North Carolina

North Carolina Is On The Road To Theocracy

By Ziyi Mai

Since the embarrassing “bathroom bill”(House Bill 2), the state of North Carolina once again has received national attention as the dominating Republicans in the General Assembly called a special legislative session in December introducing bills that could significantly strip executive power from the incoming Democratic governor.

According to The New York Times, Republicans that dominate both chambers of the legislature hastily convened a special session passing bills that require State Senate confirmation of cabinet appointments; sharply cut the number of employees who report to the governor from 1,500 to 300; and shifting the appointing power of the Board of Elections from the governor to the legislature, aiming to keep Republicans in power even if they have lost the gubernatorial race.

Politics in North Carolina has degenerated into a trend of purer partisan battle than serving the public as the end goal.

As Karen L. Cox pointed out in a New York Times op-ed, politics in the state wasn’t always a fierce partisan war.

It used to have civility in both side of the ales and the two parties cooperated toward the same goal for the good of the public.

The rotunda in the North Carolina state capital in Raleigh. Photo Credit: Jim Bowen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Old North State has been dubbed as the leading progressive force in the south, which is a blessing given the racial history in the south.

Slow but steady pace of progressive policies have been interrupted since 2010, when Republicans took control of the legislature, and two years later, the governorship.

It is not uncommon in a state that power shifts between parties from time to time.

But the performance of the NC Republicans from the past several years has clearly shown that they tried to move away from a secular government and establish rules of ideology and even religion.

The cumulative effect of all these changes is that our state is moving to a direction of theocracy.

The ideals of Republicans, to a large extent, are more driven by briefs rather than empirics that reflect the reality of the conflicts and problems in a society.

There’s no doubt that some of the ideals are beneficial to the society, such pro-business economic policy and limited the size of government.

Yet these policies are inevitably distorted when it comes to implementation. In social issues, the NC Republicans propose bills that are grounded on Christian beliefs in the name of protecting North Carolinians from liberal influence.

This is the reason that the NCGA has consistently passed eerie laws on which Americans out of the state might not get a clue.

Contrary to what liberals despise, many Christian principles are essentially good moral standards for a civil society, and the foundation of liberty to some extent.

Yet, these principles only work conditioned on individual believers. Christians usually wholeheartedly follow those principles without mandates.

However, any religious principles, no matter how good they are, would become tyrannical once a government implements them and require all citizens to follow.

From this standpoint, it is not difficult to understand why Republicans have a prolong resistance to issues such as gay marriage, abortion and gender equality.

The Republican government in North Carolina has already spent tremendous money and time in defending its effort changing the geopolitical environment and the state’s institutions.

In November, 2016, a three-judge panel of the District Court of North Carolina ruled that the Republican-drawn legislative map were unconstitutional, citing that it is racial gerrymanders that purposefully separated African-American and Hispanic voters into a few districts.

This is one of many examples that the state has been facing legal challenges from civil group and federal government as a result of its peculiar legislature serving not the public interest but the party’s.

The latest move of stripping the incoming governor’s power is the continuation of this direction, that NC Republicans are desperate to exert its religious influence on all North Carolinians.

Conservatives always scoff at liberals so called “overreaction” on such matters.

David French of National Review wrote “… bipartisan election boards and senate approval for gubernatorial appointments are hardly the stuff of which tyrannies are built. ”

It is true that these measures aren’t.

But the due process of making these changes should be questioned.

According to the state Constitution and the general principle of check and balances, the executive and legislature are both branches of state government in which their weight of power should be equal and separate.

Any rearrangement of power between branches is a matter of constitutionality and should proceed with the change of the state constitution.

If the legislation has become all-powerful to strip rights from the executive and the judiciary as lawmakers wish, a state would become a collective tyranny. And this is exactly the situation that the founding fathers want to avoid.

Putting bigotry pieces of legislation such as HB2 should be worrisome, but what is even more troubling is the damage that NC Republicans have done to our state’s democratic institutions that ensure stability and serve the public’s interest regardless of rule from either party.

Unfortunately, the deterioration of these institutions seems unstoppable as the NC Republicans continue to undermine all branches of the state government and the Board of Elections.

Ziyi Mai is a Teaching Assistant at North Carolina State University and a Young Leader columnist. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Gerry Dincher/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)


The College Student Guide For Halloween In The Triangle

By Sarah Gallo

RALEIGH, NC- It is official: fall is here.

UGG boots and pumpkin spice latte’s have once again dominated college campuses across North Carolina.

Possibly the hottest topic of discussion on college campuses this time of year is how to spend the biggest of all holidays for college students: Halloween.

Many students would argue that Halloween parties are the best parties, because who doesn’t like to dress up in an itchy costume and drink excessive amounts of pumpkin-flavored beer?

Students in the Triangle area and beyond are planning on taking advantage of all their schools have to offer on Halloween night.

