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Spring 2013

Never give up: A tibetan Refugee’s desperate act. Page 16

the-protest.com


Photo: Joyce Lee

TAB L E O F CO N T E N TS A World of Difference PAGE Coming out of the job search PAGE Overshadowed by Newtown PAGE Behind the Dining Halls PAGE Removing Labels PAGE Never Give up PAGE Op-ED: Kashmir PAGE What the frack? PAGE

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STAF F Magazine Editor-in-Chief: Online Editor-in-Chief: Senior Editors:

Copy Editors: Design Editor: Designers:

Photographers:

Cameron Albert-Deitch Joyce Lee James Bien Charles Rollet Leah Varjacques Jeffery Bilik Jeanne Kuang Tanner Maxwell Cameron Albert-Deitch Christine Nguyen Jen White Mansi Gupta Ina Yang Alissa Zhu

Published by Peace Project, an ASG-recognized/funded organization. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the Peace Project or The Protest staff. Front/back cover photo: Nicole Magabo

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F RO N T O F T H E BOO K

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE College students have trouble connecting with the homeless. By theodore tae. Photo: theodore tae

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arla Hegel, 57, was raised in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, attended Northwestern University, received a Ph.D. in environmental marine sciences and is also homeless. Hegel first encountered poverty seven years ago when she became a victim of identity theft. Soon afterwards, Hegel saw her life fall apart as she lost her money, her home and even her daughter. “My daughter was sold into sexual slavery by an ex-boyfriend,” Hegel said. “I asked the authorities, I asked everyone and no one wanted to help.” In 2011, the city of Chicago found over 6,500 homeless people within city limits. This is a nearly 10% increase from a 2007 survey which counted 5,922 homeless people, according to the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness. Despite the prevalence of the issue, Hegel says that people rarely take the time to understand homeless individuals. “People have all of these assumptions about homeless people,” Hegel said. “I’ve even been asked if I’m on drugs. I’ve never done drugs in my life.” These days, Hegel finds some refuge through Interfaith Action of Evanston, a non-profit that provides warming shelters and soup kitchens with area churches such as Bethany Baptist Church and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Safya Aziz, 47, also frequents Evanston’s warming shelters during the cold winter months and agrees with Hegel. Aziz was a victim of child abuse and fell into dire straits after her father died. “I’m not a bad person,” Aziz said. “I’m open. I am always willing to talk if people are willing to listen.” More listening is exactly what needs to happen, according to Grace Park, a third-year student and the student government’s community liaison at the University of Chicago. “A lot of times, students are so distant from the issue. Sometimes people hand out resources without having an actual conversation with the person,” Park said. “There’s always a story behind every homeless person, and we haven’t captured that.” Every morning, Park walks through Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood to get to class, an expe-

Marla hegel, a Northwestern graduate with a Phd in environmental marine sciences, has been homeless for seven years. Now, She says she is on the path toward stability. rience she likens to walking from one world into another. “There’s this huge disparity between the university and the surrounding neighborhood,” Park said.

A lot of times, students are so distant from the issue. Sometimes people hand out resources without having an actual conversation with the person. There’s always a story behind every homeless person, and we haven’t captured that. As community and government liaison, Park helps organize community outreach projects, including ones that specifically target homeless individuals. “There was one initiative where we basically gave out student meal swipes to homeless people

in Hyde Park,” Park said. “We just recently had a service auction where we raised over $1,200.” 21 miles to the north in Evanston, Ill., students at Northwestern University have also found a heart for the homeless. Freshman Drew Rubin volunteers with LIFT, a resource center for lowincome and homeless adults. “We help people with generally building resumes, finding jobs and housing,” Rubin said. “I love it. It’s a very rewarding experience. You make a huge difference.” Despite differences in background, age and life experiences, Rubin says that it isn’t difficult to build relationships with clients. “I’ve had the privilege in some ways of really getting a nice sense of perspective through LIFT,” Rubin said. “Every time I hear someone’s story at LIFT, it’s a different sense of understanding.” Taking the time to serve and understand others is key in making real change, according to Hegel, a former client of LIFT. “We just need to listen to each other more and shatter assumptions,” Hegel said. “There’s a lot of good that can come out of that.”

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photos: yu sun chin

COMING OUT OF THE JOB SEARCH A LGBT homeless youths struggle to find employment. By YU SUN CHIN.

fter 19-year-old Stephen Strzelczyk came out to his parents last January, he arrived home one day to find his belongings outside the house. He spent the next three months in friends’ homes, aboard trains and on the streets. “Once you get kicked out, what do you do? You’re lost,” said Strzelczyk, who lived in a shelter for homeless gay and lesbian youths in Humboldt Park for one year. After four months without work, he found a job at Dunkin’ Donuts this April. Despite the national unemployment rate’s recent drop to 7.5 percent, gay people in Chicago still face higher unemployment rates than heterosexual people. About 19 percent of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Chicago is currently unemployed, compared to 10.4 percent for the overall city, according to an April 2012 study by Chicago-based community initiative The LGBT Community Fund.

