Tag Archives: UWF Argonaut

UWF’s 2016 Relay For Life crosses the finish line

By Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

money relay

Photo courtesy of UWF’s Relay for Life Facebook page.

On Friday evening, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and cancer victims ran not only for their lives, but for the lives of others.

The University of West Florida’s Relay For Life is a yearly event, one of many across the nation, which raises money for cancer research and raises awareness to the struggles that cancer victims and their families go through every day.

“We participate in Relay every year, Relay is very important to us,” junior Christina Shuster, of the Zeta Psi Eta sorority, said. “It’s for a good cause and it’s a really fun time.”

This year’s theme was to “toon” out cancer, inspiring the organizations to theme their booths to cartoon characters, adding to the fun that Shuster referred to.

The organizations who participated, became a part of Relay’s rebuilding year . Relay returned to the track following 2015’s rain out, the end time was pushed up to 2 AM, and there was decrease in sponsorship, supplemented by SGA.

Even with all of the changes, students never lost sight of what Relay is all about.


Photo courtesy of UWF’s Relay for Life Facebook page.

“It’s important to show your support, because cancer affects everyone,” senior Kirby Thomas, of the Students for Social change, said. “It would be great to have that community everywhere you go, of people who are trying to help better people’s lives.”

Relay featured a host of activities used to keep students engaged with the event, a job which prompted them to end earlier in order to make sure the event ended on a high note. Relay participants were treated to music, games and themed laps which made the evening move more swiftly and enjoyably.

The luminaria ceremony, a staple of Relay for Life, was incredibly moving. A single bagpipe player led a silent procession around the track as, the word “cure” glowed in on the field. The ceremony is used to honor those who have lost their battle with cancer.

Relay continued on through the night and early morning. By the end of the event, UWF Relay had raised $13,539.43, for the American Cancer Society. Proceeds which go to cancer research and also keeping the ACS’s doors open.

“It’s all non-profit, all of our funding comes from donations, you have to pay all the employees and I don’t think people realize that,” junior Megan Hossler, of the Kugleman Honors Program, said. Hossler is also a volunteer at the ACS.

“Things like this really help fund the research for cancer and create more birthdays,” Hossler said. “It’s just really great having a bunch of people come out and fundraise in a really exciting and fun way.”

Want to read more about Relay for Life? Click here to check out Kelsi Gatley’s article about the Luminaria Ceremony.

Annual walk supports people living with MS, raises funds for research, treatment

By Claudia Carlson

Staff Writer

end ms forever

Walk MS: Pensacola, which took place Saturday, April 9, at Bayview Park, was an event filled with hope. The purpose of the annual walk is to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis.

“The National MS Society has been involved in Northern Florida for about 27 years and has been coming to Pensacola for 15 years,” Courtney Buchman, Walk MS manager, said. “We are the No. 1 funders of MS research in the world. We do this through events and our financial assistance. We have other events like MS Service Day, as well as Walk MS, that help us raise money.”

About 450 people registered for the walk. Participants chose either a one-mile walk or a 5k. Though there was no fee to participate, walkers were encouraged to raise money to donate to the National MS Society. If at least $125 was raised, the participant received a 2016 Walk T-shirt, with other prizes for additional fundraising. Before the walk began, teams raised more than $20,000 of the $26,000 goal, Buchman said. Donations for this event are being taken until May 13. You can donate online through the website.

Some of the people who participated in the walk are currently living with MS. Others were there with loved ones fighting the disease and some were there who just wanted to support the cause.

“I was diagnosed with MS in July of 2015,” participant Josh Lyons said. “I am 32 years old and a police officer. One day I was at the shooting range and I couldn’t shoot, I just couldn’t see. I was in the Marine Corps for five years, so there was no reason why I couldn’t shoot. I knew something was wrong.”

“I went to see my doctor and at first I was diagnosed with vertigo. Then things started to get worse and I was walking like a drunk man even though I hadn’t had a drink,” Lyons said. “I am on two different types of medication, one to deal with my MS and another one to help with my walking. I have good days and bad days; today has not been the best, but I was able to do the walk for a little bit at least. This is my first year living with MS, so this is my first year at the walk or anything with MS, but my wife has been pushing to get involved with the National MS Society.”

Lyons had a great support system around him — Team Lyons, which was the No. 1 fundraising team as of the beginning of the walk with more than $4,000. They had T-shirts, signs and even a tent.

Treatments and medications are being researched and improved by the National MS Society to help ensure that each person living with MS can live a quality life.

“I work for Genzyme, and we have two MS medications that are used on patients today,” Pamela Woodson said. “Lemtrada, which is our newest drug, is an IV therapy for relapsing MS. Aubagio is the other, which is an oral agent that is taken once a day.”

For information on the National MS Society, call 1-800-344-4867 or visit the website.

