The Lookout: A Journal of Undergraduate Research at East Carolina University, Volume 10

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The Lookout: A Journal of Undergraduate Research at East Carolina University Volume 10, Issue 1 Cover Photograph: Abigail Lund Cover Design: Ayzha Dawson Journal Design: Nina Cafasso, Cole Chapoton, Ayzha Dawson, Meredith Ferreri, Abigail Lund Editorial Team: Jordan Grady, Jude Graffius, Kate Gryson, Karli Lilley, Matthew Mora Communications Team: Brianna Dilldine, Garret Gaddy, Boris Salswach, James Thorley Management Team: Peyton Berry, Jamie Cunningham, Trinity Dunlap, Lukis Padu, Lorenzo Palakiko, Rasheena Smith Managing Editor: Donna J. Kain,

Copyright 2021 © Department of English, East Carolina University ISSN (Print): 2372-580X ISSN (Online): 2372-5834

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Mission Statement: The Lookout 2021, Tenth Edition The Lookout is an interdisciplinary journal reviewed by undergraduate students at ECU in which they compile research of fellow undergraduate students. This year’s special tenth anniversary theme of The Lookout presents student works that highlight self -courage and the tenacity to learn. As this is an anniversary edition, we have accepted submissions of non-fiction research as well as original short f iction. This edition also f eatures a staf f-designed cover and a carefully hand-picked layout. We are happy to say that we received an all-time high in submissions f or our 2021 edition. Each submission identif ied aspects of how students think f or themselves and the message they want to leave behind. Our primary f ocus in compiling The Lookout’s tenth edition was to represent the special, individual vision that authors brought to us. Across the board, each submission thought deeply about the themes of self -courage, tenacity, and the willingness to learn. Our authors made The Lookout and ECU extremely proud to review and portray their skillf ul writing in the f orm of an undergraduate research journal. We celebrate this year with diverse examples of literature that highlight themes of self-courage and the tenacity to learn, directly f rom the hands of our f ellow East Carolina Univer sity undergraduate students.

To a Decade Together, The Lookout Team at ECU

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Table of Contents Research Works Post-9/11 American Militarized Intervention and its Effects on Iraqi Civilians ........................................................................ 1 Potential Benefits of Social Support in Video Games On College Student Mental Health During COVID-19 .................................... 11 From Tigers to Dixie: American and Chinese Military Relations From 1940-1947 ................................................ 31 How Pre-Assessments Increase Diversity in the Classroom ........................... 37 Encroachment of Woody Species in a Coastal Plain Wetland .......................... 45 The Cult of the Lost Cause ....................................................................... 53 Undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. have less health care compared to someone who is documented ................................. 65 Rural Revitalization with System Dynamics using Kinston, NC as a Case Study .................................................................... 73 Parametric Study of Autonomous Vehicle Model with Traffic Simulations by CART Analysis ......................................................... 89 The Double-Edged Sword of Vulnerability in Media: An Empirical & Theoretical Essay............................................................... 99 Frida Kahlo: Unveiling Disability, Veiling Femininity.................................... 105

Creative Works Grae Vision .......................................................................................... 113 Things Unseen...................................................................................... 119 Moving On ........................................................................................... 125 Protecting Our Home ............................................................................. 127 Dreamy Dream Dree ............................................................................. 131 Poetry ................................................................................................ 133

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Post-9/11 American Militarized Intervention and its Effects on Iraqi Civilians Rachel Davis Abstract The prolonged war in Iraq was perhaps the most notorious result f rom George W. Bush’s presidency. It was one of the leading f actors for Bush’s record low approval rating at the end of his second term. The war also tarnished the image of the U.S. military f or many; f requent occurrences of civilian deaths and incidents like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal reminded the nation of its dark history in Vietnam. Af ter Saddam Hussein was driven out of Baghdad, the UN-sponsored Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) took responsibility f or removing Ba’ath inf luence in the Iraqi government—a process known as deBa’athif ication—and establishing a new democratic regime. This, in hope, would restore stability to the state; however, the conflict persisted even after the capture of Saddam. The rise of insurgencies throughout the region, combined with a lack of postwar planning, contributed to the inef f ectiveness of the coalition in maintaining order and peace. Overall, the coalition’s occupation took a negative toll on the Iraqi civilian populations and may have even acted as a direct cause of Iraq losing its sovereignty and becoming a f ailed state.

Introduction In March of 2003, the United States led a coalition of f orces into Iraq in attempt to remove Saddam Hussein f rom power and conf iscate suspected weapons of mass destruction. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established to transition control of the Iraqi government f rom Saddam’s Ba’ath Party to a new selection of democratically elected officials (Bensahel et al. 2008). This process, however, was neither simple nor successful in the long-term. Facing constant political and economic insecurity, Iraq remains one of the f ew f ailed states of the world. The American military’s intervention in Iraq and subsequent occupation largely contributed to the lack of stability in Iraqi society. Additionally, the civilian populations of Iraq were negatively impacted by the presence of a f oreign military power. Iraqi civilians experienced higher rates of violence and mortality as well as interf erence in domestic lif e as a result of the coalition’s invasion. Altogether, these effects contributed to lower quality of lif e f or Iraqi civilians and the continuing conf lict that exists in the region.

Political unrest The U.S.-led coalition that sought to expel Saddam Hussein and his Ba’athist supporters and democratize Iraq was successful in accomplishing these objectives. Saddam was captured several months after the initial invasion, and coalition f orces dismantled many


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Ba’athist insurgent groups throughout the state. The f irst f ree national elections were held in January of 2005, which marked the beginning of Iraqi democratization (Bensahel et al. 2008). This process, however, would prove to be longer and more arduous than expected. Iraq did not possess the means to support or sustain a near -immediate transition to a democratic government. The political consequences of attempting to install such a regime would impair the state’s ability to maintain any f orm of stable government in the f uture. Af ter Saddam’s government fell in the early stages of the war, the CPA was tasked with assisting with the installation of a new regime. This process was expected to last only a f ew months; elections were anticipated to be held as early as August of 2003 (Lammers 2014). However, as noted before, they were postponed by almost a year and a half . The delay in the developmental progress of a new government was largely attributed to bureaucratic conflicts of interest. In his analysis of the American style of militarized occupation, Lammers (2014) cites that “[v]arious U.S. agencies…favored the import of dif f erent political leaders in exile” (59), which in turn signif icantly delayed the establishment of an interim government. The resulting disruption in the Iraqi political realm gave rise to new revolts throughout the nation, which f urther endangered both the coalition and Iraqi civilians. The conf lict between the dif ferent bureaucracies of the American government and subsequent delay of the appointment of new Iraqi government officials led to a prolonged period of political instability. One signif icant consequence of the coalition’s f ailure to quickly install a new regime was the removal of security and governmental protections f or Iraqi civilians. The occupation that occurred after the initial invasion lacked the necessary planning to stabilize the region and protect the civilian populations. O’Hanlon (2004) credits an imbalance between military doctrine and civilian policymaking as a source of the insufficient preparation that ultimately resulted in continued political unrest. Phase IV of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, the phase intended to restabilize and rebuild the government after the removal of Saddam Hussein, did not receive the necessary amount of planning f or a successful implementation. In their af ter-action report, the Army’s Third Inf antry Division states that headquarters never provided them with such a plan, and thus they “transitioned into Phase IV in the absence of guidance” (O’Hanlon 2004, 36). The United States government’s f ailure to properly distribute and enact a recovery plan prevented a smooth regime transition from occurring. As such, insurgencies consisting of Ba’ath rebels and Islamist f undamentalists f lared up again, and disorder persisted (Lammers 2014). This state of unrest would continue even af ter new Iraqi political f igures took charge. Lack of planning and preparation f or a regime change also contributed to signif icant disorganization in both the government and civilian lif e. Because of this def iciency, members of Saddam Hussein’s f ormer regime were able to f urther delay the process by destroying government documents and ransacking government buildings (Allawi 2007). Many Iraqi bureaucratic departments were targeted by Ba’ath rebels, and some buildings, like the Ministry of Trade, were subjected to multiple incidents of arson, which


The Lookout destroyed important records. The Ministry of Trade, which controlled the nation’s f ood rations program, experienced several instances where its enterprises were “systematically looted and burnt down” (Allawi 2007, 116). Smuggling of stolen goods became a prevalent issue throughout the region and spread into neighboring countries. These violent acts endangered the civilian populations of Iraq and the coalition’s f ailure to enact proper security measures only f urther enabled their occurrence. Despite instituting a new regime relatively quickly after the removal of Saddam f rom power, the CPA took a laissez-faire approach to rebuilding the Iraqi government. As such, the civilian population was f orced to take on much of that responsibility and the resulting government was incredibly weak. The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) struggled to maintain legitimacy and of ten clashed with insurgency groups; several members of the IGC were assassinated in the early stages of its rule (Bensahel et al. 2008). Inadequate assistance from the coalition also f orced the new, unstable government to rebuild its military and police f orces. The Iraqi Armed Forces were disbanded by the CPA in 2003, requiring the interim government to establish an entirely new military. Additionally, despite CPA incentives to improve the Iraqi police and enlarge the f orce, “looting, kidnappings, and armed robbery continued to plague the city [of Baghdad]” (Bensahel et al. 2008, 125). When the CPA was dissolved in mid-2004, the Iraqi government was still signif icantly unstable, and the state descended into a f ull-scale civil war that has yet to see an end. The American military’s continuous occupation of Iraq, though successful in their goal of expelling Saddam Hussein and his regime, ultimately damaged the political integrity of the state. This interf erence violated the sovereignty of an independent nation and permanently disrupted Iraqi politics. The resulting instability eliminated security and other governmental protections f or citizens. Additionally, disruptive practices such as looting and arson became increasingly common, further threatening the saf ety of the civilian population. Finally, the sudden removal of government effectively f orced Iraqi citizens to rebuild it themselves. Though the UN coalition established a provisional government, the Iraqi people were largely responsible f or maintaining and supporting the new regime. The United States’ invasion and occupation of Iraq led to lasting damage and effects that are still evident today.

Economic instability In the middle to late 20th century, experts held high expectations f or Iraq’s economy; the discovery of vast oil reserves held the potential f or the development of a booming oil industry. The oil crises in 1973 and 1979, respectively, also assisted in the growth of the Iraqi economy. Iraqi oil export revenue peaked at $55.3 billion in 1980, more than ten times the revenue collected in 1972 (EIA 2006). In more recent history, however, the Iraqi economy has experienced great f luctuations, primarily due to the occurrence of many dif ferent violent conf licts in the region. Since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, the Iraqi economy has remained inconsistent, and the UN coalition’s militarized intervention in 2003 has contributed to its unpredictable nature.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU In its pursuit of establishing an interim government, the CPA was also given some authority to manage the Iraqi economy. However, the involvement of different government entities and several private corporations led to a severe misappropriation of f unds. The CPA disbursed over $20 billion of Iraqi oil revenue directly to American corporations, and poor government oversight of CPA activities and third-party contracts is mostly to blame (Whyte 2007). This corruption persisted throughout almost the entirety of the coalition’s occupation, mostly during the time when the CPA did not possess a designated internal auditor. When the position of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction was f inally established, 11 months af ter the creation of the CPA, it “had only a matter of weeks before the CPA was dissolved to complete its f irst report” (Whyte 2007, 185). The billions of dollars that were awarded to private American business instead of the Iraqi government contributed to the economic downfall that plagued Iraq in the af termath of the war. Both during and af ter the war, Iraqi civilians struggled to maintain individual f inancial stability, largely in part to a major economic recession that struck the nation. Jobs and resources were scarce for citizens; unemployment rates rose to near -record levels in the early stages of the interim government (Bensahel et al. 2008). The Of f ice f or Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, established in January of 2003, made little progress in assisting the economic recovery of the region or creating jobs. The lack of security, a consequence of the political unrest that af f ected the region, was a major contributing f actor to the slow progress of economic stimulation (Bensahel et al. 2008). Even af ter the dissolution of the CPA, the Iraqi economy would not experience signif icant growth until the withdrawal of the American military. Af ter the f irst Persian Gulf War (1990-91), Iraq experienced rapid rates of inf lation. In 1994, inf lation was up 497 percent, and these rates remained high well into the late 1990s (Bensahel et al. 2008). Similar ef fects resulted from the UN coalition’s invasion and occupation. During the war, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) f ell into disorder and even shut down af ter being f requently targeted by looters. In attempt to combat rising rates of inf lation, the CPA f ocused on restoring and strengthening the CBI. Though the CPA was successful in rebuilding the integrity of the CBI, it did little to deter inf lation rates, which spiked again in 2006 (Bensahel et al. 2008). Additionally, the CBI did not assist in alleviating high unemployment rates, which was arguably Iraq’s biggest economic stressor for the civilian population. The UN coalition’s invasion of Iraq led to a myriad of economic consequences, and as a result, the Iraqi people suf fered greatly, particularly the wor king class. A major economic recession occurred soon after the war; unemployment rates surged, and inf lation increased rapidly. The CPA’s usurpation of the oil industry led to billions of dollars being removed f rom the Iraqi economy. The United States’ occupation of Iraq contributed to the creation of a volatile and unpredictable state f or the Iraqi economy. Even af ter the installation of a new government, the economy remained unstable and has only recently begun to recover.


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Increased violence The f ormer president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was notorious f or his lust f or political power and wealth. As a result, his state f requently engaged in violent conf lict throughout his tyrannical reign. One of the main purposes of the UN coalition’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 was to remove Saddam f rom power, which in turn was expected to quell the consistent violence in the region. This invasion, however, led to increased levels of violence as compared to levels prior to the invasion. The civilian population suf fered most f rom this consequence; a large portion of civilian casualties during the war have been attributed to American military f orces (Kahl 2007). Additionally, the persistent lack of political stability has allowed f or the violence to ensue af ter the war was formally ended and continues to af fect the civilian populations of Iraq. When Saddam Hussein held power in Iraq, minority groups were often targeted by his regime, particularly the Shiite Muslims and Kurds. Many Shiites were sympathetic to Iran, one of Iraq’s biggest adversaries, and many Kurds f ought f or an independent Kurdistan. Saddam’s army even used chemical weapons against the Kurdish population during the Iran-Iraq War. However, after Saddam was driven out of Baghdad, Sunni Muslims were targeted by coalition f orces, often facing discrimination and experiencing higher levels of violence than other Iraqis (Hagan and Hanson 2016). Though Sunni Muslims comprise the majority of the population in Iraq, they were severely underrepresented in the interim government. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Sunnis were displaced from Baghdad neighborhoods, and some experts cite this, along with the disproportionate number of Sunni deaths, as evidence of ethnic cleansing prompted by U.S. f orces and Shiite militias (Hagan and Hanson 2016). Sunnis were also subjected to rates of mass incarceration, poor conditions, and even torture. Hagan and Hanson (2016) also argue that the “Sunni as a group were disproportionately subjected to U.S.-led strategies and policies of mass incapacitation associated with crimes of torture in Iraq” (1). The f avorable treatment that the minority Shiites received f rom the coalition came at the expense of the lives of the majority Sunnis. The Sunnis were not the only group to be af f ected by the violence of the war; the entirety of the civilian population experienced greater rates of violence. The average mortality rates f or civilians were higher in the duration of the war; f rom 2003 to 2011, the mortality rate f or surveyed households had increased 50 percent since before the start of the war, resulting in more than 405,000 excess deaths (Hagopian et al. 2013). From the pre-war period up until the peak of the war in 2006, “the risk of death rose 0.7 times higher f or women and 2.9 times higher f or men,” and “more than 60% of excess deaths were directly attributable to violence” (1). Though the number of civilian deaths that occurred in Iraq during the coalition’s occupation is still widely debated, some experts believe the toll to be as high as 500,000. The increased violence that led to the high death toll and increased mortality rates has been attributed to all the groups involved in the war: coalition f orces, Saddam’s Republican Guard, and insurgents.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Although civilian deaths have been attributed to all parties involved in the Iraq War, the United States has been credited with a signif icant portion of those deaths. Despite practicing inf ormed targeting and establishing “no-strike” zones, substantial collateral damage still occurred. During the war, there were several instances where U.S. f orces pursued high-value targets and f ailed to eliminate the individual, instead inf licting a high number of civilian casualties (Kahl 2007). Artillery strikes were also credited with killing and wounding civilians, and unexploded ordnance continued to claim lives even af ter the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Ineffective planning and unclear rules of engagement have been credited with the signif icant collateral damage that transpired throughout the conf lict. Despite the UN’s commitment to protecting noncombatants, the civilian population of Iraq was still dragged into the war. Many innocent lives were unnecessarily claimed by the violence. The American military, during its occupation of the state, lacked the precision that it claims to value; there were numerous instances of civilians murdered by American troops. Throughout the war, civilians experienced higher mortality rates, higher rates of violence, and many were f orced to leave their homes in order to seek saf er conditions. The effects of the invasion and occupation not only damaged the sense of security, but the relationship between the United States and Iraq as well.

Interference in domestic life Not all of the ef fects of the Iraq War could be quantitatively measured, and because of this, some effects were not initially evident. Many of the consequences that only recently became apparent affected civilians in their personal, everyday lives. The war interfered in the domestic aspects of civilian lif e, and of ten changed them f or worse. For many, the idea of domestic lif e has been permanently altered; some civilians may have only known war f or the entire duration of their lif etime thus f ar. Like many of the other effects of the war, these effects have not signif icantly improved since the war’s end. The coalition’s invasion and occupation disregarded the rich variety of culture and historical dif ferences within the populations of Iraqi society. As a result, those who lived through the war have been subjected to a range of disrupting effects. The Iraq War took a toll on most civilians; the violence instilled f ear in many and interrupted daily routines, especially those living in major cities. The rising insurgency in response to continued f oreign occupation further contributed to this; it also removed a sense of security f or the population. Members of the Iraqi military and police were of ten targeted by insurgents, as well as government officials (Allawi 2007). These f requent assassinations created a widespread f eeling of uneasiness and anxiety within the civilian populations. Insurgent groups actively worked to intimidate civilians and deter support of the coalition. Nongovernmental workers, such as teachers, were “mowed down in a horrible campaign to f righten and intimidate of ten desperate people to abandon thought of government work” (373). Many parents feared f or the safety of children, considering keeping them home f rom school. The war had massive effects on inf rastructure and basic resources as well; in 2004, electricity usage in households was limited to f our


The Lookout hours a day (Allawi 2007). These changes, brought about by the coalition’s invasion and occupation, worsened the overall quality of lif e f or Iraqi civilians. The violence that resulted f rom the war did not solely af f ect the civilian populations in a physical aspect; the mental consequences of the violence, particularly of bombing attacks, were severe. Bombing attacks occurred f requently throughout the war, committed by both coalition f orces and insurgency groups, and these incidents had detrimental effects f or survivors. Studies have shown that “[p]eople who are exposed to bombing are at a high risk of psychological disturbances, including cognitive and emotional disruptions or development of mental health problems” (Freh, Dallos, and Chung 2013, 274). The mental health of many Iraqi civilians was negatively affected; an estimated one in three Iraqis will suf fer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in their lif etime (Freh et al. 2013). The psychological distress resulting f rom exposure to bombing attacks negatively affects an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing as well as interpersonal relationships. In turn, these implications negatively affect the everyday lives of those afflicted by the war. Though many groups experienced negative effects f rom the war, Iraqi women f aced a unique set of challenges. The political leaders f avored by the United States government to manage the new interim government, through their attempt to restructure gender relations to their advantage, worsened women’s political and socioeconomic status in society. Many Iraqi women found the overinvolvement of the United States to be problematic; additionally, many f elt the Western agenda was hypocritical and even patronizing (Banwell 2015). The war had several disparaging economic effects on women as well. In order to maintain f inancial security, many widows and f emale headsof -household were forced to pursue prostitution. Some women were not given the luxury of choice, instead they were “trafficked f or sexual slavery by profit-seeking criminal networks” (717). Gender relations, though strained prior to the outbreak of the war, were damaged f urther by the coalition’s invasion and occupation. When war erupts within a society, it brings serious consequences. The Iraq War disrupted everyday lif e f or many civilians, and these negative changes contributed to lower quality of lif e. From reinforced marginalization of minority groups to increased instances of psychological trauma, it is evident that the war damaged the normal way of lif e f or many. With conf lict continuing to endure in the state, it is unclear if these ef fects will resolve in the near f uture. The American invasion and successive occupation amplif ied the previous complications of the region and destroyed any progress that may have been made in overcoming those issues.

Conclusion The events that f ollowed the United Nations coalition’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 drastically transformed the state and its populace. A variety of consequences resulted f rom the near decade-long conflict, and these consequences continue to affect the Iraqi government and its citizens today. From unstable political regimes to lack of security,


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU the civilian populations of Iraq were overall negatively impacted by the intervention and occupation conducted by the United States and its allied f orces. The long and tumultuous conf lict permanently damaged the stability of both the Iraqi state and the surrounding region. Political instability persisted throughout the war and continues today; a civil war is now ravaging the state. The Iraqi economy displays promising signs of recovery but is still plagued with uncertainty. Violence persists in the area, and civilians’ domestic lives are still under constant threat. Though initially successful in their plan, the United States and the United Nations coalition did not create a lasting, stable democratic regime in Iraq, and may have even prevented the state f rom achieving such an objective. 

References Allawi, Ali A. 2007. The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace. Yale University Press. Banwell, Stacy. 2015. “Globalisation masculinities, empire building and f orced prostitution: a critical analysis of the gendered impact of the neoliberal economic agenda in post-invasion/occupation Iraq.” Third World Quarterly 36 (4): 705-722. Bensahel, Nora, Oliker, Olga, Crane, Keith, Brennan, Jr., Richard R., Gregg, Heather S., et al. 2008. After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq. Rand Arroyo Center. Energy Inf ormation Administration. 2006. “OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet.” bs/OPEC_Revenues/OPEC.html (accessed April 7, 2021). Freh, Fuaad Mohammed, Dallos, Rudy, and Man Cheung Chung. 2013. “The Impact of Bombing Attacks on Civilians in Iraq.” International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling 35: 273-285. Hagan, John L. and Anna Hanson. 2016. “The Militarization of Mass Incapacitation and Torture during the Sunni Insurgency and American Occupation of Iraq.” Social Sciences 5 (4): 78. Hagopian, Amy, Flaxman, Abraham D., Takaro, Tim K., Esa Al Shatari, Sahar A., Rajaratnam, Julie, et al. 2013. “Mortality in Iraq Associated with the 2003–2011 War and Occupation: Findings f rom a National Cluster Sample Survey by the University Collaborative Iraq Mortality Study.” PLoS Medicine 10 (10): 1-10.


The Lookout Kahl, Colin H. 2007. “In the Crossfire or the Crosshairs? Norms, Civilian Casualties, and U.S. Conduct in Iraq.” International Security 32 (1): 7-46. Lammers, Cornelius J. 2014. “The American Occupation Regime in Comparative Perspective: The Case of Iraq.” Armed Forces & Society 40 (1): 49-70. O’Hanlon, Michael E. 2004. “Iraq Without a Plan.” Policy Review (128): 33-45. Whyte, Dave. 2007. “The Crimes of Neo-Liberal Rule in Occupied Iraq.” The British Journal of Criminology 47 (2): 177-195.


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Potential Benefits of Social Support in Video Games On College Student Mental Health During COVID-19 Celestial Pigart Author’s note Advisor: Matthew C. Whited Acknowledgments: I am extremely grateful to Emily Midgette, Alex Capiaghi, Ashley Grif fith, Hunter Davis, and Ashlan McNinch f or all the guidance with survey design. Thank you!

Abstract Many studies examine video games as mediators of aggression or addictive behavior, but f ew seek to understand possible associations with positive aspects of mental health. The American Psychological Association states, "Nearly one in f ive U.S. adults experience some f orm of mental illness, and one in twenty-four experience a serious mental illness" (APA 2018). College students are joining that statistic at an increasingly stressful point in their lives as culture shock, moving away f rom home, and high course loads are abundant f or several years of their early adulthood. Potential f actors of student anxiety and depression include not only academic stress, but lack of effective social support and coping strategies. This study seeks to understand both the potential positive outcomes of video games as a hobby with a f ocus on measuring online social support and coping behaviors. One-hundred and f ifty students were surveyed across introductory psychology sections at ECU where routine gaming behaviors were reported and compared against measures that assess f or depression, anxiety, social anxiety, alcohol use, social support, happiness, and perceived group inclusion. Further, the higher a participant endorsed solo gaming, the higher they scored on the Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) measure which was not f ound in cooperative gaming. The results of this survey suggest that any level of cooperative gaming increases perceived group inclusion f or college students, and that cooperative gaming may serve as a protective factor to social anxiety. Keywords: mental health, video games, social support


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

Mental Health in College Students A study by Einsenberg, Golberstein, and Hunt (2009) suggests that depression is a strong predictor of drop-out and low GPA (Einsenberg, Golberstein, Hunt 2009). With high anxiety and depression rates, maladaptive coping strategies, and a lack of ef fective social support, students may turn to drugs, f ood, or distractions such as hobbies like video games. Mental health awareness has increased over the past f ew decades; mental health is inf luential in not only how we think, f eel, and handle stress but also in the psychological, social, and emotional well-being of every individual (US Department of Health & Human Services 2019). This increase in awareness is a step in the right direction as the American Psychological Association states, "Nearly one in f ive U.S. adults experience some f orm of mental illness, and one in twenty-four experience a serious mental illness" (APA 2018). College students are joining that statistic at an increasingly stressful “Suicide is the second-leading cause point in their lives as culture shock, of death among college students, moving away f rom home, and resulting in over 1,100 lives lost academic or career stress is abundant each year” (Floyd, Mimms, & Yelding f or several years of their early 2007). adulthood. With the addition of a biopsychosocial imbalance during such a hectic schedule, the mental health and overall well-being of a college student can be jeopardized with devastating outcomes. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, resulting in over 1,100 lives lost each year (Floyd, Mimms, & Yelding 2007). Poor mental health is a condition that can impact a student's ability to seek help, lowering academic perf ormance, involvement, and the ability to self -care (Moses, Bradley, & O’Callaghan 2016). In a survey of college student mental health conducted by APA, which spanned 400 university counseling centers, the investigation f ound that 41.6% of students had anxiety and 36.4% experienced depression (Association f or University and College Counseling Center Directors 2012). Potential f actors of student anxiety and depression include not only academic stress, but lack of ef fective social support and coping strategies. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) f ound more maladaptive coping strategies in college students who belonged to a f raternity or sorority than those not in Greek organizations (CASA 2003) emphasizing the importance of effective social support, in which being surrounded by peers may not always equate to a supportive network an individual may need. Furthermore, Blanchard-Fields and colleagues (1991) report that college students, “have been f ound more likely to use maladaptive coping strategies like escape avoidance compared to other age groups" (Blanchard-Fields, Sulsky, & Robinson-Whelen 1991). Students with poor quality of lif e at home are at high risk of depression and other mental health illnesses, which can cycle into poor academic performance.


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Video gaming as a hobby According to Merriam-Webster, a video game is f ormally def ined as “an electronic game in which players control images on a video screen” (Merriam-Webster), and the word f irst appeared in 1973; however, video games as a whole have diversified into a multitude of genres and play styles since its humble beginnings in Pong (Chodos & Tretkoff 2008). Genres vary signif icantly and video games can be categorized in dif f erent ways. For example, games produced by large production companies are of ten called “Triple-A titles” like Call of Duty, where smaller games like Stardew Valley, are considered “Indie” as they are made either by a small company or one person. Although hundreds of classification systems exist, the three major broad categories are online cooperative or co-op (e.g., Portal), online competitive (e.g., Overwatch), and single player of fline (e.g., Skyrim). It is also important to note two major distinctive modes in online gameplay, which sometimes exist within the same game: "Player vs Player" (PvP), which is ref erred to f or competitive play, and "Player vs Environment" (PvE), which is ref erred to f or f ighting computer-generated enemies (Bartle 2003). An important commonality between both PvP and PvE is the ability f or a game to provide a cooperatively multiplayer experience, where individuals work together towards a common goal; players may cooperatively f ight against both computer-generated units and/or other enemy players. Overall, no of ficial or systematic standardization of game categories exists, and this is a signif icant setback f or research in the f ield as new categories emerge for video games every year. Despite changes in nomenclature, core f eatures of video games include the degree to which a player has social interaction (playing either by themselves, locally with others, or online with others) and the method by which they choose to interact (cooperatively or competitively: one-on-one or as part of a team, against other players, or against artificial intelligence [AI] enemy units). Playing video games has become more mainstream over the past f ew years, and it is necessary to understand who, specifically, is a subject to studies involving mental health and video games. The term “gamer” is an evolving term as video gaming has become a mainstream hobby and is applied to any individual who plays digital games as a leisure or prof essional activity (Shaw 2012). There are of ten unspoken levels of intensity of ten associated with each game genre and thus, a f ew variations of the term “gamer” which vary f rom “casual” to “hardcore”. In World of Warcraft, the intensity or “level” of a player was associated with how many hours they routinely spent in the game. The level of game can sometimes be determined by dif ficulty to completion, and if the game itself is overall happy or dark in theme (Juul 2010). A great example of a dark theme classif ied as “hardcore” is the Dark Souls series, in which solo players f ight grotesque medieval-inspired monstrosities, whereas a relevant example of a happy theme that may be classif ied as “casual” is the Animal Crossing series in which a solo player builds and decorates a house while bef riending several anthropomorphized animal neighbors that resemble stuffed animals. Video games have entered most common households, with 57.45% of the respondents self-identified as gamers in a survey across f ive northeastern universities (Stone 2019). This suggests that there is a growing number of


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU college students who play video games and that playing video games is viewed positively by the general public.

Video games and aggression Contrary to the increasingly positive perspective of the general public on v ideo games, many studies in academia f ocus exclusively on the graphical depictions of violence and aggression while f ailing to understand the complexity of types of gameplay or the potential f or creating positive social support networks through gaming. A systematic review on violent video games and aggression (Griffiths 1999) examined the research methodologies of such studies which included observation of f ree play, self -report methods, and experimental research to conclude that “Studies only include possible short-term measures of aggressive consequences” and the majority of the studies are perf ormed with young children opposed to teens or emerging adults. Not much headway has been made since the start of the century when this study was perf ormed, although Doom has been re-released f or the umpteenth time (a game of research debate long past). In terms of recent research, a randomized control trial by Valadez & Ferguson in 2012 sought to handle conf ounding variables of previous paramount studies, by randomly assigning one hundred participants to six dif f erent conditions based on varying levels of duration of playtime and genre. The genre was divided into violent gameplay, non-violent gameplay, and non-violent gameplay in an otherwise violent game and duration of gameplay was sorted by f ifteen or f orty-five-minute duration sessions (Valadez & Ferguson 2012). The effect sizes were insignif icant, suggesting that violence in video games has no statistical inf luence when the study is a randomized control trial. More than just violent video games exist and there are many subgenres with signif icant positive mental health potential even in their def ault commercial f orm.

