Fall semester begins

The front entrance to the Spurk Building.
The Spurk building features a new entrance. The stairs were removed, making the entrance more accessible to people with disabilities. Photo by Editor-in-Chief Kim Zappala

Welcome and welcome back to Northern Essex Community College! As we begin the fall 2023 semester, we are excited to welcome both new and returning students to our campus. This semester promises to be an exciting one, filled with new opportunities and challenges.

As you begin your studies, we encourage you to take advantage of all the resources that NECC has to offer.

Our faculty and staff are here to support you every step of the way, whether you need help with your coursework or guidance on your career path. NECC also offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations that can help you get involved on campus and meet new people. NECC has plenty of student groups to enrich our community.

The Art Club, the Sexuality Alliance, and Environment Club are among some of the student favorites. There is also the Dungeon and Dragons Club, Nursing Club, and Environmental Club to name a few.

The Student Government Association is a great way to get involved with NECC and make a difference here at the school. You would be representing students’ interests and concerns and serve as a voice for the NECC community.

If athletics is more your thing this fall you check out women’s volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s basketball. Tighten up your laces or drop by to catch a game. NECC sports will keep you rooting for the home team.

The quad on the Haverhill campus.
The Quad waits for students to gather to socialize or study. Photo by Editor-in-Chief Kim Zappala

Whether you are interested in pursuing a degree in business, health care, or liberal arts, NECC has something for everyone.

Classes are designed to be engaging and challenging and the staff is here to help you succeed. Your success is their success.

As we begin this new semester together, we want you to know that we are here for you every step of the way.

We wish you all the best as you embark on this exciting new journey at Northern Essex Community College!

Possible government shutdown is looming

The possibility of a government shutdown is looming as the deadline to pass a funding bill is approaching. The deadline to pass a funding bill is Sept. 30, giving Congress just a week to agree on a path forward.

Both Democrats and Republicans have said they’ll try to advance a short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, to keep the government open while lawmakers keep deliberating on full-year appropriations. However, Freedom caucus

Republicans are threatening to make a shut down a real possibility by opposing a funding bill if their demands are not met.
If the government were to shut down, hundreds of thousands of non-postal employees will be furloughed or forced to work without pay.

This could lead to significant economic hardships for workers and their families. In addition, many government programs are suspended or curtailed during the shutdown. It can also have broader economic consequences causing a loss in consumer confidence and slowing economic growth.

If the federal government were to shut down Social Security and Medicare benefits would be sent but benefit verification as well as card issuance would halt. National Parks would not be funded and would have to turn away millions of visitors at more than 400 parks and would lose more than $500 million in lost visitor spending. Air travel could be impacted if air traffic controllers must work without pay. This could cause an increase in travel time if TSA agents do not report to work. Airports could temporarily close.

The National Institute of Health could be prevented from admitting new patients or processing grant applications. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families could have to front the money for formula grant programs. The funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program is mandatory but the ability to send out “food stamp” benefits could be affected for millions of low-income families.

Furloughed employees are not allowed to work and do not receive pay checks but are guaranteed back pay once the government reopens.

The group of lawmakers putting funding in doubt is largely the same as those who previously said they’d reject a debt ceiling deal unless it met every one of their demands.

The Freedom Caucus is one of the key blocs with a hardline position on funding.

Members of the Freedom Caucus include Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida and Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has recently been kicked out of the caucus.

They are demanding spending levels below the top-line numbers that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy had agreed to with President Joe Biden as part of a bill to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

They do not think McCarthy went far enough to cut federal spending.

They want inclusion of a bill that aims to build more wall at the southern border and restrict asylum for those seeking to remain in the U.S. for fear of persecution or harm.

The Freedom Caucus would like their supporters to believe that the borders are wide open under President Biden. The Biden Administration has already put additional resources at the southern border region to scale up its anti-smuggling operations and expanded coordination and support for border cities and non-governmental organization. Biden also has new enforcement measures to increase security at the border and reduce the number of people crossing unlawfully between ports of entry.

The Freedom Caucus wants to defund Special Council Jack Smith’s office accusing Smith of “weaponizing” the government, election interference, and political prosecution for the indictment of former president Donald J. Trump.

The Freedom Caucus would also like to cut the amount of aid the U.S. is providing to Ukraine in order to help them to defend their country from an unprovoked invasion by Vladimir Putin’s Russian Army.

For now, Republican appetite for a shutdown is mixed since the party has historically been blamed when its members have caused them in 2019 and 2013. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy could try to build a coalition of House Republicans and Democrats to get numbers he needs to pass the bill without conservatives, though attempting to do so would most likely cost him future support.

