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Let’s talk about autism for just a moment. What does it look like? What does it sound like? Is it that fidgety guy with his hands glued to his thighs who won’t make eye contact or speak out loud, that socially inept know-it-all with poor hygiene who wanders around babbling obscure facts about elevators and talking to himself, or perhaps your favorite famous mathematician? They all supposedly have it. But what is autism, really, as distinguished from, say, Asperger Syndrome?

In May 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ Fifth Edition (DSM-V) poked at that question and, objectively, improved its definition and process on the matter. However, despite its improved clarity and efficiency in the new guidelines, I believe the new DSM has overlooked something important, and that its new rules may cause more harm than good. They certainly have for me.

Autism is classified in diagnostic criteria as a spectrum, containing myriad points of strength and weakness —  high and low functioning in terms of social capacity. Each person wears it a little differently, allowing it a wide array of diverse manifestations, from boiler-plate nonverbal learning disability, hypersensitivity and limited interests to photographic memory, advanced verbal skills, total recall and other talents.

I’m on the high functioning end of the spectrum — one of the bold souls who never shuts up rather than never speaks, who can almost pass for neurotypical eccentric on a good day and who opts for persona and theatrics over a historically less successful quiet authenticity. It used to be that we were placed under another label called Asperger Syndrome, which while technically on the autistic spectrum, has retained a sort of separate status.

To have full-blown autism was huge, while to have played-down Asperger was, at worst, annoying. When trying to get through the day in a maddeningly inconsistent world of the neurotypical and the judgmental, I prefer the latter label. I have become accustomed to the fact that the “Aspie,” as a select few of us are known to refer to ourselves, is a wholly separate sense of identity altogether from the autistic, and I have enjoyed that separate status, albeit completely arbitrarily. While “autistic” feels like a sentence, “Aspie” is a loose-fitting designation shared by intellectuals of all schools. It is specialness, individuality and authenticity. It can be made to mean whatever you want it to mean in its reappropriation by the individual.

Like many self-styled “Aspies,” I am known to enjoy a sense of order, symmetry and at times a minimalist efficiency. For this reason, I should have been happy when the DSM-V appropriated the admittedly clunky and redundant Asperger Syndrome label in favor of a simpler, more streamlined Autism Spectrum without unnecessary offshoots and satellites.  But I was not. I was initially unconcerned about the change, in that the vernacular was not likely to catch up to it for some time, but 16 months have passed. I’ve found that, as time has passed and the technically more accurate nomenclature has slowly seeped into our culture through politically correct individuals and films such as “Mozart and the Whale,” it has fundamentally changed the way I view myself and even the way I function.

Simply stated, the terminology is inherently inflammatory. Ironically, the DSM-V has made a classic Asperger mistake in doing the logical thing but still being wrong for a lack of accounting for the human factor; I have learned the hard way that this is a damning sort of error in that people, on or off the spectrum, are known to be of an irrational, emotional and reactionary lot. I certainly am.

It’s difficult to explain, in that the phenomena are entirely subjective and inherently unquantifiable, but when I wake up in the morning and think of myself as an “Aspie,” I feel kind of awesome. I have a super-brain that lets me read, write and draw above standard operating parameters. My quirks and eccentricities are loveable and adorable, and in terms of specific trivia, in my interests, I am the undisputed king of my own little hill. I feel capable, intelligent and embracing of who I am. I’m sort of a rock star.

Contrast that to when I wake up in the morning and think of myself as a high-functioning autistic.  Even though I have no reason to do so, I feel differently. I feel dulled and oddly like a broken toy. I go through my day in a stupor, slowly forgetting what I can and can’t do and instead doing what the textbook autistic “should” and “shouldn’t” do. I can’t make eye contact — never mind that I’ve been working on that one for a long time, and I’m actually getting quite good at it. I won’t initiate conversation — never mind that I’m wearing my power tie and I should be able to do it just fine. I must be rigid and overly literal in all matters, even though I’ve come a long way on this point in recent years.

