BROADSIDE AND CONNECT2MASON PRESENT
FOURTH ESTATE Jan. 21, 2014 | Volume 1 Issue 13 George Mason Universityâ€™s official student news outlet
WHILE YOU WERE AWAY Shari Arison speech sparks protest | page 4-5
News 2 Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
Jan. 21, 2014
HAU CHU EDITOR-IN-CHIEF firstname.lastname@example.org You may have noticed a new dumb, goofy mug perched atop this column. I’m Hau Chu and you may remember me from such bylines as “Arguments for and against the Redskins name change” and other middling sports writings. I was the Sports Editor for Fourth Estate last semester, and you might also notice a few changes in the staff list to the right so I wanted to use most of this space to wax sentimental. I want to thank the outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Colleen Wilson, for the time, care and thoughtfulness she gave to both the former
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Broadside and creating Fourth Estate. While she worked tirelessly, she extended as much time, care and attention to her staff as she did to the paper. If it weren’t for Colleen bringing on a guy who thought he could maybe write a vaguely interesting sports story with no prior newspaper experience before coming to Mason, I would still be trying to find my place in the Mason community. I owe a huge debt to her for trusting in me and for her assistance as I transition into this role. I also wanted to acknowledge the outgoing news editors, Janelle Germanos and Niki Papadogiannakis, for their role in establishing quality content in the news section of Fourth Estate and making the other sections look bad. Both are tireless workers, great writers and better people. I’ll miss bugging them in the office and debating the merits of various breakfast foods. The last person I want to acknowledge is our former copy chief, Jill Carter. While you may not have seen her byline in any of the papers last semester, her voice and tough editing had a hand in nearly every article you read. I would not be a half competent journalistic writer if it weren’t for Jill ripping apart nearly everything I wrote last year.
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Fourth Estate operates as a publication of Broadside. Fourth Estate is printed each Monday for George Mason University and its surrounding Fairfax Community. The editors of Fourth Estate have exclusive authority over the content that is published. There are no outside parties that play a role in the newspaper’s content, and should there be a question or complaint regarding this policy, the Editor-in-Chief should be notified at the email listed above. Fourth Estate is a free publication, limit one copy per person. Additional copies are 25 cents payable to the Office of Student Media. MAIL FOURTH ESTATE GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY MAIL STOP 2C5 4400 UNIVERSITY DRIVE FAIRFAX, VA. 22030 PHONE 7039932950
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While there is a lot of turnover, that isn’t to say that I don’t have all the confidence in the world with our new editors. I think we have assembled some of the most talented student journalists that Mason has to offer, and I look forward to seeing their work continue to evolve. This semester I look to carry on what we started last year and to continue the vision of Fourth Estate. Head to the website for quick-hitting news coverage of Mason and pick up the weekly edition of Fourth Estate as your go-to source for comprehensive coverage of the Mason community provided by students. I can’t promise you, on my end, that every issue is going to go off like gangbusters, but I can tell you that we are putting in the effort every issue to put out something that is worth your time. By the will of Xenu, this might all turn out okay and minimal hair will be pulled out. If not, it’s back to the drawing board to figure out how we can better provide you with higher quality coverage of Mason. Stick with us for the ride, I’ll try and not include a QR code in the future.
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Why Fourth Estate?
Prior to Broadside, the student newspaper was called The Gunston Ledger. It was changed in 1969 to better represent the politically out-spoken student body at the time. A “broadside” was a pamphlet used during the American Revolutionary War to help spread information. While Broadside has become an important part of life at Mason, we believe it no longer represents the overarching goals of student-run news. Though not specifically outlined like the three branches of government, the concept of a fourth estate referred to journalism and the media as an important tenet in upholding justice and liberty through establishing an informed public. These historic roots coincide with the transforming industry of modern journalism.
