Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech

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The Future of Student News

BH Staff

Posted:  Apr 29th 2009 10:53AM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, Media

Bright Hall has evolved, has a new home and a new name. We are now part of Politics Daily, "a political news magazine for the general reader updated every day, throughout the day...offering a thoughtful take on events." We're honored to be a part of this adventurous and forward-thinking site launch.

Henceforth, we will be know as The Cram, but our purpose remains consistent:

"The Cram is opinion and analysis from accomplished student writers at higher learning institutions across America, where the future of politics is taking shape every day over collegial debate and caffeinated study. Join us as we break down the news cycle with an eye on campus issues and enough energy to conquer any syllabus."

You will find your favorite writers and new faces on The Cram, as well as a beat on the topics that interest you most. This week we've covered the continued controversy over Notre Dame's selection of President Obama as this year's commencement speaker, how the New York State budget is aversely effecting the state's student population, the continued towering tuition increases at our nation's universities, an exclusive speech made by the Bush Administration official who deemed waterboarding legal, and, right now, we're tweeting live from Obama's "100th Day" town hall in St. Louis.

We hope you'll continue to follow us in our new form. We promise to deliver the same brand of insightful campus coverage that you came back for.

The Editors

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'Waterboarding Memo' Author Speaks to College Republicans

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Apr 26th 2009 12:36AM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, USC

Joshua Sharp is now a contributor for The Cram, a student news arm of the newly launched To follow his future work, click here.

Former Bush Administration official John Yoo, author of several Justice Department memos determining waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be legal, addressed the California College Republicans as the keynote speaker at their statewide convention in San Francisco this weekend.

Author's note: In addition to political commentary, I'm a member of the USC College Republicans. Views posted here are my own.

Two dozen protesters gathered outside the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf hotel where the convention was being held, holding signs calling Yoo a war criminal as they chanted, "Jail John Yoo!"

Full Article »


Conservative Filmmaker Tries To Get Arrested, Succeeds [Updated]

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Apr 17th 2009 6:45PM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, USC

John Ziegler is an idiot.

The conservative filmmaker/activist managed to get himself arrested Wednesday after trying to rile up opposition to a journalism award given to Katie Couric for her Sarah Palin interview. Now he's pushing a 20-minute video of his antics and subsequent arrest, claiming anti-conservative bias.

As a senior at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, I know almost everyone featured in the video, including the university officials, event organizers and campus police who Ziegler claims "literally abused" him. Not too surprisingly, Ziegler is wildly exaggerating what really happened:

Full Article »

College Seniors Leaving Jobs to Search for Employment

Bright Hall explores the far-reaching effects of the financial crisis on the youth and campuses of America. Click here for the full series.

In an e-mail to fellow student workers in a university office, my colleague penned a letter which was at once both sad and terrifically ironic.

"I'm having a much harder time finding a full-time job after graduation than I anticipated," my friend, a senior majoring in print journalism, wrote.

"Unfortunately, I am going to have to cut back on my hours ... in order to dedicate more time to the job search," she said, asking if anyone could pick up her Friday shift for the rest of the semester.

The mood among campus seniors hinges on whether one has plans for after graduation. With final exams approaching and graduation ceremonies only a few weeks away, a sense of anxiety is increasingly apparent -- and it's not just the print journalism majors who are struggling.

Full Article »



Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech at Notre Dame

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Mar 25th 2009 12:30AM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, Culture, Religion, News, Local, Media, Notre Dame

Bishop John M. D'Arcy, who presides over Indiana's Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, which includes Notre Dame, announced Tuesday he will not be attending Notre Dame's May 17 Commencement, since President Barack Obama will be speaking.

"Can I have the Bishop's ticket?" my friend posted on the Web site

D'Arcy has clashed with Notre Dame in the past, most significantly when University President Fr. John Jenkins issued a statement in 2006 allowing The Vagina Monologues to be performed on campus. Now it's Obama's pro-choice stances and decisions, rather than vaginas, that have gotten D'Arcy's Irish up.

