Blog posts tagged in President's Blog

Posted by on in Rick's View

When I was a senior in high school and looking at colleges, there were a number of factors that were important to me. The first, and one of the more important factors was that I wanted to go to a smaller school. I didn’t want to go to a college where I was just a number in a huge lecture hall. I wanted a school where my professor would know my name and face, and where I could get help if I needed it.

Another factor was the athletic department. I was a member of the golf team in high school and I wanted to play in college. Anna Maria College helped me achieve that goal, and I have had a great time with my fellow team members.

I was also looking for a school that had a variety of majors to choose from because I was unsure if a degree in business was a good choice for me. Because AMC offers so many choices, I was able to take business classes and criminal justice classes to see where I fit best. I decided that business was the right major for me.

Next week I will discuss why I think you should choose Anna Maria College.

During the first few days of the new year, the news reports were replete with articles and stories about Colorado becoming the most recent state to legalize the sale of marijuana. Washington legalized the sale of marijuana several months ago. It appears that Alaska, Oregon and California may be next.

I now understand that my view is in the minority. Gallup reported in the Fall that a majority of Americans (58%) support legalizing marijuana. A decade ago, only 32% were in favor; in 1969 (Gallup’s first poll on this question), only 12% supported legalization.

I am against this trend. I am also against legalizing gambling. And I wish the laws about alcohol and tobacco sales were stiffened or at least enforced. But lest you think this blog is simply about morality and ethics, my reasoning is fundamentally educational.

A recent op ed piece by Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post alerted me to recent studies published by the American Medical Association (AMA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Academy of Sciences. The results are alarming.

According to the research of the AMA, “heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments of neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood, and psychotic thought disorder.” College students exhibit these behaviors more and more and they always impact their ability to be successful academically.

The AMA report also provides data revealing that marijuana is the most common drug associated with drugged driving, especially with drivers under 21. Further, use of cannabis “is related to later substance abuse disorders.”

One of the reports I read in early January emphasized that the new Colorado law (and the Washington law) restricts the sale of marijuana to those over 21. But the research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse details what those of us on college campuses already know. According to their studies, nearly half of all children have tried marijuana before graduating from high school. In fact, 16.5% of eighth graders have tried marijuana. Even more concerning, only 40% of 12th graders believe that there is a risk in regular use of marijuana (that percentage was 58% only two years ago).

The study published by the National Academy of Sciences is more detailed. The study was completed in 2012 and involved the study of over 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38. The most salient findings are as follows:

-       “Persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education.”

-       “Long term cannabis users saw an average decline of eight IQ points."

-       “The decrease in IQ was linked only to those with adolescent marijuana use, not those who started in adulthood.”

We can have the debate about the impact of alcohol, gambling and drugs on social behavior. We can have the debate about the rights of people to use these substances. But there is no debate that the use of marijuana (and alcohol and gambling) impact student academic success.

We try to educate students about these risks. Legalization just makes it more difficult. I vote “no.”

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Posted by on in Matt's Corner

As a senior at Anna Maria College with one semester left, you can imagine there is a lot on my mind concerning the immediate future. One might say that this time in a senior’s college career can be very stressful, but I’m glad to report that a lot of the stress has been taken away because of how AMC prepares its students for the future.   Since I was a freshman, my growth at AMC continued each year as I met new challenges that forced me to find new solutions. I went from being a general member of the activities board to eventually becoming a member of the student government association executive board. I learned a lot in and out of the classroom that I know I couldn’t have learned anywhere else and I am glad to be leaving this institution with the knowledge I obtained.

For about a year and a half now I have been determined to find a career in higher education, as well as receive a master’s in higher education administration; I am ready to do both. My final semester will include a lot of applying and waiting, applying and waiting, but at the same time it will be exciting beyond belief! It’s hard to imagine how four years of your life can go by so quickly, the friends you make, the people you meet, the people you lose, and the things you learn.

While being a student at AMC I have had the pleasure of working with many professors and staff in order to get the most out of my education. A number have had an instrumental impact on me that has helped me to become who I am today. When freshman come to Anna Maria College they are told how helpful the small community life style can be but they don’t really know how beneficial it is until they have actually experienced it. I have experienced it over and over again, and while I am sad to leave, I am excited to use what I have gathered at AMC and apply it to the rest of my life in whatever direction it may bring me.

