Tag Archives: Courtney Wallace

Crisis In Mexico


On Dec. 7, an Argentinian forensics group confirmed the discovery of bone fragments belonging to 19-year-old Mexican college student named Alexander Mora Venacio, and searchers near Iguala continue to find remains of bodies, which may or may not belong to other missing students.

Venacio was one of 43 male college students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa. The students went missing in late September while on their way to a protest in Mexico City, after they were stopped and apparently kidnapped by local police in Iguala, Guerrero.

On Nov. 4, authorities arrested the former mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca Velázquez,  and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, for the murder of the 43 students, but some in Mexico believe federal authorities may have known about or been involved in the students’ disappearance and alleged murder.

“What this points to is the longtime collusion between the politicans at the municipal, state, and federal level with various groups of organized crime in Mexico,” said Dr. Jorge Garcia, Professor of Chicana/o Studies at CSUN. “It points to the lack of clarity, the lack of transparency, the lack of accountability, which leads to people not accepting at face value what is being said. We can not have any reasonable confidence or faith in what we’re being told.”

Many parents of the missing students say they also do not believe the official accounts of what happened. The Mexican Government reported in November that a group of drug cartel members had admitted to murdering the students and incinerating their bodies, and had been arrested.

“There are a lot of questions around this,” journalist and author Eileen Truax said, ” and I think the main problem is the lack of trust in the Mexican authorities and in any version they can give us regarding this issue.”

Truax said the Mexican government has a long history of corruption, and the association with the drug cartels by past and current administrations in Mexico is well documented. Many believe that the government is failing its people on multiple levels.

“This speaks to the complete and utter failure of the government in Mexico,” said Armando Gudiño, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “It speaks to the responsibility in what is without a doubt a failed system, that has not only failed these students, the parents, and all the people working very hard to find answers, but ultimately has failed the country as a whole. It has exposed the government for what it is, which is a total failure.”

The school attended by the 43 missing students is known to have political views that differ from those of the current government. That disagreement is cited as a possible reason as to why these specific students were targeted.

Moderator: Laura Camelo

Producers: Laura Camelo and Robert Zamora

Anchor: Strongman Osom

Reporters: Andrea Bautista and Roy Azoulay

Social Media Editors: Calsey Cole and Courtney Wallace


For further discussion and analysis of the crisis in Spanish: Crisis En México

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Crisis en México

On Point analiza la situación sucediendo en México después de la desaparición y el anuncio de la supuesta muerte de uno de los 43 estudiantes de Ayotzinapa. Para contestar algunas preguntas y discutir sobre el tema, El programa tuva como invitados al Administrador de la Drug Policy Alliance el señor Armando Gudiño, a la periodista y autora Eileen Truax y también al profesor miembro del departamento de Estudios Chicanos y quien fue Decano de la Facultad de Humanidades de la universidad de CSUN, Dr. Jorge Garcia.

Moderator: Laura Camelo

Anchor: Strongman Osom

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Hearts Not Parts: A Transgender Perspective

Trans Awareness Week at CSUN begins on November 13 and continues through November 20. The goal is to inform and educate the community, because the word transgender and the group of people it represents are often misunderstood.

“Trans could be an umbrella term for anybody whose sex assigned at birth doesn’t match the gender identity of how they see themselves,” said Sarina Loeb, CSUN’s Pride Center coordinator.

Although there are various identities that fall under the term, some trans people are most comfortable not labeling themselves at all.

“When we’re thinking of gender we usually think of men or women, and I do not identify as either of those,” said Orion Block, Trans Awareness Week coordinator. “I’m not a big label person so I feel that I’m transcending gender by not buying into any of that.”

Explaining the different transgender sub groups, such as non-binary and gender-queer, is just one of the challenges the transgender community faces. How the community’s members want the world to identify them, and what pronouns to use when referring to them, are aspects of trans culture that are also misunderstood. While some trans individuals use pronouns such as “they” and “them” to refer to themselves in their daily lives, others use more complex pronouns.

