Editorial: Core concerns over new curriculum

This semester marks the implementation of the University’s new Core curriculum — a much touted part of their five-year strategic plan, Momentum 2022. The change in curriculum moves away from the previously required Core of two history classes, two philosophy classes, two religion classes. Instead, incoming students are required to take courses in accordance with the La Salle’s Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) and a first-year academic seminar. These ILOs are skill-oriented and, according to the University, their purpose is to guide students to four commitments by the time they graduate: Broader Identity, Expanded Literacies, Effective Expression, and Active Responsibility. All 12 ILOs are connected to one or more of these commitments through various means. Students are still required to take two English courses, scientific and quantitative reasoning courses and a religion course, in addition to fulfilling the requirements set forth through the ILOs.
While the implementation of a new Core may allow for more flexibility in students’ interests, it appears as though this is the latest step in the University straying from its liberal arts foundation. The Collegian believes that the change in curriculum, in conjunction with program prioritization that has plagued the University over the past few years, is detracting from a true liberal arts education that provides students with invaluable critical thinking, reading, writing and other soft skills that are necessary in almost every field.
The newest generation of La Salle students will be able to side-step an education that fosters the liberal arts by opting out of crucial classes, such as history and philosophy, which serve as a foundation for various upper level courses across multiple disciplines both through the skills they teach and the content they supply. While students could still take these classes, freshmen students may not find such academic classes as appealing, despite the integral role they could play in their education. In addition to developing critical thinking and writing skills, courses such as these typically cover content that serves as the basis for other concepts, such as Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto,” Machiavelli’s “The Prince” or Augustine’s “Confessions.” Students, through their own uniformed choices, may miss out on gaining essential background knowledge from the content of these courses – content they will need to perform well in courses they take later in their collegiate career.
The new Core does provide opportunities for students to take courses in financial literacy, technological competency and other useful skills guided by ILOs that will prepare students for life after La Salle by focusing on demonstrable skills. This changed curriculum also provides the opportunity for freshman to explore different fields they may not have considered previously. The new Core requires students to take fewer classes than before — though the number of classes needed to graduate is the same. This creates more space in students’ schedules to take on a double major or minor in addition to their primary area of study. The interest-driven nature of the Core provides opportunities for students to discover areas of study they would not otherwise have considered before. The University is also owed credit in their implementation of the Core, which they have poured resources into in order to make the inherently complex transition easier for faculty.
While the Collegian does commend the University for their efforts in easing into the new Core, we are also wary of the danger it poses to the essential liberal arts skills that define the education this institution provides and can allow students, through their own choices, to prioritize skills over content that is essential to a college education. It is too soon to tell what direction students will take when selecting their Core classes, but there is the possibility of La Salle straying from the liberal arts in favor of “skill” based courses due to the updated curriculum.

Letters, guest columns and opinion pieces will be considered for publication provided that they meet with the editorial standards of The Collegian and fit the allotted space. All letters must be signed. They can be submitted to nardob1@student.lasalle.edu or abbateb2@student.lasalle.edu. The Collegian reserves the right to condense or edit submissions. Weekly editorials reflect the views of the editorial staff and are not representative of the university or necessarily the views of the rest of the Collegian’s staff. Columns and cartoons reflect the views of the respective writers and artists.