‘Listen to your heart, think for yourself’

By Mackenzie Kees

Opinions Editor

 These are some of the notecards created by Baptist Bible Bookstore found in the philosophy section at Barnes & Noble. Photo by Mackenzie Kees.

These are some of the notecards created by Bible Baptist Bookstore found in the philosophy section at Barnes & Noble.
Photo by Mackenzie Kees.

We have all seen those people on the side of the road with the signs dedicated to one or another of the various gods from modern religions. These people may force you to take one of their pamphlets, but otherwise seem (relatively) harmless. They feel the need to spread the word of God, and that’s their prerogative — but what happens when that self-appointed privilege starts to interfere with another person’s way of life?

I’m standing in the philosophy section of Barnes & Noble in Pensacola on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve been coming here for the past several months in something akin to a ritual in search of seemingly innocent little notecards.

At the size of an average business card, the notecard I find today is sticking out between pages 19 and 20 of “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. It is red and bears the message: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. – John 3:18.” The phrase “is condemned already” has been underlined, and following the Bible verse there’s a handwritten message scrawled. It reads: “Why go to Hell? You Must Be Born Again!”

There are several things wrong with this scenario, the most obvious being that this little notecard does not belong in this book. It has been added by an outside party not associated with Barnes & Noble, but by another bookstore in fact, which some argue is unethical.

The second most obvious problem that the notecard’s creator, Bible Baptist Bookstore, does not seem to understand is that most people reading a book authored by Dawkins do not believe in a hell. As such, the message being conveyed will likely fall on deaf ears; at most it will cause annoyance and invoke incredulous feelings in its reader.

If Bible Baptist Bookstore’s intent was to spread the word of God, shouldn’t the message have been aimed at explaining the principles of Christianity instead of just a blanket condemnation against all those who disagree with them? I have only found notecards in books regarding reason, those usually favored by non-believers, which indicates that their goal was not as innocent as just “spreading the word.” The true purpose of the notecard was to tell anyone who picked up the book that they were going to hell for not believing in God.

Most religious people don’t realize that the god they believe in has more to do with the happenstance of birth than it does anything else. People raised in the Middle East tend to believe in Allah, while people born in the West are more inclined to believe in the Judeo-Christian God. Children raised in religious families are usually indoctrinated into the religion of their parents without ever being taught to question it. This perpetuates the cycle of religion being passed on from father to son and so forth, which makes it seem more like a tradition than a true belief.

I will forever be grateful to my mother for stopping this cycle in my own family. Growing up, she always told my sister Libby and I to “listen to your heart and think for yourself.” I was never told that I had to think a certain way in order to get into heaven or else I would be damned to hell for all of eternity. The way the Bible focuses on the horrors of hell could scare the bravest of children, whom are already impressionable, into believing out of fear, and believing in God simply for fear of being reprimanded in the afterlife is not an honorable reason to have faith in Him.

Without being well-informed, it would be impossible to make a reasonable decision about any religion, let alone choose one to practice. I’ve strived throughout my life to make sure that I never squander my mom’s precious gift to me by learning everything I can about all religions, so every time I see another intolerable notecard at Barnes & Noble, I can’t help but be frustrated. I have to wonder if the person behind these cards ever researched religions beyond his or her own. Did he or she even try to understand the world from another religious perspective? What makes him so intolerable to systems of belief different from his own?

As I grew up and evolved intellectually, I came to understand something important about myself: I fit in nowhere. It seems like a depressing thought, but in actuality it is incredibly liberating. I stopped trying to figure out where I fit in and simply let myself be. It was that freedom that helped me to realize I am best described as a Humanist.

As a Humanist, I believe that “human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanism stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. Humanism is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.” The International Humanist and Ethical Union’s mission statement really spoke to me. It felt right.

After months of holding on to them obsessively, I’ve finally allowed myself to let go and trash the numerous notecards bearing messages of hate and fanaticism. I’ve realized that my obsession with these notecards has more to do with me trying to understand the human psyche than anger. All that is left of my former frustration and indignation is a terrible sadness, but underneath it all hope still glimmers. Hope for the future of mankind and a vision of a world that will finally free itself from the shackles of intolerance. This world will be filled with people who love each other rather than a distant supernatural father figure. It will be a world full of love, acceptance and peace.

UWF Relay for Life sprints toward a brighter future

By Kenny Detwyler
Contributing Writer

relayUWF’s 2016 Relay for Life hit the ground running long before anyone stepped foot onto a track.

This year’s Relay is different from years past, as event organizers have taken Relay for Life into uncharted territory by becoming a registered student organization (RSO).

Becoming an RSO provides UWF Relay a seat on the Campus Collaboration Board, easier access to venues, access to SGA funding and a presence on campus that extends beyond the one-night-only Relay for Life event.

