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Write On, Downtown! A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus

Issue 4 April 2010 Editors-in-Chief Regina Clemens Fox Rosemarie Dombrowski

Editorial Board Belen Arriola Christine Camou LeeAnn DiSanti Myriam Hubbard Jennifer McCoy-Meshey Nathan Meacham Anthony Pomposelli Jessica VanZalen

Graphic Designer Deanna Johnson Mullican

Web Administrator Regina Clemens Fox

Cover Photograph Sean Deckert

Contributing Artists Ryan Wolf Sean Deckert

Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu


Acknowledgments The editors of Write-On, Downtown! would like to express our deepest gratitude to Fred Corey, dean of University College and director of the School of Letters and Sciences, for his continued support of our endeavors. Moreover, we’d like to acknowledge Kattina Famoso for planning the conference and luncheon and Deanna Johnson Mullican for creating the design of this year’s printed and electronic journals as well as arranging for their publication. Lastly, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to the director of Languages and Cultures, Dr. Barbara Lafford, whose support, encouragement, and direction has been invaluable to us over the past three years. We would also like to thank our wonderfully talented team of student editors whose participation and commitment helped create this year’s journal. Their editorial skills as well as their innovative ideas contributed greatly to the process as well as the final product, ultimately furthering the evolution of the publication. Finally, we’d like to thank all of the students who submitted their writing for this publication and who continue to make our teaching experiences on Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus some of the most positive and enjoyable of our careers.

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Introduction The Mission of the Project This fourth edition of Write-On, Downtown! is a publication of student writing and part of the Write On, Downtown! project at the Downtown Phoenix campus. The project has grown and now includes an electronic journal featuring multimedia writing projects and a conference where the published authors speak about their works. In 2007, the first year of the journal, our mission was to showcase exemplary writing produced at the Downtown Phoenix campus by students of all levels and across multiple genres. After three years of growth, the project has developed into a celebration of the teaching and learning of writing in a variety of media. The project as a whole fosters relationships between students, teachers, and tutors and goes beyond expectations of coursework, practicing valuable revision and editing skills that will prepare them for future professional and discipline-oriented writing endeavors. The quality of the 2009 journal superseded that of previous years, which has allowed us to market the project more effectively to publishers, two of which made offers to publish the journal as a “course reader,” a companion for textbooks to be used in English classes across the genres. We are very excited that the journal will be made available in English classes and in the ASU Bookstore in the coming semesters.

Sustainability through Grants The publication is growing in visibility and scope and we continue to encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity to be published and acknowledged by the university and the downtown Phoenix community. Accordingly, we are expanding the journal by publishing assignment prompts that correspond to the student essays, creating a journal that can be used as an effective teaching tool—inspiring both students and teachers. The e-journal and its printed counterpart serve as an example of how writing functions effectively in larger contexts, and gives students a more “real” audience and purpose for their writing. We hope to sustain this project with the financial support of grants and awards like the Women and Philanthropy grant that we received in 2009, which made the aesthetic and pedagogical evolution of the journal possible.

The Role of the Editorial Board The Write On, Downtown! project has grown to include an internship allowing student editors to participate in the creative and critical processes that are integral to journal production. Through the study of multiple genres of student writing, and of the pedagogy behind the teaching of writing, the editorial team and internship mentors determine the criteria by which submissions to the journal will be evaluated, selects exemplary and topically relevant pieces for inclusion, and edits each

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piece for publication. The student editors also provide valuable input regarding the layout and design of the journal. The team also contributes to the planning and execution of the Write On, Downtown! conference.

Reflection on Evolution and Efficacy The project was first conceived of as a way for students to tangibly experience self-efficacy, so they could carry such experiences into their lives beyond college. It was designed to provide a foundation for a life of success and learning. Now that the project is in its fourth year, we have received feedback from a few of our students whose works were published and who participated in the conference. This has allowed us to see the positive impact the project has had on students’ lives. Adam Juel, author and presenter from our inaugural year recently sent a note saying, “Write On, Downtown! provided a way for me to be part of something unique and lasting. It also gave me renewed confidence in my writing abilities.� Muriel Tataw, author and presenter from 2009, has visited several English classes in the semesters following the event to tell other students about the positive impact the experience has had on her life as a student at the Downtown Phoenix campus. She will again participate in the 2010 conference. Though this feedback is informal, it is valuable and validates our mission and purpose. Our future goal is to conduct research, document the impact the project has on our students, and test our hypothesis that recognizing students writing accomplishments publicly enables students to improve self-efficacy. We look forward to accomplishing that goal in the year ahead, and to building our relationship as collaborators in the success of our students.

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photo by Ryan Wolf

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Contents Investigation Publishing’s Industry.com: Can and Should the Print Publishing Industry Survive in an Internet Age? by Victoria Morrow

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script by Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

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The Subtext of a Text by Lauren Dingess

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking: Modern Day Technology’s Effect on Academia by Cortney Bennett

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Opinion Gay Adoption by Victoria Bain

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Death Penalty’s Deterrence by Jennifer Spaude

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Organizational Communication The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best by Tim Nguyen

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Communication in the Workplace: A Study on the Importance of Writing Workshops by Myriam Hubbard

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Argumentation The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick by Madison Rogers

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The Drug Wars in Mexico by Mariana Roman

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The Teenage Materialism Complex in America by Alex Reese

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Reflection Proof by Manny Santellano

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Let’s Get Married Soon by Grace Thornton

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My Year with Donna by Gina Bompartito

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A Guinean’s American Dream by Mariama Bah

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The Fine Art of Shelling by Jill Johnson

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My Mom’s Youth by Thuy Pham

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The Rocket Ship (Fiction) by Wayne Schutsky

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Assignment Prompts WAC 101: Intro to Academic Writing

Writing to Share Experiences: The American Dream Narrative

ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Share Experiences Writing to Persuade Writing to Explore: News Talk Show

ENG 102: First Year Composition

Part 1 of 2: Exploring: Legitimizing a Social Problem Part 2 of 2: Proposing a Solution Arguing Value Arguing Crisis

ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Using Artifacts as Catalysts for Creative Non-Fiction Personal Writing with Universal or Historical Implications: The Fine Art of the Essay Writing the Spiritual or Philosophical: Autobiography Writing the Family

ENG 288: Writing Stories Fiction

ENG 301: Writing for the Professions

Research and Writing about Professional Writing

108 110 111 112 114 115 116 118 120 121 122 124 125 126


photo by Ryan Wolf


Investigation

These pieces explore the complexity of an issue through the investigation of multiple angles of a relevant and timely issue, demonstrating the critical understanding and synthesis of secondary research.


Publishing’s Future.com: Can and Should the Print Publishing Industry Survive in an Internet Age? by Victoria Morrow

Browsing my local Barnes & Noble bookseller, it seems there is no shortage of the paperback published written word these days. Literature seems to be a dime a dozen with shelves upon shelves of bestsellers. Yet, out of all of these purported “bestsellers”—romance serials, cookbooks and thriller genre books, actual avantgarde—one is hard-pressed to find groundbreaking literature. Print publishers are facing a crisis, one that began at some point about a decade after the dawn of the television set, and one that has only been exacerbated by the presence of the Internet and the American assumption that if information isn’t hyper-fast and Tweet-length, it isn’t worth devoting attention to. The visual age of YouTube and MTV has left publishing companies employing mostly genre-fiction authors who churn out cookie-cutter romance novels and crime mysteries and prove lucrative. The publishing crisis is twofold: reading, quite possibly, has become passé in an age of so many distractions and consequently does not draw in the profits print publishing companies need to stay afloat. Literature is a form that explores the human condition and questions the very purpose of existence and is easily outsold by genre fiction that can be made or have been transformed into blockbuster movie deals. Yet, the less literature is published and marketed, the less people have a chance to purchase and support literary efforts and talents. Thus a vicious cycle is perpetuated where the economic downfall of the publishing industry can be directly associated with the lack of literary talent popularized in the past few decades. Modern-day neglected literary talents need a home, and publishing companies need a future in a digital age that becomes less and less interested in bestsellers day by day. With the rise of the Internet, it seems literature will only become more antiquated and publishing companies will have to continue sacrificing true talent for profit. Ironically, it is the online medium that (if utilized correctly) could reinvent both literature and the publishing business. By re-sparking the flame of interest in reading and appealing to the heightened tastes for convenience, technology, and hipness now possessed by consumers, the Internet has the capacity to make reading, particularly that of literature, profitable and popular again.

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Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

The New York Times article “Serving Literature by the Tweet,” (2009) describes how the economically spawned publishing crisis is harmful to new or unknown literary voices seeking publication (Lee). Paraphrasing Scott Lindenbaum, the article explains, “writers complain that they drown in the great middle between the mega-sellers like Dan Brown and the avant-garde work produced in small quantities.” Lindenbaum, an editor for an online quarterly literary magazine, is hoping to build a pulpit for those authors struggling to stay afloat in an age where publishers are attracted only to blockbuster book deals. His site, electricliterature.com, pays authors around $1,000 to produce short stories it hopes will appeal to a modern, busy audience. Online subscribers pay a fee of $24 per issue, and that’s how the site makes its profit. Sites like Electric Literature provide a unique and progressive outlet for literary authors finding it difficult to find a print publisher. While the site says it is difficult “to get enough subscribers so the venture is self-sustaining,” it incorporates a number of social-networking outlets like Facebook and YouTube to spread and market its products. With advertising that is free and highly effective in targeting today’s online consumer—most particularly the next generation of readers—Electric Literature provides a palpable model for how new literary talent can showcase their work. It is a model struggling big-name publishing companies can adopt in an effort to reverse the economic loss the industry has felt since the seventies or eighties. Plus, not only does a site like Electric Literature provide an outlet for existing unpublished literature, but it creates a form of its own—one brief and compelling enough to attract an audience ruled by text-message-length information blurbs rather than novel-length delivery of information. The site offers excerpts of the five stories featured in its current online issue. One, titled “The Slough” by Pasha Malla, is as brief as “‘I should probably tell you,’ she said, swallowing coffee. ‘I’m about to lose my skin.’” The preview is poetic enough to stand on its own. As Tweeters submit customer-created reviews to Electric Literature’s Twitter page, raving over Malla’s short story or any of the other four accompanying the current issue, the desire to subscribe is undeniable. The process of contributing to sites like Electric Literature as well as the consumption of these site’s content feels “indie” or independent and creator-generated, yet simultaneously finished and legitimate, appealing to a modern audience looking for something innovative. Juris Dilevko and Keren Dali, who are affiliated with the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Ontario, describe the crisis as one that has come about throughout the years, “as traditional mainstream publishers consolidated and were often loathe to take chances on unknown writers whose books might not turn immediate profits, some authors found that fewer and fewer publishing venues were open to them” (Dilevko, 2006). Were the ease of accessibility of computer published and marketed literature embraced by the mainstream print publishing world, promotion as well as production costs would be much lower. If big-name publishers were to adopt this method of book distribution for its literary clients, then profits would increase and costs would be minimized, along with an increase in the satisfaction and appeal of housing a variety of authors, spanning from bestsellers to Pulitzer Prize winners, to those who accomplish both. 11


Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

Electric Literature is far from being the only site that offers an opportunity for literary artists to share and showcase their work. Sites like iUniverse and the teentargeted InkPop allow for authors to upload manuscripts, poems, and, in some cases, photography. iUniverse, a site that describes itself as an alternative for “authors who are unable to break into the highly exclusive world of traditional publishing or who don’t have the time or resources to do it all themselves,” makes a profit—not off the books its authors publish, but off the services it offers to authors trying to self-publish. Self-publishing utilizing the Internet is still in its early stages, but the profit for both author and host-site look promising as the shift from paper page to Web page is more concrete (“What Advantages,” 2010). Currently, however, most authors use these sites in hopes of being scouted by a professional publisher and eventually having their books printed, which remains the pinnacle of literary success despite the growing popularity of the Internet. With the implementation of the e-book and Amazon’s wireless reading device the Kindle, that hasn’t changed. It is no accident that the most popular digital books are also those teetering atop print bestseller lists, as popular digital books are typically print published works stored in digital form. If the online arena is playing host to the same discriminate, profitdriven publishing companies responsible for ignoring less-lucrative budding talent, or is too focused on publishing online versions of pre-existing, already-popular, print-published books, won’t literary voices get swallowed by this giant sea too? In an age of technology and an addiction to information consumption, the more variety and choice an audience has, the better. Experimental, postmodern, or new literature—like genre fiction—has a specific and targeted audience. Just as Stephen King or James Patterson may not appeal to all readers, neither do James Joyce or Salman Rushdie. Publishing companies working in the print industry can only take on so many authors due to the escalating costs of manufacturing and marketing a new book, and these companies—understandably—function in a way that maximizes profit, even if that means favoring a profitable genre-fiction author over a more talented literary one. Economically, publishers are struggling to sell books, which leads to their having to discriminate between authors they feel will make money as opposed to those they feel have fresh and legitimate talent. The Internet, with its limitless space and boundless opportunity allows publishing companies to embrace a wide array of voices, and at much lower costs by cutting out the cost of manufacturing and distribution. Were publishers to embrace the online forum in order to sell the books they adopt, a greater variety of literary voices could be showcased, as more consumers would take part in the process of reading and sharing in a forum large enough to encompass all interests, from thriller to nonfiction, literature and Harlequin romances. However, until print publishers embrace the Web, the quality of online content is skeptical to some readers. Print publishing companies, apart from making books available to the masses, reassure people that what they are reading is of quality enough to make it through the extensive reviews traditional companies employ. Despite the economic woes of print publishing

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Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

companies, there exists among both literary as well as academic and genre fiction circles an overwhelming assumption that a book is not quality unless approved by someone at Random House or HarperCollins. As Jemimah Noonoo (n.d.) of the Houston Chronicle puts it, “… there’s the stigma. If a book is any good, the thinking goes, why can’t the author find anyone to publish it? Traditionally, literary agents have been entrusted with weeding out the bad stuff. Without that vetting processing, many people assume that self-published work is substandard.” If publishing industries were to embrace the Web-format and lend their names to online distribution and promotion methods, the standards of print publishing could apply to online published material, assuring consumers that the online material is of legitimate quality. From news articles to Facebook pictures, one of the predominate uses of the Web have come to not only display or communicate information one way, but to allow for feedback or commentary creating a two-way conversation. If publishing companies were to move to an online forum format, and allow for both clients as well as consumers to engage in a relationship, one that would appeal to new, nontraditional consumers and perhaps even attract a new generation into readership via the Web. When given the ability to discuss and recommend books online, readers feel more intimately connected with the books they purchase and love. This model has already been proven successful by booksellers like Amazon.com, which generates a recommendation for what a particular customer might like to read based on their purchasing habits. Online book groups like booktalk.org give readers a space to feel as if they are part of a community. If publishers were to fully embrace the Web, they could create new, social-media-fueled spaces for communication, promotion, and essentially consumption and would make money off both advertising as well as subscription fees or fees for full e-book access to books. Yet, some publishers are realizing what it will take to survive as a physical industry in a new digitally dominated era. Publishing powerhouse HarperCollins has recently created authonomy.com, an online space to publish work and get it scouted by online readers, enticing a new generation of Internet consumers to a print publishing company that has existed for over 190 years. The move to the Web is an inevitable move for those publishers who want to survive the next decade, but in order to truly save reading, it has to be done correctly. Novels and literature are losing their appeal as consumers are drawn towards online forms of entertainment and information, and authors who have been neglected as a result of publishing houses’ lack of funds have turned to the Web only to find that online audiences are skeptical of the legitimacy of straight-to-Internet authors. Every component of what an online print publisher would need to successfully reinvent itself using the Web exists, but it has yet to be harnessed and utilized by most print publishers. HarperCollins’ authonomy.com and smaller independent Web sites are leading the way to finding new and appealing ways to reach a dwindling market that is less versed in Shakespeare than HTML. Authonomy’s motto is

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Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

“we’re on a mission to flush out the brightest, freshest new writing talent around,” and its online home provides the space and accessibility to do just that, all the while allowing its creator, HarperCollins, to not only survive but thrive in a world dominated by computers (2009). The solution to the publishing crisis in the midst of the Internet already exists: The solution is the Internet itself.

References

Authonomy. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.authonomy.com BookTalk. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.booktalk.org Dilevko, J., & Dali, K. (2006). The self-publishing phenomenon and libraries. Library & Information Science Research (07408188). Retrieved from EBSCOhost. iUniverse. (2009). What advantages do you have when you publish with iUniverse? Retrieved from http://iuniverse.com Lee, Felicia R. (2009). Serving literature by the tweet, electric literature magazine offers fiction in new media. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Noonoo, J. (n.d.). Houston Chronicle: A revolution for writers. Retrieved from http://www.authorsolutions.com

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script by Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Andrew: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Today, on Inconvenient News, I, Stephen Colbert, will moderate a debate, and by moderate I mean throw my two-cents in as frequently as possible; I learned it from the best: Papa Bear O’ Reilly himself, between two scientists, one republican and one democrat, one crazy conservative radio personality (who’s probably high on pain killers right now), and a liberal personality, who flew here on a private jet and was then escorted from the airport in a Hummer H2. Everyone here agrees that the earth is getting warmer; the question is “what is causing the warming, and what will the consequences be?” So with that, let’s begin. “It’s getting hot in here because of carbon emissions, so take off all your clothes,” I’m Stephen Colbert, and this is Inconvenient News! **play music** Andrew: While there has been some evidence to support rising CO2 levels, some scientists believe that there is not enough data to prove that the increased CO2 levels are significant enough to say that they are in fact rising due to man-made causes, what is your position on that? Ian: While some may bicker and argue that, ‘oh global warming is a myth, global warming is just a natural occurrence, etc. etc.,’ the question is, can we afford to ignore it until every single person can agree on it? Global warming is a serious threat and if we just stand around arguing on whether it’s natural or not, by the time we all agree on something it is going to be too late. CO2 is not the only cause of global warming either, a report titled ‘Combined Effects of Urbanization and Global Warming on Subsurface Temperature in Four Asian Cities’ shows clear evidence that urbanization is heating up the underground water supply. While this doesn’t sound very harmful, the increased heat is causing bacteria to build up and is now a breeding ground for all sorts of infections and diseases waiting to be released unto the population. My point here is that just because some people think there is not enough ‘evidence’ to be 100 percent sure that the CO2 levels are rising, it does not mater. We need to take action now.

