Titles are symbolic, of course, but they also carry weight. When the buildings on a university campus are named for robber barons and captains of industry, that says something about the institution, and about the purpose of the education we receive. In buildings that bear the name of the highest bidder, are we not being told — perhaps subtly, perhaps brutally — that our post-collegiate life also belongs to whatever entity makes the winning offer? So it was with real pride that I read that new North Campus dormitories were being named not for mega-donors, but for those whose lives set a stunning and wondrous example. Toni Morrison M.A. ’55.
Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In our very first feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “How have the stakes of American politics risen so high?” Read the counterpart column here. As the rhetoric of both parties, the power grabs of outgoing Republican administrations, and the recent response of Democratic leaders to scandals in Virginia suggest, these certainly are uncommon political times we are living through. The public is not only increasingly polarized, but also increasingly isolated, as the number of counties close to the median voter has more than halved over the past two decades. And yet, to claim that our current political environment involves abnormally high stakes is to sanitize history.
I am by no means a space history buff. That said, I believe I know some very basic stuff: Alan Shepard was the first American into space, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men on the moon. Importantly, I know that none of those men died on their respective missions. Very basic stuff. So the fact that Hidden Figures had me on the edge of my seat wondering if John Glenn would survive re-entry into the atmosphere is a real testament to the film.
Human rights activists, including myself, agree that the government has no authority to decide what is censored on the internet because this is a constitutionally protected right of an individual. The government cannot decide what another person should be able to see and do on the internet, as this is a personal decision. The internet serves as a vehicle for expression and therefore, limitations other than for criminal activity should not exist. As stated by the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Steven Shapiro, “the government has no right to censor protected speech on the Internet, and it cannot reduce adults to hearing and seeing only speech that the government considers suitable for children”.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently reached a decision in Boumediene v. Bush that we will all come to regret. The Court ruled that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, and any enemy combatants that the U.S. captures, have the right to a habeas corpus appeal in U.S. civil courts. This decision has been praised as a victory for civil liberties and as a rebuke of the Bush administration’s handling of the war on terror.