FOURTH ESTATE September 12, 2016 | Volume 4 Issue 2 George Mason University’s official student news outlet gmufourthestate.com | @IVEstate
You’ve got (air)mail
Editorial: It’s always been on us
Club sport of the week: Quidditch
Crime Log Sept. 7
2016-029553/ Trespassing Complainant (GMU) reported a subject trespassing on a rooftop.
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Letter from the Editor Hello, all—
Sosan Malik Managing Editor
Jennifer Shasken Online Editor
I’m MacKenzie Reagan, the new editor-in-chief of Fourth Estate.
I came here by way of the University of Missouri, where I was the culture editor of the student paper. Since then, I’ve worked in the field at magazines, newspapers and online publications writing profiles, reviews and the odd long-winded text message. While I’m new to Mason (I transferred here this fall as a junior studying English) I’m no stranger to the D.C. area; I’ve lived in Northern Virginia for almost 20 years now.
I look forward to editing Fourth Estate this year. I have big plans for this paper. First off, we’re replacing the lifestyle section with a culture section (more info on page 5). We’re also adding multimedia and social media departments. Lastly, my personal favorite, we’re working on developing longform features that dig deep into stories on and off-campus that need to be told. I can’t wait for you to see what we do this year, both in print and online at gmufourthestate.com. If you’re interested in being a part of the team, have a story idea or want to swap mix CDs, visit me in my office at 1201 The Hub. Have a great week!
Campus Editor Copy Chief
Peter Eccleston Culture Editor
Devan Fishburne Local Editor
David Schrack Sports Editor
Megan Zendek Art Director
Peter Park Multimedia Editor
Naomi Folta Photo Editor
Regine Victoria Social Media Editor
Emmett Smith Distribution Manager
Kathryn Mangus Director
David Carroll Associate Director
Leslie Steiger — MacKenzie
Fiscal and Operations Assistant Director
Alyssa Swaney Sales Team
ON THE COVER
Wesley Ward Sales Team
Photo by Naomi Folta.
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Through the Google Glass
NINA MOTAZEDI | STAFF WRITER
Members of Mason’s Human Factors and Applied Cognition Department worked with researchers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania to test whether augmented reality wearable displays, such as Google Glass, increase productivity and improve performance in everyday life. The study, entitled “Into the Wild: Neuroergonomic Differentiation of Hand-Held and Augmented Reality Wearable Displays during Outdoor Navigation with Function Near Infrared Spectroscopy,” was published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in May. The experiment took place on Mason’s campus and was conducted by the late Professor Raja Parasuraman and then-Human Factors and Cognition graduate student Ryan McKendrick. “This reason this study was groundbreaking was for a few reasons. One, because it’s using neuroimaging completely in the real world in an unconstrained situation, and it’s showing the way, that I believe, you’re supposed to do neuroergonomic research,” McKendrick said. The field of neuroergonomics has the ability to improve technology in a way that is most effective for our brains and bodies. McKendrick said this study serves as an example of how he believes neuroergonomic research should be done to maximize brain and body benefits. The study aimed to measure these benefits by researching Google Glass’ effect on people’s cognitive functions through increased situation
Definitions to Know
Psych study shows cognitive advantage in using wearable technology A study conducted by Mason shows that wearable technology like Google Glass is more likely to be cognitively efficient than handheld smartphones.
Cognitively efficient: Quality-based increases in knowledge gained in relation to the time and effort put into learning something
awareness and reduced mental workload. To better understand situation awareness, imagine you are driving on campus. While you are driving, you notice the trees, the road signs and all the people walking around. Your brain is processing all of the vital information in the environment and trying to make sense of it. As you approach the crosswalk, a family of ducks crosses the street. Your brain immediately perceives this change in setting and projects that you have x amount of seconds and x number of feet to brake. In essence, what your brain is doing is known as situation awareness, and it is especially critical for complex tasks. If you have a higher level of situation awareness, the likelihood of successfully performing the given task increases. Since situation awareness is linked to working memory capacity, wearable displays can reduce the amount of information needed to be stored, thus increasing your situation awareness. On the other hand, wearable displays can also cause cognitive tunneling; your brain might focus more attention on the actual display, reducing its capacity to attend to other tasks, resulting in decreased situation awareness.
Neuroergonomics: The study of the human brain in relation to performance at work in everyday settings Cognitive functions: An intellectual process where a person becomes aware of ideas Situation awareness: Being conscious of one’s surroundings Working memory: Temporary storage and management of the information you use to complete complex tasks like learning and reasoning fNIRS (functional near infrared spectroscopy): A scientific research technique that can directly and indirectly monitor brain activity
The experiment sought to measure these concepts through responses to secondary tasks and measurements provided by a portable fNIRS (functional near infrared spectroscopy). fNIRS sends waves of light into the brain in order to indirectly gauge brain activity through changes in blood flow or hemodynamic changes. fNIRS were worn by all participants for the duration of the experiment.
