Readers’ Forum: 10/22/19

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Immigrants and their effect on the United States

This year, more than half a million people were apprehended and detained for attempting
to cross the Mexican-American border and enter the United States illegally. Many of these undocumented people are trying to apply for citizenship and make a better life for their families, but the United States has to spend money for the children’s schooling, healthcare for those who are not citizens of the United States and more border security and government officials to regulate and keep track of these people. The U.S. should not allow these undocumented residents to stay.

The United States is a unique place that offers freedoms that are non-existent in other
countries — if you enter this country legally. This country is made up of people of different
backgrounds and cultures that have worked together to make something beautiful. There are thousands of people waiting and filling out the immigration papers to become citizens of the United States. The process to become a citizen is long, but cheating your way into this country is wrong and unlawful.

Everyone in this world is constantly trying to improve their lives and the lives of their
family and loved ones. America gives people a chance at the pursuit of happiness. America is a melting pot of all ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions. Let’s keep building our nation upon the differing views of people wanting to make a better place for people to live.

—Brett Clark
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The sea is calling — did banning straws answer it?

On a field trip, we were given styrofoam pieces representing trash to scatter throughout a
diagram. Once we added water, the styrofoam pieces floated into the “ocean.” What we do on land affects the ocean. A video circulated on social media of a turtle with a straw lodged in its nose. This started a craze to eliminate plastic straws. Focusing on straws alone is a waste of effort that could be used to focus on more significant threats, like pH balance plummeting and trash islands.

There are five patches of garbage floating in the ocean. The largest patch, which floats between California and Asia, contains nearly 1.8 trillion pieces of trash. California has passed laws trying to clean this problem. Air pollution can be even more severe than trash. The absorption of the chemicals in the air has caused the pH balance to drop 30% in the last century. The ocean is changing and becoming inhabitable, and very soon, it will affect the human race. The problem is real, but banning plastic straws is not the solution.

Banning plastic straws has annoyed many residents without a big impact. Some would
argue that eliminating plastic straws is going towards a cleaner ocean, but this small change has such a small reward. There are “Eight million tons of plastic … every year, and straws comprise just 0.025% of that.” The residents of California need to vote smarter when it comes to environmental issues and not be clouded by popular social media opinions.

—Aubry Mackin
Aliso Viejo, California

The BYU Store has got to go — to a mall

Come with me to a time — not that long ago — when there was a place in the heart of campus where minds — young and old — could explore new ideas, investigate other fields of study, and celebrate collegiate life. One could go upstairs and browse the textbooks — organized by course — to see what was being taught over in another department or college. One could go downstairs to look through current best-sellers and old, used books to see what the rest of the country is thinking — and what they used to think. Go downstairs, and you could learn what the Brethren are writing. You could also pick up a sandwich or a t-shirt, but it was clear that these were merely incidental to the store’s mission. Its purpose was to quicken the curiosity of a campus community and get them thinking and talking about new ideas and living more noble lives. It was a true university bookstore.

Now walk with me through the constant din and dust of remodeling where we can find a few textbooks upstairs — but organized alphabetically, such that it would be impossible to browse by subject. Gone are the best-sellers and used books — replaced by a children’s playground and mountains of BYU-themed kitsch. Here we find row upon row and rack upon rack of over-priced clothing positioned to impede those who are just trying to move through the building. What was once a small snack area has been transformed into shelf after shelf of high-end confections — of little use to struggling students trying to lose the “freshman 15.” Downstairs, we will still find the words of the Brethren — but they are also crowded out by wall upon wall of Church art prints and LEGO temples.

Why the difference? Students and their families are seen now primarily as consumers rather than young minds and hearts. Their primary function is to buy the campus-logo emblazoned outfits and expensive designer candy, again and again (why else do we need three “official” t-shirt colors for home football games?).

Such a store does not belong in the most precious piece of real estate on our campus. Let’s relocate it to Provo Towne Centre Mall (there’s some space available, I hear), turn the bookstore space back into a real bookstore, and see where that takes us. Perhaps the bookstore’s footprint could be smaller so that we could use the space for other activities or classes. And maybe — just maybe — this will help students remember that they are more than mere revenue streams — and that it is their minds and souls that matter most to us.

—Kendall Stiles
Professor of Political Science

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