Understanding Absolutely Nothing

Recently, The Morning Watch published “MSU Class: Understanding Patriarchy Assigned, Syllabus Says, “Keep an Open Mind” About Incest”.

I will keep my thoughts brief. Such a piece is deserving of no response – but the very nature of internet communication and incentives in academia necessitates it.

In essence, the piece critiques Professor Fox of the sociology department for assigning readings from the peer-reviewed work of a highly respected social theorist, bell hooks.

The perspective of The Morning Watch on the subject matter of this class is encouraged. In fact, hooks writes in order to begin a productive conversation with readers and to eventually reach better understandings of the ‘truth’ that the Morning Watch finds so valuable.

The only critique of Professor Fox that The Morning Watch leverages is of the idea that the class talks about incest and asks students to keep an open mind. However, this ignores the entirety of what is actually written in the syllabus of Professor Fox’s class. The syllabus says:

“This week we start to examine the subject of incest. Please keep an open mind as you read about this emotionally charged subject. It is difficult not to be prejudiced against this subject matter but it is important that as social scientists we learn to maintain objectivity as we study social problems such as incest (Bold added).”

They quote part of this syllabus, but leave out the last sentence which changes the entire meaning of the statement. Ignoring the context of Professor Fox’s syllabus is irresponsible and a deliberate effort to defame a professor who is attempting to engage students in new subject matter. Professor Fox is not asking students to become ‘okay’ with incest, but rather to be open to understanding incest as a social problem. Taking the phrase ‘please keep an open mind’ out of context is just an effort to create a problem that does not exist in Professor Fox’s curriculum.

However, publishing a piece which presents a substantive critique of bell hooks as a critique of a specific, young, fixed-term, female professor at a major university is irresponsible. As much as the editors of The Morning Watch are entitled to their opinion about bell hooks’ work, they are not entitled to frame their critique of Hooks as a critique of a young academic without job security. Articles such as the one published by The Morning Watch reframe the best efforts of energetic instructors to force students to engage with a variety of literature as flaws with the curriculum itself offered by those instructors.

Before putting pen to paper, The Morning Watch should consider the impact its articles have on the professional careers of those discussed. In reality, The Morning Watch has no critique of Professor Fox’s teaching. They have a critique of her curricular design, which clearly neglects to note the actual influence of Professor hooks on the subject matter of Professor Fox’s class. However, by simply publishing these half-baked critiques in the modern era of the internet, The Morning Watch will subject an instructor to undeserved scrutiny which Michigan State University might feel compelled to respond to, perhaps in ways that jeopardize the long-term professional standing of an academic who lacks job security.

Actions have consequences. Before shitting everywhere, The Morning Watch should think about that.

– Guest Contributor

Saving Sergei Kelley

On Valentine’s Day ninety years ago, love filled the windy Chicago air as Al Capone and a number of his compadres allegedly gunned down seven members of a rival gang. History, as it is wont to do, attempted to repeat itself last night at the bi-weekly meeting of the General Assembly of the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU). There the day’s aura of human connection was shattered by the brutal reality of politics. A bill calling for the removal of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources representative and The Morning Watch Executive Editor Sergei Kelley was proposed and a vote to have said bill bypass the usual committee procedures quickly succeeded. The next couple of hours were equally tense and boring, as the organization slowly waded through its bureaucratic and procedural necessities while representative Kelley sat patiently waiting for the debate and vote that would determine his fate. When the debate reared its head, it did so with extreme passion, as copious amounts of frustration and anger bubbled to surface of this oft placid environment. By the end of the discussion, however, the outcome was clear: Sergei Kelley would live to see another day as a representative of ASMSU. And so he did, as a number of other representatives stormed out of the assembly in various states of sorrow and bewilderment. This is the story of how Kelley found himself on the brink of disaster, and why he still woke up today as a member of ASMSU.

Our story begins a few days ago with the vital journalistic work of The Evening Look’s Chief Political Correspondent O. Justice. As a result of his deep and far-reaching connections throughout the political apparatus of this university and his undue fascination with representative Kelley, O. Justice managed to come across the document that would prove the catalyst for this entire debacle. Penned by representative Kelley himself, this document is an eerily unabashed attempt at political strategy. Much like the postwar Soviets, Kelley calls for a red wave to change the nature and makeup of our governing bodies in a flippant attempt to undermine the principles of representation. While Kelley channeling his inner Roger Stone was problematic by itself, in what amounts to an almost comedic reversal of the Clinton email controversy, the use of the ASMSU logo in his email to spread this blueprint for a conservative takeover of the organization is an alleged violation of the organization’s internal rules.

