Jesuit Chronicle

High School Political Involvement

Protesters+staging+a+die-in+on+Portland%2C+Oregon%27s+Burnside+Bridge+on+June+2%2C+2020.+https%3A%2F%2Fcreativecommons.org%2Flicenses%2Fby-sa%2F4.0%2Fdeed.en%0ANo+changes+were+made+to+the+following+photo.

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Protesters staging a die-in on Portland, Oregon’s Burnside Bridge on June 2, 2020. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en No changes were made to the following photo.

Starting in May 2020, demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd have been held in the city of Portland, Oregon. Continuing until September, hundreds and even thousands of Oregon residents gathered to protest against the systemic racism and police brutality black Americans have endured in this country. 

These protests were the start of a difficult conversation Jesuit needed to have about systemic racism. Motivated by the injustices in our country, several Jesuit seniors last year took their stories of discrimination to social media to address the imminent problems occurring at Jesuit High School. These students indicated that the school has a lot of work to do to obtain equality and that discrimination is still an issue students of color face.

“ The students that took to social media this summer really ignited the flame for our institution to look in the mirror and acknowledge our own complicity in systemic racism,” said Diversity and Inclusion director Melissa Lowery.

  The first step for change to happen anywhere is acknowledging the harm that was caused. After receiving student outcry from petitions wanting the Jesuit Administration to openly support Black Lives Matter and receiving numerous personal messages, Jesuit High School sent out a school wide email ensuring students that Jesuit is proud of them for finding their voices. Brady McClellan even suggested whether he and other students of color earned a chance to attend Jesuit for the right reasons.

“ Students of color feel that they deserve to be at Jesuit but are only there because they promote the identity that Jesuit isn’t racist and that the statistics they fill are more important than the skills and intellect they offer,” junior Brady McClellan said. 

Another reason that some students feel excluded is because of the lack of support shown for minority cultures.

“ Jesuit must recognize and support other cultures and their traditions more openly,” said junior Rishabh Sharma.

Students have written letters and spoken directly to the administration because they enjoy Jesuit, and they want other students to have a different experience than themselves. 

“ The students this summer who were brave enough to share their own experiences is exactly what we preach and talk about. So for us to have our students come back to us and for many of them to say this with love is the first step for improving our school,” said Mrs. Lowery.

Many Jesuit students have led the charge to change by attending the Black Lives Matter protests. It’s crucial for students to be involved and engaged during these historical times because high school students should be aware of the racism people of color endure. Racism was built into this country through schooling and the criminal justice system, so it’s important to recognize how these systems are being challenged right now. 

Another aspect as to why many students have absorbed and have had time to understand these complex issues are due to Covid-19. Being in quarantine has given students opportunities to understand the extent of racism and how it affects the entire community. Quarantine was also an opportunity for many students and supporters to realize their call to action and that the time to stand against racism is now. 

“ Being proactive and advocating and protesting for justice is a very Jesuit thing to do, and this is what makes men and women for and with others, it’s our students taking action,” said Ms. Lowery. 

As a school community working to become more culturally aware and anti-racist, Jesuit is making attempts to be open to growth. Shifting a culture is a tough task, but this initiative won’t succeed if it is simply a diversity office issue; it is pivotal that all students come together to make a difference.

“ The Jesuit Administration has been working for months in close collaboration with the DEI office to ensure that everyone feels heard, valued, and respected,” said Mrs. Lowery.

Paul Hogan sent out an email clarifying his stance that there is discrimination in our school, and that we need to make it our mission to end it. 

President Hogan wrote in the email, “We can and will do better. We can expand our curriculum to include more voices, and we can and must educate all of our students, starting with incoming freshmen, about the ways in which your words and actions can either build up or tear down your brothers and sisters”.

The school also holds the school’s annual Multicultural Week, in which students of all minorities get a chance to present their religious and ethnic customs. Although many students enjoy and cherish the opportunity to display a part of themselves, Rishabh Sharma hopes Jesuit will do more instead of having students lead the week.

“I feel that the administration should try to increase their cultural knowledge and partake in events of other cultures,” Sharma said.

Additional students’ opinions suggest that there are more beneficial ways for students to learn about opposing cultures. 

“It would be beneficial to find people of color in certain industries or in the media who would want to speak to their personal experiences,” McClellan said.

Finding people of color in different job industries would certainly be an impactful way to demonstrate different cultures and provide representation for minority groups. In addition, listening is a very effective way to learn about what other minority groups do and what other challenges they have overcome.