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The difficulties of gaining employment are especially amplified for gay, lesbian and transgender youths, many of whom also become homeless after their families kick them out, says Dee Michel, research advocate at The Broadway Youth Center, a program that provides counseling and services for gay and lesbian youths in Boystown. These youths often lack permanent addresses, phone numbers and vital records for identification such as birth certificates and social security cards, all of which are crucial for obtaining a job, Michel says. Being unemployed also makes it difficult for gay and lesbian youths to meet other basic needs such as food, housing and health care due to their lack of income, says Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, a gay rights group in Chicago. Their lack of access to such basic needs makes their job search more difficult, he says. “How do you maintain a job search while you’re also trying to figure out where you’re

going to live the next day?” Martinez said. “It all relates back to how our marketplace is set up and in America, how everything revolves around employment.” Community-based groups in Chicago continue to provide programs to help gay and lesbian youths gain employment. In Boystown, community centers like the Center on Halsted and The Broadway Youth Center run job training classes targeted specifically at gay and lesbian youths. Vida/SIDA, a health clinic that provides resources to those with HIV/AIDS in Humboldt Park, opened a shelter last March for homeless gay and lesbian youths called El Rescate, which currently houses 13 residents. The center’s employment programs teach skills such as resume-building and interview protocol, and connects its residents to colleges, vocational schools and job listings. It also provides residents with another vital prerequisite for employment: a permanent address and phone number so that employers can directly contact the youth.


19-year-old stephen strzelczyk was kicked out of his house last January after coming out to his parents. He lived in a shelter for a year and, after spending four months unemployed, finally found a job this past april. “These are things that we have to start from ground zero and work our way up,” said Zenaida López, program coordinator of Vida/SIDA. “Hopefully, in a year, six months or two years, we can see them walk out of here.” Workplace discrimination also serves as a major barrier to employment opportunities for gay and lesbian youths, Martinez says. Employers are more likely to target workers in the hiring and firing process based on their sexual orientation and identity, he says. “There is a systematic issue that needs to be addressed through education and outreach,” Martinez said. Job growth is still uneven for the gay and lesbian community, he says. Strzelczyk says he often felt uncomfortable in his workplace when he was employed, recounting how co-workers would make rude comments about his sexuality, calling

him a “faggot.” He says he also felt unfairly judged during one interview for a position as a waiter at a restaurant. “When I would answer the questions, she would make a funny face or make a comment like, ‘You can’t wear really tight jeans, you can’t wear really tight clothing,’” he said. Currently, no federal law protects gay and lesbian individuals from workplace discrimination. It is legal to fire or refuse to hire workers based on sexual orientation in 29 states and gender identity in 34 states, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights advocacy group. Although Illinois is one of 16 states to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, employers continue to silently discriminate against gay and lesbian youths, López says. There is still a stigma attached to hiring gay, lesbian and especially transgender youths, she says.

“They look at you as if you were a leper sometimes, while in reality that’s nowhere near the truth,” López said. She says that gay, lesbian and transgender youths are often denied the job when they get to the face-to-face interview, even after they pass the online application process and phone interview. Strzelczyk, who is planning to study dance performance at Columbia College this fall, says the center helped him gain the economic knowledge necessary for employment. Although he now lives in an apartment, Strzelczyk said the organization had “helped me a lot to where I am and who I am today.” “Going from being homeless to where I am now, I feel that it is possible to change your living situation,” Strzelczyk said. “It takes time, but that time is going to help you in every way, shape and form – as long as you not just strive for it but pursue it.”

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Photo: US Mission Canada

OVERSHADOWED BY NEWTOWN School shootings since newtown have been overlooked by the media. By Cameron Albert-Deitch.

O

n January 31, less than two months after the Newtown school shooting, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the head by a fellow student at Price Middle School in my hometown of Atlanta. I caught the story just as it broke, and I realized that I would probably be spending the rest of my day following the coverage and the aftermath of the incident. America was still talking about Newtown on a daily basis, and nothing could go more viral than another school shooting – especially in a major city. Instead, nothing happened. Beyond the original news story, the shooting received no coverage. Not local, not national.

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It wasn’t the only school shooting since Newtown to go unnoticed by the media. In the month of January alone, school shootings occurred at Taft Union High School in Taft, California and the Stevens Institute of Business & Arts in St. Louis. Neither received national media attention, which came as a shock to Owen Youngman, the Knight Professor of Digital Media Strategy at the Medill School of Journalism. “Certainly, in the first weeks after something like Newtown, you would expect there to be more coverage of other school shootings, no matter the scale,” Youngman said. Yet this has not been the case.


Photo: Mansi Gupta --Sabrina Fritz is a McCormick sophomore and St. Louis native who follows the news back home on a regular basis. She says that even in St. Louis, the Stevens Institute shooting was never considered particularly important or news-worthy. “I think a lot of people probably saw it and attributed it to just another day in St. Louis,” Fritz said. “St. Louis has a very large history of gun violence. I don’t think the fact that it was attached to a school was even an attention-getter at all.” Fritz speculated that the reason the shooting failed to gain national attention was because it wasn’t even considered important on a local scale. “I don’t remember seeing it on any of the Chicago news outlets or national news outlets. I read a couple articles on STL Today, which is the St. Louis Dispatch site, about it. No one tried to connect it with Newtown, not really,” she said. “A lot of people are becoming desensitized to the amount of gun violence that actually happens.” Part of the explanation of the lack of coverage, according to Youngman, may be that none of the shootings since Newtown have produced fatalities – in fact, somehow, every single victim managed to survive severe gunshot wounds. “Fewer deaths, less dramatic circumstances, geographic distance from the place where we are. Remember, Newtown is within hailing distance of New York. And there hasn’t been anything as horrific as Newtown,” Youngman explained. But Stephan Garnett, a lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism, contends that the disinterest of the public is to blame for the lack of media attention on the more minor school shootings since Newtown. “I think the lack of coverage on school shootings since Newtown is part of the public wanting to feel safe. I think, to an extent, that the public will indicate that it’s weary of hearing about this, and perhaps the news media is bending to that,” said Garnett. “The public is fickle. At one point, they’ll tell you, ‘We’re not going to be interested unless it’s bloody and gory.’ But when it gets too bloody and gory, and too close to my home, stop telling me.” Garnett is willing to consider the possibility that other school shootings aren’t getting