If McCarthy fails to get enough votes from his caucus, he could lose his speakership. The Speaker of the House is elected by members of the House of Representatives at the beginning of each new Congress. If McCarthy loses his speakership, it would be because he failed to follow through with his promises to certain congressman/women he made to become speaker. This could have significant implications for Republican leadership in Congress going forward.

Connect early with Career Services: Top 5 reasons to connect in your first semesters of college

A career is not just a job, it’s much more than that. A career combines your education, training, and overall experience, as well as your values, interests, and strengths. Your career goals and plans develop over time and connecting with Career Services early can help you get a strong start in this process. We have exploration resources to help you research and learn about different occupational areas and set career goals and plans. We also have tools and support to help you prepare for your next steps if you already know what you want to do.

Here are 5 reasons to connect with Career Services early in your college journey.
1. Identify interests, values, and priorities
a. Reflecting on what matters most to you can help you make decisions more efficiently. When it comes to job searching, you may assume these priorities and filter your search by location, salary, etc. Connect with Career Services for career assessments and additional tools to help you identify how your interests relate to your future career.

2. Researching occupations, industries, and companies
a. Start researching your future profession, learn about the required skills, and your salary expectations. There are many virtual resources and in-person opportunities at NECC to help your research.

3. Start networking
a. Networking is a crucial component in internship and job searching, plus it’s a great way to learn about occupational areas of interest. Connect with Career Services to learn how to do it and why it is important.

4. Guidance on resumes and cover letters
a. Creating a resume and cover letter early sets you up for success in the future. You can schedule a meeting with Career Services to receive feedback and learn how to tailor your materials for a specific job application.

5. Strategize for job and internship search
a. There are more job search tools than Indeed.com. Connect with us early to discuss your career goals, how to apply your skills from classes, and additional search tools – including Handshake!

To meet with Career Services, schedule a meeting through Navigate or email careerservices@necc.mass.edu. Meetings are available on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses, plus Zoom.

Exploring the power of ChatGPT: A comprehensive overview

Disclaimer: The title, as well as some of the text within this document was written by ChatGPT

How ChatGPT works
In simple terms, ChatGPT works as an AI capable of summarizing texts, providing general knowledge questions, as well as generating human-like responses based on input it receives.
It is like a big brain that tries its best to talk like a person, but sometimes it might make mistakes or not know the right answer.

How to use for resumes and cover letters
When using ChatGPT to create resumes and cover letters, it’s important to use the generated text as a starting point or a draft. However, directly copying and pasting a job description is not recommended. ChatGPT might make up information about your work history or previous experiences, leading to false statements. It’s crucial to take the AI-generated content with caution and not rely entirely on its accuracy.
Use it as a reference but be sure to review and verify the information before finalizing your resume and cover letter.
If you need assistance or guidance with what to include, NECC Career Services is available to provide support and help you make informed decisions.

Myth busting: Students will use ChatGPT to cheat
A common misconception about ChatGPT is that students will utilize it to cheat. Is this true?
Well, it depends on the subject. ChatGPT’s math capabilities are limited in the free version. While it can handle basic arithmetic and some calculus problems, it struggles with complex or advanced math problems, especially in fields like physics. It does not have a built-in calculator or the ability to solve intricate mathematical equations.

In terms of essays, ChatGPT’s abilities to write may vary. Due to the fact that ChatGPT lacks real world knowledge beyond what it was trained to do, it may not provide accurate or up to date information about certain subjects.

However, the quality and accuracy of the information it generates can vary, and it may not always meet the standards of academic or professional writing. It’s important to review and edit the content generated by ChatGPT to ensure it aligns with your desired level of accuracy and clarity.

No, people don’t have to worry about cheating using ChatGPT.

Its capabilities are limited to summarizing information and generating text based on what it has learned.

It is not reliable for complex problem-solving, such as math. Students can use ChatGPT to enhance their writing skills, but they should be cautious, verify details, and correct any mistakes encountered.

As for math majors… Well, sorry, unless ChatGPT has a NASA level computer, the possibility of the AI doing all the math is impossible.

My experience
I use ChatGPT a lot but only to a limited extent. I sometimes experiment with the software by giving it physics or calculus problems, but from what I experience, ChatGPT cannot be considered a cheating tool in any respect.

To address any skepticism from professors, I recommend conducting a scientific test to assess ChatGPT’s problem-solving abilities, across all versions, to provide valuable insights into its capabilities and limitations. Such a test would serve as an opportunity to demonstrate the workings of ChatGPT and gain a clearer understanding of its boundaries.

From my perspective, I see ChatGPT as a great tool to create a skeleton structure of resumes and cover letters, which takes away the headache of writer’s block. I highly recommend utilizing ChatGPT for compiling a cover letter. It has proven effective for me in the past.