Throughout the entirety of the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for justice, Jesuit has been very committed in listening to others. The Jesuit Administration has listened to the heart wrenching stories of students and is proud of their own for advocating for themselves. The only way to solve these problems is to realize this situation involves the entire community, and that everyone’s voice matters. Although students have voiced their opinions about how Jesuit needs to change to benefit students of all backgrounds, there is no denying that students and faculty are working towards making Jesuit High School a safe and welcoming place for everyone.

About the Writer
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Kavish Siddhartha, Staff Writer

Kavish Siddhartha is a staff writer for the Jesuit Chronicle. Kavish is a junior at Jesuit High School and has been interested in journalism since a young...

Jesuit Chronicle mock Presidential Election Nov. 3rd

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Be sure to vote in the Jesuit Chronicle Mock Election on November 3rd

Jesuit Chronicle will conduct a mock election on November 3rd for students and faculty at Jesuit High School, Portland. The ballot will be focused on the Presidential Election, US Senate Seat from Oregon, and Portland Mayor.

Students and faculty will receive a Google Form “ballot” tied to their jmail account the morning of November 3rd. Voting will be open from 8am to 3pm.

Results will be announced at 6pm on jesuitnews.com.

Don’t forget to pre-register to vote if you’re under 18.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksZMzujVLoU

 

As Oregon Battles Coronavirus, Kate Brown Says No School Until Infection Rates Drop

Pictured above is Oregon Governor Kate Brown (flickr.com), who ultimately decides whether or not Oregon High Schools can return to in-person learning. (Oregon Department of Transportation)

Last month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown stated that unless infection rates drop, students won’t be seeing the classroom anytime soon(Willamette Week).

The news came at a press conference when Brown announced that, at Oregon’s current rate of infection, it would take over 200 days to get back to school, although more recent data shows that daily case rates have risen more than 30% since September 11 (Willamette Week/OregonLive).

The Governor’s requirements for returning to in-person learning are a less than five percent positive test rate statewide and an infection rate of fewer than 10 per 100,000 Oregonians in each county over the course of a week (Oregon.gov). Jesuit principal Paul Hogan weighed in on this issue.

“I trust that Governor Brown is making the best decisions she can with the information that she’s getting,” Hogan said. “The 10/100,000 is a very strict measure compared to other states. At the same time, we’ve had families in our community that have experienced COVID and even one is too many.”

Principal Hogan also said that he believes the campus is safe enough to bring back small groups of students for in-person instruction.

“I do think we can begin to bring groups of students back safely, as other states have done,” Hogan said.

Junior Rishabh Sharma stated that Governor Brown’s shutdowns and mask mandates have prevented a lot of Oregonians from contracting the virus.

“From what I’ve seen and heard on the news, I think she’s done a pretty good job of trying to handle COVID,” Sharma said. “She closed everything down, and after a little bit she allowed some stuff to reopen but still restricted other stuff, and she has been strict requiring masks in public places.”

Although Sharma supports Brown’s efforts, not everyone in the Jesuit community thinks the same. Junior Matteo Campbell says her handling of the virus has not been satisfactory.

“Some of the stuff she’s done has not been extremely positive in my opinion,” Campbell said. “Closing schools way back was a very poor decision.”

As a result of Sharma and Campbell’s different takes on the Governor’s handling of the virus, their views of when to return to campus vary widely as well. Campbell believes that we should return to school as soon as possible.

“If people are so concerned with masks, why can’t we just go to school with masks on?” Campbell said. “People who want to go back to school on the hybrid schedule can go…and the people who don’t want to go back to school…can stay home and watch [Zoom].”

Sharma, on the other hand, believes that vaccination is when schools should open.

“I don’t think we can have full school until there’s a vaccine,” Sharma said. “In Oregon… [in-person] school should not be a possibility right now.”

But when might a return to campus happen? Principal Hogan gave us much needed hope, saying that hybrid school could come next semester.

“I think it’s going to take us through the fall to see if rates stabilize while people start to go inside,” Hogan said. “I’m hesitant to speculate, but hopefully we can enter a hybrid phase before the end of the semester.”

About the Writer
Photo of Anton Baricevic
Anton Baricevic, Managing Executive Editor

Anton Baricevic is a proud editor for the Jesuit Chronicle. As a member of the class of 2022, Anton decided to take Journalism because his sister Mia,...

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion of Women

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(Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an American lawyer, jurist and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court died September 18th as a result of implications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old.

    “It’s one of those deaths where you know [that] when you talk to your kids, you’re gonna tell them ‘Oh, I remember when that person died, I was in high school,’” junior Vanessa Auth said. “It’s one of those events you’re always going to remember.”

