Community Voices

Young Observers Mid-November 2022

View Point by Mateo, 9th grade   

Gun Violence: How do we stop it?

One of the key issues that needs to be addressed urgently is the spate of gun violence and weapon-related crimes across the country. School shootings, gang violence, suicides, and other types of mass shootings have been trending upward at a disturbing rate over the last decade. From 1982 to 2002, there was an average of less than two mass shootings a year (a mass shooting is described as a shooting that resulted in three or more deaths). Since 2002, however, that number has jumped to an astonishing five mass shootings a year. From the Columbine shooting of 1999 to the Uvalde shooting that occurred just this year, and everything else in between, these tragedies claimed the lives of far too many innocent souls, young and old.

The United States has the highest rate of gun violence worldwide by a wide margin. Thus, our nation’s leaders are working to prevent these senseless killings. President Joe Biden began the gun control movement in June of this year by signing the first major gun safety law in decades. This act supports funding of school safety and crisis intervention programs around the country. Although it does not ban any weapons specifically, it is a great leap towards a more controlled and protected environment.

This law also encourages more states to join the party with their laws and limits. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a few new laws into place just a month later in July. These bills prohibit the marketing and advertising of any gun-related products that are directed toward minors, as they are vulnerable to misinformation. They also restrict the use of “ghost guns,” or weapons that are built to be untraceable by authorities.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, these dangerous firearms were involved in over 100 crimes in the area just last year, so this change will create a safer society in our state. These major laws seek to prevent future shootings and gun violence, especially among children and young adults. However, there is one major issue that lawmakers must consider when creating new gun control laws. The people’s right to bear arms is cemented into the U.S. Constitution, so if their policies become too restrictive, people may grow angry and claim that they are being deprived of their constitutional rights. This could lead to various protests and riots across the country, which is the last thing our country needs right now. Despite this grim possibility, these laws and bills are slowly creating new opportunities for stricter gun laws and regulations and, hopefully, they will pave the way for safer and more secure communities throughout the nation. Sources: Click Here

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Teen Observer by Francine, 11th grade 

Francine with Observer founders Irene Kobayashi (left) and Barbara Johnson at the 45th Anniversary Luncheon of the Fullerton Observer.

Carrying on the Observer Legacy

Last month, the Fullerton Observer celebrated its 45th anniversary. As a columnist of eight years and youth editor of four years, I am honored to be part of the Observer team.

The anniversary luncheon was a wonderful experience. I met many volunteers from the time the newspaper started, in 1978, to the present, and learned about new projects, especially the podcast, “Observing Fullerton” on Apple Podcast. Being in the same room as Irene Kobayashi, the oldest living founder of the Fullerton Observer, who still works on the paper, brought out the fangirl in me.

I have heard fascinating stories of her hard work, and when we got the chance to chat, I was electrified by her passion for the newspaper and her ardent desire to keep the Observer legacy alive as she remarked, “It made me so happy having you and your Young Observer team in the paper. I can now rest in peace.”

Mrs. Kobayashi recalled that before the youth section was added to the newspaper in 2018, the contributors consisted entirely of adults and seniors, which she found concerning because there was no path for continuity. Seeing multiple tables filled with young people who volunteer for the newspaper at the anniversary celebration last month made her feel hopeful.

Despite our age difference, I feel a special connection to Mrs. Kobayashi because of our common desire to serve our community through the newspaper. Initially, I wanted to be the voice of the children in Fullerton. Eventually, I formed the Young Observers Club to recruit student volunteer contributors. I may be going to college in two years, but I plan to continue overseeing my team with the help of a future youth editor who will be training for the role. When the future youth editor transitions to college, s/he will pass the baton to the younger ones. This scheme will ensure the continuity of the Young Observer section.

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What’s Trending? by Irene, 11th grade  

Affirmative Action is Positive Action

Amid the college application season where all my high school senior friends and classmates are churning their brains over personal statements and drowning in exhaustion, I, an Asian American student, am faced with an obstacle — a nationwide debate over affirmative action and the role of race in the admissions process.

According to Cornell Law School, “Affirmative action is defined as a set of procedures designed to: eliminate unlawful discrimination among applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future.” It was first introduced in 1961 during the Civil Rights era by U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925. Although it has existed since the 20th century, these debates resurface each year during the college applications season and have gained particularly more traction this year, with credit due to the October 31, 2022, Supreme Court hearings in opposition to the policy.

For context, in 2014, the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed lawsuits against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, under the defense that these prestigious universities had allegedly discriminated against Asian American applicants based on their race. With white activist Edward Blum at the forefront of these movements, it is painful for me, a low-income Asian American student, to see my community members fall into this narrative that anti-affirmative action efforts will improve our college admissions experience. Rather than supporting our journey in higher education, Blum and his endeavors deliberately set Asian Americans up against other communities of color.

The National Bureau of Economic Research found that a whopping 43% of white Harvard University admited students were recruited athletes, legacy students, relatives of donors also known as the infamous dean’s interest list (ALDCs), or children of faculty. The study also suggested that 75% of these students would have been rejected if not for their white, ALDC status. Affirmative action isn’t the true perpetrator that keeps Asian American students out of prestigious universities.

These very legacy admissions have significantly more leverage on Asian students’ acceptance rates than affirmative action does. And contrary to popular belief, these highly selective spots are not generously granted to “underachieving” Black and Latino students to play the schools’ token minorities.

Affirmative action is all about intersectionality. I support holistic admissions because they take into account race, gender, economic status, and nationality. Despite our efforts to rid our country of racist institutions, we cannot deny the fact that race continues to play a role in the quality of life.

Black and Latino students have been historically marginalized. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2021, 31% of Black and African American children and 23% of Hispanic or Latino children in the U.S. experienced poverty. This compares drastically with the 11% respectively for the non-Hispanic whites and the Asian/Pacific Islander population. While believers of race-blind applications persistently argue the need for more “merit-based” measures, including standardized tests such as the SAT or the ACT, in reality, these tests are far from truthful when reflecting a student’s academic ability. According to a research paper conducted by ResearchGate that examines the relationship between race, poverty, and SAT scores, “income has a substantial effect on academic achievement and accounts for a meaningful proportion of the score gap between Black and White test-takers on most achievement measures.” So, in other words, it’s not that Black students aren’t as academically outstanding or capable; it’s that without the resources and foundations in K-12 school systems that support higher education, it is made virtually impossible for these marginalized groups to achieve nearly as much as other affluent students. And this is the direct consequence of systemic racism.

Affirmative action provides the opportunity for all students, including Asians, to be represented in the admissions process. And with studies that directly indicate the positive benefits of diversity in higher education, I am a firm believer in these admission policies. Although I still have one year left to experience the grueling and infamous college application adventures, it’s important that students and adults, likewise, get involved in this conversation. It’s a heavy topic and a nuanced debate, but supporting affirmative action brings us one step closer to an equitable society. Source: www.law.cornell.edu/wex/ affirmative_action

 

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