Hemodynamic changes: Changes related to blood flow Attention capture: When something unintentionally grabs a person’s focus
Participants were split into two groups of 10, (Google continued on Page 4)
Cognitive processing: The process of knowing, perceiving, or remembering something Black mirror: to block someone or something SOURCES “Cognitive Efficiency: A Conceptual and Methodological Comparison” Bobby Hoffman “Neuroergonomics: A Review of Applications to Physical and Cognitive Work” Ranjana K. (MEGAN ZENDEK/FOURTH ESTATE)
Mehta and Raja Parasuraman
(Google continued from Page 3) those using the Google Glass and those using the Apple iPhone 4. All 20 participants were 18 – 29 years old, right-handed and had normal vision. Both groups used Google Maps on their devices to navigate four different routes across Mason’s campus, totaling about 45 – 60 minutes. While navigating the route, participants were assigned two secondary tasks to measure their mental workload and situation awareness. The first task asked participants to listen to a series of sounds and identify whether any two consecutive sounds matched. Responses to this auditory task were used to indirectly measure mental workload. During the second task, participants were told to be aware of their
surroundings and then, after 30 seconds, told to stop walking. The experimenter then proceeded to ask whether or not they had seen a specific object and participants responded yes or no. There were a total of 10 questions asked, six of which involved an object that was present in the environment and four of which involved an object that was not present. The hemodynamic changes measured by fNIRS and the responses to the secondary tasks showed that participants using Google Glass during the auditory task had less interference and less brain activity than the smartphone users, resulting in, presumably, a lower mental workload. The results showed no meaningful difference between the two groups during the scenery task; however, brain
activity between the two groups varied when they made a mistake. “What we did find is that when an error was made in the situation awareness task, the way that the user’s brain responds, whether it was in the glass group or the phone group, was different…if a Glass user made an error on the situation awareness task, the brain activity went up. If a phone user made an error their brain activity went down,” McKendrick said. From these variations, the experimenters inferred that the reason phone users made an error was because they ceased to do the scenery probe and focused solely on navigating. Google Glass participants, however, displayed increased brain activity when an error was made.
After hearing the results of the study, sophomore Andrew Nicholson is not surprised. “Obviously it’s not the same as having it right in front of your eyes, but being able to see information that matters without all of the other distractions involved with picking up your phone makes a world of difference in efficiency and attention,” Nicholson said via email. McKendrick believes the way to move both this field and technology forward is to combine the two. “It’s all about testing technology. One of the problems with Google and a lot of these other tech companies is that they take what they call an agile approach… [This means] that we’re going to give you the minimal viable product, and the user is then going to be the test subject,
effectively. At the same time, when they do determine what the minimal viable product is they don’t do any research at all on what’s going on in your brain,” McKendrick said. By having these companies utilize neuroergonomic research, they will be able to provide products that are optimal for your brain and body, McKendrick said. As for investing in wearable displays, it seems as though tech companies have additional economic and social problems to overcome. “As far as glasses, I might be interested in the future, but the price point right now is daunting. I also think smart glasses are a little too Black Mirror. We don’t always need a screen in front of us,” Nicholson said.
You’ve got (air)mail Mason Senior initiates postal start-up RIDA KAYANI | STAFF WRITER
Airposted, founded by a Mason student and alumna this past May and launched on Aug. 31, seeks to “offer an open platform that allows buyers to shop for goods from anywhere in the world and have it delivered to them by a traveler who is already heading their way,” according to Airposted’s website. The shipping company was created by senior Rayan Rahman, Mason alumna Raisa Rahman, who is Airposted’s chief product officer, and Mit Mo, the chief technical officer. The idea for Airposted came to Rahman from his many trips abroad and increasing requests from friends and family to bring home souvenirs. “Raisa, Mit and I did a bit of research and found there weren’t any good platforms that offered people to receive products from one part of the world to another at a competitive price,” Rayan Rahman said. Despite similar competitors like Amazon and eBay, Airposted sets itself apart by having a primary focus on allowing
(PHOTO COURTESY OF MIT MO)
travelers to set up exchanges with potential buyers as an added mission to their already set-up travels. Rahman said this allows both traveler and buyer to gain from the exchange; the traveler gets paid to deliver the package, and the buyer, who pays less than they would have for the normal rate, will receive their item in a timely and reliable manner. In addition to buying and selling, Airposted also acts as a social platform in which “we leave it up on our buyers and travelers to exchange messages, product URLs and ultimately negotiate an offer that works for both,” Rahman said. The founders said they believe that this gives Airposted its own flair and status compared to its competitors. In addition, Airposted only charges a 5 percent commission (plus a traveler’s fee decided between both parties and a PayPal fee) on each transaction, as opposed to the price of other shipping retailers of around 15–25 percent. After the deal is set up, the buyer is notified to pay the grand total cost,
(PHOTO COURTESY OF RAISA RAHMAN)
From left to right: Mit Mo, Raisa Rahman and Rayan Rahman
and after the payment goes through, Airposted notifies the traveler to purchase the product. Airposted then holds the buyer’s payment until the buyer notifies the company through the site that the product was delivered. The only remaining step is reimbursing the traveler for his spending on the product. Rahman said that the company is working on “integrating a feedback algorithm as soon as [October]” that will increase traveler credibility and act as a form of reassurance for the buyer. He added that they also want to set up a form of background checking for both parties, something the company will tackle in the near future.