    Justice Ginsburg began a career in law as one of nine female students in her class at Harvard Law, later transferring to Columbia University Law School where she graduated at the top of her class. 

Justice Ginsburg was known to many as a champion of women, making her mark in American politics as the second female justice to serve on the Supreme Court. She was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and spent much of her career fighting for gender equality, arguing six gender discrimination cases before a male dominated Supreme Court and winning five of them.

“She’s done so much great work for a lot of people, but especially for women’s rights,” French teacher Ms. Schmidt said. “She’s done some really amazing and radical work over her career, so I think it’s a pretty big loss for our country.”

The legal legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be traced back to her work as the founder and leader of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project in 1972, which took part in almost 300 gender discrimination cases nationwide.

    “She obviously went through a lot, and went against some really tough [opponents] that people didn’t think she should,” junior Hannah Noguchi said. “And I think that is very inspirational.” 

    Following her death, many Jesuit students spoke out on social media to share how Justice Ginsburg had inspired them.

    “She was the embodiment of strength to me,” junior Sophie Schmidt said. “Just because of everything she fought for and all the adversity she faced to get where she was.”

    Justice Ginsburg’s impact can be seen throughout many aspects of modern American life, specifically rulings related to equity, gender and women’s rights. 

    “No matter what side of the aisle you were on, you knew that RBG was someone who fought for the rights of Americans and wasn’t going to back down,” junior Vanessa Auth said. 

    With the departure of a Supreme Court Justice, Republican senators are taking this opportunity to appoint a new justice, signaling plans to begin a confirmation process before November’s Presidential election. Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has begun to outline how the committee will handle this nomination, and has said that the committee plans to hold three days of hearing for the Supreme Court nominee in October. With only 29 days until the election, this may be the quickest confirmation in history.

About the Writer
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Chase Kerman, Junior Executive Editor

Chase Kerman, a Junior at Jesuit High School, is excited to explore Journalism and grow as a writer in her first year taking the class. At Jesuit, Chase...

Must-watch state and local races for Oregon’s primary day

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Wikipedia

Oregon’s 2020 primary day is May 19, which will determine general election candidates for several competitive state and local races.

While national election coverage has blanketed TV airwaves and social media for the last few months, Oregon’s late-stage primary date, May 19, all but ensures that by the time it votes in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, both parties will have already solidified their eventual nominee. Despite the fact that Oregon lacks coveted status as a must-win presidential primary state, however, voters will also vote in key local primary races on May 19 that will determine the makeup of 2021’s county commissions, mayoral offices, and city councils. 

Here are some of the must-watch state and local races in the upcoming May 19 primary: 

What’s Coming Up in the May Democratic Primary?

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James Martini

As the democratic primary comes to Oregon, take a look at the remaining candidates and their policies

With the 2020 Democratic primary election coming up, here is a look at the remaining candidates. Delegate counts are current as of 3/13/2020.

Anti-semitism is troublingly normalized in Jesuit’s discourse

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Shawna Muckle (Canva)

In my Comparative Religions class last semester, there was an unmistakable decline in courtesy among some of my classmates when we reached our unit on Judaism. A group of senior guys jeered at basic Hebrew words we learned, pronouncing them with comic exaggeration. When a Jewish guest speaker explained her religious traditions, her display of Jewish symbols was met with scornful trivialization by those same boys.

Pondering their escalating disrespect, unattended to by my teacher and even my most justice-oriented classmates, I knew there was something more than broad cultural ignorance at play. An equivalent level of disdain when learning about Islam, for example, would have propelled resounding accusations of bigotry. Why, then, did this display of anti-Semitism receive no rebuke?

Senior Jane Koontz notes that more worrisome and overt displays of anti-Semitism have occurred during her time at Jesuit, such as an incident that occurred on her brother’s sophomore overnight for which the culprit received no punitive response.

“My brother went on his sophomore overnight retreat, and someone drew swastikas all over his poster,” Koontz said. “Another time, it was overheard that someone in our class was coming up with all the Jew jokes he could think of just to piss [a Jewish student] off. His words were, ‘I wanna see if I can trigger them, so tell me if these are good.’”

The number of students at Jesuit who explicitly identify as Jewish is estimated at less than 10, which means that in most cases, when other students perpetuate anti-Semitic tropes, no Jewish students are in the classroom to take offense—or to correct the narrative. Nevertheless, mockery of Jews is far more widely tolerated in our discourse, resulting in a culture that enables anti-Semitic microaggressions in Jesuit’s classrooms and more explicit displays in hallways and on retreats.

