Obama Acts on Immigration Unilaterally

December 3, 2014 6:00 PM


Washington D.C. is heating up with President Barack Obama’s announcement of his executive action on illegal immigration.  On Nov. 20, Obama outlined his plan to deal with the U.S.’s problematic immigration system.

According to boston.com Obama plans to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants via executive orders who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, formally register, pass a background check and are willing to pay taxes.

This list of qualifications will enable roughly five million immigrants to stay in the U.S.  It is believed that there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants here today.

Obama’s executive action also expands protection from deportation to those who came immigrated as children. This shifts the priority to the deportation of criminals first by adding judges to the border region, so immigrant cases are handled quickly.

Nothing about this action allows for the permission of citizenship, just the promise of not being deported.

Republicans are the biggest critics of this plan.  Some feel Obama has overstepped his authority.  However, past presidents’ actions might suggest otherwise.

Visiting assistant professor of politics Gayle Alberda sheds light on different presidents’ executive action history.

“Obama has issued fewer executive orders than most presidents,” Alberda said. “Obama utilizes this power less than his predecessors.  Obama is not the only president to issue an executive order on immigration. Reagan and Bush Senior both issued them as well, and, in doing so, deferred the deportation of roughly 1.6 million undocumented immigrations collectively.”

Recently, the Republicans have withheld from voting on immigration reform.  In reaction Republicans have a pair of options. Come up with an alternative immigration system, or punish the president for overstepping his boundaries.

This could involve another government shutdown or impeachment threats.  Democrats, on the other hand, are looking forward to future elections hoping there will now be a stronger bond between the Hispanic population and the Democratic Party.

Aside from Obama crossing lines Republicans believe he shouldn’t have, there may be several flaws within his plan itself. Immigrants who meet the qualifications and are granted a work permit only get that guarantee for three years.

“The deferrals are, in theory ,renewable, but the executive order does not establish a pathway to citizenship,” said associate professor of sociology Michael Haedicke.

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr told the Washing Times, “An abrupt temporary executive action ultimately does more harm than good in fixing our broken immigration system.”

It appears the president may know this already.  Obama called for Congress to step up and work on some legislation.

“Pass a bill,” Obama said in his speech. “I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution.”

“Congress failed to act,” Alberda said. “He is going to act. If Congress opts to act, then that will be the policy.”

This latest D.C. situation could have an effect on Drake students. Associate Provost and Professor of Politics Arthur Sanders and Haedicke gave some insight.

“The executive order also expands the deferral program for young people who arrived in the U.S. as children,” Haedicke said. “This expansion will directly affect some students by providing protection from deportation. Students whose parents are living in the country without documentation will also experience greater family security as a result of the President’s action, provided that their parents meet the eligibility criteria.”

Still, in comparison to the U.S.’s population the percentage of people who fit that bill is small.

However, college institutions may be affected by this plan.

“This order also might make it easier for some college-age immigrants to apply to college, but it is not likely that very many would end up at Drake,” Sanders said.

Students React: Ferguson Decision

2:00 PM


On Aug. 9, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. Differing accounts of what occurred that night circulated, and a grand jury was called to decide whether or not to indict Wilson for the shooting.

On Nov. 24, the grand jury decided there would be no indictment.

There has been unrest throughout the country following the announcement, and Drake students have expressed their concern.

“I don’t think anybody that has been following the situation in Ferguson is terribly surprised,” said Josh Mascharka, a junior rhetoric and the study of culture and society double major. “It sort of just exemplifies how we have a failed legal system. You have dozens of witnesses that watch a cop shoot an unarmed black kid, and the legal system refuses to even indict, when actually getting an indictment happens in almost every single case.”

Mascharka’s disbelief continued over the lack of indictment.

“You have to have barely any evidence to indict somebody,” Mascharka said. “It’s just, ‘is there enough evidence to take this to trial?’ Considering the amount of evidence there was, there’s no way that they don’t have enough evidence to go to trial. It’s sort of absurd.”