Celebrities do not owe you anything, so stop touching them

Brianna Nardo | Editor

In the new age of social media it is easier than ever to connect with your favorite actors, musicians and celebrities. It is easy to feel like you know them personally when you watch their Instagram stories and read their tweets every day — especially since a lot of younger celebrities are in charge of their own social media instead of a media team. The truth is, you do not personally know any of these celebrities. It is not okay to go up to a stranger and hug them without permission, it is not okay to follow them around, or to wait outside their hotel room. It is not okay to take pictures without permission when they clearly want to be left alone.
The mindset that “celebrities sign up for this” when they become famous is absurd. A nine month pregnant Hilary Duff posted a video on September 22 on her Instagram of her politely asking a man to stop following her around. Duff stated he had stalked her the whole morning, even going as far as to go to her son’s soccer game, then sitting in her sister’s driveway to try and get a few photographs. You can hear her practically begging for him to leave her alone. Despite the amount of stress she was under, Duff still remained polite. “You have been following me around all morning. Please just leave me alone for the day, it is the weekend sir.” She was sick with the flu and nine months pregnant. You can hear the man angrily responding back saying, “I have wasted my whole morning and I haven’t gotten any photos,” as if Duff should have just posed for the photos and made it easier for him.
The caption under the video adds “this is every day of every month and it’s simply not ok. If a non ‘celeb’(I’m sorry to use that word) was dealing with this the law would be involved.”
These kinds of stories emerge all the time. A young girl tweeted that she had an unpleasant experience with the cast of “Riverdale” and that they were “disgusting and rude.” This caught the eye of one of the main actors, Lili Reinhart. She claimed that the girl ran up and hugged them without warning.
Reinhart’s tweets read: “You do not have the right to approach STRANGERS and throw your arms around us like you know us. What you did was not cool and inappropriate. Cole’s response to you was ‘do I know you?’ after you rudely invaded our space and got in our faces.” In the past, Reinhart has been very open about her anxiety and depression that makes the social side of being a ‘celebrity’ difficult.
Celebrities do not owe you anything. The only thing they sign up for is to show up to their job on time, remember lines and promote their projects. They do not sign up to be stalked, harassed, groped and belittled. They are people, not novelties or souvenirs. Some celebrities have expressed that they do not mind a fan politely coming up and asking for a photo, but they find unwanted physical contact or stalking to be uncomfortable.
The cast of the Netflix show “Stranger Things” had an issue where grown adults were waiting outside their hotel for them. Actor Finn Wolfhard walked by them in and only greeted them with a simple “Hi.” An angry fan took to Twitter with the video saying “Imagine being 14 and heartless that you can’t even stop for your fans who made you famous in the first place! WOW.” Wolfhard is still a child and his work is exhausting. Having a group of adults waiting for you outside your hotel must be intimidating and it is inappropriate.
It can be even worse for actors playing villainous characters. Lena Heady, who plays Cersei Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” has stated that people have approached her and spit on her because of how they feel about the character she plays.
It should not be a difficult concept to grasp that it is inappropriate to approach another human being and try to force physical contact. Most of the perpetrators are grown adults, not young children who do not know better.
Celebrities get burnt-out and they deserve the same amount of privacy and rest as any other “normal person.” You are not entitled to a photo, a hug or their time.

