“Respect the Jeez-Its” Is Sorry Sign of Our Educational Times

21 07 2008

UCF has an official student newspaper too, not just a student senate and a student union handy for religious services.

So you may well wonder (I do) if its student editors and reporters will receive threatening letters and risk removal from their campus responsibilities should their coverage or commentary upset powerful Catholics and/or the university administration — and I wonder if it’s occurred to THEM yet, that once even one student is thrown to the dogs by the system, anyone can be.

What do kids get taught by public universities these days, particularly political science, history, journalism (and religion?) majors, about how human power of story plays out in real life? Do they still study the view — whether attributed to Mencken, Dunne or Twain (would they know to care?) — that journalism’s responsibility is “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” or that “the most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos?”

Do they study this cautionary tale? Do they think about meaning and human power of story at all, or just career competition and how to use rules against each other to get ahead? The history of their student newspaper since 1968, and its proud name, “Central Florida Future” suggests reason to hope, but the latter seems sharper and clearer and more real with every morning’s news.

Posted 7/21/08
“Let me begin by addressing an issue that’s recently received a great deal of attention and cast a negative light on our efforts within the Student Government,” [Brian] Peterson said.
“The situation involving Senator Cook and the Catholic Campus Ministry is an isolated event and one that has interfered with our true purpose.”

Huh?? What could possibly BE the “true purpose” of their “efforts” in this government incubator, if practical experience handling such difficult human conflicts isn’t it, and indeed interferes with it?

Supporters and opposers of Cook’s actions were present in the audience during the meeting.

Okay, I think the reporter and his editor should face charges for letting the word “opposers” slip past as the antonym of “supporters” instead of the correct word, “opponents.” I received a journalism and communications degree cum laude (from a better Florida university than this one btw!) and I should therefore be able to raise “a great deal of attention” to cast this student newspaper in a negative enough light, to get them impeached. Right?

Sara Wong, a political science major, had a banner around her waist that said “Respect the Jeez-its,” mimicking the label of the popular cheese cracker with pictures of tiny Eucharist.

Wong, who is Catholic, said she was happy to see Cook impeached, but also hopes that he has a chance to state his side of the story in front of everyone.

“I’d like to see it as a positive chance for Senator Cook,” Wong said.

She said she would continue to go to the meetings until the ordeal came to an end.

It chills every part of me, that this girl as public university political science major and private Catholic, apparently understands so little about why America’s civil procedure keeps them clearly in separate realms. She can’t grasp the stark reality that her fellow student has everything to lose and nothing to gain in this set up, certainly not the “positive chance” she’s fantasizing.

And here’s yet another creepy sign of Church interfering with our “true purpose” in governing ourselves through mechanisms like a representative Senate, and even interfering with our ability to think clearly about what’s gone wrong: the word “ordeal” — apparently it’s the student reporter’s word choice rather than Wong’s, since it wasn’t placed in quotes, but I wonder if either of them or anyone else reading this story, has a broad enough education to realize how chillingly appropriate that word is, to what’s really happening in this very religious secular case?

On the other side of the issue, Daniel Winstead, a political science major and member of the Campus Freethought Alliance, was also in the audience. Winstead has been offering free advice in understanding the legal aspects of everything that has happened with Cook.

“I foresaw it going this way,” Winstead said. “It appears as if there are outside motivators.”

Hmm. The Campus Freethought Alliance. Let’s try the moral musical chairs test. If one of the Freethought Alliance members came to a meeting at the student union but refused to swallow some too-outlandish-sounding belief, would that student be grabbed and held by leaders, for resisting? If that person also were a student senator, would the Freethinkers bring impeachment charges against him, and post guards to force freethinking at national political conventions across the country, and would the UCF student senate take the secular Alliance’s side against that individual student beginning to lean away from free thought and toward religion?

If you can honestly think the answers above might be yes, then I believe your education needs to be impeached.


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21 07 2008
JJ

IN the interest of far more fairness than anyone actually involved in this drama is showing, I offer the theory of the case against Webster Cook, argued today from the POV of an articulate Catholic blogger named Alisa Craddock.

She also apparently can read minds and hearts and motives, somewhat akin to the way conservative government official Bill Frist was able to diagnose Terri Schiavo’s medical condition and issue his sunny prognosis for her recovery via videotape and prayer from the floor of the US Senate ;-)

But let’s say she’s right and the real political issue here isn’t about Catholic beliefs, but only whether Catholic rituals belong in the student union of a public university, funded by taxpayers and student government, with order enforced by university police and the tacit threat of expulsion from school for disrespect:

“The Catholic world is waiting to see how the University handles this. The University of Central Florida cannot alter the Order of the Mass, and Federal law would forbid it in any case.

But the student’s objective, it appears, is to get the university to derecognize and/or defund the Catholic Ministry on campus, or to nullify its ability to celebrate Mass according to its own disciplines, effectively forcing it off campus. How will the university handle the issue . . .”

Indeed.
Not just Catholics have an interest in that, and we all are watching.

21 07 2008
JJ

Craddock’s tagline says she describes herself as a “Christian Libertarian” LOL!!!!!!!!

Yeah, laissez-faire individual sovereignty to a fault including the liberty to dissent and deviate, no government expenditures except for national defense and the like — heck, how does that even in Fantasyland line up with the hierarchy and world governance of Catholicism as State?