In America at large, anti-Semitic attacks make up a disproportionate and increasing percentage of hate crimes. New York in 2019 reported its largest number of hate crimes since 1992. In 2018, more hate crimes were committed against American Jews than any other demographic in the U.S., with 835 separate incidents reported to the FBI. 

With anti-Semitic violence escalating around the country, it’s worth examining what patterns of behavior or assumptions foment violence and, more commonly, prompt routine, obvious microaggressions against Jewish people. Particularly in the U.S., widespread misunderstanding revolves around the notion that most Jews are not just practitioners of Judaism, but ethnically Jewish. 

Due to widespread segmentation and segregation among Jewish communities primarily in Eastern and other parts of Europe for the past millennium, those with Jewish heritage have a set of identifiable genetic characteristics alongside shared religious and cultural traditions. Oftentimes, the simultaneous racial and religious definition of what it means to be Jewish creates conflict with those of other religious traditions, including Jesuit’s own Catholic community. 

“I’ve heard, just walking into school, people saying, ‘how is Judaism a culture? That’s like saying because I’m Christian, that’s my culture and ethnicity,’” senior Jane Koontz said. “They’re taking a very opinionated stance on something they know little to nothing about.”

Beyond widespread ignorance about the ethnic contours of the Jewish identity, rising political tensions over the Israel-Palestine conflict have also unleashed hostility against Jews. Senior Alyssa Knudsen emphasizes that while Jews tend to support Israel and Jewish people’s right to exist in their homeland, that political stance doesn’t give students a right to hurl arguments at Jewish students about a sensitive political divide.

“I’ve had 3 or 4 people come up to me who I don’t know and they demand an explanation for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Knudsen said. “I’m happy to be a resource for educational purposes, but I am not going to put myself in a position where I am verbally harassed in person and online.”

With being one of a mere handful at Jesuit comes a disproportionate amount of responsibility, spotlight, and perpetual expectation for Jewish students. Students who outwardly identify as Jewish are often expected to singlehandedly educate their peers, a burdensome assumption that only heightens Jewish students’ cultural otherness at a school where 69% of students identify as Catholic. (JHS Academic Snapshot)

“There are questions coming up about Palestine and Israel, but it’s not up to that student to educate others on everything that’s going on over there,” Diversity Director Mrs. Lowery said. “If you’re being asked questions sometimes it’s hard to carry that weight of being one of very few here. Sometimes you want to be the educator, but that gets exhausting, and you don’t always want to have these conversations.”

In light of misinformation and tension surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Diversity Office is currently organizing a brown bag that brings a broad spectrum of voices to the table—from Palestinian students to Jewish students who support Israel—and engages students in an honest, educational conversation that explores both sides of the divide.

Perhaps most destructively, younger generations in particular often mistakenly perpetuate the belief that the Holocaust was an isolated, singular event, one long since relegated to the ash heap of history, and that its ramifications and the systemic marginalization of Jews no longer apply. The effacement of Holocaust history—not to mention little focus in U.S. History courses on xenophobia and discrimination against American Jews long before the Holocaust—has resulted in a prominent mentality among teenagers that anti-Semitism is a less real threat compared to other forms of bigotry. 

As the assumption goes, the Jewish community is tight-knit simply incidentally, rather than out of a shared history of persecution. Offensive Jew jokes, swastikas drawn on sophomore overnight posters, and dismissive chortles at the back of a classroom are part of a subversive, ironic memeification of the Holocaust, rather than a contributing factor to anti-Semitic aggression and targeting.

With all the current cultural forces and sources of ignorance that de-legitimize anti-Semitism at play, Jesuit should meaningfully and substantially increase awareness among all students, beyond the few who opt in by attending brown bags. Knudsen suggests outside, Jewish-based sources could offer solutions.

“Something I think Jesuit should take advantage of is the programs offered by Jewish Federation, especially in conjunction with the Oregon Holocaust Museum,” Knudsen said. “They offer all sorts of different trainings about how to combat anti-Semitism specifically in schools, as well as stressing the importance of Holocaust education.” 

Exposing students to comprehensive Holocaust education may indeed help deter casual and pervasive anti-Semitism. While most history classes reaffirm a broad knowledge of what happened during the Holocaust, rarely do those courses cover the current, enduring trajectories of anti-Semitism that the Holocaust inspired, or how deeply anti-Jewish biases penetrated, and continue to penetrate, longstanding institutions. Alongside Holocaust education, even simpler acts of recognition could also help counter anti-Semitism.

