Letters to the Editor

House slashes Planned Parenthood budget, risks services

Would you know where to go if you were pregnant and couldn’t afford the doctor’s office? What if your best friend is having an STD scare? For 3 million American women, the answer is Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood offers services including pregnancy tests, STD screenings, pap smears, breast exams and guidance on the difficult decision between adoption and abortion. They do this for low to no cost depending on one’s medical aid status. Essentially this place is a big deal for women’s health.

So why would anyone want to get rid of such a crucial establishment? Let us ask the House of Representatives which recently approved a budget that would cut all funding to Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Cutting funding to the PPFA would put its future at risk and could possibly shut down the organization for good.

Now it’s our turn to give back to an organization which has given so much to many communities. Senators in Washington must see how important Planned Parenthood is to the 3 million American women who depend on its services every single year. There are three ways we can help.

First is the good old-fashioned petition. You can go to ppaction.org to sign ‘An Open Letter to Congress.’ To take it a step further, you can go to any Planned Parenthood establishment or even just the website and make a donation to keep the organization alive if the bill passes. Lastly, and possibly the best way to help is to call Mike Pence,the congressman responsible for this bill. His office number is (202) 225-3021. You’ll most likely get connected to one of his aides, like I did. But do not let that stop you. Also, call your own Congressman.Tell them how you feel. Complain and make the politicians see that this is important. For once, make the government work for you, like it was intended.

-Shannon Melero

Moving beyond first impressions of SAPB concert’s J.Cole

Each year, the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) puts on a spring concert with featured musicians. Following suit for the 2011 spring concert, two musical talents, Sam Adams and J. Cole, were announced as the artists that will perform on Oswego’s campus. Controversy has since risen between students debating which artist should grace Oswego State with thier presence. Students voiced their opinions on the SAPB Facebook group, resulting in tension and a division between those in favor of Sam Adams and J.Cole and those in favor of Ke$ha. Many students that were unfamiliar with J.Cole automatically deemed him unworthy to perform on our campus, instead of keeping an open mind to a musical talent outside their comfort zone. As students on a diverse campus, we are all entitled to our own opinions but one particular opinion that caught the attention of many students including myself, was expressed in the Feb. 18 Oswegonian article, "Spring concert artist sends wrong message on bias crimes" by Jessica Bagdovitz. Her claims and accusations against rapper J. Cole were overreaching and extreme. Although I am not J.Cole’s biggest fan, I enjoy his music nonetheless.

Unfortunately, Bagdovitz’s stance was like a jet plane flying above. You can see it, but you don’t know where it is headed. Bagdovitz mentioned she voted for Ke$ha and will not compare the talent of J.Cole to that of Ke$ha. Is there really a comparison? The two musicians are of different genres. Ke$ha is a pop artist who sings with overt sexual tones glorifying partying, drinking and booty calls; which can be heard in the lyrics of her song, "Booty Call." Go figure. J.Cole is a rapper who bodies verses with his poetic lyricism that paints pictures of his coming of age. Comparisons covered.

If hate crimes have increased on Oswego State’s campus, then how is that any of J.Cole’s fault? Is he a puppeteer that controls the movements of how we students engage with one another? I get it. Not everyone is a hip-hop head and not everyone can understand the power of a lyrical genius, but it is one thing to not like a form of music or agree with the lyrics and messages- that is a personal choice; however, it is another thing to pass judgments on anyone, including a musical artist without any feasible arguments.

Bagdovitz ran with the idea that J.Cole puts down anyone trying to make an honest living. Is this despite the fact J.Cole attended college and graduated magna cum laude from St. John’s University? What happened to one of the number one rules of writing? Fact check.

If there is any doubt, J. Cole isn’t the one preventing diversification and bringing a negative message on campus. I think Ms. Bagdovitz did it all on her own.

-Kimberly Joseph

Loopholes in housing policy expose lack of incentives

Why do you pay $7,390 per school year for your room while I pay $2,360 for the same billing period? Because I moved off campus. My apartment is much larger than my dorm room and I’m much happier there. You’ve heard the complaints: "I hate my roommate’s music, but I’m afraid to tell her;" "The guys in the room down the hall are always yelling right in front of my door;" "I walked into the bathroom the other day and there was (insert unhygienic item here) everywhere;" or "My RA doesn’t do anything and I have Problems A, B, and C that he won’t help me with!"