Christopher Columbus was not the only problematic historical figure

William M. Gries | Editor

This past Monday, Columbus Day was observed, if not celebrated, in the United States. It has become vogue, recently, to reject Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day or a Day of Native Resistance. As mainstream culture in the United States has become — albeit slowly and often half-heartedly — more inclusive of minority cultures, the irony of a country that purports “liberty and justice for all” celebrating a man who was, at best, hostile to Native Americans he encountered in the New World, has become strikingly clear. However, to simply dismiss the holiday and the man behind it in favor of a new, culturally sensitive, recognition of Native Americans is well intentioned but unhelpful — in short, it is too easy and relieves Americans, under the guise of multiculturalism, from looking back at our often spotted history with a much needed critical eye.
Following World War II, British and American occupiers forced the citizens of Germany to watch newly filmed documentaries about the recently liberated concentration camps in an effort to, in one historian’s words (Doris l. Bergen), “effect some kind of separation between ‘Nazis,’ who needed to be punished and ‘Germans,’ who could be integrated into a peaceable world.” It was brutal footage and, while it is likely that many Germans were aware of the concentration camps and their proceeding, it was the first time that they had been forced to confront the known secret to which they had been complicit. The American public could stand, at certain points in their history, to have this type of forced confrontation with their own past.
Some historians and anthropologists postulate that one of the first and largest genocides was that of the native people of the Americas. Though it did not have the racial or geopolitical baggage that the term genocide carries today, following Columbus’ landing in 1492, and the arrival of other European explorers, nearly 95 percent of the population of the Americas, or about 20 million people, were wiped out. For comparison, about six million died in the Holocaust and between 50 and 80 million died in the second World War as a whole. Truly, then, this was a mortal event of massive proportions. The most direct culprit was no one man or country—it was biology. The indigenous people of the Americas had no immunities to European disease such as smallpox. In many cases, disease wiped out or crippled indigenous cultures before Europeans even came into contact with them.
Cristoforo Colombo was still not a partially kind man to the indigenous people he met in America. On his first voyage to the New World, which he regarded as the eastern coast of India — not a new continent — until the day he died, he took many native peoples captive and mused in his journals that they would be a very easy people to subdue, enslave and Christianize.
However, the destruction of Native American societies was not carried out by this man alone and if he is to be villainized, others must be also. Thomas Jefferson advocated for Native American removal, and Andrew Jackson, with his Trail of Tears, carried it out. Before and after the Civil War and under various presidents and generals, the United States Army staged a series of Indian wars that gradually killed or relocated numerous Native Americans to make way for the ever-expanding homesteaders of the 1800s. It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, in 1937, declared the locally celebrated Columbus Day a federal holiday as a way of appeasing and celebrating Italian immigrants. Even the capital of this country, Washington, District of Columbia, bears the mark of the American peoples’ obsession with Columbus.
There are innumerable connections and causes between these historical actors, their actions and Christopher Columbus — far more than can be gone into in this short article. Yet, it is for this very reason that simply removing Columbus Day from the calendar is unhelpful. The history of America is pockmarked with events that go contrary to its founding ideals: “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
However, as the country strives towards these ideals, put forth by Jefferson, one of the very men who most wronged against them, it is essential that we look back at our past with open eyes and a recognition that it contains much wrong to see. Columbus was an Italian explorer hired by the Spanish crown to find a western trade route to the far east. While pursuing this end, he committed numerous crimes against the native people of North America, but he was just one man sailing among a sea of other likeminded individuals. His erasure from popular history does not address the underlying problem.
It is right and just that Native Americans receive more attention and historical thought than they have in the past, and the notion that Europeans “discovered” a continent that was home to millions of people before 1492 must be eradicated. However, these goals should not be reached by simply forgetting past atrocities and those that helped commit them. Though in 2018, we are much further removed from the bulk of the crimes than were Germans in 1945, perhaps America could benefit from the same sort of forced reflection on those crimes — crimes that resulted in real and material benefits to many at the cost of enormous Native American suffering — even down in present day.

Romanticizing politicians hurts critical thought

Bianca Abbate | Editor

Pictures of Joe Biden with ice cream. Selfies with Cory Booker. Memes about Donald Trump. In the age of social media, we have to wonder about how the image of our politicians is changing and how that inherently affects our perceptions of them. Our meme-ification of these figures can humanize these individuals and there are inherent positives and negatives to that point. On one hand, it paints the image of the politician as the “common man” — a person who is not above ice cream fixations or sporting red baseball caps. However, more importantly (and more dicey), it encourages people to romanticize and even fetishize certain politicians.
Romanticizing politicians is categorically dangerous to this country’s problems with hyper partisanship. Former Vice President Joe Biden is a great example of this dilemma. After visually consuming countless pictures of Biden double fisting ice cream cones, the world’s left-leaning youth adopted Biden as their collective “Uncle Joe.” Uncle Joe can do no wrong; a fan of one of the nation’s favorite sweet treats, Biden remains a wholesome political figure with his beloved online fans. That being said, when Biden’s hands aren’t filled with ice cream, they can be found uncomfortably groping women. As it turns out, Biden can be the creepy uncle — sad, but true. No teenager wants to believe that this is the real “Uncle Joe.” They want to believe in the narrative that social media has set forth — that Joe Biden is a wholesome man with values and morals.
The same can be said for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Booker is absolutely adored by the politically active youth. He has amassed quite a following on social media and, like many other politicians, is quick to document his good deeds on these platforms, such as taking underprivileged kids to see the then newly released film, “Black Panther.” What is not to love about this seemingly progressive and well meaning politician? I would argue that there are many things. Booker has had his fair share of controversy and political scandals. At the end of the day, though, Booker is a celebrity. I am a native New Jerseyan myself, and there’s a social media phenomenon I like to call “The Cory Booker Selfie.” To take a selfie with this beloved politician is a rite of passage for every politically active New Jersey teen. As we take these selfies, let us remember that this is the same man who voted against lowering prescription drug prices and that we might as well caption the photo “#BigPharma.”
The point of these examples is not to vilify every politician for every decision they do or do not make; rather, these examples point to the dangers of romanticizing politicians. We are not only contributing to the country’s hyper partisanship, but also we are inhibiting ourselves from thinking critically. We should be able to support politicians without canonizing them. If you support Donald Trump, can you truly say that you agree with every single position he has put forth? Can you say that you have no criticisms of him whatsoever?
This country allows us the freedom of individual thought. When we carelessly equate these online personas of politicians with their actual ideologies and policy positions, we make the mistake of forgoing that liberty. I urge you to challenge yourself not to be a cog in the ice cream machine.