Video games and mental health research Video games have been explored as vehicles f or behavioral treatment therapies f or both mental health and physical activity. Colder and colleagues (2018a) created a national study on veterans recruited f rom VA clinics who were considered habitual gamers (7 hours or more game time per week) which, through interviews, f ound adaptive coping, well-being, and socializing online in-game environments beneficial f or veteran mental health (Colder et al 2018a). This study is not without its caveats, as its operational def inition of video games is rather broad by including mobile video games, or electronic games which are played on a smartphone or tablet, and its sample size is small with only twenty veteran participants. Despite these downsides, the interview qualitative style approach is a novel methodology in the existing body of research. In the same year, Colder and other colleagues compiled a “call-to-research” review article outlining several key research studies about commercial video games as vehicles f or mental health therapy because "Emerging research suggests that commercial, off -the-shelf video games have potential applications in preventive and therapeutic medicine. Despite these promising f indings, systematic efforts to characterize and better understand this potential have not been undertaken" (Colder et al 2018b). Video games already pre-


The Lookout exist in the homes of most Americans, offering new avenues of accessibility to resources f or homebound or populations where traditional therapy may not be an option. Other studies maintain a neutral perspective on the argument, such as “Sleep qua lity and video game playing: Ef fect of intensity of video game playing and mental health” by Altintas, Karaca, Hullaert, & Tassi (2019) which consisted of 217 emerging adult participants that sought to investigate how video games have an inf luence on sleep quality which could impact mental health through cluster analysis looking at both sleep quality, medical outcomes, video game play per week, and intensity of video game play where results were sorted into either “high quality sleep prof ile” f or 132 partic ipants and “low quality sleep prof ile” f or 85 participants. Individuals with a “low quality sleep prof ile” were more likely to have a long sleep latency, bigger sleep disturbances, worse subjective sleep quality, and use sleep-aid medication more f requently than those in the “high quality sleep prof ile” as well as reported higher intensity and duration of game play with more poor mental health than the “high quality” prof ile, despite no dif ference in groups f or daytime f unctioning or the duration of sleep. These two resulting groups showed dif ferent associations f or duration and intensity of video games played for each week, and subsequent sleep impairment associated with mental health impairment. Although this study sought to explore the hypothesis that game intensity impacts sleep which impacts mental health, bidirectionality exists as authors also mention that good mental health is a predictor of a higher sleep prof ile despite game intensity. This study teases apart the nuances which plague the current research because it suggests that duration of gaming is not a predictor of poor sleep and mental health, rather the cognitive investment and intensity of the game is the determining f actor. Many studies are quick to point a proverbial f inger at video games as a whole, and research that delves deeper into what it is about a particular video game genre, type, intensity, etc. that mediates adaptive and maladaptive outcomes f or mental health is scarce.

Commercial video games and involvement in goal setting Research pertaining to goals within video games is predominantly within the serious (e.g., Duolingo) and exergame (e.g., Wii Fit) fields and is nonexistent f or commercially available video games where it is arguably more prominent. Within a commercial video game, a strong motivational f actor to explore or advance in the game is through an achievement system or a series of progression modules that of ten include achievements and goal setting. This includes but is not limited to leveling up a character, questing to explore a storyline or location, skill tiers or talent trees (e.g., leveling skills of the player's choice in Skyrim), competitive ranking (e.g., online competitive play in Call of Duty), and or customization unlocks (e.g., such as cool hats in Team Fortress 2). These methods of goal setting of ten have one thing in common: once obtained, a player has something that they can show of f to other players; whether that is something they could wear or a badge on their prof ile to display their rank. In the same breath, many of these achievements often encourage players to group together in order to progress or obtain that novel badge or item of honor, opening up additional goals within the game to pursue.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

Commercial video games and time investment Goal setting and the ef fect necessary to achieve those milestones may have additional social benef its, as individuals may trade time and energy invested into an online game f or a perceived inclusiveness and acceptance within a high-level community of the game. A study sought to investigate this phenomenon which has previously been labeled as "addictive" play and f ound that these players with high-time investments in an online game experienced the highest psychosocial benefits from that online community whereas casual players f elt lonelier (Snodgrass et al 2018). This stance on high-time investment is only a recent development, and it is more commonly understood that moderation of game-time is the most physically and mentally benef icial. Longman, Connor, and Obst report that MMORPGs played for social purposes experienced benefits such as low scores f or anxiety, depression, and stress compared to those who sunk more time into an MMORPG or played f or achievement purposes (Longman, Connor, and Obst 2009). This distinction is important to consider when reviewing studies that base judgment on the quantity of time invested into a game because the overall motivation f or the player can affect f or their mental health. Further, cooperatively multiplayer genres create a means of potential social interaction and adding a higher time investment, just as in Snodgrass and colleagues’ (2018) study, increases the potential psychological benefit. A gap in the research exists in exploring the mental health impact of not only the amount of time one plays a video game, but the inf luence of game genre, the degree of cooperation, and the motivation f or playing.

Commercial video games as a vehicle for social support Online video games are currently the hottest genre of video games, and online versus of fline social support groups is an even hotter topic of debate. The majority of the research regarding commercial video games as a vehicle f or social support presumes a lesser effect of social video games and only mentions a social displacement hypothesis where online social circles are viewed as a negative alternative to of fline, or in-person, peer support (Nie 2001). From the perspective that internet activity is a highway to isolation, Nie notes that individuals who dedicate internet time must take that time f rom some other activity that is assumed to be social (and benef icial) in nature (Nie 2001). Conversely, time diary studies suggest that time dedicated to online activity is not removed f rom f riends and f amily; rather time with other media (e.g., TV), hygiene, and time spent at work (Kestnbaum, Robinson, Neustadtl, & Alvarez, 2002). A concern of Nie’s research is that it excludes the idea of the internet serving as a medium of socialization and ignores any compensatory nature of online social interaction, especially among those who play cooperatively multiplayer, where a group of gamers work together towards a common goal. Furthermore, longitudinal analysis between gaming and non-gaming social support among a representative sample of online players f ound that online video games are not connected to perceived social support either longitudinally or cross-sectionally (Domahidi et al 2018). Players may either not f eel lonely with online f riend groups as opposed to offline groups, or individuals may not f eel that online f riend groups are less substantial than of fline groups. It is important to note


The Lookout that how an individual may f orm an online support group within a video game varies dramatically on the basis of the game genre, e.g., World of Warcraft can have "guilds" of hundreds of players working together whereas a Mario Kart game can have eight players all competing against each other (Williams 2006). Likewise, many games can have multiple "modes" of play creating a gray area in research that is dif f icult to study ; f or example, Halo has a campaign that is of fline but can be played with multiple people on one TV or "local co-op", as well as a mode that lets teams of f ive compete to capture f lags in online gameplay or "online competitive" (Morris 2004). Regardless, these distinctions are valuable as the variations in game modes are inf luential of how players interact with other players and derive social support which may impact their mental health.

The current study This study seeks to understand the outcomes of commercial video games on mental health with a f ocus on measuring online social support and coping behaviors. Many studies examine video games as mediators of aggression or addictive behavior, but f ew seek to understand possible associations with positive aspects of mental health. Aim 1 - Vehicle for social support The f irst aim of this study is to determine if individuals who spend more of their overall game time in cooperative gaming (participants rated their percentage of cooperative gaming to total hours typically spent gaming in either a 0-15%, 16-40%, 41-60%, 6185%, or 86-100% category), who play in a group with others towards a common goal, present with higher scores in social measures. Hypothesis I states that those who endorsed cooperative gaming present lower scores on social anxiety (SPIN). Hypothesis II states that those who endorsed cooperative present with better scores on positive social support (OSSS). Hypothesis III, states that those who endorsed cooperative gaming. present with higher scores on an inclusivity and acceptance scale (PGIS).

Aim 2 – mental health, game modes and genres The second aim of this study is to determine if individuals that endorsed cooperative gaming (in the 16-40%, 41-60%, 61-85%, or 86-100% category) demonstrate better mental health. Mental health scales were chosen based on widespread use within the f ield and with good internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. > 0.75). Detailed descriptions of each measure’s validation are available in the next section. Hypothesis IV states that those who endorsed cooperative gaming demonstrate lower scores on measures of depression, social anxiety, and anxiety (PHQ-9, GAD7, BADS-SF). Hypothesis V states that those who endorsed cooperative gaming demonstrate lower scores on alcohol substance use (CAPS-r).


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

Measures and questionnaires Gaming Questionnaire Individual items were also developed to assess what genres individuals preferred to play, whether they participated in PvP or PvE more, as well as if they pref erred one -onone or team f ight online interactions, or offline environments. Additionally, amount of time played on a weekly basis f or each preferred genre was also assessed by game type, cooperative play or single player, and individuals reported what time category they reported; either 0-15%, 16-40%, 41-60%, 61-85%, or 86-100%. It is important to note that these are categorical variables with numerical names, were not treated as continuous variables, and were not mutually exclusive within the sample. This scale was applied to players who endorsed single player use as well as cooperative multiplayer use. Demographics Participants were asked to provide basic demographic data, including age, gender, f amily income, and race/ethnicity. Patient Health Questonnaire-9 (PHQ-9) The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) is a nine-item self -report assessment examining the f requency of depression-related symptoms in the span of the past two weeks. The items exist on a f our-point scale where zero represents “not at all” and a score of three represents “nearly every day.” The higher total score of all the items suggests that an individual experiences more depression-related symptoms. The PHQ-9 demonstrates test-retest reliability (r = 0.84) and internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. = 0.89) to support its use as an ef f ective measurement tool (Kroenke, Spitzer, & Williams, 2001). Online Social Support Scale (OSSS) The Online Social Support Scale (OSSS) is a 40-item questionnaire which assesses the pillars of in-person social support—esteem/emotional, social companionship, inf ormation, and instrumental support—within an online setting. Ten items are dedicated to each pillar, with an additional ten social media items (e.g., “people respond to something I’ve posted online”) and eight gaming items (“Other players give me items, or f orge or craft items f or me during gameplay”) all graded on a f ive point-Likert scale f rom 0 meaning “never” to 4 meaning “a lot”. This scale demonstrates internal consistency across each of its f our subscales: esteem/emotional support (Cronbach’s a. = .95), social companionship (Cronbach’s a. = .94), inf ormational support (Cronbach’s a. = .95), and instrumental support (Cronbach’s a. = .95), demonstrating its ef ficacy as an ef fective measurement tool (Nick et al 2018). General Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD7) The General Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD7) is a brief questionnaire often used in healthcare settings as a screening f or common anxiety disorders and the degree of severity, if any, over the past two weeks. Items are rated on a f our -point scale f rom 0


The Lookout meaning “not at all” to 4 meaning “nearly every day”, with mild symptoms f rom an overall score of 5-9, moderate symptoms at 10-14, and severe symptoms f or 15 or more. This scale demonstrates internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. = .89) supporting its use as a reliable measurement tool (Zhong et al 2009). Behavioral Activation for Depression (BADS-SF) The Behavioral Activation f or Depression Scale Short Form (BADS-SF) is an abbreviated scale which measures avoidance and activation f or those experiencing depressive symptoms during the previous seven days. The scale considers changes in behavior regarding activation, avoidance/rumination, work/school impairment, and social impairment. The scale consists of 9-items rated on a 7-point Likert scale of 0 meaning “not at all” to 6 meaning “completely”. This scale demonstrates internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. = .819) supporting its use as a reliable measurement tool (Manos et al 2011). College Alcohol Problem Scale—revised (CAPS-r) The College Alcohol Problem Scale-revised (CAPS-r) is an abbreviated scale of original 20-item CAPS scale developed to assess alcohol-related problems in undergraduate students. The revised scale consists of 8-items with two subscales dichotomized to either personal problems (e.g., “felt bad about myself”) or social problems (e.g., “drove under the inf luence”) graded on a 5-point scale f rom 0 meaning “never” to 5 meaning “ten or more times”. This abbreviated scale demonstrates acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. = .76) supporting its use as a reliable measurement tool (Talbott et al 2008). Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) The Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) is a scale measuring social anxiety disorder and its severity. The SPIN scale uses a 17-item statement questionnaire (e.g., “I am af raid of people in authority” and “I avoid talking to people I don’t know”) scored on a 5-point Likert scale f rom 0 meaning “not at all” to 4 meaning “extremely” with an overall score of 19 dichotomizing those with symptoms of social phobia f rom those without. This scale demonstrates internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. = .92) and good test-retest reliability (r = .86) supporting its use as a reliable measurement tool (Antony et al 2006). Perceived Group Inclusion Scale (PGIS) The Perceived Group Inclusion Scale (PGIS) is a scale which measures perceptions of inclusion f rom perceptions of belonging and authenticity rather than the optimal distinctiveness or self -determination theory. PGIS is a 16-item questionnaire with subscales assessing perception of group membership, group affection, room f or authenticity, and value in authenticity. Each item was ranked on a 5-point Likert Scale f rom 1 meaning “strongly agree” to 5 meaning “strongly disagree”. The PGIS scale is a reliable measure of inclusion as a result of total reliability score (Cronbach’s a. >.96) and predictive validity, as well as its invariance between men and women, students, or employee populations, and f or cultural minority and majority populations.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) The Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) is a measurement designed to assess global subjective happiness of a research participant. This short f orm includes a self assessment of happiness, a rating in relation to peers, and two generalized statements, one positive and one negative, in which the participant is asked to rate how much it describes them. This scale uses a 7-point scale f rom 1 meaning “not at all” to 7 meaning “a great deal”. The SHS scale demonstrates reasonable internal consistency (Cronbach’s a. = .86) supporting its use as a measurement tool (Lyubomirsky & Lepper 1999).

Results Game play style was “solo gaming” and “cooperative (co-op) gaming”, and amount of time spent in each category was reported in f ive levels f or analysis: 0-15%, 16-40%, 41-60%, 61-85%, or 86-100%. A subset of individuals identif ied as Hispanic (12%; N=18). Only 37.33% of participants were in a relationship (N=56) and the sample was predominately f emale (54.67%; N=82). The sample largely identif ied as gamers (76.67%; N=115). Other descriptive statistics were reported f or demographics (Table 5a-d. See Appendices f or tables.). Aim 1 A between-subjects analysis of variance was used if someone who endorsed more than 16% of cooperative gaming would present lower scores on social anxiety. The results were non-significant in cooperative gaming (Table 1). The results were also nonsignif icant in solo gaming (Table 1). It is worth noting that the SPIN measure was approaching an alpha of 0.05 (Table 1), suggesting a potential Type II error. A between-subjects analysis of variance was used to determine if those who endorsed more than 16% of cooperative gaming had reported greater scores on social support. The results were non-significant for the OSSS measure for solo gaming. The results were also non-signif icant f or cooperative gaming; however, signif icance was f ound f or the PGIS and its two subscales on belonging and authenticity in cooperative gaming only. Perceived group inclusion scores were substantially higher among individuals who endorsed the 16-40%, 41-60%, 61-85%, and 86-100% category in cooperative gaming compared to individuals who reported only “0-15% of time spent in cooperative gaming”; this f inding is also replicated within the belonging subscale. The subscale f or authenticity suggests that scores f or authenticity were signif icantly higher among individuals who f ell into the “86-100” and “16-40%” categories compared to those who f ell into the “0-15%” category. All other associations were non-significant for cooperative gaming. All other associations were non-significant f or solo gaming. Correlations were performed, which revealed that the higher a participant endorsed solo gaming, the higher they scored on the SPIN social anxiety measure (Table 4). Furthermore, the higher any individual scored f or social anxiety, the lower they scored on perceived group inclusion within a video game f riend group (Table 4).


The Lookout Aim 2 The second aim of this study is to determine if individuals that endorsed cooperative gaming (playing in a group with others and working towards a common goal) demonstrate better mental health. A between-subjects analysis of variance was used to determine if those who endorsed cooperative gaming present lower scores on measures of depression, social anxiety, and anxiety (PHQ-9, GAD7, BADS-SF). The results were non-signif icant f or cooperative gaming across PHQ-9, GAD7, and BADS-SF (Table 2). The results were non-significant for solo gaming across PHQ-9, GAD7, and BADS-SF (Table 2). A between-subjects analysis of variance was used to determine if those who endorsed a higher degree of solo gaming will present lower scores on alcohol substance use (CAPS r). This result was non-signif icant. A between-subjects analysis of variance was used to determine if those who endorsed a higher degree of cooperative gaming present lower scores on alcohol substance use (CAPS-r). This measure demonstrates significance with an alpha level of 0.05 f or only cooperative gaming, such that individuals in the “6085%” category of cooperative gaming scored lower on the college alcohol problems scale compared to individuals in the “16-40%” category f or cooperative gaming (Table 2). The data also suggests that as individuals endorse cooperative gaming more, the higher they score on the behavioral activation of depression scale (Table 4).

Discussion The cooperative gamer and solo gamer are of ten one in the same person, as someone can enjoy the delightf ul worlds of Mario Kart by themselves or with others. However, a gamer is a creature of practice and may lean towards friends to make games enjoyable rather than the content itself . In the context of mental health, having an online social support group through video games—especially amidst of the limited contact of COVID19—may serve as a guardrail to curb the f eeling of isolation and subsequent mental health disparities in college students. The relationship of video games and mental health is complex with many variables, two of which are social anxiety and social support. College students may use video games amidst COVID-19 as a vehicle f or social interaction. This research sought to examine how solo gaming and cooperative gaming f aired on social anxiety measures as well as social support measures aimed specifically at an online setting. The research was inconclusive with an alpha level of 0.05; more data is necessary to tease apart social anxiety in solo gaming, as well as cooperative gaming. From the inconclusive results, there is the suggestion that with a large enough sample size, Type II error rate may be reduced to reveal that more time spent solo gaming may predict higher scores on social anxiety measures. If this were the case, it may open the pathway to investigate if cooperative gaming serves as a protective f actor against social anxiety. Again, more data is needed before any substantial conclusions. The scale that asked participants to consider their online video game f riend group and rate how they f elt about this group (PGIS) f ound signif icance at an alpha level of 0.05 f or the entire


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU measure as well as both of its subscales in cooperative gaming only. The post-hoc testing discussed earlier, hints at the idea that 16% or more time reported of cooperative gaming may be beneficial to students’ concepts of acceptance and inclusiveness, which may serve as protective f actors f or their mental health amidst college. Although this study is unique in its perspective of assessing the impacts of video games on mental health by gaming style, in essence it supports the same notion f rom the national study on veterans which f ound adaptive coping, well-being, and socializing online in game environments beneficial f or [veteran] mental health (Colder et al 2018a). Working with others towards a single unif ying goal can bring a rhythm and harmony that might provide the grounds f or a bonding experience and emotional stability. Next, we examined the relationship between solo gaming and mental health scales. All measures came back inconclusive with an alpha level of 0.05; more data is necessary to tease apart mental health. This was repeated with cooperative gaming with the same inconclusive results. One noteworthy correlation for BADS-SF scale (Table 4) suggests a potential Type II error where signif icance may be f ound at the population level with replication and more data. The last mental health variable examined involved substance use of specifically alcohol. This substance was chosen given the population of college students, and the introduction of drinking around college campuses as individuals become legally able to consume alcoholic beverages. This measure demonstrates significance with an alpha level of 0.05 f or only cooperative gaming, such that individuals in the “60-85%” category of cooperative gaming scored lower on the college alcohol problems scale compared to individuals in the “16-40%” category for cooperative gaming. This may suggest that those who more highly endorse cooperative gaming, are at lower risk f or developing alcohol use complications; whether this is a result of the social network that exists within cooperative gaming or if it is the result of the game itself , is to be determined. Several limitations were present in this study. A restricted sample size due to COVID-19 time constraints meant survey participation was highly limited, and more signif icance may have been located within variables that demonstrated a medium to strong effect size yet an inconclusive p-value, suggesting hypothesis imprecision and potential Type II errors. This may be in part to analysis methods, where categorization of variables f or analysis of variance resulted in the loss of signif icance through estimation bias. In the f uture, this can be remedied with linear regression models using a continuous measure of time spent in solo gaming versus cooperative gaming. Interpretation is f urther limited in that the demographics of the sample call into question how representative it is of the sample; notably the f emale majority in sample of an otherwise male-dominated hobby population. Another limitation that presented itself was the f ormatting of the survey itself , such that the online support measure (OSSS) in its def ault f orm does not measure explicitly social support f ound in gaming, but rather anywhere online, including social media. Results f or OSSS emotional support subscale may be skewed if participants considered “online” beyond the context of video games. Due to sample size limitations, validity checks were generated but unaccounted f or within analysis in trade of saving


The Lookout some statistical power. A potential limitation is a non-representative sample of the population, such that individuals in an introductory psychology course may or may not be as invested in video games in general compared to a survey administered directly to a video game community—on that same note, the entertainment system used by each participant went unaccounted f or, so f lash games on social media could count f or video games in one participants’ mind whereas only something on a computer or a console may f it the def inition f or another individual. In on-going replication of this study, the limitations which were the result of study design have been remedied. Despite these limitations, this study shows potential quantif iable dif ferences in social support, social anxiety, and mental health of those who endorse cooperative gaming. This is important f rom a standpoint where physical or in-person contact is restricted— such as during a pandemic—college students can develop and maintain social support through a virtual environment that engages them to work with others towards a common goal. While this is by no means anything more than a preliminary analysis to an exploratory study, there is evidence of associations within the population that support the importance of this topic. Further research is underway to establish conclusive results.


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Appendices Table 1 Aim 1 ANOVAs on solo gaming and ANOVAs on co-op gaming against scales SPIN, OSSS, and PGIS Gameplay Solo Co-op Measure dfg dfe F p dfg dfe F p SPIN 4 94 1.98 0.11 4 97 0.18 0.95 OSSS 4 83 1.55 0.2 4 86 0.58 0.68 OSSS - emotional 4 91 1.53 0.2 4 94 1.74 0.15 OSSS - gaming 4 96 1.06 0.38 4 99 0.9 0.47 OSSS - social 4 93 1.05 0.39 4 96 1.98 0.1 OSSS - instrumental 4 94 0.81 0.52 4 97 0.24 0.91 OSSS - informational 4 91 0.78 0.54 4 94 0.69 0.6 PGIS 4 47 0.3 0.88 4 49 3.3 0.02 a PGIS belonging 4 48 0.74 0.57 4 50 3.74 0.01 a PGIS authentic 4 48 0.34 0.85 4 50 2.69 0.04 a a Significant with an alpha level of 0.05. Table 2 Aim 2 ANOVA on solo gamer and co-op gamer types against scales PHQ-9, GAD-SF, BADS, and CAPS Gameplay Solo Co-op Measure dfg dfe F p dfg dfe F p CAPS-r 4 96 1.35 0.26 4 99 2.67 0.04 a BADS 4 93 1.53 0.2 4 96 1.55 0.19 PHQ9 4 96 0.72 0.58 4 99 1.39 0.24 GAD7 4 94 1 0.41 4 97 0.36 0.84 Note. Co-op = Cooperative online multiplayer, video game type of interest; solo = single player online, video game type of interest; PHQ9 = Patient Health Questionnaire, measure of clinical depression symptoms; GAD7 = General Anxiety Disorder, measure of general anxiety disorder; BADSF = Behavioral Activation for Depression short form, measure of depression; CAPS = College Alcohol Problems Scale Revised, measure of alcohol use. a Significant with an alpha level of 0.05.


The Lookout

Table 3 Correlations of social scales PGIS, SPIN, and OSSS with OSSS subscales Game Type

OSS Subscales

1.00 .92 ** .95 ** -.32 *

1.00 .77 ** -0.26

1.00 -.27 *



1.00 0.24 0.15 .28 * 0.10


Gamer (5)

1.00 .49 ** 0.27 0.23 0.26 -0.04


Info (4)

Instrumenta l (3)

Social (2)

Emotional (1)




Co-op 1.00 Solo -.22 * 1.00 OSSS 0.11 -0.10 1.00 OSSS (1) 0.14 -0.04 .80 ** 1.00 OSSS (2) .24 * -0.07 .91 ** .75 ** 1.00 OSSS (3) -0.02 -0.06 .79 ** .57 ** .61 ** 1.00 OSSS (4) 0.12 -0.07 .89 ** .69 ** .78 ** .64 ** OSSS (5) 0.10 -0.09 .70 ** .28 ** .54 ** .41 ** PGIS 0.27 -0.05 0.12 .31 * .31 * -0.13 authentic 0.26 -0.07 0.08 0.18 0.26 -0.10 belonging 0.26 -0.04 0.15 .35 ** .30 * -0.11 SPIN -0.01 .22 * 0.01 -0.08 0.03 0.07 *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

PGIS Subscales


Note. Co-op = Cooperative online multiplayer, video game type of interest; solo = single player online, video game type of interest; PGIS = Perceived Group Inclusion Scale, how participants feel about their video game social group; OSSS = Online Social Support Scale, how participants feel generally about online social spaces; Emotional = Subscale of the OSSS looking at emotional support within online groups; Social = Subscale of the OSSS looking at social support within online groups; Instrumental = Subscale of the OSSS looking at perception of received help within online groups; Informational = Subscale of the OSSS looking at perception of received advice within online groups; Gamer = Subscale of the OSSS looking at perception of gaming support within online groups; SPIN = Social Phobia Inventory, social anxiety measure; Authentic = Subscale of SPIN, perception of inclusivity and ability to be authentic self within online video game group; Belonging = Subscale of SPIN, perception of acceptance and belonging within online video game group.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

Table 4 Correlations of mental health measures Game Type Co-op Solo PGIS OSSS SPIN Co-op 1.00 Solo -.22* 1.00 PGIS 0.27 -0.05 1.00 OSSS 0.11 -0.10 0.12 1.00 SPIN -0.01 .22* -.32* 0.01 1.00 PHQ9 0.13 0.01 0.00 0.06 .64** GAD7 0.01 0.05 -0.04 -0.04 .71** * ** BADSF .24 0.07 .54 0.08 0.00 CAPS -0.15 0.12 -0.05 -0.05 .50** *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).


1.00 .826** 0.11 .45**

Mental Health Scales GAD7 BADSF

1.00 0.11 .52**

1.00 0.07



Note. Co-op = Cooperative online multiplayer, video game type of interest; solo = single player online, video game type of interest; PGIS = Perceived Group Inclusion Scale, how participants feel about their video game social group; OSSS = Online Social Support Scale, how participants feel generally about online social spaces; SPIN = Social Phobia Inventory, social anxiety measure; PHQ9 = Patient Health Questionnaire, measure of clinical depression symptoms; GAD7 = General Anxiety Disorder, measure of general anxiety disorder; BADSF = Behavioral Activation for Depression short form, measure of depression; CAPS = College Alcohol Problems Scale revised, measure of alcohol use.


Table 5a Participants by how difficult it was for bills to be paid in childhood Not Difficult Somewhat Very Participants 79 56 8 Percent 53.02 37.58 5.37

Extremely 6 4.03

Table 5b Sample by race Race Black Participants 21 Percent 14.19


White Asian Native American 110 3 2 74.32 2.03 1.35

Native Hawaiian Multi-Ethnic Other 0 8 4 0.00 5.41 2.70

The Lookout Table 5c Participants sorted by how many hours per week they dedicate to video games Hours per week Video game Time 1-3 4-10 11-20 21-30 115 35 14 11 Participants 41.74 33.04 12.17 9.56 Percent

31-50 3 2.61

Table 5d Participants with relevant continuous demographic measures: Age, Semesters, GPA Mean SD Median Min Max Range Skew Kurtosis Age 18.49 .95 18 18 25 7 3.25 15.2 Semesters 1.26 0.75 1 1 5 5 2.26 5.52 GPA 3.08 .92 3.3 1 4 4 -.22 4.68

50+ 1 0.87

SE .08 0.06 0.08

References Altintas, E., Karaca, Y., Hullaert, T., & Tassi, P. (2019). Sleep quality and video game playing: Ef f ect of intensity of video game playing and mental health. Psychiatry Research, 273, 487-492. American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) American Psychiatric Association. (2018). What is mental illness? Washington DC: Ranna Parekh MD. Antony, M. M., Coons, M. J., McCabe, R. E., Ashbaugh, A., & Swinson, R. P. (2006). Psychometric properties of the social phobia inventory: Further evaluation. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(8), 1177-1185. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2005.08.013 Association f or University and College Counseling Center Directors. (2012). Association f or University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey. American Psychological Association. Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 407. ISBN 0-13101816-7. "Player(s) Versus Player(s) (PvP). Players are opposed by other players in a game. In a combat situation, this means PCs can f ight each other." Blanchard-Fields, F., Sulsky, L., & Robinson-Whelen, S. (1991). Moderating effects of age and context on the relationship between gender, sex role differences, and coping. Sex Roles, 25(11-12), 645-660. Casual. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2020, f rom


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Chodos, A & Tretkoff, E. (2008, October). October 1958: Physicist Invents First Video Game. APS Physics, retrieved f rom Colder Carras, M., Kalbarczyk, A., Wells, K., Banks, J., Kowert, R., Gillespie, C. C., & Latkin, C. (2018a). Connection, meaning, and distraction: A qualitative study of video game play and mental health recovery in veterans treated for mental and/or behavioral health problems. Social Science & Medicine, 216, 124-132. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.08.044 Colder Carras, M., Van Rooij, A. J., Spruijt-Metz, D., Kvedar, J., Griffiths, M. D., Carabas, Y., & Labrique, A. (2018b). Commercial video games as therapy: a new research agenda to unlock the potential of a global pastime. Frontiers in psychiatry, 8, 300. Domahidi, E., Breuer, J., Kowert, R., Festl, R., Quandt, T., & Quandt, T. (2018). A longitudinal analysis of gaming- and non-gaming-related f riendships and social support among social online game players. Media Psychology, 21(2), 288-307. doi:10.1080/15213269.2016.1257393 Ezzati, A., Jiang, J., Katz, M. J., Sliwinski, M. J., Zimmerman, M. E., & Lipton, R. B. (2014). Validation of the perceived stress scale in a community sample of older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 29(6), 645-652. doi:10.1002/gps.4049 Floyd, P. A., Mimms, S. E., & Yelding, C. (2007). Personal health: perspectives and lif estyles. Nelson Education. Grif fiths, M. (1999). Violent video games and aggression: A review of the literature. Aggression and violent behavior, 4(2), 203-212. Hardcore. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2020 f rom Juul, J (2010). A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players. Cambridge, MA: The MIT press. Kaptsis, D., King, D. L., Delf abbro, P. H., & Gradisar, M. (2016). Withdrawal symptoms in Internet gaming disorder: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 43, 58-66. Kestnbaum, M., Robinson, J. P., Neustadtl, A., & Alvarez, A. (2002). Inf ormation technology and social time displacement. IT & Society, 1(1), 21–37. Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. W. (2001). The PHQ-9. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 16(9), 606–613.


