After the excitement and controversy caused by a visit from President Bill Clinton and the Hillary campaign, The Lens wondered just how much the school had made in exchange for its student's rights to free speech. Through an email request to Vice President David Patten, The Lens obtained this copy of the invoice from the event. Now the only questions are what will the funds be used for, and how much have others (political or otherwise) been charged for the space.
For Immediate Release:
The Unfiltered Lens, the Community College of Rhode Island's Student Newspaper is reporting:
April 15, 2016
Former president, Bill Clinton, addressed a crowd yesterday at CCRI on behalf of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Prior to the Clinton speech, RI governor, Gina Raimondo, an ardent Hillary supporter, told the crowd, "Are we all ready to elect Hillary as the next president"? Some students directly near Lens writers responded with a resounding, NO! They were quickly met with a HRC staffer telling them to keep quiet, stop booing, or they'd have to leave.
This wasn't the only incident.
After the event concluded, several students came to The Lens' office, saying they were met with HRC staffers also while quietly holding a "Bernie" sign in the crowd.
One student, Dante Carrasco, told The Lens he was just holding the sign when a suited man approached and informed him, "Either the sign has to go, or you do".
Two other students, Paul Moore and Brian Bowes, came forward to The Lens saying they had made a hand-written "Bernie" sign, taped it on a wall, only to watch HRC suited staffers quickly walk over and take it down. However, on the opposite side of where these students had placed their sign, a massive banner read, Rhode Island=Clinton Country.
Apparently, certain speech is tolerated only when comporting to the correct candidate.
Little could be heard over the roar of the crowd, and the sheer number of students lining up along the ramps connecting the main floors of CCRI’s Knight campus was staggering. The turn out on campus to hear President Bill Clinton speak on behalf of his wife’s campaign was amazing to say the least.
The real story however isn’t to be found in the former president’s speech, but in the complete disregard for our fellow student’s rights to free speech.
Throughout the proceeds, unnoticed by many of those attending, members of Hillary’s campaign staff were weaving through the crowd silencing any dissenting voice. The first of these instances that The Lens witnessed was the suppression of a student named Dantes Carrasco.
Before the event even had a chance to get into full swing, Dantes pulled out his Bernie Sanders sign. This isn’t much of a surprise in and of itself, college students are pretty well known for vocally supporting the Sanders’ campaign.
However, though he was quietly and calmly holding his sign, Dantes was quickly approached by a suited individual who informed him that either the sign had to go, or he did.
This wasn’t the only sign that the Hillary Campaign had a problem with. Students Paul Moore and Brian Bowes created a homemade banner which said “Bernie”, which they hung along the ramp up to the fourth floor across from a sign on the first floor which stated “Rhode Island = Clinton Country”.
“This was quick. I mean, pretty soon after they were put up they were immediately taken down.” says Moore.
But the censorship didn’t stop there. During Governor Raimondo’s speech she asked the audience if they planned to vote for Hillary. Several students in the audience answered in the negative. Within moments they were approached by men in a suits who sternly advised them to stop.
This immediate and decisive decision to silence such a small number of students in a sea of people was not something we at The Lens would have expected to see. Are we as students meant to take this as a sign of Hillary’s position on free speech? How is it that Hillary can claim to be in support of college students, while her campaign team seeks to silence dissenting voices among them?
Editor in Chief
In any new regime there is a time of upheaval and confusion. A time where all the parties still standing must gain their balance and take stock of their surroundings. As we say goodbye to the leadership of yesterday and welcome our new president, Dr. Meghan Hughes, we must focus on where things go from here.
In this vein, The Unfiltered Lens was recently given the unique opportunity to sit down with several members of the college’s administration to discuss the future of the college and the newspaper’s role in it.
Though originally scheduled for a thirty minute meeting at 9am, Dr Hughes informed us upon arrival that she was free for the next hour and looked forward to spend some of that time getting to know some students on a more personal level.
After a round of introductions, Hughes asked each member of The Lens to discuss their experience here at the college, and what being a member of the paper meant to them. Hughes expressed great interest in how unified the members of the paper seemed and discussed ways in which that spirit could be replicated across the campus.
Of course, after the more general discussion was over things became more serious. With so many different changes happening with the arrival of a new administration, The Lens wanted to clarify the details of new policies like Performance Based Funding and the master schedule.
During the discussion, Dr Hughes told us about her strategic vision for the next three years. She made it explicitly clear however, that while the college would in fact be moving in the direction of workforce development, she had “absolutely no interest in working for a vocational college”.
She discussed her feelings that the Senate President and other elected officials needed to learn “about the reality of our students” and what they need from our institution. Hughes made it clear that she believed that the two year graduation expectation was a “myth”.
Hughes was adamant in her belief that CCRI should not be churning out certificates or degrees for low paying, high demand work. She told us that CCRI should be providing the means for students to gain their degrees and acquire “high demand, high wage” careers.
In order to accomplish this Hughes wishes to use tools such as a master schedule and guided pathways as tools to better help all students, whether seeking degrees, transfer, of just to expand their knowledge, to craft a unique course plan to help them achieve their goals.
Hughes’ made it clear to us during her interview that her priority was helping CCRI to better serve the students and their needs, not an unrealistic expectation meant to placate outside sources.
The overall mission of THE UNFILTERED LENS© is to inform and improve the quality of student life at the Community College of Rhode Island. We strive to accomplish this standard by reporting and writing the truth in an ethical and responsible fashion that enlightens the entire college community, while providing information in an unvarnished manner that seeks thoughtful responses, dialogue and, of course, action. We fully understand serving students is our clear objective and recognize the impact and, more importantly, the importance of this endeavor. We realize we do not make news but cover events that stimulate our community, improve college life and strengthen our democracy.