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Tavis: The facts are all that matter. This is a case and point of what all liberals believe. They try to make it sound like global warming will destroy humanity if not addressed. The fact is we are in a cycle of cooling and heating and the CO2 levels are normal. The variable CO2 levels in the atmosphere are normal. There is not enough evidence to support the myth that we are doing all this harm, and the liberals know that. That is why they try to lead people off on the little studies about how heating from cities is causing bacteria to build up and oh no … it is going to hurt people. That is not the question good sir. We must get the facts before taking drastic measures to stop CO2 buildup. The world’s economy is far too unstable to be thinking about ruining many developing nations economies. Andrew: Well, apparently our conservative talk show host feels that the warming is as natural as conservatives hating liberals. So, how do you explain the abnormal high amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere? John: Well, I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that statistically more CO2 has been found in the atmosphere. That is simply factual and can be proven with science. However, the cause is where the real debate begins. Change is normal in an ecosystem. Our world has gone through stages, and since the ice age, the world has been heating up. Temperature is bound to change and humans are bound to adapt. I don’t think you can really explain any reasoning for the CO2 other than natural change of the earth. Haris: I blame humans. Ever since the industrial revolution in Britain, we’ve been warned that carbon emissions will cause the planet to heat up. That is exactly what’s happening now. Carbon gasses are being trapped in the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. The heat is unable to escape the atmosphere, and we’re seeing increases in temperature. Large factories are also the cause of this problem. Their factories emit large amounts of carbon emissions that not only pollute the air, but get trapped in the atmosphere and heat the planet up. Tavis: There is not enough evidence to support any myth on global warming. As I have said before, the planet has a natural heating and cooling cycle. Part of this cycle includes that natural build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as shown by a recent noteworthy study. Accordingly, humans do not have any major affect on the build up. Show me the evidence that says that this is not just a natural affect of the heating and cooling cycles. Ian: CO2 doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Something needs to produce it and the producer is humans. It’s not a coincidence that, as humans continue to develop and grow, the CO2 levels are on the rise. The continuous urbanization is the cause of the increased CO2 levels. ‘Observational Constraints on Past Attributable Warming and Predictions of Future Global Warming,’ an article written by a team of climate scientists, proves that the increase in CO2 is a direct cause of rising 16


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

temperature. The fact that this was published three years ago means that CO2 was rising even then, so what is happening now? We need to take action to prevent even further damage. Andrew: Well, conservative scientist, how can you prove that the rising temperature is due to natural causes and is just a trend that has been supported by historical data? John: I would agree, I think that if you look at the statistical reasoning, the world heats up due to natural causes. It is an amazing feat that our atmosphere alone is a self sustaining system, free of any other natural factors. Historical data is a very large part of this process by looking at medieval times. Consider this, our earth was once a place completely covered with frozen land and icebergs. However, a few hundred years later, the earth was one of the most fertile and habitable places in the universe. How is that explained other than natural cooling and heating cycles. Back in the day, there were no SUV’s or aerosol cans, it was simply humans and the natural way of the earth. This data alone proves the natural cycles are actually helpful to our development and not detrimental. Haris: I would disagree. We have models that show that temperatures in this century are increasing faster and higher than these natural rises in temperature. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that temperatures have risen to more than double in the last 50 years than they have in the last century. In addition, global warming is a complicated process. NASA scientists believe that while the Earth may be cooling off at some period, global warming has many stages, including a cooling off period, but we’re not out of the water. Global surface temperature is expected to rise between two to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in the 21st century. Carbon emissions are the cause of our problems, not natural occurrences because carbon gasses are being trapped in the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. This is not a natural cause, but one caused by humans. Andrew: So we agree that there is a natural cooling off and heating up cycle. There’s higher CO2 levels, and warmer temperatures than before. Your argument is that we are in a natural cycle, but there is evidence stating that we have already surpassed the natural heating cycle and the temperature continues to rise. How do you explain that? Tavis: I would say that this is a misinterpreted study. The planet is in its natural cycle. As pointed out in a study published in the international weekly journal of Science; The “global warming” prediction models are not correct and do not take into account many of the millions of variables required to make the prediction. How many have liberal scientists skipped?! I want to see facts, not useless speculation gentlemen. The United States and the world as a whole can not afford to devote so much to something we know so little about. The natural cycles have been going on 17


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

forever. As we know, the earth has been covered by ice and has given way to very warm weather. We do not have the evidence that says these high record temperature are out of the norm. This could simply just be one of the warmer heating cycles in many. Ian: We cannot overlook the fact that we are warming up no matter how little people may make it out to be. I can not stress enough the importance of taking action now before events spiral out of control and can not be repaired. Climate scientist M.L. Khandekar and his team published a report, The Global Warming Debate: A Review of the State of Science that proves that the Earth is warmer than it should be, one way or another. Sure it may be only a few degrees at a time but it is beginning to add up and sets off a chain reaction that we may not be able to contain in future years. While the Earth may go through climate cycles we have exceeded what that ‘rise’ should be and we continue to rise. I am not saying humans need to stop expanding and growing, but rather we need to find alternative methods that are less harmful to do so. John: While the peculiar nature of the heating during a cooling cycle statement is evident. I would stress to say that, by acknowledging the existence of the cycles, what’s to say that this is simply a short sustained oddity that will eventually figure itself out. You cannot speak for the future, but you can reference the past, and as stated earlier, the past proves to support the natural-cycle argument. Andrew: You previously mentioned devastating effects of global warming. What do you predict are the effects of global warming? Haris: Well, for starters, let’s talk about the polar ice caps melting. Both the South Pole and North Pole are seeing their ice caps melt the last few years and snow cover has decreased in these regions as well. Not only is this destroying the living environment of many species in the area, like polar bears, penguins, and others that depend on the ice, but sea levels are rising because of the melting ice caps. The Arctic has seen such a decrease in ice that the Northwestern Passage between Russia and Europe is now considered open water. Sure, this opens up another shipping route, but ice melting and increasing sea levels in the area is detrimental. In Greenland, ice is quickly melting, leaving not only animals, but humans unable to find food. Ice hunters in the area have less than a month now to hunt for food for their families with the decreased ice pack compared to the three months they had prior to global warming concerns. Hurricanes are getting stronger with the increased levels of ocean temperatures, not to mention global warming is messing with weather patterns to begin with. John: While the ice caps melting on both the North and South poles may prove useless, bear in mind the benefits of ice removal actually can help the world. Melting certain ice passages can actually open up new trade shipping routes in the 18


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

northern part of Russia and Canada that save fuel, time, and money. Also, areas that have since been uninhabited by ice coverage, will now melt and can possibly become habitable for animals and maybe even humans. A large percentage of the country of Russia is not livable due to ice coverage. If the ice melted over time, it could lead to many possibilities of expansion. Andrew: Liberals say we’re gonna die, and conservatives want Russia to prosper. Where does global warming fall on the list of the American public’s priorities? John: Where does it fall, and where should it fall are two separate questions. Through media hype and other general scare tactics, the issue may land high on the list. However, in the grand scheme of things, Americans should be focusing more on other problems like the recession and the war. If we run ourselves into nuclear warfare, or diminish the world’s economy so much that it becomes unlivable, it will not matter what the temperature on the earth is, because we will all be dead. All the stress is on irreversible damage done to the atmosphere. If that is true, then why would we waste our time trying to fix something that simply can’t be fixed? Ian: Global warming is not a short term thing; its not going to go away if we just cover our eyes and ears and go ‘blah, blah, blah, I can’t hear you global warming,’ so we have to think of the future. America contributes one of the highest emission rates in the world and this simply must change, we have to change our ways if we want to continue to live on a habitable planet. If we don’t start acting even more now it will cost even more time and money to fix later. There is no reason why we should not be developing ways to make a cleaner Earth right now, passing legislation to force businesses to cut down on harmful emissions. Every day we waste, it is going to cost us more in the future and that is not a risk I am willing to take. Andrew: Due to the increase in awareness of global warming, a push has been made to enact legislation regarding global warming, do you feel that global warming should be addressed in the form of government policy? Haris: The Obama Administration has already introduced global warming policies into government with the American Clean Energy and Security Act that Congress passed earlier this year. The environment has been addressed in government policy since the 1970s with the Clean Air Act. What Congress needs to do is cap off the total amount of carbon emissions as they have done, but make them stricter for this time and age. Obama is already working on curtailing carbon emissions with his “cap and trade” system of giving rewards to companies who cut their total carbon emissions into the atmosphere and encouraging them to work on new technology to reduce emissions. Those that continue to purchase and trade these allowances will see increases in their expenses. By passing this bill and encouraging companies to reduce emissions, and others to work on new technology for the future, Obama

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

has already introduced global warming into government policy. This not only benefits the nation, but if the United States is willing to step up to the plate in reducing global warming, other countries can follow suit in order to fix this mess we have created.

Tavis: Sure we can do everything we want to help clean the air. Even if the heating and cooling cycles were being changed by the human greenhouse gas contribution, the United States of America is the least of the problems. As pointed out recently in Time International (Asian Edition); The developing nations like China and many others are the main contributors to the CO2 output of the world. The United States has done enough in my opinion, and at this time we cannot risk the future of our country on something that has yet to be proven. Andrew: Global warming is a global problem, do you feel that intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations should enact global policy? Ian: Global warming is not an American problem, it is a global problem. The countries of the world need to work together in order to guarantee that we do not destroy ourselves. What the U.S. can do is to set examples for other countries to follow and to put pressure on them to introduce environmental policies of their own. Already we have several policies in place to prevent unnecessary greenhouse gasses from being emitted but in the future this might not be enough. We need to put more funding into researching means to make things more environmentally friendly; cleaner ways of producing products as well as ways to keep cities cooler. Americans alone cannot stop global warming, however, we need to cooperate with other countries in order to make sure that we do not cause irreversible damage to our environment. John: Who are you to say that just because Americans try and change something, the world will follow suit? The most polluted city in the world, Mexico City, is on the verge of being overrun by drug cartels and have numerous economic problems. Not only are the residents of Mexico City unfit to think about global warming at this point, but they probably have no intentions to change their way of life either. It is ignorant to think that just because American’s decide to change their ways, the world will follow exactly in line and the world will somehow work as one. Haris: Well it’s not called “global warming” for nothing. We’re facing a global issue here, because the United States is not the only country that emits carbon emissions on this planet. You have China who surpassed us this year in carbon emissions. Now they’re regulating their carbon emissions, but it’s not so easy in the United States with the freedoms we have. We’ve already seen this issue in American politics, and it’ll have a bigger presence in the future. In December, there is a United Nations Summit to address carbon emissions again. What Congress did a couple of months ago with Obama’s backing was pass the Cap and Trade system legislation. 20


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Not only is that in place to regulate the environment, but it’s also there to provide an example for the global community that Americans are serious about global warming, and ready to bring change. Tavis: I think that now when the country needs it most we must focus on our economy and that of the world. Many countries do not have the economic means to do anything but use carbon emitting power and cars. In recent studies we have found that China depends in a major way on technology that requires carbon emitting fuels. If we were to force them to stop their ways it would backtrack their economic growth significantly. Andrew: In regards to policy, is it more important to try and repair past damage? Or prevent future damage? Tavis: In my opinion there is no damage done. The Earth has been cooling and heating long before the human race started pumping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The amount of gas that we have contributed cannot be held responsible for the heating of the Earth. The heating will one day start to change to cooling and a “little ice age” will form again. The cycle will continue and the Earth will go on as normal. Show me some hard facts and I will tell you what we should do. Till then we can not afford to devote so much to something we know little about. Ian: In a way, preventing future damage is essentially repairing past damages. What’s done has been done and we need to focus on ways to prevent the temperature from rising because of humans. If we spend too much time trying to repair past damages we could be letting more harm happen then we would fix. Replacing a factory that produces greenhouse gases with a newer and cleaner one is not only fixing past damages but also is taking steps towards preventing damage that would be caused by the factory in the first place. The important thing is that we start cutting down on harmful emissions and start doing it now. Andrew: Where do we go from here as a nation? What exactly do we do? John: We go this way. My opposition has made it very clear that “damage” has already been caused and we’re at a standstill with irreversible damage. So why worry? If we know that despite all our efforts, the damage will still remain, then why spend millions of dollars and years of time on something that cannot be replaced. Americans and the citizens of the world need to focus on problems that actually can be controlled like the global economic crisis. These are problems that are actually fixable. What the nation needs to do is stop buying into the negativity of the liberal media, educate themselves, and realize this issue that has been completely blown out of proportion, is actually one giant scare tactic by liberal media and politicians.

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Ian: The best way to fix a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place, unfortunately we have already missed the boat with global warming but there is still time. We must take measures to prevent global warming from getting out of control and must contain the problem before we are unable to do anything and therefore will suffer on it. As I mentioned before we need to get the nations of the world to work together and pass laws and regulations that limit the amount of harmful emissions, design new technologies to prevent further environmental damage, and plan our growth so we are sure that we do not cause harm that could be irreversible in the future. Tavis: The only way to go is how we have been. The nation needs to focus on true problems that are of greater importance right now. The economy and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to stop going off on random tangents of little importance. Once we have fixed problems that need fixing we can do much needed research on the subject of global warming and see what is the true problem and how it can be fixed. I am sure that the findings will be that we are just in a natural cooling and heating cycle that will continue forever. Till then God bless Texas and the United States of America. Thank you. Haris: As a nation I think it’s time we put politics aside, and realize that what we have on our hands is not a domestic issue, but a global issue. The planet is warming up, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, we are experiencing a global phenomenon that we need to address together as a nation. We need to continue to impose restrictions on carbon emissions, by rewarding companies who push for greener technology, and fine those companies who continue to push the envelope. In addition, this country needs to make investments in new technology. If state governments or companies are not willing to provide funds, I think it should be the federal governments duty to fund these projections. We have done it before, and we can certainly do it again. Andrew: Nation, we have seen four ‘experts’ go at it for approximately 15 minutes. And honestly, I’m blown away by how little has been accomplished. Papa Bear O’ Reilly would be so proud. We had two expert scientists, and two expert cry-babies go at it, yet they have left the two viewers who even watched this debate more confused and more apathetic towards global warming. So congratulations fellas, next time, waste Jon Stewart’s airtime with this boring debate, I have an Emmy to win. Good night!

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The Subtext of a Text by Lauren Dingess

Every Friday afternoon, I suffer through the drone and moan of a chemistry lecture dribbling from the mouth of my seasoned professor. Fight the urge, I tell myself. But in the end, I know I can’t resist; I cannot wait until after class. I slide open my second generation Verizon Chocolate and fervently begin to touch each smooth, red key. I am addicted to the thrill of sending a secret message at inappropriate times—I am addicted to the warm vibration of receiving a message in return. I am addicted to the speed and dexterity it takes to type on a Barbie-sized keyboard. Yes, I am addicted to texting. Aren’t we all? The question here is why? When the news is flooded with stories warning the dangers of cell-phone usage, why do we text our neighbor to ask if they have heard the same? Why are we all so infatuated with this “instant” communication that really isn’t very instant at all? Is a tool designed to enhance our lives beginning to hinder them instead? Commercial text messaging was first introduced in 1995, and within ten years, according to AAA, car crashes related to cell phone use increased by over fortypercent, and eighteen states have passed text-messaging bans for drivers (“AAA Aims,” 2009). Not only has texting began to hinder our ability to drive, walking down the street has now become a safety hazard too. CNN reporter Jeanne Moos (2009) covered the story of a fifteen-year-old girl from New York who fell six feet into a manhole while texting; other interviewees admitted they had run into poles, tree branches, and oncoming traffic. Still, there’s always an excuse: “I was checking a date,” or, “I was in a hurry,” but the facts stand firm—people have lost the ability to distinguish appropriate times and places for communication. Texting is the new bad habit. True, the original intention for text messages was to create a tool for convenient conversation. Through rose-colored glasses, it allows users to integrate communication into their daily routines rather than being interrupted by it. But research has suggested that multitasking, in this or any form, may actually be causing long-term damage to the brain (Tamkins, 2009). It seems that more and more, people prefer a text message to a live conversation. Perhaps it has helped in facilitating personal growth—the anonymity factor 23


The Subtext of a Text Lauren Dingess

may allow users to open up or offer more truthful responses. I know that even I hide behind typed words when circling the terrain of an uncomfortable or controversial topic. There was a time when I averaged six thousand text messages per month (an excessive number, to say the least). I felt invincible. I could say virtually anything and rest assured that I would be safe from any adverse repercussions. There was no obligation to read a reply, no dread of a physical reaction, no real reason to worry. I held the power. I could control the outcome of each conversation according to my current desires. But what does that say about our character? Rip down all those motivational posters, kids—we have officially entered into a realm of cowardice and meekness. Despite my superhuman mentality, I knew that my relationships were feigned beyond recognition. Slowly, I had retreated into physical solitude because group settings became uncomfortably quiet. I began to realize that I had lost the ability to converse in person with those I texted the most: people I had previously considered my closest friends. I was no longer outspoken because I was not actually speaking. I felt like a cavewoman; I may have been able to write a strong, educated opinion, but I could not verbally prove my intelligence. The most embarrassing part was that I knew how avoidable such a state could have been—relying on text messages was, and still is, an unnecessary crutch. One must also take into account the possibility of abuse. A friend once scurried up to me in the hallway nearly overflowing with the latest morning gossip. Apparently a classmate of ours who had been losing a lot of weight recently had a “confirmed” case of bulimia. The source? A series of text messages claiming witness to the condition, a modern day version of the telephone game. As it turned out, the girl was diagnosed with leukemia, and the chemotherapy treatments were responsible for her sickly behavior and appearance. She originally wanted to keep her condition private, yet she was so mortified by the rumors being spread that she felt obligated to tell the truth. All it takes is one mass text to everyone in a person’s contact list that gets forwarded blindly to dilute the truth. People can be cruel, often times unintentionally, especially when it comes to creating and spreading rumors. Texting has made this process even more of an intense threat—whereas once it could have taken days to spread a rumor across a high school campus, now it can happen within a matter of minutes. Language is complex in any culture, but some of the most revered idols in history have been the greatest public speakers. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” was one of the most influential events in the civil rights movement; not only was the script of his speech well written, but also the delivery was almost just as important in creating such a powerful impact. That effect is lost through texting. There is no way to detect tone or sincerity when presented with just the words. We need to pursue other venues for personal expression before we lose the ability, or at this rate, possibly the will to verbalize our opinions.

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The Subtext of a Text Lauren Dingess

Because most text messages have been confined to about 160 characters, it has become common to abbreviate many words or phrases, such as “LOL” for “laugh out loud,” or “TTYL” meaning “talk to you later.” However, the tendency to abbreviate has gone through a metamorphosis over the years. Once used to maximize space and efficiency, it has become an obsession and an outlet for laziness. As a prospective English teacher, I have often wondered about how I will teach my future students the difference between homophones like “your” and “you’re,” but lately I worry that it will become acceptable to substitute the SMS (short message service) version of the words (“ur”) into academic writing. Many students could not care less about the rules of spelling and grammar, partly because they are sometimes tricky and partly because the majority of their writing is via technology, a place where style is sacrificed for speed. I am not fully opposed to texting. I admit there are times when it is more convenient or more appropriate than a phone call or in person interaction. Consolidating pagers and mobile phones into one device is certainly an appreciated convenience. The main concern is that it is engulfing not only traditional language, but also the quality of human communication. How can a person ensure through a text that the tone—and, indirectly, the intention—is not misconstrued? How can one properly emphasize an important point? How can one be positive a text’s intended audience is the audience it actually reaches? A written message will never replace the warmth of bodies pressed together in a hug; “LOL” will never replace that twinkle in the eye of a person doubled over in laughter; an emoticon will never replace the thrill on a person’s face after a satisfying surprise. There are over fifty muscles in the human face that work together to create an infinite number of expressions. With only 26 letters in the alphabet and 160 characters per text, one is bound to fall short of true emotion. What is the subtext of a text? It says that we are lazy; it says that we are apathetic about our education. It says that we are avoidant; it says that we do not value each other’s company. It says that we are minimalists. It says that we are impatient. Does it say that we are dissatisfied with reality? Perhaps it says we have forgotten what reality is; perhaps it says that we have created an alternate reality that negates the original. Perhaps it is time for us to return from this fabricated reality and embrace the world with two arms instead of two thumbs. Perhaps it is time to be more creative in our expression, time to own our words with confidence. IDK. Does that sound 2EZ? MayB there’s N2M we can do. 2M2H 4 us peeps LOL. O well. GTG. TTYL!