Notre Dame and the White House announced Friday that Obama would be speaking at Notre Dame's May 17 Commencement ceremony, with Jenkins following up Monday clarifying that asking Obama to speak, and awarding him with an honorary doctor of laws degree, does not signify support of his policies. Most students, from my observations on campus, seem to be supportive of and excited about hearing Obama speak. But a vocal student minority, as well as alumni and unaffiliated pro-life groups, have protested the decision vehemently.

In his statement Tuesday, D'Arcy said Jenkins informed him of Obama's acceptance shortly before the announcement was made. D'Arcy said it was the first time he'd been told about the invitation. This May is the 25th Notre Dame graduation since D'Arcy became bishop, and for the first time, he said, he will not attend.

"After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation," he said. "I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith 'in season and out of season,' and he teaches not only by his words -- but by his actions."

He added: "My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life."

I understand that D'Arcy has major disagreements with Obama over abortion and stem cell issues. But isn't he giving up a unique opportunity to pull the president aside for a moment and voice his concerns? It may not make a difference in Obama's stances, but when else will D'Arcy have the ear of the president?

I'm unimpressed with D'Arcy's leadership. The pro-life movement's sign-carrying, march-making approach hasn't worked so far, and I doubt the Bishop's boycott will make any difference in abortion policy in the United States. It just distances the Catholic Church from the decision-making process.

Too bad. I wish D'Arcy had been a bit braver and seen the opportunity, rather than ask whether Notre Dame has "chosen prestige over truth."

Full Article »


Debate Over Obama Notre Dame Commencement Address Heats Up

The White House and Notre Dame announced last Friday that President Barack Obama would be the main speaker at the May 17 Commencement ceremony and would be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree, a decision that has caused controversy among many in the Catholic community.

Though many students and alums of the University are pleased to have the president speak at Commencement, those opposed to the decision have been far more vocal, as students, alumni and people not affiliated with Notre Dame voiced their protestations loudly throughout the Internet and in Notre Dame's student newspaper.

Fr. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, gave an interview to The Observer, the student newspaper, Sunday in which he responded to the criticism and said he did not "foresee" circumstances in which Notre Dame would rescind the invitation to the president. (Full disclosure: I work for The Observer.)

"We have invited the president and he's honored us by accepting," he told The Observer.

There's been an uproar about the decision, judging by letters to the editor, blog posts and petitions, due to Obama's pro-abortion stances. Jenkins defended his choice, saying the invitation to Obama does not signify an endorsement.

"The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," Jenkins told The Observer.

The protestations against the choice of Obama have been very loud, especially in the opinion section of The Observer, but it should be noted that in a mock election held by Notre Dame's student government last October, Obama won 52.6 percent of the vote compared to McCain's 41.1 percent.

Not everyone is protesting Obama coming to campus; many are thrilled. A Facebook group titled "We Will Be Honored To Have President Obama at Notre Dame" has 1,389 members. Several Facebook groups, however, have been created to protest Obama as Commencement speaker.

All I wanted was a nice, quiet, peaceful graduation day, a time to celebrate with my family and friends, without posters of aborted fetuses. Such a simple request. But it won't be so.

Already, pro-life activists are making plans to come to South Bend to protest.

Full Article »

national newspolitics

Obama To Give Commencement Address at Three Colleges

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Mar 20th 2009 5:25PM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, National News, News, Local, Notre Dame

I thought the biggest thing that was going to happen at Notre Dame this week was St. Patrick's Day. I was wrong.

According to an Associated Press report, President Barack Obama will deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame's graduation May 17. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made the announcement Friday that Obama will speak at my school, as well as at the Arizona State University and the U.S. Naval Academy graduation ceremonies. Notre Dame's media office issued a news release saying Obama will also be the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree.