Elon Musk is like a superhero

Radley Faulknor | Staff

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, it was revealed that Elon Musk, CEO and co-founder of Tesla, would be stepping down as chairman of the company, a deal he reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As I thought about his predicament, I was able to draw a comparison between him and Tony Stark, a Marvel superhero with a similar disposition and financial status, and one of my favorites. Both Stark and Musk share the characteristics of elevated intelligence and technological savviness — Stark with his suit of iron armor and Musk with his electric cars. Above all, they possess supreme confidence, believing to be invincible.
Influenced by their bravado, they often make reckless decisions, a recent example being a recent tweet from August, in which Musk stated, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” That tweet cost him his position as chairman of Tesla and $20 million, as he was forced to pay back investors for fraudulence. Despite Musk’s foolish decisions, there is also an altruistic side of him — much like Tony Stark, that many admire. Musk, when he wants to be, can be a superhero of sorts. Most recently, he donated $480,000 to the aid the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, displaying a caring side. Musk’s bravado and intelligence is what has helped him build Tesla to its current level of success. However, these qualities have also been to his detriment, as they have led to his downfall. Tony Stark-like Elon Musk may appear invincible, but he does have a weakness, and, if not corrected in the future, it may cost him much more than $20 million.

Editorial: Safety alert timing is alarming

Editorial Staff

Last Monday, a Central High School student was shot at about 8:15 a.m. at the intersection of Olney and Ogontz as she walked to class from the Olney Transportation Center. It is a walk that many faculty, staff and students know quite well from their daily commute; in fact, many students must utilize this exact route travelling to necessary internships, student teaching placements or nursing clinicals. Surrounding schools — Central High school, Girls’ High School and Widener Memorial School — were put under lock-down.
This sort of incident is not remarkable for the area. Although many parts of campus are quite idyllic, the University is split between the 14 and 15 most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia. On January 23, a 19-year-old man was fatally shot directly outside the Olney Transportation center at 12:30 in the morning. Although their were no fatalities, this Central student, which could have easily been a La Salle student, was severely wounded.
To recognize that there is a problem with violent crime in the area around the University is not intended to cause fear but instead to better prepare for it. Both the University and the City of Philadelphia take great steps in protecting against and responding to these incidents so that there is a minimum amount of risk born by all.
The University, for instance, attempts to send out alerts to the student body in a timely fashion when such an incidents occur. However, while these alerts are intended to keep students and faculty away from potentially dangerous situations, they often are delayed, minimizing their impact. To use the shooting incident last Monday as an example, La Salle did not release a safety alert regarding the situation until about 9:45 a.m. — almost an hour and a half after the initial shooting occurred.
While it is always important that students, faculty and staff are informed about a potentially dangerous situation, the incident on Monday — and the delay in its publication as an alert — is particularly worrying since the shooting occurred at a time of increased foot traffic in this area by University students, due to the overlap with class start times. In short, due to a lack of effective information distribution, many students could have potentially walked into a uncontrolled and still developing situation.
The blame for this apparent delay, however, does not fall entirely on La Salle Public Safety or the alert system. The University, like individuals, must wait for information to be released from police officials before they can distribute it to students and faculty. In fact, Assistant Vice President for Public Safety Amanda Guthorn alleged that she heard of the shooting when “someone sent me a link to a news story … we didn’t get a call from the Philadelphia police so as soon as we found out we started our process of doing the alerts.” Granted the University cannot report what it does not know, it is highly unlikely that the department was completely unaware of a dangerous situation near campus, even if all of the details were not fully substantiated.
Moreover, this incident is especially troubling as a shuttle, which is manned by Public Safety personnel and passes each stop nearly every 15 minutes, would have passed through this intersection within minutes of the incident. If Public Safety was not informed of a major disruption tangential to campus, then there is either a breakdown of communication or a failure in protocol on the department’s end.
The University is reportedly subject to a longer process in the publication of its alerts than one may expect. These alerts must be cleared by multiple departments before being sent out for the sake of accuracy and clarity — which although inherently good, as misinformation may only lead to greater confusion and worry, does not strike the correct balance with safety. The University, for example, could send out alerts in two waves: the first providing a very basic “use caution in this area” message as soon as informed and the second providing other important details once substantiated.
Although issues lie in communication between La Salle, the Philadelphia police and the surrounding schools, the University is still responsible for awareness of events happening around the perimeter of La Salle. Public Safety and the University at large work hard in creating a safe environment; however, further steps can always be taken, as illustrated by last Monday’s incident which put students in potential danger.