References

AAA News & Safety. (Sept. 25, 2009). AAA aims to ban texting while driving. Retrieved from http://www.aaaaz.com Moos, J. (2009, July 14). [video]. Texting accidents: running into posts, tangled in dog leashes. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com Tamkins, T. (2009, August 25). Drop that BlackBerry! Multitasking may be harmful. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking: Modern Day Technology’s Effect on Academia by Cortney Bennett

It is a phenomenon that students have been doing since before they knew they could get away with it: putting off important schoolwork. Once they made the discovery that they could scrape by with last-ditch efforts, they mastered the art of it. Leisure took way over priority tasks, Internet and cell phone capabilities advanced at unfathomable rates, and procrastination evolved tenfold. It stealthily slipped its way into mid-term papers, final exam scantrons, quarterly projects, and the everyday classroom. Technology currently allows students to gain access to concise and specific information they instantly and temporarily need. To close up the loopholes that modern-day technology allows procrastinators to slip through, state governments need to develop more rigorous curriculums that enforce time management and true understandings of the material being taught. Students procrastinate for a number of known and unknown reasons. Research has found that the delaying of academic work can root itself in the following categories: behavioral problems, cognitive problems, motivational problems, addictions, and personality disorders (Ferrari, Lay, Pychyl, & Schouwenberg, 2004). The most common type of procrastination in academia is behavioral, where the student makes a conscious decision to do something other than study (Ferrari et al., 2004). This distinguishes the difference between students who are less capable of managing time (i.e. those with disorders such as ADHD) and students who possess the ability to efficiently get work done. Behavioral procrastinators tend to reject studying because they weigh their options between the attractiveness of their rewards (which may seesaw depending on the immediate situation, present company, deadlines, etc.) between leisure and studying (Groenewoud & Schouwenberg, 2000). They are “impulsive and weak in self-control� (Lee, 2005). With lack of discipline in time management, from both their selves and outside influences, students get lost in the cycle of pushing aside work and diving into fun. As many have experienced, the fun and games catch up when pupils find themselves scrambling at the last minute to crank out their assignments. 26


Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking Cortney Bennett

Praying to deities they never believed in before, students promise “to never procrastinate again” if they can only whip out enough information to get a decent grade. And in most instances (when the almighty passing grade is achieved) they don’t learn their lessons well enough. They unfortunately slip into the habit again and again, with their empty learning piling high into a teetering skyscraper that threatens to topple over with the next assignment. The use of mass information Web sites such as Wikipedia.com, search engines like Bing, and 3G messaging and Wi-Fi-capable phones makes students’ ability to slack off in the classroom (and get away with it) easier every day. They skip studying, putting it off until the last minute when they surf the Web for a few minutes or contact a friend who conveys the information needed for class. Students possess the surface knowledge, if only just long enough to regurgitate it onto paper, they need to pass their classes. While current technology is not to be held responsible for students’ choices, it is a definite source of delaying important tasks and a tool for finding certain information in a time crunch. When students are simply relayed what they need to know (as opposed to studying and learning the material themselves) they miss out on the learning process (Aydogan, Deniz, Tras, 2009). The severity that students abuse technology can range from rarely doing it (perhaps attaining the answer to one question on a worksheet) to chronic procrastinators (who consistently deceive their ways throughout their academic careers.) The latter results in problems when those students obtain passing grades in their classes and get credit for work they truly did not do. A domino effect ensues, and those people receive degrees they don’t deserve, get hired into jobs and careers they are not qualified for, and potentially become harmful to the common good. The big-time procrastinators cannot perform their responsibilities to their fullest abilities, a serious issue in general (especially when dealing with public service employees). While this complicated matter is a prominent one that will never entirely go away, the easiest way for people to avoid it is to actually do their work. Crazy, right? Obviously if nobody procrastinated, then the world would be a much more efficient place. But if students got just even a little bit more work done sooner than later, it would help in many ways. They would process the material better, have less work to do when due dates came around, and experience lower levels of stress (Ferrari et al., 2004). This may be a hard task for the technology-dependent procrastinators (due to the fact that technology never ceases to advance), but it is a much-needed change. A heart-transplant patient wouldn’t want his doctor Googling the surgery procedure the night before he goes under the knife, so why should a teacher accept a paper composed of a cocktail of facts from Wikipedia, Bing, and other speedy Internet sources? The answer is that the teacher shouldn’t. Even though there will be a select few that prove they can cheat almost their whole ways through school with ease, they

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking Cortney Bennett

will miss out (to some degree or another). These are the ones that text their peers for answers and read Sparknotes instead of their assigned literature, and they always suffer, regardless if they realize it or not. Fittingly, it is their ignorance that blinds them from understanding that. Comprehension is limited and performance is crippled when chronic procrastinators skip over important details and crucial facts (Groenewoud & Schouwenburg, 2000). Which is why it is critical that students find a balance between free-time and studying that suits their individual schedules and needs. Students who attempt to plan their schoolwork according to an agenda deserve recognition. But many do not have one of the most basic and effective skills in combating procrastination: time management. When faced with social temptations, lethargy, inability to understand the assignment, and other reasons, students fall behind on their schedules. Free-time and study-time blend, throwing people off track and ruining their ability to self-regulate their schedules. This is the most frustrating to students who attempt but are unable to discipline their academic time. However, other students who can study for hours and hours still do not retain the information they should, resulting in the same “surface knowledge” effect that technology-dependent procrastinators experience (Lee, 2005). This brings the attention to the learning style that the student is engaging in. When students are reading new material out of a textbook, they may not understand it on their own. But it can linger in their minds to be further explained by a better teaching source (peer, teacher, parent, etc.) An even tougher situation regards students with learning disabilities; ADHD, Dyslexia, and other disorders have serious effects on the rate at which people learn and how well they understand information (Groenewoud & Schouwenburg, 2000). But the fact that these types of students are trying to learn and absorbing some of the material at least counts for something. However, it should not be overlooked that there is a select strain of procrastinators that use their behavior for positive results. They are the “active procrastinators” that fulfill four characteristics: time pressure preference, intentional procrastinating, met deadlines, and satisfactory outcomes (Choi & Moran, 2009). These students don’t necessarily cheat when they run out of time, but they instead learn how to quickly prepare themselves for what they need to do. In these instances the procrastinators are in control of their situations and typically do not have harmful effects later on. This type of successful procrastination is few and far between. A definite counteraction to the harmful effects of technology-dependent procrastinators is the implementation of harder, more rigorous curriculums in state schooling systems during early academic years: regular pop quizzes, more thorough exams, greater scrutiny of assignments, better plagiarism catching software, individual student presentations, and more. As long as schools draw the line between comprehensive and excessive programs, students will understand that there is no avoiding the workload. Students taught from an early age that slacking will produce negative results learn to not do it. If that idea is continued to be enforced through-

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking Cortney Bennett

out their academic careers, then they will learn better and become more qualified and prepared for their careers and lives. This will immediately and later on benefit the workforce and essentially the common good. Unfortunately, this is not happening for a number of reasons, with the main one revolving around money. The economy is yanking out an alarming number of academic programs due to budget cuts. With the panic to preserve the education systems that are already in place, the idea of spending money to develop newer ones is out of the question. Now picture this: a world where school systems allow students to get by on picture messages of test answers, Wikipedia-ed presentations, essays bought online at $24.99 each, and No-Fear Shakespeare Sparknotes-ed literary discussions. Now picture a world where students walk into a room on test day without having had a sneak-peak at the questions, presentations that students researched and studied themselves, essays actually composed by the person whose name is on the title page, and Shakespeare discussions upon which thou hath read and analyzed thyself. While the difference between those two scenarios may seem unfathomable, the latter must be strived for if humanity is to continue to function with competency. This ideal is not to rule out technology from the learning process, but to rule it out as the foundation upon which so many students are basing their “learning” on right now. Procrastination is a habit that will always be around. To what degree is the key factor in determining how it will affect a student’s academic career? Learning timemanagement skills will benefit not only the pupils, but everyone in the end. More intense curriculums will further enforce true learning. In a world where technology is becoming more accessible, instant, and informative at every moment, students must do almost the opposite—take the time to do the work. Here’s hoping our future generation chooses to crack open a book instead of refreshing a browser page.

References

Aydogan, D., Deniz, M. E., & Tras, Z. (2009). An investigation of academic procrastination, locus of control, and emotional intelligence. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 9 (2), 623-632. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Choi, J. N. & Moran, S. V. (Apr. 2009). Why not procrastinate? development and validation of a new active procrastination scale. Journal of Genetic Psycholog y 149 (2), 195-211. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Ferrari, J.R., Lay, C. H., Pychyl, T. A., & Schouwenberg, H. C. (2004). Counseling the procrastinator in academic settings. New York: American Psychological Association (APA). Groenewoud, J. & Schouwenburg, H. C. (2000). Study motivation under social temptation: effects of trait procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences, 30 (2), 229-240. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com. Lee, E. (2005). The relationship of motivation and flow experience to academic procrastination in university students. Journal of Genetic Psycholog y, 166 (1), 5-14. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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photo by Sean Deckert


Opinion

These pieces represent the initial stages of argumentation, establishing competing opinions on controversial social issues and supporting or refuting them with secondary research.


Gay Adoption by Victoria Bain

Gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and transsexual (GBLT) often have to fight to not only become socially accepted but be treated equally. In the United States, Americans are familiar with the ongoing battle over gay marriage. Now gay adoption is a fast spreading concern of many Americans, and with various opinions and rumors floating around, it is noticeable that many are against it. Even though support for gay adoption is on the rise, it is clear that there are more laws against GBLT adopting children. In reality children need a place to go home to; they need love and support from a responsible adult, regardless of their sexual orientation and therefore gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals should be allowed to adopt. Many people in America do not “know what gay parents look like” (O’Donnell in Marucci, 2000) let alone a single gay person. Although support for gay adoption is rising with a 46 percent statistic, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, many Americans, 48 percent according to the same research, are remaining stuck on tradition and stereotypes when it comes to sexual orientation and adding a child into the loop makes it even tougher to try and break the trend. Who has the right to reject a child from a safe and stable home? And when it comes down to it, who has the right to deny someone the right to willingly care for a child due to their sexual orientation? Studies that have been done claim that single homosexuals or couples have a corrupt home atmosphere “characterizing [them to be full of] confusion and lack of affection, domestic violence, and sexual abuse” (Stefanowicz, 2007) have been proven to be biased. The professionals that conducted the trials knew exactly how they wanted them to turn out. However “gay and lesbian groups have [conducted studies and] produced favorable results” to contradict the “religious and conservative groups [studies that show] negative effects of gay adoption on a child. Experts now say, considering the strong feelings people have, it is nearly impossible to have an objective study on this topic” (Sturo, 2006). Statistically, there are always going to be homosexual couples who abuse substances or fight, but it would be unfair and unrealistic for someone to truly say that there are not heterosexual couples that fall into that category; “one in four women (25 percent) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime” (CDC, 2000).

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Gay Adoption Victoria Bain

There have been recent studies demonstrating that homosexuals who are raising a child have a home just as stable, if not more stable, than a heterosexual run household. The children who are raised by same sex couples often turn out to be better rounded people, learning at a young age to accept people for who they are not what they are. Not only are they learning to accept people but deal with the ridiculous things people do and say because of the social group they relate with. For example, hate crimes, more commonly known as bias-motivated crimes, occur when someone targets another person, the victim, because of the victim’s membership in a certain social group. Bias-motivated crimes do not always have to be physically harmful toward the victim, although those are the ones that sustain the most attention via the media, but they can also be emotionally and mentally damaging. Damaging to the point of driving the victim to turning to a permanent solution for the temporary problem, suicide. Each state is choosing to take its own approach to same sex adoption, but “Florida is the only state with a law prohibiting gay men and lesbians—couples and individuals—from adopting children. The Legislature voted to prohibit adoptions by gay men and lesbians in 1977.” Then “in 2005, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Florida law” (Almanzar, 2008). Although Florida does not allow adoption of any sort in favor of homosexuals, the state does allow homosexuals to house foster children. As of right now all fifty states in the United States allow homosexuals, whether single or as a couple, to house a foster child; homosexuals go through the same screening as heterosexuals to see if they meet the standards. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press there is a growing number of over 15,000 children in foster care that are housed in a homosexually-based household. Allowing homosexuals to house foster children but not to adopt seems illogical, almost hypocritical. Florida’s neighbor, Georgia, is encouraging single homosexuals to adopt children, primarily special needs children. This is because the state feels that homosexuals have a warmer household that will offer these children unconditional love and support. Another reason Georgia is encouraging gays and lesbians to adopt special needs children that is kept quiet is due to the fact that they are not the mainstream desired child. Each state is taking its own stand on this issue, just as it is with gay marriage. As of right now Arizona, our state, is taking a neutral stand. Our state allows single GBLT’s to adopt, as long as they meet the normal requirements. Some of the requirements include meeting the correct financial stability, having reasonable living capacities, and, of course, having a clean background check to ensure the safety of the child. Although our state allows singles to adopt, the laws do not clearly state whether or not homosexuals can or cannot jointly adopt children. The law only allows joint adoption on rare and special exceptions such as death of the legal parent. On the other hand, Arizona also leaves the laws for second-parent adoption unclear; meaning after one homosexual adopts a child their partner tries to get joint custody of the child. Today, in 2009, 49 of our 50 states in the United States allow at least single gays to adopt children. There are a few states, such as North Dakota, where the 33


Gay Adoption Victoria Bain

laws are unclear whether they are allowing homosexuals to adopt but there have been cases of gay adoption. Florida is the only state that bans both homosexual couples and singles to adopt children. In the majority of the states that allow single homosexuals to adopt they do not allow gay couples to adopt; “couples have lied in order to adopt, usually with one partner adopting and the other pretending to be a roommate or friend” (Craft, 2009). Although there are ways around this law so that couples can adopt, it is obvious that this is “illegal since it is against the law to lie on an adoption application. This is considered [to be a form of] fraud, and if they get caught the adoption may become void, and possible criminal charges may be filed” (Sturo, 2006). In the worst situations along with the child being taken away and with the criminal charges being filed against the couple, they both could also be banned, so to speak, from adoption in that state. Currently, there are several different clubs or organizations, such as Colage, that support the growing number of 65,000 gay families (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 2006) that have adopted children to join across the United States. Where children and their families get together as a “community to work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy” (People Press Org, 2009), as well as to show the rest of the United States that gay adoption and families is a reasonable option and should be considered. These clubs are trying to show the rest of America that allowing a person to adopt and willing to take care of, love and support a child should not depend on their sexual orientation. Biology and gender is not what makes up a family, the strongest families rely on the love they have for one another.

References

Almanzar, Y. (Nov. 26, 2008) Florida gay adoption ban is ruled unconstitutional. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2000). Intimate partner violence. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov Colage. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.colage.org/ Craft, C. (2009). Gay adoption basics. About Adoption. Retrieved from http://adoption.about.com Domestic Violence Statistics. (2000). Domestic Violence Resource Center. Retrieved from http://www.dvrc-or.org Jalsevic, M. (Mar. 7, 2007). Lesbian mother fights to have gay adoption declared void in Georgia. Life Site News. Retrieved from http://www.lifesitenews.com People Press. (2006). Less opposition to gay marriage, adoption and military service. (2006). Retrieved from http://people-press.org Marcucci, S. (2002). Rosie O’Donnell stands up for gay adoption. Retrieved from http://www.hollywood.com Sturo, J. (2006). Baby adoption for gay couples. Ezine Articles. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com

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Death Penalty’s Deterrence by Jenny Spaude

The death penalty is a punishment that has been used for centuries and debated for decades (Stuart, 2002). The United States is still unsure whether or not they wish to use this type of punishment because they are unsure if it is a cruel and unusual punishment for horrendous crimes. There are people who feel the death penalty is too harsh of a punishment and life imprisonment should only be used for murderers (“Death Penalty Debate,” 2005). There are also people that feel the only true justice for murderers who have killed and ruined the lives of many people should be given capital punishment (Breen, 2009). They feel it is the only way for peace and justice to be carried out. It is decided in each individual state whether the people in that state should use capital punishment or not. After that is decided, and it is voted on, in each individual case where the punishment is allowed, the jury and judge are able to decide whether the convicted murderer is eligible for the death penalty. The death penalty is usually a punishment used for those who have killed multiple victims and ruined the lives of the people who loved them. The convicted murderers are given the death penalty for justice and peace for the victims’ friends and families. The death penalty is a tool the government and justice system use to deter crime, and sometimes it is the only way for justice to be carried out. Convicted murderers are given two types of punishments, life imprisonment or the death penalty. Those who are opposed to the death penalty view life in prison as a good alternative, but the question that should be asked is whether “life imprisonment” really means life imprisonment. The judge and jury members are given the right of deciding the fate of a convicted murderer or serial killer. The death penalty is given as a way for the victims, whether it is the actual victims or if it is their families, to obtain justice that they so desire and need to move on. Life imprisonment is the alternative, but are people who are given “life” in prison really incarcerated for the duration of their lives? The U.S. Department of Justice states that the average time spent in prison for those given the death penalty is five years and eleven months (Lowe, 2009). One error that cannot be changed with life imprisonment is time. Over time people forget things, people move, boards and judges change, which then allows murderers the opportunity to be given parole, when they should not be given the opportunity. 35


Death Penalty’s Deterrence Jenny Spaude

Wesley Lowe is an author who has written several books and writes passionately about the death penalty and the errors in our legal system. In one piece he talks about a specific example that shows exactly how time can change so much in a death-penalty case. He uses the example of the Moore case in New York. The year was 1962, when a man named James Moore raped and killed a 14-year-old girl named Pamela Moss. When Moore was convicted of the murder, Pamela’s parents decided to spare Moss his life only if the state made sure Moore was given life imprisonment and would not be eligible for parole. In 1982, the laws were changed and he then was eligible for parole every two years. The parents were not granted the promise they desired to have peace and the justice that their daughter deserved after being murdered, and that is only one of many cases that has changed because of time (Lowe, 2009). Lowe writes a very descriptive piece that shows how the death penalty affects people and how statistics show that it is something worth using. How could someone who has done something so vicious and appalling be set free to possibly do it again? A mistake like this is something that can be avoided when using the death penalty as a sentence. The chief debate of the death penalty is whether or not this drastic tool really does deter crime in any way. Those who are against the death penalty say that the it causes more crime, but there are statistics showing the complete opposite. From 1972 to 1976, the United States completely abolished the death penalty in all states. During those four years, the murder rate rose (Lowe, 2009). States were already trying to use the death penalty less, but the less they used it, the more murders occurred. According to Lowe, in 1960, there were 56 executions that were carried out, and there were 9,140 murders. In the year 1964, there were only 15 executions, and the murder rate rose to 9,250 people. In the year 1975, even though the death penalty was abolished during 1972-1976, it hadn’t been used for six years at this point. During this year the murder rate sky-rocketed to 20,510. During the years 1965 to 1980, the death penalty was used very little, and during this fifteen year period the murder rate went from 9,960 people to 23,040 people, a 131 percent increase during those years without the death penalty (Lowe, 2009). With these statistics that have been taken over a long period of time, they show that the death penalty most definitely does deter crime and causes such a major difference in society; how could anyone think otherwise? The death penalty deters crime in general, and prevents murders in a very effective way. Why should a tool like this be abolished if it causes such a difference? A recent case that shows a close account of the court system and how the death penalty is given to someone convicted of murder is the case of Dale Hausner in Arizona. Dale Hausner is a serial killer who was sentenced officially on March 27, 2009, and he was convicted of killing six people and attacking 19 others (CBS News, 2009). They believe he has killed several more, but they were unable to find enough evidence to convict him of those murders. He was a threat for two years in Phoenix, Arizona, causing people to be on edge while he killed random people

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by shooting them. His victims were pedestrians, dogs, horses and basically anyone who was outside and an “easy target” in his eyes. The court had officially given him the sentence of the death penalty, and the jury was given this right to decide. The court is still deciding, though, whether they will be able to convict him of 74 other convictions, and that will be carried out soon (CBS, 2009). Dale Hausner shows a person who does not care about the lives of people and recklessly shot and killed random people at night. He did not care that they had families, friends, and co-workers who cared about them. These victims did not do anything to have their life ended so quickly and unexpectedly. Dale Hausner wanted the thrill of killing people, and he killed as many people as he could for as long as he could. Since his pattern was so random, it was difficult for the police and investigators to find out that Hausner was behind these killings. Hausner was sneaky and was purposefully ending life, and he deserves to have the death penalty. He has caused so many people pain and suffering, and not just those who were killed; there were several who were injured, 19 and maybe more who now have to live with the disability that Hausner gave them. He affected so many people’s lives in so many ways and deserves the punishment given to him because these people deserve justice and peace. This man shows why we need the death penalty. This is an extreme case where Dale Hausner has killed so many people and now affected those families forever. They will never have their loved ones back, and isn’t it only just that he is given the death penalty? Can justice be served in any other way? The death penalty is argued so often about how it isn’t right to kill people, but what about the fact that these murderers have killed so many people who did not deserve to die. These people were living their lives and they were cut short because these vicious murderers just thought that it would be something fun, or a thrill. The death penalty is a tool that has effectively deterred crime throughout the United States and makes sure that the people who are guilty are given the sentence that they deserve. Life imprisonment is argued as a useful alternative, but why then are so many vicious murderers set free to repeat what they previously did?

References

Banner, S. (2002). The death penalty: An American history. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Breen, M. (2009). Should serial killers be killed? Korea Times. Retrieved from http:// www. Koreatimes.com Death penalty debate finally produces useful result. (2005). USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com Lowe, W. (2009). Pro death penalty Web page. Retrieved from http://www.wesleylowe.com Phoenix serial killer gets death sentence. (2009). CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com

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photo by Sean Deckert


Organizational Communication

These pieces explore the professional communication that occurs within specific organizations. These formal reports are based on primary and secondary research that students conducted within their ideal professions.


The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best by Tim Nguyen

Abstract Legal writing could be considered one of the most perplexing entities known to man. This paper will explain the legal writing within the Cavanagh Law Firm, focusing on aspects such as legal jargon (legalese), hierarchy of legal tools, and writing based on the law. Research conducted included interviews with Alex Campbell, Lindsay Sims and Jane Hundley (key members in the legal field). As well as researching the firm’s history to understand the entity better. Research will demonstrate that the incorporation of a writing workshop would be counter-productive to the legal field in many aspects.