The Facebook statuses of many Notre Dame students were all about the news Friday afternoon. There hasn't been this much buzz since freshmen year when rumors swirled that U2 was coming in for the ND-USC game.

I think Obama's gotten bigger than Bono.

Many people seem excited, but undoubtedly, there will be protests, especially by those who see Obama's stance on abortion as contrary to Catholic teachings. This is Notre Dame. We protest for weeks on end when students put on productions of The Vagina Monologues.

Full Article »


Carly Fiorina "Considering" Bid to Oust Barbara Boxer in 2010

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Feb 21st 2009 7:36PM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, Breaking News, USC

SACRAMENTO, CA -- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina indicated today that she might seek the Republican nomination in 2010 to challenge incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

In a meeting with California College Republicans, Fiorina acknowledged that she is "considering a run for Barbara Boxer's seat" in the U.S. Senate. The room of young Republicans erupted with applause at the mention of Boxer's name. The Senate Democrat is a staunch liberal and the subject of much ire in conservative circles.

Full Article »

College Seniors Facing Tough Decisions

Bright Hall explores the far-reaching effects of the financial crisis on the youth and campuses of America. Click here for the full series.

A line of 50 students, dressed in business attire and clutching thin binders with carefully-prepared résumés, wove beyond the line of tiny booths at USC's annual career fair Thursday and stretched onto an adjacent cement walkway.

Full Article »

Students Pack Classrooms and Coffee Shops

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Jan 20th 2009 11:10AM

Filed Under: US Elections, Small Campus, Big Story, Breaking News, USC

Joshua Sharp is reporting live from the University of Southern California as students gather to watch today's inauguration ceremonies. Check back throughout the day for more updates and student reactions.

8:10am PST / 11:10am EST
The student coffeehouse Ground Zero is serving as the main watch party for USC students willing to wake up at this unseemly hour, and the room is already packed to capacity. USC professors Dan Schnur and Roberto Suro are opening a discussion at 8:30am, with a huge projection screen displaying a C-SPAN feed of the inaugural festivities. There is a palpable feeling of nervous excitement in the air.

Other watch parties are being held around campus, in apartments and in my COMM-375 Nonverbal Communication class. Next update coming from there...

9:06am PST / 12:06pm EST
Our 9:30am class has opened early to host a live watch party. A few chuckles after Obama stumbled through the oath of office, but his speech delivery is almost flawless so far... lots of proud smiles around the room.

9:45am PST / 12:45pm EST
Laughter in the classroom as CNN displays the temperature in Washington, D.C.: 28 degrees Fahrenheit, feels like 17 degrees.

Los Angeles today is overcast with a high of 75 degrees. It's a bit chilly inside for us, too, though: Someone left on the air conditioner...

9:52am PST / 12:52pm EST
It's odd to see President Obama and former President George W. Bush walking side-by-side as they exit the inauguration ceremonies. As I remarked in an earlier post, Dubya was the first president that my generation of college students have really ever known. Times, they are a'changing...

My initial reaction to Obama's succinct, powerful inaugural address? Three parts of the speech really stood out to me:

"Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things ... "

An early challenge to his critics:

"... [T]here are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done ..."

And, a passage that could easily be voiced by Bush 43:

"We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

Share your comments below, and stay tuned for instant student reaction over the course of the day.

11:56am PST / 2:56pm EST
Either "The Speech" was overhyped or Trojans are just hard to impress, because my conversations with students and staff around campus indicate a lukewarm, almost indifferent reaction to Obama's inaugural address today.

"It was good," shrugged Tyler Deutsch, a senior majoring in communication who watched Obama's speech over the Internet while at work.

Other students and staff members said the speech wasn't exceptional, but that they felt at least "satisfied" and more interested in seeing how the Obama Administration's policies actually develop. One student said she still hadn't watched the speech, but would after classes today.