In addition, I suggest seeking guidance from Career Services to ensure the quality of your resume and cover letter before submission. In terms of academic integrity, ChatGPT is limited to what it can do and is susceptible to spreading false or inaccurate information based on what it has been trained on. Therefore, it cannot be used as a cheating tool for students, especially in math-based subjects.

For more information: ChatGPT website: https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt
NECC Career Services: careerservices@necc.mass.edu or book a meeting through Navigate

Robert Suriel is a current NECC student who served as a Federal Work Study student at Career Services this past year.

Q&A with U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern

On left, Observer Editor-in-Chief/Opinion Editor Kim Zappala stands with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern
Observer Editor-in-Chief/Opinion Editor Kim Zappala with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern. Photo courtesy Kim Zappala

Congressman Jim McGovern is a member of the Democratic Party and represents the Second District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a strong advocate for human rights, peace, and ending hunger. He has served on several committees, including the Committee on Rules, the Committee on Agriculture, and the Committee on Budget. He is also the chairman of the House rules committee. McGovern helped make lunch free for all students in Massachusetts among many other accomplishments. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Congressman to discuss some of the issues going on in Washington.

Q: One of your mentors, Congressman Joe Moakley, once said about Congress, “get to know everyone as a person, get to know what they stand for, and who they are and treat them with respect” with today’s MAGA Republicans do you find it hard to follow that advice?

A: I do. Joe Moakley, he has a great mentor to me, he thought politics was an honorable profession, and he thought the ability to get things done was about building relationships. I still try and follow his advice, I have friends that are very conservative republicans, I try to get to know them on a personal basis, try to get to know them so we have something in common. Because not everything is a big partisan fight. Before Joe Moakley I worked for a guy named George McGovern, who ran for president, no relation. He had the same philosophy too, he friended republicans like Barry Goldwater, he used to say to me, “you don’t have to agree on everything, but agree on something.” So the Moakley and Mcgovern influences are still very strong on me, and

I try to build as many relationships as I can, and it’s hard. There are some people who don’t want to reciprocate. The elevator will stop, they’ll see me and not want to get into the elevator with me. I will put them in their place on the house floor, because it can be very combative. Those are instances when and where I am fighting for things I believe in and feel very strongly about.

A lot of the MAGA republicans view me as more than just an advisory, but as an enemy. I find that unfortunate, and as a result some relationships cannot be forged.

Q: Former President Donald Trump was just indicted again for the 3rd time, federally in Washington DC for inciting January 6th, he has been indicted already federally in Florida for being in possession of classified documents and in New York for the hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and here there might be a fourth indictment any minute. If convicted on any of those charges, do you think he should or will spend time in prison?

A: That’ll be up to who’s prosecuting the case and a judge and a jury. I don’t think that Donald Trump is fit to serve in any office. I think he’s moved this country away from democracy and more toward authoritarianism and fascism quite frankly, and I think he is a very dangerous man. I think one of the things he has done, that is particularly offensive to me, is that he is a pathological liar that has deceived people. He has driven wedges through our society that have been very destructive and spread so much misinformation. I was the last person on the House Floor on January 6th, I saw the destruction that he brought to bear on the Capital. Many House Police officers were injured. The lies and the deception, this is a man that this country needs to move beyond from. He should be treated like any other citizen in this country; if a jury of his peers finds him guilty, he should receive the same punishment anyone else would.

Q: Do you find his base to be involved in a cult?

A: He has somewhat of a cult like following, let me put it that way. Because a lot of people will corner me at airports, restaurants, or town halls and want to defend him, without hearing anything the other side has to say. He is always right, nothing he says is ever wrong. At least listen to my opinion if you want me to listen to yours. I have my set of beliefs, but I’ll still listen to people I don’t agree with. We have to listen to one another, that’s a sign of respect. If we stop listening to one another, or we just disagree then you must be all bad. That’s not good for our democracy.

Q: What do you think Donald Trump’s hold on members of both Houses of Congress is?

A: He is very popular amongst the republican base. I serve with republicans who tell me every day that he’s dangerous, he’s out of his mind. They think he is out of his mind, but they don’t want to say anything bad about him because they don’t want to get primaried. Amongst republican primary voters Trump’s popularity is at an all-time high. I get it, I understand why republicans are nervous about taking him on, but at some point you have to ask yourself “why am I in Congress?” It’s not just to get reelected, you’re in Congress to do things, to move this country in a better direction. Going along to get along with someone you tell me in private is awful, tells me you don’t belong in Congress, you should have the courage of your convictions. I am old enough to remember when Richard Nixon was president, and conservative republicans like Barry Goldwater went to Nixon and told him “You’re done, we are not going to support you anymore because of what you did”, and Nixon was out. We don’t have any Barry Goldwaters in today’s republican party in Congress right now.