“Last year and the year before that, it was very hard to reserve things,” event co-lead Nicholas Barrios said. “Ten percent of what was fundraised went back into being able to pay for pizza, police officers, and for the property that we were going to be on. We’re not just some outside source anymore, we’re a part of the university.”

Becoming an RSO was only the first step in the rebuilding process that UWF Relay took on. The event was plagued with fundraising troubles, a decrease in sponsorship support, and a need to revamp the UWF Relay experience.

“In order to rebuild this Relay, we took it apart over the summer and looked at why we weren’t being successful,” event co-lead James Hebbel said.

The UWF Relay committee looked at all aspects of event. This year they focused on changing the closing ceremonies as a possible way to enhance the participant experience. Relays normally last 12 hours, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. However, UWF Relay is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. and end at 2 a.m. instead.

“We realized that in the past, we never had a true closing ceremony,” Hebble said.

Hebble and the rest of the Relay staff noticed that students didn’t enjoy staying until 7 a.m. So, in order to ensure that participants stay at least until closing, the end time was moved up in order to keep the event more condensed.

“Going forward, if everyone stays until 2 a.m. and is still excited about Relay, maybe we can progressively change the time, and get back to a 12-hour relay,” Hebble said.

Also, the Relay staff is hoping for fairer weather than they experienced at last year’s event.

“Last year I was the logistics chair, and we made the decision, three days out, to come inside. It was hectic and crazy,” Barrios said. “It’s going to be a lot more exciting outside. We’ll actually be allowed to do the laps that are inside the American Cancer Society rule book.”

In addition to the changes in schedule, UWF’s Relay will also feature a new Snapchat filter, which will be available for participants sharing their experience on social media. Also, with the aid of SGA dollars, the Relay staff will be able to provide more of their own merchandising.

Even with all the new additions and changes to Relay, the committee has not lost sight of what this event means to the survivors and participants who look forward to Relay for Life each year.

“Everyone always associates cancer with old people, but on our campus our committee is comprised of 19 members. At one point we had seven committee members that had been affected by cancer,” Hebble said. “It really brings together the community that you go to school with. It’s one night that everyone can come together and have fun,” Hebble said.  “We’re all coming together to essentially end the fight against cancer.”

UWF’s Relay for Life 2016 event will be held on the UWF soccer fields on Friday, April 8. For more information on how you can donate to Relay for Life visit the website. To keep up with events leading up to Relay for Life, follow the Facebook Page.

Graffiti Bridge: Pensacola’s voice for the people

By Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor


An historic look (circa 1935) at the 17th street underpass fondly known as “Graffiti Bridge” by locals.
Photo courtesy of Florida Memory.

The purpose of a landmark is essentially straightforward: to mark the land. This is done for several reasons, but mainly landmarks are used as navigational points. However, in this modern age, landmarks have become more and more passé with the spread of technology. Google Maps and other apps now are considered the norm for getting directions. So where does that leave landmarks?

Pensacola’s “Graffiti Bridge” is one such landmark, but it refuses to grow obsolete. It’s true that CSX Transportation has been using the bridge’s rails for many years, but that is usually more of a hindrance to locals than a help. If that were the bridge’s only purpose, the interest would likely be nonexistent. But it does have another purpose: aesthetics.

The 17th Street underpass is more than just a bridge; it is a way for people to communicate, to share ideas, hopes, fears and everything in between through the use of artwork. Some people abuse this gift to spread hate, but the general goodwill of most Pensacolians always overwhelms the haters.

Graffiti Bridge is not only a palette for artwork, either. It also inspires it.

One Pensacola resident harnessed this inspiration to create a book consisting of Graffiti Bridge images, taken over the span of a year. “What [the naysayers] taught me was that even though somebody’s story is covered up and changed, it’s really never gone, and that’s the same with people,” said Rachael Pongetti, the photographer behind the 365-day project. “People’s lives and their stories are written on that bridge, and they tell something important, and even though it’s gone in a matter of a few hours, it’s really not gone; it simply became a layer.”

Pongetti, a UWF graduate, has been an art instructor at both Pensacola State College and UWF. She’s also worked with PACE Center for Girls and the Pensacola Museum of Art. Pongetti’s book “Layers” is expected to come out sometime in the next few months, but no official date has been confirmed.

“I consider spray painting the bridge a right of passage,” said Cody Lonon, a UWF senior majoring in Health Science. “It’s something that everyone does at least once in high school or in college. If you haven’t, you’re one of few.”

“Tagging” Graffiti Bridge has become a tradition for locals, so much so that the Pensacola Police Department does not interfere when the bridge is being painted. They have been known to show up to supervise, but overall they are encouraging. It is the only place in Pensacola where graffiti can be painted legally.

The bridge is in a constant state of flux, because it is always changing. Pongetti said she feels that this is one of the best aspects about Graffiti Bridge. It allows for freedom of expression through the use of images and words. Pensacola residents are encouraged to leave their own mark on the beloved Graffiti Bridge and add to the multiple layers already there.