Everyone expressed awe at the historic nature of Obama's presidency, but the tepid responses to his speech surprised me. We knew the immense hype surrounding Obama's inauguration would make it difficult for Obama to match expectations, but my impression was that he delivered a sharp, forceful address and met all of his objectives. Post your thoughts in the Comments section below...

Full Article »

University Stops Accepting Applications... Three Weeks Early

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Jan 17th 2009 4:08AM

Filed Under: Small Campus, Big Story, USC, News, Local, Recession on Campus

Budget constraints in California have caused Fresno State University to close its freshman application period -- three weeks earlier than the posted deadline. Per the NYT:

"The first I heard of it was an e-mail yesterday morning, when we got back from vacation," said Ron Howard, a college counselor at Redwood High School in Visalia, Calif., where about a quarter of the senior class applies to Fresno State. ...

"... [W]e hustled, hustled, hustled to get kids to file," said Diana Rodriguez, a counselor at Sunnyside High School in Fresno. "I really feel that if we'd known this Jan. 9 thing was coming, we could have saved more souls of kids who are falling through the cracks, but our district was on break until the 12th, and we had no idea this final slam-bang deadline was coming."

Vivian Franco, director of admissions at Fresno State, defends the unwelcome surprise by citing a disclaimer on the university's website that the application date was subject to change. She says most applicants submit by the priority deadline of Nov. 30.

But Franco's casual and dismissive comments completely disregard what her university means for thousands of young adults in California's Central Valley, where I lived for all of my life before attending college.

Full Article »


Here's to 2009: End the BCS

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Jan 7th 2009 8:04PM

Filed Under: Small Campus, Big Story, Sports, USC

This season could be the boiling point for opponents of the much-maligned Bowl Championship Series, despite similar pressure seen in previous years to no avail.

Irrespective of the outcome of the BCS championship game tomorrow night, a handful of teams are insisting their squad is the best in the country. Similar disputes have marred the vast majority of the BCS system's 11-year history, with no consensus method to resolve these perennial contentions.

No other major sport faces the endless uncertainty of college football, which is why all college football fans should hold our collective breath for Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff's potential anti-trust lawsuit against the BCS alleging a conspired monopoly.

Full Article »


College Students Feel the Recession, Too

By now, everyone is well aware that the United States is in a recession. Things are obviously getting really bad when executives are forced to sell their private jets and settle on driving their six figure cars. (Poor guys!)

But a serious problem that continues to grow is the affordability of college for Americans.

According to a study released by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the cost of attending college has risen nearly three times the rate of the cost of living.

"College tuition continues to outpace family income and the price of other necessities, such as medical care, food and housing," the center said. The report also said that in order for students to stay enrolled in college, they are putting themselves in more debt than ever before. The report stated that borrowing has more than doubled over the last decade.

The National Report Card on Higher Education yielded the same results for 2008. Not only are families spending their incomes on increasingly more expensive necessities like food and housing, but family incomes have remained flat (assuming people still have jobs) as the cost of higher education continue to rise.

President Donald Bain of St. John Fisher College recognized this problem, as he sent a letter out to the faculty and staff of the College expressing his concern.

Full Article »


McCain Aide: "We're Very Jealous"

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Nov 22nd 2008 5:47PM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, Breaking News, USC

As co-chair of USC Students for McCain, Joshua Sharp joined advisers from the Obama and McCain campaigns, and top editors and reporters from Politico for an election debrief this weekend on the USC campus.

After two days, six panels and dozens of speakers, the conference concluded with a revealing look at the technology gap between the campaigns. The theme: This year, the McCain campaign was simply out-manned.

'We're very jealous'

Becki Donatelli of the McCain camp said Rick Davis and others were drawing up ambitious campaign technology plans way back in late 2006, but never had the money or personnel to realize those plans' full potential -- as the Obama team eventually did.