Introduction The legal writing culture is a beast within itself. From the uniqueness of the jargon to the metamorphic discretion of the writing tools—no wonder the first words an attorney learns in law school is, “it depends.” A law firm, like a chameleon, adapts to the ever changing legal world in order to survive and destroy their enemies. This paper discusses the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law Firm (focusing on insurance defense), the writing culture, analyzing the unique legal jargon, the importance of different writing tools, and writing based on the law, in order to gauge the necessity of incorporating a writing workshop into the legal field.

Hierarchy within the Firm To run a successful law firm, it will require dual entities to cohabitate and strive properly. The first organization is the administration side and the second is the legal side (see appendix A).

Administration The first half of the cohabiter is the administration branch, which includes records and accounting. The accounting director focuses on bills, salary, billable hours per attorney, etc. Any monetary transaction that occurs will go through

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

accounting. The next entity is the records manager. This manager maintains the storage and organizations of legal documents generated per attorney. Law requires that records and documents, in regard to lawsuits, are kept for five years after the lawsuit is dismissed. This precautionary measure is performed in case the lawsuit goes to appeal or the client or attorney requests a file for various reasons. Both of these entities report to the chief administrator. The administrator’s function within the firm is to hire, run and manage the firm. For instance, one of their responsibilities is to seek new attorneys or clerical staff, as well as look for ways to generate revenue for the firm (in the non-legal sense), such as advertising and prospective new clients (Personal Communication, 2009).

Legal The other half of the hierarchy is a bit more perplexing, the legal division (see appendix A). Depending on what type of law firm you look at, the “highest in power” in the chain of command will vary. However, at the Cavanagh Law Firm, the hierarchy begins with the board of directors, and then on the next step are the shareholders and senior partners, followed by members then associates. Below associates are legal interns, then paralegals. Finally at the bottom of the hierarchy are legal secretaries and file clerks. At most firms, the bottom of the chain (file clerks to members) are generally the same. The higher echelon does differ though. At the Cavanaugh Law Firm, after a being a member of the firm and you bring in x amount of dollars to the firm, you are promoted to a senior partner with the option of being a shareholder, meaning you can buy into the company like stock options. Then comes the board of directors. The board is comprised of four partners and the executive director. One of the board members (who is an attorney) will be elected from within to be the chairman of the board (who controls the board and manages conversation, etc). The firm (partners and stockholders only) vote for the board members based on nominations and then votes.

Hierarchy of Legal Writing The anomaly with legal writing is that there is never a definitive answer. Thus, when asked, “what is the hierarchy of legal writing at the Cavanagh Law Firm” the response was, “it depends.” The general hierarchy for written documents follows: 1. Emails 2. Memos 3. Letters 4. Pleadings Where one is the least formal and four is the most formal, but like any good attorney would say, “it depends.” Generally, an email is “a less-formal means of communication than either letters or memos” (Oliu, Brusaw & Alred, 2006, p. 264), but at Cavanagh, that is not 41


The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

the case. Lindsay Sims (2009), a paralegal for 14 years, stated that emails could be more formal than a letter or a memo. Formality has more to deal with what your intent is than the format. She also recalled that in some situations in the past, emails were used as exhibits in motions. The major idea behind why an attorney would use an email over a letter is basically efficiency. Mr. Campbell (2009) states that he uses emails when conversing with co-counsel on various motions. This allows him to get fast, binding responses, as well as saving the client money. Mr. Campbell (2009) elaborates on the use of a legal memo. For him, memos are small projects that attorneys are asked to do (either by other attorneys or the client). Memos are attorney work product, meaning that it is billed and is protected under attorney-client standards. Memos that are not to be used outside of the office are detailed conversations discussing the attorney’s strategies and research with the client, according to Mrs. Sims (2009). Letters are commonly used throughout the entire field. Generally a letter is the formal history of communication between attorneys and clients. In regards to the writing culture, it is customary to send a formal letter summarizing a phone conversation in terms of what was discussed, when and what are the terms. This procedure allows for verbal messages to be documented and used in the court, in case the question were to arise that one party did not mention or agree to what the other is claiming (Personal Communication, 2009). The highest part of the writing culture in the legal field is called a pleading. Pleadings are “every legal document filed in a lawsuit, petition, motion, and/or hearing” (ALM, 2009). This is the highest of the high for attorneys. As Campbell (2009) describes, pleadings are an open-ended conversation, “Anything can be argued as long as you have precedent on your side.”

Legal Jargon The beauty of the beast in the legal field is that it has its own language. As described by Jane Hundley (2009), a secretary for 40 years, writing (and reading) in the legal field is difficult because of the common use of legalese or legal jargon. Legalese is basically a plethora of Latin derived words that are used so commonly among the attorneys that to someone else it seems like a completely different language. Legalese also includes the names of different pleadings that attorneys can litigate with. For instance, a common legalese word is Subpeona Duces Tecum. This word is defined as “an order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness” (ALM, 2009). Lawyers are constantly being bombarded by different documents and reading so many motions, they begin to develop legalese as a second language. Attorney Alex Campbell (2009) mentions how it is sometimes difficult to break out of the legal mentality when one is not in the office. “All you can think about is ‘did I get that motion for summary judgment’ or ‘I hope the senior partner likes my motion in limine.’” The legal jargon is just one facet of the chameleon known as law.

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Writing based on the Law One of the more intriguing parts in regards to the writing culture at Cavanagh is that every day your writing format can change. Mrs. Sims (2009) states that according to what court and what jurisdiction you are writing for, the format can change. The biggest concern would be page length. The discretion on the format in regards to length is held with each judge. For instance, some judges prefer only ten pages for a response to any pleading. If one were to go over the legal limit, the motion is automatically denied. This makes legal writing very difficult because one has to be precise and choose which point should or should not be argued in a response. To add to the limitations on length, some legal documents, when filed and served properly, have response deadlines. Otherwise, the party that filed the motion gets a default judgment (that is whatever the party requested the court grant them in their motion).

Conclusion Legal writing is always changing because the law is constantly changing. If law did not change, society cannot grow and be tolerant. It is required for someone in the legal field to write with precision, to assure that their point comes across strong and to the point. Whether it is in an email or a pleading, legal writers need to choose their words wisely or they might get sued.

Recommendation Understanding the legal beast more clearly, I would suggest a writing workshop is not necessary. Legal writing is a beast within itself, and it is a skilled attorney who is capable of taming the beast. Thus, allowing the attorney to be able to bill at a higher rate. Providing a writing workshop will only create a generic format or style that many attorneys would follow and thus we lose too much of their passion in legal writing.

References

ALM (2009). Law.com Dictionary. Retrieved from http://dictionary.law.com Oliu, Walter E., Brusaw, Charles T., Alred, Gerald J. (2006). Writing that works: Communicating effectively on the job (9th ed). Boston, New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s The Cavanagh Law Firm. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cavanaghlaw.com

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Appendix A Board of Directors Shareholders/Partners Members Associates

Executive Director Accountant

Records Manager

Legal Interns Paralegals Secretaries and File Clerks

Appendix B Research Notes Questions for Alex Campbell Q How long have you been working in the legal career? A Eight years. Q Describe to be a normal day at the office and how much writing is involved? A I communicate a lot with clients and other attorneys via email (of the phone). Because I am an associate attorney, higher attorneys have the authority to assign me research memos in regards to certain cases. If I am not communicating about a case, I am writing various motions assigned from other attorneys. Q Can you tell me about the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law Firm, such as, if you had an idea or project, what would you have to write or do to get that idea into effect? A If I had an idea or a prospective client, I would simply send an email to our executive administrator and ask her if there was a conflict check. If I were to accept it, depending on the type of case it is, it might require me to draft a contract which defines our scope, fees, etc. Q What is so unique about the writing in the legal field? A Definitely the language (legalese). Q What is the concept of a memo and how does it differ from memos in other fields? A Memos are in house projects that I do to discuss a question posed. For instance, I am generally asked to see if we have a right to appeal based on x, y, or z factors. Memos are generally more formal then an email, thus are billed out for more than emails normally are. Q What is the importance of emails and why would you utilize this form of writing over others? A Emails are efficient. I can respond to multiple clients in a matter of minutes, and is more convenient then a phone call. They also save the client money (which keeps our clients happy). I would generally use emails when talking to other attorneys or Cavanagh employees. 44


The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Q What is the hierarchy of writing in the legal field? A For me, Pleadings are the most important writing tool I would use. Then it would trickle down to letters, memos, and then emails. Q Explain the writing standards held toward motions and other legal documents that you work with? A It depends. Federal or state courts have different requirements. There are limits on how many questions you can ask on a discovery to the page limits on responses. That is what makes responses so challenging, because the opposing counsel will mention so many points, and you have to determine which questions are critical to the overall case and argue against it. Surprisingly ten pages go by really fast, because anything can be argued as long as you have precedent on your side.

Appendix C Research Notes Questions for Lindsay Sims Q How long have you been working in the legal career? A 13 years. Q Describe to me a normal day at the office and how much writing is involved? A The entire day is constant writing. From emails, letters (most of the day), to legal documents such as pleadings and discoveries. Q Can you tell me about the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law firm, such as, if you had an idea or a project, what would you have to write or do to get that idea into effect? A Talk to the most relevant person/attorney. It might require an email or a memo explaining the background information. Then if there is a potential conflict between the attorney/firm/client, then it would require an email to the board of directors to see if we can represent them. Q What is so unique about the writing in the legal field? A Legal jargon. Q What is the concept of a memo and how does it differ from memos in other fields? A Memos are attorney work products, which are generally kept in house. They discuss the strategies or plan of action in regards to a case. Like emails memo’s can be billed. Memo’s are just a tad more formal and generally hit items such as research topics. Q What is the importance of emails and why would you utilize this form of writing over others? A Faster** it’s used in this field to maintain contacts with the clients/claims representative. It is also used to build a history of communication with the parties incase that issue ever came up. It can also be used in motions and be references. Emails can be equally as binding as a formal letter. Texting: used when communicating with clients, but are not binding nor can you use it to demonstrate a communication history with the client. Only used for friendly reminders.

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Q What is the hierarchy of writing in the legal field? A Pleadings are the highest. Where as in general letters are second highest. But like I said earlier, depending on how formal your email/letter/memo is written, a formal email can be equally as binding as a memo or a letter. For paralegals, correspondence (such as emails and letters) are the documents we use the most. Q Explain the writing standards held toward motions and other litigation documents? A Biggest issue with writing standards is that different jurisdictions and states have different limits on pages one can write. For instance, for responses, a judge will limit how many pages a person have to respond (generally 10 – 12 pages). But in the overall, a judge has the most discretion in this sense.

Appendix D Research Notes Questions for Jane Hundley Q How long have you been working in the legal career? A 40 years. Q Describe to me a normal day at the office and how much writing is involved? A A lot of drafting. Letters to clients, motions, etc. Q Can you tell me about the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law firm, such as, if you had an idea or a project, what would you have to write or do to get that idea into effect? A Email to relevant attorney. Then if the lawyer wants to accept the case or not its their call. If there is a conflict problem, an email to the board of directors and they will decide. Q What is so unique about the writing in the legal field? A Legal jargon. Most words have are derived from Latin, but are commonly used in this field in every aspect (emails, memos, telephone, pleadings). Q What is the concept of a memo and how does it differ from memos in other fields? A Not relevant. Q What is the importance of emails and why would you utilize this form of writing over others? A Emails are fast. Less stressful/laborious to do then to draft a letter, retrieve it from the printer, create an envelope, send it to get signed from the attorney, then mail it. Q What is the hierarchy of writing in the legal field? A Emails are the lowest. Then faxing. Then letters. Q Explain the writing standards held toward motions and other litigation documents? A Format is not an issue because we have programs that have pre set formats for whatever needs to be done. Besides that, there is not much of a legal standard that I am required to pay attention to.

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Communication in the Workplace: A Study on the Importance of Writing Workshops by Myriam Hubbard

Abstract This is an analysis of the role communication plays in the professional sphere. With the issue of eliminating writing workshops in an effort to cut costs, the options and potential outcomes must first be weighed. I researched the importance of communication in a general sense and the empirical data related to written communication within Arizona State University. Referencing several texts that encompass the broad and ambiguous scope of communication and interviewing Dr. Cayle Lisenbee, ASU faculty member, about more particular information, I drew the conclusion that writing is fundamental to the success of this institution. While still considering the possibilities of other options that could produce the same desired effects, writing workshops are the best option at this time. In terms of dollars and time, the risks of ineffective communication outweigh the cost of maintaining a writing workshop.

Communication by Definition Communication is defined as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior” (“Communication,” 2009, para. 1). Messages can be verbal, non-verbal or written. We are constantly sending messages by the way we hold ourselves, the emphasis and arrangement of our words, or the tone of our voice; it all has meaning. That meaning is later determined and assigned by the other half of the interaction. The message is first filtered through noise (noise is anything that disrupts the reception of an intended message including biases, understanding, experiences, auditory disruptions, environmental distractions and the like) and then interpreted (West & Turner, 2009). This explains why two individuals can extrapolate different values from the same piece of information. Conveying a message and having the intended meaning understood compels a greater knowledge of the dynamics involved and deliberate actions to ensure clarity.

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Written communication can be seen in the form of symbols and sketches on cave walls; the importance spans time and disciplines. Additionally, the nature of written communication has its advantages. As opposed to verbal communication, it is more premeditated and allows for a greater amount of information to be expressed in a precise manner (Anderson, Baxter, & Cissna, 2004).

The Value of Communication A great number of things hinge upon the understanding derived from communication. Especially in an organization as large as ASU, if we are not communicating effectively, we risk lost time and wasteful spending. At its worst, it can cause us to produce inaccurate information. In research, faulty information has the potential to trickle down the system and waste resources; grand efforts can be spent with no resulting value because they were initially misguided (C. Lisenbee, personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). On a daily basis, poorly worded communication manifests in the misunderstanding of assignments or directions which results in degraded productivity. Additionally, misinterpreted emails can lead “to confusion, frustration, and poor morale among the various workgroups” (S. Sorensen, personal communication, Sept. 10, 2009).

Communication and Productivity Productivity is the measure of output to a measure of input (Organization for Economic and Co-Operation Development, 2001). Input can be measured in terms of time and money (the two having variable values dependent upon the individual and situation involved). Output is one’s product or goal. In Dr. Lisenbee’s case, that includes publishing research or instructional materials. Communication plays a role on the input side of this relationship. A great deal of effort is spent resolving miscommunication consequences; adding clarity to a message, or redirecting misinterpretations, and the like. The same end result is achieved but, with more effort, consequently lowering productivity. Dr. Lisenbee stated, “… concerning issues that the student could have probably found their own answers to, that leads to a large amount of my time that could have been spent more productively. And I think within a school or within any organization, we would probably be amazed at how much time could be saved by more efficient communication particularly through the use of email” ( personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009).

Communication and Efficiency Diewert and Lawrence (1999) defines efficiency as the “maximum amount of output that is physically achievable” (as cited by The Organization for Economic and Co-Operation and Development, p. 12). This output can reach a higher degree without the hindrances of miscommunication. Miscommunication drives down efficiency by creating more work. It is an unnecessary obstacle and the cost of avoiding it is justified. 48


Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Communication Applications Within the professional and academic sphere, communication has various forms and uses. In all instances, it provides documentation of a conversation and should be prepared for correctness. Depending upon the presentation or form, the appropriate format should be used. Audience and purpose largely determines what is appropriate (Oliu, Brusaw & Alfred, 2006). The purpose of the writing or communication will lend itself to a medium in which to present and the quality of the audience will determine what content to include and in which format. Consideration for these two factors will give writing focus.

Hierarchy A basic hierarchy model illustrates the structure within our organization. A respective school is headed by a dean. The immediate descending level is occupied by faculty directors, followed by the faculty heads, then faculty. Students comprise another component of the structure and call for a different presentation of material.

Deans

Faculty Directors Faculty Heads Faculty

When addressing various colleagues, the hierarchy should be considered. For example, written communication to the president of the university should contain more formal and proper formatting than materials intended for a student. “If it’s say materials for teaching, format is huge … Because format is how I convey organization, it looks like much more organized content if it has a consistent format” (C. Lisenbee, personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). Additionally, the content should be prepared and tailored with the audience in mind. The sharing of information and delivery of instructions is integral in accomplishing a common goal. With this in mind, the content of written communication should be clear in order to relay the message.

Public image As an institution of higher education, Arizona State University must maintain a very high level of professionalism. At any point of contact, we must always look and sound professional, or our research, work, and programs lose credibility. If we hold

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

ourselves to high standards, and desire a position to compete within the academic arena, then we must communicate with the highest level of professionalism. A great deal is spent each year printing mailers and producing commercial materials. For this to be effective we must be direct and we must express the words that provoke interest and moves one to contact us. New visitors to a Web site spend an average of three minutes and view four pages (S. Sorensen, personal communication, Sept. 10, 2009). Effective writing skills are critical.

Inter-office ASU has a student body numbering more than 69,000 and roughly 25,000 employees (C. Lisenbee, personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). These two populations rely heavily upon the ability to share information in order to perform. Keeping this many people conversant requires effective writing skills. Communication must provide more accurate information, or more timely information, in a better format, to function as a unit and stay resourceful (S. Sorensen, personal communication, Sept. 10, 2009). Emails are becoming the standard form of communication within most organizations. It allows a great amount of information to be sent and viewed quickly by many people. Rainie & Shermak reported that in 2005, more than 50 percent of American Internet users send email on a daily basis (as cited in Stacks & Salwen, 2003, p. 389). Dr. Cayle Lisenbee estimates that within the School of Letters and Sciences, hundreds are sent in one day and, within the entire university, thousands (personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). He also expressed a general feeling of disappointment in the casual approach it has generated in terms of drafting written correspondence.

Workshop Advantages Conducting workshops has several advantageous points. Primarily, the skills are instilled within the participants and can be applied to other circumstances and disciples. The knowledge gained will relate to utilizing better communication strategies and can be assembled as different situations present. Writing workshops also provide an interactive opportunity; there are lessons, activities and exercises involved to accommodate different learning styles and reinforce the message. More experienced writers can augment their skills and review concepts while, their less experienced counterparts can alleviate any deficits.

Draw Backs and Limitations Cost. The current years’ budget for training is nearly exhausted. We do not have the funds to perform training for all of our projected programs and that means eliminating programs that are unnecessary.

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Alternatives There may be other options to consider as well. Keeping the goal in mind (efficiency and professionalism through communication), alternative avenues may be considered. For email correspondence, a template design may be an option to consider. The purpose of the email determines the template used and the necessary information could be inserted in the proper place. This would ensure the details are not omitted and structured in a way that would alleviate possible confusion.

Drawbacks and Limitations This approach doesn’t help individuals actually gain communication skills. Lisenbee suggested instilling good writing habits in instructors in all disciplines: “Students see the instructor doesn’t work with consistency, formality and professionalism and they assume that can be instilled in their own work … it has to start with the instructors and make sure everyone is presenting an appropriate level of professionalism.” Templates should not replace independent ability. Not all interactions will fit neatly within a given template and the capacity needs to exist in order to communicate without one (personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009).

Conclusion I believe that our final training course should be spent on writing workshops. This is supported by analyzing communication’s constituents and daily applications. The process and instances saturate the professional and academic sphere and consequently, the ability to write is a necessary skill. The value of communication is evident; it permeates productivity within the entire school and is integral in achieving efficiency. While the institution takes a more cost-conscious direction, writing workshops are a justified expense when compared to a proposed alternative or the possible consequences of miscommunication. Writing is fundamental to the success of many organizations, and when magnified in an institution as large Arizona State University, this importance reaches a higher degree. In conclusion, in order to perform at capacity, effective communication is a priority and thus writing workshops as well.

