Tag Archives: America

No Safe Spaces. Part of the Whole

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Safe Spaces are a problematic idea for Universities. On one hand they give groups of people the ‘freedom’ to go somewhere and be themselves. On the other who gets to say what groups need a specific space on campus and why do they need a space for themselves. Safe Spaces are places where students who feel they have been marginalized by either their sex, ethnicity, religion or sexuality can go and be themselves (with other people like them) free from any metal or physical strain. But how do you go justifying the feeling of marginalization and present this feeling as a problem for the entire University to solve and not a sole issue.

There is an ideal in society to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. To give a voice for those that do not have a voice of their own. While a simple idea the acting of this is to give people who are marginalized in society the opportunity and to teach the abilities of equity for all. But that is all of society. When we simplify the area to Universities – where the fight for Safe Spaces is currently occurring. Then we have to look at what Universities and higher education represents. Universities are the next stage in academia, a challenge for people’s perceptions of the world and, for the development into adulthood. They are accessible for anyone at any time of their life, it is the independence of the student that dictates the role in which higher education will play in their life and the success the student will get from attending. Universities are a safe place to talk, to live, to experience and to attend. The understanding of intellectual freedom underlines the understanding for what information is presented and why it is presented. When we are presented information (opinions, facts and discussions) that we do not like we know that they are not being shown to us for the purpose of mental harm but for intellectual enlightenment. To further understand why we have our point-of-view and why we do not have the point-of-view of others. The intention is not malicious but a safe engagement of information we otherwise would not engage with ourselves. Our lecturers, tutors, peers and other academics that we share the higher education experience with are debates, challenges and utilities to further get a sense of self-understanding and self-growth. Every University has an understanding of what is expected and what is understood even when it is not said so clearly.

Safe Spaces are challenging this representation of Universities and other higher education institutions by condemning that they are not safe, that there is a significant amount of students that are marginalized for who they are and nothing or very little is being done about it. These Safe Spaces are a solution to this perceived problem. The fights are in our Universities so the problem must be somewhere within. On the website the demands there is a list of at least 88 American higher education institutions that demand change for the systemic and structural racism that they believe is apparent on campuses. Under each school there are a number of demands that are expected to be undertaken on each campus to make up for and fix this injustice. Though it is one thing to believe the outcry of the student population it is another to provide adequate empirical evidence to support this claim – which has yet to happen. For each demand being made there is no specific understanding to how the demand should be done within the university. There are demands calling out certain faculty members of the Universities and demand that they create and enforce the plan that is then to be upheld. This pressure on Universities to abide by these demands has been having a negative effect on the University. University of Missouri for example has had instances revolving around faculty members and student protests. This barrage of bad publicity caused by groups pushing for justice has crippled the University. Missouri has faced a significant decline in student enrolments, a decline in alumni donations, the athletic football team has resigned, faculty members are getting sacked for partaking in the commotion irresponsibly and faculty members are also resigning if they are caught against the loud and vocal group. The University is a reflection of the students. When the students have caused a ruckus in their own University they are condemning the entire University to the public even for those who are not involved.

To create Safe Spaces on campus is to say that the campus is unsafe. That there are problem areas for certain minority groups that are a constant occurrence. For a university to have such a space is unimaginable – a space where there is constant aggression and offensive material to specific groups of people. Where is this space? When we give people areas in which they can escape to we separate the student body. When the entire University is a safe space then the entire student body can be a source for empowerment, confidence, communication and of course safety. But when we separate the student body into identity, then we have people engaging with only certain identities. We also force out identities of people by giving them a reason to feel marginalized. When we give people a reason to not feel like a piece of a whole collective they are automatically on the outside and that is not what Universities are about.

The phrase “Safe Space” has negative connotations attached to it – residing from the identity politics popularized by Intersectional Feminism Safe Spaces are seen as places to escape to when someone cannot handle some form of mental strain. The physical build of Safe Spaces has been described as a place where people can colour in, calm down reading a book, watch videos of puppies playing and escape from what caused them harm. While this is an escape it does not prove to be a solution to the problem, merely a temporary quick fix. What ailed the person can still happen, the person still has to leave the safe space and dealing with the issue at hand can still arise. This understanding provides the connotation that the inability to find a solution to the mental anguish that people will face at University is nothing but hypersensitivity.

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NBN and high-control speed

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Julia Gillard becomes Australia’s 27th Prime Minister with a promise to fulfill an idea of a National Broadband Network (NBN) first brought to our attention by ex Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with the intention of every Australian having access to high-speed internet regardless of location within Australia. This undertaking of the NBN would bring Australia to a new era of high-speed internet that has never been seen before and comparable to other developed countries. By stripping out the old copper network and replacing it with fiber cable straight to the premise the connectivity Australia would have to the internet would be comparable to other developed countries with direct links to the internet, the world and the benefits. This plan however with the logistics and undertaking of implementing the NBN is Australia’s largest infrastructure project in history and has gone through some hurdles since it first started.