Sergei Kelley’s plan for an ASMSU Conservative Wave

As the bill explains, the ASMSU code of conduct states that “Representations made on behalf of ASMSU are to be neither misleading, incorrect, nor inherently false, and are to reflect organizational policy and opinion”. Thus, by using his official ASMSU email and the organization’s official logo to spread this document, Kelley was misrepresenting the representatives of our student body. The bill also alleges that Kelley’s specific targeting of conservatives violates the Preamble to the ASMSU Elections Code which states “ASMSU does not endorse the use of political slates or unauthorized political endorsements in its election process”. Kelley’s call for a conservative wave obviously neglects even a superficial attempt at bipartisanship, serving the interests of Kelley and his political allies rather than the actual students of MSU.

Bill calling for the removal of Sergei Kelley

But the content of the debate revealed that this most recent infraction may not have been the only one on Kelley’s record, as allegations of a similar nature also surfaced in regards to a flag bill from last year, in which Kelley allegedly falsely represented himself as acting on behalf of ASMSU whilst soliciting funding for the distribution of American and MSU flags around campus. While Kelley’s outspoken conservatism amongst a group of mostly liberal representatives certainly did not help his image, it was his own actions that brought him to edge of a forced retirement with no severance package. It was in light of these actions that Lyman Briggs representative Ben Horne drafted a bill calling for the removal of Sergei Kelley from ASMSU. A vote to bypass the normal committee process passed with relative ease, and the stage was set for a monumental struggle. After hours of the procedural matters that dominate these meetings, the bill was returned to the floor and the battle lines were drawn. The opposition to this measure quickly emerged, rooted in an undying faith in the power of democracy.

Horne’s bill references a clause of the Constitution that allows the General Assembly to exercise all “powers not specified nor prohibited in this Constitution that are necessary to carry out the duties of the General Assembly” because there is no specific outlined mechanism for the General Assembly to hold representatives accountable for actions other than poor attendance. Those opposed to Horne’s bill thus espoused fear about setting an improper precedent, whilst also pointing out the existing mechanism of representative accountability: electoral recalls. The ASMSU Constitution states that “A voting member of the General Assembly may be recalled by a simple majority vote of the representative’s constituency through a recall election initiated by a petition containing 10% of the eligible voters of the representative’s constituency”. Such a clause may appear the most reasonable and democratic solution, but some statistics suggest problems with the process. According to the Office of the Registrar, there are 3,243 full-time students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as of Spring 2019. This means that a petition of at least 324 students would be required to trigger a recall vote for representative Kelley, which seems ridiculously large when ASMSU’s own statistics show that Kelley was elected with only 52 votes last April.

Despite the apparent flaws of this system, its existence and the lack of a specific mechanism by which the General Assembly could take punitive action led many to oppose the bill. During the extensive debate over the bill there were two attempts to amend it but both failed. The first amendment would have suspended both his voting and speaking privileges for the next 30 days, while the second one would have only limited his ability to vote for the same period. With neither of these more moderate solutions to the matter at hand having the necessary support, it became fairly clear that Sergei Kelley would survive. Those still supporting his ousting pointed to the need for accountability that the problematic recall system may be unable to provide, but the lack of a precedent or a constitutional process for such action proved untenable for the great majority of ASMSU members. The final vote failed by a vote of 5 to 22, with 8 abstentions. A few of those most committed to his removal stormed out of the meeting prompting a five minute recess. The representatives who stayed may have taken comfort in being on the winning side of the argument, but the entire matter highlighted the problems inherent in a representative democracy suffering a deep disconnect with its voting base.

While ASMSU does take extensive measures to attempt to “get out the vote”, the harsh reality of the situation is that voter turnout remains abysmally low. While leaving accountability in the hands of the voter through a recall vote is potentially the most democratic solution, it seems inappropriate given the apathetic relationship most students appear to have with the organization. The best way forward appears to be a change to the ASMSU Constitution that outlines a clear punitive process for the General Assembly to deal with violations of the code of conduct. Otherwise the complete lack of accountability for repeated abuses of the rules poses a serious threat to the credibility of our representative body.

– The Evening Look Staff

Who is the Holmes Hall RA? (2) – Where the fuck is Holmes Hall?