“I use something a little different,” Block said. “I use ‘Zee’, which is actually Hebrew for referring to a non-binary person, and ‘Hir’, which is a combination of his and hers. There is ‘they’, and ‘them’, but some people just prefer to be called by their own names.”

Although it is important to have others identify a trans person appropriately, Loeb said it’s more important how someone self-identifies.

“It started getting easier in college when I found out more about the trans community,” said Mar Pascual, CSUN student and transgender person. “Self-identifying was really stressed by so many people, and I thought that was really incredible: the ability to decide who you want to be instead of being forced in boxes that have been spelled out by so many people. That freedom was really great for me.”

Although the LGBTQ community has been unrepresented or misrepresented in the media, recent portrayals of the transgender community have been fairer. The transgender community has received increased exposure recently; most notably, “Orange is the New Black” has starred transgender actress Laverne Cox.

“There have been representations of trans people,” Pascual said, “but they’ve been mostly demeaning representations. They’ve mocked the community or used really derogatory terms that perpetuate the idea that trans folks are unworthy of being respected, and it’s ultimately really harmful to the community. It’s really refreshing to see shows like ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘Transparent’ kind of give a more accurate portrayal of trans people.”


Moderator: Andrea Bautista

Producer: Robert Zamora

Anchor: Roy Azoulay

Reporters: Courtney Wallace and Strongman Osom

Social Media Editors: Laura Camelo and Calsey Cole

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The Battle After the War

Adjusting to life at home is a difficult step veterans face when they return from their service.

“The biggest challenge in making that transition would be the difference in the military culture versus the civilian culture when they come back,” Veterans Resource Center Coordinator Patrina Croisdale said.

CSUN student and Marine veteran Juan Flores said his toughest adjustment has been getting his family, friends, professors and colleagues to understand his challenges. Flores said he has had trouble relating even to his closest friends and immediate family members because they just don’t understand what he has gone through.

CSUN provides the veterans on campus with many resources to help them adjust to their new surroundings. The Veterans Resource Center (VRC) reaches out to veterans to  make it easier for them to meet other veterans on campus and adjust to the different lifestyle. The VRC also provides mentors for veterans and helps them further their educational and professional goals.

Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) differs from the VRC by offering accommodations such as support services, academic coaches, and work ability programs to any students with disabilities. DRES also helps with the psychological process involved with students accepting they have a disability.

“They’re wanting to discuss their diagnoses, and how it impacts them in their current academics,” DRES counselor Joaquin Marinez said.

DRES also offers services to veterans on campus with a disability or diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Flores was diagnosed with PTSD three years after returning from Iraq. He experienced difficulty sleeping, anger issues and mood swings. DRES tries to push veterans into getting involved with the Thriving and Achieving Program (TAP), which helps them work on developing a journey to success and deciding the factors in their plans after college. Flores said he uses the TAP program to help with his classes, to learn time management and to get strategies for dealing with PTSD.

Some veterans with PTSD report that they have attention concentration issues and when their symptoms are triggered, they have to leave the classroom. DRES helps with getting priority seating, along with note and test taking strategies. He said without the professionals he would not have known what was wrong with him.

“To me, that’s what helped me,” Flores said, “because I knew and felt like I had something wrong with me besides the sleep part and my mood swings, and I had a couple of people, like friends, tell me something is wrong with me, and from there that’s when I realized I need to go seek help.”

The staff at the VRC also helps vets apply for private scholarships and find employment.

The VRC holds a weekly Meet Relax Eat, and a monthly Neon Lights event to allow students to come hangout, enjoy good company, listen to music, and eat free food. The VRC will be celebrating November 11 with Veterans Awareness Week and full schedule of events to recognize and honor veterans.

“Students will be able to come and participate in an art project, which we will donate towards an organization that supports and works with veterans everyday, specifically those suffering from depression or PTSD,” Croisdale said. “This is called ’22 is Too Many’, referring to the 22 veterans who complete suicide each day.”