Art imitating real life: where is the line?

Brianna Nardo | Editor

Season 20 of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” aired Wed. Sept 26. It tackled the topics of toxic masculinity and school shootings in a two part episode that started with a 15 year old boy’s inability to shoot a rabbit while hunting with his father and brother. The son later becomes the victim of a brutal sexual assault at the hands of his own father, the purpose of which is to “make him a man.” The son, Sam Conway, refuses to tell anyone that his father was his assailant still the father gets arrested and it goes to trial. The first episode ends with the father being found not guilty. The second hour begins with the son taking a gun to school and killing two of his classmates in order to prove that he was capable of being a man.
In the past year, a television mini-series remake of the 1988 film “Heathers” was set to be released. Paramount announced that they would not be airing the show after the epidemic of school shootings in America, and they thought releasing the show would be disrespectful. There is no word if the show will air in the future.
Shows like “Law and Order: SVU”, “Saturday Night Live” and “Criminal Minds” often have episodes and segments surrounding whatever is going on in the world. “Law and Order” has done episodes with plots similar to the events of the Brock Turner trial, a storyline similar to Chris Brown’s abuse scandal, and had a plot similar to the Slenderman murders. So, why is it okay for these shows to imitate real life events, but it was unacceptable to premier the “Heathers” remake? Where is the line?
Well, firstly, the “Heathers” mini-series had audiences against it from the first promo by casting minorities as the the titular Heathers — making them the bullies. It also seemed to lack any of the charm or charisma of the original film or of “Heathers: The Musical” — an off-Broadway musical based on the film. “Law and Order” has always dealt with serious matters with respect – telling the story as objectively and with as much dignity as they could.
They told the story of the weight that the victim’s father placed on him to be a man. Men do not cry, men play sports and men hunt. Men are angry and aggressive and they never talk about their feelings.They provide an explanation for why Conway did what he did, without excusing him. He still sees justice for his crimes and they make it clear that his own abuse was not an excuse for his actions.
“Heathers” is a dark comedy, dealing with issues of bullying, self-harm/suicide and murder through humor. Which is fine, using humor as a coping mechaism is common. “SNL” also deals with some darker topics through sketches and jokes.
However, it seems the creators of the “Heathers” mini-series seemed the lack the ability to tell the proper jokes with a dark topic. A secret to good comedy is timing, and the “Heathers” miniseries did not have proper timing.
Art will always imitate life, but it is important that it is done in a proper way. It is important that we tell these stories, but effort must be put into how they are told. Where shows like “Law and Order” care about the stories they are telling, the “Heathers” reboot just seemed like they wanted to make a quick buck off of the cult-classic film and that is the difference.

