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SRQ DAILY May 25, 2024

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"In today's world, mental health struggles are not an outlying issue but a common part of college life, especially at high-level arts institutions."

- Dr. Larry Thompson, President of Ringling College of Art and Design.

[Under The Hood]  Steube Forces a Vote in Historic Fashion
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

A bill from U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, passed in the House and could soon deliver tax relief to Hurricane Ian survivors. While the legislation’s substance will immediately interest his constituents in Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties, it’s the method he employed to bring the measure to the floor impressing policy wonks.

Congressional rules include a procedure known as the discharge petition that allows a bill to bypass committee stops without the blessing of House leadership and go straight to a vote, so long as a majority of U.S. representatives sign on board. This methodology earns from political journalists periodically, usually when the minority caucus champions an issue that polls well but that the majority won’t hear.

For example, Democrats since last June have collected petitions for an assault weapons ban that’s anathema to GOP leadership. They need 218 signatures to force the bill to the floor, but have sat at 206 petitions since November. The hope in a closely divided House had been for enough moderate Republicans to sign on. But the truth is, even if some GOP members in swing districts would vote for gun control, none want to embarrass leadership on an issue that’s anathema to most Republican peers.

That’s why discharge petitions are often threatened but rarely work. The procedure only succeeded twice since a 1993 rule made names of every petitioner public. The first came in 2002, when a bipartisan group of lawmakers favored campaign finance reforms that largely neutered political parties’ control over federal elections. In 2015, House Democrats and a few dozen Republicans forced a vote on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank over objections of GOP then-Speaker John Boehner. 

Now, history can add a third success, courtesy Steube. Earlier this month, he secured a critical 218th signature backing The Federal Disaster Tax Relief Act. This wasn’t a partisan bill. It allows taxpayers to exclude compensation for losses in a federally declared disasters. 

Steube wanted relief for his constituents impacted in 2022 by Ian, a storm that ultimately charted as the third costliest hurricane on record. But the bill also helps survivors of storms that hit other areas, as well as Americans who endured wildfires and even the environmentally catastrophic train crash in East Palestine. This gave the legislation tremendous regional appeal to lawmakers across the country, regardless of party.

“Thank you to my House colleagues on both ends of the political spectrum for your support. This issue truly transcends political ideology,” Steube said on the House floor. “It is solely about helping our fellow Americans who have been through some of the toughest events anyone can imagine. Their resilience proves the critical nature of this legislation.”

This discharge seemed particularly notable in that it came from a Republican in the majority. Maybe that helped rally support, but Steube did need Democrats to sign on, and the discharge only crossed the finish line after Minority Whip Katherine Clark, of Connecticut, encouraged Democrats to sign onto the measure.

Steube hopes the Senate acts quickly now, and that Biden signs the bill. One must wonder in this case why the ill has trouble reaching the floor through a traditional path. Indeed, it’s the least divisive bill by the numbers of any fast-tracked to floor in this fashion.

It passed on a 382-7 vote, with seven Republicans voting against in. Another 40 lawmakers skilled the vote, including U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and Byron Donalds, R-Naples (though notably both those lawmakers from Gulf Coast districts did sign the discharge petition forcing the vote in the first place).

Regardless, Steube made history even securing a vote, and maybe proving to members they indeed have more control over the process than they may think. Which, come to think of it, may be exactly what rattles leadership.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor of SRQ MEDIA. 

Image courtesy Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, official Facebook page.

[Higher Education]  The Need for Mental Health Awareness in Higher Education
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

As much as college is a celebration of burgeoning adulthood and newfound freedom, it’s also a difficult time for many students—especially at the beginning, and especially in a renowned and rigorous arts institution like Ringling College of Art and Design.

Every year, we welcome a new class of mostly teenagers, many of whom have never lived away from their families before. Some of our students moved halfway across the country or around the world to attend Ringling College. Homesickness, loneliness, sadness and feelings of isolation are natural.

When you add the pressure to succeed (whether from family or self-imposed) and the crises that arise when a talented young person’s artistic abilities are held to higher standards than ever encountered before and open to academic critiques, emotions can start to spiral.