Finally sobering up after my third encounter with the “Kavanaugh Special” (a 24 pack of Natty Light-Tylenol combo), I began my pilgrimage to Holmes Hall. Unfortunately, however, I did not know where the fuck Holmes Hall was actually located. Is it in South Neighborhood? North? Somewhere in the hell hole which is River Trail? Before I learned that my prophète malgré lu graced its cramped halls, I had thought that it was the gulag where MSU abandoned its freshman-but-sophomore-by-credit academics and the no preference majors who thought they were going to Grand Valley. No, now it was my Mecca and I intend to pray before my god.

Once again, however, and I cannot reiterate this enough, I did not know where the fuck Holmes Hall was. And, with that “Kavanaugh Special” still making me hallucinate about my lost Prussian grandfather, I was in no shape to step outside. Disappointed, I grabbed my phone and started to play Seal’s 1995 hit single “Kiss from a Rose” from my half shattered Zune. While the sweet tunes from Seal’s immaculate mouth soothed my growing sadness, I received divine-like inspiration.

“Intern 3, get in here,” I yelled out my door.

Quickly, a tall, but thin freshman jogged into the room. Intern 3 is what I call him, though I think his name is Craig. Who cares? Regardless, I explained the situation to him and ordered that he was to go to Holmes Hall and begin the search. While I was speaking, I noticed dark rings around his eyes and his short black hair looking disheveled. He must have been hitting the peyote hard last night. When I finished, he attempted to say something, but I cut him off by throwing three of my deluxe edition dvd copies of Braveheart at him–man, Mel Gibson is really misunderstood. Intern 3 dodged my assault and rushed out the room, but only after picking up my precious dvds and stacking them neatly on my dresser.

It has now been 36 hours since I sent intern 3 on his assignment, with no indication that he has completed the task. I am now nearly certain that he has been lost and is either on a five day opium bender–ah, I miss the 90s–or has been taken by George Soros. Further, I am somewhat certain that what he attempted to tell me was that he also did not know where the fuck Holmes Hall is located. Well, I am now seeing straight and it was not like Craig contributed anything to this publication. I was not going to mention him in this story anyway. This was my journey and there is no way I am allowing anyone but the true faithful to rest their eyes upon our lord.

Also, we are now accepting applications for interns.

– O. Justice

Next Time: The Long Trek

Do Students Bully “Morning Watch” Contributors? An Investigation

Bullying on campus at MSU is an issue our administration takes seriously. The university’s anti-discrimination policy lists 14 protected classes, including race, age, gender, veteran status, and height. But a recent trawl through The Morning Watch archives led us at The Evening Look to an article that makes the case for a fifteenth class: students who write for The Morning Watch. Written by an anonymous contributor, the article is called “An Open Letter to Those Who Think MSU Students Can Do Better”. In it, we see ways in which The Morning Watch contributors are harassed on campus. With such a serious proposed change in university policy, we must take a careful look at the article to see if the case holds up.

The first group terrorizing the writer is bikers. They write that “in my year and month here, I have been hit by 2 bikes and nearly hit by countless others.” Here at The Evening Look, we discourage victim-blaming, but this seems wildly improbable and makes us question whether the student doesn’t know how to walk, or is trying to commit insurance fraud off a biker.

In fact, we’re happy to give you tips on how to walk in the sidewalk, which we’ve used to become champion walkers in our time at MSU:

  • Walk on the side of the sidewalk. Bikers are mad at you all the time, so just act like the sidewalk is a road and let all the assholes who are going too fast pass on your left.
  • If you have to cross from one side of the sidewalk to another, look before you move. Bikers don’t have any way to inform you that they’re coming, so you should make sure they aren’t sneaking up on you, waiting to run you over because they saw you reading The Morning Watch.
  • If you find you’re still getting run over by bikes, now’s your chance to get even – get your own bike and start running them off the path. Show them who’s the king of the sidewalk.

The writer then asks why all bikes are using the sidewalk, given that university ordinances say they should ride in the road. They share a story of seeing a bike accident happen because a girl on a bike didn’t stop fast enough. Why didn’t she stop? According to the writer, it’s “because like most college students, she could not make the right and safe choice.” But if bikers had to ride in the road, they’d be sharing space with drivers, most of whom are also…college students. How can we trust college students to make the right choice driving a car, but not riding a bike? If I was a biker, I’d rather run over a person by accident than get maimed by a car with an anime girl paint job that chose to make an enthusiastic right turn on a red light.

What it really sounds like is that the student wants the sidewalk to themselves, with no corrective force in the form of bikers to make them walk correctly. Check your sidewalk privilege, bucko.

