Here is a recap of what was going on in the world during this school year (2014 – 2015)
Robin Williams Passes Away (August 2014)
Best known for his optimistic comedy and outrageous characters, Robin Williams was found dead in his home on Aug. 11, 2014. Playing roles in movies like “Good Morning Vietnam” and “The Dead Poet Society,” he inspired thousands of comedians and millions of fans. He was 63-years-old when he died.
Events in Ferguson ignite Black Lives Matter movement (August 2014)
After the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 2014, a nationwide movement began that aimed to not only promote the innate value of all lives, but also to shine more light on institutional injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement held rallies and protests throughout the year. On Nov. 24, 2014 the St. Louis Grand Jury decided not to convict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting, sparking protest and riots in Ferguson. On March 4, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson of civil rights violations, stating his actions were in self-defense.
Scotland rejects independence referendum (September 2014)
In a 55-45 vote, Scotland rejected a referendum for independence from Great Britain. The vote itself has long historical lines, as it was the first official political disturbance of the 307 year union between the UK and Scotland.
Ebola concerns in U.S. (SeptEMBER 2014)
Amid tragic deaths in West Africa, concerns were raised over the safety of U.S. citizens as Eric Duncan died in Texas from Ebola. Returning from a trip to Liberia, he was released from the hospital after his initial examination and then readmitted when his condition worsened. Ebola still continues to affect many regions of West Africa, yet is being fought by efforts from African governments and the World Health Organization.
GOP surges forward in Midterm Elections (NovEMBER 2014)
In a massive mobilization at the polls, the Republican Party gained the four key Senate seats they needed to gain full control over the Senate. This is the first time there has been a GOP Senate since 2006, and now both U.S. legislative bodies have republican majorities.
Cuba-America relations begin to normalize (DecEMBER 2015)
On Dec. 17, 2014 President Obama announced that steps would be taken to restore full diplomacy with Cuba. This move ended 50 years of frozen and oftentimes hostile relations between the two nations. Both Cuban President Raul Castro and President Obama have been in conversation since then, discussing the history and shared future of their nations.
The continued rise of the Islamic State
After its initial rise to power in early 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continued to seize territory in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Lebanon. The terrorist group has continued to spread instability in an already unstable region. Recently it gained notoriety for their beheadings of journalists and aid workers from the U.S., Europe and Japan.
Charlie Hebdo Massacre (January 2015)
After the Jan. 7 massacre of 12 members of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, the slogan “Je suis Charlie,” or I am Charlie, began to create a movement for freedom of the press. From West Europe to the West Coast, demonstrations were held, and journalists spoke out in support of the magazine and their right to free speech. However, the movement also sparked criticism and controversy over the treatment of Muslim immigrant populations as well as the limits of free expression in how it may further marginalize certain groups.
Beck wins album of the Year (February 2015)
Despite Kanye’s protests, musician and songwriter Beck won the best album award in the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Competing against Beyonce’s self-titled album, Ed Sheeran’s “X,” and Pharell Williams’ “G.I.R.L.,” his album “Morning Phase” received the award and praise from other musicians. As Prince put it, this album shows that
“albums still matter.”
Adjunct Faculty Protests (February/April 2015)
Two major protests occurred on campus this year, both questioning employment conditions and working rights at Seattle University. The first, on Feb. 25, was the adjunct faculty walk out day, a nationwide event that aimed to bring notoriety to the difficult situation of adjunct professors. The second, on April 15 was part of another nationwide march for workers’ rights. Adjunct professors on campus are still pushing for the right to unionize.
Baltimore riots (April 2015)
On April 12, Freddy Grey, a 25-year-old African-American was injured after being arrested by police in Baltimore. He died from his wounds seven days later. On May 1, his death was ruled a homicide, and the six officers involved were convicted. Peaceful protests followed the verdict, yet instances of civil unrest became more and more common. As riots began to break out, over 20 policemen were wounded, 250 citizens were arrested and was called a state of emergency.
Seattle University becomes smoke-free
On July 1, the university will fully enact a tobacco-free campus wide policy after years of development and planning. The policy came after a 2012 initiative from the student government. Several committees formed to address the possibility of a tobacco free campus. The Tobacco-Free Campus Exploration Committee reported its findings earlier this year, and Referendum 901 for a tobacco free policy passed by popular vote. The committee will continue to monitor student opinion and reaction to this change.
Jason may be reached at [email protected]