All posts by kaolinmo

Yik Yak complicates Model UN conference

By Colin Mo

The technology that millennials use to pursue their desires improves over time, and the latest trend is for public anonymity, broadcasting the user’s thoughts to others nearby.

Apps like Yik Yak, Kik, Snapchat, or WeChat are in vogue, parents are often clueless, and school supervisors are being trusted to know the territory.

Teenagers can be seen using their cell phones as an unsupervised avenue for obtaining drugs, alcohol, and even sex.

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Asians will pay to get into college

By Colin Mo

There’s a phenomenon in the American college application system. Students will pay $20,000 or more for college consultants to help them navigate college applications and land a spot in their desired school, and it seems that these high-paying clients are primarily of Asian descent.

The $20,000 price tag is for a full package deal on the KOSATs website , a college consulting service in Taiwan, but such services can be more expensive in the United States. Three Asian students who used California-based company ThinkTank Learning’s services in 2010 and 2011 say the full package cost them $30,000, with one receiving a guarantee from the company or their money back.

The price quotes given by TTLearning range from $75,000 to $150,000, depending on the target school that the student is interested in, according to a consultant at TTLearning, who wishes to remain anonymous for job security. The Fiscal Times reported in Nov. 2014 a similar price tag for the New York-based company IvyWise.
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Police and colleges assess the the emoji threat

By Colin Mo

When it comes to the concept of “emoji” – ideograms and smileys used in electronic messaging and internet web pages – courts and law enforcement tend to take it very seriously.

Recently, a 12-year-old girl was arrested for using emojis on a public Instagram post, prompting her school to call in law enforcement. In her public Instagram post, she included the emojis for a gun, a bomb, and a knife, and the word “killing. “Cases are beginning to emerge in which police charge people — often kids — for using emoji in ways that they deem threatening,” according to a Time article.

For many millennials, cases like this are becoming a free speech issue, in which the lines are blurred and not clear-cut. Those in college have reason to be concerned what their college administrations take into consideration when viewing their public social media posts.

“I’d be curious to know how much evidence or what type of evidence they would need to actually investigate something because there are problems with both sides of the coin,” said Eric Millington, an undergraduate at Northwestern University.

Similar questions have been raised by other students, such as:

– If someone hacked my account and posted a terrible message, what happens?

– What if it’s a problem of generation gap, and that millennials do not consider the message threatening?

“This particular issue regarding emojis has not come up,” said Alan Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations at Northwestern University. “[But] Northwestern has procedures in place for dealing with messages that may appear to be threatening. If such a potential threat is discovered, members of the administration, including university police, student affairs (if it involves a student), human resources (if it involves a staff member), and others evaluate the threat and determine the appropriate response.”

“In general, the police would determine if a crime was committed, probably in consultation with school district officials, parents and, ultimately, the State’s Attorney’s Office,” said Perry Polinski, the communications coordinator for the Evanston Police Department. “It would depend on the context of the message that such symbols are contained in.”

Polinski compared the issue to “cyber banging.” Cyber banging is when gang members taunt or disrespect rival gang members with postings and/or videos via social media.  Though the potential to escalate into violence is more likely with cyber banging, the use of  symbols/emoji might lead to gang “tagging” (graffiti) to mark territory,” he noted.

In the end, the Evanston Police would like to remind the public: Like so many things in this day and age in which technology and social media are concerned, it is extremely convenient and effortless to thoughtlessly tap a couple of keys and hit the send button “on the fly” without considering the consequences.

Photo at top: Screenshot of emoji used in a popular messaging app, WeChat. (Colin Mo/MEDILL)

Chinese community poll watchers trained for Tuesday primary

By Colin Mo

Asian American organizations have stepped up their efforts to ensure that tomorrow’s Illinois primary runs smoothly for voters, especially those with language limitations.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago  trained poll watchers Saturday both to ensure full voting rights for the Asian-American community and to hold the Chicago Board of Elections accountable by providing feedback for any problems and complaints on election day.

“Our primary goal as poll watchers is to ensure that Asian-American voters receive the language assistance they are provided by the law, and that civil and voting rights are respected,” said Joseph Jerr, 29, who has been a poll watcher for the Asian-American community in Chicago since 2012 and an instructor at the training session. “We also act as watchdogs for the Board of Elections, and keep them accountable. By taking notes and recording everything, we can use the information collected to advocate for change in the election system.” Continue reading

Board of Elections addresses Chinese voter issues

By Colin Mo

By the tenth day of early voting for Illinois’ March 15 primary, the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community alerted Chinese voters to possible election irregularities that might compromise the community’s vote. The alert came as part of voter information guides the CBCAC distributes before each election.

The alert mentioned irregularities that result in people getting ballots they don’t ask for, that select candidates other than those the voters choose, and that tell or force people to vote for specific candidates.

These specific voter issues occurred in Chinatown on Monday. “A bilingual election judge was removed on Monday after complaints of electioneering in the polling place,” said Debbie Liu, a CBCAC spokesperson, who also mentioned that at a McKinley Park location, a machine was found to vote for a particular candidate against the voter’s decision.

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Asian-Americans ask Obama to nominate one to Supreme Court

By Colin Mo

As the nation waits for President Obama to send the Senate a list of nominees for the Supreme Court, Asian-American interest groups and organizations around the country want the President of the United States to know one thing: In the interest of diversity, they wish to see him include Asian-Americans in that list.

“Throwing in one or two Asian names could be a very nice gesture and a profound statement from the President,” said C.W. Chan, Chair of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community. “I certainly hope that the president would consider doing just that.”
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Korean-translated ballots are being readied for debut in March 15 Illinois primary

By Colin Mo

When Cook County votes in the March 15 primary, Korean-Americans living in Cook County will for the first time have the option to use ballots that are translated into Korean, and the Chinese community is primed to help them with the transition.

“The Chinese community stands by the Korean community, and we will do our best to share our experiences with them to help them ease into a translated voting experience,” said C.W. Chan, chair of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community. “There are many challenges ahead, but [sample translated ballots] is just the first stepping stone.”

Cook County election officials decided to include translated Korean sample ballots for the upcoming primary elections and further elections down the line, as projected estimates show that the Korean community in Cook County will reach the threshold for requiring a fully translated voting experience by the next census.

According to Noah Praetz, Director of Elections of the Cook County Clerk’s Office, the Korean community in Chicago “got close but did not quite make the cut” in the last 2010 census. However, the office made the decision to provide sample Korean translated ballots for the 2016 elections, and will be working together with the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRRC) to provide Korean bilingual judges at the polling places to help smooth out the voting process for non-proficient English speakers who rely heavily on Korean.

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Candidates take note, Asian-Americans care about gun control

By Colin Mo

With gun control one of the hot button issues of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Asian-American voters could matter in unexpected ways. Recent studies show that Asian-Americans regard gun control as “important,” more so on average than other ethnicities.

According to the Pew Research Center, the support for gun control generally surpassed the support for gun rights as of July last year, but only barely.  Yet for Asian-American voters, that support rises to 80 percent, according to 2014 data from APIAVOTE and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

One reason for that disparity might be that Asians are the least likely ethnicity to own a gun.

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