Schools need to do better in protectcing kids from cyberbullying

Rissa Delpuerto | Staff

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other in our everyday lives. In a few seconds, a message can be typed out and sent that cannot be taken back. With this kind of technology at our disposal, we can readily access any information we might need in the blink of an eye. We can communicate with people all over the world, and share any ideas or opinions we might have. However, this instantanious form of communication can also cause problems. One specific problem that has grown in prominence is the epidemic of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is the use of electronics to bully or harass another person. Anyone can send an anonymous message meant to hurt another person. In recent years, studies have shown that an increasing number of adolescents face cyberbullying on social media, where many people have the chance to see the message and can respond to it with a simple click. According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Cyberbullying has become the common online risk for all teens and is a peer-to-peer risk”. According to a study by BullyingStatistics.org, in partnership with the i-SAFE foundation, “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying.” One of the worst aspects of cyberbullying is that it follows you home. If a child is being bullied at school, they can escape it when the school day ends or they can change schools. With social media, a threathening post can be made at anytime of the day. Most kids refuse to delete their social media because they want to know what is being said about them.
While schools have attempted to address the issue, students are still being harassed online. Students who are cyberbullied are encouraged to tell a trusted friend or adult; however, they rarely disclose to anyone what is going on. Adolescents who are being bullied do not speak up in fear of retaliation. If they tell a parent or teacher, the bully could come back with a vengence out of revenge for being told on.
Schools attempt to solve the issue of cyberbullying by banning electronics during school hours and by holding anti-bullying assemblys. Still, the problem persists. There is only so much control a school can have over their students when they are sent home for the day and laws are progessing too slowly to keep up with ever changing technology. This often means that the bully is let go with a slap on the wrist and they are free to continue to harass their victim. Teachers will let acts of bullying slide because they do not want to get involved. The advice given to victims is to just ignore bullying; they will get bored and go away. Both the school systems and the law have to do better in protecting children from all acts of bullying, including cyberbullying. Bullying no longer looks like the jock shoving another kid into a locker and demanding lunch money. It is sneaky, anonymous posts online. It is harsh words and rumors being spread. The isolation could cause young teenagers to end their own lives. Bullying is now more emotional, than physical.
As social media and technology continue to evolve, it is important that as human beings we remember to be careful what we say to others online. It is important that parents, friends and staff stay vigilant and take notice if a child is suddenly becoming withdrawn. It is important we teach children that their actions have consequences. Too many people will turn the other cheek even when witnessing a child showing the symptoms of being the victim of cyberbullying.
For more information on cyberbullying, visit Stopbullying.gov

The benefits and setbacks of taxation

Bianca Abbate: Taxation is a societal investment

When a man is mugged, he is left penniless and demoralized. When he is taxed by the federal government, he is left with a public education system, national security and his grandmother has monthly retirement benefits. I would hope for the latter. The argument that taxation is theft is simply a false analogy.
The United States’ tax system is severely flawed — that I do not contest. It is true that regressive tax laws often disproportionately affect lower economic classes. In fact, the government’s major tax legislation, passed last December, by the succinct name of “Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018,” typifies this inequity. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, this legislation essentially furthers income inequality by increasing the post-tax income of the top one percent by 2.9 percent, approximately three times greater than the gain of the bottom 60 percent. This injustice cannot be solved by destroying all traces of taxation. Rather, the solution is to increase taxes on the rich individuals in this country who will continue to acquire wealth without the implementation of real tax reform.
One could further argue that the nation’s federal tax dollars are severely misappropriated. In the fiscal year of 2016, the federal government spent 16 percent of its budget on defense and international security assistance while spending 2 percent on education, speaking to the country’s quintessential values. However, eliminating taxes as a solution to misappropriation is a non sequitur.
Every country has national needs. The eradication or even severe reduction of tax collection denies the government any agency to act for its citizens on these needs. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln imposed the nation’s first federal income tax to fund the Civil War effort. Without this initiative, it is hard to imagine how American society might look today.
However, real tax reform is possible, results not in theft but in equity and extension of essential government programs. A progressive tax system would enable the government to function while addressing the country’s wealth inequality. Greatly taxing the nation’s richest individuals and corporations serves the purposes of enabling the government (whose systems have allowed them to succeed financially) to do its job and address the growing income inequality.
Taxation is not theft. It’s a civil investment, in which there is a return. It is easy to give up on a workout routine before realizing you will gain strength. It is easy to give up on dating without realizing you might meet your soulmate 20 years down the line. Though less romantic, the same applies to taxes. Certainly, it is easy to wonder where one’s tax dollars are going or to become frustrated with the immediate financial pressures without evaluating the end result of taxation. Despite its problems, taxation is necessary and, when progressive, a just institution of our society. A world without taxes may be a Libertarian dream, but, to me, a societal nightmare.

