Former Congressmen Bill Sarpalius, D-Texas, and Steven Kuykendall, R-California, were invited to campus Thursday as part of Western’s celebration of Constitution Day. While on campus, the Griffon News sat down with the two politicians to interview them about their time as representatives and their opinions about politics today.[audio mp3="http://www.thegriffonnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Interview-with-former-congressmen.mp3"][/audio] What would you consider your most influential bill or legislation? Sarpalius: My mother had a drinking problem… and for a whole summer, we searched throughout Texas to find a treatment facility. We never found one. My mother was eventually placed in a mental institution for a drinking problem. She later committed suicide. So I ran for public office on a platform to increase the number of treatment facilities in Texas. It took me eight years, but eventually we created an agency to put in drug and alcohol treatment facilities throughout the state. Kuykendall: I was a state assemblyman and there was this young woman… and she was literally walking the halls of the state legislature, wanting someone to introduce her piece of legislation. We invited her in. She had had a son who had been beat to death by her live-in boyfriend. He wasn’t charged with murder; he was charged with fatal child abuse. That reduced the number of years he could serve in prison. The only thing I changed in the law was to make the punishment for fatal child abuse the same as murder, from fifteen to life to 25 to life. What is your opinion on the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United? Sarpalius: At the time when I took office, anyone who gave money to my campaign was reported and they’re funding was capped. Where it changed is that businesses now can give as much as they want; it’s an open checkbook. The concern is that companies are buying members. But the constitution begins with ‘We the people…’ It’s the peoples’ government. Kuykendall: What I find odd about Citizens United is that young people don’t seem to care as much as old guys like us. I have maybe 20, 30 years at best. I’ve already gotten my pension. But it’s the young people of this nation that need to worry about their vote being heard; but, it’s also the young people that don’t vote as much as the older population. I would just encourage young Americans to make that change, take the responsibility to vote and influence politics. Don’t leave it to big businesses. Do you think the Civil Rights movement is over? Has it accomplished what it set out to in America? Sarpalius: That’s a good question. That’s a tough issue because on the other side of that coin we’re paying law enforcement officers to protect people. There’s always a rotten apple. There are people out there who are still doing profiling and whatnot. I don’t know how we can stop that. That’s what we did when we passed the Civil Rights Act. The color of your skin means nothing. There are places where that isn’t occurring. It’s not perfect, and it may never be perfect. I don’t know what the solution is. Kuykendall: It’s been happening more and more these days, younger generations of races interacting. It’s no longer black and white; it’s more of a tan color. Blacks are marrying browns and browns are marrying whites. I’m in an area where there is no majority. Minority white; minority black; minority Hispanic; everyone is minority where I live. What makes me sick is that we demonize law enforcement because of the acts of a few. I go on a lot of ride alongs, and it’s just crazy to see these people screaming ‘bloody murder’ in the faces of officers. I don’t know what the answer is. I thought we whipped this dog pretty bad already.
The second week of class is over, which also marks the end of rush and recruitment week for Western’s two fraternities and three sororities.
64 girls and 33 boys received bids from their Greek organization of choice on Sunday’s bid day.
While fraternity Phi Delta Theta (called “Phi Delt”) welcomes 26 pledges, seven new members join Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE). TKE president Taylor Bryant offers a positive summary nonetheless.
“I’m happy with the amount and quality of the guys we got. The whole week was pretty fun.”
According to him it’s “quality over quantity” and he looks for “ambition, dedication and energy” in TKE members.
“We pride ourselves in diversity as well,” Bryant said.
Phi Delt’s president Colin Rosenow is equally happy about the tunrout of rush week.
“26 news guys makes this the the biggest pledge class since 2010. It was definitely a stressful week – and a big chapter effort. We put a lot of activities and events on, and a lot of actives attended, which definitely helped. I’m very happy.”
Still, Rosenow agrees that numbers don’t define what is a good or bad fraternity.
“Both fraternities are pretty similar. TKE is definitely a competition for us,” he said.
Overall, it is about having a “great Greek community” on campus, Rosenow said.
“The more Greek organizations the better. When Phi Sigma Kappa left campus it changed the aspect of recruitment. A bigger community attracts a bigger crowd of PNMs [Potential New Members]. Less competition is definitely not better,” Rosenow said.
Sorority recruitment leader Caitlin Edwards is happy with the past week as well.
“I thought it was a very successful year, especially with such a small incoming freshman class.”
Sororities Alpha Sigma Alpha (ASA) and Sigm Sigma Sigma (“Tri Sigma”) both have 22 new members while Alpha Gamma Delta (AGD) has 20.
Edwards also agrees with Rosenow and Bryant that it’s quality over quantiy.
“The amount of members in my opinion does not and should not matter. I would rather have five girls who are involved, go to events and run for positions than 500 who join for the social aspect and just to show off the organization letter,” she said.
The same goes for Greek life on campus in general.
“I love Greek life on campus. Having a small Greek life, in my opinion, is more beneficial. I love being able to know everyone in my sorority and the other sororities. It makes our friendships and chapter that much stronger,” she continued.
Although each sorority looks for different aspects in a girl, there are some values they all share.
“[They look for girls] who they can communicate with easily, possess the values of their sorority, hardworking, value school and involvement in high school,” Edwards said as she explained the selection of new members.
Joining a sorority is a great way to get involved on campus, as Edwards explained on last Tuesday’s sorority info night.
“It is a great way to get to know people and make friends. And there are also opportunities to run for positions.”
According to Edwards, it’s worth it to make an effort.
“You get out what you put in and your experience is much more rewarding when you go beyond what is asked and stray away from the bare minimum requirements.”