I was there on January 6th, I saw the chaos and destruction he brought to this nation. His supporters will say over and over again that the election was stolen from him, and I say on the contrary, there were dozens and dozens and dozens of court cases that he lost challenging the election results. This man tried to deliberately undercut a democratic election and tried to take away the power of the people’s votes. He tried to do anything to achieve his goal, at a certain point whether you support him or not, his behavior has to be unacceptable. I’ve lived long enough to see elections I rejoiced over and others that made me very depressed. That’s the way it works, that’s our system, that’s our democratic system. In Trump world elections don’t matter, people don’t matter, all that matters is that he holds onto power. That’s not a democracy, that’s an authoritarianism regime, that’s a fascist regime. I don’t want any part of that, I don’t want us moving in that direction. I look at Trump as an extremely dangerous human being, he uses people, usually for his own financial gain.

Q: There is an age old saying that all politicians lie, do you think there should be laws against politicians lying or using deceit to win their elections?

A: I wish there was a way to do that, to control purposeful lying and misinformation in campaigns. The right to freedom of speech is a very powerful right. When you take that and turn it into something that results in violence, that’s a different story. I think that when campaigning both republicans and democrats alike should be held to a high standard, to the facts, you know there are facts. This is a cup of coffee, it’s not a dining room table. You know we have people in Trump world who will say no it’s a dining room table, and 30% of the voters agreeing saying it’s a dining room table and not a cup of coffee. This is crazy! But I don’t know how we establish a form or a way where we call people out on their blatant lies on the left and the right. The lies and the manipulation, we have seen this in our world history before, we have seen demagogs rise to power through deceit and manipulation, inciting fear and moving people into panic, and each time that happened the outcome was not good. We are approaching another election; I am hoping the American people will say no to fascism.

You can win the popular vote and still lose the election, Hillary Clinton won by 4 million votes and was never president of this country. It matters where the votes are coming from in the electoral college, I personally would love to get rid of the electoral college. None the less it is still part of our system.

Q: MAGA Republicans are spending a lot of taxpayer’s money on investigating Hunter Biden and hoping to find some criminality by President Biden. So far, they have provided no evidence that connects President Biden to any wrongdoing. Where do you think this insanity ends?

A: They are looking for a distraction, let me say this, Hunter Biden has done some bad things in his life. He ought to be treated like anyone else in this country, he is currently in the process of getting a plea deal, trying to bring his criminal cases to closure.

If other things were to come up that he did wrong, that’s illegal, he should be treated like anyone else and deal with the punishment like anyone else. I think a lot of this stuff with Hunter Biden is to distract from Donald Trump. If something else were to come out, I am not going to circle the wagons around Hunter Biden, if it’s illegal, he should face the same legal process as anyone else. They tried this same thing with Hillary Clinton, they caused a percent of the American people to have a strong amount of distrust in her. I thought it was terribly unfair, and denied someone who I think would have been a spectacular president. They’ll keep on doing this, the whole thing with Hunter Biden is to keep the suspicion or wrongdoing alive. They don’t want any of it resolved, they just want it out there. It’s like if an investigation were to show he did something illegal, he should be punished in accordance to the law, period. I would never object to that. If there is nothing there, then there is nothing there. It’s not up to politicians to make that determination, there are investigators and prosecutors whose job it is to make that determination. Not Congress.

Q: Donald Trump is currently the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential Primary, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis coming a distant second, who with their policies, is a bigger threat to the country?

A: I think they are both awful. I think a Trump victory is the end of our democracy. I think it’s sad that they are the frontrunners for the republican party. I am from Massachusetts. I served with Governor Charlie Baker. I respected him. We had our disagreements, but I thought he was a man of integrity. Where are the Charlie Bakers in today’s Republican party or the Mitt Romneys or John McCains? Instead, we are stuck with pathological liars like Donald Trump. It’s like really? And I am shocked that more Republicans aren’t asking for a much higher quality candidate. It’s not like there aren’t any good Republicans. Liz Cheney for example, got primaried for telling the truth. She and I agree on 10% of the issues, but she is my friend and I have respect for her. I have even more respect for her because she stood up to a bully named Donald Trump. It’s not easy for people to tell the truth, especially when they are up against the slime machine that is the Donald Trump operation. Cheney and Kinzinger told the truth, they get death threats every day, they need to security for themselves and their families. They sacrificed a lot for telling the truth, and history will judge them in a way that is very positive. Whatever the short-term advantages are to rally around the lies of Donald Trump are just that, short term. Long term history will praise those that had the guts to tell the truth and will condemn those that went along with the lies.

Q: I know something you are very passionate about is peace. Are you concerned with Donald Trump saying publicly if convicted the country will see things that have never been done before? Similar to January 6th or worse?