“It’s going to be really difficult for a Catholic institution to have a really big part in this, but I think it should start in the classroom,” Knudsen said. “Have anti-Semitism brought up in the context of whatever subject you’re learning about in class. Or even less than that, we have an assembly for Martin Luther King Day, and we have two calendar days where we observe the Holocaust. Jesuit doesn’t even read a prayer over the PA system. They do that for 9-11, as they should, so why not also do it for the Holocaust?”

In March, Jesuit plans to host a mobile educational exhibition of Anne Frank’s life as she hid from the Nazis during World War II. Schoolwide efforts to renew awareness about victims of the Holocaust, in tandem with faculty preparedness and willingness to confront anti-Semitism within Jesuit’s own student body, may reshape the narrative on Jewish discrimination.

About the Writer
Photo of Shawna Muckle
Shawna Muckle, Alumni 2017-2020

Shawna Muckle, 17, is a senior at Jesuit High School. She has been a member of the Chronicle staff for three years in various capacities, and she is currently...

Apple card accusations spark controversy

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 FINANCE


By Scout Jacobs

Apple faces controversy over Apple Card

On November 5, Apple was accused of gender discrimination surrounding the algorithms of the Apple Card. 

The Apple Card, a credit card specifically run through Apple, has been a target of allegations of gender bias. This issue of gender bias arose when tech entrepreneur David Hansson voiced through social media that his credit limit was significantly higher than his wife’s, despite the fact that she had a better credit score.

The New York Department of Financial Services investigated these allegations, as not only Hansson, but multiple other voices spoke out about their similar experience with the Apple Card. There has been no definite affirmation or denial of the accusations due to the difficulty investigating discrimination in computer-based algorithms. 

Ms. Blumhardt, a history teacher and leader of Feminism Club, began her experience with credit by opening a line of credit when studying abroad. 

With the topic of gender discrimination closely relating to Apple, the accusations highlight the ongoing struggle of gender inequality, pushing students to further widen their horizons surrounding gender inequality outside of Jesuit. 

“Everyone has Apple products, so to see a name that’s so familiar and something that everybody has in their pockets and associating that to gender discrimination is difficult,” Blumhardt said. “I think that it’s a stark reminder to females that the fight is continuing. For folks to say no it’s very equal and I have all the same opportunities as my male counterparts, I think it challenges Jesuit students to look outside the bounds of school and to realize there are still issues. I think the greatest examples of gender discrimination and inequality are within corporations.”

The issue of gender discrimination has been relevant in numerous other tech corporations, such as Tesla, Facebook, and even Amazon. These issues of gender discrimination were displayed in a range of forms, from unequal target advertising to employment and hiring discrimination. 

This discrimination may be due to the imbalance of gender employment within tech corporations. According to The New Yorker, studies have estimated that women make up only a quarter of employees as well as only 11% of executive positions within the tech industry. 

With the topic of gender equality consistently prevalent in not only the Jesuit community, but also in outside environments, informing students surrounding the topic in class maintains the overall awareness of current events. 

“I definitely believe there are wonderful faculty and staff who are here who keep their students updated on current events, but still encouraging that curiosity within our students is always really important,” Blumhardt said. “The worst thing that we can do is be stuck in a bubble, so the more that we try to engage ourselves with the outside community and on all aspects, the better off we’ll be.”

With numerous students soon leaving for college, and later entering the world of adulthood, establishing a good credit score is essential for larger purchases. Ms. Casey recently purchased a house, and she describes her tips for establishing a good credit score. 

“Keep your spending within your means,” Casey said. “Realistically, a lot of students are going to graduate from college with some student loans, [so] committing to paying those off as soon as possible making sure you’re not accumulating credit card debt [is] essential because that can really get you in a hole, and it’s hard to recover from that.”

While students may be informed of the credit system, establishing a class surrounding credit could further assist students when beginning to build credit.

“A recent addition in the last few years has been an online financial planning course,” Casey said. “I haven’t gone through it, but I think that’s a great step. It seems like a great idea if there was an opportunity to build more practical financial planning guidelines and approaches for students.”

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Apple graphic courtesy of Google images

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Scout Jacobs, Associate Editor-in-Chief







Scout Jacobs is a managing editor for the Jesuit Chronicles at Jesuit High School. As a senior in high school, this is her third year doing...

Campaign finance controversies complicate civic engagement

The+largest+donors+in+each+U.S.+state+are+often+major+corporations+or+unions.

Bulletin.represent.us

The largest donors in each U.S. state are often major corporations or unions.

