Mount McKinley Called Denali Once More
On Aug. 30, President Obama officially announced that after almost a century of being known as Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain will again be called by its original name: Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one” in the language of the mountain’s local natives.
Part of the area’s native populations’ Denali had been the mountain’s name for millennia and is central to the area’s natives, the Koyukon Athabascans. Returning the mountain to its original name is Obama’s latest move to better relations between the federal government and the continent’s natives (New York Times, “Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali,” 08.30.15).
Renaming the mountain after the 25th President was one such grievance. In 1896, gold prospector William Dickey showed his support for the then-Republican presidential nominee’s backing of the gold standard by naming the tallest peak after the soon-to-be president. 20 years later, Woodrow Wilson made the nickname official (Washington Post, “If not for a mountain, what is President McKinley’s legacy?” 08.31.15).
Many, however, have long objected to the new name. After opposition grew in Alaska in the 1970s, a compromise was drafted in 1980 that named the surrounding national park Denali National Park and Preserve, but retained the mountain’s name itself as Mount McKinley. For the decades following, the problem was kept at an impasse (New York Times).
Yet despite decades of dispute and stalemate on the issue, Obama’s decision was made official by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Aug. 31. The change has since received criticism from some lawmakers though, particularly in Ohio. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio remarked, “This decision by the administration is yet another example of the President going around Congress” (USA Today, “Ohio delegation blasts Mount McKinley name change,” 08.31.15).
More criticism came from Speaker of the House John Boehner, in an official statement given on Aug. 30: “There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy” (Washington Post).
Petitioners noted that McKinley had never even set foot on his eponym, however, and the change has been received warmly by Alaskan officials as well as members of local community. One of the area’s tour guides, Celeste Godfrey, remarked at her happiness with the change. “Super-happy, super-duper happy— verklempt, if you will,” she said.
In a YouTube video in response to Obama’s announcement, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski expressed her gratitude for the President’s efforts. She said, “I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska” (Alaska Dispatch News, “McKinley no more: North America’s tallest peak to be renamed Denali,” 08.30.15; Sen. Lisa Murkowski, “Sen. Murkowski On Renaming Mount McKinley to Denali,” 08.31.15).
— Derek Sonntag, Guest Reporter
Twitter Launches 2016 Presidential Campaign Donation Service
On Sept. 15, social media supergiant Twitter and mobile payment company Square Inc. launched their newest cooperative project: a donation system by which Twitter users will be able to contribute to the campaigns of 2016 presidential candidates.
Announced just a day before the second major Republican Debate will take place, the new system will verify each participating campaign via Square, after which Twitter can give the contenders each a unique “$Cashtag,” a concept introduced by Square earlier this year as a method through which people can send money electronically through its Cash.me system. By including a $Cashtag, the campaigns will automatically display an option in their tweets for their followers to donate (Engadget, “Square accepts your political donations with a tweet,” 09.15.15).
In the fast-paced spirit of the website, Twitter users wanting to donate to a candidate will be able to do so quickly. Would-be donors will need only to fill out basic identifying information and provide a link to a viable debit card in order to contribute. According to Head of Political Advertising Sales at Twitter Jenna Golden, over a dozen political candidates are already sold on the idea, and will register their campaigns as soon as possible.
Golden explained in an official company blog post, “This is the fastest, easiest way to make an online donation, and the most effective way for campaigns to execute tailored digital fundraising, in real time, on the platform where Americans are already talking about the 2016 election and the issues they are passionate about…” (Twitter, “Political donations, now through a Tweet,” 09.15.15)
Vincent Harris, a digital strategist for the Paul campaign remarked, “Twitter has been a successful avenue of fundraising for campaigns in the past, and this will make it even more attractive to campaigns as they look at how to allocate precious dollars” (Chicago Tribune, “People can now tweet financial contributions to presidential campaigns,” 09.15.15)
Twitter has also developed voter registration reminders and email collection services for the coming election season in light of the rapidly-growing importance of social media in presidential stumping. According to Forbes, up to 20 percent of online campaign ad spending is now spent on Facebook alone, and Twitter itself is poised to receive over $1 billion in political advertising in the coming months (Forbes, “Twitter Expands Political Ad Offerings To Cash In On 2016 Election Cycle,” 08.28.15).
Twitter and Square’s new partner service is projected to generate significant donations from the everyday citizen, and in doing so will boost their own profits, taking a small percentage of each donation as a commissions fee (Engadget).
“We think about donating to a campaign as an old-fashioned, traditional process, a cumbersome process,” Golden commented. “This was an incredible opportunity for us to simplify and streamline.”
— Rhys Johnson, News Editor
Fraternity Facing Charges For Student Death
Five members of the Baruch College chapter of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity are facing third-degree murder charges in the death of Michael Deng, a member of both the freshman class and the fraternity’s pledge class in 2013. Deng died from blunt force trauma while on a retreat to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with the fraternity.
According to NBC, “He and other pledges were blindfolded and ordered to carry a backpack filled with sand across a snow-covered field while fraternity brothers charged and tackled them” (NBC, “37 Face Charges in Hazing Death of Baruch College Freshman Michael Deng,” 09.15.15).
The actual acquittal and charging of the various fraternity members took over two years due to a lack of cooperation from various fraternity members who tried to hide evidence tying the fraternity to Deng’s death. This was done based on the advice of the fraternity’s National President, Andy Meng, who is facing lesser charges.
A total of 37 members were recommended for charges by a grand jury convened in 2014 to address the lack of cooperation from involved students, which prosecutors are now following as they charge members of the fraternity, as well as Pi Delta Psi itself.
Many of the lawyers representing students facing lesser charges, however, condemned what they believe to be a lack of discretion on the prosecutors’ parts as to which of the students were to face charges, and for heavily pressuring students to testify. (The New York Times, “Students Misled Investigators in Baruch College Hazing Case, Authorities Say,” 09.15.15).
According to The New York Times, “The authorities said that fraternity members at the retreat reached out to Mr. Meng while Mr. Deng was unconscious, and he encouraged them to hide items related to the fraternity” (The New York Times, “Students Misled Investigators in Baruch College Hazing Case, Authorities Say,” 09.15.15).
Later, three fraternity members took Deng to a hospital thirty minutes away. However, due to the long amount of time between the initial injuries and the time it took to receive medical attention, Deng was unable to recover, and died the following morning (The New York Times, “5 from Baruch College Face Murder Charges in 2013 Fraternity Hazing,” 09.14.15).
Baruch College responded by banning Pi Delta Psi from campus shortly after the incident occurred. They also suspended all pledging activities for fraternities and sororities on campus in the fall of 2014 (The New York Times). The incident has since led to a decline in Greek life on Baruch’s campus.