Jan. 21, 2014
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Graduates and guests stage walkout of commencement speech SUHAIB KHAN PRINT NEWS EDITOR Around 75 graduates and audience members walked out during winter commencement in a protest of the ceremony’s commencement speaker, Israeli-American billionaire-businesswoman Shari Arison. The student group that organized the walkout, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, listed its grievances against Arison and her business conglomerate in an open letter coauthored by recent graduate Tareq Radi and Mason professor of cultural studies Craig Willse, in which they criticize the university for honoring Arison “given the central role the Arison Group plays in Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid state.”
Arison was invited to the university to receive the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. According to Mason President Ángel Cabrera, the doctorate is one of the highest honors the university can offer. “We want to have people who are both aligned in their thinking and in their actions with the university, but also people who believe in us and who are supporting us,” Cabrera said. Arison donated $3 million to Mason’s New Century College for a professorship that is modeled along the values that she advocates, according to Cabrera. He said that Mason shares many of the values her companies espouse, such as sustainability. “This is a way to welcome her, to thank her for believing in what we do, and also to
FOURTH ESTATE develop additional connections with her and her team,” Cabrera said. According to SAIA, the Arison Group includes four different companies, “three of which are directly involved in the illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.” Radi and Willse claim that the Arison Group’s Bank Hapaolim is a key player in financing the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, in financing the Jerusalem Light Rail which connects Jerusalem to the settlements, financing the Prawer Plan in displacing up to 70,000 Bedouins, and discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel. “We hoped that the administration would take the information we provided as an opportunity to rethink their mistake and take a course of action that was in keeping with the values we profess to uphold,” said Professor Craig Willse. “Our only direct request was around the walkout, which was a huge success. We educated our community about some of the realities of life in Israel and the Occupied Territories, challenging the misinformation of mainstream media and Shari Arison.” In the days leading up to winter commencement, SAIA embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of her alleged unethical business practices, including a “mock apartheid wall”, posters listing their grievances against Arison, and a poster captioned “Who Will Mason Honor Next?” depicting Arison surrounded by the likes of Benito Mussolini, David Petraeus and George Zimmerman. However, the campaign and the protest were viewed critically by some students. “Jewish students on campus are disgusted with the way SAIA portrayed Arison,” said Ian Campbell, Vice President of the Israel Student Association. “They claim it had to do with her practices as a businesswoman, but we feel that had Arison been of another nationality with links to other countries, SAIA wouldn’t have spoken a word against her..” Cabrera defended his decision to invite Arison to winter commencement in a post on his blog entitled “Diversity Is Our Strength.” In the post, he writes that while he understands that Arison’s Israeli nationality has upset some students and faculty, “the world is made better by deep, courageous, and compassionate engagement with all peoples.” However, Radi was critical of this defense. “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement and SAIA resist all forms of discrimination,” Radi said. “Her nationality was not mentioned once in any of our objections to her honoring…Our letter clearly identifies her unethical actions. There is a clear distinction between protesting a nationality and the profiteering of the dispossession and illegal displacement of an indigenous population.“ SAIA was granted permission from university administration to carry out the protest in a way that would not disturb the proceedings of the commencement. According to Tareq Radi, a major concern
News among the protesters was for the university to provide accommodation for audience members and graduates who chose to walk out. “Expecting my Nakba-surviving grandparents to wander the halls of the Patriot Center while a benefactor of their dispossession was honored was unacceptable,” Radi said. Cabrera emphasized that Mason was about diversity of thought and ideas, and that difference of opinion was to be expected from a university with such a large number of students. However, he expressed personal disapproval with SAIA’s decision to protest. “From my perspective, I would have preferred that no one walked. Here we have a lady who’s been incredibly kind and generous to the university; we’ve invited her to our campus to say thank you, and hopefully to develop the relationship further, so even if there are 10 students walking out, it’s embarrassing,” Cabrera said. “But the speaker understood; she was very gracious about it, and I didn’t receive any complaints.” The commencement programs included an insert expressing the university’s desire to honor diversity of opinion and freedom of speech, but requested that those wishing to express themselves do so in a respectful manner. “The walkout enriched the experience of the commencement, taking a billionaire’s PR stunt and turning it into an educational moment and an opportunity to build meaningful solidarity with our campus communities,” Willse said. When asked about the concerns listed by Willse and Radi questioning the ethics of the speaker’s business practices, Cabrera responded by defending Arison’s businesses and bringing to light the absence of controversy over her businesses in her home country. “She has absolutely no influence whatsoever on the positions of the government of Israel; she just runs a business,” Cabrera said. “That’s all she does, and she does it with great values. She’s not targeted by protests in her own country, not even by Arab/ Palestinians.” SAIA also raised concerns about the influence that private donors to the university such as Arison would exert, as well as any effect that Arison’s donation may have on the cultural and ideological diversity of the university. However, Cabrera quelled this idea. “You cannot buy this university,” Cabrera said. “None of our donors can tell our professors what to do or what to write. It is central to us that our faculty are totally independent to do what they do. Donors have no influence whatsoever.”
