Tag: adam higgins

Making a bachelor’s degree worth the money

When you’re less than a month away from graduation, you tend to reflect on some of the lessons that you’ve learned during your college experience.

The main takeaway I have from my college years is that you can earn a bachelor’s degree from a university without receiving a thorough education.

I have learned a few different skills from my classes here at JSU, and I have gained knowledge and experience through  working at The Chanticleer and interning at The Anniston Star.

That internship taught me more about journalism in three months than I had previously learned in my entire life.

However, I have heard other graduates, both here and at other Alabama universities, say they do not feel like they have learned very much from their overall college experience.

Some have even said they don’t feel ready for the professional world even though they’re about to graduate.

Perhaps one reason for this is that students do not get fully involved in the department of their major.

Another could be that students are choosing to take easier courses rather than those taught by instructors who have a reputation for being difficult.

As an undergraduate, if you really want to make the most out of the tremendous debt that you’re likely accumulating, it’s a good idea to take some hard courses; don’t just take easy electives, or classes with teachers that you know won’t challenge you intellectually.

Instead, take a variety of electives, such as sociology, psychology, computer science, political science, graphic design, etc.

Don’t be afraid of the teachers who make you work for an A in their class; those can be the classes where you really get what you pay for.

It pays off to gain the maximum amount of knowledge and skills that you can during college because you will naturally stand out to employers.

Some students manage to “get by” and earn a bachelor’s degree only to realize it does not guarantee them a job after graduation. Jobs can be hard to come by, and it usually takes more than just a degree to impress an employer.

Sure, employers want to see that you have a degree, but they’re looking for more than just that.

If you want to stand out, learn a variety of skills that make you indispensable to an employer; make sure that you complete an internship with a professional organization, even if an internship is not required to earn the degree that you’re seeking.

A bachelor’s degree is really just a nice-looking piece of paper unless you have skills and experience to accompany it, and the degree alone will not guarantee you a job at a professional organization.

Adam Higgins
Associate Editor

Former Guardian editor discusses climate change campaign

Alan Rusbridger discussed The Guardian’s climate change campaign March 17 on the 11th floor of Houston Cole Library.

Rusbridger, Chairman of The Scott Trust Ltd. and Guardian editor for 20 years, spoke to a packed room of JSU students, faculty and local community members as part of the annual Harry M. and Edel Y. Ayers Lecture Series.

The Guardian called the campaign “Keep it in the Ground,” referring to fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas.

He developed the idea for the campaign in December 2014, five months before he stepped down as Guardian editor. Rusbridger said that he perceived an overwhelming scientific opinion in favor of the existence and threat of climate change.

“I asked myself, ‘have we done justice to what is probably the biggest story in the world?’” he said.

The Guardian assembled an alliance of reporters of various beats and launched Keep it in the Ground March 2015. The newspaper partnered with the environmental non-governmental organization 350.org. Prince Charles, author Helen Macdonald and the United Nations later joined the campaign.

Keep it in the Ground began advocating for fossil fuel divestment, which involves companies getting rid of stocks, bonds and investment funds that support the industry. Within a few weeks, the Guardian Media Group, which owns The Guardian, divested, making the organization the largest yet known to do so.

The campaign pushed for the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, the largest charitable foundations in the world, to also divest from the industry. Guardian readers participated by writing letters to executives at the Wellcome Trust and recording short films for Bill Gates. Neither foundation divested.

“If I’m wrong, the downside is negligible, but if the scientists are right, this is the biggest challenge facing the human race today,” Rusbridger said.

He also said newspapers were not providing adequate coverage.

In 2013, The New York Times abolished their climate desk, which consisted of seven reporters and two editors; within a year of doing so, The Times had a 40 percent overall drop in climate change coverage, according to Rusbridger.

As part of their campaign, The Guardian invested in journalism to expose fossil fuel reserves around the world and explain the story of the industry.

“I may have broken every rule in the journalistic book. We’ve crossed the line from reporting to saying ‘there is something you can do about this,’” Rusbridger said.

Adam Higgins
Associate Editor

Studies show sex crimes underreported at universities

Adam Higgins
Associate Editor

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report in December of 2014 stating that eight out of ten female college students — between the ages of 18-24 — did not report rape or sexual assault victimizations.

Of the 80 percent who did not report, around a quarter of them believed the incident was a personal matter, one in five feared reprisal, and 12 percent stated that the incident was not important enough to report. The BJS estimated that the average annual number of sexual victimizations against female college students ages 18-24 is 31,300.  

The results were based on National Crime Victimization Survey data for the period of 1995-2013. The NCVS is a self-report survey in which participants are asked about the number and characteristics of victimizations experienced during the 6 months prior to the survey.

Other studies have yielded similar findings. Dr. Tina Deshotels, associate professor of sociology at Jacksonville State University, examined reporting rates at two different public universities in the southeast.

Deshotels found that 90 percent of the victims, which included both males and females, did not tell anyone about their victimizations. She also found that 20-25 percent of college women, and 3-5 percent of college men, “had experienced some kind of sexual contact that involved physical force or coercion.” Half of these victims did not tell anyone about the incidents.

Her findings showed that one third of female students had experienced unwanted sexual contact by their senior year of college.
Deshotels’ first study, conducted in 2005, used a sample size of 1342 students. She used a sample size of 452 students for her second study in 2010. She said her findings from the 2010 study replicated her results from 2005.

Deshotels said that American society has created a “rape culture.”

“Basically, we blame the victim. Just generally, those at the top of the food chain in sexual conquests are considered heroes,” she said.