Another day, another version of the Graffiti Bridge.
Photo courtesy of Pensacola Graffiti Project.

“Graffiti Bridge serves as a platform for expression. It is a stage to express political views, a billboard to inform of upcoming events, and a canvas for street artists,” Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward III said in a statement to First City Art Center, which hosted an exhibition of the book’s photos in April 2015.

The Graffiti Bridge has its own Facebook page where you can keep up with the new artwork on a daily basis. You can see a time-lapse video that Pongetti made on YouTube. For more on Pongetti’s project, visit her website.


This puppy is welcome on campus

By Kelsi Gately
Staff Writer


Marty at nine months.
Photo courtesy of Melissa Pisarski.

Guide dogs have a big responsibility, helping their owners get from place to place and accomplish daily tasks. But before guide dogs go through formal training, they live with puppy raisers who help socialize them and teach them basic obedience.

Currently two UWF roommates living in Pace Hall are volunteering with Southeastern Guide Dogs to raise a guide dog, Marty.

“As puppy raisers, our official role consists of basic training, exposure to different environments and people, and encouragement of critical thinking and confidence from the dogs,” said Abbie Kellett, sophomore communications major. “Our unofficial role is that of public educator and advocate for not only Southeastern [Guide Dogs], but all service animals in training.”

Marty is a yellow lab who came from Palmetto, Florida, and has been with the roommates since the Fall 2015 semester. Puppies stay with their trainers for about one year before going on to formal training.

Southeastern Guide Dogs is a non-profit organization that raises and trains guide dogs in Florida and neighboring states. According to the website, their mission is: “To create and nurture a partnership between a visually impaired individual and a guide dog, facilitating life’s journey with mobility, independence and dignity.” Anyone over the age 18 can apply to be a puppy raiser.

Puppy raisers are legally required to be treated the same as someone who has a service animal. According to Florida Statue 418.08: “Any trainer of a service animal, while engaged in the training of such an animal, has the same rights and privileges with respect to access to public facilities.”

This means that if you see Marty around campus, she is a working dog and needs to be focused at all times. A notice has been posted at the residence hall asking people not to whistle, call to her or otherwise distract Marty from her work.southern

Currently there are no rules in the UWF Housing Handbook concerning guide dogs living in residence halls. It is done on a case-by-case basis.

“Raising Marty has taught me more about patience than any other experience has,” said Melissa Pisarski, sophomore journalism major with a minor in forensic studies and psychology. “She empowers everyone she works with. I’m empowered because I’ve learned about myself. Her partner will be empowered with freedom and independence.”

Guide dog organizations are always looking for volunteers to help love and raise puppies. Besides Southeastern, another such organization is Guide Dogs for the Blind. Just know that when it comes time for your puppy to receive formal training, between 14-20 months, it may be difficult to let go.

To read more about Marty, click to visit Kellett’s blog.

UWF baseball shaves heads to save lives

By Grier Wellborn

Sports Editor

 The UWF baseball team gathers for a picture after shaving their heads to support the Vs. Cancer Foundation. Photo courtesy goargos.com.

The UWF baseball team gathers for a picture after shaving their heads to support the Vs. Cancer Foundation.
Photo courtesy goargos.com.

Teammates who work together on the field are strong. Teammates who work together off the field are stronger.

The University of West Florida baseball team shaved their heads Friday, March 18, at Jim Spooner Field to support national childhood cancer research. The event, while short, has had a lasting impact on the team.

The Vs. Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization that uses a half-and-half model to fund the cause; they donate half of their proceeds to cancer research, and the other half directly to children battling the life-threatening disease. The Vs. Cancer Foundation empowers athletes and communities to come together in efforts to save lives.

First to step up to shave his head was senior catcher Ben Emery. Emery battled pediatric lymph node cancer as child and has been cancer-free for the past five years.

“As a five-year pediatric cancer survivor, I am constantly motivated to raise awareness, fundraise, and support the fight against cancer, especially in children,” Emery said. “When we were told that we would be fundraising for and working with kids battling cancer, it hit close to home.”

When they learned they would be raising money for cancer, Emery and a few other players decided to shave their heads to provide moral support for the children. The decision by a few players turned into an event for the entire team.

Even Head Coach Mike Jeffcoat got in on the action and shaved his head with the team as well as the entire coaching staff.

“Fighting for something bigger than baseball has given some perspective on the importance of cohesion to achieve a common goal,” Emery said. “Each member of the team shaving their heads signifies that we are all in this season together and will always have each others’ backs.”

Emery’s battle with cancer inspired his teammates to follow in his footsteps. The players also plan to visit Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital to show their support.

So far, the baseball team has raised more than $2,200 for the Vs. Cancer Foundation.

After shaving their heads, the Argos went on to win the series against the University of West Georgia while also recording the fifth shutout of the season on Sunday’s game. UWG Wolves had not been shut out since spring of 2013.

