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Un-gaveling our roots: Affirmative Action, A YG story

By: Chase Wilson

With its tumultuous history since its establishment in the early 1960’s, affirmative action has been both praised and attacked as an answer to the racial injustice and inequality that persisted despite civil war efforts and constitutional guarantees throughout our history. On Saturday, Kianna Anderson, a delegate from Vista Ridge High School, proposed an act that was passed repealing laws supporting Affirmative Action in the state of Texas. Within this bill, Anderson spoke against the “edge” given to some students over others due to their ethnic backgrounds in education as well as other aspects of their lives.

Anderson stated that although “

[The] overall idea and effect of affirmative action [was] good, that the negatives shine through and ultimately overwhelm the positives.”

One of the main points Anderson addressed while speaking against affirmative action was that it creates an unfair playing field for those applying to college.

“Affirmative action creates a mismatch effect among under qualified students leading to their failure at elite schools. Some students may be selected over others to attend elite schools because of their race rather than their skills, and they may fall behind the others their due to a lack of qualifications,” said Anderson in her opening statement to her fellow legislators.

Anderson also preceded to add that not only does it make for an uneven playing field, but that it also “causes the targeted groups to only aim for the mandatory standards of their “group”” rather than trying to be the best they could possibly be.

By talking about an unfair advantage over other students paired with a lower standard for grades, Anderson had taken yet another step toward getting her act passed repealing the laws supporting Affirmative Action.

Toward the end of her closing statement, Anderson touched on the personal opinions of those affected by Affirmative Action.

“A number of minorities have reported that they feel affirmative action is demeaning and condescending to their people,” said Anderson while nearing the end of her time.

Through the many points made throughout her proposal, Anderson remained steadfast and ultimately was able to convince those in her legislature that the laws supporting Affirmative action were unjust and in the end got her bill passed.

2018-05-31T07:22:30-05:00November 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Future of Community College

By Lightner Callahan

Senior Ashleigh McCoy proposed a bill that would provide Texas residents with free community college tuition. Although there was significant opposition, the bill was passed.

McCoy’s bill centers around a common aspect of any college – the finances. She has proposed a bill that requires free community college to be given to all residents of Texas.

A community college is a non-residential junior college offering courses to the people living in a specific place. Community colleges, unlike four-year colleges, have the ability to teach classes that compare to real-life situations; English as a second language, skills retaining, community enrichment options, and cultural identity. Community colleges also provide transfers to four-year colleges, a higher rate of affordability, updated relevance, and often partner with different industries, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

The American Association of Community Colleges states that almost half of all undergraduate students in the United States go to community colleges. Those who do go to these colleges have the ability to educate themselves at their own pace, and over however many years that they choose.

The bill McCoy proposed outlined a series of things that are specific to bill 157, called provisions. These provisions act as the requirements if the bill were to be passed. They state; “any citizen of the United States that has lived in the state of Texas for at least 12 months shall be eligible for free college at any community college in the state, this free education shall not extend to housing, textbooks, or any other extra supplies needed for class, and that four year colleges shall not follow these guidelines.”

McCoy could relate to the topic because she’s been researching colleges since early in her high school career.

“Well, I am actually going to college next year and I’ve been looking at the prices since about junior year and it really just blows my mind how much it costs…” McCoy said.

McCoy knew that this was a topic that isn’t normally mentioned, but is still important. She mentioned that other states such as Tennessee, New York, and Rhode Island have implemented similar plans, and that Texas could join them in paving their way for other places.

McCoy raised points like; “it’s hard for lower-class people to afford higher-class education, a financial burden will be lifted of so many people’s backs, and the fact that an associates degree is becoming more and more needed.”

“If we don’t do anything about these people’s financial situations, we are ignoring all the potential that those people have to help and better our community.” McCoy said.

Kelly Frazier, a junior delegate opposed to bill 157, brought up the economical aspect of it.

“Until we fix the inflammation of the economy itself, [the cost of providing free community college] will just keep hurting the government.” Frazier said.

Frazier pointed out that passing this bill could result in higher taxes for citizens, a struggling economy, and could place education in a bad light, causing people to become frustrated.

“College should be a privilege, not a given.” Frazier said.

McCoy ended her presentation with a quote from one of our forefathers. She quoted Benjamin Franklin in saying,

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

2017-11-11T14:49:49-06:00November 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Fight Against the War on Drugs

By Nettie Comerford

Authors Michael Vasquez (12) and Elena Perales (12) proposed a bill titled War on Drugs this morning at the Texas Youth and Government District competition, that was passed in the State of Affairs forum. Vasquez and Perales propose to end the War on Drugs and develop educational programs for those who have been imprisoned for drug possession. The proposal dives into the complex aspects of the War on Drugs including racial discrimination, mandatory minimum sentencing, and the overall destructive effect drug use has had on the United States for years.