Without the admittedly redundant “Aspie” island to make my own I find myself untethered and lost in the spectral sea, moving only with the waves and without volition. Do not save progress. Do not level up. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Do fit a profile. Do become a statistic. Do learn helplessness.

I suppose what I’m really trying to say is that self-image and self-assessment are important, and that I’m probably not the only one who feels a bit lost under this new use of this larger umbrella term. Perhaps the worst thing of all is that as I have changed the way I see myself, I have not only failed to champion the neurodiverse, but in a way I have turned on them, making a bogeyman of non-qualified autism with stereotype and stigma rather than fact and experience. That’s a mutiny in the ranks. I pride myself on my open-mindedness and ability to see multiple perspectives, but if I’ve lost my objectivity, then I wonder if the problem is only in myself or if the stimulus is also at fault.

So if not out of logic, I appeal to the DSM-V out of, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, emotion and ineffable human error. So please, do as so many of your autistic spectrum patients do every day and ask yourself if you’d rather be happy or be right, and then do as the successful ones do and allow yourself to be a little illogical to preserve the peace. I don’t know why it always comes down to that, but it does, for you and me both. I didn’t claw my way up through social purgatory and past the imprecise, overstimulating and unequally obvious just to end up at the same place where I started. I’m bringing “Aspie” back, and you should, too.​

–By Sam Ready

 

In an effort to manage safety hazards and underage drinking so common in Emory’s fraternities, the University has begun a campaign to reinforce a number of the housing regulations that have typically been ignored in fraternity and sorority residences. The most notable of these regulations is a ban on “activities (e.g. drinking games) and paraphernalia (i.e. funnels, beer pong tables and ice slides) that promote the rapid and unsafe consumption of alcohol” and drinking in common areas of the house outside of registered parties. To better enforce these policies, the University has instated a system of walkthroughs in fraternity and sorority lodges. Last year, these walkthroughs were conducted on the more popular party nights of the week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – but the walkthroughs are now being conducted every night of the week between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

As in the past, drinking in the common area of a Greek residence is prohibited for people of any age, except on the occasion of a party that has been registered with the University. Previous regulations dictated that partygoers could bring up to six beers to a party, which would be given in to a “beer check staffed by two substance-free initiated active chapter members.” People of legal age could obtain a wristband for beer by providing proper identification and swiping their Emory Card at the door. Greek organizations were also required to create and enforce a guest list for each party. This year, every student attending a registered party will be required to swipe their Emory Card before entering, enabling the host organization to create an after-the-fact “guest list” of who attended the party. There is no restriction on who may enter a party, a rule that the University believes fits better with its image of the Emory community. Partygoers who wish to drink will still be required to verify their age.

​In recent years, the University has had an obvious focus on bringing stronger regulations to Greek Life parties and social events, especially in the light of recent hazing scandals and reports of sexual assaults near fraternity houses. Some angry members of Greek Life might accuse the University of an encroachment on the personal freedoms of their community spaces and a general Scrooge-like attitude of fun-hating, but the true purpose of these policies, and the University’s renewed effort to reinforce them, is to reduce instances where sexual assaults, hazing and dangerous underage drinking can happen Greek residences. Emory has a responsibility to regulate its campus, especially when incidences of all three issues have become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. However, members of Emory’s Greek community, especially fraternities, have expressed dissatisfaction with the University’s new walkthrough policy – indeed, with many of the University’s regulations – as they feel it violates their sense of ownership towards their fraternity houses.

The problem with this attitude is that no fraternity owns its house. In fact, the University owns all the fraternity houses, and residents are required to sign a contract agreeing to the University’s housing policies. In return, residents live in beautiful houses with the other members of their organization. Fraternity houses are, by this logic, no more than glorified residence halls, and Greek Life members choose to live in those houses — and under the University’s policies — instead of living off-campus. Accordingly, we at the Wheel believe that it is fair and reasonable for the University to expect Greek Life residents to play by its rules and to take the measures necessary to enforce these rules. Greek Life does not acquire exemption from the rules of other residence halls just from its status as a community-oriented house, and the University does not owe Greek Life these privileges — especially as it mainly functions as a social organization on this campus.