As the 2020 presidential election cycle edges nearer, solicitations for campaign contributions from various candidates have become almost unavoidable. Between targeted social media advertisements, spam emails from party affiliates, and conspicuous “Donate Now” redirects on candidates’ pages, it’s hard to imagine that most students haven’t at least considered the concept of political donations in the last few months. 

At the same time, the amount of students who have spent their own money to donate to a particular policy organization or candidate likely number far fewer. For related reasons—a lack of monetary independence and a lack of voting eligibility—significant political engagement among high schoolers is rare, let alone a desire to spend their limited money on a political campaign. 

Even among young people of voting eligibility (ages 18-29), only 9% report ever donating to a political candidate or party, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in 2017. Conversely, 32% of voters aged 65+ report donating to a political organization, campaign, or party. 

The correlation between political donations and age stems from the fact that age typically accompanies more financial stability and, once past retirement, an abundance of time with which to be politically involved. For high schoolers and college students voting for the first time, significant transitions and rapidly evolving independence leave little resources to even consider the prospect of spending money on a campaign. 

Irrespective of whether young people choose to donate to campaigns, however, individual, small-dollar donations are often portrayed as insignificant compared to multimillion dollar investments by outside donors such as corporations and lobbyist organizations. Students and younger generations tend to particularly focus on the NRA, for instance, as a corrupting influence in the gun-control debate..

“What frustrates me about candidates accepting campaign donations from the NRA is that it almost seems like sometimes candidates don’t feel so strongly about the Second Amendment in the way that they espouse,” senior Ria Debnath said. “They feel pressure to exhibit those ideals solely because they rely on donations from a mega-corporation like the NRA.”

The notion that larger, more influential organizations convince politicians and candidates to act against popular will has lead to increased clamoring for campaign finance reform. Generally speaking, campaign finance reform involves enhanced restrictions on the amount of money individuals, corporations, and outside political organizations can contribute to parties or specific campaigns. 

Currently, federal election law prohibits corporations or labor organizations from directly contributing to federal campaigns. Individual donations are also capped at $2,800 per election cycle for a particular federal candidate or party organization. However, corporations and unions may establish Political Action Committees, which can collect from individual donors to raise large sums of cash with which to distribute to candidates or parties (Federal Election Commission). 

The NRA, for example, has a PAC called the Political Victory Fund. PACs are subject to federal contribution limits, capped at $5,000 per federal election year. For the 2020 election cycle, the Political Victory Fund has spent $165,100 on direct contributions to candidates’ campaigns—but overall, the NRA’s expenditures total $1.4 million (Open Secrets). 

Despite the seemingly restrictive limitations on individuals, PACs, and corporations, federal election law leaves a gaping loophole open for corporations and other unrestricted political organization, known as superPACs, to influence elections. Due to a ruling in the controversial Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, the federal government may not restrict independent expenditures in support of a particular candidate or party. 

As a result of the Citizens United ruling, organizations like the NRA, as well as the two major political parties, may spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertising as long as those donations aren’t directly contributed to a particular campaign. Additionally, superPACs may raise money from individual donors and corporations without restrictions, allowing superPACs to subsist solely on mega-dollar donations and avert federal contribution limits by using independent advertisements (FEC). 

This major monetary loophole in federal election law helps explain how the NRA and other politically-affiliated organizations manage to invest massive influxes of cash each election cycle in spite of strict contribution limits for PACs and individuals. 

Further complicating how campaign contributions are limited, federal contribution limits only apply to federal elections, or presidential and congressional races. For state races, including governor’s races, states determine contribution limits for all organizations and individuals. 

“How much freedom individual states have to limit money’s influence in politics is something that I think the Supreme Court is still trying to figure out,” AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher Mr. Flamoe said. “What are the controls of how much financial constraints a state, if they choose to, can place on state campaigns?”

In Oregon especially, campaign finance will be a closely watched issue in 2020. Oregon’s state constitution specifically precludes the state government from obstructing contributions, making it one of five states with absolutely no contribution limits for individuals, corporations, unions, and PACs. The state legislature has placed a constitutional referendum on the 2020 ballot, allowing voters to determine whether they want to open the door to financial limitations in state politics (Portland Tribune).

Given the ever-present loopholes that independent expenditures and superPACs invite, some students question how Oregon’s attempt to equalize the playing field for political donations will actually counter the impact wealthy organizations have in politics.

“If I’m a corporation and I can’t donate money, then I can just go online and create a self-sponsored ad for that candidate with that money,” senior Cole Crystal said. “There’s always going to be workarounds, so then [governments] have to say that you can’t use your money to make any poIitical ads or commentary pieces about a candidate, and then you’re violating free speech. I think it gets a little risky using the argument ‘everyone should be equal,’ because you’re not going to change how the rich and how corporations influence the candidates they want to win.”