Other people wish to continue the conversation around Drake.

“I’ve had lots of conversations with students about what’s going on in Ferguson, mostly with students who are multi-racial or black,” said Tony Tyler, Director of Olmsted Center Operations. “We talked about what’s going on and justice in America and its interaction with people of color. I think everyone  — whether white, black, Latino, multi-racial, whatever — can be thinking of issues of race in America and justice, and how far we have and haven’t progressed.”

Mascharka traveled to Ferguson to protest, he was arrested in Ferguson for disturbing the peace by  the Saint Louis County Police Department. Mascharka also started a march on Drake’s campus after the announcement.

“That night, we got together about 15 people and marched through Drake’s campus and down University (Ave.) through the street to about 24 street and then we came back,” Mascharka said. “But other than that, Drake hasn’t done anything. The purpose of the march was mostly to get out frustration, but also to stand in solidarity with other communities that were having marches that same night.”

To Mascharka, it is important that Drake illustrates its involvement.

“(We marched) to show that there’s at least a small contingent at Drake that stands against systemic abuse of power,” Mascharka said.

Becca Cohen is a sophomore marketing and finance double major. She is from St. Louis, which is the county Ferguson is located in.

“Ferguson has definitely affected just the atmosphere of St. Louis,” Cohen said. “I think it’s definitely bringing light to the issues of race and how racial issues still exist today. I think it’s bringing light to the amount of power police officers have and providing different sides to the argument.”

Mascharka encourages students to express concern and take action.

“I think that becoming more involved doesn’t necessarily mean that you go to Ferguson or anything like that,” Mascharka said. “It means that you start a similar thing in your own city that stands against police violence and stands against systemic abuse of power and racism.”

Puppies and Drake D+ Improv Coming to Dead Day

2:00 PM


Laughter and puppies will be the key to de-stressing on this year’s dead day.

Both the Dog Days of Finals, sponsored by Drake Student Senate and the Puppy Jake Foundation and an improv show, performed by Drake’s D+ Improv Team, will provide a break from the strain of the approaching finals week.

Dead day is this Friday, where no mandatory meetings, classes or labs take place to allow students to have a full day devoted to preparation for finals’ week.

“We really want to be that stress-reliever,” said Jasen Emamian, president of the D+ Improv team.

D+ became an official organization through Student Senate last year. As a result, performances have increased from a total of four last year to an estimated 10 by the end of this year.

“In the past, it’s been just theater students involved and in the audience, but it’s now expanding,” Emamian said. “We had four non-major participants last year, and we have four again this year.”

In preparation for their anticipated dead day performance, Emamian said the team has doubled its rehearsals, created promo videos, which he released periodically throughout this week on Facebook and designed posters and flyers to hang around campus.

“We are hopeful for a very successful show,” Emamian said. “We really just want to make people laugh.”

The D+ improv performance will be Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Pomerantz Stage in the Olmsted Center. Entrance fee is $2.

Another anticipated event for dead day is  the Dog Days of Finals.

Ben Verhasselt, Senate’s services committee chair, is responsible for planning this year’s furry event.

“With this event, you can get your canine fix,” Verhasselt said.

The Dog Days of Finals was created by former Sen. Josh Schoenblatt two years ago after seeing research from similar programs at other universities.

Results indicated a decrease in stress among students.

Schoenblatt is proud of this event and its reception campus-wide.

“Students love it,” Schoenblatt said. “Everyone looks forward to it.”

The borrowed dogs for the program come from the Puppy Jake Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to raising and training service dogs for veterans.

“We have five dogs confirmed from the Puppy Jake Foundation,” Verhasselt said. “I think there will also be two puppies coming to campus.”

Verhasselt believes this program is beneficial to both the students and the puppies.

“The puppies need proper socialization and to get used to a lot of people and a lot of chaos,” Verhasselt said. “So students who are handling their own chaos can come relax and play with some puppies.”