However, we do not believe that Emory’s policy of walkthroughs – be they every night or only on weekends – is an effective deterrent to unregistered partying and underage drinking. Undocumented festivities continue in spite of the walkthroughs and students continue to require emergency medical attention as a result of excessive drug and alcohol consumption. Instead, the walkthroughs have been seen as an affront to fraternities’ ability to regulate their own houses and even Greek Life in general, prompting them to find loopholes in, or even deliberately ignore, the University’s policies.

As a further negative consequence of Emory’s redoubled enforcement efforts, we believe an increasing number of parties will be held at off-campus residences, where residents are not required to abide by University rules and where, to a much greater extent than in fraternity houses, anything goes. In some cases, transferring Emory’s social life off-campus may be even more dangerous for underage drinking and may increase the likelihood of drunk driving.

We interpret the relationship between the Emory administration and the Greek community as one between a parent and its child. The child is granted certain privileges but, in return, the parent requires that the child follow certain rules and behave in a certain way. Greek Life wants the ability to regulate and provide its own security but has demonstrated (as evidenced by alcohol-related emergencies on campus ​and sexual assaults in fraternities) that it is incapable of doing so. Simply put, Emory fraternities have not proved themselves worthy of the University’s trust and should not be entitled to freedom from walkthroughs.

Ultimately, we believe that the walkthroughs are a just attempt by the University to regulate what it perceives as a safety concern, but we at the Wheel believe that further cooperation and understanding between the University and the Greek community can resolve this issue to the satisfaction of both parties. The University should make greater efforts to connect with fraternities and sororities so that Greek Life feels its perspectives are being validated. However, Greek organizations must understand that the privileges they enjoy come with certain expectations, and that they cannot be granted the responsibility of self-rule until these expectations have been met and its culture has been changed into one that is safer for all. We believe that, by working together, Emory and its Greek community can achieve the kind of security the University requires while still having all the fun that Greeks desire.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

 

Until recently, the “no means no” policy, which states that​ in order to be legally culpable for not obtaining sexual consent, the partner must explicitly say “no” or imply “no” through actions and resistance, has been the national standard of consent for sexual relations on college campuses. The recent passage of Senate Bill 967 in California, however, is causing a national conversation on the definition, and the redefinition, of sexual consent.

Senate Bill 967, or the “Yes Means Yes” bill, requires all California college campuses that receive state funds for financial assistance to adopt certain sexual assault policies and protocols that include an “affirmative consent standard.” The bill defines “affirmative consent” as “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” and states that the “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”

California is the first state to respond in this manner to the White House’s Task Force initiatives to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

We at The Emory Wheel applaud this bill as a good first step towards college sexual assault prevention, especially as it creates a legislative precedent that other governing bodies can follow. However, we believe that there also needs to be a change in American cultural attitudes towards sexual interaction in order to change an alarming pattern of sexual assault cases across the nation. Legislative action may be helpful in pushing for a more open-minded approach towards sexual assault cases, but a more expansive cultural change is needed to see more productive results.

Critics of this California bill believe that it oversteps state boundaries by micromanaging sexual encounters. However, we believe the government has a duty to protect citizens who experience crime — and sexual assault is certainly a crime. The California bill aims at a more proactive formulation of the language of consent. We at the Wheel think that reforming sexual language and language of consent can be one of many factors that produce cultural change, and that protecting people from sexual assault should be valued more highly than the bill’s overstepping into personal encounters.

Although California is the first state to create a statewide initiative to change the language of consent, many universities, including Emory, have already begun to develop similar standards on a smaller scale.

Emory University defines consent in its Codes of Conduct in a similar way to the “yes means yes” law: Sexual consent is “clear, unambiguous and voluntary agreement between participants to engage in specific sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive, and is given by clear actions or words. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity or lack of active resistance alone. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Being intoxicated does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent. In some situations, an individual may be deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activity because of circumstances or the behavior of another, or due to their age.”

We at the Wheel applaud Emory for defining consent in the vein of the California bill. We acknowledge that Emory is developing thoughtful initiatives to create campus-wide awareness of sexual assault, sexual assault prevention and guidelines for sexual interactions. Creating Emory, an Orientation program that began with the Class of 2017, includes a session on sexual assault.

This session has been further developed to provide extensive attention towards sexual assault prevention and awareness of proper responses for incidents of sexual assault. We believe that Creating Emory, along with Sexual Assault Peer Advocates (SAPA) that trained over 400 students in the first week of school and the Respect Program, is putting Emory on the right track to properly prevent incidents of sexual assault.

We hope Emory continues its awareness initiatives, but we at the Wheel believe that Emory needs to provide more transparency around the consequences of sexual misconduct and assault. The lack of clear or possible repercussions for sexual misconduct raises the question of how Emory’s policy on sexual misconduct is being enforced. We believe clearer consequences for sexual misconduct can act as a deterrent for those who would commit sexual assault and may increase Emory’s progress towards being a safer campus.

We applaud Emory for the ​attention and progress it has made regarding sexual assault prevention and acknowledge that we have a long way to go. We appreciate the work of the former director of the Respect Program Lauren Bernstein (LB), who played a big role in beginning the dialogue on sexual assault. We hope that Emory continues to progress and makes consequences of sexual misconduct clearer.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

Over this past weekend, dozens of nude photographs of an estimated 100 celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst, among others, were leaked to the anonymous online message boards Reddit and 4chan. We at The Emory Wheel strongly condemn such behavior and recognize hacking and leaking private photos for what it is: an orchestrated violation of individuals’ privacy. We believe such theft is encouraged by society’s commodification of sexuality, particularly women’s sexuality, in which individuals are objectified and open to a system of public transaction and viewing. Additionally, we find this particular case of exploitation a manifestation of a culture that does not value consent, or frankly, a society that is complicit with treating human beings as objects.

The leaked photographs were originally believed to be obtained as a result of hackers breaching Apple’s iCloud system. On Tuesday, Apple released a media advisory rejecting these claims, stating that the hackers gained access to the photographs by hacking into the technology systems of those particular victims. Apple concluded the report by advising users “to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification” to protect against such an attack on their private property.

While we acknowledge the importance of taking the necessary steps to ensure one’s online property is protected, we believe that the grave issue at hand is not only the act of violating privacy but also the act of exploiting human bodies. Individuals should not have to focus on creating complex passwords and enabling two-step verifications to protect their private property. Instead, society should fundamentally alter its attitudes towards sexuality and privacy, which in turn would substantially reduce the individual and public desire for such photographs.

Contemporary society functions such that the commodification of sexuality and sexual acts is both an expected and acceptable behavior. Individuals may feel motivated to hack and leak the private photos of others because they are aware that society may reward them for their behavior – whether the rewards are financial with excessive payments to be earned, or whether they are social with large likes to be gained.

Every individual in society is subject to commodification, but the way in which women tend to be objectified more frequently and more severely in comparison to men illustrates the power inequalities of sexual dynamics. As a society, we are unsurprised by the fact that the focus of the leaked nude photographs are on women. We are not surprised because we have unfortunately grown accustomed to such commonplace treatment towards women. Similar to how Sofia Vergara was placed on a pedestal for viewers to observe her during the 2014 Emmy Awards, the hacking and leaking of private property reinforces how women are subject to objectification by society on a daily basis through a variety of mediums​, from advertisements that solely feature a woman’s leg or other disembodied parts to the sometimes vile things our Emory community members may say on Yik Yak as well as unacceptable themes of some college parties, such as those held by Greek organizations. Many studies have shown that cultural objectification can lead to serious consequences, including a study that correlated objectification in relationships to increased instances of sexual coercion.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed on Monday that it “is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter.” This situation is not merely being treated as another leaked nude photograph scandal, but rather is viewed as a criminal act in which there will be repercussions. These acts should be viewed as sex crimes, reinforcing the urgency of the situation existing in our society, where commodification and objectification are ever so prevalent.