Vasquez believes that since the beginning of the War in Drugs, America’s policies and efforts to end the war have done more harm than good. “Our strategies have only empowered criminals, corrupt governments,

[and] stimulated violence,” he said. “A Brief History of the Drug War,” published by the Drug Policy Alliance, said that midway through Nixon’s presidency, in June of 1971, the War on Drugs was officially declared. According to “Thirty Years of America’s Drug War” from A Chronology PBS Frontline, Nixon called drug use “public enemy number one in the United States.” The years following the 1960s marked the start of youth rebelling against authority by means of drug use. The drug use epidemic spread past the border of the United States and a growing number of US soldiers in Vietnam had become addicted to Heroin. Nixon’s policies hoped to better utilize and expand federal drug control agencies. While Nixon developed the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP), which would provide federal funding for treatment facilities, Nixon also cracked down on the law enforcement side of the war and passed measures like the No-Knock warrant. This warrant, issued by a judge, allows for law enforcement to break into a property without having notified the residents.

People of color are overall more likely to be searched, arrested, and incarcerated for drug related offenses. “African American men are 13 times more likely to be arrested for drug related charges than a white man…African Americans and Latinos make up 29% of the Unites States, but more than 75% of drug violators in state and federal prisons,” Vasquez said. Students who have been convicted for possession are not allowed to receive federal student aid for one year from the date of the offense, two years after the date of the second offense, and will never be able to receive aid after the third offense. Vasquez and Perales want to implement a program for the years after a person is released from prison. Vasquez said “The majority of people I have talked to wish to come out and go to college right after and become somebody better than they once were.” Vasquez reflected on his own community in Corpus Christi and especially his own family members: “I see these people coming out of the prison system and not being able to get a second chance at life, not to be educated, not given a chance to have a really stable job because of these accusations.” According to “Injustice 101: Higher Education Act Denies Financial Aid to Students with Drug Convictions” published by the American Civil Liberties Union, education keeps youth away from drugs and improves their ability to obtain a stable job.

Delegate Carlos Carroll (11), from Corpus Christi and a pro speaker for the bill, said “[Vasquez and Perales] bring up a really good point that people [are] going to jail for sometimes decades because of drug charges, and then there’s people who have committed far more serious crimes and don’t get the same amount of time in jail; I think that’s a very valid point that they make.” Furthermore, people convicted of drug related offenses automatically lose aid from higher education, but a person convicted of any other offense, including murder, can receive aid, according to “Injustice 101: Higher Education Act Denies Financial Aid to Students with Drug Convictions” published by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The War on Drugs proposal did pass, with a majority of the delegation in support of the bill. State Affairs Delegate Carlos Carroll, who supported the bill, said “Lots of people who are incriminated for these drug charges are our age and are trying to get their education right now. We shouldn’t be allowing youth’s education to be potentially ruined because of one mistake that they mad.”

2018-05-31T07:22:30-05:00November 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Resolution to Protect Illegal Victims of Human Trafficking

By Caden Zeigler

Today, Nov. 11th, senior Julianna Castillo proposed the bill, “A Resolution to Protect Illegal Victims of Human Trafficking,” which passed and intends to assist the victims of human trafficking with legal aid.

“There are… over 600 thousand illegal immigrants being smuggled over the border and they are not receiving the help that they probably need,” Castillo said. “So I want to shed light onto that issue.”

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States every year, many of which are “lured with false promises of good jobs and better lives, and then forced to work under brutal and inhuman conditions.”

“Trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world today,” said Castillo “victims of trafficking are exploited for purposes of commercial sex, including prostitution, stripping, pornography live-sex shows and other acts.” According to Castillo’s bill, the illegal immigrants would face no legal consequences because they were “here by force because of… sex trafficking.”

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is currently working with nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, to “identify, rescue and provide assistance to trafficking victims.” According to ICE, they more than 350 victim coordinators that work with the NGOs in order to provide an environment where victims can feel “stable and free from fear and intimidation to be effective witnesses.”

One difference between the current legislative policies and Castillo’s bill is that ICE provides short-term immigration relief to trafficking victims for one year, that can be renewed every year until the victim is no longer proven to be a potential witness. Victims are also eligible to apply for a  T and U nonimmigrant status granting them four years of residency, and can lead to possible permanent future residency.  

Castillo’s bill has already been enacted in the federal government, according to Homeland Security, the NGOs that ICE works with also “offer a variety of services to assist crime victims

such as immigration legal assistance, crisis intervention, counseling, medical care, housing, job skills training and case management,” aligning with Castillo’s bill stating that immigrants should be provided assistance with “homes, financial needs, and emotional state.”