In today’s world, mental health struggles are not an outlying issue but a common part of college life—especially at high-level arts institutions. But that doesn’t mean these struggles should be accepted as a given. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but as educators, we need to always keep mental health at the forefront of our institutional mindset. 

The Healthy Minds Study demonstrates the vital need for emotional support infrastructure within all colleges. This annual survey receives approximately 100,000 respondents from 450 colleges and universities, including Ringling College and the 41 other members of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. This study examines not just the mental health of its subjects, but their attitudes toward seeking help, utilizing services and overcoming stigmas surrounding mental health support.

The most recent HMS findings showed respondents from Ringling College and other art colleges reported higher incidents of loneliness and isolation than the overall national sample. For example, 84% of Ringling respondents and 82% of total AICAD respondents said that they sometimes or often felt isolated from others, compared to 70% in the national sample.

Even more alarming, 24% of Ringling respondents and 21% of AICAD respondents reported suicide ideation over the past year, compared to 15% of the national sample. We must acknowledge the gravity of these reports. And, we must continue to take real measures toward making mental health services not just accessible, but wholly ingrained in the college experience.

At Ringling College, we established a mental wellness, support and education network that is built into our students’ everyday lives. We also strive to make the students not just aware of these programs but comfortable using them from the earliest days of their involvement on campus. 

Our support programs are centered in our on-campus Student Health Center and the Peterson Counseling Center. There, students can access individual and group counseling, emergency psychological services and consultation with off-campus providers when specialized treatment is needed.

The Health Center has also launched the Resilient You campaign, which focuses on strength-based approaches to provide our students—as well as their families—with a set of emotional tools that can be used to cope with the many stresses that negatively affect mental health. In addition to professional counseling, Resilient You includes an emphasis on peer-to-peer support, including ways to support fellow students and consultation outlets for what to do when it seems another student is in distress.

Mental health resources are far from tokenism. These programs should be a fundamental cornerstone of higher education. Creativity, intellectual development and financial success must not come at the expense of mental health.

But awareness itself is not always enough. We cannot simply expect our students to tell us when they’re struggling or to ask for help when they need it. Mental health support should be as rooted in our institutions of higher learning as libraries and classrooms. That’s why at Ringling College, we continue to prioritize and expand programs like Resilient You, using multi-faceted, evidence-based research to provide real support for our students.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design. 

Photo courtesy Ringling College: Ringling College Health Center staff table on campus in support the Resilient You campaign.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place , July 28 – May 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Head out to Waterside Place for a rocking evening as part of the Lakewood Ranch Sights and Sounds Program. Enjoy a live concert in partnership with Easterseals and EveryoneRocks, featuring artists who are rocking their spectrum. This event is free and open to the public; there is limited seating at the Plaza, but attendees are welcome to bring their own seats. Food and beverages will be available from numerous Waterside Place merchants. For more information on shows, dates, and times, visit lakewoodranch.com/sights-sounds/. Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Dr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Jazz Thursdays , January 11 – June 13, 5:30 pm-8 pm

Join us for live jazz at Sarasota Art Museum, hosted by the Jazz Club of Sarasota, featuring Hot Club of SRQ, and extended hours in the galleries, Bistro, and SHOP. Sip on refreshing cocktails and enjoy small bites in the Bistro. Each second Thursday of the month features a different style of jazz, from straight-ahead to free jazz, bebop to swing-programmed in partnership with Jazz Club of Sarasota. Galleries are open until 7 pm on Jazz Thursdays. Learn more and purchase tickets at sarasotaartmuseum.org.

[SOON]  DANCE: Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance , June 2, 7:30pm
Irish dancers and musicians from Edmonds Herbert W. Armstrong College and Armstrong Dance will embark on their fifth U.S. tour beginning May 5, visiting 10 states over seven weeks with their show Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will host a one-night performance at 7:30 p.m., June 2. Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance explores the ancient origins of Irish step dance and celebrates the millennia-long journey of a music-and-dance-loving people as they migrate from the ancient Near East to Ireland, Scotland, England and the United States. Tickets to Celtic Throne, The Royal Journey of Irish Dance begin at $25 and can be purchased at VanWezel.org. For more information, please visit celticthrone.com.
[SOON]  GALA: Celebrating Regional Art and Artists at Creative Liberties , June 1 – July 6

Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery continues its season’s offerings with an all-packed June starting with the exhibit, “True Colors: Celebrating Pride,” June 1-July 6. Local artists will exhibit works in a color scheme that represents one of the colors on the LGBTQ+ Progress flag.