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Low enrollment causes law school tuition freeze ALEXA ROGERS NEWS EDITOR During its final meeting of 2013, the Board of Visitors voted on Dec. 12th to freeze the tuition of Mason’s law school for the upcoming school year. The tuition freeze was prompted by low enrollment numbers at the law school, which have been dropping steadily since 2010, with a decrease of approximately 84 students from 2010 to 2012. Dan Polsby, the dean of the law school, attributes the low enrollment numbers to the economic recession and a limited job market for new lawyers. “We have an industry situation both in the law school and higher education businesses… The demand for lawyers is a straight line to the robustness of the economy. The employment piece of the economy…it’s in serious condition,” Polsby said. Applications to the law school have also dropped along with enrollment and were almost cut in half this past year from 4,510 applicants in 2012 to 2,460 applicants in 2013. However, as applications and enrollment numbers drop, tuition prices have been climbing with a $5,891 increase over the past five years. The dean communicated the enrollment and tuition information to Provost Peter Stearns, who echoed the dean’s concerns. “From an institutional standpoint, we want to address the low enrollment issue and we want to recognize that law students are having a harder time sustaining tuition because the jobs are harder to find….we don’t want to saddle [students] with increasing debt challenges,” Stearns said. The pair discussed options for combating high tuition while also finding a way to increase enrollment numbers. “[We want] to safe guard the broad interest of both the welfare our students, who later become alumni and our owners…One of the things we found is that increasing tuition introduces [in students’ lives] uncertainties and by freezing the tuition, we think that we can get that piece of the problem under control,” Polsby said. Stearns then worked with Senior Vice President JJ Davis to come up with a proposal for the BOV addressing the school’s desire for a tuition freeze. The proposal emphasized the importance of tuition pricing, stating applicants care most about the combination of tuition and fees with the cost of living while they are looking to apply. This results in the “net cost of attendance” of which Mason has increased 50 percent since 2006, faster than any competing
law school both regionally and statewide. “We’re clearly not market competitive,” Davis said. The proposal ultimately recommended that current tuition prices be frozen for existing and incoming students, while maintaining current scholarship and financial aid levels for the 2014-2015 school year. It also included a desire for the BOV to offer 20 percent more tuition discounts for incoming students in need. “The hope is that it will ease some of the burdens on both the existing and new law students and we hope it will result in improved enrollment,” Stearns said. The BOV approved the measures, while also allowing the law school to decrease their enrollment targets for next year in hopes of limiting negative impact on the budget. The freeze would result in a loss of $100,000 to the overall law school budget. However, this loss is minimal compared to the $1.4 million loss the law school experienced this year after being unable to achieve their enrollment target. Davis believes that the freeze may increase the number of applications to the law school for the upcoming year, as tuition prices are not often set until the spring. The set prices would provide more stability for applicants. “We think this is the best way to maintain and attract new students,” Davis said. Stearns hopes that the freeze will not only have a positive impact on the budget, but also Mason’s potential law students. “Ironically, if one assumes that, when the economy recovers more fully, law jobs will expand again, it’s actually a good time to go to law school,” Stearns said. The law school’s tuition will be frozen at $25,351 for in-state students and $40,737 for out-of-state students for the upcoming school year.
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