A: He incited January 6.th It was a terrible terrible day, like I said I was the last person on the House Floor. I took over for Nancy Pelosi as acting Speaker of the House. I came face to face with this angry mob that was destroying property and beating up Capital Police Officers. I don’t believe in violence, and those that promote violence, we ought to condemn them. Anybody that incites violence should be held accountable and put in jail. One of the hallmarks of a democracy is that you resolve your differences at the ballot box, you don’t take up arms if you don’t like the result of an election. You move on to another day. I was in the Speaker’s chair and saw every member of the House and some of the Republicans that now are trying to pass off January 6th as something that was no big deal. One in particular, who was cowering behind Capital Police. I thought he was going to cry.

I don’t blame him for being nervous, it was a scary day, but for him to come out now like it was no big deal, that’s just offensive.

Those officers made sure we all got out, and that none of us were injured or killed. When you say nothing happened that day, that it was no big deal, it’s just an insult to those officers and to our democracy. I don’t know how anyone can defend what happened that day, just because you don’t like what happened doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it happened. There were millions and millions of dollars in damage. One officer lost his eye site, some others were severely injured, some resulting in their deaths. Somehow that can be said to be “no big deal” I think that’s offensive, and that Donald Trump allowed this to happen, urged this to happen, I think it’s unforgivable. I am particularly frustrated with these republican congress members that are macho and urged it on before the attack. I wish I could have videotaped it; they were cowering in the corners petrified for their lives. Keving McCarthy that day, said the right thing, telling Donald Trump that he needed to get these people to back off. Then,

I don’t know what happened, but a few days later McCarthy was back in the mode of defending Donald Trump. I don’t know what Trump threatened him with, but in a matter of days, he did a complete reversal.

Q: Abortion will be a big driver in the 2024 elections for people to come out and vote. We know MAGA republicans want to force women to have babies no matter what their situation is. Women have abortions for many different reasons, one of which is that they cannot afford the cost of having children. I know preventing childhood hunger is something you’re passionate about, do you find it troubling that those same republicans want to cut programs like SNAP and WIC?

A: Barney Frank had a line I think rings true, that republicans believe life begins at conception and ends at birth. I am beginning to think Barney was right. In terms of the issue of abortion, that is something that should not be decided by politicians. Everybody’s life is different, everybody has different circumstances and challenges. That is up to a woman to make that decision, it is not up to Congress. Some of my colleagues who believe a woman’s right to abortion should be restricted, they themselves have had mistresses that they paid to have abortions. It’s like you can’t make this stuff up, so I believe very strongly in a woman’s right to choose. That we should protect reproductive freedoms. I also believe that we have a moral right that no one in this country, or in this world goes hungry. I think it’s a fundamental human right and the fact that we live in the richest country in the world and have over 35 million citizens that don’t know where their next meal is going to come from should be a source of great shame for every politician and person of great means in this country. There is not a single congressional district in this country that is hunger free. We have hungry kids, we have hungry workers, and we have hungry senior citizens. We have millions of people who do not have access to nutritious foods, and we can fix that. If you’re not moved morally to make sure everybody has food security, and if all you care about is the bottom line, you should want to join us in this effort. Hunger is costing us, kids that go to school hungry don’t learn, senior citizens that take their medication on an empty stomach who should take it with a meal end up in the emergency room. Workers that are hungry are less productive in the workforce. So, there is a cost to this that far out ways any investments we need to address hunger in this country. We ought to end hunger now! I worked very hard with the Massachusetts legislature to make sure that all school kids will now get their lunches for free now. Kids in Massachusetts that can’t afford a lunch don’t learn, and now that ends.

Q: Protecting human rights is something you strongly advocate. There’s an attack right now on transgender people, especially transgender children. There is a lot of misinformation from the right stating children are being mutilated, when a strong majority of gender affirming operations are not happening until after 18 year old, and approximately only 1% of people (including children) that have transitioned regret it. Do you think it’s possible to educate people on the right of the facts on the harm they are causing by attacking gender affirming care of transgender people?

A: We have to try. The misinformation those on the right are spreading also impacts how people in the middle may think. My late father used to tell me all the time, “everybody is different, everybody is unique, and we need to respect each other for who we are.” That’s that, it’s that simple, he was right. I don’t understand why there are so many people in this country who spend all their time trying to attack and rip apart people who are different from them. They highlight differences about those in our community, it is such a waste of time and energy, and it’s destructive. We have seen hate crimes increase, suicides increase, why don’t we just respect each other for who we are and get on with our lives.

Q: Gun violence is the number one cause of death of children right now in the United States. MAGA republicans say they are the party of saving the children. Why do you think they are so against common sense gun laws?