The Lookout Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social Indicators Research, 46(2), 137-155. doi:10.1023/A:1006824100041 Manos, R. C., Kanter, J. W., & Luo, W. (2011). The behavioral activation for depression scale–short form: development and validation. Behavior therapy, 42(4), 726739. Morris, S. (2004). “Co-Creative Media: Online Multiplayer Computer Game Culture,” Journal of Media Arts Culture. Moses, J., Bradley, G. L., & O'Callaghan, F. V. (2016). When college students look af ter themselves: Self-care practices and well-being. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 53(3), 346-359. doi:10.1080/19496591.2016.1157488 National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. (2003). Food for thought: Substance abuse and eating disorders. Nick, E. A., Cole, D. A., Cho, S., Smith, D. K., Carter, T. G., & Zelkowitz, R. L. (2018). The online social support scale: Measure development and validation. Psychological Assessment, 30(9), 1127-1143. doi:10.1037/pas0000558 Nie, N. H. (2001). Sociability, interpersonal relations, and the Internet: Reconciling conf licting f indings. American behavioral scientist, 45(3), 420-435. Shaw, A (2012) Do you identif y as a gamer? Gender, race, sexuality, and gamer identity. New Media & Society 14(1): 28–44. Sherry, J. L. (2001). The ef fects of violent video games on aggression: A meta -analysis. Human communication research, 27(3), 409-431. Snodgrass, J. G., Bagwell, A., Patry, J. M., Dengah, H. J. F., Smarr -Foster, C., Van Oostenburg, M., & Lacy, M. G. (2018). The partial truths of compensatory and poor-get-poorer internet use theories: More highly involved video game players experience greater psychosocial benefits. Computers in Human Behavior, 78, 1025. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.09.020 Stone, J. A. (2019). Self -identification as a “gamer” among college students: Inf luencing f actors and perceived characteristics. New Media & Society, 21(11-12), 26072627. doi:10.1177/1461444819854733 Talbott, L. L., Umstattd, M. R., Usdan, S. L., Martin, R. J., & Geiger, B. F. (2008). Validation of the college alcohol problem Scale—revised (CAPS-r) f or use with non-adjudicated f irst-year students. Addictive Behaviors, 34(5), 471-473. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.12.005 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019). What is Mental Health? Washington DC: Author.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Valadez, J. J., & Ferguson, C. J. (2012). Just a game af ter all: Violent video game exposure and time spent playing ef f ects on hostile f eelings, depression, and visuospatial cognition. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2), 608–616. Williams, D. (2006). A Brief Social History of Game Play. Playing Video Games: Motives, Respnses, and Consequences, p. 229-46. Zhong, Q., Gelaye, B., Zaslavsky, A. M., Fann, J. R., Rondon, M. B., Sánchez, S. E., & Williams, M. A. (2015). Diagnostic validity of the generalized anxiety disorder - 7 (GAD-7) among pregnant women. PloS One, 10(4), e0125096. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125096


The Lookout

From Tigers to Dixie: American and Chinese Military Relations From 1940-1947 Render Symanski   While a relatively small theatre of World War II, the China Burma India Theatre, also known as (CBI), provided an important link between China and the British colonies of India and Burma all of whom were fighting against the Japanese. Japan attacked China at a vulnerable time as China was embroiled in a civil war. Both sides in the civil war, however, came together in order to f end off the Japanese. This conf lict in between Japan and China is known as the Second Sino-Japanese war and it began in 1937. The United States’ attention was drawn to this conf lict because of the concern over the increasing presence of Japan in the Pacif ic Ocean. While not a military superpower at the time the United States had colonial possessions in the Pacif ic and Japan’s aggressive expansion, most significantly when af ter World War I Japan was permitted to annex Germany’s Pacific Islands, signaled a possible adversary to the United States. Emerging f rom over a decade of civil war China moved f rom an af terthought of the United States military to an important ally whose cooperation helped shorten the Pacific War. While equipment and resources, such as airplanes and runways, in China were lacking, its distance f rom mainland Japan and other United States allies such as India made it an important ally f or the United States. During the Chinese Civil War, starting in the 1920s, many of ficials in the Nationalist army turned to the United States. Other than protecting their own interests the American government did not intervene. In f act, the United States military was deployed against Nationalist f orces in an attempt to protect American citizens. This lef t Communist and Nationalist f orces embattled in a civil war until the Japanese invasion in 1937. Af ter the Japanese invasion the Communist and Nationalist f orces declared a ceasefire in order to allow them to shif t their f ocus to repealing the Japanese. However, while the Nationalist Army attempted to def end China, the Communist government, af ter the deaths of thousands of men at the hands of Japanese f orces in 1940, remained in the mountains away f rom the f ighting. This led to most of the interactions between the United States and “China” really with the Kuomintang or Nationalist side. The United States Armed Forces understood the strategic importance of China even bef ore the start of United States involvement in WWII. As the Empire or Japan began to become too aggressive in the eyes of the United States government plans were developed to make a military strike. In 1940 under the authority of President Roosevelt a group of volunteer pilots f rom the United States Army Air Corps, Navy and Marine Corps were sent to the Republic of China Air Force. Their leader was f ormer army aviator


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Claire Lee Chennault who visited Washington D.C. in order to purchase one hundre d Curtiss P-40 Warhawk f ighters on behalf of the Chinese Nationalist Government. Prior to returning to Washington D.C. Chennault had been in China f or three years working with the Chinese Nationalist Air Force after retiring f rom the United States Army. At the behest of Chaing Kai-Shek he became pivotal in the air f orce’s development including cadet training and organization in the af termath of successive def eats by the Japanese Imperial Air Force. As the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Chongqing were being bombed by Japanese, in the f all of 1939, Chennault and other Chinese of ficials lef t were in the United States imploring the United States government f or money or military supplies. However, the response from the United States echoed much of their previous decade of non-interventionist rhetoric. In 1940 Chennault put f orth a proposal to senior American national officials. In it he details a plan to cripple the Japanese military using a f ew American pilots and planes, f lying out of China with markings Chinese. While the proposal received much interest with President Franklin Roosevelt and some members of his cabinet, many senior military officials expressed hesitancy in carrying it out. This led to Roosevelt's authorization, a sort of in between solution, of the First American Volunteer Group or (FAVG) to f ight in China. The group arrived in Kunming in April of 1941 several months before the start of the United States involvement in the Pacif ic War. While they were officially called the First American Volunteer Group (FAVG) they all received a salary between two-hundred-andf if ty to seven-hundred-and-fifty dollars a month. This massive pay increase attracted skilled young pilots ground crew and instructors. A total of three hundred servicemen including one hundred pilots and ten pilot instructors to teach Chinese cadets, were enlisted with the FAVG. The FAVG, better known as the Flying Tigers, f lew out of two bases in order to protect the “Burma Road,” an important transportation route between British held India and China, as well as other towns and cities in southern China. Two of the three squadrons were based in China at Kunming Airport while the other one was based out of Rangoon in Burma. In order to successfully f ight off Japanese planes, which were both m ore maneuverable, and in more abundance, Chennault used guerilla style ambushing tactics along with more unconventional maneuvers to surprise and def eat them. Other challenges to pilots include maps in Chinese, a lack of reliable weather f orecasting and very f ew navigation aids only exacerbated these problems. Even supplies such as gasoline, ammunition and medicine were in short supply and of ten soldiers used primitive supplies such as hand pumps f or pumping gasoline and ox carts to move soldiers and equipment. While these problems were skillf ully overcome by Chennault and his men, conditions such as this existing around the country made China a more unattractive place to launch large scale operations f rom. Despite the odds being stacked against them the Flying Tigers were tremendously successful. Af ter being deployed in April of 1941 the Flying Tigers occupied a strategically important part of Southeast Asia. Because of this they were in prime


The Lookout position to attack Japan in response to the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Due to their readiness, they entered combat on the 20 of December 1941 twelve days af ter the attack on Pearl Harbor. While Chinese and British f orces were successful in def ending Burma from the Japanese, Flying Tigers pilots were still credited with 297 downed Japanese planes before their disbanding in April of 1942. Af ter the Flying Tigers were dissolved pilots returned to their previous positions within the United States Military all across the world. The Doolittle Raid was a pivotal air raid conducted in partnership between the United States and the Chinese. On the 18th of April 1942 sixteen B-25 bombers with a total of eighty servicemen took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet bound f or targets in Japan. While each of the planes took of f f rom a United States aircraft carrier their destination, however, was China. Devised in response to the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor this raid was more of a moral raiser f or the United States rather than a strategic attack on Japanese positions. Af ter the pilots bombed their targets located primarily in Tokyo but also in Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe, they landed in China. In China they were helped to saf ety by locals at the threat of Japanese retribution. Out of the eighty United States airmen only f our were captured by the Japanese in China, with f our more detained by the Soviet Union but later escaping. While not killing many people or destroying much property this raid required the Japanese military government to rethink its ability to def end the home islands. Public opinion of the war in Japan changed and growing resentment had started to develop toward the government who were seen as unable to protect the civilian population. In turn, the Imperial Japanese Navy commanded by Isoroku Yamamoto sought to destroy the United States Naval Fleet in the Pacif ic which they attempted to do at the Battle of Midway. However, the hurried response f rom the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway resulted in a United States victory and was the turning point f or an eventual United States victory in the Pacif ic War. One of the most important areas of the China Burma India Theatre was an area called “The Hump.” Located in the Eastern Himalayas, the borders of Burma, India and China are very mountainous and due to the lack of inf rastructure transportation between the nations was dif f icult. While a road called the “Burma Road” existed there it had f allen into disrepair due to Japanese attacks despite the best efforts of the Flying Tigers to def end this part of China. Therefore, other ways of getting material into China was needed. Realizing this posed a massive strategic liability allies Britain and the United States sought a solution. The solution was one of the largest airlif ts of all time. Lasting f rom April of 1942, af ter the dissolution of the Flying Tigers, until 1945 the airlif t over The Hump supplied Kuomintang and United States Army Airforce soldiers f ighting the Japanese. With the help of Indian and Chinese f orces, American and British pilots delivered 650,000 tons of f ood, ammunition, gasoline, and other military essentials to China. On the Chinese side, the city of Kunming, which was booming due to the immigrants f leeing the Japanese


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU invasion as well as its proximity to India and Burma, was the main base of operations f or these airlif ts. While a viable solution in terms of the amount of cargo transported into China, the airlif ts over The Hump came at a tremendous cost of airplanes and human lif e. With the loss of 594 planes as well as the 1,659 airmen on those planes, the danger of the terrain becomes apparent. While not ideal in terms of human lif e lost, these operations were essential in def eating the Japanese invasion of China because most of the supplies came through here. If these airlif ts in China did not take place China would have remained occupied f or much longer and the United States’ advance across the Pacif ic would have slowed or halted entirely. This is because Japan would have remained largely unchallenged in China which would allow it to f ocus its military elsewhere in the Pacif ic. Not all United States relations with China were f ocused on the Nationalist Party. Beginning on the 22 of July 1944 the Dixie Mission sought to establish f ormal relations between the United States government and the Communist government of Mao Zhedong. They were received warmly by the Communist government upon their arrival in Yan’an. The delegation had two main strategies for understanding the Communists, one was through a military perspective, headed by General David D. Barrett and the other was through a political and diplomatic perspective, overseen by John H. Service f rom the State Department. Both men were seen as “China hands” due to their knowledge of and af finity f or Chinese culture and language. In f act, due to his time in China, where he was the Assistant Military Attaché f or Language Study, in Beijing beginning in 1924, Barrett was f luent in Mandarin and knowledgeable in Chinese culture as well. He also remained in China f rom 1931-1943 as a United States Army officer where he was an observer on behalf of the United States. There he had observed the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the precursor to even f urther Japanese invasion of China in 1937. Barrett also witnessed much of the f ighting between the Kuomintang and Communists as well as the Chinese f orces and Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War. His experience made Barrett a particularly knowledgeable choice to lead the expedition. Despite being communist Mao and his allies were, in f act, painted in a f avorable light by those f rom the Dixie Mission. In reports to superiors in Washington D.C. Service refers to the Communists as superior then the Nationalists because of the lack of corruption he witnessed. He also was impressed by the cleanliness of the society including it in his reports as well. Barrett was also impressed by the military potential of the Communists. Af ter visiting war schools set up by the Communists to train their soldiers Barrett believed that with American help the Communists could create excellent soldiers in the f uture. Upon the ending of the Dixie Mission in 1947 many of the members were accused of being communists leading to the end of several careers. Because of this “red scare” there was no long-term impact of this mission on American f oreign policy as a direct result. However, this mission was used as inspiration when United States China relations were reestablished in the Nixon administration. While China may have been an af terthought in United States f oreign policy in the years leading up to World War II the importance of China became very much apparent. The


The Lookout lack of resources such as runways, ammunition, and medicine due to the Japanese invasion made China a less than ideal place to f ight in. Despite this the partnership between the United States and the Nationalist Army, in the beginning, helped slow Japan’s advance through Burma. Later, this partnership turned the tide of the war in f avor of the United States and China. 

References Army Air Force Historical Office, Army Air Force Reference History Number 17 § (1943). Belden, Jack. “Chennault Fights to Hold the China Front.” Time, August 10, 1942. Carter, Carolle J.Mission to Yenan: American Liaison with the Chinese Communists 19441947. Lexington, KY: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1997. Craven, Wesley Frank, and James Lea Cate. The Army Air Forces in World War II. 1. Vol. 1. University of Chicago Press, 1975. Hanson, David S. When You Get a Job to Do, Do It: The Airpower Leadership of Lt Gen William h. Tunner. Place of publication not identif ied: Biblioscholar, 2012. Jansen, Marius B, Samuel C Chu, Shinpei Okamoto, and Bonnie B Oh. “The Historiography of the Sino-Japanese Warv.” The International History Review 1, no. 2 (April 1978): 191–228. Klinkowitz, Jerome. With the Tigers over China: 1941-1942. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1999. Pomf ret, John. The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present. New York, NY: Picador, 2017. Schaller, Michael. “American Air Strategy in China, 1939-1941: The Origins of Clandestine Air Warf are.” American Quarterly 28, no. 1 (1976).


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The Lookout

How Pre-Assessments Increase Diversity in the Classroom Rachel E. Brown The use of pre-assessments in the classroom should be required, regardless of subject or grade level. They are resourceful in determining students' previous knowledge, interests, strengths, weaknesses, learning strategies, etc. Whatever the teacher hopes to learn about their students can be determined through the use of different types of preassessments. Regardless of which type of pre-assessment is used, the result is the same: an increased awareness of student needs and student diversity. Other types of assessments measure growth and knowledge at the end of a course or unit, however pre-assessments are meant to be administered at the beginning so that teachers are more prepared going into the course or unit. This paper dives into the intricacies of pre assessments and the benef its they have with teacher preparation, lesson planning, incorporating diverse teaching materials into the curriculum, and on student engagement, comprehension, and academic success. This paper also connects the purpose and philosophy of pre-assessments with the purpose and philosophy of schools; creating and maintaining an equitable learning experience f or all students.

Introduction The use of pre-assessments is something that should be both encouraged and required in all classrooms. My reform advocates f or the required implementation of pre assessments in classrooms f or all subjects and grade-levels. Pre-assessments are quick and, if conducted correctly, an easy way to gauge where students stand as a whole, and as individuals. Opinions of pre-assessments and their contributions are somewhat varied. However, the inf ormation gained f rom their use depends on their intended f unction. As of now, the use of preassessments in the classroom are students to learn in a way that fits determined by teachers individually. them best and accommodates their There is no requirement or policy to specific needs (Moon, 2010).” ensure this action takes place (Standards, Assessment, and Accountability, 2019). Without preassessments, teachers will have to guess their students' needs as a whole rather than individuals. Their lesson plans will ref lect this. As a result, students will be stripped f rom “Differentiated learning will allow


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU the opportunity of getting individualized or dif f erentiated learning. Dif ferentiated learning will allow students to learn in a way that f its them best and accommodates their specif ic needs (Moon, 2010). The main reason teachers shy away f rom using preassessments is because they believe their sole purpose is to measure growth f rom the beginning of the unit to the end. Of tentimes, they believe that pre-assessments give them inf ormation they already know, and so, they consider them a waste of time. However, pre-assessments can be used f or more than just measuring student growth f rom the beginning to the end of a unit (Guskey, 2018, p. 1). Some of the most common types of pre-assessments include Prerequisite, Present, and Preview (Guskey, 2018, p. 3-4). Prerequisite pre-assessments f ocus on what the students already know. Instead of teaching f rom a singular level, with the knowledge gained f rom this assessment, teachers will be able to dif f erentiate their lesson plans to accommodate certain patterns within the students. Present pre-assessments tests students’ current skills, interests, knowledge, and dispositions. This can be benef icial if a teacher is wanting to gain insight on individual learning methods. They can also adjust lesson plans to encompass certain interests to increase the excitement and overall enjoyment of learning. Preview pre-assessments are used to identif y and introduce the students to some of the material they will be learning within the unit. It will begin to establish learning goals and objectives, and why they are important and relevant (Suskey, 2018, p. 3-4). Between these three types of pre-assessments, teachers will be able to learn their students’ interests, skills, weaknesses, learning methods, study habits, and current and previous knowledge, while also determining sections of the unit that will need more or less attention (Doubet 2015, p. 62). The most important thing to remember when distributing pre-assessments is to know the f orm and f unction of the pre-assessment, and to clearly share that with the students (Guskey, 2016, p. 41). Pre-assessments correlate with certain ideals of the philosophy of education, and ways of making education more equitable and accessible to all students. Pre-assessments will change the way teachers interact and connect with their students, jump-starting a personal learning experience that both teachers and students will benef it f rom.

Philosophy of Education My personal philosophy of education aligns with the values of progressivism. Progressivism supports an education that f ocuses more so on the student’s individual interests and needs (Ornstein, 1985, p. 189). By doing so, they also “agreed in opposing traditional education and wanting ref orm in schools” which leans away f rom traditional lecture styles in the classroom (Ornstein, 1985, p. 189). This corresponds with the inclusion of my pre-assessments reform given that the use of pre-assessments is to allow teachers to gauge what the student’s interests, strengths, weaknesses, and current knowledge is, while also being able to create lesson plans that support dif f erentiated learning (Weselby, 2020). It also allows the teacher to incorporate various


The Lookout learning strategies that extend beyond traditional teacher lectures. When students have “more options on how they can learn material, they take on more responsibility f or their own learning” (Weselby, 2020). Progressivism is essential f or teachers' success in the classr oom as it not only makes teaching easier, but more enjoyable as well. The use of pre-assessments will allow teachers to plan ahead in their curriculum more effectively by being able to determine where the students are at the beginning of the unit or class as opposed to f iguring it out as they go. It will save a lot of time having to revise lesson plans mid-semester, and also helps the teacher to f ocus the subject content to the specif ic academic needs of the students. This point is supported by progressive ideas since, "opposing the conventional subject-matter curriculum, progressives experimented with alternative curricula, using activities, experiences, problem-solving, and projects" (Ornstein, 1985, p. 190) All of these are examples of dif ferentiated learning styles and techniques that can be implemented in everyday classroom activities. Differentiated learning techniques not only benef its students, but teachers as well. Changing things up prevents teachers f rom going through the motions while teaching, igniting a ref reshing and exciting twist to the traditional teaching methods commonly f ound in the classroom. I believe that progressive ideals are also beneficial in positively af fecting student achievement. It states that, “children’s readiness and interests, rather than predetermined subjects, should shape curriculum and instruction” (Ornstein, 1985, p. 191). This is putting students f irst in the learning environment, tailoring the curriculum to the students’ needs as opposed to f orcing them to learn collectively in a manner that would only benef it a portion of the students. As a result, student achievement will increase once they are taught in a manner that best f its them (Reckmeyer, 2020). Not every student will benef it f rom straight lecture or f rom PowerPoint presentations. Likewise, not all students are openly participating and engaging during classroom activities. Student engagement is important f or student achievement and having a mutual understanding between students and teachers is a great way to improve that (Reckmeyer, 2020). Students will be more willing to open up and trust teachers once they see the teachers are taking the time to tailor lesson plans to their individual interests in needs, and therefore, will be more enthusiastic and engaged throughout the course. Progressivism is not only benef icial f or both teacher practices and student achievement but is also benef icial in increasing diversity in lessons covered in the classroom. The diverse students are the students that don't benefit f rom traditional learning methods. They will be able to share with the teacher what works best for them and what specific needs they seek to have addressed in order to have a greater chance of succeeding within the classroom. Since these students are of tentimes disadvantaged, the reform of implementing the use of pre-assessments in the classroom will also provide a more equitable and accessible learning experience f or all students. It will not be tailored to either the traditional learners or the more diverse learners, rather, "research shows dif f erentiated instruction is ef fective f or high-ability students as well as students with


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU mild to severe disabilities" (Weselby, 2020). Progressivism is not about completely abandoning traditional teaching methods and curriculum, rather it will f ocus on encompassing all needs and interests of students in order to develop well-rounded lesson plans, materials, and activities (Progrėssive Education - Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Lif e-Adjustment Progressivism). Therefore, all students will be given equal opportunity to learn with a learning method and pace that best f its them. This is supported by progressive ideals that state, “as in-service practitioners, teachers should create safe, developmentally f riendly, and engaging classrooms in which children, f ollowing their own interests, learn at their own pace” (Ornstein, 1985, p. 189). Progressive ideals in the classroom are necessary to f oster an educational environment that advocates f or the students during the learning process. Oftentimes their needs and interests are overlooked by traditional teaching methods and curriculums. While the inf ormation they are learning are essential within a given subject and course, the way that inf ormation is presented or portrayed to the student makes a world of difference. Discovering the various methods of presenting inf ormation that is most beneficial to the students is vital f or individual student success. Progressivism encourages their "instructionally f lexible" beliefs, therefore, aligning with the ref orm that the use of pre assessments in all classrooms are necessary to increase student diversity and success in the classroom (Ornstein, 1985, p. 191).

Barriers, Equity, and Access Progressive ideals in the classroom are necessary to f oster an educational environment that advocates f or the students during the learning process. Oftentimes their needs and interests are overlooked by traditional teaching methods and curriculums. While the inf ormation they are learning are essential within a given subject and course, the way that inf ormation is presented or portrayed to the student makes a world of difference. Discovering the various methods of presenting inf ormation that is most beneficial to the students is vital f or individual student success. Progressivism encourages their "instructionally f lexible" beliefs, therefore, aligning with the ref orm that the use of pre assessments in all classrooms are necessary to increase student diversity and success in the classroom (Ornstein, 1985, p. 191). Another obstacle many teachers may face in the classroom are overly large classes. In the textbook it says, "classes too large f or teachers to provide sufficient help to overcome learning problems often lead to inef fective instruction f or low-achieving students" (Ornstein, 1985, p.330-331). Once again, the advantages of pre-assessments allow teachers to connect with their students more personally, even despite larger classes. The questions in pre-assessments can be tailored to address the students' individual needs, strengths, weaknesses, and interests, which is an excellent way to bridge the gap between teacher and student (Guskey, & McTighe, 2016, p. 39-41). In doing so, teachers can take what they've learned and group students according to their learning styles and academic level so that it is easier to determine which students need


The Lookout a certain kind of help. It is important that students are given instruction that is the best f it f or them. It can be easy with a large class to assess the group as a whole, in which case only certain students are reaping the f ull benefits of the teaching methods being used while the others are lef t struggling. Being able to provide f lexible lesson plans that are capable of extending to f it the needs of all students is essential in ensuring that all students are receiving an education that is both equitable and accessible to their individual needs. The prevailing ef f ort to equalize educational opportunities that aligns best with my ref orm concerns “Student Learning Styles” (Ornstein, 1985, p. 360). Dif f erent cultures cause students to learn and behave in the classroom in dif f erent ways. Learning various cultural backgrounds f ound within their classroom will allow teachers to best accommodate their students during the learning process that is both f amiliar and encouraging f or them (Ornstein, 1985, p.360). An example was provided by Vera John Steiner and Larry Smith who “worked with Pueblo Indian children in the Southwest. They concluded schooling f or these children would be more successful if it emphasized personal communication in tutorial (f ace-to-face) situations” (Ornstein, 1985, p. 360). Student learning methods extend beyond personal preferences. Learning the cultural demands of students will allow teachers to connect and reach their students on a deeper level. It will not only engage students to be more successful in the classroom, but will also allow them to be more comfortable, understood, and cared f or by their teacher (Weselby, 2020). It is easier f or a teacher to teach students who come f rom similar backgrounds. The teacher is more aware of the cultural and economic similarities and is better able to provide materials and classroom activities that are f amiliar with both (Weselby, 2020). The challenge comes when a teacher notices that certain students are not responding or connecting with the lessons the same way other students do. This situation can be avoided if teachers are already aware of the cultural dif f erences in the classroom and how to approach them. This initial awareness can be provided through the use of preassessments administered at the beginning of the course or learning unit. Another educational opportunity that aligns with my ref orm is, “Culturally Responsive Teaching” (Ornstein, 1985, p. 365). “Teachers implementing culturally responsive teaching typically stress advantages such as the f ollowing: allows teachers to pursue a wide variety of instructional strategies appropriate for a range of students… allows teachers to incorporate multicultural resources and materials in subjects and skills routinely taught… allows teachers to select participation structures that ref lect students’ ways of behaving” (Ornstein, 1985, p. 365). In this instance, all students are being provided materials that are best f it f or their various backgrounds and learning styles. All students are then given an equal opportunity to succeed within the classroom.

Conclusion The use of pre-assessments is something that should be required and implemented as in all classrooms. They have a wide scale of f unctions that offer both teachers and students


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU a greater opportunity to increase diversity within the classroom setting through dif f erentiated learning. Differentiated learning will allow teachers to accommodate a diverse group of students so that all students are having their educational needs met (Moon, 2010). In doing so, the students who struggle to learn with traditional teaching methods will be given a more equitable chance to learn with their peers (Ornstein, 1985, p. 189). The students’ individual needs will be more effectively met, ensuring that all students are receiving the highest quality of education f or their academic success (Doubet, 2015, p. 62). By diversif ying the teaching materials and styles, teachers will also be able to incorporate a more inclusive environment where increased representation takes place. The use of pre-assessments is a progressive take on educating students, one that will allow students a greater chance to reach their f ull potential. It is essential that pre-assessments are a mandatory part of all courses across all subjects and grade levels.

References Doubet, K. J., & Hockett, J. A. (2015, January 07). Dif ferentiation in Middle and High School: Strategies to Engage All Learners. pp. 59-74. Retrieved September 06, 2020, f rom 9&ppg=86 Guskey, T. R. (2018, February). Does Pre-Assessments Work? Volume 75, pp. 52-57. Retrieved September 06, 2020, f rom Guskey, T. R. & McTighe, Jay (2016, April). Pre-Assessment: Promises and Cautions. Pp. 38-43. Retrieved September 06, 2020, f rom 52Fscholar.googl Moon, T. R. (2010, June 24). The Role of Assessment in Dif f erentiation. Retrieved September 06, 2020, f rom =true Nishioka, V. (2019, February 04) Positive and Caring Relationships with Teachers are Critical to Student Success. Retrieved October 25, 2020, f rom Ornstein, A. C., & Levine, D. U. (1985). An Introduction to the Foundations of Education. Boston: Houghton Mif flin. Progressive Education - Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Lif e-Adjustment Progressivism. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2020, f rom


The Lookout Reckmeyer, M. (2020, April 17). Focus on Student Engagement for Better Academic Outcomes. Retrieved October 11, 2020, f rom aspx Standards, Assessment, and Accountability. (2019, October 29). Retrieved October 24, 2020, f rom Walker, T. (n.d.). Survey: 70 Percent of Educators Say State Assessments Not Developmentally Appropriate. Retrieved October 25, 2020, f rom e-assessments-not Wselby, C. (2020, September 02). What is Dif f erentiated Instruction? Examples and Strategies: Resilient Educator. Retrieved October 25, 2020, f rom Why Teachers Teach at Low-Performing Schools: Representation Matters. (2020, April 10). Retrieved October 25, 2020, f rom https://soeonline.american/


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU


The Lookout

Encroachment of Woody Species in a Coastal Plain Wetland Peyton S. Harrelson, Department of Biology, East Carolina University  Abstract There are many possible driving f orces f or the encroachment of woody species on herbaceous landscapes. In this study, two-factor analysis of variance test was used to examine the ef fects of f ertilizer on the encroachment of woody species in mowed plots over time. Based on the oncoming data presented, there was a positive signif icant effect of f ertilizer and time on the encroachment of woody species in mowed plots. The encroachment of woody species in any landscape may alter plant communities, so it is important to understand how f ertilizer may escalate this ef fect.

Introduction Many driving forces are possible f or the encroachment of woody species on herbaceous landscapes. The problem of this woody species' growth is not a problem that is limited to one area of the world or type of biome. The problem of encroachment has been studied on many continents f rom areas of grasslands to wetlands. Although there has not been much published on the ef fect f ertilization has on the “Although the problem of this type of encroachment of woody species, there intrusion may be inevitable, it still still have been many published journal does not negate the fact that this articles about the encroachment of problem decreases the diversity of woody species into wetlands. Although herbaceous species. (Warren et al., the problem of this type of intrusion 2007).” may be inevitable, it still does not negate the f act that this problem decreases the diversity of herbaceous species. (Warren et al., 2007). There have been many proposed mechanisms as to what can increase and help to contain the rate of encroachment. Some of these include soil composition, available nutrients, and disturbances (Mills et al., 2017). There has also been some interest in the increased carbon dioxide levels due to global warming f acilitating the incursion of woody species (Saintilan & Rogers, 2015). Given these f easible causes of encroachment, f ire suppression is named as the main f acto... Due to this f act, it is worth the investigation of what the true underlying cause of encroachment is and what other complicating


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU f actors are present. Encroachment cannot merely be explained by the absence of the disturbance of f ire. This area of research is part of a larger, long-term study that f ocuses on the composition and changes that take place in a wetland due to mowing and f ertilization (Goodwillie et al., 2021). The wetland of interest in this study is located in the coastal plain of North Carolina and was originally burned to study the plant community after they were established during this secondary succession. This smaller experiment analyzed the percentages also known to be inf ertile, which is an important f actor to take into account due to the f ertilization that will be applied in this study aims to f ind the ef fect of f ertilizer on the encroachment of woody species over time in mowed plots. This study has been in progress f or almost two decades, and the encroachment of the woody species was studied over a seventeen-year long period, beginning with secondary succession that resulted f rom burning the landscape. In addition to the initial disturbance of burning, the land is also disturbed yearly by mowing. This mowing is like grazing or burning, which are some of the most common disturbances f ound amongst herbaceous landscapes. Alongside, wildf ires also previously were common among this landscape before human settlement. It is expected that f ertilizer will increase the encroachment of woody species, helping the woody species to outcompete the neighboring herbaceous species.