Posted by on in President's Blog

Last week I wrote about the issue of gun control and a recent report from the Children’s Defense Fund entitled, “We Can Do Better: Protect Children Not Guns 2013.”  The responses to this blog have been interesting. Most who took the time to write shared my views on gun control. A few questioned the value of gun control and someone even challenged my patriotism.

This week I want to share some of the recommendations made by this report. None of these ideas are new, but they will take action…. your action, my action … and ultimately the action of our elected leaders.

The first recommendation is to “urge your members of Congress to protect children from gun violence. Support common sense gun safety and gun prevention measures …” Specific actions included in this recommendation are:

-       Universal background checks;

-       Limits on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines;

-       Consumer safety standards, childproof safety features, and authorized-user identification for all guns;

-       Better services for children and families facing violence in their homes and communities and for children with unmet mental health needs;

-       Public funding for gun violence prevention research and programs;

-       Resources and authority for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and law enforcement agencies to properly enforce gun laws.

The second recommendation is to “urge state and local governments to protect children from guns.”  If we can’t change federal laws, we can at least make our own state safer for children. Sadly, since Newtown, only four states have passed common sense gun reform. Specific actions in this case include:

-       Support laws to prevent child access to guns;

-       Support universal background checks;

-       Support limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition;

-       Oppose efforts to limit the ability of schools, physicians and others to do their part to keep children safe from guns;

-       Oppose laws allowing concealed weapons;

-       Demand the repeal of “Stand Your Ground Laws.”

If you are unwilling to work to change federal and state laws and policies, you can take personal action and responsibility. The report urges parents to “remove guns from your home and be vigilant about where your children play.”  Even more, we can all “boycott products that glamorize violence.”  Finally, we can help to educate and influence our neighbors and friends by bringing attention to the truth about gun violence and to work against the culture of violence in our neighborhoods and our communities.

It’s not enough to share the belief that gun violence must be addressed. It will take action. I am just beginning to read Pope Francis’ teaching document, “Evangelii Gaudium” (the Joy of the Gospel). I am sure you will be reading about my impressions and reflections in future blogs.

But one sentence has remained in my mind as I am writing this blog on this topic. Pope Francis writes, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

Gun violence is not as important to the media as healthcare, the economy, the rate in which people are spending money on holiday gifts and celebrity news. Here’s what I want for Christmas … new and improved laws on gun control so that more children are safe. Because in this season of Advent …. I believe we can do better!

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Posted by on in President's Blog

I was at a public event a week ago that was stopped several times to acknowledge and thank those from the military in attendance. We stood and applauded and thanked them for their service and sacrifice. While I shared in this expression of appreciation, I thought of statistics from a recent report published by the Children’s Defense Fund entitled, “We Can Do Better: Protect Children Not Guns 2013.”

One of many statistics that surprised, shocked and saddened me was that, “the number of children and teens killed by guns in 2010 was nearly five times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in action that year in Iraq and Afghanistan.” In fact, since 1963, three times more children and teens have died from guns on American soil than U.S. soldiers killed in action in wars around the world. That translates to seven children and teens being killed every single day by guns in America. A child or teen is killed or injured from guns every 30 seconds.

Last year, I joined hundreds of my colleagues in support of additional gun control. Our statement entitled, “College Presidents for Gun Safety,” was sent to every legislator, every government official and every media outlet. It was joined by the efforts of many organizations, individuals and communities. But even with the memory of Sandy Hook Elementary School fresh in our minds, modest legislation to increase background checks was defeated in Congress.

Maybe Sandy Hook was not enough to change our minds since the fact is that the number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. In 2010, 18,270 children and teens died or were injured by guns. This means 17 classrooms of 20 children every week... an entire school building every week. The school building your children and my grandchildren attend ... one every week.

If you are interested in this issue, I would urge you to read this report. It can be found online at www.childrensdefense.org/dobetter. It provides statistics and analysis, as well as action steps to help address this issue. It also provides a selection of organizations you might join and/or support that are trying to address this issue.

Next week, I will share some of the suggestions for action. But the Forward to the report from Marian Wright Edelman frames it well:

“What can you do? Urge your members of Congress to protect children from gun violence by supporting common sense gun safety and gun violence protection measures for the nation including universal background checks, limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, consumer safety standards for all guns, public funding for gun violence prevention research, and resources and authority for law enforcement agencies to properly enforce gun laws. Parents, remove your guns from your home and be vigilant about where your children play. Boycott products that glamorize violence.”

As we prepare to begin the Advent and Christmas seasons ... seasons that center so much on life and children ... this issue should not .... cannot be ignored.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)