The Argos recorded the sixth shutout of the season when they traveled to Memphis to face Christian Brothers this weekend. After winning both games in the doubleheader on Friday, the Argos swept the series on Saturday when they shut CBU out 5-0. The Argos now lead the Gulf South Conference in shutouts.

Maybe the Argos successful streak is all thanks to those team head rubs for good luck.

For more information on how to contribute to the Vs. Cancer Foundation, visit vs-cancer.org.

For the complete UWF baseball schedule visit goargos.com

15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference encourages change

By Kaitlin Lott

Staff Writer

 Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was presented with the Mary F. Rodgers Women’s Studies Faculty Award at the 15th annual women’s studies conference on March 21.

Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was presented with the Mary F. Rodgers Women’s Studies Faculty Award at the 15th annual women’s studies conference on March 21.

As doors opened for the Mary F. Rodgers Luncheon and Award Presentation Ceremony during the 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference, students, alumni and presenters engaged in talk of feminist issues, change and campus awareness.

The conference was held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, in the Commons Conference Center. Forums from “Women in the Early Americas” to “Male Privilege” were in full swing, as well as student art and poster presentations covering sexual violence to women’s rights. Awards were presented to both students and staff at the conference, which concluded the night with keynote speaker Anne Fausto-Sterling.

The Mary F. Rodgers luncheon is named in honor of a Women’s Studies faculty member who taught classes in feminist theory, social change and reform, social justice and inequality, and qualitative research. Rodgers first position with UWF was in 1976 as an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She later she served as chairperson two years for this department prior to serving as the acting dean for the College of Arts and Sciences from 1984 to 1986. Rodgers died unexpectedly at the age of 64 on February 27, 2009. Colleagues and friends remember Rodgers as an inspiring, brilliant success, a “champion of the underdog and the underprivileged” who remains an inspiration to students, colleagues and administrators at UWF.

As guests took their seats, Steven F. Brown, dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, congratulated and introduced Jamie Snyder, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, as the annual faculty recipient of the Mary F. Rodgers Women’s Studies Faculty Award. The recipient of this award receives a $500 award, speaks at the annual Women’s Studies Conference and is selected for his or her significant contribution to the Women’s Gender Studies.

“I heard someone once say the important things in life are the ones that happen in the margin, that happen sometimes between the lines. I think nowhere is that more true that UWF’s campus,” Brown said. “What is important are the things we experience outside of the classroom.  But truthfully, the things that restructure, reform, redirect society and culture are most often those things that take place outside of the classroom, allowing us to congeal, develop and to apply the truth and the facts that we’ve picked up.”

Brown continued to explain the value of how the Women’s Studies Conference, in lieu of Snyder’s efforts and studies, may not line up with typical classroom norms, but disrupt and challenge the minds of students.

“The disruption of the normal, of the traditional, of the status quo, if we can’t do that, of what benefit are we to society?” Brown said. “How do we hope to ever have a positive impact on the growth and the development of society? So really what you’re involved with here is to an extent a disruptive activity, and I congratulate you on that.”

Snyder said she was “excited and humbled to receive the award.” She said she wanted to be a psychologist or psychiatrist, but ultimately took a different career path. “In my sophomore undergraduate year of college, I had the opportunity to work for the National Institute for Occupation of Safety and Health,” Snyder said. She began to change her focus to workplace violence, and soon became heavily interested in victimization of college students. After narrowing her focus, she remained on the same topic of study throughout her graduate and doctorate studies. Currently her specialization is victimology.

Her presentation focused on factors for sexual victimization from intimate partner violence to sexual violence. Snyder covered in-depth factors that increase victimization in college students, such as their social habits, whether or not they are in a sorority or fraternity, their sexual orientation and whether or not they had ADHD. Her presentation was a summary of data collected and reviewed from a case study of 26,000 college student representatives nationwide.

After answering the audience’s questions, Snyder stressed her appreciation for the award and the Women’s Studies Program. “It’s not every day that you get to stand up in front of a room of people and talk about what you’re passionate about,” Snyder said.

The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies interdisciplinary specialization focuses on educational excellence, personal growth, civic awareness and unique learning opportunities besides the everyday classroom curriculum. Students involved in the program learn how raising questions, creating new knowledge and problem solving can be mastered from different disciplines and various directions, in regards to a wide range of majors and minors regardless of their focus.

Erica Miller and Brittany Hammock, co-presidents of the Women’s Studies Collective, and Katherine Romack, coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, dedicated this year’s conference to Women’s Studies program supporters. The conference would not be possible without the generosity of its sponsors and continuous help from all of the organizations involved.

For more information regarding the Women and Gender Studies Program, contact Romack at kromack@uwf.edu or the program advisor, Rebecca Steward, at 474-2672, or visit the Women’s Studies page.