Creative Liberties, 901B Apricot Ave, Sarasota, FL 34237

[SOON]  GALA: Grand Carnival In Bloom , June 1, 8-11pm
On June 1, Project Pride SRQ will present the Grand Carnival In Bloom. Event organizers are looking forward to launching Pride Month in grand style with the Grand Carnival In Bloom, an enchanting evening filled with flowers, a DJ spinning music hits, cool country performances, and delightful surprises. Dive Bar Wine and Spirits will be on-site to craft specialty cocktails that will elevate the experience, and some of the finest restaurants in Sarasota will tantalize your taste buds with lite bites and desserts. The Grand Carnival takes place on Saturday, June 1, 8-11 p.m. at the Sailor Circus Arena, 2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota. Tickets, which include open bar, food and entertainment, are $125/VIP, enables early entry at 7 p.m., $85/general admission; door price is $150, subject to availability. Proceeds from the event will support Project Pride programs and events. For more about Project Pride and its Pride Month events, visit www.ppsrq.org.
[SOON]  FILM: Summer Movie Nights , June 2 – June 28, 5pm

Back by popular demand, the Summer Movie Nights provide a unique experience for everyone during the summer, while remaining fun and affordable. The 2024 Summer Movie Night lineup offers something for everyone. Summer Movie Nights will take place on most Sundays during the months of June and July, inside the stadium at CoolToday Park. The movies will be shown on the scoreboard and will begin at 5 PM each night. Children ages 3 and under will receive free admission, while tickets for ages 4-9 are only $3, and ages 10 and up are $7. Tickets are available now at the CoolToday Park box office, online at cooltodaypark.com/movies, or by calling 941-413-5004. Parking is free, seats will be available in the seating bowl. No outside food, beverages, or chairs are allowed inside the stadium. The Superior Pools Tomahawk Tiki Bar and Grill will be open for full dinner service.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Love It Like a Local Beach Cleanup , May 27, 9-11am
This Memorial Day weekend, make it a beach day to remember. Join the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau along with Keep Manatee Beautiful from 9 a.m.- 11 a.m., May 27, 2024, for the Love It Like a Local Beach Cleanup. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. in the South Coquina Beach parking lot. Snacks will be offered from 11 a.m. until noon. The first 100 volunteers to sign up will receive a free commemorative rash guard. To learn more, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/love-it-like-a-local-memorial-day-clean-up-tickets-894345129357?aff=oddtdtcreator.
[SOON]  GALLERY: Art Center Sarasota's Annual Regional Juried Exhibition , May 23 – July 27

Art Center Sarasota unveils its much-anticipated annual regional juried exhibit, "Beyond Comfort," on May 23. Juried by Virginia Shearer, the executive director of Sarasota Art Museum, the exhibition calls upon artists statewide to delve into their interpretations of beauty and the grotesque within contemporary art and society. The exhibit, which spans all four galleries, runs through July 27. The opening reception is Thursday, May 23, 6-8 p.m. A critique with Virginia Shearer will take place on Thursday, May 30, 3:30 p.m. at Art Center Sarasota.

Art Center Sarasota, 707 N Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Laser Light Nights , May 23 – August 31, 7pm and 9pm
Break out your big hair and acid-washed denims and get ready to rock out with some of your favorite artists in The Planetarium. The event takes place every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from May 23 through August 31. There are various food and drink options available for purchase onsite with cash or card. Please note that Laser Light Nights involve bright, flashing lasers that may not be suitable for people with photo sensitivities. Viewer discretion is advised. Laser Light Nights are at a volume similar to a rock concert, so earplugs are recommended for those who prefer a lower volume. To learn more, visit bishopscience.org.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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