Methods Study Site The site of this experiment is in East Carolina’s West Research Campus and is considered to be in the wetlands of the Coastal Plain of eastern North Carolina. Some of the most dominant woody species in this plant community include the Rhus copal argutus. These two plant species effects are commonly known as winged sumac and sawtooth blackberry, respectively, and are both native to eastern North Carolina. This smaller study takes part at the site of a long-term study f ocusing on nutrient addition and mowing in the plant community (Goodwillie et al., 2021). The site is divided into eight blocks that are each divided equally into f our quadrants. Each block has quadrants that are f ertilized with a mowed and unmowed territory and unf ertilized with a mowed and unmowed territory. These f our treatments were randomly assigned to the quadrants in the plots f or replication purposes. This smaller study f ocused only on the unf ertilized mowed and f ertilized mowed quadrants of the plots. If you would like to f ind more details on the long-term study and sites visit Goodwillie et al. 2020 and Goodwillie and Franch 2006. Experimental Design This site was originally burned and tilled at the start of the long-term experiment. This experiment utilized mowing and f ertilization as variables to study their effects on the diversity of the wetland plant community, with mowing occurring once a year and f ertilization with 10-10-10 NPK f ertilizer three times a year. A drainage ditch was present along one side of the f ield, causing plots f arther away f rom the ditch to be more prone to f looding. Stem counts and percent covers of each species were recorded every


The Lookout year f rom established square meter sections in all plots since the year 2004. This smaller experiment analyzed the percentage cover of woody species from the years 2004, 2013, and 2021 f rom the mowed/unfertilized and mowed/fertilized quadrants in all blocks. See Goodwillie et al. 2020 and Goodwillie and Franch 2006 f or more details on the long-term study and experimental design. Statistical Analysis

Source of






F crit






























A two-f actor analysis of variance test was used to test the ef fect of fertilizer on the encroachment of woody species in mowed plots. The independent variables consisted of lime and f ertilizer. Three years of percent cover data of woody species in the f ertilized and unf ertilized mowed plots were used to represent the initial, middle, and current points in time of the woody species growth including the years 2004, 2013, and 2021. The dependent variable was the total percent cover of all woody species f rom the corresponding years. The data set f rom the long-term experiment was reduced to the percent cover of each woody species in mowed plots only f rom the three chosen years. The percent covers of these woody species were then summed f or the f ertilized and unf ertilized quadrants, and then the ANOVA test was run.

Results There was a signif icant effect of f ertilizer on the encroachment of woody species in mowed plots. Fertilizer has a positive ef fect on the percent cover of woody species. The woody species had an average percent cover increase of 95% f rom the unf ertilized to f ertilized plots. Time had a signif icant effect on the encroachment of woody species in mowed plots. From 2004 to 2013, there was a 144% increase in the average percent cover of woody species in the mowed plots. From 2013 to 2021 there was an 8% increase in the average percent cover of woody species in the mowed plots.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

Table 1. Two-factor analysis of variance test with replication.

Figure 1. Average of total percent cover summed across all woody species from three checkpoints in time.

There was no signif icant interaction between f ertilizer and time of the encroachment of woody species in the mowed quadrant. There was a similar pattern through time that both the f ertilized and unf ertilized woody species followed, which can be seen in Figure 1. This pattern f eatures a steep increase initially f rom 2004 to 2013 and then a plateau between 2013 and 2021 in both f ertilized and unf ertilized quadrants. When the average total percent cover of all woody species f rom 2004, 2013, and 2021 was summed, Rhus copallinum and Rubus arbutus was f ound to have the highest percent cover total. These two species were f ound to have a dramatically higher percent cover in f ertilized quadrants in comparison to all other woody species, which can be seen in Figure 2.


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Figure 2. Sum of all woody species average percent cover in mowed plots from years 2004, 2013, and 2021.

Discussion Fertilizer has had a signif icant positive effect on the encroachment of woody species. The results of previous studies on the ef fect of fertilization on encroachment have varied. One study used ammonium sulf ate to f ertilize their encroaching landscape but f ound that this type of f ertilization had negligible ef fects on the encroachment (Mills et al. 2017). Their study also stated that this was likely due to the f ertilizer affecting soil components like pH and acidity. The mentioned study was done in the savanna biome, while this study took place in a coastal wetland region. Differences in the soil composition, precipitation, and f ertilizer used were likely the cause of the dif fering results. Time also had a signif icant effect on the encroachment of woody species. This is likely due to the architectural dif ferences between the herbaceous and woody species. Woody species are of ten able to dominate herbaceous species because they have advantages like a greater height that can be more competitive for sunlight (Warren et al. 2007). Another major advantage that the woody species have, is that an established shape of a shrub of ten uses its broad area to catch and direct precipitation to its base, which is an advantage that thin grasses do not have (Saintilan & Rogers, 2015). Woody species are known to be larger and stronger than herbaceous species, which also helps the woody species take up the space and nutrients it needs f or further competition. Time also


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU increases the ability of the woody species to compete, even though in our study all species are mowed over each year. The woody species may have to regrow in height to outcompete herbaceous species, but its root system underground remains intact and competitive. The woody species in our study were disturbed by mowing every year, while in most studies, and nature, woody species are allowed to establish themselves over many years. This may help to f urther solidif y the results of the study because encroachment is seen to be increased with f ertilization even when the new growth of the woody species is eradicated each year. This also raises an interesting question as to what rate would the woody species in undisturbed areas encroach. Although this data was not part of this particular study, it is still up f or interpretation. It was seen that woody species dominated the unmowed plots of the f ertilized and unf ertilized regions in the larger study but still needs f urther analysis to hold statistical signif icance. There was no signif icant interaction between the f ertilization and time of the woody species' encroachment because there was a similar pattern through time that both f ertilized and unf ertilized woody species f ollowed. This pattern of dramatic increase and then a plateau is the same f or the f ertilized and unf ertilized plots, but the percent cover of the f ertilized plots is still seen to be higher at all times. This may be explained by the beginning of the establishment of the woody species after burning. Due to competition, the plants took over the land quickly, then the percent cover did not increase as rapidly. Looking into the f uture, the composition of this wetland may continue to change if the woody species become more established of the annual disturbance of mowing t, but in undisturbed areas, there is hope f or herbaceous species to later increase in diversity (Warren et al. 2007). Once the woody species become f ar established and herbaceous species have diminished, there will be room f or a later increase in shade -tolerance f or herbaceous species. 

References Goodwillie, C., & Franch, W. R. (2006). An experimental study of nutrient addition and mowing ef fects on a ditched wetland plant community: results f rom the f irst year. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Sciences, 122(3), 106–117. Goodwillie, C., McCroy, M. W., & Peralta, A. L. (2021). Long‐term nutrient enrichment, mowing, and ditch drainage interact in the dynamics of a Wetland Plant Community. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 102(1). Massi, K. G., Eugênio, C. U., Franco, A. C., & Hof fmann, W. A. (2021). The ef fects of tree cover and soil nutrient addition on native herbaceous richness in a Neotropical savanna. Biotropica, 53(3), 888–895.


The Lookout Mills, A. J., Milewski, A. V., Snyman, D., & Jordaan, J. J. (2017). Ef fects of anabolic and catabolic nutrients on woody plant encroachment af ter long-term experimental f ertilization in a South Af rican savanna. PLOS ONE, 12(6). Saintilan, N., & Rogers, K. (2015). Woody plant encroachment of grasslands: A comparison of terrestrial and wetland settings. New Phytologist, 205(3), 1062– 1070. Warren, R. J., Rossell, I., Moorhead, K. K., & Pittillo, J. D. (2007). The inf luence of woody encroachment upon herbaceous vegetation in a southern Appalachian wetland complex. The American Midland Naturalist, 157(1), 39–51.[39:tioweu];2


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU


The Lookout

The Cult of the Lost Cause Justin Mullis Abstract Conf ederate monument construction began immediately f ollowing the end of the Civil War in 1865. Though more than 150 years have passed since the f all of the Conf ederacy, many of these monuments continue to stand throughout the South. Construction began as a benevolent movement to memorialize the men who lost their lives on the battlef ields of the Civil War. However, beginning in 1890, the construction of Conf ederate monuments took on a new theme. The Cult of the Lost Cause used Conf ederate monuments as pro-Confederate propaganda to ref rame the legacy of the Conf ederacy f rom one of slavery to one of chivalry. Through the application of Milivoj Bešlin and Marko Škorić’s model of historical negationism onto Lost Cause propaganda, one can identif y the Cult of the Lost Cause as negationist. As most Conf ederate monuments explicitly promote the Lost Cause ideology and the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War, one must also understand these monuments as instruments of historical negationism.

Introduction After the fall of Reconstruction in 1877, a certain political rehabilitation of the Southern image took place. Organizations such as The United Conf ederate Veterans (UCV) and The United Daughters of the Conf ederacy (UDC) proposed a “Lost Cause” narrative that has gripped a certain minority of the American political Right f or more than a century and a half (Forest and Johnson 2018). This narrative minimizes the role of slavery in the South’s secession f rom the Union, and it promotes the myth of the heroic Conf ederate def ending a superior way of lif e (Loewen and Sebesta 2010; Barney 2007). This minimization of slavery, and its subsequent explanations f or the outbreak of the Civil War, diverts f rom historical consensus and must be classif ied as “historical negationism” (Loewen and Sebesta 2010; Bešlin and Škorić 2017). Lost Cause organizations, such as the UCV and the UDC, purposefully engaged in historical negationism by erecting Conf ederate monuments in their pro-Confederate propaganda campaign (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). This article is written in pursuit of f our goals. First, this article aims to provide a f irm understanding of the construction of Confederate monuments and the context of those constructions. Second, this article seeks to def ine “historical negationism” and apply the idea to the “Cult of the Lost Cause.” Third, this article seeks to condemn the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War and Conf ederate monuments as two intertwined instances of historical negationism. Finally, by applying statistical data regarding monument


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU inscriptions, this article seeks to provide rebuttal commentary on certain specific arguments in def ense of Confederate monuments.

Background on the Cult of the Lost Cause In the study of American history, a unique phenomenon existed in Southern historiography, beginning in the late 1870s and continuing into the present. This unique phenomenon was known as the Cult of the Lost Cause (Winberry 2018). The Lost Cause movement sought to ref rame the legacy of the Conf ederacy from one of “The Lost Cause movement sought to slavery to one of gallant and chivalric reframe the legacy of the Confederacy heroes defending their way of lif e from one of slavery to one of gallant and (Giguere 2019). Having begun in chivalric heroes defending their way of 1877, this Lost Cause movement life” (Giguere 2019). became more cohesive in 1889 (Simpson 1975). Af ter the f all of Radical Reconstruction with the Compromise of 1877, a certain desire grew among f ormer Confederate soldiers f or a consolidated veterans’ organization. This desire led to the f ormation of the UCV in 1889 (Simpson 1975). This association attempted to address the Southern shame for the Conf ederate defeat in 1865 (Simpson 1975). In 1898, the leadership of the UCV resolved to reframe the Southern historiography of the Conf ederacy. The governing body of the UCV introduced the “six-plank platf orm” to aid this ef f ort. The most important of these was the creation of a mythology surrounding f ormer Confederates. The “six-plank platform” promoted the Conf ederate soldier as a chivalric knight def ending his homeland f rom invasion. Likewise, it promoted the Conf ederate leader, embodied by the Conf ederate president Jefferson Davis, as a noble statesman aiding a noble cause (Simpson 1975). A second important f actor in ref raming the Southern historiography of the Civil War was the minimalization of slavery (Forrest and O’Connell 2020; Simpson 1975). From the Lost Cause point of view, the benevolent system of slavery benefitted both the slaveholders and the slaves (Pollard 1868). A f inal important f actor in ref raming the Southern historiography of the Confederacy concerned itself with the South’s motivations for secession. Lost Cause organizations, f irst the UCV and then the UDC, aimed to ref rame the motivations f or the war by insisting that the South seceded to def end their ideal of dual f ederalism, or “states’ rights” (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). In the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War, the Conf ederacy did not f ight f or material interests, but rather f or a perceived better way of lif e. In ref raming the Southern historiography, the Cult of the Lost Cause sought to reshape how the common man understood the history of the South so that the contemporary South would not be treated with scorn (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O'Connell 2020). The Cult of the Lost Cause’s efforts was largely successful. By the 1910s, the public regarded the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War with the same respect as Northern


The Lookout interpretations (Simpson 1975). The Lost Cause movement even managed to convince one president, William Howard Taf t, of its respectability (Simpson 1975). Between 1890 and 1915, the Cult of the Lost Cause successfully reframed the legacy of the South (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Integral to the ref raming effort, what some may call a propaganda effort, was the erection of monuments to the f allen Conf ederacy and its leaders (Forrest and O’Connell; Simpson 1975). As John A. Simpson writes, f ollowing the death of Jefferson Davis on December 6, 1889, “the preservation of Confederate valor became more than a f rame of mind; it embraced an entire movement dedicated to the construction of monuments” (1975). Monument construction did not begin in 1889, but there was a “Proponents of the Lost Cause feared revival of interest in monument that, without embodiments of the construction between 1889 and 1915, Confederacy present in public spaces, the given the aged nature of the American public would reject and forget remaining f ormer Confederates the Lost Cause narrative of American (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). history” (Simpson 1975). Proponents of the Lost Cause f eared that, without embodiments of the Conf ederacy present in public spaces, the American public would reject and f orget the Lost Cause narrative of American history (Simpson 1975). Confederate monuments would serve to preserve the Lost Cause narrative of American history in Southern public history (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). In the mid-1890s, the UCV began collecting f unds to erect a monument to Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia. However, the UCV proved incapable of collecting the money necessary for the monument’s construction. For this reason, at the Ninth UCV Reunion in 1899, the organization transferred responsibility f or revenue-raising to the UDC (Simpson 1975). The UDC was, in ef fect, the UCV’s daughter organization, dedicated to the same ideas. Beginning in 1899, with the assumption of responsibility f or the Davis monument by the UDC and the aging of the UCV, the UDC would serve as the f oremost important organization in both the Lost Cause movement and the construction of Conf ederate monuments (Simpson 1975). Evolving into a cohesive pro-Confederate propaganda movement by the late-1880s, the Cult of the Lost Cause sought to redef ine the Southern image. Through their usage of propaganda, the Lost Cause movement was successful in their ef f orts (Simpson 1975). Beginning in 1890, the UCV and the UDC constructed Confederate monuments as integral pieces of their propaganda efforts (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O’Connell 2020).

Times, Contexts, and Motivations Surrounding the Monuments In the study of history, it is of ten difficult to f ind absolute truth. Generalizations can be made, but outliers almost always exist within a broad set of statistical data. A large majority of Confederate monuments serve the Lost Cause ideology, but one cannot make this accusation against all Conf ederate monuments (Forrest and O’Connell 2020).


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU To begin to understand the nature of these monuments, a statistical analysis must f irst be conducted upon existing Conf ederate monuments. Danequa Forrest and Heather O’Connell’s 2020 research study, “Confederate Monument Inscriptions: Different Times, Dif f erent Places, Different Messages,” published in the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race provide statistics for analysis. In this study, Forrest and O’Connell outline three broad categories of monument inscriptions: “Lost Cause;” “plain;” and “dead” (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Forrest and O’Connell def ine the f irst category of inscriptions as “Lost Cause” inscriptions. This category accounts f or f ifty-nine percent of all Conf ederate monument inscriptions (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). These are inscriptions that explicitly glorif y the f ormer Confederacy and its leaders. These inscriptions use positive terms, such as “heroism” and “generosity,” to describe the f ormer Confederacy (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Additionally, these inscriptions use negative terms, such as “conquering foe” to describe the Union (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). These inscriptions were most common between 1890 and 1915. Af ter these f ifteen years, certain new monuments continued to include “Lost Cause” inscriptions, but the second category of inscriptions would dominate Conf ederate monuments (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). The second category of monument inscriptions is that of “plain” inscriptions. These inscriptions account f or thirty-five percent of all inscriptions upon Conf ederate monuments (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). “Plain” inscriptions are more historically descriptive in nature than those within the “Lost Cause” category. Monuments with this kind of inscription stand primarily at historic sites. These inscriptions typically list the names of f allen Confederate soldiers (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). These inscriptions are similar to those in the third category in that they primarily relate to the Conf ederate dead. The f inal category of monument inscriptions is that of “dead” inscriptions. This category accounts f or six percent of all Conf ederate monument inscriptions (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). “Dead” inscriptions are similar to “plain” inscriptions, but they are more poetic than descriptive. Monuments with these inscriptions typically list the Conf ederate dead of a given town, city, or surrounding area (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). These inscriptions were primarily inscribed upon Confederate monuments erected before 1890 (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). As these monuments were erected closer to the end of the war, they are more genuinely mournful f or the death of Confederate soldiers. In their study of Conf ederate monument inscriptions, Danequa Forrest and Heather O’Connell came to the f ollowing conclusions. Fif ty-nine percent of Confederate monument inscriptions are “Lost Cause” inscriptions. Thirty-five percent are “plain” inscriptions. Finally, only six percent of inscriptions are “dead” inscriptions (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Considering these results, not every Confederate monument can be identif ied as explicitly “Lost Cause” in nature. For arguments to be made against Conf ederate monuments, this qualif ication must be made. However, f or the sake of convenience, this qualif ication will only be made once.


The Lookout

Defining Historical Negationism The Cult of the Lost Cause originated in the late-nineteenth century, f ollowing the f all of Reconstruction in 1877 (Simpson 1975). Through a coordinated propaganda effort, this movement sought to rehabilitate the Southern image f rom its pre-Civil War context to a new, and f alse, narrative (Simpson 1975; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). The method by which this rehabilitation took place is known as “historical negationism.” Historical negationism is the intentional manipulation of a historical narrative in pursuit of political gain or moral justif ication of past actions and actors (Bešlin and Škorić 2017). This idea has been known by a variety of different terms throughout history. “Revisionist history” is the most prominent of these terms. However, this term is a misnomer. Proper historiography requires constant revision, as new sources produce new evidence to enlighten the narrative of history (Rampolla 2010; Bešlin and Škorić 2017). “Historical negationism” is a much more suitable term, as the actions of its perpetrators actively engage in negating a widely understood historical narrative in pursuit of political gain (Bešlin and Škorić 2017). Milivoj Bešlin and Marko Škorić’s study of historical negationism in post-socialist Serbia provides the best model f or identifying historical negationism. Bešlin and Škorić put f orth a series of f ive questions to identif y historical negationism: how reliable are the sources used; how do claims f it into the modern consensus of history or how the world works; does the author engage in conf irmation bias; and does the author have a substantial ideological bias that guides his writing (Bešlin and Škorić 2017)? Bešlin and Škorić’s model of historical negationism can be applied to Lost Cause propaganda to understand the nature of the Cult of the Lost Cause. Through this application, one can identif y the movement as negationist.

Condemning the Cause As noted above, historical negationism is the intentional manipulation of a historical narrative in pursuit of political gain (Bešlin and Škorić 2017). This section serves to apply Bešlin and Škorić’s model of historical negationism to the Lost Cause. This section is comprised of an analysis of “A Measuring Rod to Test Textbooks, and Ref erence Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries,” henceforth referred to as the “Rutherf ord Report,” written by Mildred Lewis Rutherf ord. In applying Bešlin and Škorić’s model, the Lost Cause f ails on every point. At the annual reunion of the UCV in 1919, the organization’s governing body called f or a committee to convene to study the treatment of the South in scholarly textbooks (Huf f man 2019). Fif teen members f rom the UCV, the UDC, and the Sons of Conf ederate Veterans (SCV) comprised this joint committee. Cornelius Irvine Walker chaired the committee, but its most notable member was Mildred Lewis Rutherford (Huffman 2019). Af ter a year of study and consideration, the Rutherford Committee published a report on


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU the character of the South in American history textbooks and its proposed methods of redress. The Rutherf ord Report is twenty-four pages long, so it is unreasonable to excerpt large sections to provide commentary on them. However, the Rutherford Report does provide a f oreword by Mildred Lewis Rutherford. This f oreword sets questionable implications regarding scholarly works of American history and provides the reader with a basic understanding of the larger report. “Realizing that the text-books in history and literature which the children of the South are now studying, and even the ones f rom which many of their parents studied bef ore them, are in many respects unjust to the South and her institutions, and that a f ar greater injustice and danger is threatening the South today f rom the late histories which are being published, guilty not only of misrepresentations but of gross omissions, refusing to give the South credit f or what she has accomplished, as Historian of the U. D. C, and one vitally interested in all that pertains to the South, I have prepared, as it were, a testing or measuring rod. Committees appointed by Boards of Education or heads of private institutions and their teachers can apply this test when books are presented f or adoption, so that none who really desire the truth need be hampered in their recommendation for acceptance or rejection of such books. Absolute f airness to the North and South is stressed as only Truth is History” (Rutherford 1920). 1 Just as Rutherford makes controversial claims in this f oreword, so does she throughout the larger report. This warrants an analysis of historical negationism. Such analysis, based on the work of Bešlin and Škorić, f ollows. How reliable are the sources used? Throughout the report, Rutherford makes many claims about American history and provides sources through the usage of quotes. However, the quotes provided by the report are either taken out of context or wholly unreliable. For instance, to substantiate a claim that the Constitution did not create a perpetual union, the Report cites three quotes by Daniel Webster. Though a prominent statesman of his time, one can question Webster’s expertise regarding the original intent of the Constitution, as he was only six years old during its ratif ication (Current 2021). The Rutherf ord Report relies heavily on the quotes f rom Daniel Webster to substantiate this specif ic claim, so a substantiation of Webster’s expertise on the Constitution and its original intent would be welcome. The report gives no such substantiation in this case, nor does it provide substantiation of any other sources used (Rutherford 1920). Many of the sources cited in this report are unreliable. How do claims f it into the modern consensus of history? The claims made in this report drastically depart f rom the consensus of history. For example, as its third claim, the Rutherf ord Report asserts “The North Was Responsible f or the War between the States”

This foreword is unedited. All italicized words and punctuation appear here as they did in the original report. 1


The Lookout (Rutherford 1920). This claim that the North began the war completely ignores the Battle of Fort Sumter, largely regarded as the beginning of the Civil War (Britannica 2021). The Battle, begun by cadets f rom the Citadel, a Southern military education institution, involved an aggressive action by the South (Britannica 2021). Negationist claims, such as this, are made throughout the report, and these claims diver ge f rom the modern consensus of history. Does the author engage in conf irmation bias? In the twenty-three pages of the Rutherf ord Report, eleven claims are substantiated by more than seventy pieces of supporting evidence. Not once does the Rutherford Report discuss evidence that contradicts its thesis (Rutherford 1920). This is undoubtedly confirmation bias. Does the author have a substantial ideological bias that guides her writing? To analyze a potential ideological bias of the author, the author’s character must be analyzed. Born in Georgia in 1851, Mildred Lewis Rutherford came f rom a wealthy slave-owning f amily (Marshall 2005). In 1899, Rutherf ord became the historian general of the UDC and advocated the Lost Cause ideology (Marshall 2005). Throughout her lif e, Rutherford supported “Old South” values in the f ace of a progressing society (Marshall 2005). The question of ideological bias must be answered in the af firmative. The Rutherf ord Report embodies the negationist ideology of the Lost Cause. The minimization of slavery, the reframing of the Southern motivation f or war, and the shif ting of blame f or the war to the Union are all claims made in this report (Rutherford 1920). Through the application of Bešlin and Škorić’s model of historical negationism, this report is revealed as an agent of historical negationism. First, its sources are unreliable. Second, its claims diverge f rom the modern consensus of history. Third, its author engages in conf irmation bias. Finally, a substantial ideological bias guided the author’s writing. As this report both embodies the ideology of the Lost Cause and has been proven as negationist, it is logical to accuse the Lost Cause, and all of its agents, of being negationist.

Commentary on Specific Arguments in Defense of Confederate Monuments Despite evidence that condemns Confederate monuments as Lost Cause propaganda, certain arguments in def ense of the monuments continue to persist (Carrington and Strother 2021). First, monument defenders argue that Conf ederate monuments purely serve to commemorate Confederate soldiers who died in battle (Edwards 2020; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Second, monument defenders argue that Confederate monuments represent Southern heritage and not hatred (Edwards 2020; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Both of these arguments are f lawed. In a 2020 statement f rom Linda Edwards, current President-General of the UDC, Edwards characterized Confederate monuments as merely “memorial[s] to our


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU f orefathers who f ought bravely during f our years of war.”2 This characterization, though prominent among defenders of Confederate monuments, is misleading (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). As seen through statistical data on the explicit messages of Conf ederate monuments, “dead” monuments only account f or six percent of all Conf ederate monuments (Forrest and O'Connell 2020). The argument of memorial, though perhaps well-intentioned, collapses in the f ace of statistical data. A second argument in def ense of Confederate monuments also collapses in the f ace of f acts. This argument is that Conf ederate monuments are pieces of Southern heritage and represent Southern history (Southern Poverty Law Center 2019). One could argue that Conf ederate monuments represent Southern beliefs or perceptions, or a subsection thereof, but one cannot argue that Conf ederate monuments represent Southern history. The study of history entails perpetual and thorough analyses of primary documents. It demands constant revision, as new and enlightening sources are made available f or analysis (Rampolla 2010). Improper revision f or political gain is historical negationism (Bešlin and Škorić 2017). As proven above, the Lost Cause narrative of history is negationist. Fif ty-nine percent of Confederate monuments support the Lost Cause narrative, and they are subsequently negationist. As such, one cannot observe these Conf ederate monuments as true representations or analyses of Southern history. Through the application of statistical data on the explicit messages of Confederate monuments, two popular defenses of these monuments are proven f alse. As only a minority of monuments are classified as “dead” monuments, one cannot observe most Conf ederate monuments as genuine memorials to the Conf ederate soldiers that died on the battlef ields of the Civil War (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Furthermore, as an overwhelming majority of Confederate monuments are “Lost Cause” monuments, one cannot observe these monuments as representations of any true heritage of the South (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). The arguments of memorial and Southern heritage are not based in f act.

Conclusion The initial construction of the numerous Confederate monuments in the United States of America dates back to 1865, immediately f ollowing the end of the Civil War and the f all of the Conf ederate States of America (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Following the f all of Radical Reconstruction in 1877, an acceleration in Conf ederate monument construction accompanied a propaganda effort intended to rehabilitate the “Southern” image, k nown as the “Cult of the Lost Cause” (Simpson 1975). Largely successful, the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War detailed the “glorious” Conf ederate leaders and soldiers who f ought to def end their homeland and their way of lif e f rom the “aggressive” North (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). This narrative elevated the argument of states’ rights and minimized the role of slavery as the reason f or the outbreak of the Civil War (Simpson

This quote is slightly modified to fit the rhetorical style of this article. The only modification is the addition of the letter “s” to the end of the word “memorial.” To read the full context and to see the original quote, follow the link that appears in the bibliography. 2


The Lookout 1975). Monuments erected to the Conf ederacy in the American South reflect this Lost Cause propaganda effort (Giguere 2019; Forrest and O’Connell 2020). Through the application of Bešlin and Škorić’s model of historical negationism to Lost Cause propaganda, specifically A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries by Mildred Lewis Rutherford, one must identif y the Lost Cause narrative of American history as negationist. As a vast majority of Confederate monuments explicitly support this f alse narrative of history, one must also identif y these monuments as instruments of a f alse and harmful interpretation of American history (Forrest and O’Connell 2020). How this inf ormation should be used in regard to the potential removal of Confederate monuments f rom public spaces ought to be lef t to the citizens of the communities to which specif ic monuments belong. However, one recommendation will be made regarding the public discourse over Confederate monuments. The removal of Confederate monuments must be done democratically. Non-democratic measures of removal, such as the spontaneous toppling of the “Silent Sam” statue on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, only serve to bolster the existing partisan views of Confederate monuments (Forest and Johnson 2018; Levenson 2020). These measures embolden division (Forest and Johnson 2018). For true progress to occur, divisions must be reconciled, not bolstered. Measures f or removal must come f rom the people, but they must not be spontaneous. They must be the results of democracy. Individual members of a community must be brought together to discuss the intents and ef fects of Confederate monuments before any removal of these monuments can take place. This idea of “prescriptive forgetting” is outlined in Benjamin Forest’s and Juliet Johnson’s article “Confederate Monuments and the Problem of Forgetting” (2018). There is no easy solution to the issue of Conf ederate monuments in public spaces, but the path to reconciliation in the United States of America is not through bitter spontaneity. Proper reconciliation can only take place through open, vulnerable, and honest discussions (Forest and Johnson 2018). 

References Barney, William L. 2007. The Making of a Conf ederate: Walter Lenoir's Civil War. Cary, NC: Oxf ord University Press. Bešlin, Milivoj and Marko Škorić. 2017. “Politics of Memory, Historical Revisionism and Negationism in Postsocialist Serbia.” Filozofija i Društvo 28, no. 3: 631-649. DOAJ (February 8, 2021). Britannica. 2021. “Battle of Fort Sumter.” Britannica. (April 20, 2021).


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Carrington, Nathan T., and Logan Strother. 2021. “Who Thinks Removing Confederate Icons Violates Free Speech?” Politics, Groups, and Identities 9, no. 1: 208-218. Taylor and Francis Online (February 12, 2021). Current, Richard N. “Daniel Webster.” Britannica. (April 20, 2021). Edwards, Linda. 2020. “Statement f rom the President-General.” United Daughters of the Confederacy. (March 6, 2021). Forest, Benjamin, and Juliet Johnson. 2018. “Conf ederate Monuments and the Problem of Forgetting.” Cultural Geographies 26, no. 1: 127-131. SAGE (February 12, 2021). Forrest, Danequa L., and Heather A. O’Connell. 2020. “Conf ederate Monument Inscriptions: Dif ferent Times, Dif ferent Places, Dif ferent Messages.” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race: 1-23. Giguere, Joy M. 2019. “The (Im)Movable Monument: Identity, Space, and The Louisville Conf ederate Monument.” The Public Historian 41, no. 4: 56-82. MUSE (February 12, 2021). Huf f man, Greg. 2019. “TWISTED SOURCES: How Confederate propaganda ended up in the South's schoolbooks.” Facing South. (April 22, 2021). Levenson, Michael. 2020. “Toppled but Not Gone: U.N.C. Grapples Anew with the Fate of Silent Sam.” New York Times. (May 4, 2021). Loewen, James W. and Edward H. Sebesta. 2010. The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” About the “Lost Cause.” Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. Marshall, Anne E. 2005. “Mildred Lewis Rutherford (1851-1928).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. (April 21, 2021). Pollard, Edward A. 1868. The Lost Cause Regained. New York: G.W. Carleton and Co., Publishers. Rampolla, Mary L. 2010. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 9th Ed. Boston: Bedf ord/St. Martin’s. Rutherf ord, Mildred Lewis. 1920. A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries. Internet Archive. (April 30, 2021).