A: Because the gun lobby provides them with a lot of money for their campaigns and they are afraid that they will lose their primaries if they do anything that the gun lobby does not want them to do. We live in a country where we have massacres occur on a regular basis. No other industrialized nation in the world has a gun violence problem like we do. What’s wrong with background checks? If you have a criminal background or a background of violence, we don’t want you to have a gun. What’s wrong with limiting the sale of guns to people that have violent histories? Do you really need a weapon of war to be able to hunt? Some of these weapons that people demand access to were designed for combat. This is out of control, It’s ridiculous and

I am getting tired of moments of silence. We need more moments of outrage, thoughts and prayers are not working, they are not stopping this. When Bill Clinton was president, we had the ban on assault weapons that actually made a difference. And when Bush became president, they let it expire. Since then, we have seen a proliferation of not just gun deaths, but of massacres in schools, synagogues, churches, workplaces, at some point we all have to say collectively “this is not how we want to live.” Common sense ought to prevail.

Q: The 2024 election is going to be one of the most important this country has ever had; how can we get more people involved in getting out the vote?

A: I think we must remind people of what is at stake. We need to tell people what we are for, not just what we are against. I do think Joe Biden has a vision of positive government. I think he has already done things that are making a difference, we just passed the biggest infrastructure bill in history. It will help in fixing our roads and infrastructure all around the country, that’s a big deal. It will help create new jobs; it will help take on the war against climate change. Biden is trying to take on prescription drug prices and trying to make college affordable for young people. He is trying to make a country where everyone is respected for who they are. He is also trying to take on this epidemic of gun violence. People have to pay attention, and they need to understand what is at stake. Because if Donald Trump were to win this election it is not only the end of democracy, but it will usher in authoritarianism and quite frankly fascism. I say that as a student of history. That is what Donald Trump is, he is a fascist. Countries that have moved into authoritarianism and fascism realize it too late, and you cannot reverse it. We need to realize right now that the country that we love is under attack from within and this election is the most important election of our lifetime!

The Observer, the news that stands up

Photo by News Editor Daniela Valdivia-Terres

The last edition of the award-winning college newspaper, The Observer, was obviously flying off the shelves. At least, it seems that was the case in the Dimitry Building, in Lawrence. Under the title of “Civic Engagement” the photo on the cover page showed a group of students and faculty standing up with banners questioning the administrator’s decision to eliminate the Civic

Engagement, Service-Learning, and Community Resources coordinator, Janel D’Agata-Lynch, in front of the board of trustees meeting on April 12.

“Does removing our social worker support our strategic plan?” and “Improve student support and cut it at the same time?”

Were questions written in print big letters in front of the board led by Lane Glenn, the president of NECC. That together with Sarah Pachano’s speech, student representative was an act of fairness, a call for justice.
D’Agata-Lynch, a licensed social worker, had worked for NECC since 2015 in creating alliances with organizations to help students experiencing food, clothing and housing insecurity, advocating for paid-internship student programs, and an adjunct professor. “Students face numerous challenges, including financial difficulties, food insecurity, and housing insecurity, which can significantly impact their academic performance. I believe these students are best served through the Basic Needs Security

Program by a dedicated staff person. Janel D’Agata-Lynch has personified the idea of serving-ness in the work that she has done; on behalf of the students at the college, I call upon the President to reverse his action,” stated Pachano at the meeting.

“Some discontents and murmurings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches and carriages in other”(Bradford, 1656)

Students talked to an Observer editor expressing their concern. A formal letter and calls from faculty claiming for an explanation were received in our newsroom. Professors and staff showed their discontent to the administration’s decision and full support to D’Agata-Lynch.

The Observer elevated those voices in the Observer in the Spring’23 edition, published in May 2023. Same as looked for answers from administration with no luck.

The First Amendment in our Constitution states Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Press.

On Aug. 23 a Job Fair organized by Mass Hire was held in the atrium of the Dimitry building. It was packed with attendees and representatives of different organizations but the welcoming blue newspaper stand written and edited only by students, was empty. After this discovery, a student editor refilled The Observer newspaper stand with the last edition. The main entrance of NECC’s busy building on Franklin street was again complemented with the work and voice of their students.

However a few days later, Sept. 8 to be precise, an Observer staff member found out the stand was pristine clean, again.

Is there a large number of followers of The Observer on the Lawrence campus that every time we filled up the newspapers flew away or is the last edition front cover and full coverage of D’Agata-Lynch’s case “too good to be shown?’ Is this an attempt to limit the freedom of the press?

Questions raised up again but in a different direction this time.

We are observing. Not only The Observer staff but surely students, faculty and staff are observing too.

If you miss the last Spring edition of The Observer or want to know about the news/stories written by our dedicated staff of students, please visit our website https://observer.necc.mass.edu/

If there is anything you want us to cover, either happy events or mighty concerns, please contact us at observer@necc.mass.edu.

The Observer is your voice.