Every point of all of Castillo’s bill has already been covered in the current laws enacted in the US, the only difference being that Castillo wishes to provide long-term citizenship immediately to these victims, not just temporary citizenship.

Castillo’s bill was passed and will continue on to the House of Representatives. “We are all human,” says Castillo, “and we all deserve the fundamental human rights.”

2018-05-31T07:22:30-05:00November 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Bill to Replace Conventional Names With Numbers

By Skylar Sigala

Imagine going through life without a name and instead being addressed by a number. Some people see the idea as efficient and creative while others see it as dehumanizing. Replacing names with a number phrase is a  concept often present is dystopian novels and reference to the treatment of prisoners in labor camps, but this morning a bill was proposed with those exact intentions in the Youth and Government legislation competition. The bill penned by Bret Johnson, a junior at Hays High School, plans to ban conventional names and replace them with a 10 digit ID code.

The code would also function as their personal phone number. Inspiration for the bill sourced from Johnson seeing kids with common or embarrassing names and wanting to make a change to not only improve their lives, but promote individuality. Despite his best efforts, Johnson’s bill was not passed.

“It’s efficient, easy, and simple,” Johnson said, while also calling the bill, “The way of the future.”

The bill was met with much opposition, most of which was centered around statistics and the argument of efficiency.

“It doesn’t make sense…you have a social security ID number this bill will just create unnecessary confusion,” said Ridah Shaik, senior member of the Senate, speaking in opposition of the bill.

“Are there enough number combinations to support your bill for the Texas residents?” asked Kianna Anderson, a junior member of the House.

Johnson, who had no speakers in support of his bill, replied, “I calculated the combinations and there are one billion (number) combinations…the population of Texas is significantly lower than that.”

Though the bill was written with intentions to save face for children with embarrassing names or are looking for a way to individualize their common name, it will not be a possibility for Texas residents.

2018-05-31T07:22:30-05:00November 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Officer Profile: Meet Your Social Media Editor!

Meet Maddy, Social Media Editor from Austin, TX!

What do you see as some key roles for social media in today’s world?

Media protects the public’s best interest and creates public awareness.  I believe an educated society is an informed society, and media is a main mode of communication. Media truly is the fourth pillar of democracy.  It keeps the other three branches in check. Social media is no different.  In fact, it is one of the most direct means of delivering information because of its global accessibility and mobile viewing.  It provides information in real time and has encouraged youth participation in politics.

Any parts of the Conference you’re especially excited to cover?

I am excited to cover the governorship race.  This year media officers will be writing profiles on the candidates.  I really enjoy feature writing and portraiture so I am looking forward to that.  I also enjoy editing, so as a media editor I look forward to looking over everyone’s posts even though I will miss being on the Capitol and Courthouse grounds covering in real time.

What are your goals for the social media section this year?

I hope to brief media delegates with mini lessons on some journalistic standards so our postings across platforms seem like they are from the same source. I want each writer to have their own voice, of course, but it is also important to have continuity so the way our information is presented is professional.

What are your post-graduation plans?

After high school I plan on studying environmental engineering and sustainability. I am very interested in water conservation and waste management. I also want to continue photography as a hobby. The schools I am interested in range from six miles from my house to 1,870 miles away. I’m a bit of a scatter plot but the whole process is very exhilarating.

Thanks Maddy!  You definitely convinced us of the power of social media.  We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our 2017-2018 officer profiles!

2018-05-31T07:22:30-05:00November 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Registration and Other Reminders!

Happy Halloween, Texas YG!  As District Conferences draw nearer, we wanted to remind our students and advisors of our approaching deadlines and opportunities.

  • The State Office’s individual registration form will close November 6, 2017.  Your District may have an earlier registration deadline, but please make sure your form is in before the State’s deadline passes to avoid the $25 late registration fee you will need to pay if you register after this date.
  • Don’t forget about our CONA intent to apply!  Students interested in attending the Conference on National Affairs should let us know before their District Conferences using this form so they can receive priority during the application review process.
  • Now’s your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!  If you haven’t done so already, please complete the pre-program survey to help us ensure Texas YG provides high-quality programming.  10 lucky winners will be randomly selected from the group of students who complete the survey by November 6!
  • If your parent/guardian has not yet completed a paper or electronic authorization, please ask him or her to check for a reminder email from the State Office.  If no email has arrived, please contact Molly Martin and let her know a parent/guardian email address to which she can resend the authorization email.  We may have the wrong email for your parent/guardian in our system.
  • Make sure you’re getting your briefs, bills, proposals, and media assignments in by your District deadlines!

Please note that our forms submission platform, Form Assembly, has experienced technological difficulties over the past week.  We hope the issue is now resolved and apologize for any issues you’ve encountered.  If you have trouble with any of our forms, please keep reloading and trying to submit your information.  Thank you!