The Lookout Simpson, John A. 1975. “The Cult of the ‘Lost Cause.’” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 34, no. 4: 350-361. JSTOR (February 12, 2021). Southern Poverty Law Center. 2019. “Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Conf ederacy.” Southern Poverty Law Center. ederacy (April 28, 2021). Winberry, John J. 2018. “‘Lest We Forget’: The Confederate Monument and the Southern Townscape.” Southeastern Geographer: 19-31. ProQuest (February 12, 2021).


The Lookout

Undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. have less health care compared to someone who is documented Jacqueline Cruz-Deodanes Abstract Everyone should have the necessary access to health care despite their circumstances. No individual deserves to die f rom a sickness simply because they could not af ford to get medical care. Many people in the U.S. see healthcare as a merit good. It continues to be a complicated matter for both the government and the public right now. Health care nowadays is seen as a signif icant business transaction where patients are consumers. Someone must be held responsible f or an expense acquired when seeking medical care by any health care institution. At the same time, most people depend on health insurance, whether private, public, or government-funded, there still is a percentage of uninsured individuals. While insurance is one of the many problems people f ace when seeking health care, what determines whether they can access it f rom the beginning is legally residing in the United States. Most undocumented immigrants who reside in the U.S. have less of a chance of accessing health care than documented immigrants.

Introduction Who decides that a person's immigration status determines if they can access health care? It is common knowledge that U.S health care is a complex system. At the same time, most people classif y our health care system as high-priced yet least effective compared to other countries. We still have a relatively decent system when it comes to other countries. Our health care system has its strengths and f laws, “Our health care system has its just like any other health care system. strengths and flaws, just like any For example, the number of uninsured other health care system.” individuals in the U.S., while the Af fordable Care Act (ACA) has helped decrease the percentage of people without insurance. What about the people who do not meet the qualif ications to obtain marketplace insurance? "To qualif y f or Obamacare subsidies, you must meet the f ollowing criteria: you are currently living in the United States, you are a U.S. citizen or legal resident, you are not currently incarcerated, and your income is no more than 400% of the f ederal poverty level"(Everything to Know About Obamacare (ACA)


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Subsidies, 2020). Most individuals who are not U.S. citizens or legal residents are less likely to have access to healthcare. While some undocumented immigrants visit community centers only when completely necessary, others also refuse to visit a doctor f or many reasons. Not having access to health care affects a person's physical, mental, and social health status. Certain groups such as f amilies with low incomes, the working class, and the uninsured are more vulnerable when accessing health care. The quality of lif e tends to decrease over time resulting in poor health status. One of the most signif icant issues af fecting our health care system is the lack of access for minorities. "We f ound that undocumented immigrants in Calif ornia, and the uninsured among them, had f ewer or similar numbers of doctor visits, ED visits, and preventive services used compared to U.S. citizens and other immigrant groups"(Beck TL, Le TK, Henry-Okafor Q, Shah MK, 2017).

Undocumented vs. Documented The immigrant population has shown continuous growth over the years. "The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting f or about one f if th of the world's migrants"(Budiman, 2020). There are two groups of immigrants in the U.S., documented and undocumented. Documented immigrants are classified as individuals that have entered the U.S. with a permanent resident visa or valid documentation that allows them to be in the United States. Undocumented immigrants do not have a valid visa or other paperwork that states the government has allowed permission to be in the country legally. It also includes those who entered with a legal visa but then expired, making it no longer valid. While certain immigrant groups have more access to health care even though they are undocumented than other undocumented immigrants, the majority still do not have quick access to health care services. So, that leaves the question, where do immigrants go to attain health care services? Documented immigrants can get access almost anywhere because they have the necessary documentation to purchase health care insurance. Many undocumented immigrants work jobs like agriculture, construction, and housekeeping that do not of f er employer-based health insurance. Undocumented immigrants can access Federally Qualif ied Health Centers (FQHCs), which are f ree or inexpensive. "There are approximately 12000 health centers operating around the country, providing primary health care, dental, mental health, and pharmacy services on a sliding-scale basis." (Beck TL, Le TK, Henry-Okafor Q, Shah MK, 2017). The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) passed by Congress allows the hospital to assist in urgent care despite their immigration status or insurance. Immigrants have several reasons f or migrating to a new country. Some of the reasons are f leeing violence, terrorism, oppression, and poverty to pursue a better lif e f or themselves and their f amilies. Others want to be reunited with f amily they have not seen in years. In most places, crime and violence are so big that many f amilies are lef t


The Lookout with no option but to pack a f ew belongings to move to a new place. As tricky as moving might be, that is not the only issue they f ace once arriving in the U.S. Coming to a new place without knowing anyone and not being able to communicate is one of the most signif icant issues. Another issue is accessing services such as a doctor. They prefer avoiding any contact that will put them or their f amily in danger.

The U.S. Health Care System The U.S. has more of a hybrid system than other countries such as Canada, Australia, and The United Kingdom, which have universal health care. It is common knowledge that the United States spends more on health care services than other countries. Health care is quite expensive. Most people have some health care insurance to pay f or the services received while under a doctor's care. Most individuals receive their health care insurance through their employers. Employer-sponsored plans are insurance plans purchased by an employer to give to their employees and their dependents. There is the option of paying out-of-pocket, but f ew people go that route simply due to the cost. Imagine paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to get an annual checkup; most individuals do not have that kind of money. Another way services can also be paid is by public payers: f ederal, state, and local government. This consists of programs such a s Medicare, Medicaid, Marketplace Insurance, and the Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP). The benefit of having health insurance is that it saves the individual f rom owing a large sum of money to either hospitals or doctors and still receiving the best medical care possible. Medicare is classif ied as f ederal health insurance f or individuals that are 65 years of age and older. Medicare consists of 4 parts, and each covers certain services. Part A provides hospital (inpatient) and limited nursing home coverage. Part B provides coverage f or the hospital (outpatient) and doctor visits. Part C provides managed care coverage, and Part D provides coverage f or prescription drugs. "Medicare is an inter -generational transfer program primarily f unded by taxes f rom working people to provide services to aged benef iciaries"(De Lew. Greenberg & Kinchen,1992). In order f or an immigrant to qualif y f or Medicare, they need to be a lawf ul permanent resident. This is the dif f erence between being documented and undocumented. Documented immigrants can rely on Medicare to access the health care system. Medicaid is classif ied as both a state and f ederal health insurance program f or low income individuals, receive supplemental security income (SSI) and certain women and children who meet the necessary qualif ications. Medicaid covers care services ranging f rom acute to long-term services. The eligibility of Medicaid is based on gross income. "The law requires that immigrant five years af ter obtaining lawf ul permanent residency ("Green card") to apply f or f ederal benefits"(Okie, 2007). Medicaid is another program that undocumented immigrants are not able to access. The Af f ordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama. It provides access to healthcare coverage, emphasizes prevention and wellness, and administrative efficiency to help lower the price. The ACA has been f avorable to the


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU American people so f ar. There has been an uprising in the quality and cost of health care. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible f or ACA, although the uninsured rate has decreased mainly f or U.S. citizens and legal residents. The Children's Health Insurance Program is health coverage f or children in f amilies that make too much income to be eligible f or Medicaid. The CHIP program works alongside the Medicaid program. CHIP covers doctor visits, immunizations, prescriptions, laboratory, and x-ray services at a low cost. All the government-funded programs mentioned above are accessible f or documented immigrants.

Barriers The number of people migrating to the U.S. continues to increase every year despite the ef forts to enf orce their borders. Immigrants are f aced with many barriers when coming to the United States. "Those without documents typically have lower educational attainment, household income, and health insurance coverage rates than US-born citizens and other immigrant groups" (Pourat, Wallace, Hadler, & Ponce, 2014). Some vary f rom language, culture, bureaucratic, and no knowledge of the U.S. health care system. These barriers inf luence immigrants not to seek health care services when needed, which overall creates f urther problems. The f irst barrier is the lack of insurance which leads to higher out-of -pocket costs. Health insurance offers financial assistance in emergencies, and it allows the purchase of prescription drugs at a reasonable price. Since undocumented immigrants are not eligible to buy health insurance due to not being U.S. citizens, they are most likely to pay high prices. While this, in the long run, will be more expensive compared to if they had accessed the care needed before their health progressed and got serious. In the article “Navigating a f ragmented health care landscape: DACA recipients' shif ting access to health care,” the authors compared both a Def erred Action f or Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and their sibling who was a U.S. citizen. They both had an ear inf ection, and the sibling was able to get treatment much quicker than the DACA recipient. This situation made it clear how dif ferent their access to care was according to their immigration status. Figure 1 gives an idea of the Number of Uninsured People in the United States. Immigrants make up about 20% of the uninsured. Figure: Source: (Okie, 2007).


The Lookout The second barrier is the f ear of deportation. Most undocumented immigrants that have come to the U.S. have done so illegally. As mentioned earlier in the paper, there are various reasons why immigrants decide to leave their home countries. "Undocumented persons have always had reason to f ear that use of publicly f unded services might lead to the discovery of their undocumented status; recent initiatives may only serve to exacerbate longstanding concerns within the undocumented population"(Berk & Schur, 2001). The f ear of going to the doctor and not receiving the necessary medical services simply because a person does not have the proper documentation to be in the United States, still deters undocumented immigrants from going out and acquiring the care needed. Language and culture also present challenges f or immigrants seeking to use health care services. Many cannot communicate because they either do not know or understand English, which is the primary language in the U.S. "May result in poor symptom recognition, f ailure to provide appropriate medical treatment, and low service utilization"(Chin, Kang, Kim, Martinez, Eckholdt, 2006). Since undocumented immigrants do not understand the language, they could not communicate any health problems to the physicians, or the doctors misunderstood them. "For example, in one article, undocumented immigrants f elt that the emergency room physicians did not f ully believe their symptoms." (Hacker, Anies, Folb, & Zallman, 2015) This language barrier is one of the main reasons why they do not seek the needed services. When it comes to culture, being aware of cultural dif ferences is vital to providing high-quality health care. Culture af fects the way a patient responds to the disease and the care received. Confusion and misinterpretation can result f rom many different customs, which overall will result in mistrust. Discrimination is something that some immigrants f ace when interacting with health care providers. While discrimination is not as signif icant as a f ew years back, so me individuals still experience this problem. Discrimination can be classif ied as when an individual has had a bad interaction with a health care provider where it resulted in unf air treatment. "Discrimination on the basis of documentation status resulting in stigma experienced by undocumented immigrants.". (Hacker, Anies, Folb, & Zallman, 2015). Individuals that have experienced or seen discrimination are more hesitant to seek health care. Their satisfaction and trust in the healthcare system are low. Some immigrants experience shame and stigma. These barriers reduce their chances of going out and seeking care while increasing their vulnerability to diseases. Bureaucratic issues are another reason undocumented immigrants do not have access to healthcare. The increased migration of undocumented immigrants has brought new immigration policies and laws to be enacted f actors such as political, racial, terrorism, and economic inf luence immigration laws and policies. Immigration policies exist so that government can measure and manage the volume of immigrant migration. Immigration laws and policies explicitly provide or restrict access to health services. Three categories were identified regarding access to health services: (1) laws and


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU policies restricting rights to access health services, (2) laws and policies granting minimum rights to health services, and (3) law and policies granting more than minimum rights to health services. (Martinez et al., 2013) Many laws stop immigrants f rom going out and receiving primary health care. Most of the immigration policies require that health care providers report the immigration status. Being "undocumented" means not receiving the same healthcare access compared to being a documented immigrant. This made undocumented immigrants more hesitant to seek health care f or f ear of facing deportation or harassment from authorities. These policies are seen as threats to both them and their f amilies. Seeking health services would put their f amily in harm's way, and they see it as a risk they are not willing to take.

Summary Most undocumented immigrants who reside in the U.S. have less of a chance of accessing health care than documented immigrants. A f ew evident factors mentioned previously, such as language, lack of insurance/cost, and f ear of deportation, contribute to the likelihood of undocumented immigrants seeking health care. These factors will continue to restrict immigrants until there is a good solution in place. Documented and U.S.-born individuals with health insurance have better access to health care than undocumented immigrants without insurance. Most undocumented immigrants' number one reason f or not seeking health care is f ear. "Combined with f ears in the immigrant community that getting Medicaid or SCHIP could harm an immigrant's chance of getting a lawf ul residence, remaining in the United States, or being naturalized- discouraged participation even among those eligible f or public benef its"(Ku, 2019). this f alse inf ormation will not af f ect an immigrant chance of getting their permanent residency; this is something that the immigrant community believes. They do not want to be seen as a burden on the health care system. This brings the issue of still needing to be treated despite all the health care policies towards immigrants so that the risk of disease and inf ection does not spread to other community members. Certain immigrant groups have more access to health care even though they are undocumented than other undocumented immigrants. Those with more access to health care are due to their spouse having some f orm of health insurance. Those that are more f ortunate receive health services at community centers at a low cost. An undocumented individual would use f ewer resources on health care services compared to a U.S. citizen. This is because they have minimal access. At the same time, the community center of fers primary care and preventive services, which still leaves how they have access to any specialty services they might need. Overall, undocumented immigrants do not have as much access to health care depending on both internal and external barriers. 


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References Beck TL, Le TK, Henry-Okafor Q, Shah MK. Medical Care f or Undocumented Immigrants: National and International Issues. Prim Care. 2017 Mar;44(1): e1-e13. doi: 10.1016/j.pop.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Dec 29. PMID: 28164824; PMCID: PMC7112294. Berk, M., & Schur, C. (2001). The Ef fect of Fear on Access to Care Among Undocumented Latino Immigrants. Journal of Immigrant Health, 3(3), 151-156. 10.1023/A:1011389105821 Budiman, A. (2020, September 22). Key f indings about U.S. immigrants. Retrieved November 01, 2020, f rom Chin JJ, Kang E, Kim JH, Martinez J, Eckholdt H. Serving Asians and Pacif ic Islanders with HIV/AIDS: challenges and lessons learned. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2006 Nov; 17(4):910-27. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2006.0119. PMID: 17242538. De Lew, N., Greenberg, G., & Kinchen, K. (1992). A layman's guide to the U.S. health care system. Health Care Financing Review, 14(1), 151-169. Derose, K. P., Escarce, J. J., & Lurie, N. (2007). Immigrants And Health Care: Sources of Vulnerability. Health Affairs, 26(5), 1258-1268. 10.1377/hlthaff.26.5.1258 Everything to Know About Obamacare (ACA) Subsidies. (2020, October 2). Getrich, C. M., Rapport, K., Burdette, A., Ortez-Rivera, A., & Umanzor, D. (2019). Navigating a f ragmented health care landscape: DACA recipients' shifting access to health care. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 223, 8-15. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.01.018 Hacker, K., Anies, M. E., Folb, B., & Zallman, L. (2015). Barriers to health care f or undocumented immigrants: a literature review. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 8, 175-183. 10.2147/rmhp.s70173 Ku, L. (2019, July 19). Why Immigrants Lack Adequate Access to Health Care and Health Insurance. Retrieved November 11, 2020, f rom. Martinez, O., Wu, E., Sandf ort, T., Dodge, B., Carballo-Dieguez, A., Pinto, R., Rhodes, S., Moya, E., & Chavez-Baray, S. (2013). Evaluating the Impact of Immigration


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Policies on Health Status Among Undocumented Immigrants: A Systematic Review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17(3), 947-970. 10.1007/s10903-013-9968-4 Okie, S. (2007). Immigrants and Health Care — At the Intersection of Two Broken Systems. The New England Journal of Medicine, 357(6), 525-529. 10.1056/NEJMp078113 Pourat, N., Wallace, S. P., Hadler, M. W., & Ponce, N. (2014). Assessing Health Care Services Used By Calif ornia’s Undocumented Immigrant Population In 2010. Health Affairs (Project Hope), 33(5), 840-847. 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0615


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Rural Revitalization with System Dynamics using Kinston, NC as a Case Study Davis Basden Abstract When communities have poverty, geographic isolation, joblessness, poor health, education, and industrial inf rastructure, how do members of these thrive? This paper applies a conceptual system dynamics approach to rural revitalization. System dynamics is a method to understanding the nonlinear behavior of complex systems over time using stocks, f lows, f eedback loops, and time delays. A f ully developed system dynamics model creates realistic simulations of possible system behaviors under a given range of conditions. These simulation results can be usef ul f or decision makers and stakeholders to guide the most impactf ul investments in their community leading to increased revitalization and prosperity. The complex system of interacting f actors impacting rural revitalization is applied to Kinston, North Carolina. The description of the system is built using the input f rom community stakeholders. Using system dynamics modeling, planners in Kinston will be able to better think about the consequences of a proposed strategy and see the consequences, both intended and unintended, of the proposed course of action.

Introduction This study provides a detailed account of the adaptation of system dynamics modeling to rural revitalization efforts in Kinston, NC. System Dynamics (SD) is a methodology used in several disciplines to simulate complex interactions within a system structure using a stock and f low concept. Simulations are based on data inputs of stocks and equations that govern the f lows between stocks. Balancing (negative) and reinforcing (positive) f eedback loops are used to represent interactions between system components. SD methodology has been used extensively to describe engineering, environmental, and health systems, including the epidemiology and dynamics of the spread of inf ectious disease (Bordehore, 2020). Recently, SD was used to study the prevention and response to COVID-19, including inf ection modeling, health system capacities, and the social and economic system reactions to dif ferent policies and behavioral modifications (Bradley, 2020).


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU In urban planning, SD modeling has been used f or traffic management, housing development, and strategic plans in relatively large cities. Simulations enable policy makers and stakeholders to identif y effective system levers to yield desirable outcomes by incorporating both expected and unintended outcomes within the model. SD modeling is appropriate in a rural revitalization assessment because these communities of ten have multiple stakeholders operating within their target areas which are complicated by community attributes outside their spheres of inf luence. For example, private sector retail investment can only be ef fective with public sector inf rastructure support. Public sector spending may be absorbed by programs to address poverty, crime, and underperforming schools. By incorporating public and private initiatives and community members’ inf ormation sets with community challenges and initiatives within a SD model, stakeholders can see how they are part of a broader system. Community leaders can experiment with system levers to develop more strategic and effective investments. The system approach recognizes that rural revitalization requires broad collaboration, institutional change, and time. An ef fective SD model enables stakeholders to alter system levers to examine consequences before investing in potentially inef f ective programs. In his seminal book Urban Dynamics, Jay Forrester (1969) develops the system dynamic intuition by applying system thinking into the complexity of urban planning. For example, one area of interest Forrester researched was low-cost housing construction. His SD approach demonstrated the counterintuitive nature of these complex social systems. In his model simulations, the construction of low-cost housing adversely af fected the very problem it was designed to alleviate. The construction of low -cost housing brings additional pressure to the city. The new construction attracts people that are underemployed, making the population proportions more unf avorable than the original conditions. Intuitively, sensible policies such as low-cost housing construction can still produce undesired outcomes. By creating a model that encompasses intentional and unintentional outcomes, the complex interaction modeling enables planners to alter model scopes, time horizons, agents, and institutions to models appropriate to the community attributes and stakeholders’ interests. The accuracy of an SD model is built on the knowledge of the community gleaned from stakeholders. For this study, leaders and community members in Kinston contributed their time, knowledge, and insights to inf orm the creation of this SD model as a tool f or economic development. As stakeholders contribute to the modeling of a system, they begin to see how each part of the system affects one another. The model can then be used as a tool f or decision makers using simulations to envision how system components are interconnected systems can react. SD economic modeling has been applied to economic development and urban planning, such as the IBM-sponsored 25-year plan f or the City of Portland (Yasin, 2011). Their model simulated how the core systems of the city, including housing, education, public saf ety, transportation, and the economy, are interconnected. This study is similar, but


The Lookout on a much smaller scale. In 2017, Portland had a population of 647,800; Kinston’s population was only 20,500.

What has been done for Rural Revitalization Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman wrote in a NY Times “Opinion” piece in March 2019 that “reviving declining regions is really hard.” He was ref erring to the weakening economies of rural America. According to the U.S. Departm ent of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, poverty rates in non-metro areas have exceeded metro poverty rates since poverty rates were f irst reported in the 1960s. These dif ferences still hold true today, as poverty rates in the South were 6.1% higher in non-metro areas over the 2014-2018 period. In the article “Rural Children at a Glance,” Carolyn Rogers documents that children in these areas are more likely to receive f ood stamps and f ree and reduced lunches at school. Living in rural poverty as a child increases the likelihood that he/she will remain in poverty as an adult. She recommends that health, education, and nutrition programs be targeted to areas with concentrated child-poverty rates in the South. Rural poverty is persistent and intergenerational. Why is rural economic growth “really hard”? When communities have poverty, geographic isolation, joblessness, poor health, education, and industrial inf rastructure, how do members of these thrive? Research by the Community Research Connections has f ocused on f actors that contribute to rural revitalization and community resiliency. My research uses the knowledge of community stakeholders to inf orm the SD model f or the Kinston context. Relying on community stakeholders to inf orm policy and analysis has broad acceptance in the literature. For example, many community case studies that examine the impacts of programs or initiatives in education, arts and culture, crime reduction, or housing inf rastructure investments rely on community input. Education has long been viewed as a key component of a healthy community. Education impacts employment, pay, and potentially, f amily size. The lower education attainment in rural areas undermines quality of lif e metrics and the resiliency of rural communities. In New Mexico, 13 school districts engaged members of their communities to augment the state-developed curriculum. These holistic, community-engaged programs enhanced the connection between community and schools leading to more f unding, new programs, and creative initiatives (Pitzel, et al., 2007). According to the U.S. Department of Education, another important discrepancy between urban and rural education is in access to art education. Students attending schools in high poverty, rural communities have less access to art education. Increasing access to arts education in rural areas, such as in Harlan County, Kentucky, improved students’ critical thinking and understanding of economic development and equity issues within their own communities (Brown and Donovan, 2015). Similar positive outcomes were f ound in Canada. Arts education improved student retention, engaged learners, and enhanced community outcomes by attracting new residents and businesses in rural Canada (Duxbury, N. and Campbell, H., 2011). The rural revitalization literature includes several studies that highlight both education and the arts industry as engines of


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU economic growth. Communities with well-developed expressions of visual and perf orming arts have enhanced tourism and have demonstrated resilience through economic, political, and cultural transitions (Duxbury and Campbell, 2011). A survey of artists and community leaders found that projects at the intersection of arts, culture, and creative placemaking, positively impact public saf ety by (1) promoting empathy and understanding, (2) inf luencing law and policy, (3) providing career opportunities, (4) supporting well-being, and (5) advancing quality of place. Particularly relevant to this study is the outcome that collaborative creative placemaking and public saf ety initiatives reduce violence and criminal activity (Ross, 2016). My case study area, Kinston, NC, has one of the highest crime rates in America.1 In Seattle, there was an overall negative correlation between crime rates and revitalization efforts over time. However, in early stages of institutional change, criminal activities spiked through an initial adjustment period but abated over time (Kreager, D., Lyons, C., and Hays, Z., 2011). While the authors attributed the spike in crime to development efforts, there may be bi-directional f eedback: lower crime rates may contribute to economic growth. When people f eel safe, they are more likely to engage in economic activities that support local businesses. Interactions between crime and economic development are considered feedback loops within the SD methodology thus the direction of causality does not have to be resolved, rather incorporated into the model. In his book Urban Dynamics (1969), Jay Forrester demonstrated how to use systems thinking in urban planning. He simulated a lif e cycle of an urban area. As economic activity in a region concentrates into an industrial hub, inf rastructure develops, workers are employed, their income supports other businesses. A complex web of economic interactions develops within a physical inf rastructure designed to support the social and economic interactions. Over time, the physical inf rastructure depreciates and deteriorates. Vibrant communities stagnate and decline as new inf rastructure moves previously centralized activities out to the less developed, less expensive perimeters around the urban centers. The deteriorated central core then becomes the f ocus of urban planning and revitalization efforts. Inf rastructure investment can ignite economic activities and the complex systems of economic interactions are reestablished, setting the cycle in motion again. Forrester (1969) traces reinforcing and balancing f eedback loops in urban job training programs, social net f inancing, and low-cost residential construction. In modeling these initiatives within a complex, interactive system, he f inds both intended and unintended ef fects that can inf orm policymakers and community stakeholders. His assessment of the urban built environment is particularly relevant to the Kinston context. When buildings deteriorate, which happens when depreciation rates exceed maintenance and re-investment rates, dilapidated buildings begin to def ine the built environment and the community is identif ied by that deteriorated state. When older buildings dominate the business and/or residential landscape, the economic conditions of the inhabitants


The Lookout decline. Low-profit businesses occupy older buildings. These businesses cannot afford the building maintenance requirements, and the conditions worsen. The cycle of deterioration of deliberated buildings is reinf orced by the f inancial inability of the low prof it occupants to reverse the cycle. This same relationship exists f or residential structures. When houses deteriorate, they are less desirable f or higher income households. As dilapidated houses are occupied by low-income residents who cannot af ford maintenance, the deterioration cycle is reinf orced. Forrester’s model simulates the cycle of the built environment with socio-economic conditions within a system dynamics f ramework. His model indicates that community revitalization that replaces older buildings and homes upends the deterioration cycle and can spark economic development and community revitalization. Extending the lif e cycle of the inf rastructure with new construction invites new economic activity and sparks the rehabilitation of deteriorating urban centers, attracting businesses and employment (Forrester, 1969). Skobba and Tinsley (2016) examined the impact of the Georgia Initiative f or Com munity Housing program which was designed to address housing and community development needs of low-income residents in 25 rural communities across the state. The needsassessment portion of their research indicated that the f inancial requirements to maintain and improve deteriorated housing stock were beyond the residents’ abilities to pay. The Georgia Initiative trained residents to f ix and maintain the housing stock. Through instruction on construction, electrical, and plumbing, residents were empowered to provide the labor to maintain and improve their homes. While the program provided the knowledge and training, in many cases, skills alone were not suf ficient to maintain and rebuild the housing stock. They f ound that residents needed more specialized training, and in other cases, residents needed inputs and tools f or residential maintenance that were still beyond their abilities to pay. This research recognized that the rehabilitation of aging housing stock is a complex system that involves knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation, tools, inputs, and resources. The needs of residents within the dif f erent communities varied, thus engaging community stakeholders was key to the successful implementation of training programs. The assessment of the Georgia Initiative reinf orces that revitalization of houses, neighborhoods, and communities require long time horizons and are part of complex systems of reinforcing and balancing f eedback loops.

Economist Specific Research Entrepreneurship can also be a key to rural revitalization. Gladwin, et. al. (1989) surveyed local entrepreneurs in Northern Florida about their experience with economic development and thriving local businesses in rural communities. They f ound that entrepreneurship was a necessary but not suf ficient condition. Rather, economic development required a system of individuals and activities working synergistically. Without suf f icient economic activity, household income, and local spending, entrepreneurial businesses cannot survive in rural communities (Gladwin, et al., 1989).


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Rural revitalization is complex and involves many different interactive f actors. Economic development in rural communities is hampered by systemic poverty, unemployment, crime, and deteriorating inf rastructure. Case studies and stakeholder-informed assessments have identified several potential areas for investment—investment in education, inf rastructure, arts, and programs that incentivize entrepreneurship and worker training. To ef fectively monitor and replicate successful programs, context matters. This study takes a step back and looks at this body of work broadly and attempts to describe how a community is a compilation of many subsystems working in tandem—reinforcing or offsetting the actions and outcomes of other components of the system—by applying the system dynamic methodology developed by Jay Forrester to a case study of economic development and community revitalization of one rural southern town, Kinston, NC. SD methodology is based on non-linear, system assessment using stocks and f lows, incorporating stakeholder knowledge, calibrated with data, to create a system to simulated dif ferent policy levers. The outcome of this study will be a visual representation of the institutional interactions within the community that can identif y opportunities and challenges of rural revitalization in Kinston.

