College campuses demand “sanctuary campus” in wake of Trump victory.

(Photo credit: Mel Evans/AP)

This is an interesting piece I found on Twitter that was shared by the American Associate of Professors that pertains to “sanctuary campuses.”

Remezcla reported that 28 colleges have vowed to offer “sanctuary campuses” to their undocumented students. Just like “sanctuary cities,” the similarly coined “sanctuary campuses,” are groups that functions to not cooperate with officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. BuzzFeed reported universities could risk losing federal funding if they refuse to cooperate with ICE officials.

What campuses are part of this group? Columbia University, Wesleyan University, Portland State University, Oregon State University, Reed College, and California State University (all 23 campuses).

I don’t know how possible it is for school officials and students to demand for the implementation of “sanctuary campuses” — and potentially risk funding — but I just thought it was interesting and nice to know that despite the risks that comes with this status, some members of the community are still willing to go above and beyond for minority groups. I am anticipating the backlash and reaction of this movement though, because of the demands made.

I also wonder if anything similar to that situation will appear here at the University of Iowa.


Amanpour: Journalists are suffering from an “existential crisis.”— I agree

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Link to video:

Iranian-British CNN journalist, Christine Amanpour was awarded the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award at the International Press Freedom Awards Dinner by the Committee to Protect Journalists on November 22. The award is given to individuals whose careers amount to “lifelong work to advance press freedom.” She went on to give a 15-minute-long acceptance speech that honored the Constitutional right to freedom of press and assembly and insisted that journalists fight to keep it intact.

This part of her speech was to me a very powerful message:

I learned a long, long time ago when I was covering the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, never to equate victim and oppressor, never to create a false moral or factual equivalence. Because then, if you do and particularly in situations like that, you are party and accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences. So I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth. We have to be prepared to fight especially hard right now for the truth.

I like when she said she is a believer of being truthful, not neutral, and also when she said we should stop “banalizing the the truth.” I agree. I believe journalists should report on the truth, no matter how awful the reality is because for example, how can reporters cover the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia “objectively” when what was done was obviously wrong? When there was evidence that many had died because of the heinous crimes committed?

Amampour also said journalists are suffering from an “existential crisis”, and a “threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession.” This is very alarming. In many non-democratic countries, even some democratic countries, journalists are not protected. And the fact that the president-elect has outwardly attacked journalists for doing their jobs is signalling changing times in the U.S.. A possible era where journalists no longer feel safe, relevant and useful. It also just goes to show how the powerful could misused their power.


The New York Times succeeds time and time again.


This is actually an old article on the New York Times. I think it was posted in September, but it’s still worth sharing because it’s not as timely. With all the hateful rhetoric being thrown at refugees, it’s nice to see an article that highlights the positives for a change. Two reporters from the NYT did an incredible job of creating this wonderful package of how a Canadian family is helping a Syrian family.

This article is actually a follow up to a previous article the Times wrote about the private sponsorship of refugees in Canada. I think one of the reasons why the Times thrives at what they are doing is because they are able to produce content such as these. The layout and the photos complement the writing so well.

As a subscriber of the Times, I think stories such as these are what’s worth every penny I’m paying for.

The art of war reporting

The video is an example of a piece war reporting by the Los Angeles Times.

I think war journalists are always trying to find new ways in reporting what’s going on in war zones that they are covering. The disruptions and disasters that occur sadly provides them with good content that can be used to craft emotion-inducing articles. I like this particular article because I think the writer does a good job of painting a picture of what’s unfolding in Iraq.

Below are a few excerpts from the article:

Each week, the graveyard on a barren brown hill swells. Every new dirt mound is more evidence Islamic State’s ruinous campaign in northwestern Iraq.

Stray dogs creep beside hundreds of slim Arabic headstones that stand cracked and broken, pummeled by the militants who considered them sacrilegious. A black plume of smoke fills the sky, rising from oil fields torched by the violent jihadi group to foil any new invaders.


“At the back of the cemetery, where even the broken headstones vanish, Owaisha Hamdan sits in the dust next to three graves.

The first is that of her son, killed last week by an Islamic State car bomb. The other two, covered with a pink teddy bear blanket, belonged to her newborn nephews. Just a few days old, the boys died in their mothers’ arms last week as they attempted to flee the toxic fumes belching from a sulfur plant attacked by Islamic State.”

If you read the paragraphs above, this technique of writing can only be achieved if the reporter was actually out there  on the front lines talking to families affected by war.

