the state throughout the regime [of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali]. The police at that time was seen as the tool of the repression of the regime. And so they [terrorist groups] took advantage of that, and some [of these fighters] immigrated to other countries in the Middle East. Since that time, things have changed a lot. We now control our land, we control our country, we control our boundar-
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PRESERVING THE FORUM Rachael Hanna
I recently attended an event at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum that featured neuroscientist and atheist intellectual Sam Harris and Quilliam founder Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist who now works to combat radical Islam. I sat listening to these two share their experiences about working together on their new book Islam and the Future of Tolerance, each approaching the problem of radical Islam from very different perspectives and ultimately finding common ground. As a result of their collaboration and individual work, Harris and Nawaz routinely receive death threats from Islamists. Yet prominent voices on the left also vehemently denounce both men as being Islamophobic. Given today’s climate of political correctness, it was a small miracle to have a controversial atheist intellectual and a former Islamist extremist sharing a stage and engaging in a productive dialogue about one of the most contentious issues our world currently faces without demands for boycott or censorship. This is the hallmark of an institution that doesn’t simply respect free speech, but also actively promotes it, defending those whom others would silence and exposing students to all sorts of ideas and viewpoints, even ones that may make some uncomfortable. In many other countries, the public dialogue between Nawaz and Harris would never have happened—they might have been arrested or even killed for such a conversation. But even on other U.S. college campuses, this forum may not have been held. Brandeis University is the first that comes to mind of a growing list of schools that have disinvited controversial speakers to appease students who are too unwilling to confront ideas that make them uncomfortable or with which they disagree. But one doesn’t have to be an honorary speaker to incur the disdain of those who would seek to silence those with whom they disagree. One could simply be a fellow student who holds an opinion outside the traditionally liberal sociopolitical mindset that dominates most university campuses. I happen to be one such student. Nobody has to respect the ideas that I or anyone else puts forward, nor do I expect to persuade others to always see my point of view. But even if most of my peers reject my beliefs, I would hope they still respect me as a person, as an indi-
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vidual who is more than just my position on taxes, healthcare, or ISIS. The desire to censor derives from an inherent disrespect— for an idea, but also for the person promoting that idea. But while criticism of an idea may be part of healthy debate, visibly or verbally disrespecting a person rarely is. Nonetheless, my time at Harvard still leads me to believe that censorship derived from disrespect will not overpower those who are willing to understand perspectives that fundamentally challenge their own beliefs. Harvard is not perfect, but one thing it gets right is supporting free speech without exception. I have witnessed this staunch defense of free speech firsthand, when faculty members have refused to bow to student demands to censor certain ideas from being taught, and I witnessed it again at the forum with Nawaz and Harris. At the HPR, I would like to think we are similarly dedicated to upholding this value of free speech. But when we discuss a contentious issue or argument, we tend to be overly cautious— quick to apologize to student readers who were offended by an article and quick to criticize the writer (and editor) responsible for the offending material. To be sure, all journalism requires a certain level of civility, intellectual honesty, and respect for a diverse audience, but this does not mean that we should approach controversial and sensitive topics with such overly-cautious language that our arguments pack little, if any, punch. The right to freedom of speech was not intended to protect cautious, timid, or universally accepted ideas, but rather new, bold, thought-provoking, game-changing, and yes, even offensive ideas. As students and journalists, we should be more provocative with what we write. In an environment where an overwhelming majority of the student body roughly shares the same political stances, it is very easy to write uncontroversial arguments. It is far more difficult to challenge the status quo, to go out on a limb and be a lone voice arguing in favor or against particular policies. But it is perhaps even harder still to listen to an idea that deeply offends you, that makes you shudder in repulsion, and utter in response, “I disagree, but I will defend your right to say it.”
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