Systems Dynamic Methodology This paper adapts system dynamic modeling to a rural context. SD modeling is particularly appropriate as an initial step in community planning because it is designed to look at the major composite parts of a community and consider how the dif ferent pieces interact through reinforcing and balancing f eedback loops. This type of structure is of ten nonlinear when a system has f eedback loops and time delays. Under these conditions, SD is a usef ul tool. When a system is linear, SD modeling is not inf ormative. As an example, a linear model might correlate lower crimes with increased police of ficers. Within an SD model, lowering crime could include police of ficers, im proved educational system, greater employment opportunities, and an ef fective social net system. The SD set-up enables bi-directional f eedback, interactions between subsystems, and time lags. For example, students in a better school system may have better academic performance and higher graduation rates. However, it might take several years for the improved student performance to af fect crime rates or quality of employment. SD modeling can incorporate these lags and interactions in a simulated environment. R. L. Ackoff (1997) explains, In an environment in which complexity was also growing at an increasing rate, the ability to f orecast and predict deteriorated in an alarming way. As a result, the one thing that is certain about almost any prediction beyond the immediate f uture is that it will turn out to be wrong. Thus, any method of planning that was critically dependent on the accuracy of f orecasting was doomed to f ailure. Furthermore, there were contexts within which we had f ound very good alternatives to f orecasting. …Planning should be about controlling, creating a desired f uture, not preparing f or one that has been predicted. This led to the


The Lookout realization that one could deal with the f uture through assumptions rather than predictions. …Assumptions are about possibilities; predictions and f orecasts are about probabilities. With multiple assumptions, we can do contingency planning. We can control much of the f uture and prepare for what we can’t control. In describing SD methodology, I begin with some basic terminology. A system is a set of things interconnected in a way that produces a pattern of behavior over time. It consists of three parts: elements, interconnections, and a f unction. Elements physically make up a system. They can be tangible, like a car, or intangible, like school pride. Interconnections are the relationships that hold these elements together. Many interconnections are simply f lowed of inf ormation. Inf ormation holds systems together and determines how they operate. Finally, f unctions are why the system exists. It is important to note that f unctions are deduced from behavior, not f rom rhetoric or stated goals. A systems f unction is both the least obvious part of a system and of ten the most crucial determinant of behavior. A system is more than the sum of its parts. Systems are adaptive, dynamic, goal-seeking, self-preserving, and constantly evolving. Dynamics is simply behavior over time (Meadows, 2015). System Dynamics is a method to understanding the nonlinear behavior of complex systems over time using stocks, f lows, f eedback loops, and time delays. Stocks are accumulations or stores of material or inf ormation overtime. Flows are the rate of change of this stock. Imagine a bathtub f ull of water. The stock is the water that is sitting in the bathtub. As water is added to the bathtub, the stock increases. This increase in the stock is a f low. A dynamic system model does not simply predict the f uture. It creates realistic simulations of possible system behaviors under a given range of conditions. It is important to note that structure is the source of behavior. Behavior reveals itself as events over time. The structure is the key to why things are happening, not a prediction of what will happen. System dynamics was originally used by Jay Forrester in Urban Dynamics to analyze the reasons f or urban decay and how to reverse the trend. Forrester examined how three subsystems—housing, business, and population—affected the relative health of an urban area over a 250-year period. It has since been used f or studying a diverse range of issues such as sustaining quality improvement efforts in corporations, diabetes in men, the savings and loans crisis, river basin resource planning, sustainable development, and, recently, a tool f or urban planning in Portland, Oregon. Another interesting study based in the Haaglanden region in the Netherlands uses system dynamics to examine the impact of new housing construction and the transf ormation of outdated dwellings on the regional social housing market. A rural community has many individual parts that make up the community. They are complex. When thinking of revitalization in an area, one must consider the education system, transportation, local economy, the local art scene, housing stock, and countless other parts that make up the whole. Each individual piece to the puzzle tells a dif f erent


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU story about what should be done to improve community wellness. By looking at each part collectively, we may get a better understanding of how the system works, and we can identif y synergies that yield more effective solutions. However, interactions between components of the system can yield unexpected or even counter intuitive outcomes. Forrester (1969) demonstrated how programs that assist people who are underemployed, re-train workers, provide f inancial aid and low-cost housing can yield unexpected dependencies or worsen economic conditions of the people they are designed to help. System dynamics is a tool to simulate system complexities by modeling interconnections. By looking at the issue as a whole, one better understands how each part af fects one another. This widened view of the situation helps prevent unintentionally damaging the community. This methodology is particularly relevant f or city planners who must think through how dif f erent parts of the community are related, introduce programs, and anticipate realistic time horizons between implementation and results. For example, an education intervention for middle schoolers likely would not alter retention or graduation rates immediately, but rather with a 4-year (or more) lag. Using SD modeling, planners in Kinston will be able to better think about the consequences of a proposed strategy and see the consequences, both intended and unintended, of the proposed course of action. An important f eature of SD is the construction of the model itself and running simulations to analyze how the system would perform in dif f erent situations. SD models are presented as causal loop diagrams. A causal loop diagram shows a system’s parts and how these parts interact with one another. For example, one important component of our f inal model is population size. Figure 1 is a simplif ied example of a causal loop diagram with two f eedback loops illustrating the ef fect on population. The lef t loop is a reinf orcing f eedback loop that shows that more people in Kinston results in more births, which inevitably leads to more citizens of Kinston. The right loop is a balancing f eedback loop. This shows how the more people there are, the more deaths occur, which

Figure 1. Causal Loop Diagram


The Lookout decreases the amount of people in the community. Starting with the construction of a causal loop diagram helps to identif y the major components of a system and the interactions that exist between them. Rural revitalization is a complex issue comprised of many unique pieces. System dynamics is a tool that can be used to simulate and describe how each piece interacts with one another to produce a specif ic result. Understanding how each component af fects one another will help to reduce unexpected outcomes and allow contingency planning. One of the most important outcomes of SD is the advanced understanding of the system structure present. Because of this, a process that incorporates community stakeholders is vital to the long-term success of the revitalization at hand. Community agents or stakeholders with vested interests in the success of the community and f irsthand knowledge that can contribute to the def inition of the system structure represented in the SD model f or rural revitalization. One advantage of a SD causal-loop diagrams is that it provides a tool that captures feedback f rom stakeholders and can be communicated back to them in a visual way, inviting f eedback and critique that can inf orm revisions to the model bef ore it is f inalized f or simulations. If stakeholders are present f rom beginning to end, they will obtain a f ar greater understanding of how the system they are a part of works. Also, chances of buy in and continued operations after the modeling of the system is complete increase if community agents are included. Rural revitalization will not occur if a plan is accepted but then discarded due to lack of community support or understanding. Stakeholder involvement combats these issues and provides the best chance of incorporation and ultimately success.

Why Kinston This case study is being conducted to act as a blueprint f or rural revitalization. The selected site is Kinston, a small rural city in Eastern North Carolina with a population of 21,393. Kinston, like several rural areas, at one time had a thriving local economy. Due to many macroeconomic shifts, Kinston now represents a community whose economic boom has passed. Community leaders are struggling to revitalize the city and return to prosperity. Kinston offers an illustrative case study f or rural communities trying to get back to where they once were. Kinston was f ormed in December 1762 as Kingston, in honor of King George III. It became Kinston in 1784 at the conclusion of the American Revolution. In December 1791, Lenoir County was f ormed, and Kinston was set as the county seat. Af ter the Civil War, Kinston grew rapidly. By 1870, the population was estimated at 1,100, and, by the end of the decade, it was approximately 1,700. Located on the Neuse River, Kinston also started to thrive in industry. Kinston was a major tobacco and cotton trading center. By the early 1900’s, more than 5 million pounds of tobacco were sold annually f rom Kinston’s warehouses. During this 30-year period, property values in Kinston increased by roughly 500%.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Kinston’s economy continued to thrive into the f irst half of the 20th century. New industries developed in Kinston, including lumber and cotton mills and a minor league baseball team. DuPont, a plant f or the manufacturing of polyester f ibers and pharmaceuticals, brought job opportunities. Its downtown business district, with its stylish Romanesque and Art Deco styled architecture, drew tourists and shoppers to the area. In the late 1960’s, Kinston’s growth started to decline. Once-thriving textile production moved overseas. Tobacco and cotton production and processing became more capital intensive, leading workers to migrate to more urban areas. The shif t to roadway transportation of goods undermined Kinston’s river and rail hubs. Kinston’s downtown area, housing stock, inf rastructure, education system, and retail production began to deteriorate. The city tried to revive the declining economy but was met with limited success. Today, the city is still pursuing ef forts to revitalize the community, to rebuild its inf rastructure, and to improve education and public saf ety. This story is not unique to Kinston; many rural communities are struggling to thrive, which is why Kinston is a good case study. Their revitalization efforts have momentum, crime rates are down, real estate market and job opportunities have improved, and there is a newly established local arts culture. These changes do not happen in isolation they are interconnected and reinforcing which is why SD is an appropriate tool to describe their experience and to identif y levers to yield positive outcomes. According to police of f icials, 10 years ago, the idea of people being seen downtown at night would have been impossible. Over the last decade, signif icant strides have been made to improve the downtown area. Today, people f eel comfortable eating at local restaurants, drinking at the brewery downtown, and staying in the nearby hotel. The real estate market has also begun to shif t. According to a local real estate agent, the housing supply has drastically dropped over the last couple of years, f rom 600 available homes to now approximately 90 listed. As Kinston becomes a more attractive location to live, demand will continue to increase. This can lead to the appreciation of property values, the construction of new properties, and an increase in tax revenue f or the city. Job opportunities are beginning to come back to Kinston. The Global Transpark, a multimodal industrial park and airport supporting the manuf acturing and logistics needs of the aviation, aerospace, defense, emergency response, and advanced materials industry, is continuing to grow and supply the area with good-paying jobs. This growth has also contributed to the creation of the new Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Center at Lenoir Community College. New businesses are opening in the downtown area, such as the Mother Earth Brewery and Mother Earth Motor Lodge which are serving as anchors or additional businesses. Kinston community planners also pursued a local arts culture in the downtown area. One private investor has f ound success acquiring properties downtown, renovating them, and of fering subsidized housing and studio space to promising artists. The community stakeholders hope that their individual actions can contribute to the revitalization of


The Lookout Kinston. This model application describes how their efforts have f eedback loops. There are many moving parts to any revitalization project, and an SD approach allows f or holistic analysis. This provides a mechanism f or the planning process to simulate f actors impacting intentional and unintentional outcomes. For example, rather than looking at real estate by itself , the model put real estate as one aspect of the community that is impacted by the success of the arts scene and the art scene is impacted by the availability of residential property using f eedback loops.

Research Methodology This project adapts the tool of SD to rural revitalization research in Kinston, North Carolina. Community stakeholders (agents) are vital to the success of any rural revitalization research which is why this group model building approach is applicable in this context. Their involvement in the model’s beginning stages establishes the context f or which the model is built; their primary knowledge of the community and interactions between systems improves the model’s accuracy; and their experience with the activities and outcomes provides valuable feedback to the validity of the model. If stakeholders are engaged throughout the model development, it is more likely that the model will be used as a development tool that inf orms community planning. In addition, as stakeholders to invest time and energy into the model, their interest in the insights may be enhanced. The central purpose of this research is to start a conversation to increase understanding, describe interconnections among system parts, and promote community engagement. It enables community stakeholders to collaborate around a community system that recognizes the individual systems in which they operate. To develop the conceptual SD f or Kinston, f irst, ten local stakeholders were chosen to participate in building the model. Each stakeholder was chosen based on their extensive knowledge of Kinston and their community involvement. Institutional Review Board (IRB) certif ication was obtained f or surveys and interviews. The initial model was developed based on their responses, including the model’s interconnections, time delays, and f eedback loops. Once their f eedback was represented in the model, the basic model was shared with the stakeholders. The f inal stages of the project were interrupted due to COVID-19 restricting interactions and travel. Under more ideal conditions, the model would have been presented to community stakeholders and revised based on their f eedback to enhance the viability of the project. Each of the participating stakeholders represented different aspects of community planning and development, including entrepreneurs, educators, local planners, police, and public of ficials. Based on their f eedback, the relationships between education, crime, housing, entrepreneurship, etc. developed including their interactions and f eedback loops. This inf ormation was captured in a conceptual SD model f or Kinston. Ideally, stakeholder f eedback to the model would ultimately improve its accuracy.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU The community stakeholder input was then shared with the research team including a regional economics and a systems engineer to develop a model that f it the experience of the community within the context of economic development.

SD Model The model presented below is the culmination of the stakeholder feedback interpreted through the perspective of the research team and modeled within Vensim sof tware. Figure 2. SD Model of Kinston

This model specif ically describes the housing sector in Kinston which relies on major stocks such as Kinston’s existing housing stock, and existing rental properties. In Figure 2, Kinston’s population is at the top center of the model. This is a stock, or accumulation, of Kinston’s citizens. The population is af fected by the amount of new people arriving and the number of existing citizens that leave. These two rates of change are f lows. New people arriving are directly attributed to both the rate of attraction f or Kinston and the job opportunities present to support this incoming population. As Kinston becomes more attractive than surrounding areas, new people will begin to migrate to Kinston. This cycle will continue until the increased number of people decreases the area’s attraction f or other potential incoming residents as job opportunities are taken, residential space reaches capacity, and prices rise. Existing housing stock is a major concern f or any rural area. Housing stock directly contributes to real estate tax revenue, which is determined by property value and the tax rate charged in that area. As new homes are constructed, this existing housing stock increases, which in turn increases tax revenue. However, as homes are torn down, the number of homes available decreases, which can negatively impact tax revenue. B oth the construction and demolition of homes are f lows that affect the stock of homes. At the same time, the renovation of homes that already exist is another way that revenue


The Lookout can be af fected without changing the housing stock. While renovations do change the quality of housing, this model only counts the housing stock; therefore, renovations are not included as transformative f lows within this model. The population of Kinston af fects both the demand f or owning homes and the demand f or renting properties. The preference of owning and the pref erence f or renting should approach a stable indicator value of one. If demand f or home ownership does not equal the available homes on the market, there will be a gap. In the model, this gap will be ref erred to as a housing demand imbalance. This housing demand imbalance has multiple impacts. The disparity between homes available and demand can lead to an increase in the renovation of existing homes, which is an indirect positive f eedback to the property value that f urther increases the demand f or available homes and expanding the imbalance. Another potential consequence of this housing demand imbalance is an increase in demand f or rental properties. If people are unable to purchase a hom e, they can rent. Like the disparity between demand f or owner-occupied housing and the available housing stock, a similar discrepancy may exist f or rental property. When the demand f or rental property exceeds what is available to rent, a rental property demand imbalance exists. That rental property imbalance can be driven by and expanded by the growth in the housing demand imbalance. This rental imbalance contributes to the demand f or owning homes as rental units f ill up. Another potential consequence of the housing demand imbalance is an increase in the construction of new homes. A limiting f actor on this new construction is the amount of available or underutilized land. If the quantity of available land becomes a conf ining restraint, demolition of existing properties may increase to make room f or new construction. Parallel to the changes in existing housing stock, there are similar changes in rental properties. When there is new construction, with available land constraints, existing stock will be demolished. Available rental properties are the existing rental properties af ter considering both the rate of turnover and vacancy rates in Kinston. As described earlier, a discrepancy may exist between the demand f or rental property and the available rental property. This discrepancy is illustrated by rental property demand imbalance. This rental property demand imbalance has many potential consequences. There is a positive relationship between the change in rental property demand imbalance and the amount of new construction. As the imbalance between demand and available rental property widens, new construction of rental properties will occur. This construction will absorb unused or underutilized space, which also impacts the land-space available f or new construction f or houses or businesses. The owner-occupied housing market is impacted by the rental property demand imbalance as people unable to secure rental homes shif t to home purchases. This increase in demand f or owning property will widen the housing demand imbalance, which then can be exacerbated.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Together, both imbalances contribute to the number of people who leave Kinston. If there are no available places to live, they must locate in a dif f erent area. There is a direct positive relationship between the imbalances and the people who leave. As both the rental property demand imbalance and the housing demand imbalance increase, the number of departures will also increase. In the f uture, this model could be expanded to include Kinston’s programs to attract artists to the area through low-cost housing. Their contribution to the arts culture in the community could attract tourists to the area. Both the arts culture and tourists would support business expansion, more jobs, and, thus, more residents. Enhanced economic activity both in terms of visitors and residents would increase the tax base and grow the local government budget f or social services like education and police protection. Another aspect of Kinston’s strategic planning includes the Global Transpark and its worker-training collaboration with Lenoir Community College. Greater job opportunities and better training, attract well-paid residents, f urther contributing to the community’s economic growth and pressure on its housing stock.

What does this mean for Kinston? The tone of the interviews with community stakeholders was positive; they are optimistic about the growth potential and systems working toward improving the community. The SD model provides a conceptualization of the system dynamics of the housing market. This type of model can be expanded in include inf ormation about other community initiatives such as the arts development, jobs, and production development (Global Trans Park), and greater public spending on education and saf ety. These systems are interconnected with stocks, f lows, and f eedback loops. The goal of this project is to contribute to the community’s visualization and understanding of the interconnectedness of the individual development projects. While Kinston serves as an illustrative case, this modeling approach can be applied to rural revitalization efforts in any community, rural or urban. Recruiting and interviewing stakeholders in a community is a powerful way to contribute to community growth and understanding. SD is a methodology that provides valuable visualizations and insights into the interconnections between system parts which can help planners and innovators anticipate and plan f or intended and unintended consequences.]

References Ackoff, R.L. 1997. An Interview with the Journal of Strategy and Leadership. Journal of. Strategy and Leadership: 25: 22–27. Bordehore, C., Herrador, Z., Fonfría, E. S., & Navarro, M. (2020). Understanding COVID19 spreading through simulation modeling and scenarios comparison: preliminary


The Lookout results. MedRxiv. Bradley, D. T., Mansouri, M. A., Kee, F., & Garcia, L. M. T. (2020). A systems approach to preventing and responding to COVID-19. EClinicalMedicine, 21. Retrieved f rom ulltext Donovan, L. (2017). Leveraging change: Increasing access to arts education in rural areas. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. le%20pgs_08.pdf Duxbury, N., & Campbell, H. (2011). Developing and revitalizing rural communities through arts and culture. Small Cities Imprint, 3(1). and_Revitalizing_Rural_Communities_through_Arts_and_Culture Eskinasi, M., Rouwette, E., & Vennix, J. (2009). Simulating urban transf ormation in Haaglanden, the Netherlands. System Dynamics Review: The Journal of the System Dynamics Society, 25(3), 182-206. glanden_the_Netherlands Forrester, Jay. (1969). Urban Dynamics. The M.I.T. Press: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gladwin, C. H., Long, B. F., Babb, E. M., Beaulieu, L. J., Moseley, A., Mulkey, D., & Zimet, D. J. (1989). Rural entrepreneurship: One key to rural revitalization. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 71(5), 13051314. Hjorth, P., & Bagheri, A. (2006). Navigating towards sustainable development: A system dynamics approach. Futures, 38(1), 74-92. Kreager, D. A., Lyons, C. J., & Hays, Z. R. (2011). Urban revitalization and Seattle crime, 1982–2000. Social problems, 58(4), 615-639. Krugman, Paul. Getting Real about Rural America. New York Times. 18 March, 2019, Meadows, D. H., & Wright, D. (2015). Thinking in Systems: A Primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Pitzel, G. R., Benavidez, A. C., Bianchi, B. C., Croom, L. L., de la Riva, B. R., Grein, D. L., ... & Rendón, A. T. (2007). Rural Revitalization in New Mexico: A Grass Roots Initiative Involving School and Community. Rural Educator, 28(3), 4-11. Learn to Read Causal Loop Diagrams. (n.d.) Systems & Us. Image: Reinf orcing and Balancing Loops impact population. Rogers, C. (2005). Rural Children at a Glance. United States: United States Dept. of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Ross, C. (2016). Exploring the Ways Arts and Culture Intersect with Public Saf ety. Report f or ArtPlace America. Retrieved at: https://www. urban. org/sites/default/files/publication/79271/2000725-Examiningthe-Ways-Arts-andCulture-Intersect-with-Public-Safety. pdf. Skobba, K., & Tinsley, K. (2016). Addressing housing and neighborhood revitalization needs in Georgia’s rural and small towns: A study of the Georgia Initiative f or Community Housing. Community Development, 47(4), 449-463. Yasin, Rutrell. (2011). How does a city work? Interactive model gives Portland answers.


The Lookout

Parametric Study of Autonomous Vehicle Model with Traffic Simulations by CART Analysis Coleman Ferrell, Matthew Carroll, and Jinkun Lee Abstract Autonomous vehicles (AV) are becoming more prevalent on our roadways, and the saf ety of driving alongside AVs is a growing public concern. AV developers tend to program a conservative self-driving algorithm in order to ensure public saf ety and avoid legal problems. However, a conservative position can signif icantly worsen traffic f low when AVs are introduced into the traffic network. Therefore, there is a need f or a public discussion and agreement so developers can take a more aggressive approach to make AVs drive seamlessly alongside human drivers, while also maintaining saf ety. With the objective of preventing vehicle collisions while maximizing traffic efficiency, the control parameters of AV models are identif ied, analyzed, and designed inside a traffic network simulation within the Greenville, NC network. Specifically, machine learning is utilized to create classification and regressions trees (CART), which assist in determining the values of the parameters that achieve the target variables. The outcome of this work, the set of optimal control parameters of AVs determined f rom this research, will be the decision basis when traf fic-related authorities, AV developers, and public representatives are trying to reach a consensus and discuss regulations f or all AVs.

Introduction The quantity of AVs with driving automation is rapidly increasing, thus traffic efficiency and perf ormance will drastically change in the near f uture. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) establishes distinct levels of automation in AVs. In general, an AV is considered a vehicle with a driving automation level 3 or above, which is def ined by SAE as any vehicle where the driver is not driving when the automated driving f eatures are active (SAE International, 2021). Investigation needed to be conducted urgently to prepare for the integration of AVs onto the roadways. The inclusions of AVs and the ef fect on traffic dynamics can be modeled using traffic simulations. This research uses the traffic simulation platf orm, Simulation of Urban MObility (SUMO), to simulate a mix of conventional and AVs on the Greenville, NC network. SUMO (Lopez et al., 2018) allows f or the microscopic simulation of traffic, meaning individual vehicles are simulated


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU in the model. Additionally, SUMO can output the macroscopic properties of the network, which is critical in evaluating traffic performance and safety. The network data generated in SUMO is collected f rom the geographic database OpenStreetMap (OpenStreetMap, 2021). Figure 1 displays the Greenville, NC road network generated for traf fic simulation in SUMO. Figure 1: Greenville, NC Road Network in SUMO

AV developers determine specific parameter values in the self -driving algorithm, such as distance to maintain between vehicles or allowable maximum vehicle acceleration/deceleration. The default values of these parameters f or AV models are basically provided by SUMO, but these values can be modif ied. If any parameter value in the AV algorithm is selected only f or the traffic performance, it may induce collisions between AVs and other vehicles that may catastrophically result in a temporal network disruption. Any network disruption results in enormous personal and public costs directly or indirectly. Therefore, no collisions need to be set as a hard constraint when trying to decide AV parameter values to improve the traffic network. Therefore, the AV developers tend to take a conservative position and select collision avoiding parameters to prevent legal issues, leading to deteriorating traffic flow rather than conf orming to it. However, if the parameter values f or no collisions are overemphasized, they may decrease the traffic performance. Think about a road network full of novice drivers who keep too much gap between vehicles and decelerate too of ten to maintain the distance. Decreased traffic performance means increased travel time on the roads. Additionally, longer travel time may also lead to more pollutant emissions, which is another important issue regarding the environmental sustainability. Therefore, we aim to set the boundaries or limits of specif ic parameter values that are related to collisions. These boundaries will def ine a f easible region when we search optimal parameter set values to achieve best overall traffic performance. The prospected outcome of this study, a comprehensive understanding of the behaviors of AVs mixed


The Lookout with human drivers, will be the steppingstone f or AV developers and traffic related authorities to decide the allowable design parameter limit when developing or regulating the AV driving algorithm.

Methods There are numerous model parameters in the vehicle models used within SUMO that can be adjusted, but particular parameters have more inf luence on the overall traffic perf ormance than others. In order to achieve better traffic performance, we f irst identify the most inf luential parameters based on the Pareto rule then search an optimal set of parameters by using optimization algorithm, such as genetic algorithm (GA). Before searching the optimal parameter sets, we need to f ind the boundaries of parameters that are related to collisions, which is the goal of this study. A summary of the model input parameters and output measures along with their def initions described in SUMO are denoted in Table 1. Table 1: Selected Inputs and Outputs with their Definitions from SUMO

We use a machine learning algorithm, genetic algorithm (GA), to minimize the density while maximizing the traffic’s speed and f low. In order to f ind an optimal parameter set, the algorithm modifies and tests the values of parameters per each simulation, records the outputs, and iterates this process until it converges. First, it f inds the parameter values in one of the simulations that optimize the objective output, then it runs another iteration and repeats the process until the optimal parameters are f ound. Although the GA searches a set of optimal parameter values, it does not deduce the threshold of the values that could achieve specific outputs or satisfy any hard constraint. Therefore, identif ying such thresholds, that is boundary values, is a critical step because it not only helps us avoid any violation of the hard constraint, but also it makes the search process ef ficient by reducing the f easible domain. For example, we may search candidate parameter sets that improve traffic performance while avoiding any single collision. In


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU doing so, a CART analysis can be instrumental in discovering the acceptable boundaries f or such parameters (Breiman, Friedman, Olshen, & Stone, 2017). We perf orm the CART analysis using the CART Regression tool in the statistical sof tware Minitab (Minitab, LLC, 2021). CART involves separating the data into similar groups based on correlations between dif ferent inputs and outputs. The CART tool executes the best split and repeats the process until the f inal collection of groups is f ormed. Multiple decision trees are generated with rules that def ine how the groups are split. The relative variable importance of each variable is signif icant to the classif ication of the groups. In this study, the relative importance is the impact each parameter has on the various traf fic outputs. The relative importance can also reveal the ef fect the variables have on the outputs. Thus, the CART analysis will tell which parameters have the most inf luence on the traffic performance outputs and reveal the value of the parameters that cause the outputs.

Analysis and Discussion In the traf fic simulation, no collisions are a hard constraint because any optimal AV model parameter set will not be adopted if public saf ety is not guaranteed. Therefore, we f irst investigate the collision output. The training and test data set f or CART is f rom multiple simulations with randomly selected parameter values within the appropriate range f rom their default values. In this study, we used 1,550 parameter sets. To determine which input parameters heavily inf luence the number of collisions, we evaluate the relative variable importance of the variables. The plot of the R-squared values versus the number of nodes on the decision tree is in Figure 2. The optimal Figure 2: Plot of R-squared Value based on Number of Nodes in the Decision Tree

decision tree in Figure 2 is def ined as the minimum number of nodes within one sigma f rom the maximum R-squared value. Although the optimal decision tree can suf ficiently describe the data, the decision tree with a maximum R-squared will describe the


The Lookout parameter impacts more completely. So, we compare the results we discover f rom the optimal decision tree to the results f rom the maximum R-squared decision tree. Figure 3 displays the relative variable importance of the optimal decision tree and the maximum R-squared decision tree. The most inf luential variable in each tree turns out to be tau, indicating that the variability of tau has the most signif icant impact on the number of collisions. The variables that are the second most important have only slightly inf luenced collisions and are signif icantly less important than that of tau, so the f ocus will remain on tau. The graph of relative importance only indicates the magnitude of the impact, it does not show the direction of correlation between the variables. Figure 3: Relative Importance of Input Parameters

(a) Optimal Tree

(b) Maximum R-squared Tree

We utilize the scatter plot in Figure 4 to learn the relationship between tau and collisions. The scatter plot reveals a nonlinear, negative correlation between collisions


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU and tau. Thus, the larger the tau parameter, we can expect f ewer collisions to occur. But a large tau value will lead to poor traffic performance, since it denotes a large time gap between vehicles. The point at which tau results in zero collisions needs to be determined. Figure 4: Scatter Plot of collisions versus tau

The optimal decision tree we generate in Figure 5 assists in displaying this point f or tau. As seen at node 1, when the tau value is greater than 0.683, the average number of collisions reduces to under one collision. The average number of collisions is f urther reduced to 0.241 at terminal node 4 when tau takes on values greater than 0.799. Although, this terminal has a sizeable standard deviation of 3.619, indicating the potential f or the collisions to be more than one. This occurrence is rare, however, and the grouping in the decision tree can still be helpf ul in f inding a value of tau. Therefore, the tau value of 0.799 will still be used as the lower boundary when minimizing the number of collisions. From Table 1, tau is def ined as the driver’s desired time headway between the vehicle preceding and their vehicle. Therefore, a tau value of 0.799 seconds means the f ollowing vehicle should maintain a distance f rom the leading vehicle so that the f ollowing vehicle will come to a stop at the leading vehicle’s location in 0.799 seconds.


The Lookout Figure 5 is the optimal decision tree because the tree has the smallest number of nodes while also staying within one standard deviation of the maximum R-squared value (Minitab, LLC, 2021).

Figure 5: Optimal Tree for Grouping with respect to Collisions

The maximum R-squared decision tree is in Figure 6. The terminal node with the minimum mean number of collisions is identical to node terminal 4 in Figure 5. Additionally, tau is the determining parameter, and the threshold value is 0.799. This indicates that the simplif ied, optimal decision tree contains accurate groupings and threshold values.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU Figure 6: Maximum R-squared Tree for Grouping with respect to Collisions

Now, we explore the effect the input parameters have on the perf ormance-related outputs. When looking at the relative variable importance, the accel parameter was the most inf luential f or the performance-related outputs. However, unlike with the collisions, the second important variable had a substantial impact on the outcome. The parameters we f ound to be the second most important are seen in Table 2. tau was the most common secondary important variable, meaning tau also has a notable impact on the perf ormance-related outputs. This can be f urther illustrated in Figure 7, where the graph of relative importance of the output variable f low shows a large relative importance f or tau.

Table 2: Second Most Influential Variable for Each Output Output







waitingtime minGap





speed tau





The Lookout

Figure 7: Relative Importance of Input Parameters on flow

A scatter plot f or the tau values versus the output f low, shown in Figure 8. There is a weak, negative linear correlation between tau and f low. This f inding signif ies that lower values of tau improve traffic efficiency. Hence, the minimum value of tau discovered to avoid collisions, 0.73 seconds, will be the parameter value that optimizes traffic perf ormance while also ensuring public saf ety. Figure 8: Scatter Plot of flow versus tau


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

Conclusion Self -driving parameters of AVs will become a critical determinant of public saf ety as well as traf fic performance. The anticipated increasing occupancy of AVs on roadways needs a proactive investigation of their parameters because these parameters will determine their behaviors in the mixed traffic network. We run numerous simulations with SUMO and collected data with various input parameters and their corresponding outputs. Based on this data set, we perf ormed CART analysis to determine the most inf luential parameter, which turns out to be tau, to guarantee no collisions. The regression trees in the CART analysis assisted in pinpointing the threshold of tau f or no collisions. The f indings indicate that 0.799 seconds time gap should be maintained between vehicles. This outcome will support the decision of traffic-related authorities, AV developers, and public representatives to enact AV regulations that improve mixed traffic performance while ensuring public saf ety. 

References Breiman, L., Friedman, J. H., Olshen, R. A., & Stone, C. J. (2017). Classification and regression trees. Routledge. doi: 10.1201/9781315139470 Lopez, P. A., Behrisch, M., Bieker-Walz, L., Erdmann, J., Flotter¨od, Y.-P., Hilbrich, R., Wiessner, E. (2018). Microscopic traffic simulation using sumo. In 2018 21st International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC) (pp. 2575–2582). (ISSN: 2153-0017) doi: 10.1109/ITSC.2018.8569938 Minitab, LLC. (2021). Minitab 20.2. Retrieved f rom OpenStreetMap. (2021). Planet dump. retrieved f rom https:// SAE International. (2021). Taxonomy and Definitions f or Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems f or On Road Motor Vehicles. Retrieved f rom


The Lookout

The Double-Edged Sword of Vulnerability in Media: An Empirical & Theoretical Essay Maryam A. Ndiaye, BSc, Cilia A. Kader, BASc, and Fatimah S. Ndiaye, BA Abstract In an age where social media is the medium of choice f or the average individual, expressing emotional vulnerability in public f orums has become commonplace. While there may be a f ew benefits to this phenomenon, it is a double-edged sword. There have been and continue to be individuals who exploit their own vulnerability and that of others f or personal gain, but also to their own detriment. We strongly suggest the redefinition of vulnerability as a liminal, transitory state rather than a place of settlement. Vulnerability must be expressed with great discretion and caution, more so than ever when expressed in a sphere so public as the media.

