Jack Portman tells all in his last ever Opinion article

Wake Forest Senior is pro-reform for the University’s parking access and fundamentally against William Poteat


Jack Portman, Senior Writer

This will be the last of the 72 articles I have written for the Old Gold & Black between 2017 and 2021. By way of a grand finale, this article will incorporate a chorus of opinions which, owing to laziness and ill-informedness, I have neglected to address in the Opinion section before. I don’t necessarily intend to elaborate on these opinions here; I will — for the most part — only state them in a single, successive burst resembling a stream-of-conscious dialogue. Some of them are more developed than others, and perhaps more serious than others. Anyhow, here it goes.

I really feel that first-person shooter video games normalize gun violence in some way, I think superhero movies have a similar effect. Wake Forest tricks students into thinking events like D.E.S.K. and Wake n’ Shake are real volunteerism (and even activism), but these events are just a cold, corporate pseudo-philanthropy that are more oriented towards projecting an appearance of community engagement than toward any actual social contribution. Wake Forest is disinterested in pursuing actual political change, locally or nationally (see, for example, President Hatch’s personal political contributions).

Non-human organisms (and even non-animal organisms) should (to a limited degree) possess political rights. There shouldn’t be patents on the COVID-19 vaccines or on other important, life-saving inventions.

The U.S. welfare state systematically disadvantages low-income citizens.

I can’t tell if Colin Powell already delivered his Face-to-Face presentation at the LJVM coliseum or if he will do so at a later date, but if he already has, Wake shouldn’t have invited him. If his presentation is still forthcoming, Wake should cancel it (he is a war criminal!).

William Poteat, who is credited with formulating Wake’s “pro humanitate” motto, was a eugenicist — this calls into question what he means by “for humanity.”

Pinterest is a means by which aesthetics are cultivated and commodified (other media achieve a similar effect).

“Public intellectuals,” from Malcolm Gladwell to Steven Pinker to Gore Vidal, generally aren’t very helpful.

Rent should be canceled at least for the remainder of the pandemic recession.

There is so much room for growth in the realm of iPhone street photography and I think the next Robert Frank will shoot on their iPhone. Also, Sean Baker was a visionary when he shot Tangerine on an iPhone and I’m excited to see this style elaborated.

The fields of Anthropology and Political Science need to accommodate each other’s theories and perspectives to a greater extent than they already do.

Higher education is racist and classist (this goes without saying, but I never wrote a piece explicitly about this topic).

More academics should embrace activism. Lifestyle changes at the individual level won’t stave off climate change and environmental degradation (that many people believe this to be the case seems to be a result of ideological shortcomings). The U.S. should guarantee paid maternity leave. Standardized tests fail to assess exactly what they are intended to assess. Political commentators have fundamentally misconstrued the meaning and implications of socialism. Wake currently hires off-duty Winston Salem police officers as contractors — they should not do so. Parking access for students should be expanded on Wake’s campus, and ticketing for parking violations should be less punitive. Expanding investment in the community should be an important component of the university’s efforts to reconcile with its history of racism, especially since the university explicitly sought to exclude Black students from the academy — only reconciling with this history within the academy is unproductive.

These and other opinions might have been developed into a variety of nice articles  had I the time to do so. Regardless, writing and working for the Old Gold & Black was an instructive and rewarding experience, and if you haven’t already, I recommend submitting an Opinion piece of your own in the near future.