(PHOTO COURTESY OF RAYAN RAHMAN)
He added that he hopes Airposted can work to connect people on a global scale. “The thing that I am trying to do through Airposted,” he said, “is just
help people connect, communicate and share products and ultimately information, more efficiently and easily.
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For your entertainment Introducing the Culture Section MACKENZIE REAGAN |EDITORIN-CHIEF
Hey, it’s me again. If you’re a long-time reader Fourth Estate, you’re familiar with the old Lifestyle section. The section covered, well, life. It was a strong section with work from great writers. But there was
something missing: Culture. Music, movies, TV, food, books, downtown life. The latest concert at the 9:30 Club (if you managed to get those Green Day tickets, 1: I hate you and 2: enjoy the show). The movie with that one guy, I swear I’ve seen him before (it’s Giovanni Ribisi.) The one show everyone’s been telling you to Netflix (trust
me, “Stranger Things” is worth it.) The best place to get a cup of coffee (wait, that’s too hard to choose.) The book you can pretend you’re reading while you’re ignoring people on the Metro (The cover of “But What if We’re Wrong?” should at least confuse any would-be talkers.) The best place to buy records (sorry, I bought every copy of “Crooked
Rain, Crooked Rain” from Mobius.) (I’m not sorry.) If you like arts and entertainment, let us be your guide. We’ll cover everything on-campus and anything off-campus that’s accessible by public transportation.
this section this year. I can’t wait to see what our Culture Editor Peter Eccleston and his team of writers create. If you’re interested in writing, taking photos, making graphics or just hanging out in the newsroom, stop by our office at 1201 The Hub.
My background is in arts and culture writing, and I’m excited to help develop
1. Brian Gianelos plays at Epicure Cafe in Fairfax. 2. Downtown Fairfax’s De Clieu offers a range of treats, including seasonally-appropriate pumpkin muffins. 3. The coffee shop also sells mugs of all sizes. 1. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN GIANELOS)
2. (MACKENZIE REAGAN/FOURTH ESTATE))
3. (MACKENZIE REAGAN/FOURTH ESTATE))
Editorial: It’s always been on us ALEXA ROGERS | FORMER EDITOR-IN-CHEIF
Over the past two weeks on George Mason’s campus, two cases of sexual assault have been reported to Mason Police. This isn’t really a breaking news opener; I know you all know this by now and you’re furious. And you’re absolutely right, you should be. Now, declaring it as an official problem, President Cabrera has commented and pledged that “We will not be bystanders,” towards sexual violence on campus. Upperclassmen on campus might remember an ABC WJLA story last year that stated the university had 10 reported sexual assaults just in the month of March. Much like these past two timely warnings, people were furious. I obviously was too; I have been
a big advocate for sexual assault survivors in these pages and in Richmond since 2014. But I thought about WJLA’s report a little differently. Has anyone wondered that higher reporting numbers might actually be a good thing? It doesn’t look good for university image, says nothing about the numerous pieces of trash that think committing these crimes is okay, but it actually might mean that we’re moving forward. In 2013, a freshman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York was raped by multiple members of the school’s football team, who would be acquitted of their crimes just 12 days after they took place, two weeks into her freshman year. The year before her rape, Hobart and William Smith reported zero cases of rape on campus. But when the university’s security report came
out with 2013’s statistics the following year, there were 11 reported rapes on-campus. The survivor in this case went through unimaginable pain; but she unknowingly started movement on sexual assault reporting at her college.
cases end with the prosecution of the offender and fewer than that end in jail time. But reporting can also mean that survivors get the physical and emotional help that they need to regain their strength and move on.
We at George Mason have begun something similar and in 2016, it starts with these two reports two weeks into the fall semester.
I think the most important thing for us to remember as we continue on this fight as a community is that non-reporting doesn’t mean it’s not already happening. We shouldn’t be outraged simply because we’re getting these awful emails on Friday night and Monday morning. If we’re going to work together as a community to end this, we have to be furious and vigilant.