2017-10-31T12:59:15-05:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Officer Profile: Meet Your Broadcast Executive Producer!

Meet Baylee Farris, the 2017-2018 Broadcast Executive Producer!  This year’s Media program features new curriculum, assignments, and key roles for media participants in overall conference coverage and fair coverage of candidates.  We’re excited to have Baylee at the helm and to see her on camera!

What draws you to broadcast media specifically?

I love to tell stories so speaking is much easier than writing. I also love to work with technology, and broadcast media gives me the best opportunity to do both.

What do you hope your broadcast section will achieve during this Texas YG program year?

I hope my team will learn how much effort and time goes into even a small clip. I also hope that they will be proud of what they make.

What are your future career and educational plans?

I’m very unsure about my future actually. I will most likely pursue something in either history or mass communications.

When you’re not busy with YG and school, what would we find you doing?

I really don’t get much free time between being stage manager for my school play and interning at my local radio station, but I always make time to listen to my music.

Thank you, Baylee!  We’re so glad you include Texas YG in your busy schedule.

2018-05-31T07:22:30-05:00October 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Officer Profile: Meet Your State Affairs Chair!

Thank you, Kaitlan, for sharing!  We love your passion for your position and our world!

Which topics on your State Affairs Forum list interest you most and why?

I tried to highlight topics that I was passionate about and that I inferred other delegates would be passionate about as well.  I find myself particularly invested in the Environmental topics as I added that subject this year. I know the Environment has been an in-and-out topic in previous years, so I was really excited to bring it back! I am really interested in EPA budget cuts that could affect a range of environmentally friendly companies and keep them from continuing to help our Earth. Furthermore, I really love the topic on human trafficking.  The issue affects so many lives here in Houston, I felt the topic was very relevant. Overall I wish there were time to write about all of them because they’re all so interesting to me! 🙂

Share one of your favorite memories from your past experience in Texas YG.

By far one of my proudest and most memorable moments from my time here at YG was my very first Con Intent speech I wrote for the final round of proposals my first year. The topic was police brutality, and I just remember feeling like that was my last chance to make my voice heard. My proposal didn’t pass after second chamber, so I stayed up later than I should have, drinking Starbucks from the cafe in the hotel, and I went to the proposal author’s source and disproved their entire proposal for action. While it may have seemed harsh at the time, I remember feeling a sense of self worth in that moment as I put maximum effort into my research.  Even though my legs were shaking during my speech, I was able to have my voice heard! It was humility at its best, and I felt the true meaning of friendly competition and justice in that moment.

What are your future career and educational plans?

Upon graduation I plan to drive to Minnesota where I will spend my summer as a first-time counselor at my childhood summer camp that I have been attending for nine years. Following summer, I will hopefully stay in Minnesota and double major in Environmental Science and Foreign Affairs. I plan to work with underdeveloped countries to renew their resources and make our Earth a little cleaner. A superhero? Maybe not… but I do want to save the world.

What fall festivities and traditions do you look forward to most?

I am really looking forward to carving a pumpkin! I remember as a kid my dad and I would bake the seeds, and I would eat them for weeks! Not to mention I will have something spooky to put by my door! Fall is by far my favorite season! I can’t wait to watch the leaves turn!

2018-05-31T07:22:31-05:00October 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Officer Profile: Meet Your Chief Justice!

Thanks to Youth Chief Justice, Noelle Mitchell, for sharing her experiences and future plans!

What are some experiences and/or current events that piqued your interest in law?

Growing up in a family that openly invited discussion and healthy debate about politics and matters of civic duty and morality made me feel free to explore different aspects of public policy and law from a young age. I really largely have my parents to thank for fostering my passion for serving others. And as I grew older, I began to realize the potential of law for use to serve others.

Share some goals you have for your time as Chief Justice.

First and foremost, my primary goal is to increase awareness about the Appellate section and all the great things that are happening in our program. Second, I hope to do my best to ensure that all Appellate delegates have all the information they need to be successful and to make sure they’re connected with the right people to help mentor them.

What are some of your future educational and career plans?

I’m planning on attending college as a political science/political philosophy major. I have applied to several colleges around the country…I will go to college wherever the Lord leads! At the moment, I hope to obtain a law degree after receiving my bachelor’s so I can become an advocacy lawyer for children, abused women, or refugees.

What are some of your unique talents and hobbies?

I’m heavily involved with Theater and One Act Play at my school as well as with Thespian Society!  Theater is actually how I learned to speak with an Irish and British accent. My favorite musical to listen to at the moment is “Come From Away” about the 38 planes that were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland after the US airspace closed as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

2018-05-31T07:22:31-05:00October 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments