Archive for the ‘Opinions/Editorials’ Category

Sara Wilkerson, David Aston, Justin Oakes, and Emily Shim
The Montgazette Staff

“I pray that you have integrity and print the answers as I wrote them.” These were the words of shady Texas businessman turned Philadelphia-based “You’re going to Hell” Pastor Aden Rusfeldt who demonstrated on the Quad of Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus on May 2.  According to a press release from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the pastor has a 10-year history of fraudulent business practices and fake businesses that forced the U.S. CFTC to levy a $3.2 million judgment against him in September 2016.  Since then, he and his supporters have broadcasted a message of what many Philadelphia area colleges have called hate speech. This was Rustfeldt’s first visit to Montco.

In his book, “Open Air Fire: Principles of Open Air Outreach,”  Rusfeldt  outlines his reasons for preaching the way he does. Rusfeldt writes, “I love to ask people, ‘How loving is God that He makes a specific list you can read of sins that will keep you out of heaven? That is how much God loves you.”

Rusfeldt said that his demonstration at Montco was against sin, “Because sinning hurts people.”  His supporters held up signs that reflected his “specific list” of people “going to Hell.” These sinners on a particular banner, according to student eyewitness Mara  Witsen  included, “Homo[sexuals], Muslims, Cow worshippers… Racists [specifically] the KKK and Black Lives Matter, Money Lovers, Mama’s Boys, Witches, Gamers, Cutters, Brats, Emos, Rebellious Women, Punks, Liars, Sissies, the Pope, Party Animals, Gangster Rappers, Rock-and-Roll Freaks, So-Called Christians…” And the list went on.

“They’ve got a right to say what they want to say. But, I mean, at the same time I think it goes against what they were trying to say, because, I mean… Jesus also said ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ That’s not what they were doing,” Ethan Harris, who also witnessed the demonstration event, said.

The signs and shouting drew in a crowd of dozens of Montco students who kept their distance and later drowned out the preaching with music and heckling.

“I’ll be honest with you, [I’ve been] here almost 20 years, I don’t remember anything like that before,”  Montco’s  Senior Producer and Technical Services Supervisor Matt Porter said of the demonstration. “They have a right to be here. Let them have their [say] but let it be known [the students] didn’t necessarily agree. And I think I was proud of our students for keeping it peaceful, but voicing their opinion loud and clear that this was not necessarily the opinion that they agreed with.” Harris added, “I think it was a positive experience in that it united a lot of people in the college setting. Which with community college it’s harder to do that than per se a four-year [college].”

Rusfeldt’s group’s hate speech-laden preaching didn’t last long. They still shouted at the students as they left Campus at their own will, with an escort from Montco’s Public Safety Team at 2:45 p.m.

The question remains, however, will a preacher with little business integrity and a long list of his own sins return to Montco?

Brittney Baldwin_Protester Sign

Pastor Aden Rusfeldt and his group hold protest banners for MCCC students and faculty to read as they preached for several hours on Central Campus. Photo courtesy of Brittney Baldwin




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Justin Oakes
The Montgazette Contributing Writer

A dashing young quarterback takes the field, bushy hair bouncing, looking fit and ready to put up a good preseason fight. There’s a heat in the air and the crowd is pumped and looking forward to a terrific game. As the people in the crowd are asked to rise and remove their hats for the “The StarSpangled Banner,” people gape in horror as the young quarterback refuses to rise, instead opting to take a knee.

Colin Kaepernick made headline news in the Fall of 2016, not for his football skills, but for the social justice movement he started by taking a knee during multiple games while the national anthem was playing. Under normal circumstances, it would be safe to assume that anyone who takes a knee during the most patriotic song of the nation’s history would be, himself, unpatriotic. But Kaepernick’s message was as loud and clear and as patriotic as a social justice message should be: police violence against unarmed African Americans must end.

Jumping ahead to March 22, President Donald Trump spoke to a seemingly enthusiastic crowd in San Francisco, the city that Kaepernick is based out of, about the potential reasoning behind Kaepernick’s future unemployment possibilities. The President stated, “It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” while egging on the crowd and welcoming the boos directed at Kaepernick.

But it was Kaepernick who proved that actions speak louder than words. Meals on Wheels, a company that provides elderly citizens with food, is expected to receive major funding cuts due to the new budget plan proposed by Trump. On March 23, the day after Trump made his remarks, Meals on Wheels publicly thanked Kaepernick for his generous $50,000 contribution to its program.

In addition to his donation to Meals on Wheels, Kaepernick has been very active in giving back to the community. The Million Dollar Pledge was set up by Kaepernick as a way of giving back to various organizations all over the world. Through the help of fundraising, as well as donating proceeds of his football jersey sales, Kaepernick is donating $100,000 each month for ten months to different charitable organizations of his choosing.

Also, Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Campaign was started in response to the atrocities being committed by certain police officers against primarily black youth. The campaign focuses on informing children and young adults about their rights as individuals and how they can interact with law enforcement officials of whom they feel threatened by. According to its website, the goal of the campaign is to “create the change that is much needed in this world.”

Trump’s remarks may not be presidential, but they certainly aren’t un-Trump-like. And while the President is off spewing his hatred of a football star, said football star is out making a difference. In a nation founded on the actions and hard work of brave men and women who vow to stand up for what’s right, it’s refreshing to see a man like Kaepernick start to move it in the right direction. Specifically, Kaepernick seems to be helping the inner cities, the one’s that Trump said he would save.

Score 1: Kaepernick. Score 0: Trump.

Patriotism is all a matter of perspective. If taking away meals from the elderly is one’s idea of what patriotism should look like, so be it, that’s life, as they say. But I’ve always known in my heart that the America I grew up in and came to know and love was only made possible because of the people like Colin Kaepernick who chose to stand up for what’s right.

In the end, it seems that Mr. Kaepernick is giving more back to U.S. citizens and working harder for the people than the president himself. Not bad for a guy who kneels during the national anthem, not bad at all.

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Mary Haviland
The Montgazette Contributing Writer

Many people continue to purchase new clothes without remembering what they already have. Buying is actually more expensive and throwing away old clothes is more than just wasteful. There is a way to maintain frugality and avoid waste: secondhand clothing efforts.

The Environmental Sustainability Club (ECS) will be collecting new and gently used, and washed, clothes for a Clothing Swap up to and including, April 14. The “swap” will be held the same day as Central Campus’ Earth Day, April 19th, from 12:15PM to 1:15PM in the Quad. After the event, all remaining garments will be donated to the Green Drop, a charity that supports the Purple Heart, the American Red Cross, the National Federation of the Blind and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia.

A clothing swap is a two-step process. The first part is a collection of clothing. This allows people to clear their closets of clothes that they do not wear anymore to lessen clutter and avoid creating more trash. The second step is the swap itself, which allows people to come and pick out any clothes that have been collected free of charge, effectively recycling the garments.

The purpose of this swap is to help bring awareness to the waste the fashion industry creates. Eileen Fisher, a fashion retailer with her own clothing line, has on several occasions admitted to the waste the industry creates, even from the production of her own clothes. She has spoken out about it on her Twitter account, and her admissions
and hope to change it have been quoted by many publications, including the article “The Fashion Industry Tries to Take Responsibility For Its Pollution” published in The Washington Post. This pollution is both from the consumption of resources to create the garments and the amount of clothes that ultimately find their way into landfills.

Looking at materials used to make clothes, cotton is one of the most popular, and the thirstiest. The World Wildlife Fund has estimated that it takes approximately 5,300 gallons of water to produce around two pounds of cotton, which makes only a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans. That could mean each person could easily be retaining 140,000 gallons of water within their weekly wardrobe.

Additionally, some people update their wardrobe seasonally, four times a year. Retailers promote “must-have” seasonal fashion items, an extremely wasteful concept which leads to landfills being flooded with out of season textiles that are still completely wearable. Those fashion followers could be wasting up to 560,000 gallons of water a year individually, and that is only assuming their wardrobe consists of just seven pairs of jeans and shirts.

The odd piece of new clothing here and there is alright, after all clothes sometimes wear out; but it is important to be cognizant of the forgotten clothes at home, the resources used to make them and where they will end up when they are discarded. Will they be tucked away, thrown away, or will they be given away?


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by Jack Wisniewski
The Montgazette Contributing Writer

Among the  Oscar Awards powerhouse and talk of the movie world  was “La La Land”, the latest critically acclaimed picture coming from young, yet established director, Damien Chazelle, who unsurprisingly won the coveted Achievement in Directing Academy Award. The film stars charming A-list actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who encapsulate what it is to chase your dreams and live a wide-eyed life in the big city of Los Angeles.

Wonderful musical numbers throughout the movie show the feelings of these almost whimsical characters in a magical way as they fall in love while managing the chase for stardom. Kristen Walsh, a moviegoer, said, “ ‘La La Land’ is one of the best musical movies” she has ever seen.

The spontaneous songs and dances are the foundation for the film. The bright,  beautiful sets and production designs that earned the film an Oscar,  keeps  your eyes glued to the screen while songs of hope, love, and even disappointment fill your ears. The inspiring original score added another two Oscars to its collection. These elements of the film weave together perfectly to immerse you in the beauty and art on screen with a story that keeps you hooked.

Emma Stone, who plays the lead and half of the story’s love interest, pulled in her first Oscar win for Actress in a Leading Role by putting on a masterful performance as a down-on-her-luck aspiring  actress longing  to hit the big time. Emma Stone paired  well  with former Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling as they formed the relationship the story revolves around.

I found myself rooting for the blossoming couple through thick and thin throughout the whole film. These two were able to illicit connections with the audience  and anyone who has had or searched for love. Gosling’s talent on the piano and on the dance floor were impressive to say the least, while Stone showed acting range we have not seen from her in the past through her vocal cords and dancing prowess as well.