References

Oliu, Walter E., Brusaw, Charles T., Alred, Gerald J. (2006). Writing that works: Communicating effectively on the job (9th ed). Boston, New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s Anderson, R., Baxter L. A., & Cissna K. N. (Eds.). (2004). DIALOGUE Theorizing difference in communication studies. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc. Communication. (2009). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com The Organization for Economic and Co-Operational Development. (2001). The OECD productivity manual. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard Stacks, D. W., Salwen, M. B. (Eds.). (2009). An integrated approach to communication theory and research. New York: Routledge. West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2009). Understanding interpersonal communication: Making choices in changing times. (2nd Edition). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Appendix A Research Notes Merriam Webster Online Dictionary 1 : an act or instance of transmitting 2 a : information communicated b : a verbal or written message 3 a : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior <the function of pheromones in insect communication>; also : exchange of information b : personal rapport <a lack of communication between old and young persons> Organization for Economic and Co-Operation Development Efficiency. The quest for identifying changes in efficiency is conceptually different from identifying technical change. Full efficiency in an engineering sense means that a production process has achieved the maximum amount of output that is physically achievable with current technology, and given a fixed amount of inputs (Diewert and Lawrence, 1999). “There are many different productivity measures. The choice between them depends on the purpose of productivity measurement and, in many instances, on the availability of data. Broadly, productivity measures can be classified as single factor productivity measures (relating a measure of output to a single measure of input) or multifactor productivity measures (relating a measure of output to a bundle of inputs). Another distinction, of particular relevance at the industry or firm level is between productivity measures that relate some measure of gross output to one or several inputs and those which use a value-added concept to capture movements of output.” (OECD page 6-7) An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research: Page 389 Marcus Messner & Bruce Garrison • online services first offered in 1980 by companies. Has grown drastically since • More than 40 percent of American internet users use search engine on daily basis and 50 send email (Rainie & Shermak, 2005) • Chats forums blogs blur professional and non professional writing. DIALOGUE Theorizing Difference in Communication Studies. Territories of dialogue: Oxford English dictionary definition of conversation- “the informal exchange of information, ideas etc.”

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Appendix B Research Notes Lisenbee, C. (Personal Interview, Sept. 25, 2009). Q When you write a colleague, student or scholarly document, respectively, what image or impression are you trying to maintain? How does writing reflect that? A Audience targeted and I‘m trying to instill professionalism or clarity Q Is content and format important? If so, when? A Yeah. Yeah content and format. I that it varies with the audience too. And it varies with the purpose of writing. Format is really important when the audience demands a bit of formality. So I’ll format email for example or. So yeah I’ll take emails for example. So I’ll format email with proper salutations and proper closing if the purpose demands it. If it’s say materials for teaching, format is huge with me. Because format is how I convey organization. Umm it looks like much more organized content if it has a consistent format. That the students can conceive that or perceive that consistent format that you have. So format’s really important. Umm. The other thing was … content? Yeah. Content’s one of those audience targeted things. Q Emails are becoming the standard form of communications within most organizations. Can you describe how often you use email? To whom are you usually writing? A I use it way too often. I’m usually writing to students and, I hate email as a communication tool. I actually I don’t mind communicating via email but I hate it for what’s it does to communication. And that it takes the formality out of communication and because of that, most individuals have very little respect for an email they submit and they pay very little attention to all of these things that you’re talking about; content, format, purpose. They throw an email together in 30 seconds and never read it before the send it and often times, it has an unclear purpose or, it’s not suggesting the appropriate and necessary response from the target. The emails kinda go into the ether, find their destination and, for somebody like me, who takes every single one as seriously as necessary, it becomes a burdensome process. Yeah Q Could you guess how many business-related emails are sent within ASU in a day? A Man … maybe inter-office communication or emails with a message that give direction? Yeah email, oh it’s, even within our school is probably, within our school it’s probably in the hundreds. Within the university, thousands. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m off, even by factors of ten. Q What about formal letters? A Boy, there are just not very common anymore. But what’s interesting is that they’re still, there’s some extra sense of importance, intent, purpose to a formal letter on paper, a hard copy letter, ya know, so they’re still used for all of those

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really important things. But documenting things on paper now, it has new implications. Now that email is used for common communication. Yeah, if you go through the trouble to put in a hard copy letter, it must mean it’s really really important. Q Do you know roughly how many students attend ASU? A 69,000 roughly this semester, this fall semester. Q How many people are employed? A At ASU I believe it’s roughly … 25,000. I think. But that includes faculty, staff, everyone. Q Within the school or department, what’s the hierarchy? A Umm, within our school, on the faculty side of things it’s, the umm, within our school, our school is headed by a dean, below the dean are heads of faculty groups/ faculty directors or faculty heads, and then below the faculty heads are all the faculty. Q What other forms of communication do you utilize? A Umm, written? I still send hard copy letters every once in a while, via mail, particularly to people who are not savvy with email but, that’s less common. Umm, email is probably the primary written communication. And then when communicating to students, or to scientific journals or something, it’s written papers or written study materials. Umm the purposes of all those are different of course. Sometimes I put together written communication in the form of flyers or advertisements to advertise a class or course. Q Do you know about how much ASU spends on flyers and written commercial material? A (shriek) no I don’t know how much but, I’m sure it’s a lot. Now ASU’s big on environmental impact and stuff so they’ve cut down a lot on common flyers and things. I think they discourage that for the most part and they do as much as possible electronically. Q Well, if I were weighing the cost of a writing workshop versus the cost of poor communication, are there any figures I could use? A Umm, I’m not sure, well they wouldn’t publish that probably because it varies so much from department to department. But, it’s a very common thing for universities within departments or schools or even disciplines to calculate cost per student. In the sciences, the cost per student is very high because we have labs associated with them and even the student lab fees that we collect to help us offset the cost of labs, doesn’t offset it completely in a lot of cases. So, science budgets are often times much larger than say, a writing budget. But those would be the things you would have to consider for calculating that cost. Q How much does it cost the university per credit hour to teach to those writing students? A In that case, it can vary a lot depending on the method of instruction. But if the instructor is using electronic resources and needs computer labs, there’s overhead in maintaining computer labs. There’s software that needs to be acquired, there’s the cost of paying faculty members to put together the content that needs to be delivered electronically. 54


Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Umm, they’re hard costs to calculate but, it can be done. And then I guess you balance that by the amount of money that is brought in from not lab fees in this case for writing workshops, but tuition. The students are paying tuition to offset the cost of teaching. Q What are the potential of consequences of ineffective communication or misinterpretation within the academic sphere? A At the most severe side of things it can be huge. It can be the miscommunication of research results but then that’s trickles through the system and lead to new scientific endeavors that do nothing but burn money because they’re based upon inappropriate results or falsified results or results that haven’t been properly falsified. Hopefully peer review in the science realm filters that out. But miscommunication can lead to the wasteful spending of millions of dollars of research funding if it happens. At the student teacher levels, the stuff I experience each day, it’s it can be big. Miscommunications can be as severe as misunderstanding about disciplinary hearings or plagiarism hearings or something like that to simple misunderstanding about scores on test or written work or quizzes or assignments. It, that stuff, that’s why I spend so much time writing emails and don’t take for granted; that I try to make sure there’s clarity in every email message because the implications to student sanity and stress and transcripts can be very, very big. Q Can this be related in terms of time? A Yeah, for me, it consumes a great deal of my time to answer email messages because of my teaching load. When those email messages from students are concerning issues that the student could have probably found their own answers to, that leads to a large amount of time of mine that could have been spent more productively. And I think within a school or within any organization, I think we would probably be amazed at how much time could be saved by more efficient communication particularly through the use of email. Q Can you suggest any other ways to gain necessary communication skills besides costly workshops? A Templates maybe? Q Templates is a really nice idea, but it doesn’t really give anyone any skills. A No it doesn’t. That’s exactly correct. Instilling good writing habits in instructors in all disciplines would be a really, really good thing. I’ve seen a lot of instructors who actually exhibit some poor writing skills of their own and those get translated to the students. And it can be as simple as not instilling formality or organization in the materials you present to the students. Students see the instructor doesn’t work with consistency formality and professionalism and they assume that can be instilled in their own work and they send email messages that are grammatically incorrect and have no punctuation. So I think it’s got to start with the instructors and make sure everyone is presenting appropriate level of professionalism

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Q How much of a time commitment do you anticipate a workshop would require? How much would it cost roughly? A I think you could put together some purpose-driven, important writing workshops for students that are no more than 10-15 minutes long and cost no more than it would cost to pay a faculty member to oversee it. Or if you get a faculty member to put together a review session or volunteer effort it could cost absolutely nothing. It might cost a box of pizza to get some students to it.

Appendix C Research Notes Sorensen, S. (Personal Communication, September 10, 2009) TO: Myriam Hubbard FROM: Steve Sorenson DATE: September 10, 2009 SUBJECT: Re: Writing Assignment Dear Myriam, Understanding the exhausted budget, an argument in favor of writing workshops at Pierce-Eislen, there are several areas where writing is critical to the success of the company. Attracting New Customers Our website is the first point of contact for most of our potential clients. New visitors to the website spend an average of three minutes and view four pages. It is important that our message is delivered in a clear and concise manner, and free of errors. If we fail to attract their attention in a very short amount of time, they will go to a competitor. We spend thousands of dollars each year printing mailers and producing magazine ads. Additionally, we have started doing email campaigns. The copy is done in-house. For our advertising to be effective, we must be direct and we must drive home a message that induces prospective clients to contact our company. Effective writing skills are critical. The Eislen Reports are new to the industry. In order to displace the well-established market reports, we must provide better a better product. The Reports must provide more accurate information, or more timely information, in a better format, or something which creates a competitive advantage. However, none of this matters if the information is suspect. If the report is poorly worded or unclear, the data itself becomes questionable. Our sales team routinely writes emails to potential clients. They also produce writ56


Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

ten sales quotes. If these communications are not well-written, it reflects poorly on the organization. This makes closing a sale considerably more difficult. Retaining our Customer Base There are numerous points of contact with our client base. We produce billing statements, we respond to customer complaints and error checks, we provide training materials, and we introduce new services. If our customers begin to doubt our competence at any time during our interactions, they may begin to doubt our competence in research as well. Inter-office Communications Emails are becoming the standard form of communications within most businesses. If we are not communicating effectively, we run the risk of misunderstanding job assignments. This can degrade productivity. Even worse, it can cause us to produce inaccurate information. Additionally, poorly worded emails can be misinterpretedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;leading to confusion, frustration, and poor morale among the workgroup. The ability to write is critical to the success of Pierce-Eislen. Sincerely. Steve Sorensen Research Coordinator

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photo by Sean Deckert


Argumentation

The argumentative writing in this section assumes a specific position on a controversial issue, oftentimes exploring causation and proposing plausible solutions as well as acknowledging and refuting opposing perspectives.


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick by Madison Rogers

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man!” – Albert Einstein It is terrifying to think that Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most renowned scientists, declared the apocalypse upon the loss of something so small and overlooked as the bee. Those annoying and buzzing pests that strike fear amongst five-year-olds everywhere, due to their reputation of implanting a sharp stinger into anyone who gets close, could determine the survival of the human race. During the time that Einstein made this statement, the possibility of such a seemingly abundant species becoming extinct was laughable. However, now more than ever, individuals around the world are seriously heeding Einstein’s warning as recent scientific studies show a drastic decrease in the bee population. This phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and is killing off entire hives, which, on average, can house 50,000 bees. The mature, worker bees are leaving the hive in large numbers and dying of unknown causes. As a consequence, the whole colony will collapse; the abandoned queen and immature bees die soon after (Driscoll, 2008). This may seem like a common act of nature as everything has a time and place to die. However, with the bee population dropping at such drastic rates, and with such devastating effects to the ecosystem, this problem must not go without regard.

Collapsing Colonies and Collapsing Ecosystems Colony Collapse Disorder became a common problem to beekeepers in the fall of 2006. “It was like a ghost town,” exclaims Dave Hackenberg, a 42-year commercial beekeeper, who discovered his bee colonies almost deserted after a month of being away (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, ¶ 2, 2009). As one of the first victims of CCD, Hackenberg lost 50 percent of his 3,000 hives that year, which was a hard thing to ignore (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Coincidently, the same 60


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

thing was happening to beekeepers all over the world in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, and Europe. Of even greater concern, the problem has not ceased. In 2008, there was a nationwide 36 percent reduction of colonies because of CCD. These days everyone is concerned with the environment, but apart from this general concern the questions remains: What does all of this have to do with us? The most important thing that bees do, besides making yummy honey, is act as one of the world’s most active pollinators. While flying from flower petal to flower petal, bees move pollen from one plant’s male reproductive organs to another’s female reproductive organs. The reason why bees can do this so much more effectively than other animals, according to Mary Wultz (2008), an experienced beekeeper in Long Island, N.Y., is that “In the Spring, they can build up to such large numbers.” The more bees there are in one concentrated area means the more crops that eventually will be produced. A little more than one third of the world’s flower population is pollinated this way (Deweert, 2008). In addition, a majority of the nation’s food source comes from plants that are pollinated by bees such as fruits and vegetables like apples, blueberries, and broccoli. In fact, one of the most important crops that benefits from bee pollination in the U.S. is almonds (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). In California alone, this 20 billion dollar industry produces 90 percent of the world’s entire crop (Pickert, 2009). However, our homage to bees does not end here. Not only do bees aid in producing many of the foods we eat, but also much of the foliage that other animals eat such as feed for cows. Without this feed, cows would not produce the beef and dairy products on which humans are so dependent (Deweert, 2008). As anyone can see, by one simple act of pollination, bees help provide biomass, the primary producers for all living creatures on this planet, food. This is why the issue of disappearing bees is so important to us. Additionally, without bee pollination, one of the most important industries in America, agriculture, would collapse. Eventually, if this problem is not fixed, and if bees do disappear and fail to pollinate our crops, we will soon appreciate the consequences.

Causes The most terrifying aspect of this epidemic of the disappearing bee is not only that it could drastically affect the way humans live, but that for the past three years, scientists still have not found what causes CCD (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). This problem has never been encountered before and is stumping scientists across the nation. “We had no clue what to look for,” states Diana Cox Foster (2009) who is a professor of entomology at Pennsylvania State University and co-director of the CCD working team (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, ¶20, 2009). However, some theories have been developed about what the possible causes could be.

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The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

Theory #1: Poor Nutrition Bees feed from flowers such as dandelions and violets. However, these flowers are also considered weeds. An entire herbicide industry is dedicated to killing these sources of food for bees because they make our lawns look seemingly “messy.” There are even regulations and noncompliance fees set in homeowner’s association communities for keeping weeds out of front lawns. Because our communities have found the need to groom our lawns, we may be killing off some of the most important aspects of the bee diet (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009).

Theory #2: Poor Beekeeping Practices Another important aspect of a bee’s diet is honey. However, bee’s rarely get to feed upon this naturally produced substance due to beekeepers collecting it and selling it for profit. Instead, beekeepers provide their bees with high fructose corn syrup as an unhealthy substitute (Meerkat Media Collective, 2008). Also, in order to bulk up hives for the pollination seasons, commercialized beekeepers provide more than the needed amounts of sugar and pollen through these harmful substitutes (Pickert, 2009). These commercialized processes of beekeeping became more and more popular as the industry continued to grow at a rapid rate. In general, this is because many farmers and growers depend on honeybees to pollinate their crops in order for them to produce more. Many of these farmers rent hives from commercial beekeepers, which is how the beekeeping industry was born (Deweerdt, 2008). Beekeepers then truck their hives back and forth across the country through warm climates to extremely cold climates, not giving the bees enough time to adapt to their surroundings or to rest (Deweerdt, 2008). “Bees have to rest just as all of us humans do” explains Dave Howard (2008), a beekeeper from New York City (Meerkat Media Collective, 2008). Dave Hackenberg (2007) explains that, “Sometimes these bees will travel 55,000 miles a year on the back of a truck” (Schultz, 2007). However, Jim Cane of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bee Biology Lab states, “Without a doubt, if there was one bee you wanted for agriculture, it would be the honeybee” (Deweerdt, ¶11, 2008). The more honeybees in one area the greater the amount of pollination, which in turn means there will be more crops produced. Unfortunately, it so happens that the honeybee is one of the species of bee that is most effected by CCD. The poor nutrition and poor health caused by these harsh farming practices and industrialization of bees could be one of the causes of CCD. Yet, scientists are still uncertain that this is the only cause.

Theory #3: Exposure to Pesticides Like every other insect, bees are susceptible to pesticides that all growers spray on their plants in order to ward off bugs (Deweerdt, 2008). These poisons can come from either the environment or the plants that the bees actually pollinate (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). One pesticide in particular, neonicotinoids, can actually enter the pollen and nectar of a plant, increasing the probability of a 62


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

bee’s exposure to the poison (Cox-Foster, ¶14, 2009). Yet, farmers have been using pesticides for years. Why would this all of the sudden be causing massive amounts of bees to drop dead?

Theory #4: Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) could possibly tie all of these factors together. Carried over to the U.S. through the commercial importation of bees from other countries, this virus has become one of the most credible theories that scientists support for why the bees are beginning to disappear. Although some place the blame on human involvement, research data suggests the IAPV is the most probable cause of CCD. Upon exposure to IAPV, in two to three weeks time, insects will succumb to paralytic seizures, simply fall to the ground, and die (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Further research, including multiple biopsies of bees from failed colonies, concluded a positive exposure to IAPV in bees from colonies that were victims of CCD. While many of the other theories have only applied to small percentages of the entire U.S. bee population, IAPV can account for nearly all of the failed colonies. However, does that mean that the other theories can be discounted? Scientists think not. Their conclusions concur that CCD is caused by a combination of all of these. Scientists relate the problem to the human condition of AIDs, which causes immune deficiency and leads to most patients dying from common ailments like pneumonia or the flu. Poor nutrition, poor farming practices and pesticide poisoning can lead to immune deficiencies, making bees more susceptible to IAPV, which will then be the ultimate cause of death. Therefore, scientists and environmentalists can both get their way. CCD is not simply a human-caused problem or a diseasecaused problem; it is both. Regardless of who or what is to blame for CCD, Nature is sending us a message that something is wrong (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009).

Effect #1: Poor Nutrition for Humans As mentioned before, without bees pollinating our crops, production of naturally grown food sources will drastically decrease, leading to the conclusion that without the bees, our diets will become vitamin poor. This is not only due to the loss of fruits and vegetables, but also to the loss of foliage that animals feed on due to decreased bee pollination and the subsequent loss of a source of food for humans. Bees are the basis of our ecosystem, and without them, food will become scarce (Deweerdt, ¶2, 2008).

Effect #2: Damage to our Economy On a more industrial level, our economy will be drastically affected as well. The industry of commercialized beekeeping has certainly made a name for itself due to the billions of dollars it provides to our economy. The annual value of bee pollination totals 14 billion dollars in the U.S. and 215 billion dollars worldwide 63


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

(Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Also, with farmers constantly relying on pollination from bees, in 2008, bee hive rentals cost as much as $160 per hive (Pickert, 2009). Dr. Foster (2009) explains that the “pollination industry, replaced what was once a free service provided by a diverse community of native bees.” Many ecologists use the term, “agricultural intensification” to describe this concept (Deweerdt, 2008). It has become easier and cheaper to provide more food to more places using the beekeeping industry (Deweerdt, 2008). Now that we are realizing the consequences of agricultural intensification, it may be too late to go back. Many companies rely heavily on the foods that bees help produce. Without the bees, these businesses would fail. One of these businesses is the ice cream mogul, Häagan-Dazs, which uses so many of these foods to flavor their ice creams. Kathy Pien, brand director of Häagan-Dazs, says, “We use 100 percent all natural ingredients … which we get from California. The Bee problem could badly hurt supply” (Kavilanz, ¶6, 2008). The California almond industry could also be greatly affected by the disappearance of bees. As stated before, these growers produce a large amount of the world’s crop, making bees the backbone of the 2.2 billion dollar industry (Pickert, 2009). These almond growers require 60 billion bees to pollinate its 223,000 hectares of blooms from mid-February to mid-March each year (Deweerdt, 2008). Without these bees, almond trees would produce one tenth of their usual crop, ultimately putting the entire industry out of business (Pickert, 2009). Many other crops are pollinated mostly by bees. Without bees, the production of these crops would decrease substantially, with a cascade of economic and biological effects. As a keystone species, the bee is too important to be ignored.

Looking for Solutions So, the question remains, how are we to solve this problem in order to preserve the bee and its role in nature? One approach is to take better care of the environment and the bees on a global scale. Restoring balance to the bee habitat by, for example, prohibiting regulations demanding weed-free lawns may promote the general well being of bees and lessen the chance of a colony collapse (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Beekeepers need to make changes to their agricultural practices such as implementing better procedures relating to hive hygiene, which has actually shown to have positive effects on that hives that would otherwise be susceptible to CCD (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Scientists are also looking to develop a RNA interference that would block a certain virus such as IAPV from replicating itself in the bee’s cells (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Although all of these solutions are viable, more research needs to be conducted since scientists have not yet pinpointed the cause of CCD. Research, however, is accompanied by the inherent issue of funding. Most scientific research requires a lot of capital,

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The Disappearing Bees: Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

and because this problem is still relatively new, there are not many grants available for this specific study. There needs to be outlets and campaigns specific to funding CCD research. Yet, whether it is one or all of these solutions, something needs to be done. If the bees continue to disappear at this rapid rate, it is predicted that by 2035 they will become extinct (Shultz, 2007). Our humanity is at risk and we need to band together, much like a colony of bees, to correct this problem.