The point of my post is to not only highlight the good descriptive writing that the writer is able to execute, but also to convey how amazing it is to see that some reporters go the extra length to tell the stories of victims of war. As we’ve discussed in class throughout the semester, reporters are responsible of conveying the truth — a huge public service — and this kind of reporting is one of them. I think it’s important to tell stories of these people to raise awareness of what’s going on in war torn countries. But war reporting also brings up the question of ethics. I think it takes a lot to report and share stories of victims of war knowing that you might not be able to help them, and that you can go back after your work, but they are forced to stay there.

hate HATE !!!!!!!

The New York Times reported that The F.B.I. (Links to an external site.) reported Monday that attacks against American Muslims surged last year, driving an overall increase in hate crime against all groups.

The data (Links to an external site.), which is the most comprehensive look at hate crime nationwide, expanded on previous findings by researchers and outside monitors.

Attacks against Muslim Americans saw the biggest surge. There were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques and other hate crimes against Muslims last year, a jump of about 67 percent over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than 480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

It’s scary that it’s increasing. And I’m sure everyone knows that there have been several hate crimes committed towards Muslims after the elections. It’s scary how powerful racism is, and the damages it can cause.

Let’s end fake news


The New York Times  reported that Google said it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Hours later, Facebook, the social network, updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites.

Facebook has been at the epicenter of that debate,acused by some of swinging some voters in favor of President-elect Donald J. Trump through misleading and outright wrong stories that spread quickly via the social network. One such false story claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Mr. Trump.”

I do agree that fake news does pop up on FB, and I’ve seen a lot of that myself too. I think Facebook and google have to be responsible when it comes to filtering what is considered as “news” on their platforms. Obviously consumers must be critical and smart by not simply taking in everything they see, but I believe it is their responsibility to eliminate fake news, because it can be misleading.

Freedom of speech through my eyes


One of the greatest discoveries I made as an international student in the United States was getting to learn more about American Democracy, more specifically the First Amendment and how it allows the rightful exercise of freedom of speech. According to a recent article in the Guardian , a Malaysian cartoonist who is known for ridiculing the scandal-plagued prime minister and his family has been arrested for sedition. The Guardian reports that Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque – who goes by the pen name Zunar – was arrested in Penang state where he was participating in a literary festival.

According to Article 10 of the Constitution of Malaysia,  citizens of the country are guaranteed the right to freedom of speechfreedom of assembly and freedom of association.

However, according to the language of the Malaysian Constitution, “the rights can be restricted if it is deemed necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, friendly relations with other countries, public order or morality .” Restrictions are also designed to “protect the privileges of Parliament or of any Legislative Assembly or to provide against contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to any offence.”

I do not claim to be an expert on the Malaysian constitution, but I am aware as to why some people, such as Zunar, have been arrested.

Last week on Nov. 19, thousands gathered in certain designated parts around the city of Kuala Lumpur to take part in Bersih 5.0 — a democratic protest supported by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih). Supporters of the rally claim that the demonstration was held to urge for a new and cleaner electoral system in Malaysia. Many citizens who did take part in the rally and another movement that was against it, were arrested by local officials for “causing disruption.”

I have been privileged enough to get the chance to learn about a different country, and its own governmental system; and what stands out to me the most is the United States supreme law — the U.S. constitution— that not only guarantees the freedom of speech to its citizens, but many more other rights, that are fairly restricted in other countries.

In the Guardian article, Michael Vatikiotis, a writer at the festival, condemned Zunar’s arrest, saying that, “Levels of repression are reaching dangerous levels in Malaysia.

“The fact that Zunar’s arrest happened at the George Town Literary Festival, with dozens of international writers and artists, only underscores the government’s disregard for freedom of expression.”

It’s scary to think one could get arrested for merely criticizing the ruling government. According to a wikipedia post on political scientist Larry Diamond, a professor of Sociology and Political Science at Stanford University, democracy consists of four key elements:

(a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.

(b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.

(c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens.

(d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

The mere essence of a democracy allows the people to choose its governing party, and giving them the opportunity to actively participate in politics. So why is criticizing seen as a threat, rather than a means for improvement?

Political cartoonists are not the only people who have been under attack in Malaysia over the years, local journalists who strive to report on the truth, too, have been under scrutiny.

I’ve always been a firm believer that as journalists, our main job is to inform the public. It isn’t to please the government or to please certain sides of a story. Yes, journalists should always strive to stay balance and fair, but they must also be truthful, but how can they do that when they are impeded from exercising their own rights to perform their journalistic duty of informing the people?