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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

Opinion | Viewpoint


Asian American studies deserves better

The Tufts Asian Student Coalition called on the university to hire more faculty specializing in Asian American studies to fill an urgent gap in the race, colonialism and diaspora department. With Professor Courtney Sato going on leave, there will be no courses or full-time faculty in the Asian American studies concentration next fall, according to the coalition’s March 30 letter to the administration. I find this regrettable. I am not privy to the university’s finances, and expanding the department may not be financially tenable, but Tufts ought to reconsider this decision and try to meet student activists’ demands.


AI’s real threat to democracy comes from within

At this point, you’re probably tired of hearing about artificial intelligence. It has become increasingly clear that AI is going to change the way that many things are done. Its ability to write code, make art and learn from humans to hold conversations holds great potential in reimagining many aspects of society. However, such significant changes face pushback. There has been concern that the computer’s pace of development will be disastrous, as the human brain’s processing power won’t keep up with AI’s capability of limitless content generation. In short, AI could flood people with false information faster than we could remove it. This would bring catastrophic consequences for online discussion and political engagement. Access to the technology for malicious capabilities would be just as easy as access for education or artmaking.


Biden shouldn’t hesitate to increase immigration

As President Joe Biden campaigned to defeat former President Donald Trump, he was unequivocal in his support for immigrants and immigration. Biden called America a “nation of immigrants” and promised to reform the temporary visa system to make it easier for highly skilled immigrants to stay in the United States. Over two years into his term, this has not happened. Despite attempts in his proposed budget, Biden has not yet increased funding for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes green cards and visas for immigrants, leading to a mounting backlog and longer wait times. He also hasn’t prioritized legislation to raise the national green card caps that restrict skilled immigration, nor has he pressured Congress to increase the H-1B visa cap for high-tech workers or reformed the program as he promised in his campaign.


Trump’s indictment is not his end 

It has certainly been a liberal fantasy to see Donald Trump arrested ever since the 2016 election cycle. This possibility now looms imminent after Trump posted on Truth Social claiming he would be arrested on March 21, and the Manhattan District attorney’s office confirmed on Thursday that Trump was formally indicted by a New York grand jury with charges concerning his infamous Stormy Daniels hush money payments. The charges are quite complex, and they are very likely related to a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s then personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to keep porn actor Stormy Daniels from discussing an alleged affair she had with Trump. However, the more than 30 counts that Trump is expected to be charged with are currently sealed from the public. 


Florida’s recent legislation and American hypocrisy

In the past month, the Florida state government has released various bills that encroach upon the rights of people of color, gay and trans individuals. On March 14, it was revealed that Florida House Bill 999, Postsecondary Educational Institutions, has prohibited universities from financing any activities “that espouse diversity, equity, or inclusion or Critical Race Theory rhetoric.” Another bill addressing racial matters was issued this year, and the Florida Department of Education banned AP African American studies in all public high schools. 


Walk away from Walgreens

I’m currently reading a book called “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. The story follows chemist Elizabeth Zott through the trials and tribulations of being a female chemist in the 1950s. It’s full of romance, funny stories about parenthood and stories of misogyny and sexism. Although this novel is set in the 1950s, it seems more relevant than ever as we face the loss of women’s rights. Women’s rights and autonomy took a serious hit with the overturning ofRoe v. Wade last summer, and last week, Walgreens put women on notice regarding their ability to access medical care as they will not sell the abortion pill Mifepristone in 21 states. This decision, prompted by Republican attorneys general, is an extreme show of cowardice by Walgreens. Not only are Republicans interfering with personal healthcare decisions, but this choice has once again made access to abortion much more limited for women who don’t live in urban areas. 


Willow Project exposes urgent need for permitting reform

In January 2017, ConocoPhillips, the largest crude oil company in Alaska, proposed the Willow Project — an oil drilling project in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska that will take decades to complete and could produce up to 600 million barrels of oil. Since the proposition, the project has been seeking government consent, and President Joe Biden’s administration recently approved the project on a smaller scale than what was proposed. While Alaska’s Congressional delegation argues that the project will create jobs, boost domestic energy production and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil, environmentalist politicians such as Al Gore described the project as “recklessly irresponsible.”


The Democrats’ 2024 primary paradox

As the Democratic Party seeks to build upon its historic midterm success from last year, the 2024 presidential election is a particularly important topic. President Joe Biden will likely seek re-election, giving him an incumbency advantage. Yet, with less than a year until the South Carolina primary, the most significant news development has been Marianne Williamson’s decision to run again in 2024. 


Christian nationalism is democracy’s greatest threat 

The Founding Fathers of the United States knew firsthand the dangers of religious belief dominating governmental doctrine. American colonists fled Europe to escape religious persecution, and religious freedom was enshrined as a constitutionally protected right. Of course, religious minorities, especially Muslims and atheists, have still faced discrimination in the United States. However, the goal of true religious freedom set forth by our founders is certainly worth pursuing, as freedom of thought is an integral principle of a democracy. 

The Setonian

The case for government-owned media

For years, Fox News, reported by Forbes as the most-watched cable news network in the United States, has attracted criticism. This stretches as far back as 2009 when the Obama administration controversially refused to refer to Fox News as a “legitimate news organization.” We now know they were right to do so. A few weeks ago, Dominion Voting Systems, as part of their defamation lawsuit against Fox News, released a trove of texts showing Fox News stars had expressed very different sentiments in private than the ones they displayed on air. For example, Sean Hannity, who called on his radio show for a special prosecutor to investigate claims of election fraud, said off air that Rudy Giuliani, who spread claims of election fraud, was “acting like an insane person.” Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, wrote that after the 2020 election, Hannity was “privately disgusted by Trump for weeks, but was scared to lose viewers.” Perhaps the most revealing text from the Dominion lawsuit though was from Tucker Carlson, who — after a Fox reporter fact-checked a false claim about election fraud — wrote, “Please get her fired. … The stock price is down. Not a joke.” These are just a few examples of many, but they showcase how Fox knowingly spread false information about the 2020 election to maintain viewership and increase profits.