References

Cohen, W. (Executive Producer) & Meerkat Media Arts Collective (Director). (2008). Every third bite [Motion Picture]. USA: Meerkat Media Collective. Retrieved, from http://www.meerkatmedia.org Cox-Foster, D., & VanEngelsdorp, D. (2009). Saving the honeybee. Scientific American, 300(4), 40-47. Retrieved from nature.com. DeWeerdt, S. (2008, November). Pollination panic. Worldwatch Institute, 21(6), 24-29. Retrieved from http://www.worldwatch.org. Driscoll, A. (2008). Where have all the bees gone? People, 70 (4), 80-80. Retrieved from http://www.people.com Kavilanz, P. B. (2008). Disappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers. CNNMoney. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com. Morse, R. A., Calderone, N. W. (2000). The Value of Honey Bees as Pollinators of U.S. Crops in 2000. New York: Cornell University. Pickert, K. (2009). Postcard from Hughson. Time, 173 (11), 9-9. Retrieved from time.com. Schultz, D. (Producer). (2007). Silence of the Bees [Television series episode]. In Nature. Phoenix, AZ: PBS. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/

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The Drug Wars in Mexico by Mariana Roman

Mexican Drug Cartels: An Overview A vicious war has broken out in a chain of states in Mexico. It has become a place where the drug cartels, not the government, run the country. Thousands of civilians are getting trapped in the middle of drug cartels and their enemies costing their lives. For the children of Tijuana, going to school every day is a dangerous task because of this massive war between drug cartels raging throughout Mexico. Groups of children pass through the violent display of carnage left from a shootout the previous day. Bodies lie with tongues cut out and other missing body parts, spreading fear throughout the community. At the age of 14, Victor Rene, a member of the community said, “I saw four dead guys last week, but that was clean. Their heads were wrapped in tape” (Marosi, 2008). Even children have become victims of stray bullets. Since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drugs in January of 2007, there have been 7,337 drug-war-related deaths. He has sent in about 45,000 troops and 5,000 federal police into 18 states where there is suspicion of drug trafficking (“Mexico Under Siege,” 2009). This enormous problem has effects on the immediate communities in Mexico, such as the children, and it is slowly making its way to the United States’ borders. This is evident by the money laundering taking place in the U.S. Action needs to be taken to control this dangerous war through awareness, tougher laws, border safety, and U.S. involvement.

History Drugs in Mexico date back as early as the 1900s where marijuana, opium, and cocaine where mainly used for medical reasons. As addiction rose, The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was put in place to control opium use (Astrorga, 1995). During this time period the Mexican revolution was taking place which then became the main focus and not drug addiction, so this act was never enforced. In the 1930s, marijuana production increased and could be counted by the tons in certain states (Astrorga, 1995). Drug traffickers began making small fortunes smuggling marijuana and opium, developing their routes through Nogales, Mexicali, Tijuana, and Ciudad Juárez (Logan, 2006). A political scandal came to light in 1947 when General Pablo Macías Valenzuela, ex-Secretary of War and Navy and governor of 66


The Drug Wars in Mexico Mariana Roman

the state of Sinaloa, was suspected of leading a drug-trafficking ring or protecting the opium traffickers (Astrorga, 1995). Since the beginning of the drug business, the best known drug traffickers in Mexico were related to high ranking politicians in special official reports in Mexico and the U.S. (Logan, 2006). These politicians were suspected of protecting and even controlling the illegal trafficking. The origins of drug trafficking lead back to Sinaloa where today some of the most powerful drug cartels work. Los Gomeros, also known as the opium traffickers, started in this region (Astrorga, 1995). They created a nationwide business by passing down their skills to younger generations, who then took over. Drug trafficking then became a way of life. The business had grown and so did the violence associated with it. Confrontations in urban areas were between traffickers or against the police in specific areas, but not everywhere in the city. In general, innocent people were not touched. It was not a blind violence. In the 1960s came the marijuana boom transporting about 45 percent of the U.S. supply from Mexico (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). This created riches that surpassed any earnings from before. The number of new, younger, and wilder players in the drug business grew. The unwritten codes were broken. Assassination of high-ranking police officers was a sign of changing times. The killing of the chief of the Judicial Police in Sinaloa in 1969 was suspected to be the doing of the drug lords (Astrorga, 1995). A new generation was taking over, flashing their earnings with fancy cars and showing pride in being a drug dealer.

A New Generation This young generation is so careless that they are even paying Norteño bands large amounts of money to write songs about their business. These songs tell the stories of how traffickers kill, smuggle drugs, have extravagant parties and even reveal who’s involved. As a result, these songs have helped investigators catch some of the most notorious drug smugglers (Astrorga, 1995). In retaliation, the drug cartels warned the bands about the songs and have started to kill them off. One of the most recent victims was Valentine Elizalde, a famous singer from Sinaloa. He was shot in cold blood after he held a concert in a forbidden area. About 30 bullets were found in his body, excluding the 20 bullets that remained in his truck (Astrorga, 1995). The violence will not stop until someone steps in.

The One Who Sparked the Wars Amado Carillo Fuentes was one of the most powerful leaders of the drug wars in Mexico for more than 30 years, controlling the drug cartels in Tijuana. He was nicknamed “El Señor del los Cielos” (the lord of the skies) because he owned a small fleet of planes that transported his drugs. He was making about 200 million dollars per week trafficking cocaine and marijuana through Mexico from Colombia (“El Señor,” 2007). Officials from the United States believe

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that about 50 percent of cocaine comes from Colombia, which is passed through Mexico in to the U.S. Amado Carillo Fuentes was forced to hide out in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the run from enemies. He underwent surgery to change his appearance. It was said he died due to post-surgical complications in 1997, but there was tremendous suspicion surrounding his death. Mysteriously, every surgeon involved in his surgery mysteriously died (“El Señor,” 2007). Now the violent drug cartels are battling each other to take his position as the new Jefe or boss.

The Major Current Drug Cartels These drug cartels have started a rivalry war with each other in hopes of becoming the new power. The following are some of the biggest drug cartels: • The Sinaloa Cartel is led by Hector Palma Salazar and Joaquin Guzman Loera also known as “El Chapo” (Logan, 2007). • The Tijuana Cartel is led by the Arellano-Felix brothers, one of the deadliest cartels in Mexico (Astrorga, 1995). • The Gulf cartel, also known as “Los Zetas”, is ran by Osiel Cardenas who is in jail and runs everything via cell phone (Astrorga, 1995). Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has been on the run ever since he escaped prison in 2001. Some believe he paid guards for his escape. He is currently number two on the America’s most wanted list (Logan, 2007).

Effects on Mexico This drug war has taken over the lives of residents in towns such as Tijuana, Sinaloa, Sonora, and many other small towns bordering the U.S. With the regular grenade attacks and shootings, cartels do not care who gets in their way; anyone is fair game. Twin grenade attacks on a dense, celebrating crowd on a major holiday and in the Mexican president’s hometown killed at least seven people (Ellingwood, 2008). Every day there are numerous bodies found horribly mangled in broad daylight. Newspaper headlines read; • 12 Decapitated bodies found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula • Death Toll in Mexico’s drug war surges • Two held in Mexico in killing of 24 • Tijuana Finds 11 dead in 3 days A close observer, 39-year-old nurse Ordulia Castro, says, “We are reaching a very extreme level of violence that we’ve never seen before. They are killing innocents. This isn’t going to stop here. It’s going to continue until we are in a guerrilla war, just like Colombia” (Ellingwood, 2008). This drug war has even gone as low as terrorizing schools by plastering threatening messages on the walls of the school. The teachers are being told to give up their earnings or suffer the consequences (Ellingwood, 2008). Parents are in dire fear for their children’s lives. There is no place to run. These dangerous groups are even beginning to invade the borders of the United States.

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Effects on the U.S. Violence Increases The drug wars are leaking over into the United States because they are in proximity. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said, “Mexican drug cartels … pose a direct threat to Americans” (Smith, 2009). It has been reported that drug cartels now operate in 230 cities in the U.S., a dramatic rise from 50 cities in 2006 (Smith, 2009). Firearms and immigration officials estimate that weapons are being smuggled across the border by the hundreds on average daily. These weapons are more advanced, including .50-caliber rifles with five-inch shells capable of going through walls (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). This violence can come into bordering towns of the U.S. adding to the spread of violence.

Drug Use in U.S. The two major drugs being brought in from Mexico are marijuana and cocaine. It is adding to America’s drug addiction as the numbers start to climb in recent years. According to the 1999 National Household Survey, marijuana is by far the most commonly used drug with 11.1 million current users. Following is cocaine with about 1.5 million users (“Who are America’s,” 1995, ¶ 6). America is having drug issues especially in its youth. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse says an estimated 14.8 million Americans were current illegal drug users. In age ranges, the highest rate of illegal drug use is found among older teens, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 26 percent of 12th graders reported using illegal substances in the past month (“Who are America’s,” 1995, ¶ 2). They are closely followed by young adults 20 – 21 percent of Americans aged 18 – 20 reported past month use of some unlawful drug (“Who are America’s,” 1995, ¶ 4). This problem needs to be stopped at the borders to prevent drug addiction from sky rocketing.

Border Security Elements of the Juarez cartel were identified in at least 44 cities from West Texas to Minneapolis. Gulf cartel affiliates were operating in at least 43 cities from South Texas to Buffalo, N.Y. The Tijuana cartel, active in at least 20 U.S. cities, is extending its network from San Diego to Seattle and Anchorage (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). The drug cartels have become a strong group who are determined to make their profits. They are now coming over to America looking for fresh areas where they are not recognized. How do they get past border patrol? Cocaine traffickers now spend more than twice the attorney general’s budget just for bribes (Astrorga, 1995). About 450,000 citizens are estimated to be involved in the drug trade (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). Intimidation and greed play a huge part in the involvement of so many officers and civilians alike. Drug leaders use the famous threat “Plata or Plomo” which means money or a bullet (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). The United States’ borders need to be secure in order to stop this drug epidemic. 69


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Money Laundering There are estimates that Mexican drug traffickers make and launder between $18 and $39 billion in drug profits annually (Logan, 2007). Drug traffickers deposit cases of cash in American banks without any problem. They also transfer the money to Colombia or to other areas of the world (Logan, 2007). In November 1995, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin calculated that the world’s money laundering was approximately between $300 and $600 billion a year. In the United States, $100 billion alone was from drug trafficking (Astrorga, 1995). These drug groups are making millions of dollars in profit at the Americans’ expense. Using the United States as a middle ground to make deposits and transfers only strengthens the possibility of having this battle come to America. In an attempt to prevent this from happening, the U.S. government approved laws in 1986 requiring banks to report every deposit of $10,000 or more (Astrorga, 1995). This has not stopped the money laundering in the U.S. because there are so many loopholes around it.

Failed Past Solutions Mexico’s attempts to crush cartels that distribute drugs ranging from marijuana to methamphetamines to cocaine into the United States have lasted for decades. The Mexican government is finally taking action against this huge problem. However, Mexico’s various police forces are flooded with corruption and its tolerance of violence (Thurman-Springer, 2009). Many drug cartels have taken advantage of this, bribing the authorities, particularly the intelligence service, to side with them by waging war on their rivals (Thurman-Springer, 2009). This problem cannot be fixed if there is a faulty government where half of the people involved are on the enemy’s payroll. Several drug policies have been put in place in an effort to contain the widespread use of drugs. Certain drugs were made legal for medical purposes only (Berry, 2009). The purpose of doing this was to reduce the violence the cartels have stirred up. Legalizing drugs only condones this lifestyle. The demands for drugs have risen and so has the hostility. Mexican authorities would not prosecute people found to be carrying small amounts of drugs if they declared they were addicts and submitted to a treatment program. Those who are not addicts could avoid prosecution by entering a prevention program (Berry, 2009). Fines could be imposed for those who declined to enter such programs. The new legislation caps the quantities that would not be subject to prosecution at 50 milligrams of heroin, two grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, and 40 milligrams of methamphetamine (Berry, 2009). Prosecuting organized crime has been so overwhelming that there is not time to deal with the small drug related cases. The drug addicts are given chances to escape the law by setting limits, which promotes drug use. It is said that the United States has failed Mexico by supplying the drug cartels with their weapons. It has been reported that most of the weapons are smuggled from the United States (Berry, 2009). This is partially because the border laws are not being enforced. One of the attempts to correct this problem was The Secure 70


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America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (Nahmias, 2009). This act was supposed to secure U.S. borders to ensure national security, but cartels still manage to come in through underground tunnels to supply the U.S. with drugs (Nahmias, 2009). These drugs and weapons are still being smuggled across the borders right under the noses of officials.

The Solution Action must be taken NOW! Too much time has already been wasted in stopping these dominant cartels to the point where it is getting out of hand. The drug cartels have become the new government because of the wealth that has resulted from this business. They now have the power to do as they please and get away with it because as the saying goes, “money talks.” But this could be seen as an advantage given that one possible solution would be to cut off their resources. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard agrees, “You fight organized crime with … the carefully honed ability to interrupt the most important thing for organized crime, and that’s the money” (Thurman-Springer, 2009). Tougher laws and more money for law enforcement are needed to prevent drug-cartel violence in Mexico from spilling further across the border. The first step toward accomplishing this is to raise awareness through education. This war has been through the media, but not all facts are known. If the public knows the facts, maybe there can be a breakthrough and some of these laws can get pushed. The next step would be at the borders to minimize the traffic flow of these drugs. Finally, the United States government should be involved in fighting this war or its security will become compromised. Together, these two nations can bring this major war to an end to bring peace to their citizens.

Step 1: Awareness Not many citizens are aware of how massive this problem has become. One step in the right direction could be to start a non-profit organization to inform local communities and schools. This group could be made up of volunteers of Mexican and American citizens to minimize the costs of forming this organization. The first area they would target would be the border states where the violence of the drug cartels are felt the most. This organization could slowly move its way up to the neighboring states. The first way to raise awareness is having presentations with the necessary facts the citizens have a right to know. The presentations should focus on how it endangers Mexican citizens as well as American citizens. One way to prove this point could be the alarming death toll that keeps rising in Mexico as a direct response of this war. Also, America’s drug addiction growth over the years has become an issue. Most of the drugs being used by American citizens are coming from across the border. This affects America because drug use correlates with increased aggressiveness, crime, and murder. The second way to raise awareness is through advertisements on popular Web sites such as YouTube, MySpace, and 71


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programs on television as well. What this would accomplish is establishing a rising concern in areas that would have never given this problem a second look. Where there is concern, action takes place. With this new information, citizens could then be encouraged to write letters expressing their concerns to their state senators. The senators should be the voice of the people and address this problem. To cover the costs of traveling and other expenses, the organization could start a fund where donations are accepted.

Step 2: Border Safety Unregulated immigration, organized crime, and terrorist threats are separate issues that need different solutions. You cannot target every family coming through the border and classify them as drug traffickers. Border patrol should increase in number to protect the border day and night. This is their job now, but it is not being taken as seriously as it needs to be. This is why some citizens have taken the law into their own hands by reporting illegal aliens. Too many times, vehicles are not even stopped at the border, just given the green signal to head on through. Every person crossing the border should be able to properly identify themselves. Known areas where illegal immigrants cross should be under heavy surveillance. The tunnels underground where drugs are transported should be destroyed. They are widely known, but nothing is being done about them. Border safety should be among the most important issues because this is where it begins to be an American issue.

Step 3: Tougher Laws After raising awareness, making stern laws to help put society at ease should be a bit easier. Several laws should be considered as follows: • Stricter policies on gun buying and selling • Laws tightening up on opening accounts with legitimate information • Complete background checks when working for the government in any position • Harsher punishments for those accused of illegal drug possession These laws are crucial to help dissolve the problems faced due to the drug cartels. When putting stronger restrictions on gun-selling policies, it will be more difficult for these weapons to fall into the wrong hands. Part of this law could be to raise taxes on guns or if you have a criminal background you cannot purchase a gun. If the guns are controlled in the U.S., it is less likely that they could slip over to Mexico. Banks could also help by investigating large amounts of money being deposited or someone having several accounts under the same name. If banks would take the time to investigate suspicious actions, such as false names, money laundering would decrease. Money is one of the cartel’s biggest resources; if somehow it was interfered with, they could not make any major moves. They would not have the money to produce the drugs or bribe officials.

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Many government officials and officers are believed to be involved in drug trafficking. Laws need to be made to ensure the quality of these officers. Mandatory in-depth personal background checks need to be undertaken so these people can assume the duties of the law and put them into force. Also, specialized officers should be put on specifically for this problem. For example, the Phoenix Police Department has applied for a $7.2 million federal-stimulus grant to expand a unit that investigates kidnappings and home invasions tied to drug and human smuggling (Berry, 2009). Local police departments and sheriffs are eyeing federal funds because it is worth it to use this money to ensure the safety of families everywhere.

Step 4: U.S. Involvement America is the protector, the policemen among the nations. They have the responsibility, the duty to help a nation in distress. The U.S. must aid Mexico in this battle because it cannot do it alone. This solution has been discussed, but no real movement has been made. Money has been given to supply Mexico with its weapons and utilities, but this is not enough. The U.S. needs to be personally involved to make sure everything is handled the way it is supposed to be. United with Mexico, it is a much stronger possibility that this war could be diminished to a level where it should be. The U.S. has the money, the military, and alliances to help this nation in need. Republicans and some conservative democrats say a real solution would be to cut off foreign aid to Mexico which would place the burden of their problems fully on their shoulders, not ours. It would require them to do more for themselves. Even president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, strongly oppose U.S. involvement in this drug war. These two presidents see it as hypocrisy on the United States’ partly because of the nation’s own drug problem and because of this, refuse to do anything to help the United States in this war (Nahmias, 2009). However, this is now America’s problem as well because it has spread over to the U.S. Last spring, the Justice Department declared that Mexican drug cartels pose the “largest threat to both citizens and law enforcement agencies in this country and now has gang members in nearly 200 U.S. cities” (Nahmias, 2009). If Mexico is not helped, it will fully become America’s problem and could affect our citizens on a daily basis. Deputy Attorney General Salvador Ortiz says U.S. aid would be a valuable asset in fighting the gangs. He also says “It would be useful to have U.S. agents work more closely in the training of Mexican police and prosecutors, a marked change from the aggressive nationalism long held by many Mexican officials” (Quiones, 2008). The only reasons these politicians oppose is because the U.S. being involved is not to their benefit. Therefore, aiding Mexico will be the best solution to attempt the destruction of these cartels. This problem is affecting the lives of innocent people and something must be done to protect them.

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References

Astrorga, L. (1995). Drug trafficking in Mexico: A first general assessment. Discussion Paper No. 36 Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org Berry, J. (Apr. 20, 2009). Arizona hosts border-violence talks. Arizona Republic. Retrieved from http://www.azcentral.com Ellingwood, K. (Sept. 18, 2008). Mexicans fear they are all targets now. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com Ellingwood, K. (Dec. 4, 2008). Schools become latest targets in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com El Señor del Los Cielos. (2007). [video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inJiDSysP6k Logan, S. (2006). Mexico’s uppermost threat is organized crime. MexiData. Retrieved from http://mexidata.info Marosi, R. (Oct. 25, 2008). For Tijuana children, drug war gore is part of their school day. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com Mexico drug gangs ‘top U.S. threat’. (2008). BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk Mexico under siege. (2009). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://projects.latimes.com Nahmias, D. (2009). Mexico, a failed state? Free Republic. Retrieved from http://www.freerepublic.com Quiones, S. & Serrano, A. (Nov. 16, 2008). Mexico drug wars spill across the border. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com Smith, J.R. (Mar. 17, 2009). U.S. efforts against Mexican cartels called lacking. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com Thurman-Springer, L. (2009). U.S. intervention in drug war futile. Rebel Yell. Retrieved from http://unlvrebelyell.com Who are America’s drug users? (1995). Frontline News. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline

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The Teenage Materialism Complex in America by Alex Reese

Introduction “Whoever said that money doesn’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop” (Schwartz, 2007) exclaimed Blair Waldorf, a high school socialite on the hit show Gossip Girl. This materialistic mentality is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst adolescents. It seems everywhere we turn these types of promotions are being flashed before our eyes. Society is constantly being told that money can, in fact, provide increased levels of satisfaction and the teenage generation is being convinced more than ever before. In the year 2000, “most teens [had] a significant amount of money to spend. In fact, teens spend more than $100 billion every year” (Moses, 2000, p. 1). Even despite the harsh economic climate of our country, people seem to be unable to control their spending especially those with bloated trust funds under the age of 21. The problem of adolescent materialism and extravagance is overlooked; in fact, it is promoted, by hit television sitcoms such as Gossip Girl and reality TV shows like The Hills, My Super Sweet 16, The City, and Cribs. The growing infatuation with the lives of the wealthy can lead to the encouragement of extravagant habits in underage adolescents. From over spending and little understanding of money management to excessive partying and adult-aged behavior, and even to future embezzlement and extreme debt, the potential for chronic materialism amongst teens seems to be on the rise.