The nitty-gritty: Who thinks what and everything else you need to know before the Florida primaries

By Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor

The 2016 race for the presidency is well under way in the United States, and so far it has been wrought with mudslinging, half-truths and outright lies, and even has devolved further into thinly-veiled allegations and petty name-calling. Instead of thoroughly discussing the issues facing America today, the debates often entail several candidates talking at the same time with each one determined to be the loudest.

The Florida primaries are this Tuesday, March 15, and many voters will be forced to cast their ballot without truly understanding what each candidate wants for the future of America. The voters are not to blame for this miscarriage of justice, but nevertheless they are the ones who will suffer the consequences of it.

The Voyager has created this guide for you to study each candidate and his or her stance on the issues of utmost importance before you cast a vote this Tuesday. Deciding what issues are essential to the running of this country is a daunting task in itself, because in one way or another they are all important, but it is imperative that a few be chosen to concentrate on. The problems facing the world today are too numerous to hope that a single candidate will agree with everyone’s opinions for each issue.

Once the key issues have been decided upon, it is time to research what the candidates think about each one. This, too, can be daunting, because, as the old saying goes, “all politicians lie,” and it can be hard for voters to determine when a candidate actually is lying. Fortunately, in this modern age, we have the Internet, where information can be accessed effortlessly, and several organizations exist to provide citizens with information.

If winning a Pulitzer price is any indication of merit, PolitiFact is one such organization that can be trusted. PolitiFact is a division of the newspaper Tampa Bay Times, a self-described “independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics.” All the information provided lists sources to validate its authenticity.

On The Issues is a nonpartisan website also dedicated to providing “information for voters in the Presidential election, so that votes can be based on issues rather than on personalities and popularity,” according to its mission statement. The staff conducts research using documents such as debate transcripts, voting records, statements to the media and citations from books authored by the candidate in order to formulate their findings.

The research cited in this article was traced back to the original sources for all of the information contained here. References are provided in the conclusion for those who wish to do their own digging. This article has attempted to simplify the material on each candidate, with the goal of making your voting experience easier by proving accurate information on each candidate.


trumpDonald Trump, 69, is a real estate developer and businessman well known for his television personality and superb entrepreneurial skills. Unlike the other candidates, Trump lacks a background in government affairs, leading some to call him a “breath of fresh air” from the usual contenders who are constantly ingrained in Washington politics. However, this notable lack of experience with the inner workings of the government has some claiming that Trump is inept to deal with most of the traditional duties performed by the president.

As shown in the above graphic, Trump currently leads in the polls with 458 delegates (as of March 11), leaving him 779 delegates away from the Republican nomination for president. Despite his apparent success, PolitiFact has found that most of the statements made by Trump were either “false” or “pants on fire” false, which is their way of saying a totally invented fabrication. For the “true” declarations made by Trump, a dismal 1 percent of the judged statements fall under this category. So what does Trump actually think about the issues?

ABORTION: “The biggest problem I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. I mean it’s like an abortion factory, frankly, and you can’t have it and you shouldn’t be funding it. It shouldn’t be funded by the government.”— Aug. 11, 2015, in an interview with CNN.

HEALTH CARE: “The one thing we have to do is repeal and replace ObamaCare. It is a disaster. People’s premiums are going up 35 percent, 45 percent, 55 percent. Their deductibles are so high nobody’s ever going to get to use it. So ObamaCare is turning out to be a bigger disaster than anybody thought.” — Oct. 25, 2015, in an interview with Martha Raddatz of “ABC This Week.”

IMMIGRATION: “We are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall [on the Mexican border]. The wall will be built. The wall will be successful. And if you think walls don’t work, all you have to do is ask Israel. The wall works, believe me. Properly done. Believe me.”—  Nov. 10, 2015, in an interview with Fox Business.


ted cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 45, has experience in Congress after accumulating several years of service in the U.S. Senate. Cruz is currently trailing behind Trump in the polls with 359 delegates of the total 1,237 required to win the Republican nomination. As seen in the graphic above, most of Cruz’s statements have been judged to be almost 60 percent false by PolitiFact. His numbers are an improvement on Trump’s results, but they still leave room for voters to question his sincerity.

FOREIGN POLICY: “What we need is a commander in chief that makes clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant. I introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joins ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don’t use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.” —Aug. 16, 2015, in an interview with Fox News.

EDUCATION: “We need to repeal Common Core. We need to get the federal government out of the business of dictating educational standards. Education is far too important for it to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It should be at the state level or even better at the local level. ”— at the Heritage Foundation’s Conservative Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., January 2015.

GUN CONTROL: “The right to self-defense is an essential component of the liberty we enjoy as Americans and is embodied in the Second Amendment. From successfully protecting law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights at the Supreme Court, to defeating legislation that sought to take away this right, I have always championed the right to keep and bear arms.” — statement on his official campaign website.



Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, 44, is a practiced attorney, politician and junior senator from the state of Florida. Rubio has dabbled in many occupational fields over the years, such as teaching and founding a law firm, which has afforded him a different perspective than the other candidates. His solid background in all things politics comes from years of working his way up the latter in the House of Representatives and the Senate alike.

Most of Rubio’s statements are a mix between “mostly true,” “half true,” and “mostly false,” according to the results of PolitiFact’s findings, pictured in the graphic above. In comparison to his fellow Republican running mates, Rubio shows more balance between what he says and what he means. Out of the three Republican contenders, Rubio does the best to sticking to the truth, which is an admirable quality in a politician.

ABORTION: “There is no doubt that a woman has a right to her own body, has a right to make decisions about her own health and her own future. There’s no doubt. And then, there’s this other right. And that’s the right of a human being to live. And these rights come into conflict when it comes to this issue. And, so, you have to make a decision … But when asked to make a decision between two very hard circumstances, I’ve personally reached the conclusion if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life. I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions.” — Aug. 9, 2015, at a Meet The Press interview.

JOBS: “If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn’t. In the 20th century, it’s a disaster. If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated. Here’s the best way to raise wages: Make America the best place in the world to start a business or expand an existing business.” —  Nov. 10, 2015, at a First Tier debate hosted by Fox Business.

GUN CONTROL: “My position on guns is pretty clear. I believe law-abiding people have a fundamental, constitutional right to bear arms. And I believe criminals and dangerous people should not have access to guns. There are laws that protect those two things — but many of these [additional] gun laws are ineffective. They don’t do those things. They either infringe on the rights of law-abiding people and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And I’m troubled this debate is about guns. It should be about violence. Violence is the problem, guns are what they’re using. We are missing a golden opportunity to have an open, honest and serious conversation about these horrific violent acts, because everyone’s focused on passing these laws that have proven ineffective.” — April 14, 2013, at an interview with CNN SOTU.




Hillary Clinton, 68, is the former U.S. Secretary of State, a position she held for the first four years of the Obama administration. Clinton’s resume also includes a stint on the Senate, as well as eight years of holding the title of first lady. Her previous roles in the White House give her a level of expertise that her competitors lack. She knows what it takes to be president from watching her husband experience it, and she has felt the enormous amount of pressure it can cause. One thing to be certain about Clinton is that she knows exactly what she is walking into by becoming president. While the other candidates might have an idea of what all it entails, they still lack the actual experience of living through it as she did.

Clinton is currently leading in the polls with 760 of the 2,383 delegate votes needed to win the Democratic nomination. This figure does not include the superdelegates, where Clinton has a substantial lead, because their votes can still be changed.

In stark contrast to her Republican counterparts, most of Clinton’s statements have been judged as “true” or “mostly true” by PolitiFact. However, while Clinton’s statements may be true, that does not mean that the inferences she makes from them are always correct. The way one person interprets facts can vary from someone else; it all depends on the individual’s point of view and life experiences. Regardless, Clinton’s statements to the public can be considered relatively true and trustworthy.

ENVIRONMENT: “Today I am announcing a comprehensive strategy to modernize American energy infrastructure and forge a new partnership with Canada and Mexico to combat climate change across the continent, unleashing billions in investment, delivering reliable and affordable energy, protecting the health of our families and communities, and creating good-paying jobs and careers.” — Sept. 23, 2015, in a blog post entitled “Why I oppose Keystone XL.”

EDUCATION:  “[The Common Core] wasn’t politicized. It was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education. Everybody would be looking at what would be learned doing their best to achieve that.” — April 16, 2015, at her first official campaign event in Iowa, via C-SPAN.

DRUGS: “I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief. So, I think we’re just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result of a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana. ”— Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.



Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, 74, previously caucused with Democrats before actually joining the party in 2015. Sanders was the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history before he switched parties.

Sanders has been a long-time defender of civil rights, from his early days as a political activist while attending the University of Chicago to his many careers after graduating college. Sanders’ political conquests include a mayorship, becoming a member of the House of Representatives, and eventually being elected to the U.S. Senate. Sanders is currently behind Clinton in the polls with 546 of the needed 2,383 delegate votes to win the Democratic nomination. This figure does not include the superdelegates, because their votes can still be changed, where Clinton has a substantial lead over Sanders. Like his fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, most of Sanders’ statements have been judged to be “true,” “mostly true,” and “half true” by PolitiFact.

CIVIL RIGHTS: “Black lives matter. The African-American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and three days later she’s dead in jail. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major reforms in a broken criminal justice system. I intend to make sure people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.” — Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas.

ECONOMY: “Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people. What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have. It is immoral and wrong that the top 1/10 of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent – almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.” — Oct. 13, 2015, at the CNN Democratic primaries in Las Vegas.