The U-turn of corporate politics

Americans are now living in a country where corporate patronization and political affiliation become more intertwined each day. In our capitalist democracy, these two aspects are huge parts of cultural character. According to Siege Media, “Fox News” and “CNN” are up with “Starbucks” and “McDonalds” in 2022’s most Googled terms. It is no question how prominent companies and politics are in our daily lives, but there’s been a growing trend of mixing them together. 


Book bans: Unfortunately not a closed book

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite book. Other favorites of mine include “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Lord of the Flies” by William Golding and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. All of these books, in addition to at least hundreds of others, have been challenged, banned or removed from libraries all over the United States. A book ban occurs when a person or a group objects to the content of a book, and through successful challenge, that book is removed from libraries and school curricula.


Jumbos, it’s time to get out of the bubble

I came to Tufts excited to be in a city with real public transportation. Coming from a Los Angeles suburb, just about anything — even the failing MBTA — was a step up from what I was used to back home. Now, I use the T all the time to get to work or just to explore, and it shocks me to see how little some of my friends use it. My exploration of the Greater Boston area introduced me to a great variety of people, ideas and places that I never would have encountered at home without a car.


It’s time to pump the brakes on the AI train

On Nov. 30, 2022, the artificial intelligence company OpenAI unveiled its brand new chatbot, ChatGPT, to the world. ChatGPT instantly gained popularity — it was the fastest new app to 100 million active users, beating out apps like Instagram, Snapchat and even TikTok — and it’s easy to see why. ChatGPT can write everything from articulate essays on any topic under the sun to songs in the style of the user’s favorite artists to slam poetry to fiction. It can also explain complex concepts to various audiences, often much more concisely and crisply than humans are capable of, to the point where ChatGPT is being floated as an alternative to tutoring for students. ChatGPT is so advanced that it is now being used by businesses, with firms using it to refine their writing and assist them with content marketing. With all the praise and popularity ChatGPT received in the months since its inception, it's easy to see why Microsoft, a significant investor in OpenAI, announced it would begin integrating ChatGPT’s technology into its search engine Bing on Feb. 7. Google, clearly worried that a modified Bing might pose a threat to their search engine, promptly announced it would soon be releasing its AI bot competitor Bard, integrating AI technology into its own search engine. While both Microsoft and Google’s moves are understandable and can be seen as exciting, the emerging race to integrate AI into search engines could have harmful societal impacts. 


A Super Bowl commercial’s window to medical privilege

Super Bowl LVII prompted a wide range of emotions. Rihanna’s spectacular halftime show sparked joy and amazement, from her fantastic backup dancers to her low-key pregnancy announcement. The Chiefs’ turn-around victory in the fourth quarter enthused some and crushed others. For me, one of the Super Bowl commercials caused confusion. From headlines like “Diabetes Patients at Risk From Rising Insulin Prices,” I have learned about crises the diabetic community face. Access to insulin is scarce, expensive and often not adequately covered by insurance. Stories of people rationing their insulin have often ended in grave illness and even death. Yet a Dexcom commercial featuring Nick Jonas highlighted a wildly different diabetic reality. By promoting technology that makes life simple for those living with the condition while neglecting to acknowledge the grim reality of so many with limited insulin access, the ad was an affront to marginalized communities and a gross display of medical privilege.


Central Asian climate crisis and its global significance

Summers in my hometown of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan harbor joyous memories of playing under the sun with my friends and traveling with my family to our favorite vacation spot: Issyk Kul. Winters, however, have always been dreadful. It is not because of the lack of warmth and sunshine but rather due to the deadly smog that devours the entire city and keeps all its inhabitants suffocated by pollution and persistent darkness.


Tick … tick … boom?

Time moves forward toward the next exam, next semester, graduation, the future. Unfortunately, that future could be cut short according to the Doomsday Clock, which now sits at 90 seconds to midnight. Despite its somewhat ominous nomenclature, the Doomsday Clock is not a crazy, cultish phenomenon about the world ending, but a scientific measurement of how close we are to global human catastrophe. Scientists at the University of Chicago created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to warn humans of the dangers of human-made technologies, like nuclear weapons. Manhattan Project scientists who helped build the first atomic bomb opposed its use against people and subsequently formed theBulletin of Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin needed a cover design for the June 1947 edition of their magazine, so they asked artist Martyl Langsdorf. Martyl was married to physicist Alexander Langsdorf Jr., who worked on the Manhattan Project. Hearing countless discussions about nuclear weapons and the risk they pose to humanity, “she sketched a clock to suggest that we didn’t have much time left to get atomic weapons under control.” The Doomsday Clock’s status is reassessed every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board and its Board of Sponsors, a group that includes 13 Nobel laureates. It provides an authoritative assessment of the world’s current risk of annihilation by human-made technologies.


College basketball and the security dilemma

Every year, I try to win my friend group’s March Madness bracket pool, and I always fall short. The challenge of making a perfect bracket is so close to impossible that Warren Buffett offered $1 billion to any fan that could, but no one did. Therefore, it would be understandable if I was simply bad at making brackets, but I like to think I’m pretty good. So this year, in an effort to make it atop the pool, I found a new source of inspiration: political science.