Causes Spoiling The most obvious cause of the problem seems to be the spoiling of children at a young age. These actions can begin to affect children as early as infancy (Bredehoft, Mennick, Potter & Clarke, 1998). When a child has the ability to acquire anything that they may desire, the child is being spoiled. This includes allowing the child to have control of a situation and allowing them to establish their own consequences (if any). The Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences published a study in 1998, “it has to do with a parent relinquishing power to the child and results in children who are ‘obnoxious, ill-tempered, ill-mannered, selfish, and often immoral’” (Bredehoft et al., 75


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1998, p.2). According to Bredehoft et al., (1998), these poor parenting skills can be classified into four different types: authoritarian, authoritative, rejecting-neglecting, and permissive. Authoritarian parents are capable of setting standards and rules, but have a difficult time following through. Parents who are authoritative are those that punish and follow through with the punishments. When a parent is classified as “rejecting-neglecting,” they are said to show little support or concern for their children, therefore, leaving them to fend for themselves and develop their own morals. Finally, permissive parents are those who keep watch over their children but allow them to make their own choices and mistakes (Bredehoft et al., 1998). Most of these strategies have dire pitfalls that leave room for implementation of extravagant behaviors.

Media Influence The poor influences of the media and examples being set by celebrities also provide potential for inappropriate habits amongst youthful individuals. Examples of poor judgment by famous adolescents reside in the past actions of celebrities like Drew Barrymore and current actions of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, etc. A celebrity documentary said, “When Drew was nine, she was secretly smoking cigarettes. Next came drinking, and by the time she was 12 or 13 she’d tried cocaine and other drugs” (Parish, 2007, p.5). More currently (and involving individuals of an older age), Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan seem to be gracing the covers of multiple magazines inebriated after a long night out and wearing expensive new outfits. Clearly, parents do not condone such actions, but to a teenager, the media’s coverage of such events may seem like a form of acceptance. This can lead to a skewed understanding of the outcome of such actions.

Effects Money Mismanagement Thriftiness is a practice that must be learned. Money management is extremely difficult to execute because of an individual’s natural instinct to obtain the things that provide satisfaction. Indecisive and irresponsible consumers often run into a multitude of problems as they are forced to make important purchase decisions. A 1992 nationwide survey of consumer knowledge noted that most high-school seniors are not well prepared to make many critical purchasing decisions (Bonner, 1992) and “therefore, consumer educators are concerned with enhancing adolescents’ shopping strategies such as planned shopping, comparison shopping, and negotiating skills” (Shim, 1996, p.548). According to an Adolescent Consumer article, there are eight different kinds of shoppers and it is vital to understand which category one fits into in order to recognize weaknesses and eventually obtain selfcontrol.

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Perfectionist and high-quality-conscious consumers: Consumers who search carefully and systematically for the best quality in products. Often, they are not satisfied with the good enough products. Brand-conscious and price-equals-quality consumers: Consumers who are oriented toward buying the more expensive, well-known national brands, believing that a higher price means better quality. They also prefer best-selling, advertised brands. Novelty and fashion-conscious consumers: Consumers who like new and innovative products and gain excitement from seeking out new things. Keeping up to date with styles and variety seeking are important aspects of novelty and fashion-conscious consumers. Recreational and hedonistic consumers: Consumers who view shopping as recreation and entertainment. These consumers find shopping a pleasant activity and shop just for the fun of it. Price-conscious and value-for-money consumers: Consumers who are particularly conscious of sale prices and lower prices in general and, more importantly, are concerned with getting the best value for their money. These consumers are likely to be comparison shoppers. Impulsive and careless consumers: Consumers who tend to buy on the spur of the moment and appear to be unconcerned about how much they spend or about getting best buys. Confused by over choice consumers: Consumers who perceive too many brands and stores from which to choose and who likely experience information overload in the market. Habitual and brand-loyal consumers: Consumers who have favorite brands and stores and have formed habits in choosing these repetitively (Shim, 1992).

This list exemplifies the different types of consumers, such as those attracted to brands, quality, trends, etc. All individuals (including adolescents) fall into at least one of these categories, in particular, the first few. These classifications have consequences and if a person is placed in one of these categories at a young age, the consequences could reach a greater magnitude. Consumerism amongst teenagers and adolescents should be limited. Label lovers need to be able to control their purchases, style hoarders need to be able to limit their piece selection, and impulsive shoppers need to limit their exposure. These qualities should not develop at such a young age because the consequences may accumulate in the future.

Adult behavior Practices such as drinking, smoking, drug use, partying, etc. are all learned behaviors that require active involvement and participation. These are thought of as mature, adult behaviors to be shared by an older group of individuals. Many celebrities currently partaking in these activities are of age and are legally capable of participating. But the constant promotion of these activities to a younger audience 77


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often encourages a desire to attempt similar practices such as underage drinking, smoking, etc. It has been “hypothesized that adolescents’ consumer decision-making styles are influenced by socialization agents and antecedent variables” (Shim, 1996, p.550). Society has the ability to influence the actions and behaviors that adolescents choose to partake in. The media portrays these practices as appealing and acceptable. Even after being informed of the consequences, teenagers seem to continue to over indulge because these habits form a false sense of exhilaration and pleasure. Moderation is the key to participating in such activities; however, this concept gets lost when there is over exposure and publicity of its practice.

Future Financial Issues Poor money-management skills can be ominous for an adolescent when they reach adulthood. As discussed earlier, money-management skills must be taught at a young age. Improper money management in adulthood can lead to financial turmoil such as significant amounts of debt. If privileged children who have little concept for the value of money are put into this situation, they may turn to illegal practices in order to obtain their shopaholic fix. Psycholog y and Marketing reports, “From a business perspective, consumers with social or conspicuous oriented decision-making styles can be a marketer’s dream. However, marketers need to be cognizant of the fact that these adolescents may not be as mindful of the financial consequences of consumption as those with utilitarian orientations” (Shim, 1996, p.566). It is important for society to also realize that younger individuals have not yet learned the concepts of saving and spending within their means. To encourage a purchase from an individual lacking education can give rise to negative consequences.

Unsuccessful Approaches Credit Card Limitations In the recently released film Confessions of a Shopaholic, the main character expresses her understanding for the use of credit cards. She says, “They didn’t even need any money, they had magic cards” (Bruckheimer & Hogan, 2009). Coincidentally, this character ends up in serious credit-card debt and finds herself desperately seeking money to spend. Although this statement may seem exaggerated, it is not uncommon. Most young children and teenagers have a misunderstanding of the purpose and proper use of a credit card. Even large populations of young adults have a distorted understanding of credit-card use. The government believed that establishing the legal age for acquiring a credit card to 18 could solve this problem. However, this solution proved to be ineffective after research showed that “in the United States, one in five teens is able to access a credit card” (Moses, 2000, p.29). This showed that parents allow children access to their credit cards at a young age and promote their consumerist lifestyles.

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Encouraging Future Financial Success There is an ambition for members of society to become financially successful individuals. This concept is stressed in schools and families across the nation and is one of the leading foundations of education. One of the first things a child is asked when they enter school is about their aspirations. Teachers, administrators, and even parents continue to guide the child towards a path that they believe will be beneficial to their future. This method has been proven to backfire. One study showed that “the more people valued materialism, the less they valued ‘warm relationships with others.’” And furthermore, this is “demonstrated in three samples that late adolescents evidenced lower well being (e.g., more depression, lower global adjustment, and self actualization) with aspirations for self-acceptance, affiliation, or community feeling,” (Kasser, Ryan, Zax, and Sameroff, 1995, p. 907). Therefore, the more the concept of financial success is forced upon a child, the less likely they are to actually become financially stable in the future.

Saving In the United States, it is common for an average teenager to pay at least a portion of their first car, luxuries, and their college education. In order to make these payments, it is crucial for the teen to save money for a significant amount of time. A common misconception about teenagers is that they are simply unable to save their money. Many studies show that adolescents save money with surprising greatness. Unfortunately, it is suggested that they only “reflect short-term savings for big-ticket items such as leather jackets, sound systems, and so on. In the United States, many teens save to buy their first car or raise money for car insurance” (Moses, 2000, p. 30). This means that young individuals have the capability of saving their money for short lengths of time in order to save up for luxuries such as computers, sound systems, pieces of clothing, etc. Teens often have a skewed perception of saving because they have simply been misguided.

A New Approach America is a land of opportunities a land built upon an economic foundation of consumerism and interdependency. The country has developed a system of reliance where we buy and sell goods from one another perpetuating a cycle of industry throughout our nation. Although it is important to keep this fluid motion, it is also important to remember good economic practices. These practices should be instilled at a young age. Currently, it is expected for children to learn these habits through schooling and textbook knowledge. Although it is important to learn the basics of economics through finance classes, this method is not always effective, especially when used alone. To reinforce these classes, endorsements by celebrities and other influential figures is often beneficial.

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The Solution Albert Einstein claimed that “three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed” (Tentmaker Ministries, 2009, p.1). Materialism is comprised of all three forces, which makes it a formidable social issue. Greed is most evident due to its fundamental premise of wanting more than you need or deserve. Fear plays upon the insecurity of being unaccepted by others if one fails to possess certain material goods. Finally, stupidity arises from being ill informed about the issue and failing to comprehend its outcomes. When all three of these forces unite into that which is materialism, the consequences can be financially and psychologically devastating. When this quality is instilled early in life, the effects can build and exacerbate with time. In society today, “parents, peers, media, and school are among the important socialization agents for adolescents” (Shim, 1996, pg. 550). Because of this, it is important that influence be beneficial and divergent from the materialistic mentality. Children must have positive influences, first from their parents, then from their peers, and finally from the media in order to reinforce proper spending methods.

Recommendations Studies have suggested that socialization occurs first in the home, then through peers, and finally through media. Schooling plays a crucial role as well, but is not nearly as effective without similar encouragement from the other three sources (Shim, 1996). This form of education can be equally effective when used to educate adolescents about financial practices. By first implementing a system of positive reinforcement in the home, a child can learn that good monetary management is rewarding. Once implemented in the home, this influence must be reflected amongst one’s peers. If an adolescent recognizes that acceptance can occur without material goods, they will feel less inclined to spend. Finally, the young adult must see these good financial habits being practiced amongst their idols, celebrities, and other influential figures. When collectively uniting these three sources with formal education, positive outcomes will result.

Step One: Parental Reinforcement. Parents use a variety of methods to influence their children. Bribery is one of the most common forms of enticement chosen by parents and is often effective. Another method commonly used by parental figures is the use of threats. Although both methods prove equally effective, they distort a child’s perception of purpose and why things are done. The awareness of right and wrong becomes unclear due to fear of consequence or constant desire for the suggested bribes. The best motivation amongst adolescents is frequent conversation with them by family members. It is also important to practice similar habits because of an adolescent’s tendency to imitate. According to a study in the Journal of Marketing Research “there is a positive relationship between the frequency of family communication about consumption

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and (a) the degree to which the adolescent holds economic motivations for consumption and (b) the strength of the adolescent’s attitudes toward prices” (Moschis and Churchill, 1978, p. 601). This infers that there is a direct correlation between the financial habits of children later in life and upbringing. Witnessing good financial practices as a child will increase the likelihood of practicing such habits in adulthood.

Step Two: Peer Approval. Throughout adolescence, particularly during the teenage years, the approval of one’s peers seems to be an extremely important factor. Studies suggest that peer recognition becomes prevalent during this time period because “during the adolescent years a person’s need for independence from his/her parents lead him/her into establishing a dependence on peers” (Moschis and Moore, 1979, p. 103). The parental influence becomes of less importance to the information-absorbing mind of a teenager. The youthful individuals are now turning to their peers for advice on spending habits and product approval. They slowly become less individualistic, stray from their personal likings, and have a “greater the tendency to use peer preferences in evaluating products” (Moschis and Moore, 1979, p. 104). Eventually, co-mingling adolescents will come to have similar tastes and likings. Their product choices will begin to coincide and their possessions will frequently match. The idea of being depreciated due to the lack of a possession frequents the teenage psyche. It is at this time that peer suggestions must be appropriate. Children of this age group should not possess extravagant items that could further coerce their peers to desire items beyond their means. Therefore, it is important to discourage the bearing of age-inappropriate items so that children do not develop inadequacy complexes and extravagant desires at a young age.

Step Three: Positive Media Influence. These inadequacy complexes can be brought about through the media as well. Adolescents frequently look up to celebrities as idealistic and influential figures. When these celebrities are seen with flashy and expensive items, adolescents begin to believe that they too should own similar goods. However, the average adolescent and their family does not possess that same level of disposable income and perhaps these idealistic personalities should be seen in more affordable garb. One study suggests, “marketers should remember that youths in different socioeconomic classes of society have different motivations for consumption” (Moschis & Churchill, 1978, p. 606). Advertisers should appeal to children in all social classes and stores should provide appealing and affordable goods. Influential media figures should be seen with these goods in their possession and advertisers should provide evidence that a plethora of individuals around the country are enjoying these affordable products. Research has also shown that television commercials are quite influential to young people. Therefore it can be recognized that “the amount of television

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viewing would be related positively to the adolescent’s strength of social motivations for consumption materialist values, and to his/her frequency of interaction with parents and peers regarding consumption matters” (Churchill & Moschis, 1979, p. 27). Viewing such advertisements on television would prompt parental discussion, therefore, creating a cycle of influence that can continue throughout adolescence until a sense of independence is acquired.

Opposing Views There is only so much that one can do to influence a child. Their personal actions and behaviors will ultimately be determined by their own decisions. Family, peers, and media can only provide a basic guideline for admiration and manipulation. Other factors, such as birth order and social class, play a role in the development of a child and those too must be taken into consideration. Although we can hypothesize this method of manipulation, “there is scant justification for suggesting a relationship between socioeconomic status and frequency of interaction with peers” (Churchill & Moschis, 1979, p. 27). If the adolescent chooses another path, such as over-independence and rebellion, these influences are immaterial. Other measures must be taken to address a separate issue. The solution discussed (influence from parents, peers, and media) is merely the foundation for a positive future.

Conclusion An adolescent’s financial behavior is greatly influenced by a number of sources that all unite for purposes of economic education. Children and adolescents are like sponges that absorb knowledge at every opportunity. Because of this constant retention and storage of information, it is important for every influential figure to put forth positive information. Education through schooling can only provide a certain amount of understanding. A majority of a child’s knowledge comes from outside the walls of their school. It is important for external sources to provide a strong moral foundation so that as the adolescent ages, they may be able to amalgamate the information and decipher right from wrong. Materialism and excessive consumerism will always exist as possible hazards as one navigates life’s journey. Children are the future, and it is the shared responsibility of parents, peers, and society to prepare them for the world ahead.

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References

Bredehoft, D. J., Mennicke, S. A., Potter, A. M., & Clarke, J. I. (1998). Perceptions Attributed by Adults to Parental Overinduglence During Childhood [Electronic Version]. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 16, 1-15, from http://www.overindulgence.info/ Bruckheimer, J. (Producer) & Hogan, P. J. (Director). (2009). Confessions of a Shopaholic [Motion picture]. USA: Touchstone Pictures. Churchill, G. A., & Moschis, G. P. (1979). Television and Interpersonal Influences on Adolescent Consumer Learning. The Journal of Consumer Research, 6 (1), 23-35. Hymowitz, K. S. (1999). Ready or not: Why treating children as small adults endangers their future - and ours. New York: Simon & Schuster. Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., Zax, M., &Sameroff, A. J. (1995).The Relations of Maternal and Social Environments to Late Adolescentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Materialistic and Prosocial Values Developmental Psycholog y, 31, 907-914, from http://www.psych.rochester.edu/ Moschis, G. P., & Jr., G. A. C. (1978). Consumer Socializaiton: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis. Journal of Marketing Research, 15 (4), 599-609. Moschis, G. P., & Moore, R. L. (1979). Decision Making AMoung the Young: A Socialization Perspective. The Journal of Consumer Research, 6 (2), 101-112. Moses, E. (2000). The $100 Billion Allowance: How to Get Your Share of the Global Teen Market. New Jersey: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. Parish, J. R. (2007). Hollywood Book of Extravagance: The Totally Infamous, Mostly Disastrous, and Always Compelling Excesses of Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Film and TV Idols. New Jersey: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. Schwartz, J. (Executive Producer). Gossip Girl. [Television Series]. New York: 17th Street Productions. Shim, S. (1992). Adolescent Consumer Decision-Making Styles: The Consumer Socialization Perspective [Electronic Version]. Psycholog y and Marketing, 13, 548-568, from http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/ Tentmaker Ministries. (2009). Materialism, Greed, Avarice Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.tentmaker.org/

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photo by Sean Deckert


Reflection

These reflective essays often culminate in a cathartic realization, a moment of enlightenment. They provide writers with the opportunity to revisit past experiences while transforming the autobiographical act into one that is more universally resonant.


Proof by Manny Santellano

On September 19, 1998, my family and I went to my aunt’s house in east Phoenix after Sunday mass. It took us about fifteen or twenty minutes, a shorter trip than usual. We pulled onto the street, one so calm and peaceful, just like the words of the pastor a few minutes earlier. When I opened my car door, cries and screams pierced my ears. Sounds so rare and strange to me that I had no idea what was going on. My mom also heard this terrifying screeching that seemed to be coming from her sister Luisa’s house. She looked around, puzzled with no idea why those screams were coming from my aunt’s house. As she looked, to grasp some idea of what was occurring, she spotted my uncle Salvador’s car along with his wife Mary’s pick-up truck. At that moment, I saw in her eyes, a sense of realization. She, as well as the rest of us, knew where those screams were coming from. It was Mary. “Love thy neighbor” kept repeating in my head as I looked down on the sight. How could he love thy neighbor when he couldn’t even love his own wife, the one he promised to care for in sickness and health in the almighty eyes of God, his God? His mother’s God? As we ran up the steps of the porch, her screams became more audible, louder and stronger. Their faces were so shocked and stunned by what they saw before them. I managed to catch a glimpse from a small window next to the door. My uncle was standing over his wife Mary, hands clenched as if he was holding on to dear life itself. Mary’s face was unrecognizable. Blood, bruises, and swelling from the blows she had received made it hard to look at her. I looked down at her in wonder, looking up at him as well, wondering to myself, “How could someone so kind and gentle, as he was to my sister and me, inflict that much pain on the woman he allegedly loved?” My mother soon realized that his two-year-old son, Jesse, had witnessed the horrid scene from the kitchen entrance, crying. My uncle began moving toward my mom and dad with his raging blood-shot red eyes silently telling us we were next. I thought they were red because he had been crying too much, but now I realize that those red striations around his eye were compliments of lines of cocaine and a few milligrams of heroin which blinded him in more ways than one.