Also, if you see an empty blue stand, drop us a line. We’ll be happy to fill it up. The Observer is you. The Observer is yours.



Opinion: We must pay attention to national politics

As the fall semester begins, it is important to remember that politics affects us all. From the cost of tuition to the availability of healthcare, or the right to choose what happens to a woman’s body. The decisions made by our elected officials have a direct impact on our lives. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to politics and make your voice heard by voting.

As Editor in Chief, I am committed to keeping readers informed about the issues that matter most. In the coming issues, I will be covering national politics in greater depth, with a focus on helping students make informed decisions before they vote. Often voters who are not informed tend to vote against their own self interests without even realizing it.

People who are not informed vote for a candidate just because there is an R or D next to their name on the without knowing their policies. Everything is a culture war on the right. Republicans are not offering any new policies other than wanting to ban drag shows, books, or a woman’s right to choose. If you listen to right wing media, you will think Democrats are trying to take away your gas stove, Democrats are telling you that you can’t eat hamburgers, or Democrats are pro-pedophile. Republicans in Congress are not serious people on the issues that matter to the American public.

A big issue that is very popular with Americans is the assault on a woman’s right to choose.

Republicans in states like Alabama want to prosecute woman who leave the state or help a woman leave the state to receive an abortion and charge them with conspiracy.

Under this law if passed a woman does not even have to go through with the abortion. If she discussed with another person a plan to bring her out of state to receive an abortion she and her confidante can still be charged with conspiracy.

In Idaho legislation has been passed to prosecute anyone who drives a minor out of state to receive an abortion or helps a minor access a medication induced abortion in another state is punishable by two to five years in prison.

In Texas Republicans have passed a law that would make it illegal to transport anyone to get an abortion on roads within a city or county limits. The law allows any private citizens to sue a person or organization they suspect of violating the ordinance. The provisions have already been passed in two counties and two cities. Texas also passed a law that would make it a felony punishable by up to life in prison for a doctor who performs an abortion. They consider life to be from the moment of fertilization. The statute also says the attorney general “shall” seek a civil penalty of not less than $100,000, plus attorney’s fees.

Many states are also trying to implement six week abortion bans. Most woman do not even know they are pregnant after six weeks.

Republicans are also the party that wants to cut the WIC program which supplies low income woman with infants and children with healthy foods they need to grow. If Republicans have their way they want to force a woman to have a baby but want to do nothing to help that baby thrive.

I believe that every student has the power to make a difference, and that starts with exercising your right to vote. Whether you are passionate about climate change, social justice, economic inequality, or a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, your vote can help shape the future of our country.

As we begin this new semester, I encourage you to stay informed and engaged. Read our newspaper, and most importantly, make sure you are registered to vote. Together, we can make a difference and build a brighter future for all.



Convocation celebration: Students return for fall semester

Four students take a selfie together at the fall semester convocation in the Tech Center on Sept. 5.
Left to right: Convocation student speaker Edwin SamMbaka takes a selfie with Campus Life Editor KarenP. Stokes, Cameron Bayo and Dewey Ratsimbazafy. Photo courtesy of Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes

Students in PACE, SOAR and other programs took part in NECC’s Convocation Ceremony on Sept. 5.

The day began with a light breakfast before the ceremony.

At breakfast, the students were given gift bags to be opened at the end of the ceremony.

The ceremony took place in the Tech Center building on the first floor on the Haverhill campus.

There were many in attendance which included the NECC President Lane Glenn, NECC faculty and staff, first generation college students both past and present and more.

Also in attendance were the Haverhill Police Color Guard, NECC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Jennifer Borislow, Dean Carolyn Knoepfler and NECC Trustee and Alumni Board President ‘15 Jouel Gomez to name a few. All of whom gave outstanding remarks as they recalled the different paths that life had led them on having arrived at NECC.

Students in the audience in the Tech Center during convocation on Sept. 5 applaud a speaker.
Students applaud during convocation Photo courtesy NECC Newsroom

Convocation opened with a beautiful musical selection that welcomed the National Anthem.

A student stands at a podium to make a speech at convocation in the Tech Center.

NECC’s Accessible Media Team’s digital accessibility specialist DJ Chase, at podium, was one of the speakers at convocation on Sept. 5 in the Tech Center on the Haverhill campus. From left to right: special guest speaker Diannely Antigua, NECC alumna and poet, President Lane Glenn aand NECC Trustee and Alumni Board President Jouel Gomez. Photo courtesy NECC Newsroom

The ceremony was part of welcoming students, faculty and staff back to school and to encourage the students to continue to press forward even in the face of adversity.

The ceremony was engaging and the atmosphere was full of excitement as the speakers one by one spoke of the challenges that they had faced and were still facing when they arrived at NECC.

Nevertheless, they continued to move forward with faculty and staff support, and success was definite.