McCormick sophomore Sabrina Fritz isn’t surprised that the stevens institute shooting in her hometown of st. louis received minimal media coverage. attention because editors are scared to publicize minor incidents so soon after Newtown. “I think it’s fair to say, to an extent, that the lack of coverage on other school shootings since Newtown is because of the fear that they’ll just be overshadowed by Newtown. Smaller school shootings just aren’t as big a deal after something so big and so recent,” he said.

incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings and the West Texas explosion have instead grabbed the headlines and the attention of the American public, at least for now. --Perhaps the lack of coverage on smaller school shootings wouldn’t be such a problem if Newtown was still dominating the news cycle. Incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings and the West Texas explosion have instead grabbed the headlines and the attention of the American public, at least for now. “It’s hard for both the public and the

media to hold multiple stories at the same level of attention for a sustained period of time. And so we have a bias, in the media and the public, in favor of recency,” said Youngman. “If something just happened, even if it’s less consequential by some measures, we pay more attention to it. That’s part of the definition of news.” Youngman, who was aware that other school shootings have happened since Newtown but didn’t know any further details, trusts the editors of the media outlets he follows to give him the news he needs to hear. “I pay a lot of attention to the news, so I guess I was willing to trust the editors of the sites and newspapers I read to give me an appropriate amount. And that, ultimately, is what we all do. We rely on our most particularly trusted sources of information in part because they perform a curating or filtering function that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” he said. Garnett, on the other hand, thinks that the media has forgotten too much about Newtown. “The public has lost the initial shock from Newtown, and we’ve allowed them to do it,” Garnett said. “The media reflects the views of the people, and the people’s memories are too short to allow something like Newtown to really have an effect on our society. And that’s an undeniable tragedy.”

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Photo: Mansi Gupta

SCHOOL SHOOTINGS SINCE NEWTOWN

January 10: Taft Union High School

Medill professor stephan garnett believes the media may be failing its responsibility to keep the public informed by undercovering school shootings. “Every time it happens, it should be covered. Every time,” Garnett said. “I think sometimes, you can basically compare the news media to a spoonful of nasty medicine. You have to have it, it doesn’t taste good, but it’s good for you.” --Newtown’s fade from the headlines, along with the lack of coverage of school shootings since Newtown, corresponds with the apparent congressional inability to pass tougher federal gun control legislation. “I think the media influences the national conversation, but it’s also a chicken and egg situation,” said Peter Slevin, Associate Professor at the Medill School of Journalism and a 12-year veteran of the Washington Post. “Newtown happened, the media covered it, the conversation was fueled.” Now that the conversation is losing fuel, gun control legislation seems more and more unlikely to become law – despite bipartisan legislation efforts and seemingly daily prodding by President Obama. Joe Manchin is a Democrat senator from West Virginia and a co-author of the bipartisan bill on comprehensive background checks that failed to pass the Senate. Manchin suggested to the National Journal that the legislation would have proven “much more acceptable” if it had been on the Congress floor directly after Newtown.

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“At that time, we could have done something. So you seize the moment.” Manchin said. Democrat senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says that it may take another mass shooting or similar tragedy to reignite momentum for gun control legislation. “Unfortunately, tragically, regrettably, there’ll be other incidents of gun violence that will remind us of how much is at stake,” Blumenthal told the National Journal after gun control legislation was defeated in the Senate in April. The media cannot force Congress to pass legislation, but news outlets can continually remind the public of the major issues in danger of leaving the media spotlight. Garnett believes that a stronger media presence behind those issues can help prolong the national conversation and fuel congressional debates. “Even noting how exceptional Newtown was, I think that there should still be a significant media spotlight on smaller incidents of the same type,” Garnett said. “Every time it happens, it should be covered. Every time. Because one of the things it will do is, it will continue to make the public aware that this is going to continue to happen as long as we don’t do what we need to do.”

• Taft, California • 16-year-old Bryan Oliver fired upon classmates with a 12-gauge shotgun • There were no fatalities, but Oliver is being charged as an adult on two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon

January 15: Stevens Institute of Business & Arts

• Downtown St. Louis • 34-year-old student Sean Johnson shot the school’s financial aid director, Greg Elsenrath, using a semiautomatic pistol with a filedoff serial number • Johnson has been charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a defaced firearm

January 31: Price Middle School

• Downtown Atlanta • A 14-year-old boy was shot in the back of the head by a fellow student (both names have been withheld due to their status as minors)


BEHIND THE DINING HALLS Gloria has worked in the northwestern dining halls since 2001. She’s a single mother And undocumented immigrant.

By YU SUN CHIN.