About 50 times a year, Sexual Violence Program Director Trace Fleming-Smith, or one of the other counselors from 2nd Chance, Inc. in Anniston, Ala., rush to hospital emergency rooms to provide advocacy services for a victim of a sexual assault or rape.
Victims, who wish to prosecute their offenders, must go to a hospital and complete a forensic exam immediately after the incident occurs. Fleming-Smith said she was in the ER with one victim for 16 hours, although the process usually lasts half of that amount of time.
She said she understands why many victims choose not to endure the process.
“You’re asking somebody who has just been traumatized to go to the hospital and have a rape exam, which takes a long time and the victim may ultimately have to pay for,” Fleming-Smith said.
She said college students often choose not to report because they do not want the university community to find out.

“It’s humiliating,” said Dr. Tim King, associate vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at JSU.
Deshotels said that victims often choose not to report because they are not completely “innocent” and feel that the courts will not believe them.

“They have to prove their innocence. Drinking, doing drugs or past sexual relations are used as excuses and justifications. That is the way the law further victimizes the victim,” she said.

Assistant District Attorney Jayme Amberson, who specializes in sex crimes for the Calhoun County District Attorney’s Office, said she does not believe there are any laws or statutes that disadvantage victims of rape and sexual assaults. Amberson also said that, during trials for sex crimes, the accuser has to take the stand and testify in front of the defendant in order to have a chance at yielding a conviction.

Since 2012, JSU students have reported three incidents of sexual assault and two rapes to the University Police Department, according to the UPD’s online crime log. Other universities in Alabama, similar in enrollment size to JSU, have posted similar numbers.

The University of Montevallo has documented one report of rape and three reports of fondling since 2012. Troy University has documented five forcible sex offenses since 2012.

“I do think we have an underwhelming amount of reporting happening at JSU in general, but you will see that at every college,” Fleming-Smith said.

On September 19, 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the “It’s On Us” campaign to help put an end to sexual assault on college campuses. Since then, over 200 colleges and universities nationwide have begun participating. Several universities in Alabama have also gotten involved, including Troy, all locations of the University of Alabama and Tuskegee University.

Currently, JSU is not participating in the “It’s On Us” campaign. The university is presently searching for a new Title IX coordinator. King, who currently holds the position, said future participation in the “It’s On Us” campaign “will depend on the new Title IX coordinator, who will be starting sometime hopefully in the near future.”

JSU requires all incoming freshman students to complete a course called First Year Experience (STU 101). During the course, students spend one hourlong meeting discussing sex offenses and improper sexual behavior.

“We tell how to report, where to report, and discuss sexual assault and sexual consent,” said Terry Casey, director of student life.

JSU Counseling Services also provides confidential, free, individual counseling for all students who are enrolled.

“A lot of the counselors have experience dealing with trauma,” said Julie Nix, director of Counseling and Disability Support Services.

Both Counseling Services and the Student Health Center are exempt from mandatory Title IX reporting, meaning they can promise students confidentiality concerning incidents of sexual assault and rape, unless the student displays a risk of self-harm or intent to harm another student.  
“I’m trying to find ways to combat this issue so we can help people feel more comfortable coming forward. We want it to stop obviously and we want everyone to feel safe on campus,” King said.


To report a sex crime or request counseling contact:

    • 2nd Chance, Inc.
      617 Wilmer Ave. Anniston, AL.
    • 24-hour sexual assault crisis line:
    • Dr. Tim King-102 Bibb Graves


  • JSU Student Counseling Services-140 Daugette Hall
  • RMC-JSU Student Health Clinic
  • University Police Department-Salls Hall
    Non-Emergencies: 256-782-5050
    Emergencies: 256-782-6000



Governor makes appointment, re-appointment to board of trustees

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the Alabama Senate confirmed Gov. Robert Bentley’s appointment of Greg Brown and re-appointment of Randall Jones to the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees.

Brown, who is CEO and chairman of the Board of Directors for BR Williams Trucking, Inc. in Oxford, AL., will represent Congressional District 3, according to a JSU news release from Feb. 11. Brown, a JSU alumnus, graduated with a B.S. in mathematics and accounting in 1979.

In 1989, he earned a juris doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. Jones, an agent at Nationwide Insurance-Randy Jones & Associates, Inc. in Albertville, AL., has served on the board since 2008.

He is a 1976 graduate of JSU and has been re-appointed for a 6-year term, according to the JSU news release.

Adam Higgins
Associate Editor

Hoverboard fires spark school bans

JSU administration announced on January 11 that hoverboards would not be allowed on campus until further notice.

A JSU news release from January 11 said, “Due to increasing concerns about the safety of some so-called hoverboards and the risk they pose to our community, the storage, use, possession and charging of such devices on Jacksonville State University property is temporarily prohibited until further notice.”

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is currently investigating numerous incidents of fires and injuries due to a possibly defective product imported into the country. They have purchased boards from different suppliers, and have gained possession of several that caught fire, in an attempt to track the suppliers of the faulty boards and determine the cause of the fires.

In an online statement posted on December 16, U.S. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye wrote, “CPSC engineers in our National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Maryland have tested and will continue to test new and damaged boards in search of an answer for why some models caught fire during the charging stage and others caught fire while in use.”

According to a statement written by J. Allan Brown on the website for his law office in Mobile, Alabama, the CPSC has received complaints of 22 house fires started by hoverboards.

“The British equivalent of the CPSC recalled all hoverboards for sale in the UK after receiving hundreds of complaints of fires being started, largely while the hoverboards were charging,” Brown wrote.

In light of the reported dangers of fires, numerous airlines have forbid passengers from bringing hoverboards onto their planes.

JSU is not the first university to have forbid the possession and use of hoverboards on campus property.

Around 30 other universities — including the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Auburn University and University of Montevallo — have placed bans or partial restrictions on the devices.

Adam Higgins
Staff Reporter