With so much going for “La La Land,” it was hard to find someone who did not like the film, but one moviegoer said that the theme of boy meets girl was not very original and that the musical numbers could have been more consistent throughout the movie.  Most moviegoers felt that the costume  design of bright dresses and dapper suits, combined with a throwback feel all set in present day L.A., create a totally unique film. The cinematography, which accepted the fourth of five Oscar wins, tells the story well through varied and innovative aesthetically pleasing visuals that help capture the emotions of the characters so that you, the audience, can interpret them accurately.

This film is fresh, entertaining, and inspiring. It deserves each Oscar nomination and win that it received. It was so good it was almost wrongly, but without question, accepted as the Best Picture winner during the infamous debacle at the Oscar Awards ceremony! I rate this film a strong 4 ¼ out of 5 stars.

lala land

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Erin Ilisco
Montgazette Contributing Writer

A march that began as one retired grandmother being stirred up about the newly elected president’s policies and controversial election campaign, turned out to be one of the most massive single-day demonstrations in recent memory. On January 21, The Women’s March on Washington drew a crowd estimated at over 500,000, with more than 600 worldwide sister marches altogether drawing an estimated 4.5 million marchers, according to The Washington Post. The demonstrators’ myriad signs revealed the numerous issues they were significantly concerned about. Organizers and celebrities mentioned many of these issues in the speeches that they gave before the actual march commenced. Numerous topics were talked about, including climate change, clean water, immigration, pay equality, affordable healthcare, LGBTQ rights and pipeline construction.
Nearly everyone there wanted more than just a conversation with a ubiquitous message. They wanted everyone to be steadfast in not allowing the extraordinary feelings of unity and solidarity to be all that the day was about. Rather, to be constantly moving forward in the pursuit of sustaining the freedoms and rights that they so deeply cherish.
Kathy Daidone, from Feasterville, Pennsylvania, was extremely worried about the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood. As a long-time healthcare professional, Daidone was aware of the tremendous importance of continued funding for the non-profit, reproductive health services organization. Countless men and women have told her how they rely on their local Planned Parenthood for low-cost healthcare services, including life-saving cancer screenings, that they would otherwise not be able to afford.
There were few, if any, harsh or inciting words to be heard and there were no arrests. The awe-inspiring unity that was so incredibly palpable, regardless of gender, age, race or political leanings, ultimately defined the entire day. The underlying factor that brought each person together at the march was the unshakable fear that a number of human and civil rights may be in danger.

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Photo by Erin Ilisco

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Photo by Erin Ilisco

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Photos by Erin Illisco

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Anthony Aquino, Jr.
Montgazette Contributing Writer

At the start of the semester, many students may recall that pipe bombs were found at New Jersey Transit’s Elizabeth Station. A bomb-disarming robot was the only reported casualty thanks to an anonymous tip. Authorities have since arrested the man responsible.  The incident caused me to reflect on local safety concerns here at the college and beyond.

Nearly a month after the incident, I boarded a train passing through Elizabeth to gather opinions on public transportation security.

I started at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. My frustration began when authorities refused to give personal opinions on the matter. They did, however, refer me to a website with “answers to all my questions”.

My next stop was Trenton Transit Center, where I was unable to record an authority’s opinion, yet again, due to “protocol.”

My final stop was Penn Station in New York. There, the officers stated that they were not allowed to give personal opinions or reveal new security measures taken since the pipe bombs had been found.

Although many officers told me that they wished they could help with my story, their unified silence speaks volumes for the quality of security provided for commuters.

I talked to some commuters like Dan Caster, a retired engineer, who was on his way back to Delaware after accompanying a friend to the airport. Speaking on behalf of the occasional traveler, he said, “I still feel safe because there are so few instances compared to the number of people that travel. The bomb-sniffing dogs I’ve seen at the larger train stations make me feel safer too.”

Julie Drago, a student at New York University, travels frequently via public transportation doesn’t think that a police presence is enough. “I feel relatively safe, but I feel as if there should be more encouragement to speak up if something or someone seems out of place. Not only should there be more encouragement, but it should be easier to do so.”

Essentially, events like what happened at Elizabeth Train Station appear to have heightened a public awareness of terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security’s campaign, “See Something, Say Something,” could have stopped an attack at Elizabeth along with attacks in the future.

Montco’s Director of Campus Safety, Joe McGuriman, noted students should feel safe on campus because, “The College Public Safety Department consists of well -trained security officers, some of whom have a lifetime of police experience.”

However, McGuriman encourages students to say something as well. “Students should report threats that they hear or see on social media. Students should make use of, and encourage friends to make use of, College Counseling services or the Student Support and Referral Team if they are in crisis or in need of mental health assistance. Students should report all criminal activity they see or know about to Public Safety or the police.”

If you spot an  emergency on campus, call 911 then dial 6666 from a college phone or inform college staff or a campus safety officer.



Photo by Anthony Aquino, Jr.: New York University student, Julie Drago, stands in a New York terminal as she waits to continue her journey.


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