Here are some of the cooler things happening in our area:

East Carolina University (ECU) is best known this time of year for raging Halloween parties, along with the unfortunate riot that occurred on Oct. 31, 2014 at the local townhome community Riverwalk, located in close proximity to the university. In that incident over 3,000 rioted at the scene and many stood atop of a campus transit bus.

Halie Clegg, a current junior at ECU majoring is planning on going to the popular college burger joint Sup Dog’s “mug night,” where one can bring any size mug to the restaurant and receive unlimited $1 refills on all beer.

“There are bunch of Halloween themed events in downtown. Clubs will play Halloween-themed music and have lots of drink specials,” Clegg said. “Our party school reputation makes us stand out, because us pirates do know how to party and make Halloween more fun. It is easy to get out of hand, though.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is another place students flock to for Halloween. The university boasts a Halloween parade on the street adjacent to campus where students show off costumes and socialize with peers.

Trisha Bonthu, a sophomore at UNC, is one of many Tar Heels planning on spending Halloween dressing up and taking pictures with friends on Franklin St.

“Franklin St. is the one thing we are known for, we get together and take pictures and it’s one giant party,” Bonthu said. “I want to see if there are any new group costume themes this year. I feel like there will be a lot of Donald Trumps and Hillarys.”

Watch: A scene from Franklin St. in 2011 on Halloween night

Students from other universities in the Triangle may have trouble attending the event, though, as it is noted that Tar Hell Halloween festivities tend to be very exclusive due to overcrowding concerns.

“They try to cut back on people coming from other schools,” Bonthu said. “You have to have approved guests if someone’s staying in your dorm, and there’s no parking. They try to take every precaution they can.”

It is important to note that NC State University (NCSU) does not have the same reputation that ECU or UNC has when it comes to Halloween.

Last year students at NCSU enjoyed both the 2015 Homecoming Parade and the Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 31. 2015. These events offered students a fun, safe way to spend the holiday.

But this year, NCSU students will have to look towards the other alternatives the Triangle offers its residents to celebrate this year’s Halloween, for those who do not wish to just partake in intoxication and regretted decisions.

Durham’s Museum of Life and Sciences boasts a train ride to a local pumpkin patch, along with creative activities and fun for the whole family. Tickets can be purchased on the museum’s website.

The North Carolina State Fair is occurring in Raleigh N.C. from October 13-23, and is another popular event NC State students attend to celebrate the beginning of fall; It also serves as a way to get students excited about Halloween.

Dina Ibrahim, senior at NC State University, is planning on spending this Halloween partying with close friends dressed as Cat woman.

Ibrahim encourages students from surrounding universities to join NC State’s festivities as the wolfpack welcomes all she says.

“Everybody in Raleigh is really inclusive,” Ibrahim said. “If you go in to Raleigh looking for a fun time, there’s nobody that will turn you away. There’s lots of alcohol, and lots of loud music.”

Ibrahim also suggests checking out Hibernian Pub, C. Grace jazz club, and Rum Runners for a good time in Raleigh on Halloween.

Students in the Triangle area and beyond have plenty of options on how to spend the beloved holiday, but most college students are more than happy with spending the night drinking, partying, and showing off their homemade, college-budget friendly Halloween costumes.

Let us know know you will be celebrating in the comments below.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

This College Paper Just Decided To Start Using Gender Neutral Terms

Back in 2010, the University of North Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, was approached by roughly 30 students with a petition containing over 430 signatures that demanded that the paper use gender neutral terms-  chairperson instead of chairman, first-year instead of freshman.

This week the paper decided to make the change to gender neutral terms.

“We don’t really believe in leaving things the same way just because it’s the way it’s always been, and now more than ever, we all see a pressing need to be inclusive in the way we write about people.” Paige Ladisic, editor of the paper said in a message explaining the decision.

These changes, like the Associated Press Stylebook, considered by many as the Bible of journalistic standards, seem to reflect society.

For example, Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant, tracked news media’s use of “illegal alien” to convince outlets to use the term “undocumented immigrant” instead.

But was the Daily Tar Heel in the right to make the change?

“Gender neutral titles have slowly been making their way into everyday usage for decades. For instance we don’t call a female flight attendant a ‘stewardess’ anymore,” Jason Parsley, Executive Editor of South Florida Gay News said in an interview. “As for ‘chairperson’ there doesn’t need to be separate terms for men and woman because both positions are equal.  Men and women are equal. Period. And ultimately that’s what this gender neutral movement is all about.”

Marimar Toledo, a 20 year old freelance journalist also supports the use of gender neutral usage, because it was more respectful to people in the LGBT community.

“You’re just never gonna know- and just to be on the safe side, and be on the respectful side, you should use the gender neutral terms, rather than the ones that specify which sex you are.”

While people may be of different opinions, The Daily Tar Heel‘s decision seems here to stay.

Rise News reached out to DTH editor Paige Ladisic and will update this story when she responds. 

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Cover Photo Credit: William Yeung/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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