Though campaign finance reform remains a major pillar of many 2020 Democratic campaigns, the actual complexities of finding a foolproof way to contain independent expenditures—at least while Citizens United exists—make it more difficult to imagine a path forward for limiting money’s influence in politics. 

Mr. Flamoe, however, suggests that the rise of social media and alternative means of advertising offers some optimism for alleviating the need for money in campaigns at all. 

“Most people are getting their political information through non-traditional means,” Mr. Flamoe said. “They’re not necessarily going to be seeing political ads on the major news networks. They’re going to be getting those ads in their social media feeds. Now that you can micro-target populations of voters [with social media], it almost seems that if you have really good information, you can have influence on the target population you’re trying to reach without those large sums of cash that were once necessary.” 

For civically-minded students feeling disillusioned by the seemingly unstoppable, disproportionate influence of mega-organizations in politics, social media also offers a forum to engage with a campaign without the same inequities that monetary contributions involve.

“I don’t think that one should feel like their financial solvency and their ability to donate to campaigns is the only thing that can legitimize their passion for a candidate,” Debnath said. “There’s other ways to express your support: you can share what [a candidate] says on social media, you can attend campaign events they hold. You can do whatever is within your means to support that candidate. Affluence doesn’t have to be the only deciding factor.”

About the Writer
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Shawna Muckle, Alumni 2017-2020

Shawna Muckle, 17, is a senior at Jesuit High School. She has been a member of the Chronicle staff for three years in various capacities, and she is currently...

Young Conservatives for Change encourages partisanship on campus

Young+Conservatives+for+Change%2C+a+newly+established+club+this+year%2C+explicitly+champions+conservative+values.

World Atlas

Young Conservatives for Change, a newly established club this year, explicitly champions conservative values.

When students register to vote at 16, one of the first questions they must respond to is which political party they would like to join. Party association, most often presented as a dual choice between Democrat and Republican, is so pervasive in political discourse that it’s difficult to be civically engaged without adopting a partisan lens. 

In light of the supremacy of the two major political parties and their corresponding ideologies—conservative and liberal—it may seem surprising that Jesuit’s clubs surrounding political goals or discussions steer away from partisan labels. Instead, neutral names such as “Current Events Club” or “Junior State of America” provide a space for students of all political philosophies to educate themselves on topical issues and develop a more nuanced perspective. 

Clubs like JSA provide a useful forum for a large coalition of politically-engaged students: those questioning their party affiliation, those who consider themselves independent or somewhere in the center, as well as students with relatively defined partisan stances who are looking to challenge their existing beliefs. 

“Being partisan-related makes it super constrictive about what is okay to say,” JSA leader Brian Xu said. “Here we’re all about ‘you can say anything you want’, and you might say something [controversial] and get repercussions for it, but at least you can express your opinion. I think the majority of people who join JSA would rather debate about the issues, whether it’s a Republican or Democratic idea.”

However, neutral current events clubs still have their limitations. While high school students have a reputation for being politically ignorant or for juggling emergent, uncertain political views, a significant majority feel attached to a particular party. In a November 2018 Jesuit Chronicle survey, 75.1% of respondents expressed a preference for either the Republican or Democratic Party, with only 15.3% identifying as unsure. 

Senior Parthav Easwar decided to join the Democratic Party after informing himself extensively on its platform and on current issues, but he emphasizes an acute awareness of its flaws. “I felt that liberal ideology more aligned with my own beliefs about how the world works and how the world should be,” Easwar said. “I don’t necessarily like everything the Democratic Party does, and if there was a party that aligned with my beliefs more, I would subscribe to that over the Democratic Party.”

When the labels Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal remain abstract, secondary facets of political discussion, it’s easy to treat each of the major parties as a monolith representing only a single policy viewpoint on crucial issues. Yet in reality, both the Republican and Democratic Party have internal intra-party fissures and contradictions that demand discernment for those who identify with a broad party banner.

Organizations like Young Democrats and Young Republicans, while nearly universally absent among high schools, are ubiquitous on college campuses. Often falling somewhere between an ideological safe space and a forum for hashing out intraparty variation and disagreement, party-based clubs for students can help establish a clearer outline of the contours and ideological breadth of each political party. Party-affiliated organizations can also provide a place for students to find agreement, rather than dissent, that uplifts their principles and helps them better defend their policy stances. 