One of those hurdles was the changing of Australian Government. Changing from Labor to Liberal with Tony Abbott as Australia’s newest Prime Minister, the NBN changed with him. The first proposal of fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) became fiber-to-the-node where fiber was only being introduced to the nodes around Australia with the copper wiring staying from the node to the premise. This presented the idea of information bottlenecks – where the speed was reduced because of mass information being carried and strained at the node, which would slow down the overall speed of the internet based on the amount of users per area which want to connect.

The impact of the NBN on people would depend on the needs of individuals, families and businesses. This impact of the NBN would be seen based on the connectivity that people have now. Families with children are more likely to connect to the NBN based on the demand for information for the children. People who are single look at the cost of internet providers to justify why they should connect and how they should connect. This difference of interest based on who wants to connect impacts on the interest of the NBN. While valuing high-speed internet and what it can do – better connectivity, better information and more of an impact in the digital economy It is the potential possibilities of the NBN that are an interest to those that connect. (Nansen, B)

The capabilities of the NBN are shown to be a positive thing where the NBN is the next step for future Australia and is something that Australia can not go without. Currently with Internet Service Providers (ISP) the power for control over information can be even greater. Not specific to the NBN but those that will control the next stage of internet access there is a need to understand Network Neutrality. Network Neutrality deals with the equal treatment of Data, explained by the following video:

Network Neutrality deals with ISP’s showing equality with every piece of information on the internet. So there is no favorable information that organizations and businesses are pushing for consumption and no information that is restricted. Currently Australia has no Network Neutrality, the idea has never been suggested as it doesn’t cause much of a problem because of healthy competition thanks to Telstra ADSL as it is free to use for other competitors, and thanks to consumer protection laws by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), that is when big providers block or slow down consumer access purposely to take out competitors then the ACCC will get involved. While the ACCC keeps providers relatively inline there are some situations where there is intentional favoritism.

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Big Pond showing favoritism to websites with a green dot. Source

The impact of Network Neutrality in Australia has developed in a way where the gradual process of technology becoming more of an important aspect of everyday life has self-monitored its way where the subtle anti-competitive behavior blends in – there may be no slowing down of competition but an interest in providing free downloads for particular websites.

In America, Network Neutrality has come under threat as the big providers AT&T and Verizon have challenged the Network Neutrality rules that are in place and have successfully been allowed to control what information is monitored and restricted. This successful challenge has the potential to restrict popular sharing sites such as Netflix on how they maintain an audience and what they can provide as a service. The control over companies that use ISP’s would come under threat as they would have to follow what the big providers suggest or be at risk of having there service limited. This also impacts on the individual user, the freedom to get information from any company would also be restricted based on the preference for the ISP that they are with. Depending on the ISP affiliations and interests the user would have to deal with it and not have the ability to do anything about it. While there is always the option to change providers, if the big providers secure a monopoly then there will no room for other options.

Comparable, Australia to America are at different stages for what their networks do and how they are maintained. The introduction of the NBN could give way the same possibilities that America currently has and possibly worse scenarios of control information already shown in Australia. The control of data is already present but how will it affect Australia with an increased digital economy when the NBN comes around.

 

References (in order of appearance)

National Archive of Australia, Australian Prime Ministers – Julia Gillard, accessed 25 August 2014 http://primeministers.naa.gov.au/primeministers/gillard/in-office.aspx

Advanced NBN, The National Broadband Network, accessed 25 August 2014 http://www.anbn.com.au/aboutanbn.html

Hackett, S 2011 ‘Peering Policy Gaps with the National Broadband Network’ accessed 24 August 2014 http://blog.internode.on.net/2011/05/16/peering-policy-gaps-nbn/

Nansen, B Arnold, M Wilken, R and Gibbs, M 2012 ‘Broadbanding Brunswick – High-speed Broadband and Household Media Ecologies: A report on Household Take-up and Adoption of the National Broadband Network in a First release Site‘, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Sydney

Schaffarczyk, K 2014 ‘Australia’s net neutrality lesson for the US’ accessed 25 August 2014 http://theconversation.com/australias-net-neutrality-lesson-for-the-us-22245

Mick, J 2014 ‘Network CEO Warns of Possible Future, Post-Net Neutrality’, accessed 25 August 2014 http://www.dailytech.com/Netflix+CEO+Warns+of+Possible+Grim+Future+PostNet+Neutrality/article34189.htm