We at the Wheel encourage all individuals to continue working to change a culture that over-objectifies and to ensure that the commodification of sexuality and sexual acts is vigorously condemned and subject to consequences.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

Headlines this summer were filled with disaster: extremism of all kinds in the Middle East, a humanitarian crisis at our southern border and violence on our own streets. But at the start of a new school year, it’s important to remember that not all is wrong in the world. In fact, students are returning this fall to a prestigious university that has enjoyed a number of successes while classes were out.

One of these victories was a bright light in otherwise bleak news coverage of the developing Ebola virus crisis. Emory University Hospital made headlines for its successful treatment of two American aid workers, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who were infected with Ebola while working in Liberia. They began treatment at the hospital at the start of this month and were discharged on August 21, having made full recoveries. Although Brantly and Writebol were not “cured,” per se, their release represents a significant step forward in understanding the Ebola virus and how to stop its spread.

In athletics news, Emory Athletic Director Tim Downes was named Under Armour Division III Athletic Director of the Year in June 2014. The award spans seven divisions of collegiate athletics and is eligible to all athletic directors in the U.S., Canada and Mexico who are members of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Criteria include “service as an [Athletic Director] for a minimum of five academic years” and “the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments.”

Additionally, this month, Emory University was included in the Campus Pride Index’s “Top 50 List of LGBT-Friendly Colleges & Universities.” Emory received an overall score of five out of five stars and also ranked five stars in six out of eight criteria, including the areas of student life, campus safety and institutional commitment. The ranking is well-deserved recognition for the University’s Office of LGBT Life and serves to emphasize that Emory is an institution where tolerance and acceptance of others is highly valued and remains a top priority.

Furthermore, Emory recently added two talented and well-qualified individuals to important administrative positions — who also increase the representation of women and the black community in its administration. In May, the University appointed two new deans: Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life the Rev. Bridgette Young Ross and Dean of the Goizueta Business School Erika Hayes James. Dean James’ appointment marks the first time that a black woman is leading one of the nation’s top 25 MBA programs.

In conjunction with its efforts to promote racial and sexual tolerance and acceptance, Emory has revamped its efforts to prevent sexual violence on campus. For the first time this year, all orientation leaders have been Sexual Assault Peer Advocate (SAPA) trained as part of their Residence Life and Orientation training in conjunction with Creating Emory, an initiative to promote dialogue around tolerance, sexual assault and diversity.

We at the Wheel are excited by Emory’s tremendous successes and are proud to attend a university that works so hard to foster a community of acceptance and accomplishment. Although there is still a long way to go before social inequalities have been addressed on all fronts, we are pleased to know that Emory is a leader in this fight. To that end, we encourage incoming and returning students alike to take advantage of the countless opportunities at Emory, not only to succeed individually, but to positively impact the community.

Emory is a community driven by zealous inquiry, and it is our privilege to study at a university that works tirelessly to foster such an atmosphere. We encourage students to pursue curiosity and to let their passions shine, especially using the amazing resources found in Emory’s libraries, which saw a great deal of renovation and improvement this summer. The Pitts Theology Library was completed, and the work began on the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) on the 10th floor of Woodruff Library. These and other libraries at Emory are home to an impressive and constantly expanding collection of research materials on a variety of subjects. Additionally, they are staffed by passionate faculty who are eager to work with students willing to take the leap.

