by Elizabeth Stalford
With so many foreign and domestic events going on in the world, it can be hard for students to keep up. Social media and news cover several types of current issues, ranging from gay marriage and gun control to North Korea and the Rutgers controversy.
However, after talking to students at Roberson, members of the Golden Fleece have discovered that despite all the information available, many students are still not informed.
“Personally, I’m not really up to date with any current news,” junior Evan White said. “I know which topics the news stations are talking about, but I can’t say I really know the facts. I doubt I’m the only one, though.”
According to World History teacher Brian Feid, it’s not just students who aren’t informed. He said that adults also suffer from not really understanding what’s going on in the nation and around the globe.
“In modern society, technology has made it so we are bombarded by 24-hour news stations and social media feeds,” Feid said. “I think that people have become somewhat desensitized to the news. It’s almost as if it becomes white noise since it’s constantly buzzing around, making it easy to miss something really significant.”
On gay marriage:
Gay marriage, a controversial topic, has been involved in political campaigns, speeches, and national polls. As of Nov. 7, 2012, it has been legalized in nine states and Washington D. C. However, 38 states have banned homosexual marriage through laws, amendments, or both, including North Carolina. As of Feb. 14, 2012, there are 10 countries that allow gay marriage.
“I think it’s great that so many countries have legalized it,” sophomore Ethan Ortiz said. “Since all of those countries have taken that step, it’s kind of surprising that the U.S. hasn’t followed their lead. I guess it’s just a difference in society and culture.”
Opponents argue that a small group is trying to change the traditional concept of marriage, which could weaken its definition. They also worry that same-sex marriage may lead to polygamous and other unnatural behaviors.
“I hear about the gay marriage debate on the news and through social media like Facebook, but I had no idea that DOMA even existed,” senior Nigel Lewis said. “It’s surprising that it’s such a hot topic, yet students don’t know more than the basics.”
Senior Thomas Ohmen said that although opinions on gay marriage divide the country, people should keep advocating what they believe.
“It’s interesting that even California, the state with the highest gay population, managed to get a ban on same-sex marriage,” Ohmen said. “The people who agree with it are really passionate about it, but clearly so are the people who oppose it because it’s made it all the way to the Supreme Court. I have no idea how this will turn out, but hopefully people will keep standing up for their beliefs.”
On gun control:
Another prominent topic in the nation is the issue of gun control. Both news and social media have been filled with debate, especially after the two recent massacres that occurred in 2012.
“The Colorado and Sandy Hook shootings shocked the whole nation,” junior Jesse Kovacs said. “They were both so tragic, but now they’ve sparked a chain of debate and events throughout the nation.”
One month after the Sandy Hook shooting, Obama signed 23 executive orders and proposed 12 Congressional actions regarding gun control. Currently, the debate is considered to be in a stalemate between the right to bear arms and the responsibility of the government to prevent crime.
“I feel like a lot of people talk about their opinion about gun control without actually being informed,” senior Tyler Gilbert said. “I feel like I’m pretty informed, and it would be nice if others were too so we could actually talk about these kinds of things.”
In 2009, the Congressional Research Service estimated that there were 310 million firearms in the U.S., not including military weapons. 114 million were handguns, 110 million were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns.
“I think it’s great that the government is trying to rally support to at least require background checks for gun owners and to outlaw expanded magazines and assault rifles. A lot of people believe assault weapons are unnecessary for protection,” Kovacs said.
On North Korea:
According to CNN.com, China has been informed that North Korea plans to conduct more nuclear tests this year. On April 8, North Korea said that it would pull workers out of the industrial complex it has with the South, a sign of worsening relations between the two.
“I really don’t know that much about the situation with North Korea,” junior Patrick Gilliam said. “I know that a lot of people are scared because they have bombs or missiles, but that’s about it. It seems really complicated. I just hope a huge war doesn’t break out.”
U.S. History teacher Robert Browning said that the issue pertaining to North Korea is an issue that everyone should be paying attention to, even if it’s just to understand the facts and details.
“They’re trying to gain control of the whole Korean Peninsula while blackmailing other countries into giving them aid. They’re using fear as a way to scare the American public. The more educated we are about this kind of stuff, the better,” he said.
On Dec. 13, 2012, Rutgers’ University head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was suspended without pay after athletic director Tim Pernetti found video footage from a practice. On April 2, ESPN showed video footage of Rice’s practices which led to outcries of anger. Even the New Jersey governor Chris Christie, denounced Rice’s behavior. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver demanded that Rice be fired, which occurred the next day on April 3.
Varsity basketball player and junior Luke McClanahan said that he was surprised to find out about what Rice had done to the players.
“Everyone has heard about the concept of tough love, but what he did was over the top,” McClanahan said.
As each of these issues take place in America, the public is left wondering what will happen next. Browning said he hopes that with all of the world events that are occurring now, that people will start to pay more attention.
“People need to realize that current issues not only affect today, but can also affect the future,” Browning said. “The debates today could lead to huge changes tomorrow. What happens now? Well, we’re watching history unfold almost every day.”