Introduction Humankind has revered the virtue of strength since the beginning of time. Such a f ixation is understandable as strength of the body and mind equals greater resistance towards the dangers, trials, and tribulations that besiege us throughout lif e. This generally results in a longer, healthier, and consequently more f avorable existence. In recent years, however, the virtue of strength has been challenged by an unexpected foe, vulnerability.

Modern Perceptions & Benefits of Vulnerability Vulnerability was once considered a weakness and a trait of the f eebleminded. Consequently, it was generally repressed. As research on the benef its of emotional vulnerability and the cathartic effect of emotional decompression have progressed, vulnerability has garnered significantly positive public support. Social stigma towards vulnerability has decreased dramatically and it is no longer taboo to share one’s feelings, consult a mental health specialist, or to display the entirety of one’s emotion online. The allowance of sensitivity and vulnerability has been benef icial in some instances, especially as the media has become a place of f ree expression for the common person. For example, enabling individuals suf fering f rom rare medical conditions to f undraise f or treatment or connect with other sufferers and medical specialists who can assist them, allowing various social activists to start and maintain awareness campaigns, and bringing public attention to relevant issues such as crises, events, and crimes.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

The Emergence of False Vulnerability However, it is our observation and empirical conclusion that a trait, concept, or notion, once perceived as desirable, virtuous, or popular, tends to become adopted by the masses and eventually corrupted by insincerity. The cause of such a phenomenon is likely the natural sociability of human beings; that is to say, an ardent and perpetual desire f or validation f rom our peers and our habit of social learning and emulation (Frith, 2013). As such, we overexploit virtues until they have exhausted their admirability. The concept of vulnerability is no exception. Particularly with the emergence of social media and increased opportunities to express oneself f reely, humankind has exploited vulnerability f or wealth, validation, sympathy, and so on. This has come to be known as f alse or insincere vulnerability. As stated by Lindsey Metrus (2021) in her insightf ul article, “Forced Vulnerability” Is Causing Societal Resentment and Fear, “Requesting round-robin sharing or on-the-spot emotional soliloquy during team meetings can create an unnecessarily comparative atmosphere as employees try to out-vulnerable each other.” False or f orced vulnerability births insincerity and that is the very opposite of what vulnerability is intended to embody. In our modern culture so deeply entwined with societal approval, opportunities for capitalization, and the romanticization of trauma, insincerity, and vulnerability are on a path towards synonymousness. In essence, it is a truth universally acknowledged that if one is wronged, one must be given due consideration, attention, and protected status. This truth has birthed a generation of troubles, some of the most prominent of which we shall expand upon.

Child Exploitation Many are f amiliar with the “Instagram parents” whose social media accounts are f looded with photos of their children engaged in suspiciously aesthetic activities. These guardians are problematic, according to Dr. Deborah Voreen (n.d.), namely because they are breaching the privacy and trust of their child who is of ten too young to appreciate and make a well-inf ormed decision concerning the publicization of their personal inf ormation. This is especially problematic when a child is suf fering f rom a mental or physical ailment. A parent who overpublicizes their child in such a predicament brings into question the nature of their intentions. They are taking a child and placing them bef ore a camera in their most vulnerable state, such as when they are ill or emotionally distressed, and exploiting this vulnerability to the public. There are safe and appropriate places such as child health organizations where parents could express theirs and their child’s concerns and seek support and yet many take to various social media platf orms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook that, with f ew notable exceptions, are not equipped to allow f or the safe expression of vulnerability especially in ref erence to children but are f ully equipped towards popularity and monetization. Additionally, numerous examples of this phenomenon can be f ound among child stars raised in f ront of the scrutinizing lens of a camera who, once reaching adulthood, have spoken out against placing children in the public eye. Daniel Radclif f e, who starred as


The Lookout Harry Potter, shared how he was visibly “dead behind the eyes” in a number of scenes he appeared in as he was an overworked, exhausted young actor. Sophie Turner, who portrayed Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, spoke about how internet trolls called her “f at” and a “bad actress” and how she considered suicide on multiple occasions because she had “lost the motivation to do anything.” Macaulay Culkin, star of the Home Alone movies, was abused emotionally and physically by his f ather who threatened him to “do good or I’ll hit you.” Fortunately, Culkin successfully emancipated himself at age f if teen (Bumf uzzle, 2019). These are just a f ew accounts of the widespread exploitation of children in the media.

The Encouragement of Unhealthy Behaviors Beyond children, adults are also capable of exploiting themselves in the media through f alse vulnerability. Doing so is colloquially ref erred to as “sadf ishing” (Bissell, 2020). Sadf ishing is usually temporary and limited to a younger demographic. While most sadf ishing is mildly problematic, the greater issue lies with chronic insincere vulnerability which some adult inf luencers have turned to f or publicity and f inancial gain. For example, there has been great controversy over social media inf luencers such as Nicholas Perry (better known as Nikocado Avocado) and Trisha Paytas who are notorious f or their breakdowns, instability, and excessive theatrics. Whether these behaviors are genuine or not, inf luencers of this nature receive much attention and scrutiny through their content f eaturing emotional and physical abuse, maladaptive coping strategies, bodily harm, and increasingly dangerous behavior, all in the name of entertainment. This culture of toxicity, histrionic behavior, and self -harm has perhaps spiraled out of control because inf luencers of this nature receive the undivided attention of morbidly f ascinated viewers. Similar to the appeal of sideshows and public punishments of the past, many f ind it dif f icult to turn away f rom a spectacle regardless of its ethical dubiousness.

Vulnerability Leading to Tragic Consequences Even with ardent sincerity, vulnerability expressed under inappropriate circumstances and to the wrong audience has had devastating effects on those expressing themselves. Italian teenager, Matteo Cecconi, eighteen years old at the time, took his own lif e during a class break when he ingested lethal chemicals. Police sif ted through his computer and discovered that ten users had connected with Cecconi through a pro-suicide forum and were strongly encouraging him to end his lif e (Zorzut, 2021). Japanese serial killer, Takahiro Shiraishi, murdered nine people whom he had contacted over Twitter. He f irst encouraged them to commit suicide, and then of fered to assist in the process (Wakatsuki & Cheung, 2020). Another Japanese serial killer by the name of Hiroshi Maeue murdered three people through online persuasion. He f ound his victims through a suicide club website on which individuals who were apprehensive of dying alone sought partners to die with. Maeue pretended to be interested in committing double suicide with his prospective victims and when they came to their agreed-upon location, he murdered


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU them. Maeue later blamed his cruelty upon his paraphilic sexual desires, claiming that he “wanted to see a f ace in agony” (Fuqua, 2020). These are rather extreme examples of negative consequences to online vulnerability, but there exist countless cases of milder but still devastating versions. Many an inf luencer has had their self -esteem and psychological health compromised or destroyed by the scathing and abusive responses of internet trolls. Mental health specialists are constantly stressing the importance of a healthy support system and a saf e space f or expression. If this is dif f icult to f orm even in a f amilial sphere, it is near impossible to do over the internet. With billions of internet users, there is simply no way to completely separate the good f rom the bad. As cynical as it sounds, the internet is not, and will never be a completely safe space to f ully express oneself.

Redefining Vulnerability in Media We warn our children against speaking to strangers. Why then do we encourage anyone to bear themselves emotionally to the same strangers? There is a time and place f or everything, and vulnerability should be no exception. It is a common misconception that to truly accept and appreciate a concept, we must broadcast it to the masses. Quite the contrary, we do not broadcast our bank inf ormation when we receive a tidy sum of money. Instead, we protect it by practicing discretion and common sense in its handling. The same precautions should be exercised in the expression of vulnerability. Furthermore, trauma ruminated upon f or inappropriate durations of time is counter ef fective. They say time heals all wounds, but we believe that is only accurate if there exists a conscious effort to heal and overcome the wound in question. But it seems many are content to take up residence half way through the vulnerability process, dwelling on their trauma and f urther magnifying its ef fect on their lives. At such a point, vulnerability morphs into rumination which has been shown to prolong emotional distress (Echiverri et al., 2011). In conclusion, we suggest that vulnerability be redefined as a liminal, transitory state rather than one in which we should endeavor to settle. Adopting the latter approach undermines the timeless virtues of strength and mental f ortitude, and promotes a society driven by pity and insincerity. The media is an innovative and dangerous tool all the same and so we must practice great care and discretion when using this tool to express ourselves vulnerably. 

References Bissell, J. (2020). What is Sadf ishing?: A New Trend That Parents Need to Know About. The Bark Blog. Retrieved Oct 19, 2021 f rom ishing-trend/


The Lookout Bumf uzzle, M. (2019). The negative impact f ame has on child stars. 8forty. Retrieved Oct 19, 2021 f rom Echiverri, A. M., Jaeger, J. J., Chen, J. A., Moore, S. A., & Zoellner, L. A. (2011). Dwelling in the past: The role of rumination in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 18(3), 338-349. Frith, U. (2013). Are there innate mechanisms that make us social beings. Neurosciences and the Human Person: New Perspectives on Human Activities. Pontif ical Academy of Sciences, 215-236. Fuqua, L. M. (2020). The Suicide Serial Killer of Japan | True Crime. Medium. Retrieved Oct 19, 2021 f rom -japan-true-crime-494ed2be8514 Metrus, L. (2021). “Forced Vulnerability” Is Causing Societal Resentment and Fear. Byrdie. Retrieved Oct 14, 2021 f rom Voreen, D. M. (n.d.). Child Exploitation Exists on Social Media. Medium. Retrieved Oct 19, 2021 f rom Wakatsuki, Y., & Cheung, E. (2020). Japanese ‘Twitter killer’ sentenced to death f or murders of nine people. CNN. Retrieved Oct 19, 2021 f rom /japan-twitter- killer-intl-hnk/index.html Zorzut, A. (2021). DRIVEN TO DEATH Boy kills himself af ter being egged on by sick trolls on suicide website. The U.S. Sun, June 10, 2021. Retrieved Oct 19, 2021


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU


The Lookout

Frida Kahlo: Unveiling Disability, Veiling Femininity Talisha Ward Today in pop culture when viewers are introduced to a person who identif ies as disabled the introduction is of ten accompanied by an overcoming narrative. This is the belief that their disability holds them back. So, in order to be as successful as a person with a normative body, they must overcome their disability. Scholars from different disciplines f all prey to this thought. Gerry Souter, author of various books about inf luential artists, is no exception, as seen in his 2005 book, Frida Kahlo: Beneath the Mirror. In the introduction he writes that, “her paintings, with their symbolic palettes, kept madness (yellow) and the claustrophobic prison of plaster and steel corsets at arm’s length. Her personal vocabulary of iconic imagery reveals clues as to how she devoured lif e, loved, hated, and perceived beauty”. 3 Frida Kahlo was a Mexican surrealist painter born in 1907. She is known f or her self portraits that exude her understanding of what it means to be a woman, to be Mexican, and to experience chronic pain. As a child Kahlo had become disabled af ter contracting polio which resulted in one of her legs being shorter and thinner than the other. At the age of eighteen, Kahlo suffered many injuries due to a bus accident where she was impaled by a handrail through her pelvis. Souter reviews Kahlo’s body of work as a way to distance herself f rom her lived experience; he claims that her art allows her to escape or overcome the hardships of being disabled, a woman and Mexican. However, in rejecting the overcoming narrative, it is plausible that her artwork, specifically My Birth (1932) and The Broken Column (1944), disrupts the starer-staree relationship and the male gaze by prioritizing displaying the pain and suf fering caused by her disability in order to protect her f emininity, seen in the repeated motif of the white sheet and the conscious choice to paint herself as nude instead of naked. In the self -portrait The Broken Column (Figure 1), Frida Kahlo paints herself upright in a nondescript landscape. Her head is in the blue sky while the rest of her body is against a cracked green 3

Gerry Souter, Frida Kahlo: Beneath The Mirror (Parkstone International, 2005), 7.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU jagged environment. Frida’s hair is down and out of her f ace to clearly reveal a silent sadness. Under her unibrow her eyes stare at the viewer as tears well up inside. Tears drop down her cheeks but do not reach her lips which are held tightly closed in def iance. Frida’s chin seems to sit atop a silver ionic placed on a column. This is the broken column the piece is named f or. The column is set in a bloody wound that is the length of Kahlo’s visible body; it has taken the place of her spine. The column and its wound partitions Frida’s body into two halves. The distance between her breasts is exaggerated by Kahlo’s choice to paint herself almost f ully nude. Her shoulders carry the burden of thick metal straps that descend into f our metal belts. The f irst strap goes across Kahlo’s chest right above her breasts, the second is directly under her breast, the third across her midsection, the f ourth across her hips. The metal belts hold Kahlo together while binding her to the column that threatens her wholeness. Kahlo is also painf ully adorned in nails that pierce her skin, f ace, breast, column and even the white f lowy sheet that hides her vaginal area f rom the audience. Kahlo’s choice to depict herself as starring places viewers of the artwork in a starer -stare e relationship with Frida Kahlo herself. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, a professor of English with a f ocus on disability studies and f eminist theory at Emory University, extrapolates on this relationship in chapter seven of her work: Staring: How We Look. Here she writes: “our ocular id, in other words, jerk our eyes toward a stimulating sight and our ocular superego guiltily retracts them...Sometimes, however, truncated stares come f rom our distress at witnessing f ellow humans so unusual that we cannot accord them a look of acknowledgement”.4 When applying this concept to Kahlo’s The Broken Column, the stimulating sight must be Frida Kahlo. She purposefully is against a bland background so that viewers are consumed by her being. Viewers’ ocular superego is f orced to pan the length of her body trying to f ind a part of her being that does not make them uncomfortable. But that is not possible because the adornment of nails, due to their angled insertion and shadow, evokes the real pain that Kahlo is accustomed to. To avoid f eelings of discomfort, viewers can only f ocus on the metal straps and the column that sits within her gaping wound. Garland-Thomson reveals Kahlo’s strategy when she concludes that, “the starer-whether stunned, tentative, or hostile—responds to the staree, who guides her visual interlocutor toward the self -representation of her choice. An amazing person, the eyes explain, is what you see”. 5 The column is Kahlo’s choice of self -representation. The column is juxtaposed with the metal straps, the directionality of the two materials speaks to how her wholeness is both threatened and secured by the injury that led to her being disabled. The pain that she will always experience is a direct ef fect of her injury but also a direct effect of the medical operations she had undergone in hopes to improve her quality of lif e. To uphold the power that the starer has over the staree or disabled person, viewers of The Broken Column could attempt to only f ocus on the f oreground of the painting where they assume Kahlo’s waist and 4

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Looking Away, Staring Back,” in Staring: How We Look, (Oxford University Press, 2009), 79. 5 Garland-Thomson, “Looking Away, Staring Back,” 94.


The Lookout vagina would be. However, she chooses to cover that area with the white sheet to discourage sexualizing her body thus disrupting the male gaze. In an article titled “Feminist Philosophy of Art”, author A.W. Eaton at the University of Illinois at Chicago, provides a concise description of the concept of the male gaze. They write that, “‘the male gaze’ usually refers to the sexually objectifying attitude that a representation takes towards its f eminine subject matter, presenting her as a primarily passive object for heterosexual-male erotic gratification”.6 Kahlo does not paint herself as a passive object. In The Broken Column her own personal lif e happenings inspire the content presented but viewers are not privy to the actual occurrence of the injury. Instead, Kahlo is actively communicating her pain, most evident in the decision to paint herself crying. Kahlo refuses to be passive or to allow f or objectification by actively covering her vaginal area. She will not let viewers assume anything sexual about her. This is reiterated when she chooses to paint herself partially nude with her exposed breasts. Her breasts also carry the burden of pain seen in how the nails almost tower over her nipples. The white sheet in the f oreground creates a barrier that does not allow viewers to visualize her sexual organs therefore not allowing herself to be sexualized or objectified. Kahlo also uses the motif of the white sheet with its purpose of disrupting the male gaze in an earlier artwork titled My Birth. Twelve years before The Broken Column, in 1932, Frida Kahlo painted My Birth (Figure 2). In the f oreground of this experimental self portrait there is a beige baseboard that simultaneously f rames the painting while also elevating the depicted room to act as a sort of stage. A bed is centered on top of horizontal wearied wooden f loorboards. The bed is quite large despite the length of the headboard. Between two white pillows a nondescript f igure lies motionlessly. Their f ace and chest are covered by a white sheet which is wrapped around the top of their torso then positioned under the rest of the exposed, partially nude body. In this barren room the nondescript person has spread her legs while planting her f eet on the white bedsheets. The angled thighs unveil the pubic area and vagina. Protruding through the vaginal orif ice is the neck and bald head of what is understood to be Frida Kahlo. Her head is turned to the right, eyes closed and f ace unexpressive. Her head covers the anus as it meets what was once a white sheet but has now been tainted by brownish blood. Above the bed a f ramed portrait of a woman dawning a head covering, who is understood to be the Virgin of Sorrows, hangs centered on the ash blue wall, presiding over the birth.


A.W. Eaton, “Feminist Philosophy of Art,” Philosophy Compass 3, no. 5 (September 2008): 878.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU My Birth is contextualized by understanding Frida Kahlo’s own relationship w ith birth. In her article, “Frida Kahlo: A Contemporary Feminist Reading”, Liza Bakewell describes and explains My Birth by stating: The Mater Dolorosa, who weeps f or the loss of her child, suggests the sorrow Frida f elt at the time she painted this canvas, when shortly before, Frida had to terminate a pregnancy. Yet this seemingly dead mother, covered f rom the waist up, is naked f rom the waist down, and is giving birth to a child, a child whose protruding head is unmistakably that of Frida. The mother is both Frida and Frida’s mother, Matilde Kahlo, and the child is both Frida and the child she lost.7 Kahlo’s choice to use her own experience of an unsuccessful birth as inspiration f or this piece directly makes viewers question her f emininity. Blakewell describes the depicted body as a dead mother, because of the white sheet, raising the question did the birth kill her or did the inability to birth a child kill her. Kahlo rejects both of these thoughts by commenting on the circle of lif e, albeit in a morbid manner. While the white sheet does give the depicted body privacy it also obscures the identity, which is why Blakewell reads the body to be both Kahlo’s and her mother’s and the head exiting the birth canal to be both Kahlo’s and her lost child’s. Frida Kahlo has given birth to herself not an actual baby which introduces the belief that a f emale or woman’s purpose is much more than producing the next generation f or a man. Here Kahlo is disrupting the male gaze because her nude body is not f or the gratif ication of the heterosexual male. She acknowledges she cannot birth the next generation, but she can birth herself . While Kahlo’s self -birth is lamentable, hence the presence of the Virgin of Sorrows, it is also revolutionary. The Virgin of Sorrows is f ramed to be presiding over the birth. However, if viewers f ollow her eyeline it becomes clear that she is staring at the body on the bed, introducing the starer-staree relationship. While the Virgin of Sorrows does not understand how the body is being construed, she does understand the emotional toll of losing a child, making her an empathetic starer. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson explains how empathy can make the relationship between the starer and staree positive when she recounts a dif f erent approach to staring: She understands her role in the staring encounter as one of ‘defiance’. Her aim in that def iance is to ‘reflect back to them that (1) they are staring at someone, (2) that someone KNOWS they are staring at them, and (3) that person they are staring at is an amazing person. Then they walk on with something to think about...they MIGHT be thinking that… we’re not so dif f erent after all. The Virgin of Sorrows knows that Frida Kahlo and herself are not so dif f erent af ter all because they relate on an emotional level. The Virgin of Sorrows and the viewers do not need to f ully understand the pain Kahlo f eels about having a body that 7

Liza Blakewell, “Frida Kahlo: A Contemporary Feminist Reading,” Frontiers: A Journal ofWomen Studies 13, no. 3 (1993): 176.


The Lookout cannot birth a child as long as they acknowledge her humanity and do not think less of her. 8 Kahlo’s consistent choice to portray herself as partially nude is an important component to both The Broken Column and My Birth. In the f irst chapter of The Nude. A Study in Ideal Form, art historian Kenneth Clark explains the dif ference between being naked and being nude. He writes that: to be naked is to be deprived of our clothes, and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us f eel in that condition. The word ‘nude,’ on the other hand, carries in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and def enseless body, but of a balanced, prosperous, and conf ident body: the body re-formed.9 Frida Kahlo intends to paint herself as nude and not naked in order to contest how society understands and reacts to the normative or non-normative body. In both pieces she is deprived of clothes not f or the purpose of sexualization or objectif ication but to insert the claim that her body, no matter the pain and discomfort, is also an ideal body. In My Birth she protects the depicted body f rom embarrassment by veiling the f ace. With this she is asking the viewers to respect the privacy of the body while she herself is conf ident in the vulnerability required to show her seemingly catastrophic birth, confidence is seen in how her legs are willf ully open f or observation. In The Broken Column, Kahlo is balanced literally due to the placement of her chignon the ionic and the sense of symmetry created by the partitioning column. However, the true balance is seen in her ability to cry while also standing proudly in the pain induced by injury. Later in the same chapter, Clark includes the popular assumption that, “the naked human body is in itself an object upon which the eye dwells with pleasure and which we are glad to see depicted”. 10 Kahlo ensures that the depiction of her body is not pleasurable. She willingly does this by having the Virgin of Sorrows, not the Virgin Mary11, preside over My Birth. The Virgin Mary (Figure 3) characterizes the ideal woman or the ideal f emale body to be morally virtuous. Kahlo cannot be morally virtuous because depicting her own birth in order to allude to her miscarriages and inability to carry a child to term implies


Garland-Thomson, “Looking Away, Staring Back,” 94.


Kenneth Clark, The Nude: A Study In Ideal Form (Princeton University Press, 1972), 3. Clark, The Nude: A Study In Ideal Form, 5. 11 The Virgin of Sorrows is how The Virgin Mary is referred to when her life events are sorrowful. 10


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU that she is a sexual being. However, as seen in The Broken Column, Kahlo does not offer her sexuality to the viewers. This places Kahlo and her body in opposition to the alternative ideal f emale body, Venus (Figure 4). If Kahlo’s naked body is neither a manif estation of the Virgin Mary or Venus, how can we understand her being? Kahlo consciously chooses to portray both her disability and f emininity, but they are not at the expense of one another, this allows her to of fer up her physical f orm as an ideal body. With The Broken Column and My Birth Kahlo asks viewers to consider her being as a disabled person, then as a woman and f inally how those two identities come together to create Frida Kahlo. She did not overcome her disability, as some claim in their writings, her disability inf orms the way she moved through the world as a woman. 

References Bakewell, Liza. "Frida Kahlo: A Contemporary Feminist Reading." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 13, no. 3 (1993): 165-89. Accessed April 18, 2021. doi:10.2307/3346753. Clark, Kenneth. The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Princeton University Press, 1972. Eaton, A.W. “Feminist Philosophy of Art,” Philosophy Compass 3, no.5 (September 29,2008): 873-893. Accessed May 5, 2021. Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Looking Away, Staring Back.” In Staring: How We Look. Oxf ord University Press, 2009. Hayek, Salma, Sarah Green, Jay Polstein, Lizz Speed, Nancy Hardin, Lindsay Flickinger, Roberto Sneider, et al. Frida. HBOMAX . HBO , 2002. reenter ed=true&userProfileType=liteUserProfile.


The Lookout Polinska, Wioleta. "Dangerous Bodies: Women's Nakedness and Theology." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 16, no. 1 (2000): 45-62. Accessed April 19, 2021. Souter, Gerry. “Introduction.” In Frida Kahlo: Beneath the Mirror. Parkstone International, 2005. Udall, Sharyn R. "Frida Kahlo's Mexican Body: History, Identity, and Artistic Aspiration." Woman's Art Journal 24, no. 2 (2003): 10-14. Accessed April 18, 2021. doi:10.2307/1358781.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU


The Lookout

Grae Vision Karli Lilley  Heartbreakingly innocent eyes returned Daelyn Grae’s stare. Dressed in a tiny blue onesie, the baby's vivid green eyes popped and demanded attention. With dusty blonde hair, the eight-month-old boy showed very little resemblance to his brown-haired, brown-eyed mother Daelyn. As she chased away last night’s unwanted visions and stared into the eyes of her f uture, Daelyn made f ish faces to the tune of her f avorite sound: the babe's laughter. With his high-pitched squeals, Noah Grae’s arrival was as unexpected as it was rewarding. Even though his appearance often challenged her in ways she did not understand, Noah brought joy to every inch of Daelyn’s lif e. “Are you ready to get dressed?” Daelyn inquired of the babe with a tone solely given to a mother’s f irstborn. “Are you ready to start the day?” Daelyn asked, even though her puf fy, red-rimmed eyes answered the question well enough f or herself. With little energy due to little rest, she was not ready to start the day as the night had been plagued with vicious dark green eyes Even though his appearance often and unwanted taunts. She f orced the challenged her in ways she did not thoughts f rom her mind and understand, Noah brought joy to continued to rummage through every inch of Daelyn’s life. Noah’s chest of drawers to f ind him something to wear. “Are we going to match today, baby? I think so,” she laughed as Noah continued to stare at her with wide-eyed curiosity. She dressed him in a plain white t-shirt and some comfortable black pants af ter changing his diaper. Noah squeaked and giggled as she tickled his stomach, making her smile despite the rough start to her morning. She placed him back on the queen-size bed and dressed herself in a white blouse and black jeans f or her workday. Daelyn worked as a clerk at the local craf ts store while she attempted to navigate her lif e now that it included her son, whom she so desired to give a pleasant upbringing. She just needed someone to tell her how to smoothly transition f rom a twenty-one-year-old college graduate to a twenty-two-year-old single mother. In the past eight months, Daelyn had adjusted quite nicely to becoming a mother to a young one, but she still f eared the day her son could speak f or himself. As ready as she was going to be f or the day ahead, she called her best f riend, Melissa, who was to watch Noah while she was at work. As she waited f or Melissa to arrive at her quaint one-bedroom apartment, Daelyn played with Noah and his spotted stuffed giraffe, Lewey. “Lewey is tall, isn’t he?” she asked Noah with a goof y smile on her f ace. No matter what happened she knew that Noah would continue to be her rock and her saf e place, whether he could talk or not. She loved him with every f iber of her being,


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU regardless of his origins. At the sound of a knock on the door, Daelyn cradled Noah to her side and carried him to the door. “I wonder who that is? Do you know?” she inquired in an exaggerated curious tone. She tried to toe the line between babying the boy and making him aware of normal conversations. Beginning at eight months old may be overkill, but Daelyn believed the practice might benef it him in the f uture. While she would not shy away f rom parenting advice, Daelyn f elt she was doing the best she could given that she was thrown into parenting quite suddenly. “Hey, girl!” Melissa said enthusiastically in greeting. To Noah, she said, “Are you ready f or a day f ull of cartoons and snuggles?” Melissa pinched his cheeks and blew raspberries on his stomach during the handover. They both knew he would not understand the complex words, but Daelyn liked to encourage intelligence through context clues. Once Noah was securely in Melissa’s arms, Melissa asked, “How are you doing? Really? You look a little f lustered.” “I’m okay. I had a pretty rough dream last night, but seeing him and doing our normal routine was pretty calming. He almost always helps settle the restlessness,” Daelyn responded tiredly, though she did not mention she had quickly f linched at the sight of Noah’s green eyes and blond hair when she woke. She f elt pathetic f or it, and not to mention, she f elt as if she were a horrible mother. Frustrated with herself, she thought, who f linches f rom making eye contact with their own eight-month-old? “I can see the dark circles, Dae. You need to agree to some sort of treatment.” “I’m already going to therapy once or twice a week. I am pretty sure I’m okay,” Daelyn stated, but she was beginning to understand her best f riend’s point, especially with the morning’s eye contact f iasco. That was a new development. In the negative direction. At least therapy will be interesting, she thought bitterly. “If you say so,” Melissa responded doubtfully. Sarcastically, she said, “Have a f un day telling people about crafts!” More seriously, she said, “I'll send you pictures and updates every f ew hours!” “Thank you! I actually don’t know what I would do without you,” Daelyn said gratefully. With a wave, a blown kiss, and one last glance in the pairs’ direction, Daelyn hopped in her gray Toyota Camry and drove twenty minutes to the two-story building that housed her job. Working at Craf tOp (short for Craft Opportunities), she of ten lamented that even as a college graduate with a business degree and an interest in art, she was stuck as a clerk at a place with a dumb name. However, Daelyn knew that once she discovered what she truly wanted f or herself and f or Noah, she would be able to move on to bigger and better (and better-paying) business ventures. With time to herself f or the f irst time today, she could piece together the night’s nightmare, and it lef t her with a sour taste in her mouth. She of ten was reacquainted with the worst experience of her lif e through night terrors, though they were not of ten as acutely detailed as this one was. Bef ore she could question if the dream should be a warning, she arrived at CraftOp f or her six-hour shift. Working f rom 9-3 of ten drained Daelyn as she was on her f eet all


The Lookout day, but today, she viewed the constant standing as a way to expel some restless energy and keep her thoughts f rom drif ting too f ar f rom reality. “Hey, Dae! I didn’t know you had a shif t today,” one of her coworkers, Brandi, said. “Yeah, I’m covering f or Marks,” she responded with a f riendly smile. Af ter three hours of f ake smiles and numerous ‘Hi, how can I help you?’s, Daelyn was approached by a man in his mid-twenties. “Do you need help with anything, sir?” she questioned. She was already quite weary f rom the appreciative gleam in his blue eyes. She stayed saf ely a step behind the counter. “Some directions to the paint section. I am looking f or blue paint. Maybe you could direct me to the red, as well, and we could make purple,” the black-haired twentysomething responded slyly. Disgusted and apprehensive by his blunt remark, Daelyn f altered and took another step back f rom the counter that separated them. “All paint colors are in aisle nine. Turn around, take a lef t, and f ollow the aisle. Paints will be on your right,” she responded conf idently, though the rapid racing of her heart and sweaty palms contradicted her cool exterior. “You sure you can’t show me there? I might get lost and need a guide with a cute ass to show me the way,” the man responded suggestively. “No, I’m sure you can f ind the way just f ine,” her f aux confidence fading rapidly at his persistence. He could not see anything below her waist f rom where she was standing. He winked and shrugged, turning around, but not bef ore adding, “Your loss, darlin’.” Her weak knees f inally gave out, and she leaned f ully against the wall. Counting to f if ty by f ive’s was not helping her. Brandi appeared behind the checkout counter and gave Daelyn’s shriveled posture a concerned look. “Are you okay, Daelyn?” Brandi questioned. Brandi had called her ‘Dae’ since the day they met. Since Brandi called her ‘Daelyn,’ she assumed she looked rather pitif ul sloped against the wall, red-faced and nearing hyperventilation. “I’m f ine,” Daelyn responded unconvincingly. “I just need a minute in the break room.” She stumbled to her f eet and shakily darted to the corresponding room to the lef t of the counter bef ore Brandi could respond. She sat in the back corner of the small room and succumbed to the tears, sharp inhales, and unavoidable f lashbacks f or the next twenty minutes. “You are okay; you are safe. One nightmare and one sleazy guy are not Five…ten…fifteen...twenty, she tried to count with rapid inhales. Her small going to ruin your life.” f rame garnered several concerned and questioning glances though nobody knew what to do seeing their normally perfectly composed coworker reduced to something akin to a panic attack. Af ter her short stint in the break room, she unsteadily


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU rose to her f eet, took a deep breath, and walked into the bathroom to f reshen up and regain her composure enough to f inish the remaining hours of her shift. Staring in the mirror as she wiped her f ace clean of the makeup ruined f rom her tears, Daelyn whispered to herself, “You are okay; you are safe. One nightmare and one sleazy guy are not going to ruin your lif e.” She demanded of her reflection, “Brave face until the end of your shif t.” Surprisingly, Daelyn f elt marginally better after the talk with her mirror image. Looking at her melancholic brown eyes against tanned skin, she managed a weak smile. “Keep it together until Dr. Harper.” Brandi rushed to meet her when Daelyn stepped through the door, “Are you sure you're good?” “No, but I am okay,” Daelyn responded with a smile and a light laugh that she hoped would manage to calm Brandi’s concerns. I will be good one day, Daelyn thought. I will be a good mother to Noah, too, and tell him not to approach women in stores to discuss blending paint colors, she thought somewhat seriously. As she stepped back up to the counter, her phone chimed with a picture of Noah staring hypnotized at the TV screen where two animated dogs were chasing each other. Instantly, she smiled. Noah normally could bring brightness to the darkest of days. With a bye and thank you f or caring to Brandi, Daelyn walked to her car at the end of her shif t a f ew hours later. She had time to stop by the f ast-food joint to grab some caf feine and f ries f or what would undoubtedly be a draining therapy session. Fifteen minutes later, with her f ries and iced cof fee in hand, she entered the therapist’s office and shivered at the thoughts that she would have to share with Dr. Harper, her psychiatrist. She greeted the receptionist with a smile and a Daelyn Grae f or 4:15 with Dr. Harper. “How was your day?” Dr. Harper greeted kindly. “Do you want the bullshit answer or the real one?” Daelyn responded dryly. “You know I want the real one,” Dr. Harper said. “Well, okay then,” she said. “I woke up f rom the recurring nightmare at f our in the morning. It was worse this time, somehow. My f riend, Melissa, thinks I need to do something more to help myself. I know she means well, but I am not really sure what else to do. Maybe you can help with that. Some guy tried to hit on me at Craf tOp, and I f reaked out and cried in the break room f or twenty minutes. How was your day, Dr. Harper?” “My day has been busy, but I’d like to talk about your encounter with the male. What happened, and why do you think it triggered such a reaction?” “With the dream in my mind, his comment about ‘blending paint colors,’ and his persistence, I guess I thought history was way too close to repeating itself ,” she responded unsurely, shrinking into her seat.