That philosophy has received representation through Jesuit’s only current ideological club: Young Conservatives for Change. Established this year by senior Caesar Tyson, the club outlines its purpose as “a space for students that identify with more traditional conservative values or beliefs to engage in healthy discussion and debate, as well as introducing ideas to others and establishing a rough idea of this ideology” (Jesuit Clubs and Activities Guide). Tyson declined a request for comment. 

Given Young Conservatives’ mission statement, the club’s pursuits appear twofold: it attempts to create a mutual space for conservative students while also establishing the merits of conservatism. However, both the name of the club and its description leave unclear what precise branch of “conservative” ideology it plans to emphasize. 

Even some students with a partisan affiliation are hesitant towards the precedent Young Conservatives sets for ideologically-oriented clubs on campus, particularly concerning their potential for creating an echo chamber in an already fraught partisan environment. 

“If you have Young Conservatives club, and if we were to have a Young Liberals club, all that’s happening is people are going to go to the clubs that they align with and they’re going to be indoctrinated with what they already believe,” Easwar said. “They’re never going to get the idea that this country is one that’s built on cooperation and bipartisan relationships.”

Young Conservatives for Change has yet to meet since its creation, and as a monthly club, its impact on political discourse outside the confines of the club remains indeterminate. However, rumors have abounded among the student body since word spread of Young Conservatives’ existence, suggesting students have more opinions about party affiliation than politically neutral outlets allow for. 

“I think that underneath the surface there’s a lot of stigma based on the connotations each party has,” senior Lauren Haines said. “If your parents are conservative and constantly talking about how stupid the other party is, then if your friend is like, ‘hey, I’m a liberal,’ there’s going to be at least an undercurrent of malease.”

Regardless of whether Young Conservatives for Change will prove itself an effective forum for students to transparently discuss their interpretations and disagreements with party labels or if it will devolve into an insulated safe space, Haines acknowledges the cultural tension that avoiding partisan discussions creates within the student body. 

“Young Conservatives is grounded in rumor and speculation, and the same problem exists with liberalism and conservatism at this school,” Haines said. “If people are not willing to talk explicitly about it, if you can’t talk about something to etch out its nuances, you’re not going to be able to define conservatism more than this shadowy figure, and I think that’s the problem with party and politics at this school.”

About the Writer
Photo of Shawna Muckle
Shawna Muckle, Alumni 2017-2020

Shawna Muckle, 17, is a senior at Jesuit High School. She has been a member of the Chronicle staff for three years in various capacities, and she is currently...

Andrew Yang and the Democrats

Andrew+Yang+just+chillin

Gage Skidmore through Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Yang just chillin

Over the course of 2019, presidential candidate Andrew Yang has seemingly sprung out of nowhere into the political spotlight. But what makes him so popular?

“Andrew Yang’s experience in tech and entrepreneurship sets him apart from anyone else trying to find their way to the Oval Office in 2020.” Senior Ethan Kerman thinks, ”He brings unique ideas to the table and changes our perception on what is possible. Most importantly, his Universal Basic Income policy, and Value Added Tax are extremely popular among his supporters”.

A Universal Basic Income is a periodic payment to each citizen of a country, and in Yang’s case, he proposed that each citizen would receive $1000 per month. He says that this payment will lead to a “trickle up economy”, where the middle class uses their widespread ability to stimulate the economy.

A Value Added Tax counters the actions of large tech companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, who take a large portion of their consumer’s data and sell it to the highest bidder. Yang’s advocates for this tax because it allows the government to tax that data, closing the loophole these companies use to take advantage of their patrons.

Yang’s ideas and opinions have sparked much delight from the millennial generation, who have taken the Internet by storm with “Yang Gang” memes and support pages.

But how are the other Democratic candidates appealing to broader audiences? 

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren offered her plan for a “Ultra-Millionaire Tax”, which is a tax on people with a net worth upwards of $50 million, an abolition of the death penalty, and among many others, an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. She has gained support from lower-middle class voters.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has long stood with his policies of Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, and his most controversial item, tuition-free public college education. Sanders has support from all over the age and race spectrum, with significant followings from younger black voters.

Former Vice President Joe Biden stands with plans to expand student debt-relief programs, to stop the use of tariffs to pressure countries because of the effect it has on the American economy, and a promotion of researching new, clean methods of nuclear energy production. Biden’s primary voter base resides in the older population.

As of the writing of this article, the next democratic debates are Nov. 20 and Dec. 19, 2019, with six more to be scheduled for the first half of 2020.

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Meet the Other Candidates

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Former Vice President of

the U.S.

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Senator from Massachusetts

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Senator from Vermont

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Senator from New Jersey

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Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

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Senator from California

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Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Obama era)

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Senator from Minnesota

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