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“we

are nine. And we were poor. We are poor.” Gloria crossed over to the U.S. 14 years ago from Mexico to escape the hunger that ate away at her family. Her father’s paycheck went straight to the beans and tortillas for their seven children, but left little for the medicine needed for her mother’s diabetes. She stepped into Arizona in 1999, determined to break her family’s entrapment in poverty. “We are nine. And we were poor. We are poor,” she recounted. “But I arrived here to send my family money.” But sometimes the money did not arrive soon enough. She was unable to visit her father in Mexico before he passed away from cancer in 2010. “I felt terrible, and I felt that I was dying because I never returned to see him,” she said. “But I keep fighting because I have three children.” In 2001, Gloria moved to Chicago and started working in the Northwestern dining halls. Although she says conditions for workers have improved in recent years, she recounts times when managers would track how many sandwiches the workers could make per minute. As an undocumented single mother, she constantly feared being left without work, knowing that her children and parents in Mexico stayed afloat on her wages. “But I am a person that trusts a lot in God, and for God there are no borders,” she said.

Gaining a voice Professor Michael Diamond says that Northwestern may employ undocumented workers indirectly as they contract and subcontract other companies like Sodexo to handle the university’s personnel recruitment. Although the legal liability for upholding the rights for undocumented workers often falls to these contractors, he says, Northwestern still bears some responsibility for these workers. “That shouldn’t remove [Northwest-

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Photo: sodexo via flickr | COVER PHOTO: YU SUN CHIN

Sodexo, Northwestern’s food provider, signed a four-year contract in 2011 with undocumented workers at Northwestern prohibiting the use of E-Verify on existing employees like Gloria. E-Verify is a Department of Homeland Security program used to screen workers for proof of citizenship. ern] even if it’s not a legal liability, from the ethical liability,” he said. Since 2010, Northwestern has used EVerify, an Internet-based program run by

As an undocumented single mother, gloria constantly feared being left without work, knowing that her children and parents in mexico stayed afloat on her wages. the Department of Homeland Security, to screen its workers for proof of citizenship. The university stated in an April 2010 announcement that it was required

to use the program to maintain funding for federally funded projects. But the university’s compliance with the program is unnecessary, according to Jacqueline Stevens, professor of political science at Northwestern. The program should only be required by the part of the university that directly receives federal grants, she says. “As far as I can tell, it is an effort to avoid any legal harassments from the federal government,” Stevens said. Undocumented workers at Northwestern have made significant strides in their rights since September 2011, when they successfully signed a new contract with Sodexo through the Living Wage Campaign. The contract, which expires in August 2015, prohibits Sodexo from using E-Verify on existing employees.


Photo: longislandwins via flickr

E-Verify has come under severe fire in recent years. A 2009 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report states that the accuracy ofthe program in finding unauthorized workers is only 46 percent. Under the new contract, Sodexo also cannot require currently employed workers to prove their immigration status. If the government does contact the employer about a worker’s status, Sodexo must contact the employee and union within 48 hours so they can work out a resolution. Immigrant workers can also take up to 60 days to fix any error in their immigration status. “No management or no entity besides the U.S. government can take a worker off the workplace because of an immigration issue,” said Rafael Marquez, a dining hall worker who was actively involved in the campaign. Before the new contract, more gray areas existed that opened up potential dangers for immigrant workers and stressed out their morale, he says. So-

dexo mailed many employees a “nomatch letter” which stated that their social security number did not match

Gloria says her vocal involvement no longer scares her, as she wants to stand up for the rights of the millions of other undocumented workers who suffer under their employers’ abuses. the records in the government, giving workers 30 days to fix their immigration status. Marquez says that in re-

sponse, workers rallied and petitioned to stop Sodexo from probing into their immigration status. The new contract “frees employers to be employers, not to worry about people’s immigration status,” said Eric Gomez, organizer at Unite Here Local One, a union that works with Sodexo employees. Gomez added that the involvement of undocumented workers with the union strengthens their political voice. Nonunionized workers at other schools may accept the abuses because of the fear that their status will be used against them, he says. “They don’t have to fear that their immigration status is going to be threatened by standing up because they have the rights to be protected,” Gomez said.

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Photo: longislandwins via flickr

Dreams of family Gloria received her no-match letter about eight years ago. She thought of her mother in Mexico and her children, and how she wanted better for them. All of it could all be jeopardized by one letter. “We workers are the people that work really hard so that the companies can be millionaires,” she said. “And it doesn’t seem right to me that any day they’ll say, ‘Why don’t you have your papers?’ ... It isn’t right because I’ve worked really hard, for all those years.” But Gloria is no longer afraid to speak up. She has been involved in the labor union for about three years and actively continues to advocate for workers’ rights in Chicago. She says her vocal involvement no longer scares her, as she wants to stand up for the rights of the millions of other undocumented workers who suffer under their employers’ abuses.

ABOVE: The thought that E-Verify could easily expand into a national identification system run by employers makes civil liberties groups across the country uneasy. More worrisome for many, however, is that E-Verify could cause businesses to lose some of their top workers.

While the initial shock of adjusting to a new country has ebbed away, the fear of deportation still looms over gloria. Although she wishes to visit her mother in mexico with her three children, the risks of driving so far without a license are too high. “Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for civil rights, Cesar Chavez for the rights of the fieldworkers and we’re going to follow this example because it’s time for our justice,” she said. “Occasionally it scares me, my state, but I’m not the only one. There are many.” While the initial shock of adjusting to a new country has ebbed away, the fear of deportation still looms over Gloria. She recalls the time when her brother escaped with his four children after immigration services arrived at their front door, the time her friend was deported to

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left: Weinberg professor Jacqueline Stevens believes Northwestern’s use of E-Verify is unnecessary. Northwestern announced in April 2010 that itwas required to use E-Verify to maintain funding for federally funded projects. Mexico after being arrested at Six Flags. Although she wishes to visit her mother in Mexico with her three children, the risks of driving so far without a license are too high. “I almost never go out because it scares me,” she said. But as much as she misses her mother, Gloria says she takes much satisfaction in the fact that she is able to support her

family. She dreams that her three children will study and become something big. Most of all, she dreams of returning to see her mother in Mexico one day, her American citizenship in tow. “My mother more than anything– to hug her, and to tell her that I love her and miss her very much,” she said. “My family, that’s my dream, and to be legal here.”