Jake Garwood: Taxation is theft
Libertarians are an incredibly intellectually diverse group of individuals, despite the fact we aren’t often portrayed as such. In fact, the flagship Libertarian publication, Reason Magazine, even ran a debate issue in September in which prominent Libertarians debated on the issues that commonly divide members of our party. But one thing upon which all Libertarians can agree is the fact that taxation is theft.
First, we should dispel some misconceptions about this belief. Most people who identify as Libertarians are not anarchists but rather minarchists. Government should serve to defend the rights and liberties of its citizens from any type of infringement. Even a government aimed toward that limited goal likely would need some tax income to run and to defend its citizens. So at one level, taxes are a necessary evil. But the key word there is evil — taxation is evil.
Taxation is theft on a practical level. The government mandates that its citizens pay taxes. It maintains a vast police force to help enforce all of its laws but especially its tax laws. If a citizen decides not to pay their taxes, men in uniform will show up to their house, break down the door and haul them off to jail at gunpoint. That is literally theft by threat of force. There is no moral difference between a mugger coming up to you, pointing a gun at you and taking your wallet and the government threatening to haul you off in handcuffs if you don’t pay taxes. The only difference between these two scenarios is the fact that the government has made it entirely legal for them to harass, threaten and arrest anyone who fails to comply.
When confronted with this argument, Libertarians are often told that taxes are simply the price we pay to live in a civilized world. That argument would be fine if there was a legitimate alternative for anyone who did not wish to participate in a civilized world. The fact is that the average person lacks the agency to pick up their roots and move to a tax-free country, such as the Bahamas. Yes, the Bahamas is such a safe-haven as it imposes no income tax to its residents. Many people are not even able to change states, to receive some relief, by moving to a wonderful place like Delaware, which has no sales tax. Perhaps it would be an option for some if they burned their Social Security card and headed up into the mountains to live off the grid, but it’s a sad day indeed if that is the only option one has to escape the tyranny of taxes.
Taxes come in many sizes, shapes and forms but they are all theft, no matter how noble the intention. Take the Philadelphia Soda Tax, implemented by La Salle alumnus Jim Kenney. It was implemented with the goal of raising funding for the Philadelphia Public Schools, one of the most underperforming and underfunded districts in the nation. The problem is that the tax is what one might call a regressive tax. Regressive taxes impose a higher burden upon lower economic classes. Income tax tends to be progressive in the sense that it places a higher burden on the upper economic classes. A flat tax proportionately affects everyone equally. A soda tax undeniably affects lower economic classes more than the upper classes, as people of lower economic brackets are more likely to purchase and consume sodas, as opposed to wine and sherry. Even such a noble tax as the Soda Tax is wrong because it imposes a greater economic burden on those that it seeks to help.
A number of nonprofit institutions in America are given tax exempt status because they serve the common good, or are not geared towards turning a profit. Among institutions and individuals that typically receive partial or complete tax exempt status are universities, churches, and farmers. All individuals should be tax exempt, because in a perfect, fair and moral world, there would be no taxes. For those who remain unconvinced, let’s analyze a little anecdote that supports the claim that taxation is evil. The Church of Satan made the following tweet: “we qualify but reject tax exempt status, proudly pay our taxes and challenge other churches to do the same.” So in the words of Being Libertarian, a Libertarian meme page on Facebook, paying taxes is literally Satanic.