The second group of toughs violating our most holy ordinances are smokers. Specifically, people smoking behind dumpsters and in dorms. We don’t know why the writer would come at students smoking behind dumpsters, because that’s a top tier smoking spot. The garbage smell covers up the smoke, making it known that these students care about the feelings of people around them. They don’t have to do this, especially if they know there are The Morning Watch readers to bully, but they’re nice folks. Another smoker causing trouble is the one who lives below the writer, blowing smoke into their inexplicably open window. “Sure, I could just close the window, but why should I change what I do to accomodate someone breaking the law?”, they protest.

The writer acknowledges that smoking marijuana is not as serious a crime as murder, though you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise from his article. “Once we start ignoring one ordinance of law, when do we stop?” Are people incapable of judging laws individually? This hyperbolic phrasing makes it sound like students can’t believe that one law could be acceptable to break without thinking that other laws might still be good to enforce. A quick look at the stats confirms that we have in fact drawn a line – there has been one murder on campus this academic year, but every night there’s enough smoke to make Morning Watch writers madder than LeBron getting a no-call.

Now, we’ve done a thorough examination of two ways in which The Morning Watch readers are harassed on campus by dangerous criminals who make our university unsafe. But how would they fix this issue?

The answer, to the writer, is that nobody else is allowed to have fun, except in the most boring, sanitized ways possible. They turn their attention to MSU’s party scene, asking how we can stop the crime of…underage drinking. The writer does not party, but apparently it is a huge issue to them that other people do. They mention that Flint started a “Crime Area Targeting Team” in 2006 that “went into areas of crime activity and stopped the crimes before they became crimes.” They also clarify that they are “ignorant…of the exact details of how this team works and the legality of their operations, but their tactics have proven to work.” A quick search reveals that the Flint unit was actually started in 2016, but that’s besides the point because the quoted part deserves a deeper examination.

This sentence is jaw-dropping. First of all, trying to break up house parties is extremely lame, but the big issue here is that the writer is seemingly giving approval to any tactic necessary to break up house parties. Can cops just chill around the frats and break in the door whenever they hear someone open a Natty? Can they shoot to kill when they see a Solo cup? Can they break out the tanks and create a Tiananmen Square moment at Sigma Nu? The writer may not be in favor of some or all of these, but the article is written so vaguely that it must be assumed that these are fine.

This mindset is all too pervasive when it comes to law enforcement – that it doesn’t matter how legal the tactics are, or how insignificant the crime is, as long as some tactic is effective at stopping some crime. The Flint unit they bring up was designed to go into areas with serious drug and gun crimes. Even when these tactics are being used on crimes most people would consider dangerous, how would the police know who is a criminal? To use procedures that are unethical, if not illegal, to break up parties based on the idea that people who drink underage are on the slippery slope to murder is a ridiculous idea. This reveals a deeper hypocrisy: this person hates crime so much that they are willing to let cops commit whatever crimes are necessary to stop crimes. It’s a “solution” that makes nobody happy except for people who write comments on local news sites.

We have a better solution. The writer has been incredibly uptight throughout the piece, getting very mad and extrapolating world-historical consequences from people breaking minor campus rules, and that’s not a healthy mindset. Fortunately, the solution to the writer’s issues is right under his nose: marijuana. Just yell out the window the next time you smell smoke and find out what room they’re in – they’ll be happy to share their big doinks with you. One hit and you’ll forget you were ever mad at bikers, that smokers were bullying you, and that we needed dirty tactics by campus cops to stop partiers from murdering everyone.

– K. Sins

Who is the Holmes Hall RA? – The Beginnings

It was a rainy night, with a heavy fog obscuring the towering scoreboards of Spartan Stadium. As I walked down the sidewalk adjoined to Shaw Lane, I popped the collar of my bright purple winter coat which I had found once outside of a closing Sears. Sears, do you remember that place? Man, that place had good deals and quality products. Regardless, it had been a long day. But I was not planning to engage in my usual ‘bad day’ routine of drowning myself in five shots of Bailey’s and old reruns of CSI Miami. No, this was different. Instead, I continued forward with confidence, my mind captured by a single question. Never before had I obsessed over such a thing in my life. Every waking moment, I pondered this question, approaching it in different ways, sometimes writing it down in my chocolate milk stained, single page Question List which I’ve held since my grandfather’s mysterious disappearance off the coast of Prussia. And now I will ask you this question, and, hopefully, you will understand…please, understand. Who is the Holmes Hall RA?