LABELS

Bi LE ous D anx

ANOREXIC

blindSSED DePRE

. D . .A D

BIPOLAR

Ability status and the fight against the “crazy TV image”

DISA

REMOVING

dea f

AUTISTIC

MUTE

MENTALLY DISABLED

by madhur

i sathish


Photo: Alissa Zhu

The Services for Students with Disabilities office is located in the basement of Scott Hall. SSD offers students a variety of resources, such as help with note taking.

T

his past year, Northwestern students and faculty have initiated and participated in a variety of discussions regarding diversity and discrimination, which ultimately culminated in the proposal of a Social Inequalities and Diversity curriculum requirement. The proposal, released in February, highlighted race as a key component of student activism, but said this addition to the curriculum would also focus on such issues as gender, class, sexuality and ability status. Ability status is a focus that does not receive as much attention, according to Medill sophomore Tommy Carroll, primarily because people are not as aware that it is an issue of privilege. Carroll, who is blind, explained that ableist behavior – behavior that is discriminatory toward people with disabilities – is actually perpetuated by the inclination to consider people with disabilities as disadvantaged in some way. “A lot of the time when people with disabilities are put down, it’s done by people with good intentions,” Carroll said. “People who do negative things with good intentions are often the worst because that is the root of the problem.” Much of the ableist behavior Carroll has encountered falls into this mold. He said people who felt uncomfortable around him tried to seem comfortable by making jokes about his blindness, and strangers are surprised at how much he has accomplished “despite” his disability. Dr. Alison May, assistant director of Services for Students with Disabilities, said Northwestern’s rigorous academic and social environment may foster ableist behavior because of the apparent stigma against being anything less than mentally and physically fit. According to May, this stigma arises from a preconceived notion that people ought to be able-bodied. “I think of ableism as the assumption of zero disabilities or the assumption of sameness,” May said. “It’s similar to white privilege. It’s not something that you see but it’s there, and it’s having these pervasive effects… I think that’s a big piece of ableism – the presumption that all systems are go.” Carroll said Northwestern is fairly accessible due to the accommodations provided by SSD and the accessible pedestrian signals on Sheridan. He has also had the opportunity to test certain Google and Apple products to make them more accessible as well.

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May emphasized that many disabilities are invisible, which makes it harder for those without disabilities to avoid ableist statements and behavior. Katie Eilers, a fifth-year Weinberg senior, said she can attest to this. Eilers receives treatment for bipolar II disorder with rapid cycling. She said both her friends and strangers sometimes make offhand ableist remarks – for example, “I never would have thought that you were bipolar.” This type of remark, she said, implies a negative perception of bipolar disorder, even though it is not intended to personally insult her. However, she said such statements also do not

“A lot of the time when people with disabilities are put down, it’s done by people with good intentions.” - Tommy Carroll

bother her too much, mostly because they counter outwardly negative portrayals of bipolar disorder. “People don’t know so I don’t mind people saying something like that,” Eilers explained. “I’d rather have them have a good image of bipolar instead of some crazy TV image. I’d rather be open and have them know that people lead normal lives who are bipolar and we go through rough times but we’re fine, like we don’t bite.” Eilers has found that this “crazy TV image” has unfortunately become a common perception of mental illness. According to May, media portrayals of disabilities – especially of mental illness – has perpetuated negative stereotypes about them. “We’re starting to equate violence with mental illness, and I don’t think that’s the appropriate connection to make,” May said, specifically referenc-


“Many of us are taught in this culture that when you see someone with an obvious disability, in order to be polite, ‘don’t stare,’ and in all our paranoia we have translated ‘don’t stare’ into ‘don’t look.’ We make a whole lot of people disappear and the saddest part is we think we’re being nice.” - Dr. Maura J. CULLEN

ing the shootings at Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., this past year. Eilers said media portrayals of disabilities would be less harmful if they did not make a disability out to be the core facet of an individual’s personality; for instance, she does not want bipolar disorder to be her “label.” Carroll holds a similar view, and he explained that the accomplishments of people with disabilities should not be undermined or overstated just because they have a disability. “People with disabilities are totally capable of being a functioning productive member of society – just as productive as anyone else,” Carroll said. “We just need more people with disabilities getting involved in things, trying things out, making it more visible that we can do this.” While ableism may be more difficult to combat than racism and sexism, if only because the latter two already have strong roots in student activism and education, Eilers, Carroll and May all said it can be done. This year, ability status has become an increasingly discussed topic at Northwestern, and student organizations like NU Active Minds have organized events designed to educate students and faculty about ability status. On April 16, May participated in a panel hosted by NU Active Minds about mental health in the workplace. The purpose of the panel was to educate students with disabilities about their rights in both the workplace and the classroom. Two days later, on April 18, Dr. Maura J. Cullen – a well-known diversity speaker – gave a lecture at Norris University Center that prospective Community Assistants were required to attend. She spoke about building inclusive communities, one of the tenets of which included diversity in ability status. Cullen mentioned a conversation she once had with a friend, who was in a wheelchair at the time, regarding the difficulties faced by people with disabilities. “The biggest barrier is able-bodied people’s attitude,” her friend had said.