At the start of a new school year, we urge students to take the leap to be intellectually engaged. General Education Requirements (GERs) are an excellent opportunity for students to take classes outside of their specific major or minor area of study and to expand the horizons of their knowledge. More importantly – and we really cannot say this enough – take advantage of every opportunity afforded by this incredible university. The world may at times be seen as a daunting and perhaps dark place, but, at Emory, we are guided by our passions and desires for knowledge.

Beyond the Emory campus, we wish to draw students’ attention to Atlanta itself. The city is the cultural center of the southeast and is a truly international city that fuses the southern texture of life to a rich cosmopolitan spirit. More traditional cultural institutions — the Woodruff Arts Center, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Carter Library — exist alongside vibrant centers of ‘alternative’ culture, such as Little Five Points and East Atlanta. Furthermore, Atlanta houses numerous enclaves of art, culture, dining and entertainment that reward the dedicated urban explorer.

To new Emory students, the Wheel would like to welcome you home. To returning Emory students, we welcome you back. We are looking forward to another year!

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

Editorial Board WB

This past Wednesday, Emory College released the last of five strategic reports which discussed plans for establishing new initiatives announced in tandem with the September 2012 department changes. These “new directions” included focuses on Digital Studies and New Media, China Studies and Neuroscience.

The most recent report on Digital Studies and New Media discussed Emory’s Journalism program, which will close at the end of this semester due to the September 2012 department changes. The report suggests that the College retain many of its journalism courses given their emphasis on new media. The report mentioned discussions about incorporating such courses into the Film and Media Studies department.

Unfortunately, because this report was released four months past the expected deadline, it was not published in time to provide “timely advice” to College Dean Robin Forman, as the report itself mentions. Consequently, the decisions about journalism courses for next year have been “random” and “disconnected,” eliminating many of the courses that the committee recommended to keep. The report states the committee chair met with Forman last summer to inform him of the recommendations that the report would make.

We at the Wheel understand the necessity of a long-term focus for the University; it is important that Emory plans initiatives that will take decades to implement in order to create thoughtful and eminent academics. However, as students that are often only at the University for four years, we will be unable to experience the full impact of initiatives like Digital Studies or China Studies. Instead, we feel acutely the dearth of the departments and programs that will be officially ending this semester, which include the Journalism program and the Visual Arts department.

We believe that the presence of the Journalism program that will remain after this semester is insufficient for a well-rounded new media or digital studies education. Additionally, while we appreciate the continued presence and emphasis of visual arts on campus with the new Integrated Visual Arts Co-Major announced by Emory’s Center for Creativity and Arts (CCA), this presence is a shadow of what the Visual Arts department offered. We do not believe that the reinstitution of these programs is feasible, but we hope that the University will infuse the remains of these disciplines with more strength and power.

We regret the lost vigor of these disciplines that we will feel during the remainder of our time at Emory, but we have hope that the University will develop the new initiatives to serve its community in the years to come.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

Editorial Board WB

Almost 75 percent of college student respondents in a 2011 National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) study of students diagnosed with mental health issues said they experienced a mental health crisis while in school. Yet the stigma surrounding mental health issues is one of the biggest barriers to accessing mental health care.

Emory offers a vast number of resources, including the Emory Counseling Center, the Student Helpline, which can be reached at 404-727-4357 and is active seven days a week from 8:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., and websites on the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) page, such as “Emory Cares 4 U,” which lists numerous resources to learn more about mental illnesses as well as necessary phone numbers to utilize in times of immediate crisis.

Despite the availability of these resources, many students with mental illnesses are still reluctant to seek help. We believe that this is due in part to the discourse surrounding mental issues – calling our friends “insane” for doing something abnormal, or joking about suicide – as well as the lack of conversation surrounding mental illnesses on campus relative to the amount of student experiencing these illness.