A man and a woman sit next to eachother on stage during convocation in the Tech Center on Sept. 5.
Guest speaker Diannely Antigua, an alumna and poet and President Lane Glenn listen to Sheila Muller, business professor/ chair of department, who served as the master of ceremonies. Photo by Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes

The life stories of the speakers not only inspired but really resonated with the students as they could identify with their struggles.

The emphasis surrounding the ceremony was based on the importance of education and that hard work and consistency does pay off.

It is because of NECC’S diversity that students feel secure and assured that NECC is a place where they can thrive.

Two women sit next to eachother on stage during convocation in the Tech Center on Sept. 5.
NECC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Jennifer Borislow, NECC Dean Carolyn Knoepfler. Photo by Campus Life Editor Karen P. Stokes

It was nice seeing the faculty and staff in support of the students that day. The energy in the room was moving and uplifting and the ceremony really got the students amped up for the new school year, it was indeed a confidence builder.

At the end of the ceremony the students were asked to open their gifts and take out their gifts. Inside the bag was a Northern Essex sweatshirt that the students were asked to wear. After putting on the sweatshirt, the ceremony came to a close and the students were asked to single file out of the building to take group pictures.

A student stands at podium and speaks during convocation on Sept. 5 in the Tech Center.
ESOL Level 5 student Joas Magouno Me Namedoumo speaks at convocation. Photo courtesy of NECC Newsroom

PACE students make up a small percentage of the NECC students, nevertheless PACE’s long-time commitment and dedication to their students never falls short of ensuring that each student is successful every semester. As PACE, SOAR and other programs gear up for the new season there are a lineup of events for the students to participate in, including a PACE field trip to UMASS Lowell.

Easily accessible art on display in Andover

The front entrance of the Addison Art Gallery building is shown.
An exterior view of the Addison Art Gallery in Andover on Sept. 16. Phpoto by Arts & Entertainment Editor Caroline Magner

When looking to delve deeper into art and culture, one need not travel far or even spend any money to do so.

Many people would be pleasantly surprised to learn that they can experience incredible works of art locally for the cost of nothing.

The Addison Gallery of American Art located in Andover is a great place to start.

Standing on a great lawn and surrounded by the historic buildings that make up Phillips Academy, the picturesque gallery, founded in 1931, boasts three stories of art from their ever changing exhibitions, a library and a tranquil room for studying or reading all of which is available to the public free of charge.

The current exhibits include Turning a Big Ship, Sea Change and Free Association: New Acquisitions in Context.

The Turning a Big Ship exhibit features painter Reggie Burrows Hodges bold and unique take on the sea, sailing and what they represent, according to the brochure.

Sea Change is an assemblage from Addison’s vast collection showcasing nautical themed artworks and sculptures, according to the brochure.

A model ship in a glass case in the Addison Gallery library is shown/
The gallery’s library offers a peaceful place for studying and reading. Photo by Arts & Entertainment Editor Caroline Magner

Free Association: New Acquisitions in Context is a visual “juxtaposition” between the Addison’s historic and contemporary art, according to a description in the brochure.

The former two are on view from Sept. 1. through Dec. 31, while the latter, Free Association, is on view until Feb. 11, 2024.
In addition to the art on view, the Addison Gallery additionally offers tours, talks and celebrations for free to those who sign up through their website.

To get an idea of the variety of events and programs the Addison provides to the public, on Sept. 28, Hodges will be providing a tour through his first ever museum solo show at the Addison Gallery and discussing his position as an artist on the rise.

For those who have always been fascinated by the making of an art exhibit or simply just enjoy visiting museums, curators from the Addison regularly present tours and conversations with the public to gain a deeper understanding into the history of the Addison and their rich collection of works.

The painting “Chromium Dip,” painting by Reggie Burrows Hodges, on display in the “Turning a Big Ship” exhibit  at the Addison Gallery in Andover.  The painting is of a boat on a background of green water.
“Chromium Dip,” painting by Reggie Burrows Hodges, on display in the “Turning a Big Ship” exhibit at the Addison Gallery in Andover. Photo by Arts & Entertainment Editor Caroline Magner


2023 Knights volleyball earn NJCAA votes

Women’s volleyball has gotten off to a terrific (5-0) start to the 2023 season, the best start in 10 seasons. This success garnered attention from the NJCAA (National Junior college athletics association). The Knights were among several to receive votes in week 4 of voting on Sept 18th. 

Two Knights Abigal Heredia and Vielka Sanchez both of Lawerence currently lead nationally. Heredia leads the league in hitting percentage (.789). Meanwhile Sanchez ranks fifth in service ace per set (2.81). 

The Knights will be back in action Saturday for a two-home game set. First against Bristol community college at 11:00 A.M and Holyoke community college at 3:00 P.M.