FOREIGN POLICY: “[Obama] is trying to defeat ISIS. He’s trying to get rid of this horrendous dictator, Assad. But at the same time, he doesn’t want our troops stuck on the ground. And I agree with that. But I am maybe a little bit more conservative on this than he is. I worry that once we get sucked into this, once some of our troops get killed and once maybe a plane gets shot down, that we send more in and more in. But I will say this. ISIS must be defeated primarily by the Muslim nations in that region. America can’t do it all. And we need an international coalition. Russia should be part of it — U.K., France, the entire world – supporting Muslim troops on the ground, fighting for the soul of Islam and defeating this terrible ISIS organization.” — Nov. 8, 2015, during an interview on “ABC This Week.”


The Florida primaries are approaching fast; only those who are registered as a Republican or Democrat (not Independent) may participate. This vote will determine the two main candidates who will be in the running for the presidency, so its importance cannot be denied.

For those who are unsure of which candidate they agree with, take the ISideWith quiz to see which candidate best reflects your beliefs.

The information provided in this article has been verified and fact-checked. Links to the various sites where this information can be found are listed below.





Associated Press

The New York Times



UWF’s calendar is jam-packed after spring break

By Sydney O’Gwynn
Staff Writer


“Spring into Action: Professional Development Symposium” will give students the opportunity to speak with career professionals and UWF alumni.
Photo courtesy of UWF Alumni Services.

Spring break gives students plenty of things to do — travel, visit Florida’s famous beaches or even catch up on a good book — but there are also plenty of events that will be happening at the University of West Florida for when we Argonauts come back to school.

The 15th annual UWF Women’s Studies Conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, in the UWF Conference Center. The event will be highlighted by keynote speaker Anne Fausto-Sterling. For more information about the event, visit the website.

“Day of Exploration, a Majors Fair” will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, on the Cannon Green. Previously called “Day of Declaration,” the event is open to current UWF students undecided in their majors or looking to learn more about the majors they have already chosen. Booths will be set up from the various colleges around campus with faculty and staff ready to address questions and hand out informational materials.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get some one-on-one time with people from departments that maybe they haven’t gotten to talk with yet, and for them to learn more about the internship opportunities, the potential career opportunities, and the future that might be available to them,” said Lindsey Walk, an associate director for Career Services. Walk said the event is a good stepping stone for students in their collegiate careers.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to come learn more about all of the options that are available on campus in terms of degree programs,” she said.

She also said this event is not only for non-major students, but also for students wanting to learn more about their own major and what they can do with it.

“I had a lot of students last year that told me they had already declared a major and that they were glad to have come,” she said. “So it’s definitely still for those who have chosen a major.”

Free pizza and drinks will be provided. In the case of bad weather, the event will be moved to the Commons Auditorium.

The Education Club will host the first Recess Day from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 24. Various events, including corn hole, tug-o-war, relay races and even a campus-wide scavenger hunt, are planned. It is $5, and the money raised will go to Relay for Life.

“I think it is very important for us to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” Jenny Gustafson, president of the Education Club, said. “I think it’s something very important to a lot of people.”

The Education Club is open to anyone who loves education, whether you are an education major or not. The group holds monthly meetings with guest speakers from around the campus or county school district.

“We do a lot of volunteering in local schools, so it’s a great way to get your name out there in the community,” Gustafson said. “We hope everyone comes out and enjoys the day with us,” she said.

The fifth annual “Spring into Action: Professional Development Symposium,” hosted by Alumni Relations, is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in the UWF Conference Center. Free lunch and door prizes will be offered, plus guest speaker Peggy Brockman, an inspirational speaker and author who will discuss how to be a real success and how to connect rather than just communicate.

“The symposium is that opportunity for us to bring those career professionals to campus or to also bring those alumni to campus to connect with these currently enrolled students, one-on-one in a very laid back, comfortable environment,” said Alesia Ross, coordinator for Alumni Services. Ross said she wants students to learn how to forge connections that will help them achieve their plan of success.

“A lot of times [students] don’t realize the benefit on how to network,” she said. “They don’t understand that all it is [is] talking to someone.”

Ross said she is enthusiastic about the event and said she believes both the students and mentors can learn something through interaction with each other.

“I’m always so pumped up to get people into a room and start connecting,” Ross said. ‘There’s so much beauty that comes out of that.”

Admission is free, but those attending need to confirm their attendance through the website by March 17. Once you click on the website, click on the link called Professional Development Symposium to register.

The American Homicide Book Talk will be 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in Building 70, room 115. UWF instructors Richard Hough and Kimberly McCorkle will discuss their newly released textbook, “American Homicide.” UWF faculty, staff and students are invited to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

These are only some of events planned for the last part of the semester. Check the calendar listings at uwf.edu for more events.

So as Spring Break 2016 begins, don’t forget that UWF has a lot in store for when the Argos return!