The Lookout “Okay, I can see how those two events caused your reaction. How was your dream dif f erent f rom the rest? If you want to share,” Dr. Harper responded. Fighting tremors at the reminder, she told Dr. Harper how, in this dream, she could clearly see the cracks in the walls, the gray of the couch, and the spinning f an on the ceiling. She could see the f orest green of his eyes, the bright white of his teeth, and the dark red of his shirt. She could hear his slurred speech, her continuous pleas of stop, please, no and I don’t want this, and his response of well, I do. She could f eel his rough hands as they tore at the buttons on her jeans and slid down her legs, f eel his body cover hers as he lef t marks on her neck, and f eel her underwear being f or ced into her mouth as her protests grew too loud. She could f eel his body on every inch of her skin as her hands were pinned above her head. She could f eel as his pleasure contradicted her pain, as he grinned against her collarbone while she writhed with pain, with terror, with f ear, with I am not giving up. Lost in the f eel of his skin on hers, she screamed as Dr. Harper attempted to calm her down. A simple touch on the hand f rom male hands on hers, and she f linched away. Hyperventilating, her recollections overwhelmed her, and she sunk f urther into the couch as her hands covered her f ace. When a f emale voice reached her ears, she calmed, saved f rom his torment. Daelyn’s eyes remained closed as the woman’s constant reassurances contradicted the gruff voice she remembered. Several minutes later when she seemed to be present in both mind and body, Dr. Harper spoke softly, still f rom a distance, “Is it okay f or me to come sit?” “Can you stay there? I’m sorry—” “It is okay. Nothing to apologize f or,” he assured. “Do you want to talk about what just happened?” Instead of answering his question, she responded with one of her own in the voice of a weakened individual. “How pathetic is it that, af ter a nightmare, I f linch at my baby’s eyes? How f ucking stupid is it that I literally saw his eyes f lash as he laughed, and I was transported to a dif f erent time—different room—with a man three times his size? How dumb is it that af ter some creep suggests we ‘make purple,’ I f reak out in the breakroom? That I can’t even mention the nightmare without completely losing my mind?” With a scof f and a harsh swipe of her eyes, she f inished her interrogatory tirade. Dr. Harper thought f or a moment, then said, “I don’t think that you or others should think that you are weak, pathetic, dumb, or otherwise f or attempting to survive. With all you have told me about Noah, I can see that you are a mother to a son who is a light born f rom darkness. You are trying. You are here at this of fice with the hope to better yourself f or both you and your son. Yes, you may have f linched at your son’s eyes, but you immediately recovered and gave him your comfort as he cried. You have a job that puts you in the public. You may not be thriving, yet, but you are surviving. That is the opposite of weak, pathetic, or dumb.”


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU While Daelyn did not entirely believe every word the brown-haired man said, she understood his point. Since the one person who had heard every detail, she could bear to share of the night that changed her lif e did not believe her to be weak, she f elt better than she had in months. Daelyn knew she would not magically recover f rom the visions that scarred her, but with at least one person in her corner, she f elt more alive than she had in a long time. As she sat in the psychiatrist’s office and discussed with Dr. Harper ways in which she could move f orward, she f elt confident f or the f irst time that she could recover, that she could be the mother Noah deserved. Although he was born f rom her worst nightmare, he would continue to be her greatest joy. As she arrived home with a sheen of tears and a glimmer of hope in her eyes, she met her son’s excited squawks with a small smile that glowed brighter than the sun. “Hey, baby,” Daelyn greeted Noah enthusiastically. “I missed you so much today, bea r!” she said as she tickled his stomach and kissed his cheeks. When her little boy sat up and put his hands on her cheeks and giggled as he pulled her cheeks apart, Daelyn laughed. Daelyn laughed with a lightness she thought she had lost. She was under no delusion that the nightmares were gone or that her son’s eyes would never again haunt her or that she would never f ind herself sobbing in the breakroom again. However, God had sent her an angel who brought calm amid a hurricane and joy amid mourning. For both Noah and herself , Daelyn would have hope f or a better f uture. Daelyn Grae would have hope f or a f uture a little less gray. 


The Lookout

Things Unseen Kate Gryson I am thirteen years old when Aberdeen stops making a sound. The doctors can’t give any explanation as to why this is. No one can. One day, she is a perf ectly healthy child, and the next...silence. Hunter wants more tests. Thomas wants to pretend that nothing is wrong. Margaret is in the closet. Aberdeen’s silence is where this story begins. My name is Eleanor. Nell f or short. I live on Larkspur Lane in the eighth house on the lef t. The house is set back aways, hidden f rom nosy neighbors who at any given moment can be spotted trying to sneak a peek through the f rosted windowpanes. Thomas says that people have changed. They’ve become so nosy about other people’s lives that they f orget to live their own. Whenever there is a f ace smushed against the glass, eyes searching lef t and right, Thomas is ready with a rolled-up newspaper in his hand, ready to play whack-a-neighbor. Late every night, you will see Thomas sitting on the f ront porch on high alert. I’ve never known him to sleep. Margaret spends most of her time inside the closet. Mind you, she always leaves the lights on. Even when they turn them of f , she always turns them back on. I bet you’re wondering, how does she eat or relieve herself if she never leaves the closet? Aberdeen and I trade of f on making sandwiches for her. She only eats if the sandwich is peanut butter and bananas and cut into triangles with the crust cut of f. As f or relieving herself, that’s a question you will have to ask Margaret herself. Hunter rarely comes inside, except to visit Margaret and f or his daily beer. He works at the service station a f ew streets over, taking as many hours as he can. Thomas says that he’s counting down the days until the law catches up with him. The neighbors don’t dare come near Hunter. They’ve all heard the rumors about how if you look at him wrong, he’ll pull out the switchblade that he keeps in his lef t sock and carve a smile into your f ace. Those stories are ridiculous. He keeps his switchblade in his right sock. And then, there’s Aberdeen. An odd name f or an odd child. Do not make the mistake of underestimating her, f or though she may not make a sound, she knows all the secrets of the house. The only way to hear her coming is by the rustle of her bow. These are the people that live in the house. It’s not “our” house because it never was. It belongs to the echoes. These were Aberdeen’s words back when she did make a sound. The echoes have dwelled in the house f or as long as we’ve lived here, probably longer. Though no one speaks of them, we all know that they are watching. Watching and waiting. [Text Wrapping Break] Autumn on Larkspur Lane is always a sight to see. I like autumn most of all. There is something about a crisp autumn day that lif ts my spirits, doesn’t it yours? The neighbors' porches are lavishly decorated with scarecrows and


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU beautif ully carved orange pumpkins, why, they look like they could be straight out of those Good Housekeeping magazines that Thomas reads. The house that I live in is an old, rickety Victorian called Mayberry Manor. The other houses on Larkspur Lane are not named, only Mayberry Manor is. I am not sure as to the reason. Mayberry Manor is set on a winding dusty road towards the end of the Lane, hidden by overbearing pine trees and a wrought-iron gateway that is nearly covered by overgrown ivy. There are no scarecrows or carved orange pumpkins on Mayberry Manor’s front porch though. Thomas says that Halloween is a poor excuse for what should be a proper Christian holiday. Our mailbox reads “Mayberry” because Hunter never got around to replacing it with our name. The Mayberry f amily portraits still hang proudly in our main hallway because Thomas says that every house should maintain its roots. When I reach the f ront door, I give it a hard shove, but it doesn't budge. Drat. Thomas insists on keeping the house locked at all times in case one of the neighbors gets any ideas. Fishing out the skeleton key, I jam it into the lock. Once the door cracks open, the f irst sound I hear is Margaret screaming. “Let me go back! I don’t want to hear them! Please! Don’t make me leave! They’re whispering to me!” You would think that if this was the f irst thing that I heard, I would be racing up the stairs to see what was wrong. No, don’t be absurd. This has been going on f or what seems like a very long time. “You have to get out of that f ucking closet!” Hunter is with her. “I’m the only one who’s talking! He shouts angrily. The television grows noticeably louder f rom the living room. As the bickering and struggling upstairs continues, I peek around the hall. Thomas is sitting in his La-Z-Boy, cranking up the voices of Jethro and Elly Mae so that they almost drown out what’s going on upstairs. His exhausted, steely gaze meets mine and he grabs the remote to turn up their voices even more. As I round the corner to go upstairs, Hunter and Margaret are at the top of the stairs. Margaret has one hand around Hunter’s throat. Hunter has one hand at his throat trying to stop Margaret’s hand while the other hand is pushing Margaret away f rom him. “Will you two quit it?!” I shout over the blaring Clampetts. Racing up the stairs, I grab Hunter’s arm and yank him towards me, causing him to stumble, and allowing Margaret to break free and f lee back into the closet. “Goddamnit, Nell, I almost had her!” he spits at me, lurching out of my grip. “And what did you think you were going to do?” I f ire back. “Drag her down the stairs, kicking and screaming?” “Yeah, I was. I was going to drag her to the f ucking mental ward where she belongs.”


The Lookout “Watch your language,” I hiss, nodding my head towards Aberdeen who is lingering in the doorway. Hunter rolls his eyes, curses again, and bangs his f ist on the wall. “Aberdeen, will you go and grab Margaret’s sandwich f rom the kitchen?” I ask in a slightly strangled voice, hoping she will get the hint and leave. In Aberdeen-like f ashion, she leaves as quickly and silently as she arrived. Once she leaves, I pull Hunter towards me so that we’re f ace to f ace. “You and I both know what would happen if we took her there,” I say pointedly. For a moment, Hunter almost looks sympathetic, but then the anger f lares back into his eyes. “This house is f ucking nuts,” mutters Hunter. Bef ore I can stop him, Hunter is heading down the stairs, shaking his head and cursing. The f ront door slams shut behind him, nearly shaking the bones of the house. I turn around and there stands Aberdeen, Margaret’s apple juice and triangle-shaped sandwich on a plate in her hands. “Jesus, Aberdeen, you scared me. How did you…?” I wonder, trying to remember if Aberdeen had snuck up the stairs while Hunter was leaving. Eyeing me quizzically, she shakes her head and turns towards the end of the hall. “The back staircase…right,” I realize, stupidly, taking the plate and cup f rom her and turning the rickety knob to Margaret’s room. As always, the room is deathly silent. I haven't the slightest inclination as to what she does inside that old closet. She never says. “Margaret?” I call, half -wondering if a demonic voice will answer that Margaret is no longer here. “I have your sandwich and apple juice,” I try when no one answers. The closet door squeaks open. “Is it cut into triangles with the crust cut of f ?” she asks in a hoarse voice. “Yes, it is. I’m going to put it right by the door f or you, okay?” The door opens a bit more and suddenly, a pale, almost eerily translucent, skeletal hand reaches out, snatches the plate and cup, and the door slams shut. I stand outside her closet door awkwardly, considering whether or not I should make a break f or it or attempt to make conversation. Hunter would make a break for it like a bat out of hell, I surmise amusingly. “Aberdeen sure misses seeing you,” I begin timidly. “She always offers to make your lunch f or you. I’m sure she would love it if you came downstairs f or your lunch” I add in, hoping that if Aberdeen is mixed into the equation, Margaret might come out of the closet. “I need to stay in here where it’s safe,” she answers, almost robotically.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU “What will happen if you do leave?” I press. “They will f ind me, just like they always do” Margaret replies. My sciatica begins to act up, so I sit across from the door. “Who, Margaret?” I inquire, already knowing how this conversation is going to end. “The echoes,” she says quietly. “They speak to me. This closet is the only place they cannot f ind me.” I pause f or a moment, deciphering how to word my next thought. “What do they say to you?” “They tell me to do things. Awf ul things, but mostly, they warn me of...” she stops and then goes quiet. Fear prickles my spine as I process her words. “Of what, Margaret?” There is no reply. Af ter several attempts at calling her name, I decide that Margaret has resorted back to silence. A loud bang on the f ront door averts my attention to the hall. In the doorway, Aberdeen is standing, pointing down the staircase. Handing Margaret’s empty plate and cup to Aberdeen, I hurry down the stairs to open the f ront door. When I unlatch the door, Hunter is standing bef ore me, red in the f ace and practically steaming at the ears. “Did you do this?” he exclaims, holding up a banana. “What are you talking about, Hunter?” I reply def ensively. He turns the banana and there is a large razor blade sticking out of its f lesh. “Did you do it, Nell?” he shouts in my f ace. “Jesus Hunter, you think that I put a damn razor blade in your banana?” I f ire back. Aberdeen comes f rom behind me and glances between Hunter and me. Suddenly, Hunter grabs her by the shoulders and shakes her violently. “Did you do this? Did you put that razor blade in my banana? I took it f rom the f ruit bowl this morning, so it had to be someone in this house!” Hunter screams vehemently. As he shakes her, Aberdeen stares back at him, completely void of emotion. “Hunter! Let go of her!” I cry as I wrestle Aberdeen out of his grip. She stares back at him bef ore sprinting into the next room. I turn back to f ace Hunter and look him in the eye. “You’re crazy! Do you really think that any of us put that in your banana?” He runs a dirt-covered hand through his greasy dark hair and kicks at the ground below him. “Someone did, Nell, and I think it was something in this house.” “Something?” I question at his odd choice of words.


The Lookout Hunter barks out a humorless laugh and pushes past me into the kitchen. He grabs several bananas and apples f rom the f ruit bowl, grabs a knif e, and begins slashing the f ruit. “Have you completely lost it?” I exclaim, coming up behind him as he throws the dismembered f ruit into the garbage. “Not completely,” he scoffs, tossing the knif e into the sink. “None of these other f ruits have anything in them, so someone in this house put that blade in the banana because they knew I would take it!” I sigh dramatically, sinking into the nearest kitchen chair. “Do you even hear yourself?” “Nell, this isn’t the f irst time that something weird has happened in this house,” Hunter notes. “Last Friday morning, all of the clocks were stopped at 5:37 a.m.” “You think that one of us did it?” I af firm. He raises his eyebrows and exhales sharply, leaning against the kitchen counter. “I don’t know what to think anymore. I f eel like I’m going f ucking crazy,” he mutters, raking his f ingers through his hair. “You know we can’t leave this house; it would be too suspicious.” “I don’t care anymore, Nell,” Hunter mutters. “All I know is that I’m getting out of here as soon as I can.” “Nell!” Thomas yells f rom the next room causing Hunter to mutter a string of colorful curses as I leave. When I step into the living room, Thomas dramatically points the remote at the television trying to pause this week’s episode of Lost in Space. “Go get me this morning’s newspaper f rom the driveway!” he shouts loudly, not bothering to turn down the volume. I decide that it’s pointless to answer since Thomas can’t hear me anyway. Grabbing my coat, I shrug it on and push open the f ront door. The wind blows harshly against my f ace as I hurry down the steps towards the newspaper at the end of the driveway. Suddenly, a movement in the trees beyond the mailbox catches my eye. Stopping in my tracks, I squint to try and see better through the trees. Within the trees, two sets of dark eyes are staring back at me. About a minute into our staring contest, a blast of courage surges through me and I begin to sprint towards the trees. Suddenly the eyes are gone, and I’m standing in the middle of the woods, looking around f or the trespassers. Af ter a moment, I turn around and Aberdeen is standing in f ront of me with Thomas’s newspaper in her hand. “Shit! Aberdeen, you have to stop sneaking up on me like that,” I screech. She looks at me in conf usion, peers around me, and then back at me. “I thought I saw something but I- … I don’t know what I saw,” I mumble stupidly, taking the paper f rom her.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU As I head back towards the house, I am acutely aware of Aberdeen trailing behind me. When I manage to get the f ront door open, I shove past it and toss the paper to Thomas who somehow catches it in mid-air. Af ter hearing my stomach growl, I decide to head into the kitchen to make some lunch. At the kitchen table, Aberdeen is sitting with a glass of water. She turns to look at me, and then hands me the glass of water. I stare suspiciously at the water. “Thanks,” I say as I take one long drink.

Nell died twenty-four years ago. So did Thomas, Hunter, and Margaret. I know what you are thinking, that I killed them, right? Af ter all, I f ooled you this f ar. Don’t worry, it wasn’t hard. Every morning when Thomas had his coffee, I would slip a little more acid in his mug than the day bef ore. It was the same with Margaret. Why do you think that I always offered to get her apple juice? She was the easiest out of the f our. Hunter was a bit more difficult since he was out of the house most of the time, but I would always be waiting with his beer when he came inside. Mixed with the alcohol, he was the f irst to go. Nell was the hardest. She was the smartest out of all of them, and the most suspicious of the house, but even she was f ooled. Why did I do it, you might ask? For the same reason that Margaret locked herself inside that decrepit closet. The same reason why Thomas could never sleep. The same reason why Hunter always stayed away f rom the house. The same reason why Nell never took Margaret to the “f ucking mental ward” as Hunter so tastef ully phrased it. I did it because the echoes made me. My name is Aberdeen. I have always made a sound. 


The Lookout

Moving On James Thorley “I hope things have been peaceful on your end.” Eli sighs as he sits down cross-legged in f ront of Emily’s tombstone. As always, his twin sister was silent. He could scream and cry, but she would never respond. She had been like that in lif e, too. Eli pulls a half -empty water bottle f rom his backpack and begins watering the f lowers lining her grave. They’re blossoming f rom the late spring heat, but it’s only thanks to Eli. Af ter the f irst f ew months, his parents stopped tagging along and the upkeep of Emily’s f lowers f ell solely onto Eli’s shoulders. “Mom and Dad have made up their minds. We’re moving up north to be closer to Grandma and Grandpa, even though I want to stay here with you.” Eli looks at the f lowers instead of the tombstone, unable to f ace his sister as guilt claws its way up Eli’s chest. Eli needs a f resh start away f rom the pain of Emily’s death and the constant reminders riddling his lif e here, but he doesn’t want to leave Emily behind without her permission. “Can you give me a sign? Just something to let me know how you f eel. Good or bad, I can take.” Eli digs his f ingers under the plush grass, f eeling the sof t, moist dirt beneath. He resists the urge to dig, to splay his f ingers across the smooth wood, to try and f eel his twin sister’s presence again. Not even the wind bothers to move, and a f ew minutes of quiet later, Eli starts to cry. He yanks up handf ul af ter handf ul of grass until a scared meowing causes him to look up. A kitten, with oddly f amiliar black f ur, cowers around the side of Emily’s tombstone. Eli f reezes, gasping through his tears as the kitten begins to slowly approach him. It hops over the f lowers and steps around the bare patches of dirt until it can nudge Eli’s knee with its tiny head. The touch makes Eli’s anger f izzle out and he slumps over onto his side. The kitten purrs and waddles up until it can curl up against Eli’s chest. He lif ts his arm ever so slowly, terrif ied of scaring the kind creature off, until he can run his f ingers gently over the kitten’s head.

“Can you give me a sign?”

A f ew pets along the kitten’s sof t f ur make it turn its head to peer up at Eli. Eli f linches in shock as the kitten gives him the same look that Emily would give him whenever they hugged. A look so tender, so unique between twin souls, that it could never be replicated by another human. The kitten purrs louder, closing its eyes and leaning into Eli’s touch. What once was the odd f amiliarity of cat’s f ur color is now a homecoming f or Eli as he diligently strokes the same color of hair that he used to stroke on Emily’s head whenever she cried.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU “Is that it, then? You’ll come with me?” Eli’s voice, raspy f rom crying, makes the kitten look up at him again. It nudges him once, twice, until Eli sits up and pulls the kitten into his arms. “Will you come with me, Emily?” He whispers to her, and she purrs louder, rubbing her cheek against his chest. Eli takes one last look at the f lowers surrounding Emily’s tombstone and smiles. Nature would take care of them, and Eli would take care of the kitten. 


The Lookout

Protecting Our Home Jasmine Sea The car bumps along the dirt road as I look out the window and f ix my gaze on the scenery. Stray dogs and cats scatter along, and I can see their dirty matted f ur with their ribcage sticking out on their sides. I’m reminded of my pets back at home and I compare their sleek and healthy coats with the stray animals that scavenge the road’s trash f or any lef tover f ood. I wonder to myself where the trash on the road ends up and whether the trash has become a part of the community’s identity as a marker f or where they live. I’m in Central America, more specifically in Honduras f or a church-based mission trip. I’m going to visit dif f erent local churches in both the country and the city of San Pedro Sula. The air is thick with smog and dust. As I’m walking uphill to visit a Honduran f amily’s home while wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a backpack, sweat starts to accumulate down my back, and with every step I make I leave tracks of dirt on my ankles. I look to my right and notice little brown structures that appear to be homes made out of mud and dirt with a thin piece of wood as a door, and what looks like a large tin scrap with holes as a roof to cover people’s heads. I squint my eyes and notice that there are some pieces of trash that got stuck in the mud of the walls of people’s houses. The dirt trail I’m walking on is speckled with litter. Empty Honduran snack packages, old pieces of paper, and rotting f ood make my nose scrunch up at the sour and musty scent. There’s no sign of a trash can f or miles along this road and the only place to dispose trash seems to be on the ground. “Hey, esperame!” screams a little girl as she runs past me along with another girl, f ollowed by some stray chickens. Their little bare f eet run through the trash on the road, barely noticing the trash’s existence. I wince, f eeling on edge that they might step on something sharp and hurt their f eet. “Those are the girls that live in that house” replies our translator. She points to a house at the top of a hill, surrounded by trees and more dirt roads. That was the f amily’s house we were visiting to talk with and get a grasp of their living conditions and daily lives. The moment bef ore we enter the house, I immediately notice trash laying around just outside of the house. My surprised expression catches the translator, and she looks at me with a smile. “It’s normal f or trash to be littered everywhere here. It’s a part of people’s lives and unf ortunately they don’t do anything about it because it isn’t something they’re really bothered by.”


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU I nod and begin to f eel sorrowful to see how the people here don’t understand the dangers of having trash and waste around. It can become so detrimental to people’s health, but I guess they don’t have a choice since they have other things to worry about as they struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis. I enter the house and I’m greeted by the f lies that are aimlessly f lying around. The sunlight creeps through the pin-sized holes of the tin roof and of course, there is no air conditioning. This was the day I realized that I had taken air conditioning f or granted. We learn f rom the f amily that the f ather works every day in a f ield and the mother stays home to work on f amily duties and take care of the children. The translator points out the window of the home to a small, narrow creek and tells us that that is where all the f amilies in this community get their water. They use this water f rom the creek to bathe, cook, and do the laundry. We leave the house and make our way to the creek with the f amily. Before we even arrive, other people f rom the community are there, some doing the laundry, others pouring water into a bucket, and children splashing water while giggling happily. The scene looks like something out of a painting. As I made my way closer to the creek, I took a glimpse of the water and my eyes widened. The water was brown and murky. My mom, who was next to me, exclaimed “THIS is the water they use f or everything?” And I turned around to the translator in agreeance and she laughed and replied “yes, this is their water.” Not only was this water brown, but there was visible trash f loating on the edges of the creek. Wrappers, cans, plastic, you name it, it was all f loating in the same water they use to cook and clean. In disbelief I quickly looked to the f amily we came w ith, expecting someone to tell me that they were joking, but then proceeded to grab their buckets and f ill them with the murky water. I mutter to myself quietly “how do people live like this….?” Af ter leaving the creek, we went to visit the community’s local church. My legs hurt f rom all the walking and the bottom of my shoes had a f ew pieces of decomposed f ood. As we were walking to the church on the same dirt road, my eyes were f ixated on the ground, in f ear of stepping on something I would instantly regret. We walked through what seemed like a constricted maze, through neighborhood alleys and passing by miniature convenience stores. The narrower the roads were, the more trash there was on the ground. For some reason, there was a lot of animal f eces on this path as well, so I held my breath f or about half of the walk to the church. By the time we had arrived at the church, I was unf azed by the litter that surrounded the outer walls of the church. I was still sick to my stomach f rom all the animal f eces we had walked by. Even though I was exhausted from the walk, I was quickly greeted by so many little children f rom the church. They were all so small and they all had radiating smiles glued on their f aces. I couldn’t help but to wonder how they looked so much


The Lookout happier than the people I saw back home, despite all the trash and pollution in their unclean environment. Honduras is known to have high levels of poverty: 66.2 percent of the population lives in poverty, and 45.3 percent in extreme poverty (Katherine Ronderos, 2011). That’s about two-thirds of the population in Honduras who don’t know whether they will have f ood on their plate to f ill their stomachs f or the day. In addition, the levels of poverty and income inequality serve as restrictions f or the Honduran people to improve their lives (Katherine Ronderos, 2011). Honduras is f ar behind in terms of human development compared to other Latin American countries but without any outside help f rom other countries, Hondurans will continue to suf fer in poverty leaving many in sickness and even death. As I danced with the children along to the songs playing f rom the church, “Honduras is known to have high we giggled and smiled as I looked levels of poverty: 66.2 percent of the into their youthf ul, glowing eyes. At population lives in poverty.” that moment, I understood my privilege and how I took the smallest daily necessities f or granted. I clearly saw the tragic economic disparities, not only in Honduras, but in other parts of the world. I’m reminded of the numerous times I’ve heard my teachers, f amily members, and my social media f eeds telling me to “be the change.” At that moment, a new seed was planted, and hope was renewed. I will f ind a way to contribute to the present progress and truly be part of the change. But f or now, I will continue to smile and dance with these beautif ul souls while the trash outside the church blows f ervently with the wind.

References Ronderos, K. (2011). Poverty reduction, political violence and women's rights in Honduras. Community Development Journal, 46, 3rd ser., 315-326.


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU


The Lookout

Dreamy Dream Dree Boris Salswach Stubbornly your eyes became a rock where all my gentle thoughts f low down as a stream; they carry the world just like Superman and when I’m lost in them there is only f ields of lilies that abound with no justice f or the wicked; they f old like a pillow in heaven, and I sleep in them with no f ear of the unknown…  The colors under heaven’s light are my only delight; my inner misf its boiled into a f renzy and are laden by their sheer light… I hear my grandmother whisper of a sun bef ore her time; her smile holds that which your eyes now have come to remind me… No jewelry maker can f abricate the inner beauty of your treasure and no sea can divide the grace by which I f ound your inner radiance… Keep looking toward the sun, because my days are numbered and soon the ones too roam will be the roaring lions  It wasn’t a f igment of my imagination but the whole road to heaven laid there through that window; only the brave pass and surrender the sword… with my hands laid bare at the f ire, I was all but consumed and no elixir could f ree me f rom obedience, under no protocol was my search at my convenience… I would have loved you to the edge, pushed you, pulled you, made you pledge But in your heartbreak, you depart and leaving me holding out my heart… No matter how I justif y, f ool me once and shame on I… And cosmic loneliness cascades Like heavy rain: I must be brave...


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU


The Lookout

Poetry Owen Starr So Close Buffalos

On that night,

Christmas, without any snow

High above skyscrapers

In still Pittsburgh serenity—

And f alse light,

Powder and dust. Pap, stubborn

I construct my mind

Spirit, pulled me close,

From paper.

His wrinkles like ravines.

Though to ball it up,

Upstairs whining under our weight

Forgetting a present

To my f ather’s old room.

Of animosity

He retrieves Tupperware

Would only echo itself .

With quaking hands, These coins I’ve had Since I was your age.

Such records Must take the f orm Of birds, deliberate and

He hunts, rif les until

Intricate f olds

He grabs hold of a stumpy

Soon f licked away.

Plastic bottle, Take These. They are Buffalo Nickels. Two dozen worn Near blank, stamped Liberty. Stoic chief And bison, once Almost extinct. I treasure in silver The most tarnished: glory to Survival. Passing History on, repopulating As stampeding buf falos. 

Though that abyss below Takes to its diaphragm, Conjuring a gale Laughing in dismay. The plane picks up That drunken sway, Dipping down f rom My hollow heart, Of f course. At this height, I haven’t a care Of its location, only that It came so close. 


A Journal of Undergraduate Research at ECU

The Lookout

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