Cullen explained that everyone has their own limitations, but ability status makes it more difficult for people without disabilities to realize their privilege. Cullen also emphasized Carroll’s point that the best intentions can sometimes lead to hurtful actions. “Many of us are taught in this culture that when you see someone with an obvious disability, in order to be polite, ‘don’t stare,’ and in all our paranoia we have translated ‘don’t stare’ into ‘don’t look,’” Cullen said. “What was taught to be an act of kindness is an unintended but misguided act of cruelty. We make a whole lot of people disappear and the saddest part is we think we’re being nice.” Earlier this year, Associated Student Government, NU Active Minds and Counseling and Psychological Services all collaborated to bring a mental health Essential NU to Wildcat Welcome this fall. SSD continues to offer assistance and accommodations for students with both physical and mental disabilities, though May said there is more work to be done to make sure that all students who have need of SSD are comfortable approaching it. She said one solution is to make students more aware that SSD is a readily available service. All of this programming, coupled with the proposed diversity requirement, aims to spread more awareness about diversity issues that, according to Carroll, do not currently receive as much attention as they should. As the conversation continues to take place on a wider scale, ableism has ventured further into a spotlight currently dominated by other important issues like racism, sexism and discrimination based on sexuality and class. In the meantime, however, Eilers said she is content with how far Northwestern has come. “Sitting here, talking loudly about it loudly and in the open – it’s not really a problem,” Eilers said with a laugh. “If they overheard, what would happen? Nothing.”

Photos: Alissa Zhu

The Magnisight machine and braille printer in the SSD office act as reading aids for visually impaired students.

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NEVER GIVE UP A Tibetan Refugee’s Desperate Act. By nicole magabo

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Photo: nicole magabo

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ngry that he’s lost time and concentration after almost dyin a road accident, Sherab quickly slathers paint thinner all over his body. From his left pant pocket, he pulls out a lighter. Ten seconds later, he’s engulfed by bright yellow flames… Screaming and running, he bellows: “FREE TIBET!” “LONG LIVE OUR HOLINESS!” “HUMAN RIGHTS IN TIBET AND CHINA!” Within 25 seconds, the policemen capture him and push him hard onto the ground. He feels something like a mat thrown over him. One policeman shouts for someone to call the fire brigade. --Earlier that morning, Sherab Tsedor, 25, wakes up at six in his family’s home in Majnu-ka-tilla, the Tibetan refugee colony that lies on the outskirts of New Delhi. After a swift breakfast of homemade roti, a South-Asian bread, Sherab siphons an amount of paint thinner from a tin lying about the house. His home is being renovated and the painters are yet to arrive. He’d heard the liquid was highly flammable and its flames very hard to extinguish. Good. Because that’s exactly what he needs to perform the ultimate sacrifice. His younger brother asks him where he’s off to so early in the morning. After brushing him off with “nothing too much, going to Delhi, then I come back, “ Sherab leaves for the Chinese embassy by bus. About forty minutes later, the bus cruises into Delhi. He hands the conductor what he thinks will be his last ten-rupees bus fare. As he crosses the road, a car approaches, zooming, headed in his direction. He instinctively jumps to the side, hitting the floor as he ducks from what could have been a fatal collision. The familiar faces of the men guarding the country’s Chinese headquarters lift him up, berating him for carelessly crossing the road. Sherab is here often protesting against Chinese occupation in Tibet. The policemen immediately assume that’s why he’s here today. They shuffle back to their posts. ---

Before the accident (TOP): Sherab Tsedor during an interview in August 2011 after the accident (Bottom): Tsedor resting after receiving treatment for his third-degree burns on his legs. When he wakes up less than hour later on a hospital bed, it’s not the immobility caused by the self-inflicted injuries on his chest contracting, it’s the searing pain in his heart. He has failed himself. He has failed his people. The persistent throb from third degree burns on his legs do little to distract him. His unsuccessful self-immolation attempt leaves him feeling deflated. For the next three months, he won’t be able to walk.

--Sherab is one of several hundreds of thousand Tibetans living outside the Chinese province of Tibet. And like so many other refugees, he has never seen the country of his ancestors. On May 23, 2013, Tibetans and Chinese will mark, albeit grudgingly, the 63rd anniversary of the 17-point agreement between the two then separate states that established temporary Chi-

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“

Unfortunately, i am fine. now.

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Photo: nicole magabo

Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India, the largest settlement of Tibetans outside the Chinese province of Tibet. nese sovereignty over Tibet. What started out as a dialogue for the eventual peaceful liberation of Tibet has evolved into forced annexation. Unfortunately for Tibet and the People’s Republic of China, this 1951 agreement and many more attempts over the years for reconciliation have only soured relations between the two governments. Tibet’s largest exiled community in Dharamsala, India, is led by His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama. But is this tension the sole reason for increasing self-immolations among Tibetans in and outside the disputed province? Antonio Terrone, Religious Studies professor at Northwestern University, is more alarmed at the increasing number of young Tibetans resorting to self-immolation. Unlike typical suicides driven by depressive episodes, the main goal of self-immolators is to benefit their communities. There’s a strong belief that dying in such a public manner will direct attention to the plights of the victim’s community. The concept of selfimmolation is fairly new, adds Terrone.