The bottom line is that many students are dissatisfied with the housing policy. It’s not the custodians’ fault, they do their best, or even the RAs. The problem is that students have been unwittingly entered into a housing agreement that takes away all incentive for the powers that be to do their jobs well. Whether living on campus is miserable or wonderful, housing officers receive the exact same wages. In fact, the less people there are in the dorms, the easier their jobs become. Why should an RA go above and beyond to make sure his residents are satisfied? Why should the housing officers go above and beyond to make sure that on-campus housing is the best it can be? Their pay doesn’t depend on it and their jobs are mostly secure.

I do not expect that anyone else in their positions would perform any better. The problem does not rest in the individuals but in the policy. Students are forced into housing contracts that are over-priced, non-competitive and nearly impossible to get out of. ResLife has a captive audience (read: monopoly) and they have no need to improve upon their service.

The first problem is the difficulty in moving. Whether you want to move to a different room, a different dorm, or off-campus, the policies are designed to keep you right where you are. Dissatisfaction with the service that ResLife provides isn’t a good enough reason to move off campus, and this removes all motivation ResLife has for performing their duties well.

I would propose that students should be free to move on or off campus, or around the campus, simply by informing ResLife that they are doing so. I propose that an RA’s benefits are based on the number of students they are charged with.

As any economics major would tell you, incentives matter. I promise you would see a significant increase in the quality of RAs. If an RA does his job poorly, students could choose from other RAs in their dorm, or move to another dorm. Thus, poor RAs will eventually lose all their students and the best RAs will gain them.

Thirdly, I propose that housing officers wages be based on the number of students who choose to live on campus. Whether this means hiring more custodians or changing various policies to make the dorms a better place to live, housing officers would receive a direct benefit by improving the dorms.

Once all ResLife employees have the incentive to do a good job, I would propose a system of competitive dorm pricing. Why should I pay the same for a room in Funnelle Hall as a room in Oneida Hall? Why should a dorm on the top floor of Onondaga Hall cost the same as a room on the bottom floor of Hart Hall? Why should the room right next to the stairwell cost the same as the one next to the bathrooms? Why should a room with four people cost the same as one with two? Surely these locations have different values, so instead of making the prices all the same, they should be made competitive.

Since the values of dorm rooms are inherently different, those students in cheaper dorms are essentially subsidizing the rent for those in nicer dorms.

When applications for housing start, it should be decided by auction. Maybe Hart has prime real estate, but it’s bound to be more expensive than a room in Oneida which is farther away from everything else. Students can pick a room they want at the right price. Maybe they don’t need an Onondaga Lounge, but they’re willing to shell out the cash for a little luxury. Not only will this provide cheaper housing for those who need to pinch pennies, but it will provide valuable real-world experience for students who eventually will be in similar situations upon graduation.

In the article "Students find way around housing policies" from the Feb. 18 issue of The Oswegonian, Rick Kolenda, director of Residence Life and Housing, pointed out that students who move off campus have lower GPAs. Putting aside the obvious issues with ResLife assuming parental responsibility over students, how dysfunctional must housing policy be that despite the well-documented negative impact that moving off-campus has to GPAs, students still want to move off campus? How terrible must the dorms be that so many students are willing to sacrifice their grades, the convenience of being close to their classes and in some cases even break the rules?

Many students probably know some students that moved off campus. Ask them why they moved. I doubt you’ll find many who did so for the parties or for the fun. All those I know that moved off campus did so for financial reasons and because of dissatisfaction with the dorms. Most are victims of rude roommates, uncaring RAs and financial hardship, not scheming crooks looking to cheat the school.

Students who lie to move off campus are not the problem; they are merely a symptom of poor housing policy. Instead of checking students’ odometers and bus receipts to make sure they’re commuting from home, why doesn’t ResLife simply make the dorms a more palatable option? Instead of hunting down the students who want to leave, give the students a reason to stay.

-Timothy James