"We're very jealous. We loved your iPhone application," Donatelli told fellow panelists from the Obama tech team, Joe Rospars and Sam Graham-Felsen. "We had it sketched out. We had it planned and no way to get it done."

Donatelli also noted that the demographics of McCain's base had changed. Younger voters, especially moderates, believed McCain had become too conservative since 2000 and were energized behind Obama. As a result, fundraising e-mails and other Internet efforts didn't brings the results the campaign was hoping for.

Looking forward, McCain campaign creative director Rob Kubasko said the GOP's infamous 72-hour get-out-the-vote model from 2004 has become "completely obsolete" due to the rise in early voting.

"This election was lost 3 weeks before election day," Kubasko said. "Now you need to put out your final argument a month out."

MORE... Halperin on 'extreme pro-Obama' media bias

TIME magazine's Mark Halperin sharply criticized the media's "extreme pro-Obama" bias in this election cycle, citing as an example New York Times' articles in late October on Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama.

"The story about Cindy was vicious," Halperin said, while the article on Michelle Obama was "like a front-page endorsement."

McCain adviser: "It just wasn't happening"

Obama's grassroots movement guru Steve Hildebrand said new voter registration efforts in nine states provided the electoral edge.

McCain-Palin political director Michael DuHaime: "We spent a lot of money on registration [too], and it just wasn't happening."

Did they have a chance?

McCain advisers talking about the campaign's trajectory defended the vigor of their efforts, noting that after the Republican convention, their candidate was ahead in the polls.

The campaign had bumps in the polls sporadically, and was just hoping to jump at the right time, aides said. Given the "Bush albatross" hanging around their necks, with an increasingly bad economy, it was an extreme challenge, they argued.

Risky candidate

DuHaime: "After the economic crisis, [voters] felt like they were more at risk with John McCain. They were so afraid of more of the same."

Also: "We could never be more unlike Bush than Sen. Obama," DuHaime says.

What are those Politico guys like, anyway?

Sightings: Politico's Jonathan Martin ("JMart") posting the final entry on his GOP blog. And Mike Allen, dutifully, taking a picture with his BlackBerry to capture the moment.

Green room, 9:45am: Being on the first panel, I sauntered into the holding room early Friday morning. What I saw was a little hilarious... laptops everywhere with the likes of Ben Smith still hard at work, typing away. These Politico guys never take a break.

Funny man: You could never know it from his articles, but Jim VandeHei is a funny guy. On one panel, VandeHei asked the Obama campaign if they responded to McCain's "fundamentals of the economy are strong" comment by saying, "Whoo!" ... and asked the McCain campaign if they just said to themselves, "Oh, crap."

Full Article »


Did This Newspaper Cross the Line?

Megan Baker, the news editor of the Cardinal Courier, is not writing this to attack or defend the motives of herself or the staff of the Cardinal Courier, but to pose the question of whether the story involved was fair game for a college newspaper.

One of the most prominent players on the St. John Fisher College men's basketball team decided to quit. The Fisher newspaper, the Cardinal Courier, decided to cover the story, getting exclusive reports from the head coach and the player that decided to quit.

Was this good journalism or was it taking advantage of a situation? That's the question a lot of Fisher students have been discussing today, the day after the story broke on

St. John Fisher is a Division III school with a successful basketball program, but over the past couple years, the seasons have not been going as well as usual. And with one of the team's leading scorers deciding to quit after just one game, the state of the team has been on the minds of many Fisher students.

When the Courier learned that junior Chris Baltz would be leaving the team, sports editor Mike Spier approached Baltz, who consented to an interview. Coach Rob Kornaker also contacted Spier to offer his thoughts on the situation.

Once the story hit the web, students had mixed feelings on whether or not they felt the story was appropriate or even ethical for the Courier to pursue. Being a Division III school, some felt that this was unimportant and that Baltz should have been left alone. Others felt that the Courier was writing to its audience, the students of St. John Fisher.

Full Article »

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