We recognize and applaud the work of student groups such as Active Minds, the Emory Helpline and the Rollins School of Public Health’s Emory Mental Health Initiative (EMHI) that aim to facilitate this conversation, and we also encourage the student body to collectively take part. Campaigns such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) #IWillListen, in which people promise to lend an ear to anyone who needs it, can help create more open dialogue.

We also encourage students to be more cognizant of the language they use in daily conversation, taking into account that the casual, perhaps thoughtless use of phrases such as “I’m going to kill myself” or “You’re so bipolar” can undermine and trivialize the struggles of those experiencing mental illnesses.

We at the Wheel would also like to encourage the University to continue making a greater commitment to support those with mental illnesses. As the prices of pharmaceuticals like anti-depressants rise, we recognize that more students may seek help from Emory Counseling Services, much of which is funded through the Mental Health and Counseling Fee attached to the Student Activity Fee (SAF).

While we understand the need to balance funding for multiple purposes, we encourage the University to re-evaluate the way in which this money is allocated to ensure that the money appropriated to mental health programs is being spent in the most efficient manner, especially regarding the responsiveness and efficacy of its counseling services. The University also plays an important role in creating a campus culture that fosters broader engagement on issues of mental health and actively promotes treatment and care.

For example, to make an initial appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services, a student has to call or make an appointment in-person with the Counseling Center rather than being able to use the online Patient Portal. This could potentially deter students who are already hesitant to attend counseling services for the first time from seeking important treatment.

Additionally, students may not be able to see a certain therapist for an extended amount of time due to insurance constraints. We urge the Counseling Center to inform students of these restrictions prior to seeking treatment in order to allow potential clients to make an informed decision. We hope that students are able to connect with the therapists at the Counseling Center with the amount of time allotted.

Furthermore, we hope the University is looking to identify any areas for improvement within the Counseling Center, which holds a profound importance on a college campus, where students may be dealing with mental health conditions.

As we move forward, we hope that the issue of mental illnesses continues to receive more attention from both the University and the entire student body, so we can collectively better serve students who are experiencing mental disabilities or who may feel stigmatized by their mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses can impact anyone at anytime and should be treated with the respect and seriousness that they deserve.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The Emory Wheel Editorial Board

As University-wide elections were held earlier this month, the ballot included a list of eight proposed amendments to the Student Government Association’s (SGA) constitution. Despite controversy surrounding the legitimacy of these amendments, all eight passed overwhelmingly.

We at the Wheel previously commented in our April 4 staff editorial “Spring Elections Mired in Problems” on the problems surrounding the passage of these amendments. These issues included vague, ambiguous wording on the ballot and lack of accessibility to students prior to voting.

Now, newly-elected College-wide representative Aaron Tucek has filed an official complaint against the SGA Elections Board’s lack of procedure regarding these amendments. The resulting hearing, held by the Constitutional Council, has only reinforced our belief in the stance that we affirmed two weeks ago and made us all the more wary of the elections process. We are frustrated by SGA’s lack of democratic process and encourage the Constitutional Council to validate this complaint and consider overturning the referendum.

It is clear that the Elections Board violated the elections code. The SGA constitution explicitly states that all proposed amendments must be sent to students at least 48 hours before the elections. Instead, students received an email 20 minutes before the ballot went out. While this may not seem like an egregious violation, it may set a dangerous precedent and undermine the validity of the Elections Code.

The Election Board’s primary argument was that, though they did not specifically send out an email, the amendments were available to the students beforehand. In an April 15 Wheel article, College senior and Elections Board Chair Matthew Pesce, who represented the Elections Board during the hearing, cited the Wheel and the SGA website as a resource through which students could have accessed the bill.

Though we distributed this information, the Elections Board should have itself distributed the information through a University-wide email using accessible, succinct wording that would be used on the ballot — which should perhaps be voted on by SGA members — to describe the changes to the Constitution. SGA should be responsible for disseminating this information to its constituents in order to make voting as informed a process as possible. While this information was available on its website, the Elections Board has a democratic responsibility to attempt to make elections as educated as possible.