I can’t imagine what a Catholic Libertarian could be in any intellectually integrated sense but wouldn’t its larger platform stand against public universities provided with tax dollars in the first place?? — much less compelling all students and citizens afflicted with any such outrage as public education institutions, to support with their dollars and government, any private religious rituals they may find offensive, performed right on campus at universal expense?

22 07 2008
JJ

Was this just an isolated, aberrant perfect storm of problems that unfortunately hit this innocent institution, through no fault of its own? Seems Webster Cook isn’t the only individual student harmed on campus by poor university policy and practices, then further harmed by administrative mishandling of the aftermath.
At least Cook is still ALIVE.

Race, religion and probably class differ for these two UCF students, so we can take them together and begin looking for broad policy principles that fit both (all) students while on campus in university-sanctioned activities, regardless of any sympathy-antipathy we indiviudally might feel toward a certain type of student or activity.

This is Stage Six Moral Reasoning for Society, if we can manage it! :)
The Golden Rule and moral musical chairs. Empathy. One cuts the cake, the other chooses. See pages 58-60 for more.


UCF death: The aftermath
Family of UCF football player Ereck Plancher frustrated by autopsy results

July 20, 2008
They shrug their shoulders and sigh, settling on the words “confused” and “frustrated” to describe their emotions.

Friends and family members of UCF football player Ereck Plancher waited four long months for an autopsy report to explain their confounding loss.

Instead, they said they were left with more questions after learning the cause of Plancher’s death Friday.

“I’m frustrated and I’m mad,” said Shireena Holland, one of Plancher’s friends at First Assembly Ministries in Naples. “I thought it was going to be an answer, but it wasn’t. It didn’t ease the pain. It didn’t bring closure. It didn’t change the fact that Ereck’s gone.”

Plancher, a 19-year-old freshman wide receiver, collapsed during a March 18 offseason workout supervised by UCF Coach George O’Leary and his staff. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died about an hour later.

A complete autopsy report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel on Friday revealed the stress of the workout triggered the sickle-cell trait Plancher carried. . .
The sickle-cell trait has been cited as a contributor to the sudden deaths of 10 athletes between ages 12-19 since 2000, including Plancher and Florida State linebacker Devaughn Darling in 2001.

[It also was infamously cited in the death of a 14-year old Florida juvenile boot camp kid, as public employee guards were literally beating him into shape much as drill sergeants (and football coaches?) do. That time it turned out to be a monstrous government lie aided by a complicit public medical examiner.

As the prosecutor said at their trial: "The camp employees abused their power, ignoring their role as caretakers in their pursuit of subjugation . . ."Their job was to teach discipline, but first and foremost, to do no harm," Bondi said.
And in that case, the government's lame defense was that no one knew the teen HAD the usually benign sickle cell trait, or they would've certainly treated him better. At UCF they did know and claimed all the staff had been instructed on how to protect him, but the student died anyway.]

Plancher’s friends struggled to accept the concept that his body could possibly fail during a football workout.

He was a star in East Naples, the best and brightest his community had to offer.
He was the one who handled every workout with ease, encouraging others along the way.

Kevin Mendez, Plancher’s youth pastor at First Assembly Church, remembers Plancher as a model athlete in peak physical condition. . .
The sickle-cell trait Plancher carried typically doesn’t show any symptoms and people often don’t know they carry it.

UCF spokesman Grant Heston said the school learned Plancher had the trait during a team physical exam in January 2007. Heston said Plancher was told he carried the trait and informed of precautions he should take. UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble said the school’s training staff “monitored his physical condition at every practice and workout.”

. . .UCF’s disclosure Thursday that it was aware Plancher carried the sickle-cell trait stunned several of his friends and family members because they said Plancher never discussed the condition with them.

. . .”He never mentioned [sickle-cell trait],” Metzger said. “He talked about not liking it at UCF and wanting to quit, but we encouraged him to stick it out. He was a good kid and kept pushing himself.”

UCF officials have repeatedly defended the school’s care of Plancher and its response when he collapsed during the March 18 workout.

“Let me also say clearly that the UCF medical and training staffs are talented professionals who provide exceptional care to our student-athletes,” Tribble said in a statement issued by the university Friday. “As soon as Ereck was in distress, our staff immediately attended to him.”

Plancher’s friends said they know the search for answers may drag on for months, leaving them to hang onto their strong religious faith.

“It might sound like a cliché, but we really do believe everything said at Ereck’s funeral,” Mendez said. “We believe he is in heaven and he was called for a reason.”

22 07 2008
JJ

ESPN Columnist about the UCF death:
“It’s Time to Admit Mistakes” — and stop blaming it on the newspaper coverage!

• David Whitley writes that it’s time for UCF to admit its mistakes in the death of player Ereck Plancher. (Whitley’s paper and George O’Leary are at odds over how this story has been covered.)

“UCF didn’t know about his medical condition. Turns out it did. O’Leary is mad at the Sentinel. At least that one is true. He is apparently upset over a story in which four players contested UCF’s version of events during Plancher’s last workout.

I say “apparently” because the Sentinel has been trying for months to discuss the issue with him but he refused to meet. It’s our policy to correct errors, but we need to know what they are first. I understand why O’Leary is upset. I’d be sore if I read how I might have pushed a player beyond his limits.”

22 10 2008
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