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Monday, June 17, 2024 — Houston, TX

Christian Neal

NEWS 1/27/14 6:00pm

LGBTQIPA conversation needs to occur globally

You might have heard that 2013 was a landmark year for gay rights. After all, the U.S. doubled the number of states with marriage equality, meaning that more than 37 percent of Americans live in areas with marriage equality. In addition, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense Of Marriage Act, which barred same-sex spouses from receiving federal benefits. Fifty-five senators have come out in favor of marriage equality, including three Republicans. Also, I would argue that the Human Rights Coalition's red equality symbol became the most viral Facebook campaign of all time.While the Human Rights Coalition has called 2013 "the year of greatest accomplishments for the LGBT movement," I would argue that 2013 has been the worst year for equality in recent history. Although social opinions have become much more open and accepting in the U.S., the world as a whole took regressive measures against LGBTQIPA citizens.  In June 2013, Russia passed an anti-propaganda law which, according to BBC News, effectively banned public gay rights events in Russia. The reasoning for the law was to protect children from pedophilia, a dangerous homosexual stereotype. Since the law was passed, reports of attacks on homosexuals has increased dramatically in Russia. With the Sochi Olympics coming up, many of you have probably heard or read about these new laws. Many Western nations are sending openly homosexual athletes as delegates to the games in protest of LGBTQIPA rights (or lack thereof) in Russia.  An even more regressive decision for this movement came from India's Supreme Court. A 2009 lower court decision had decriminalized homosexual activity in India, but the Supreme Court overturned this decision in December 2013. According to CNN, the law will increase harassment of homosexuals by police and could increase arrests as well. In any case, India's LGBTQIPA population has been dehumanized by this decision and is subject to more discrimination than before the decriminalization was repealed.In May 2013, Nigeria's legislature passed a same-sex prohibition bill that, if signed by their president, would criminalize same-sex civil unions and gay rights organizations. This law would prohibit these activities nationally, but several northern Nigerian provinces already have strict laws against homosexuality.The state of LGBTQIPA affairs internationally may seem daunting, but we can take small actions to raise awareness about these issues. Awareness can go a long way: Nigeria's president has not signed the same-sex prohibition bill because of pressure from Western countries who send economic and military aid to Nigeria. If you would like to raise awareness about these important issues, join us as we observe a Day of Silence on the opening day of the Sochi Olympics (Feb. 7), as an act of solidarity for the LGBTQIPA citizens of the 76 countries worldwide who must be silent about their sexual orientation or risk imprisonment and even death. To learn more, join our facebook event "Day of Silence and Solidarity." Of course, those required to speak for academic purposes, a job, etc. are welcome to participate to the best of their ability. Help start a global conversation about LGBTQIPA rights. We have already turned the tide in America. Let's turn our focus to the voiceless around the world.  Christian Neal  is a Lovett College senior.

NEWS 11/12/13 6:00pm

Charitable giving: Every dollar counts

Child poverty, HIV/AIDS, loss of biodiversity. What do these three things have in common? Yes, they are all social issues that many of us care about. Yes, they are all complex problems which no single one of us can solve. Most importantly, however, they all have charities linked to solving or alleviating their problems.As college students, we often think we cannot change the world just yet. Perhaps we do not believe we have the time, authority or knowledge to effect change on an issue that we care about. Personally, looking at all of the world's problems, or even one problem, can cause me to lose heart about my ability to change that issue. One of the ways to help that we do not often think about is our ability to give donations, even in small amounts, to a good cause. Most likely, we think the small amount of money we have to give will not do anything meaningful. Furthermore, we might think we can just give larger amounts later, after we have established our careers and our families. Alternatively, we may think our charitable donations may not be going to our cause, but instead paying overhead or fundraising costs. Although many of us (myself included) may rationalize our decisions these ways, I argue that they are largely ungrounded.Many students believe we cannot give a meaningful amount, but our dollars can go much further than imaginable. The Against Malaria Foundation can provide mosquito nets to families in Sub-Saharan Africa for a mere $5 per net, and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative can prevent long-term development problems in children by vaccinating them against parasitic worms for a mere $5. Even a small contribution to these funds can make a huge difference for individuals around the world. I have found myself thinking I cannot afford to give now, telling myself I will just give more as I get older. If I do not give now, when I have relatively few regular bills to pay, I have to ask myself when I will begin to give. Will it be when I pay off my student loans? When I have saved for a down payment on a home? When all of my children are out of college? We can always find a good reason not to give up a portion of our hard-earned money for a cause we care about. While it may be true that we can give more when we are older, a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg made me believe in the power of starting to give to charity while we are young. By setting aside a portion of income from each paycheck, students can get into a habit of charitable giving that can last a lifetime. If you set an income percentage habit now, think of how powerful that percentage will be in 10, 20 or even 50 years. While some charities do a great deal of good with their donations, some charities spend an enormous amount on administrative or fundraising costs. To help inform donors of donation effectiveness, several watchdog groups provide information rating different charities. Charitywatchdog.org even gives out grades to thousands of different charities and provides information about the top charities for a variety of causes. If you are not sure about which causes you care about the most, then try taking a look at the GiveWell website (givewell.org). Each year, this charity research group helps to identify the top three most fiscally responsible and meaningful charities around the world. Giving to charity regularly is a powerful habit all students should start. We all care about some cause that is too complex for only market forces to solve. By setting aside a set percentage of each paycheck, we are helping our own fiscal habits, individual lives and the world. Please join me this National Philanthropy Week to reflect on our charitable giving and to make a commitment to a cause.Christian Neal is a Lovett College senior.

OPINION 4/12/12 7:00pm

An increased size means increased opportunities

Since I came to Rice University, many students have blamed everything from the waitlist system to the alcohol probation on the increased size of the student body. Increased enrollment is the favored scapegoat of the Rice community because it is a large change to Rice that has occurred in a short period of time. We, as a whole, have not emphasized the positive changes that this increased size can bring to Rice in both the present and future. The Vision for the Second Century student body goal of 3,800 students offers the Rice community more career, international and alumni opportunities.