The Dog Days of Finals is free  with the only stipulation being to sign a waiver.

“It’s just to make sure you don’t steal the dogs or have allergies or anything like that,” Verhasselt said.

Students can play with the puppies with no designated time limit, but Verhasselt trusts students to stick to an honor system.

“Students need to respect the puppies and the other students and not spend the whole three hours with one dog.”

This event will also take place at Pomerantz Stage from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pi Kappa Alpha Under Investigation

6:00 AM


On the weekend of Nov. 21 Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) held a Thanksgiving themed party that created controversy around campus.

Last Tuesday Drake President David Maxwell sent an email explaining that Drake holds firm to the University’s “Statement of Principles.”

This reaffirmation came after Maxwell received notice regarding PIKE’s party. This party had a theme that was open to interpretation said PIKE’s president, Clint Cowan.

“Our party theme was Thanksgiving and from there, some members in the house dressed up and others did not,” Cowan said. “I was actually sober at the event, and from what I saw, two females showed up in Native American outfits, and we did not by any means condone this or tell anyone to show up dressed in a certain way. It was an open option to dress up if you wanted to.”

However, there is speculation that an insinuated theme of Pilgrims and Indians existed and that women were encouraged to wear risqué costumes.

Hannah Bruneman, a junior magazines major, believes the incident was out of PIKE’s hands, unless they had encouraged students to act in such a way.

“I don’t think it’s the fraternity’s fault,” Bruneman said. “I think they just threw a party. That is, unless the fraternity said come dressed as a slutty Indian.”

The fraternity is currently under investigation, which will wrap up before the end of fall semester. Due to this, Kerry Jordan, director of Greek life, declined an interview, but released the following statement via email.

“Because this event is still being investigated by the University it is not appropriate for me to comment on this situation,” Jordan said. “As a community we respect all people and do not condone any situation that would make any person feel offended or disrespected in any way.”

Todd Evans, a electronic media professor, also heard about the controversially themed party.

“The term I heard was ‘sexy American Indian,’” Evans said. “And that’s what caused me to kind of go, ‘Hmm, what is going here? I thought we had gotten past that.’”

The controversial nature of the event caused Drake students, staff and faculty to question what actually occurred.

“You know, did this really happen, because that is what I’m hearing,” Evans said. “It doesn’t seem very progressive.”

Other students agree on the importance of being culturally aware.

“I think we need to be more sensitive about what we are wearing,” Bruneman said. “That topic comes up a lot especially around Halloween,” Bruneman said. “They need to be more sensitive and conscious about picking an outfit. It’s something as a Drake community we need to become more aware of.”

Adam Graves, vice president of health and safety for the Gamma Tau chapter of Theta Chi, understands this issue as fraternities face challenges with their party themes.

“I wouldn’t blame the holder of the event,” Graves said. “But they have some responsibility of the theme. I would be more conscious of your event and its theme.”

Cowan said PIKE holds firm that its actions did not directly impact the costume decisions of the individuals.

“In no way was this party meant to hurt anybody,” Cowan said. “It never had any malicious intent. It was a misunderstanding of what the theme was, Thanksgiving, and the costume choices were up to the individuals.”


Senate Welcomes National Leadership Representative

November 19, 2014 6:00 PM


Last week, Student Senate welcomed the Executive Director of the National Campus Leadership Council, Andy MacCracken.

The purpose of the National Campus Leadership Council is to bring together student body presidents and other student leaders to tackle issues prevalent on college campuses. The Council focuses on three major areas: college affordability, mental health and sexual assault.

Currently, the Council is helping to launch the national “It’s on Us” campaign to spread awareness about sexual assault.

“It’s On Us” is creating a unique collaboration between companies like NASCAR, GQ magazine and MTV to create cultural change.  There is a greater focus on men becoming more involved in initiatives about sexual assault.

Student body president, Joey Gale, is one such man involved.