This question first arrived while I was sitting in my dorm room one Friday morning. My stomach was still turning from the previous night’s activities, which I could only vaguely remember. Suddenly, my door flew open to reveal a gasping L. Squirrel, with his Macbook Pro clutched to his chest. Before I was able to ask what the hell he thought he was doing, he thrusted his device into my hands without saying a word. I looked down at the screen to see the beautiful, manicured homepage of The Morning Watch, the independent conservative media outlet of MSU. Welcoming me with the sweet, farm-like smell of objective, conservative reporting, I saw the cursor was hovering above an article which was published but four minutes prior. My heart began to race, delighted at the chance to read another pièce de résistance of journalism.

Excellent as always, the article concerned the leftist propaganda tool of cultural appropriation. Going into detail on how the Libs are attempting to take away my homemade Pancho Villa cosplay in the name of “cultural appropriation,” it clearly presented the newest ways the Clinton and Carter stooges are attempting to stifle our free speech. Towards the end of the article, however, I noticed a quote attributed to a familiar name, the Holmes Hall RA. I went back to the home page and clicked on another article–once again, the unknown Holmes Hall RA was quoted.

Quickly, I began to question who this insightful individual, this mysterious friend was. They were obviously a person of academic prowess, due to their thoughtful evaluation of the topics. Why, then, were they kept anonymous? How could such a prophet of conservatism not be shown to the public so they can speak the Truth to the masses. This person was deserving of the highest honor which can be bestowed upon a college student: personal recognition by a great statesman, such as Interim MSU President John Engler. Yet, an award of this nature cannot be conferred because of their anonymity. This was neither fair nor just.

On that day, I made it my task to find the Holmes RA and give them the recognition which they deserve. Join me on the multi-part journey to seek this Maestro.

– O. Justice

Next time: Where the fuck is Holmes Hall?

Pissed Off Who?

In their most recent attempt at groundbreaking journalism, The Morning Watch published “Pissed Off MSU: Michigan State’s Newest Student Organization”. This stellar piece of reporting immediately contradicts its title by revealing that the main subject of the article—Pissed Off MSU (POM)—is actually almost a year old. It’s certainly possible that no new student organizations have been established since early March, but it’s also possible that Hillary will run in 2020. Neither seems likely or good for humanity in general, so I’m perfectly willing to dismiss them out of hand.

In truth, this article appears deeply untimely and unnecessary, with the sole purpose of exaggerating the presence and influence of violent leftist opposition to conservative outlets like The Morning Watch. A quick search of the MSU Student Organizations website will yield results for no such organization, meaning that POM is not even a recognized student organization. It has neither an official constitution nor the formal faculty sponsor required of university-approved organizations. A brief scan of their Facebook page reveals that they have posted nothing since November 17th and have no upcoming events. Doing the same for their website (hosted on the web’s premier content manager #notsponsored) shows even less activity, as they have posed only two articles with the most recent coming more than six months ago on June 19th.

The article’s summary of the organization and its mission would appear offensive to even a two-year old child. I found the misuse of ‘exemplifies’ particularly egregious but would be remiss to not point out this gem: “The group hopes their booklet solves what they believe is ignorance by highlighting the resistance and uprisings that have existed on MSU’s campus since 1855”. Not only is the clunky wording of this sentence unbefitting of basic picture books, it entirely mischaracterizes the group’s beliefs and purpose. POM is fighting against a specific subset of people and actions, not ignorance. The timeline shows the historical value of student protest to motivate potential recruits, not eliminate potential ignorance.

Beyond superficial critiques, it’s worth looking at the parts that delve into the land of opinion. Mr. Binkowski accomplishes this through the strategic use of external sources who can voice the beliefs of The Morning Watch behind a veil of simple, unbiased reporting. The mysterious Holmes Hall RA appears once again, and gives the scorching take that “as a society we’ve reached a peak of social equality”. I don’t know where to begin with such a statement other than audible laughter which is unfortunately impossible to transmit adequately through text. It’s not truly worth responding to, but in a world where one cannot turn a corner without being justifiably reminded about inequality by a different “ism” such an idea is entirely indefensible. If we want to actually reach peak social equality, the police are going to have to start shooting a lot more unarmed white folks.

Despite what Mr. Binkowski would have you believe, Pissed Off MSU is not a threat to conservatives on campus. If the group poses a serious threat to anything, it’s the financial well-being of the family members responsible for funding its slow and arduous journey through the death process of the American healthcare system. But this reflects more on the failures of healthcare in the United States than on the ability of POM to accomplish anything more than getting pissed off. The editors of The Evening Look, on the other hand, are very much not pissed off. We are enjoying our snow days and extremely grateful for the opportunity to publicly shame stupidity, in whatever form it may take.

– L. Squirrel