Tag Archives: University of West Florida

America, the ‘Land of the Free’?

By Tom Moore
Contributing Writer

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“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

For the last 85 years, these famous words from our National Anthem have exemplified the foundation that America has been built on since our forefathers “brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived of liberty, and in which ‘all men are created equal.’”

But are they really? And is this truly the land of the free? On the surface, it certainly looks like it. The Constitution and Bill of Rights seem to offer the average citizen sweeping protections, from the right to free speech, the freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, the right to keep and bear arms, protection of illegal search and seizure, the right to a public trial, and possibly the most quoted one of all: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Yes, that is the Miranda Rights, over quoted and often misquoted on nearly every cop or law show in the country. That is the good news. The bad news is that even with all these protections in place, the United States has the highest level of incarceration in the world.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2015, 2.2 million people, out of the total 323 million people in the United States, are incarcerated. That is a staggering number. That means that one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. That’s a scary figure. When broken down into demographics, the figure gets even scarier. According to a 2008 study reported in the New York Times, one in every 15 black adult males is incarcerated, and one in every 100 black females (“1 in 100 Adults Behind Bars,” Adam Liptak).

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law-enforcement reason,” United States Attorney General Eric Holder said. On Aug. 14, 2013, Holder made this statement before Congress, demanding this situation be addressed and immediately corrected.

Between 1995 and 2009, America saw the biggest growth of imprisonment in U.S. history. Probably the biggest driver of this growth has been ever-harsher drug penalties. In response to the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Congress and state legislatures began passing laws that meted out mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. These were intended to help nab major traffickers, but the sentences were triggered by the mere possession of tiny quantities of drugs. Just five grams of crack resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Conspiracy laws made everyone involved in a drug-running operation legally liable for all of the operation’s activities: a child hired for a few dollars a day to act as a lookout at the door of a crack house was on the hook for all the drugs sold in that house, as well as all the crimes associated with their sale. These are the sorts of laws that have kept America’s prison population growing, even as the overall crime rate has gone down.

Since his statement, Holder and Congress have been putting into effect measures to counteract the drug laws of the 1980s.

Once marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington, state attorneys were instructed to bypass mandatory minimums by simply not recording weight of amount of marijuana under 20 ounces.

Of course, this is only one case in two states, and with just one drug, but, maybe, just maybe, it might be the point where we finally turn away from the horrible trend of locking people up for nonviolent crimes.

“There should be no sentences, let alone mandatory minimums,” said Peter McWilliams in his 1993 bookAin’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in our Free Country.”

McWilliams advocates legalizing all drugs, prostitution, gambling and pornography (except for child pornography). In his book he advocates personal freedom, personal choice and personal responsibility, something he says our society is sorely lacking. “Criminalizing these so-called ‘consensual crimes’ is not only unconstitutional, it’s also counterintuitive from a law-enforcement prospective,” McWilliams claims. “Catching the ‘criminals’ involved in victimless crime is an expensive affair, and this pursuit draws funds manpower away from crimes that do hurt innocent parties. Crimes like murder, rape, human trafficking and domestic violence. Meanwhile, the enforcement of these laws are not consistent enough to be an effective deterrent,” he said.

Only when these pursuits are decriminalized and fully legalized can America once again truly be the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

Graphic Design seniors showcase portfolios at ‘Resolution’ exhibit

By Claudia Carlson
Staff Writer

 The UWF Innovation Center hosted the students’ “Resolution” exit show last week.

The UWF Innovation Center hosted the students’ “Resolution” exit show last week.

UWF Graphic Design graduating seniors got to showcase their work in an exit show, “Resolution,” April 11 through 14 at the UWF Innovation Institute in downtown Pensacola.

The exhibit showcased 14 students’ designs they have worked on throughout the year, for businesses, movie posters and artwork, as well as their business cards and resumes.

“‘Resolution’ started off by deciding on a name that would represent us as a whole,” said Michelle Le, student website designer for “Resolution,” said in an email interview. “From there we created teams that would handle different areas (the exhibition identity, the print catalog, the website, social media promotions, fundraising and environmental design) that would come together to make this exhibition happen.”

According to the accompanying information booklet, written by the students, “‘Resolution,’ the University of West Florida Graphic Design Exit Show, brings together the works of 14 accomplished graphic arts graduates to showcase our efforts in gallery setting. The world is filled with amazingly talented and creative individuals who produce works that touch hearts, excite minds and motivate others in ways that nothing else can. When we began our journey in this field, anticipation and uncertainty filled our minds. Now, as we graduate, we enter that world of talented and creative individuals, well prepared and firmly resolved to become successful designers and make impact in the design community.”

 Fourteen graphic arts students’ works were showcased at the “Resolution” exhibit last week. Photo courtesy “Resolution” website.

Fourteen graphic arts students’ works were showcased at the “Resolution” exhibit last week.
Photo courtesy “Resolution” website.

A closing reception was held at the end of the exhibition, on Thursday, April 14. Family, professors, coworkers and friends were in attendance.

 Jessica Vermeire’s portfolio was one of the 14 displayed at “Resolution.”

Jessica Vermeire’s portfolio was one of the 14 displayed at “Resolution.”

“The reception turned out better than expected. We had local designers come visit us to see our work, and the students from the first previous Graphic Design BFA exhibition visited as well,” Le said.

To find out more about the students of “Resolution,” visit the website.

UWF’s College of Science and Engineering receives a $5 million gift

Spenser Garber

Contributing Writer

The $5 million gift is the largest gift to UWF by a living donor.
Photo by Spenser Garber.

 

In what came as a welcome surprise to everyone, including UWF President Judy Bense, a $5 million gift was given to the College of Science and Engineering by Harold “Hal” Marcus Jr. of Pensacola. His contribution, the largest in school history, will be given to the college to be used for “unique equipment” and “undergraduate resources.”

Along with the gift, presented at a press conference on Tuesday, the College of Science and Engineering will be renamed the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, with Bense describing it as “a brand new building.” This will be the first named college at UWF. Brendan Kelly, vice president of University Advancement, called the donation a “turning point in the history of the university.”

Marcus, who said he felt “happiness and enthusiasm that I did the right thing,” received a degree in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech. His 25-year history with UWF is highlighted by his 10-year term on the Foundation Board from 1998 to 1989. When stating his reason for the gift, he said he “wanted the check to be significant in Judy Bense’s presidency.”

Marcus has an established fellowship with the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, in which $7,000 has been given to a graduate student every year since 1994. His $50,000 donation to the Biomechanics Lab in the Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science funded high-speed motion capture cameras.