Pesce also openly acknowledged that he had not read the entirety of the referendum and that few students would have paid attention if the Elections Board had publicized the referendum. This gives the impression that the Elections Board holds cynicism at best and lack of interest at worst in the elections process and that it believes students feel similarly. Whether that is true or not, it is the role of SGA and its Elections Board to reach out to students and attempt to increase interest in the elections within the student body, not to show disinterest themselves. We are disturbed by this presentation of SGA officers: it is their very duty to be informed.

We acknowledge that part of the student population will not demonstrate interest in these issues no matter what SGA does. However, it is SGA’s responsibility to create accessibility in its elections, and it is unacceptable to condone a violation to the Elections Code because of perceived student apathy.

We strongly urge the Constitutional Council to decide in favor of Tucek and to reverse the referendum.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

Bill Fox

Emory alumnus, former administrator and professor Bill Fox passed away Friday evening at the Emory University Hospital. We at the Wheel want to offer our condolences to Fox’s family, friends and colleagues. Fox was an important member of the Emory community, and his contributions and dedication to our University were tremendous. He will truly be missed.

The Emory Wheel Editorial Board

Last month, Georgia’s state legislature passed the controversial “Safe Carry Protection Law,” which is commonly known as the “Guns Everywhere” bill and has been deemed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) as the most comprehensive pro-gun rights law introduced in recent history.

Among its provisions, many of which are already present in other states, the law would allow licensed Georgians to carry concealed weapons in bars, clubs, airports, churches that opt in and certain government buildings. The bill originally included a provision that allowed guns to be carried on college campuses, but this was dropped after public opposition. The bill is currently awaiting the approval of Republican​ Governor Nathan Deal and is expected to be signed into law.

​The bill was passed on a party line vote, with the sole exception of 2014 gubernatorial candidate and State Senator Jason Carter, and likely aims to strengthen a Republican core of voters in preparation for this fall’s state elections.

​We at the Wheel acknowledge the political nature of gun legislation, but regardless of one’s position on the rights of personal gun ownership, both Democrats and Republicans should strive toward the goal of reducing gun violence.

Proponents of this bill claim that the expanded presence of “good guys with guns” will prevent incidents such as mass shootings, while the bill’s opponents argue that putting even more guns on the street — especially in bars, where risky, alcohol-fueled decisions are more likely to take place — or in other often-crowded places like nightclubs or airport lobbies will lead to an even greater amount of gun violence. Additionally, this bill includes a staunch “Stand Your Ground” law, an “absolute defense” that defendants who use guns in violent attacks can use in court.

We at the Wheel believe this legislation does little to address the root causes of gun violence, however complex they may be, and in light of its extremely likely approval, we believe that it is imperative to re-examine our state’s background check laws, especially regarding mental health.

Currently, Georgia’s code only places restrictions on gun ownership on those who have been hospitalized for alcohol or drug abuse or mental health issues within the past five years. This standard is extremely lax compared to states such as Hawaii, which restricts individuals from owning firearms if they have been acquitted of a crime on the grounds of mental illness or have been deemed not responsible for a criminal act due to a mental disease. The state of Hawaii also restricts the possession of firearms to individuals diagnosed with a significant behavioral, emotional or mental disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

We realize that restrictions such as these may further stigmatize mental health issues, but we feel that this law’s broad-sweeping expansion of gun-carrying zones is incompatible with the current background check process required by Georgia. This law, more than anything, is a brash political statement that has neglected to realistically take into account its implications. If the Georgia legislature intends to move forward with expanding gun-carrying zones, we encourage them to confront the issue of mental health that has been swept under the rug for so long in national debates surrounding firearm possession. ​While the “Safe Carry Protection Law” may partially be a political gesture to show state sponsorship of gun rights, we believe that this may set a dangerous legal precedent and may further politicize and exacerbate the issues surrounding gun violence.

The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

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