Save the library’s endangered desktop computers

Bianca Abbate | Editor
First floor renovations in the Connelly Library are nearing. Accompanying these renovations are uncertainty and confusion about the state of an essential student resource: the library’s desktop computers. There is a rumor that these renovations will result in the removal of these computers. La Salle will be making a grave mistake if it chooses to take this step — one that will hurt the students, the library and the community. I urge the administration, as it reaches a decision for renovations, to carefully consider the negative consequences of this potential plan and to make the just decision.
It is my understanding that the motivation for the ridding of the desktop computers is rooted in the assumptions that a) most students have laptops, b) students only use the desktop computers for printing purposes and c) these students can simply use their own laptops with wireless printing to achieve the only possible use of library computers. Firstly, it is ironic that a school with a history of educating students who do not have readily disposable income makes the assumption that there is no need for desktop computers because most students have laptops. Even if it is true that most students have laptops, it is also true that there will always be students and library goers who do not. This plan would inevitably result in the tyranny of the majority. I find it extremely prudent to evaluate also the needs of La Salle’s less privileged students. One of the University’s core values is service rooted in solidarity and justice. According to this core value, “the Lasallian educational vision renews its call for us to stand with those impoverished and marginalized [and] to identify inequity and exclusion created by society.” Keeping the desktop computers, even if only the minority of La Salle students are in need of them, is a way of promoting equity in compliance with this core value.
Furthermore, while it is true that students often use desktop computers to print assignments, they also use the computers for doing research and writing essays. I myself have been in situations where I use both my laptop and a desktop computer to work on an assignment. To make a monumental decision about one of the University’s fundamental student resources with such unsubstantiated claims is dangerous and, frankly, detrimental to its students.
One of the proposed plans to remove the desktop computers, while recognizing that not every student has a laptop, is to create a laptop lending system. I have good faith that this plan will fail miserably. I understand the potential reasoning behind this plan — allowing students the agency to move about the library while creating more collaborative, open spaces. However, many challenges will exist with imposing such a program. First, no matter how greatly the University advertises its laptop lending services, many students and people who have access to the library will not know about it. I believe this to be inevitable. The library, in a sense, already has a technological lending system in that one can check out a cell phone charger at the front desk. At face value, this program would be practical, assuming most students have been in the situation of having a dead phone while on campus. However, many students do not know that this program exists despite the signage in the library. Therefore, it is not widely used, though it serves a practical purpose. Secondly, the implementation of a laptop lending system over desktop computers adds another step to this process, which is problematic for two reasons: first, because it adds another step to what might be a time sensitive pursuit and, secondly, because it reduces one’s sense of self-sufficiency. To the first point, some students use desktop computers in the library to print out an assignment just before class. If what once required a simple log-in on a computer soon requires the added elements of going to the front desk to check out a laptop, signing in to that laptop, and returning that laptop upon completion, students will not be thrilled with this transition. To the latter point, students who currently use desktop computers use them at their own discretion and their own time — no questions asked. This new system would eliminate the element of self-sufficiency by requiring external assistance, potentially making the student feel like a burden. Furthermore, I have reason to believe that a laptop lending service could potentially be a liability for the University. If implemented, will each laptop be checked after use?
I believe that the University should not only keep desktop computers but increase the number of computers available in the library, placing some also on the second and third floors. It is not uncommon, especially during exam periods, to see the desktop computers in the library at full capacity. Often, students even have to wait to use a computer. This is clearly a problem. Students rely on having these computers to work on projects and print assignments. Therefore, every student should have access to a computer when needed for a school purpose.
Currently, the library is running a student technology survey to discern student opinion on the issue. I urge all students to voice their concern by filling out that survey at the information desk in the library, and I urge the University to consider this data in its decision. We must save the endangered desktop computers for the library, the students and the community at large. We owe it to them.