Marinez said there are vets on campus who do not want to be known or aren’t willing to seek help. Marinez, along with DRES, tries to reach out to vets in different areas and get them involved and show them as much support as they need.

Moderator: Robert Zamora

Producers: Andrea Bautista and Strongman Osom

Anchor: Courtney Wallace

Reporters: Roy Azoulay and Calsey Cole

Social Media Editor: Laura Camelo

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More Money, More Problems?

President Obama has called for an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. California’s minimum wage went up to $9 per hour in July, and will go up to $10 per hour in 2016. Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed  gradually increasing the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $13.25 per hour in 2017. A measure recently passed in Los Angeles that will increase the minimum wage to $15.37 for all hotel workers at hotels with at least 150 rooms by July 2016.

These minimum wage changes have sparked debate nationwide. Seattle has already approved a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, while some residents of San Francisco and Portland are hoping to do the same.

Labor union leaders say these minimum wage increases will increase the quality of life of low wage workers.

“Raising the minimum wage is a worthy pursuit,” said Rachel Torres, a research analyst for Unite Here Local 11, an L.A. Based union, “but I don’t think anyone can say with a straight face that by working $9 an hour you can support yourself, let alone a family. It means living paycheck to paycheck and really struggling to pay rent. Food prices and gas prices have gone up exponentially, while wages have stagnated.”

But an increase in wages doesn’t come without consequences, according to Dr. Glen Whitman, an economics professor at Cal State Northridge.

“As you raise the income of lower income people, the result of that is actually a reduction in the amount of social benefits and programs that are available to them,” Whitman said.

CSUN Economics Professor Shirley Svorny said a better way to help lower income Americans is through the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. The EITC is a tax break for low income workers, designed to help them keep more of what they earned.

“If your salary goes up by a certain amount, if you lose benefits that are equivalent, you could lose money,” said Svorny. “Temporary aid to families, the food program, the nutritional program, and health care benefits, are means tested, so the poorer you are, the more money you get for those programs. So if you’re really trying to help the poor people in the U.S., the better way is to increase the EITC, not to increase the minimum wage.”

Svorny said most poor families don’t have anyone in the labor force, and most people who earn the minimum wage aren’t poor. She said she questioned why the government is choosing to raise the minimum wage instead of increasing the EITC, if raising the minimum wage isn’t the best option for the poor.

“One answer is the government doesn’t have to pay for [a minimum wage increase], whereas if they wanted to increase the EITC, which would directly help the working poor, they would have to pay for it,” Svorny said. “This way, it makes it look like they are doing good.”

Some economists argue that increasing the minimum wage also leads to a loss of jobs, as company owners try to keep their  labor costs down while being forced to pay more for labor.

“If you have two programs to choose between, [and] one of them will increase compensation but also has a good chance to reduce the number of jobs, [but] the other will raise compensation and is actually likely to boost the amount of employment, which is the obvious program to choose?” Whitman asked. “To me, the obvious choice is the one that has a positive effect on both fronts, and yet we have chosen the other one, which has tradeoffs.”

Pew Research Center poll shows the majority of Americans support an increase in minimum wages. The U.S. income inequality rate is at the highest it has been since 1928, and may be one reason for the widely held perception that lower income Americans need help, and that the time has come for a minimum wage debate.

“This is a life and death matter,” Torres said. “This is not political maneuvering. Raising the minimum wage is not a cure-all by any stretch of the imagination — we need to think broadly and comprehensively to raise all boats — but I do think it’s a start. When folks have a couple extra dollars in their pocket, that’s the difference between paying their rent on time or not and having enough for groceries.”


Moderator: Courtney Wallace

Producer: Laura Camelo

Anchor: Calsey Cole

Reporters: Roy Azoulay, Andrea Bautista, Strongman Osom and Robert Zamora

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