Reporting isn’t easy. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a national anti-sexual violence organization, 80 percent of college aged females that are assaulted chose not report to the police for a number of reasons, including fear of retaliation, emotional distress and absences of trust in the justice system. Survivors have a justified right to want to abstain from reporting. Of the remaining 20 percent of cases that are reported, even fewer
I don’t think we will ever be doing enough to stop this from happening. I’m not quite convinced that sessions on sexual assault prevention and training and the countless resources we have on
this campus are going to change someone’s horrible behavior. But, I also don’t have a complete solution. Something that we’re doing at Mason has been working. Whether it’s early intervention training with freshman on campus to teaching people how to act in these situations to being a more caring and welcoming community, people are becoming more comfortable with getting help. That’s because of “Us,” but “Us” also has a hell of a lot more work to do if we want to see this problem end on our campus. We have to develop an environment that casts out the offenders in favor of believing in and supporting the survivors. We can’t be content with leaving this to angry social media posts or editorials in the newspaper.
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Club sport of the week: Quidditch The “Harry Potter” sport flies off the page and onto the field DAVE SCHRACK | STAFF WRITER
Quidditch was first introduced in the wizarding world of “Harry Potter.” Over the last 10 years, however, it has expanded beyond the pages of books and blossomed into an event that holds worldwide tournaments and is governed by the International Quidditch Association. Quidditch is a burgeoning sport that has been steadily fielding teams across the world, from Australia to Argentina to here in the United States. It has developed particularly on college campuses, including George Mason’s. Mason’s Quidditch team has “been around officially for two years, but there was an unofficial one year before those two years,” Fleur Wayman, one of two team captains, said. Quidditch is a sport that requires athleticism and mental sharpness and is bound by a clear set of rules and scoring regulations. “There are four players” who can score: “one’s a keeper, three are chasers,” Lance Strain, the second team captain,
said. “They use a deflated volleyball”— known as a “quaffle”—“and their goal is basically to pass the ball around and drive it to other players to score through anyone of the hoops front or back.” The “hoops” are three posts with rings at the opposite end of the quidditch pitch. The center post is the tallest, but each ring is worth 10 points each. “The other two players on a team are the beaters,” Strain said, “and they use a dodgeball to knock out other players,” or “beat” them. “When you beat another player, it takes them out of play, which means they have to dismount the broom”—a stick each player carries between their legs—“and run all the way back to the hoops and tag back up before they can get back into play,” Strain said.
bringing them down. But the most important aspect of a quidditch match occurs in the 18th minute. “At 18 minutes, the Snitch comes out,” Strain said, “which is generally a bigger guy, somebody who played wrestling or some kind of a football sport. And they have yellow shorts with an 8 inch tail with a tennis ball in it,” fastened to the shorts with Velcro. Players must use their brooms to steal the Snitch and maintain control of it. The Snitch, however, is legally allowed to defend him or herself against other players. “The Snitch can use both hands, they can throw you, push you; He’s basically free to do whatever he wants besides punch and kick you,” Strain said.
Chasers can also tackle a player to prevent him or her from scoring as well as potentially cause a turnover.
Successfully throwing the Snitch through the hoop will not only score 30 points but also end the game.
Tackling has to be done from the front because tackling from behind risks injury. It can also be done from the side by sweeping the player’s legs and
No matter which team gets the Snitch through the hoop, though, the team with the most points wins the match. Mason’s Quidditch team has already
The quaffle is passed to advance the ball down to the end of the field during practice on Aug. 30.
tasted success, having earned a bid to compete in the Quidditch World Cup in their first official year. [Editor’s note: despite its name, this is the name of the United States’ national championship.] The United States Quidditch Association, known simply as the USQ , has split the country into eight regions in which Quidditch teams play. Teams compete in regional tournaments, and the winners will eventually compete to be the US quidditch champion. There are around 300 quidditch teams in the U.S., all of which are either collegiate teams or adult community teams. To earn a bid to the World Cup, “you compete basically in pools and this huge bracket for a spot,” Strain said. During its efforts to secure a bid, Mason’s team “didn’t do too well in [its] pool because [the team] went through a bunch of harder tournaments” Strain said. “And so we went into brackets. We had to play a game and then we faced the No. 1 seed of our regionals.” The team, despite being underdogs, defeated the No. 1 seed, which secured
their bid to the World Cup. Quidditch also exists on an international level. “It’s called the IQA, or the International Quidditch Association,” Wayman said. “So there are teams all over the world— South Korea, Canada, Australia.” Australia was the recent winner of the international tournament, having beaten the United States, who were the defending champions. “To play in the world league, you have to apply,” Wayman added. “And then they watch you in person, they watch film—you have to play a certain amount of time for them to see you in action.” The IQA will then determine the roster for Team USA. “And if you make it, you get to go to wherever the World Cup”—the international tournament—“is held.” The Quidditch team holds practices every week and will be holding a tournament starting Oct. 29.
(NAOMI FOLTA/FOURTH ESTATE)