No formal studies have been done on the mental states of the 116 reported Tibetans who self-immolate. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama refuses to make a public comment because the decision to

“Unlike typical suicides driven by depressive episodes, the main goal of selfimmolators is to benefit their communities. There’s a strong belief that dying in such a public manner will direct attention to the plights of the victim’s community.” offer your life for others is deeply rooted in personal intentions. The Dalai Lama’s ambiguity has been received with much criticism. His passive response is seen as a way of encouragement for more Tibetan activists to continue an extreme and

radical route. The morning of Nov. 4, Sherab Tsedor felt it was the right time to take action for reaction. “I wanted to send the message to the United Nations and the world that we need support from you about peace in Tibet,” Sherab says. If a Tibetan self-immolated outside Tibet, maybe the world would look up. Maybe this time, concrete sanctions against China would be initiated. For Sherab, his sacrifice should stop his fellow countrymen from burning themselves. “Unfortunately, I am fine. Now.” Chillingly, Sherab insists he is ready to try again, until he succeeds. His sacrifice means other Tibetans already struggling for freedom won’t have to fatally light themselves up. He is yet to receive any response from the Chinese government or the United Nations since his desperate move that November morning. Author’s Note: Sherab TseDor was a subject in a documentary conducted in 2011 by Nicole Magabo and Dan Tham.

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O P- E D

BURNING PARADISE OR RISING PHOENIX? Kashmiri cries for justice still met with silence. By SANYA MANSOOR.


C

rimson sunsets peaking through luscious valleys, exquisitely crafted houseboats with cheesy names and haunting bloodstained streets. This is my home. I come from the India-controlled sector of Kashmir, an area that has been at the center of political tension between India and Pakistan for over 50 years. As the politics play out on the ground it becomes evident that its gruesome effects are borne by Kashmiris, not the detached politicians who roll the dice. My first significant encounter with Kashmir’s turbulence came in the summer of 2010. I was back home for my annual monthlong visit to my family. The imposition of curfew (hartaal) by the government meant we were ordered to stay confined. Despite this, Kashmiris from all spheres of society took to the streets to protest Indian occupation and police brutality. I couldn’t help being taken aback as anguished cries and shrieks pierced through closed windows and doors. What followed was a little harder to swallow. A screeching silence followed every gunshot that pierced through the air. Kashmiris are agonizing in silence even today; they are often left without answers, let alone justice. Although most of the gunshots I heard in those days were policemen’s attempts to disperse protesters, this did not account for the 117 Kashmiris who lost their lives at the hands of police that summer or another 300 or so who were detained without trial under draconian laws, as reported by Al Jazeera English. Most victims were unarmed and a few carried stones as their weapons. Even more shockingly, most of them were teenagers. The worst was the brutal killing of an 8-year-old boy who was mercilessly

Photos: sanya mansoor

Kashmir, located in the northwestern region of the indian subcontinent, has been at the center of violent political tensions between India and Pakistan for over 50 years. beaten by the Indian troops. Many mass protests that followed simply pleaded for justice and sought independent inquiries into killings on the streets of Kashmir. Ironically, it was at

A screeching silence followed every gunshot that pierced through the air. Kashmiris are agonizing in silence even today; they are often left without answers, let alone justice. these processions where more protestors were shot and the cycle would repeat. Al Jazeera English also reports that from 1989 to 2011 there have been 8,000 disappearances and 70,000 deaths of Kashmiris as a result of Indian occupation. The Indian government, however,

disputes these claims and insists the number of those missing is closer to 3,000 or 4,000. They claim the missing Kashmiris had crossed over to Pakistan-administered Kashmir for arms infiltration training to participate in militant activities. Human rights organizations and local civil society totally refute this contention. They allege that the disappearances are enforced as a result of abductions by Indian security forces; this includes those killed in custody and those tortured by Indian intelligence agencies. This persistent lack of inquiry reflects a sense of apathy that has been engraved into Kashmir’s history and continues to infiltrate its presence. The government’s refusal to concede the demand for a fair inquiry and its arbitrary detention of protestors has aggravated the hatred against occupation and repression. The infamous Kunan Poshpora gang rape of at least 53 women by Indian soldiers in 1991 remains uninvestigated. While Human Rights Watch reports the number of victims to be as high as 100,

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the Indian governments’ one-sided investigations flatly deny the incident and have labeled it as “a massive hoax orchestrated by militant groups and their sympathizers.” Muslims aren’t the only group to have suffered in Kashmir. Al Jazeera reports that over 100,000 Hindu Kashmiri Pandits, a minority group, fled the region when the insurgency started in 1989. Many were murdered and a persistent fear caused many to leave their ancestral homes. Despite controversy regarding the extent to which they were marginalized, their suffering was and is very real. Today, thousands of them still live in refugee camps in Jammu. Their plight is long and deserves an article of its own to be fully understood. Moreover, The Guardian reported in 2011 that 2,156 unidentified dead bodies were found buried in various unmarked graves across Kashmir. It is widely speculated that the graves are linked to the alleged enforced disappearances caused by the state. This year itself saw the secret and unjust execution of Kashmiri Afzal Guru by the Indian government. Although the Supreme Court declared the evidence against him was only “circumstantial,” they executed him on the grounds of “satisfy[ing] the collective conscience of society.” It is a general misconception that the human spirit can be completely subdued into submission by the terror tactics of the mighty state. The pleasant side of human life somehow manages to manifest itself in various ways and the conflict-ridden Kashmir is no exception. Teenagers love Facebook, parents are treating their children to softies and college students hang out at cafés. Moreover, conflict zones are characterized not by bombs and guns but rather by their aftermath. The real problem lies in uncertainty, in insecurity, in grieving (or the inability to). The real problem boils down to a loss of dignity of life. The mental anguish in Kashmir takes on