“We definitely need your help,” MacCracken said.  “We’re working a lot with Joey on these issues, but we definitely hope that this something that you all can pick up.  We definitely can’t do it alone.”

Students can expect different efforts and initiatives the Senate will create to raise awareness such as the upcoming National Week of Action.

MacCracken reminded the Senate that raising awareness can help college affordability, mental health and sexual assault issues.

“It’s awareness and cultural issues we need to tackle,” MacCracken said.

In other news, Senate confirmed the approval of the Student College of Clinical Pharmacy.

This organization will act as a student chapter of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.  Different than other pharmaceutical organizations, SCCP focuses on the clinical pharmacy realm, or the science- based practice of pharmacy.

Currently, no other groups on campus are specified in this area.  Fifth-year pharmacy student and president of SCCP, Mike Buege, represented the organization at the Senate meeting.

“This niche in pharmacy does not currently have representation at Drake,” Buege said. “It’s sort of been lumped in with other organizations.”

SCCP will meet a need on campus, because a large number of Drake pharmacy students intend to pursue clinical pharmacy. Through SCCP, students will have access to more information and career opportunities within this field.

“What we’re doing to benefit pharmacy students here, as well as other students, is essentially familiarizing students with research and clinical practice processes,” Buege said.

SCCP currently has 45 members, which makes it the fourth-largest pharmacy organization on campus.

The organization has plans for future events and opportunities, such as a potential visit from the former president of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.  Membership is open to all students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Aside from involvement with the National Campus Leadership Council and the Student College of Clinical Pharmacy, Senate is still working through its goals.

“We are now at 16 goals out of the Senate 60 completed,” Gale said.

As most students know, the Senate 60 is a list of 60 goals, ideas, projects and initiatives that Senate is planning to accomplish this year. Only 44 more goals to go.

PRSSA to Host Conference

6:00 AM


Drake University will host one of 10 regional conferences for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) this spring.

The conference will give students a chance to hear speakers from a variety of companies and participate in a crisis simulation, where they must work as if they were a company in an emergency.

“We wanted our theme to be more than this ambiguous thing that sounds really cool but isn’t really well implemented,” said Kelly Tafoya, a co-coordinator for the conference and leader of the speaker committee. “We wanted it to literally be what you’re going to come out with. You’re going to come out with a true understanding of how to be adaptable in PR, which is crucial.”

The conference’s theme is “Expect the Unexpected.” While the programming of the conference will be unique, the planning board had other goals.

“Our theme is ‘Expect the Unexpected’ because we want to showcase how great Des Moines is,” said Taylor Rookaird, co-coordinator. “Usually people think Iowa means cornfields and cows, and Des Moines is so great and does not get the respect it deserves. We want to entice them to come to Des Moines and learn about how great it is — kind of the diamond in the rough that we have here — while also learning about innovative brands and learning about how those brands are successful.”

Tafoya agreed.

“None of the people that submitted the bid for the conference were from Iowa,” Tafoya said. “I think that’s what made us stand out a bit. We love this state. We love this town. We want to give some of that back, and give Des Moines some of the reputation that it deserves.”

Currently, the board is working to utilize the diverse Drake PR Alumni network to reach individuals at unique companies like Girl Scouts of America, Starbucks and Crocs

While public relations students are excited for the conference, this is a landmark for Drake as a whole.

“This is a huge event for Drake, just because it’s the first time we’ve ever done something of this magnitude,” Rookaird said. “I don’t think a lot of people understand what a big deal this is for our campus.”

“We are such a small school,” Tafoya said. “When I look at some of the other schools that have millions of dollars of journalism facilities and have crazy resources available to them, I realize that we still beat them. We’re CEPR-certified. We have a PRSSA chapter that is really large considering the size of our PR program. We have amazing leadership amongst faculty and students that makes us stand out. I feel like sometimes we are overlooked as a journalism school and as a PR program, and I think that this is our time to shine.”