Photo: sanya mansoor

tHE CALM WATERS OF kASHMIR’S DAL LAKE SEEM TO INDICATE A PEACEFUL SETTING. IN RECENT YEARS, HOWEVER, kASHMIR HAS SEEN NOTHING BUT TURMOIL. such disturbingly unique dimensions that an entirely new phrase, “half-widows,” has been born. This phrase describes the dire situations of wives whose husbands have disappeared; they

are perpetually in the dark about their husbands’ survival, let alone whereabouts. In a 2011 report, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Peoples found that there are roughly 1,500 half-widows in Kashmir. They also noted that they are “deemed ineligible for pensions and other governmental relief and thus face severe economic hardship.” Moreover, it goes without saying that their children grow up traumatized and vulnerable to impoverishment and exploitation. This lack of closure in turn fosters a society plagued with mental anguish. It is therefore no surprise that the report, “Life in conflict: Characteristic of Depression in Kashmir,” revealed that depression affects approximately 55.72 percent of the population. Being Kashmiri has, however, helped me understand how something so entrenched in tragedy can still retain its beauty. In fact, I believe some of Kashmir’s heavenly beauty lends itself to its hellish circumstances. For it is these hellish circumstances that have fuelled the electric resilience of people in the face of oppression. My heritage has instilled in me a sense of responsibility, a compelling urge to understand why some people and places are so broken. More importantly, it reminds me how often peoples’ anguished cries are lost in a perpetual state of desensitization. It is too easy to look the other way. Over the years, this horrendous cycle of killings, disappearances and rapes has come to be seen as something normal and, as a result, cloaked in silence. So, fellow journalists, I write to you to remind you to wield your pens, your mics and your cameras in the face of those who seek to prevent you from doing your duty. The fact that injustice has been taking place for far too long or in a distant corner of the globe doesn’t mean that your efforts are futile, but rather that you need to keep digging, and keep pushing.

WH Y AR E KAS H M I R I S P ROT EST I N G ? • They want independence • They want a decrease in Indian troops deployed in their state; Al Jazeera English reported that there are currently 650,000 present in the territory, making Kashmir the most densely militarized zone in the world. • They want an abolition of The Armed Forces Special Powers Act; this act provides legal immunity for Indian troops against wrongful killing, torture and other violations of basic human rights. Photo: kashmir global via flickr

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BACK O F T H E BOO K

WHAT THE FRACK? If fracking is efficient, why has it been banned in several countries? By eLLEN GARRISON.

Fissures

FRACKING (Hydraulic fracturing) is the process of injecting

Shale

a mix of water, sand and chemicals into shale rock to cause fracturing, which releases the natural gas and oil inside.

Particles keep the fissures open so the natural gas can flow The natural gas and oil reserves flow into the pipes from the shale

Hydraulic fracturing is used in 9 out of 10 wells in the U.S.

The water, sand and hazardous chemical mixture retrieved from the ground is stored in open-air pits.

2 to 9 million gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground through a steel pipe down to the shale layer, which is 2,000 to 7,000 feet below ground and 50 to 200 feet thick.

Groundwater Gas companies have been using the fracking process since the 1940s. The drill line is cased in steel piping to protect the groundwater from initial contact with the fracturing chemicals.

In September 2010, the state of Wyoming required that companies engaged in fracking reveal the chemical mixtures they combined with water and sand to cause fracturing. Of the 28 chemicals listed by Encana Corporation, all but 3 are known to cause skin, eye, organ and respiratory problems.

“In some communities it has been a disaster...We do not have enough information on hand to be able to draw good solid conclusions about whether this is a public health risk as a whole." - Christopher Portier, director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Center for Environmental Health

30 to 70 percent of the solution is brought back to the surface with the natural gas and oil, but the rest remains in the ground. What comes to the surface is hazardous material and stored in open-air pits near the drill site.

Fracking is banned in several countries in Europe, including France and Bulgaria, which have the largest shale gas reserves on the continent.

The environmental concerns about fracking stem partly from the fluid remaining in the ground. The chemicals, sand and water left behind by the process seep through the ground to the ground water, which is a substantial part of the fresh water supply.

Tracking the enviromental impacts of fracking is difficult because of the lack of regulation of the industry. Many of the chemicals used in the process are still unknown.

Susan Wallace-Babb lives in western Colorado, near gas fields. One day in 2005, she stepped out of her truck on her neighbor’s ranch and collapsed. The next day she began vomitting and having diarrhea and sharp pains. Then she developed painful skin rashes and her doctor concluded she must have been poisoned. Her symptoms match those of other residents of the area and of people living near gas fields across the country.

The theory is that these symptoms are caused by the fumes from the open-air pits where the hazardous material retrieved from the ground is stored.

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The Protest Spring 2013 Issue  

Read about a desperate Tibetan refugee, the struggles of an undocumented nuCuisine worker, ableism at Northwestern and more in the Spring 20...

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