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My mom called for Jesse, wanting to keep him from seeing his mom in that condition and from seeing his father hurting his mother anymore. As baby Jesse ran toward my mom, my uncle snatched him by his shirt, pulled him up and held him in his arm. Mary got up, fearing that he was going to hurt Jesse. She then ran toward my mom, but didn’t make it more than five feet when my uncle grabbed her, pulling her by the hair. He soon dragged her outside into the yard. My dad rushed to him, trying to take Jesse out of his arms. He quickly pulled out his handgun, aiming it towards my dad and signaling him to back away. My dad complied. “Let go,” my mom begged. “Do you want him to see what you’re doing and hate you the rest of his life? He shouldn’t see what you’re doing. Just give him to me, Salvador. Now!” Screaming and pleading, she tried to reach out to the smallest speck of humanity that was in her brother, attempting to grasp the young life dangling in his arms. Salvador obliged, crying hysterically as he handed Jesse to my mom. Mary watched this happening above her as she lay on the hot clay-like ground. He lifted her up, pulling up his gun as well, placing it between her eyes. He cocked the gun, screaming at her, ordering her to tell him, “I love you.” He didn’t stop there. Aiming the gun at my mom, her sister Luisa and my dad, he took hold of her body and dragged her for about 60 feet on the blistering pavement. The French doors leading out to the front porch limited my viewing range. I could still hear her screaming. I leaped outside to make sure my mom and dad were okay. The comforting sound of the sirens brought about a sense of serenity. This wasn’t the first time, and somehow I knew it wasn’t the last. At the next Sunday mass, I knelt down on my feeble knees and prayed for Mary. I asked God to heal the wounds that landed on her face and the ones inside she still had not yet begun to deal with. I looked up at my mom and saw her begin to cry silently. She was thinking the same thing I was. God heard my prayer, or maybe it was my mother’s loving plea, but the next couple of weeks remained the same. My uncle Salvador was apprehended later for drug smuggling and possession of more than six different illegal narcotics. Months after Salvador’s arrest, Mary met Fili, who would eventually become her husband and mend the scars Salvador inflicted. It’s weird to think that at the age of nine I had found God. He saved Mary. In his own mysterious way, he saved my uncle. God to me, at the time, was refuge. He was shelter and protection, or so I thought. I was always taught that God’s word and will was delivered through many different messengers. These were of the holiest of men and their presence and friendship was of the highest esteem. We were fortunate enough to have our priest be a friend of my family’s. He often attended dinners, special gatherings, and holidays with us. He was a part of the family. One summer we gathered at my Tia Julia’s house for the fourth of July. Everyone stopped what they were doing as they heard my drunk cousin Ofelia begin with her “fuck you”s and “bitches” around the neighborhood. My dad asked our friend and priest if he could watch my brother, 87


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sisters and me while they figured out what was going on. We eventually got tired as our skin began to wrinkle in the water like raisins in the sun. My sisters got out of the pool and began to change in the bathroom while my brother began to gorge down yet another cold cheeseburger and Flaming Hot Cheetos. The pastor came and dried the glistening sparkles of water and chlorine, rubbing his hand over every inch of my skin while holding the towel in his other hand. As I stood frozen still in terror, I slowly shed panicked tears. Fireworks once festive rang in the New Millennium; they now play a scene of a horror movie I lived and I tried to forget. Once again, he was invited. As the countdown continued, late night turned to slumber while the adults continued to celebrate. The floorboard creaked, and I feared what might happen. I lay there motionless, as the icy hands would glide up my leg, further and further than the last. The musk scent and alcohol breath lingered on my body, penetrating every inch of my skin. His heavy weight pressing me down as I let out the loudest cry, hoping someone would hear me in the next room. But those cries for help fell on people drowned in Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo. I began to want to die that “oh, so joyful night,” and every day thereafter. My faith began to dwindle with every passing day. I couldn’t fathom the cruelty a noble ex-man-of-God caused me until the day that he died. Even then my family didn’t believe me. Until this day, they deny the fact that he hurt me in more ways than one. I continued to go to the regular Sunday mass. I entered the red oak double doors to the house of God with my head bowed down. I couldn’t raise it until I got home. Time went by and he was sent to Columbia to do missionary work. I still felt uneasy. When I was younger I always knew I was different. I never knew what exactly made me different until I saw my neighbor Joseph kiss his husband David. I wanted that love, that connection. I wanted a man when I was older. As I sat on the hard wood bench listening over the cheap speakers down the main aisle, I listened to a rant from the priest that stated death or punishment to any man who lay with another man as he would his wife. “God hates fags” and “they should all burn in hell” fell out of my mother’s mouth. I began to sink with every word uttered after the last. I knew I was gay. It hurt even more hearing those words from my mother, for she was talking about me. I decided to stop going to church. I stopped listening to arguments and opinions that made me out to be a “sinner” or an “abomination.” I knew I wasn’t a bad person. I was told that God loves all of his children. I was disappointed with the results as I put it to the test. You can only try for so long to fight for what you believe in. I was told over and over that I wasn’t worthy of his love and that was my affirmation. God turned his back on me. I turned mine on God. Some say I’m irrational for my departure from what I believed was the Catholic faith. It’s too bad they don’t know why. Those who speak without knowledge are ignorant or just simply see through rose-colored glasses. 88


Let’s Get Married Soon by Grace Thornton

A lunchbox sits on the very tip-top shelf in a corner of my bedroom. When I say “lunchbox,” I don’t mean the cheap plastic superhero kind moms buy at WalMart for their kindergartners. I’m talking about an old-school lunchbox – one with class. One David Cassidy would consider. One thoroughly devoted to The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” It’s made of smooth, cold tin, and cartoon versions of Ringo and the gang pose on top of the double-hinged lid. The iconic yellow submarine sits to the right, surrounded by a typical 60s geometric border full of radical colors. If you flipped its silver clasp, you would see a space potentially large enough for a triple PB&J, Capri Sun, grapes, and a baggie full of Pringles. However, not a cookie, cracker, nor a crumb has ever made it to the big belly of this replicated antique. The things that go in are not for consumption. The things that go in are profound and deserve the highest level of respect. I keep a napkin in the lunchbox, a starchy crumpled napkin I took home from my favorite frozen yogurt spot. Originally, it was designed to clean a sticky dribbled mess or grubby hands. Originally. No longer a thing for wiping, the napkin has what I assume to be an accurate, detailed sketch of a modern V8 engine. My best friend, a self-proclaimed Henry Ford, whipped up the little beauty one summer evening while we sat on a wrought iron patio set just outside the yogurt shop. I knew nothing about cars other than the fact that the little red light next to the gas gauge was bad sign. My Mr. Ford loved cars. He loved gawking and crying out sensual exclamations at every Audi and Porsche on the freeway. He dragged me to the annual car show in Phoenix, where I spent four hours walking around an abnormally large convention center collecting free pencils and sweatbands, while he crooned and drooled and stared speechless at all the wonderful machinery God had given to man. The napkin, though now twice-creased, was imprinted with an outline of his simple love for all things automotive, his passion, the thing that clearly defined him and made him the happiest. One could only hope to match that degree of unwavering obsession — the true conviction of a devout car fanatic. Passion is a silly little bug, latching itself to all kinds of people, places and things. It hides behind sanity and good sense until liberated by the location of the stamp of all stamps or a furious haggle against “dernst52” on E-bay. It’s not some89


Let’s Get Married Soon Grace Thornton

thing one can learn, this type of sick compulsion and fleeting joy, and once discovered there’s no denying it. I have a tremendous amount of love for ChapStick; it’s inherent. Oprah has a tremendous amount of love for the planet Earth — because she owns it. However, despite our differences, Oprah and I both become notably agitated when the object of our fixation begins to melt. The passion bug had bit, taken residence, and multiplied within my Mr. Ford. I, on the other hand, have only a small tick of the disease that perks up when I quench my dry lips with cherry lip balm. Nothing beats reaching for my ChapStick and finding a twenty-dollar bill I didn’t know I had lost in the back pocket of my favorite jeans. Nothing is better; except for a ticket to Disney on Ice. Made of thin, white, glossy cardstock the corners are upturned and rounded, diluted blue text states the when, where and what: “Disney on Ice Presents: Disney/Pixar Finding Nemo.” Sharp blades, pyrotechnics, lavish costumes, acrobatics, and a frozen slippery surface make up the best combination Disney has ever concocted. At 17 years young, the one thing I wanted more than losing eight pounds was to see Nemo etching himself through fabricated seaweed hung from the ceiling all the way down to the traverse floor. Besides parents, grandparents, and a few awkward daters, it’s safe to say I was the oldest person in the audience who genuinely wanted to be there. I appreciate Disney and Crayola and all things elementary much more today than I did during the actual elementary years. A Hello Kitty coloring book and a 24-pack of markers went with me to church every week until my senior year of high school. It only started staying home when I discovered it was much more productive to take a nap on my mom’s lap during the meeting. In truth, growing up is overrated. Everybody’s doing it. A ticket to Disney on Ice is like buying a ticket back to the simpler life of swings and bad hair cuts, allowances and hairy legs belonging to both boys and girls. I paid $26.75 for a kind of mental Botox. The crinkled napkin and voided ticket don’t reside in the lunchbox alone. A rubber duck, which glows red from the inside of his gut, is in the lunchbox. He sits on top of a hand written letter from a boy who wrote “Let’s get married soon” in my yearbook. I keep a “Happy Halloween” card behind the silver clasp, addressed, mailed and signed by someone else’s grandparents who apparently loved me more. When the box is lifted from its shelf and tipped onto its back, a small crash can be heard as a salt and pepper spotted rock slides across the metal interior. My lunchbox doesn’t hold things for snacking, as I don’t advise chewing on a duck, rock, or any sort of papered good, but it holds fond memorabilia from my life thus far. With the reliable tin frame standing against time and Ringo on the lookout, my Beatles lunchbox is the perfect haven.

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My Year with Donna by Gina Bompartito

Many people walk in and out of your life, but when you least expect it one of those people can leave a foot print that will never disappear. When I got my first job in the beginning of my senior year of high school, I never thought it would do anything other than give me some pocket cash. Instead, it allowed me to meet a woman who made a very large impact on my life — a kind-hearted, strong woman named Donna. When I started my senior year, I was nothing more than a lazy girl who just wanted to save up money for her senior expenses. I got a job at a local health food restaurant up the block from my house, which was awesome because I only had to walk two blocks to get there. It was quick and simple, which I loved. Everything was easy at my job until my boss brought his wife Donna into the business. Donna was very well educated within the food business; she knew what the Board of Health wanted and just how we needed to fix what was wrong. That, of course, meant more work for me, and I definitely didn’t like that. I’d see a large white van come flying up to the store at nights and a blonde woman dressed in scrubs jump out. For a while, Donna was nothing more than my boss’s wife who came in and made more work for us, but then again, I never gave her the chance to be anything else. In October of my senior year, I was assigned to a community service project. Every senior needed to complete 20 hours of volunteer work and write a report about it in order to graduate. Being the lazy person I was, I waited until the last minute to look for my job. I could not find any project opportunities! One day while I was at work I over heard Donna talking about being a first grade volunteer religion teacher at my church. After getting up enough nerve, I walked over to Donna and asked if I could help her with her religion classes for my service hours. It didn’t take her longer than a second to say “of course!” That was the first time Donna helped me, but it wasn’t the last. Every Wednesday I would go down to Blessed Sacrament Church and help teach little first graders about their religion. Imagine hearing “Miss Gina, can I use the bathroom?” a million times each week! Five weeks later, when my community service hours were up, I had learned three things: one, I missed going to church, 91


My Year with Donna Gina Bompartito

having God in my life and having faith in something; two, I really enjoyed teaching kids, and three; Donna Tillman was really nice and funny. She wasn’t a woman to be messed with, but she was definitely a sweetheart. After my hours were up I asked Donna if I could finish out the year with her and the kids. Of course, she agreed with the idea. Back at the restaurant in mid-December I wound up getting fired — for a ridiculous reason, I must add. On my day off from work, I decided to go into the restaurant and visit my boyfriend at the time. I was sitting at a table after I ordered food when my boss asked me to leave. I didn’t listen to him and stayed there. I was fired the next day. After getting fired, a couple of weeks later I got my job back after learning Donna had talked to her husband and convinced him to hire me back. This was the second time I was thanking Donna for something. She seemed to have my back over and over again. I didn’t know why though. She was an adult with two daughters, three jobs, and she was always busy. Why was she helping me? I was just some kid. I didn’t understand. Five months later, in the beginning of May, I ended up getting fired again! Knowing I had to leave for college soon I gave my boss a month and a half notice. He hired a girl that week and fired me that weekend. I was out of a job and it was the beginning of summer. I really needed money for the summer and for college. I didn’t know what I was going to do without a job. That same week I received a phone call from Donna. She couldn’t believe I was fired and told me that she’d give me a job at her summer snack shop. I couldn’t believe this woman who had become my friend, was helping me out yet again. The summer wasn’t starting for another month though. Until then I was out of a job — or so I thought. One day, Donna called me and said to meet her at the snack shop because she had a job for me. I went there and I waited for her; I waited for a while. Finally I saw that big white van fly into the parking lot and there she was. That day my job was pushing around her shopping cart while she got the things she needed. I couldn’t believe she was paying me for this. She had to be doing that just to help me out and do me a huge favor. Yet again I couldn’t understand why. That night I climbed into her big white van and Donna started driving me home. One thing I loved about being with Donna was talking to her. Whether I was talking or listening, any conversation was one I enjoyed. That night I listened, and she spoke. She talked about her past and her life, and the things she’d gone through. That night I learned two lessons from Donna: first, no matter what, you must be strong; a woman does not need a man. Work however many jobs, or do whatever you need to do to survive on your own no matter what obstacles are thrown at you. She was a perfect example of that. The second lesson I learned that night came after I told Donna I can’t imagine how I could ever repay her for everything she’s done for me. Then she said the words that have stuck with me every day since that night, the words I live by everyday: “pay forward.” I had no idea what that meant. What did “pay forward” mean? Did she want me to pay her for helping me? Then

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My Year with Donna Gina Bompartito

she explained, “Pay forward means if you help someone out today, then maybe you gave them the opportunity to help someone else, and so on.” Every time I help someone, even in the smallest way, I’m saying “thank you” to Donna. Two weeks before I left for Arizona, Donna called me into work on a Sunday because her cook didn’t show up and she was short a person. An hour later I was there at the snack shop with my hat on and ready to work. My whole bus ride there I was wondering who the cook was that would fill in. Would it be the cute kid Austin? Or maybe the funny guy José? But to my surprise there Donna was behind the counter cutting lettuce for the day. She couldn’t get anyone to cover the shift and had to work it herself. That entire day I worked with Donna, and I loved it. We talked a lot about school, people, and she was giving me her usual life-lesson talks she probably didn’t realize she gave me. Around eight o’clock that night, Donna handed me the money I earned for the day, “Thank you Gina, I’ll call you.” “No, thank you Donna, I’ll see you during the week.” Little did I know the next time I’d be seeing Donna would be at her husband’s wake. That night, Donna’s husband, my former boss, died in a motorcycle accident. I couldn’t believe it. The following day I was so scared to go to the wake and see Donna. I found myself preparing to see a crippled Donna. Yet when I got there she was head high, and standing tall. Obviously heartbroken, but she was strong not only for herself but for her daughters. The day after her husband’s burial I was on the bus headed into work. Once again, I was so worried about Donna, not knowing what to expect when I saw her. On the bus I realized I was going to be late. Immediately I called Donna and told her I’d be 10 minutes late. I found myself asking “How are you?” and I heard Donna take a deep breath and start, “Well you know Gina … I have faith that he is okay, and that I will see him again one day. I found myself mad at God, but I have faith in Him, and I know everything will be okay. He is always going to be with me.” After we hung up, I sat there on the noisy bus, but it felt quiet. I thought about Donna and her positive attitude. Even then, she was teaching me something; no matter how hard things get you still need to have faith. For the longest time I didn’t understand Donna. I didn’t understand why she helped me so much, and I didn’t understand how I could ever thank her for doing so. How do you thank someone who had your back, talked to you, listened to you, taught you things, brought you back to your religion, gave you job after job, and changed your lifestyle? You spread their story. I live by those two words, pay forward, and the more people I tell about it, the more people are being helped, and the more I thank Donna, the kind-hearted, strong woman who made an impact on my life.

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A Guinean’s American Dream by Mariama Bah

In James Truslow Adams’ “Epic of America,” the term “American Dream” refers to “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” In “The Day an Immigrant Refugee Can Say, ‘I’m an American,’” Helene Coopers’ understanding of the dream is a place where change occurs, where dreams come true at last, and where happiness takes place. She came from a totally different continent, Africa, from the country of Liberia, where dreams are crushed. It is not a country of laws, but a country “where soldiers could enter your home, rape your children and murder your parents.” In America, she is more comfortable and secure, with a less-crowded house and police who actually do their job instead of committing the crimes themselves. Adams’ theory of the American Dream and Helene Cooper’s experience reflect my own transition from Guinea, a place of poverty and dysfunction, to the United States, a nation of tremendous opportunity and security. In Guinea, where I was born and raised, a decent education was restricted to the small minority of children whose families were wealthy enough to afford private school. The rest of the country’s children were stuck in public schools, where the classrooms were overflowing with students, and the teachers were impatient and careless. The school system in Guinea did not reward smart, ambitious students. I like to consider myself an intelligent student, so their carelessness for my education really affected me mentally and physically. There is a saying that applies to this time in my life: “The people around you influence you the most.” Students around me were not doing homework or studying for exams, so neither did I. It wasn’t doing me any good; we were paying for an education that wasn’t educating me, so my father came to his senses and said it was time for a change. It was then that he proposed the idea of going to the United States. I was excited when my dad told me that I was going to America, but also sad because I was leaving my friends and didn’t speak the English language. I feared people would react to the African stereotype of nudity and spear throwing rather than to me as an individual. I imagined a world where I could not communicate

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A Guinean’s American Dream Mariama Bah

with others or ask others for help. The good side of it was that I was going to a place where I could use my intelligence to obtain a better education and have more opportunities. Having that in mind gave me the strength to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. When I was 13 I moved to the United States with my family, where the school system was profoundly different. At Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Arizona, the classes were small enough for each individual student to learn. The teachers were patient, friendly, and actually cared about us. I was able to stick out as a promising student. There were days where I said I wasn’t going to school, but my parents were always there for me, encouraging me. They used to tell me, “We didn’t bring you to America to slack off, we brought you here to make a difference, and it’s now or never.” With that in mind, I tried hard to make them happy. I was an honor student, and with the help of tutors and my everyday studies, I was able to pass every exam, test, quiz with flying colors and earned an award for perfect attendance over four years. With the encouragement of my parents, who recognized the precious value of an American education and hardworking caring teachers, I was able to earn my 4.0 GPA. Arizona State University recognized my great potential and granted me a scholarship and admission. Unlike that of Guinea, Arizona’s public school system had such a wealth of extracurricular activities that I was able to involve myself in the intellectual and social pursuits that I needed to become a well-rounded young woman. I played sports, volunteered, mentored, and competed in French Club. I really enjoyed the club because it was all about competition, which I adore. We competed with other schools. Our school always won because, as a citizen of a former French colony, I am a native speaker of the language. My teammates and I got along very well; we were all on the same page, and all of us contributed in all competitions. On the bus going to competitions we laughed, played and just simply enjoyed ourselves. The good times I had in French Club made me believe America was a very friendly country. Like America’s educational system, its powerful economy helps realize the American Dream. Unlike in Guinea, where a person can go to school for a very long time and not even find a career for all her hard work, in America a student can feel secure knowing a well-paying job waits for her after graduation. It offers a generous wage to anyone who can do the jobs that need to be done, including nurses, and in eight years I expect to be a registered nurse working in a prestigious hospital. Furthermore, as the richest country in the world, the United States, with its charities and foundations, enables people not just to realize their own dreams but also to improve the world in whatever way they can. My goal is to go back to Guinea and provide its people with the medical care they need.

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A Guineanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s American Dream Mariama Bah

My experience in Arizona has made me understand Adamsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; view of America as a place that rewards ability and achievement with opportunity. The American Dream is nowhere to be found in Guinea, where a high-school student cannot stand out in an atmosphere of apathy and a college graduate cannot find a wellpaying job for her effort. It is unique to the country whose name it bears. It is a country where a bright kid can be recognized for her innate ability and given the financial support she needs, where she can pursue whatever interest fascinates her and where a skilled, accomplished person can make a living. Adams and Cooper grew up in different parts of the world, yet they recognized the same truth about the American Dream. It does not mean a person is given everything she wants, but rather that she is given everything she needs to make the most of her own Godgiven talents and ambitions.

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The Fine Art of Shelling by Jill Johnson

You go out to the beach; it may be low tide, high tide, or somewhere in between. You see the vast ocean in front of you, but you are more concerned with what the swells have been bringing in and depositing onto the shore. Instead of looking out to where the ocean meets the sky, you hunch over and focus your eyes on the array of shells that lay beneath your feet. The shells are scattered all along the beach: some in big piles, some sitting by themselves, and some form a line where the waves roll up onto the beach, which makes them look like they are standing guard against the mighty sea. Some people comb the beach slowly while on their quest for the perfect shell; some sit down at a pile, and sift, while others simply stroll the beach picking up anything that catches their eye. No matter what method is used or whether the tide is ebbing or flowing, the ocean never fails to bring you a gift. My Grandpa gets up around 5:30 in the morning. Right before the sun comes up he gets his morning cup of coffee, puts on a flannel shirt, his topsiders, grabs a mesh bag and heads for the beach. He is a daybreak, low-tide sheller. At this time of day, the few people seen on the beach are jogging, so Grandpa has all the shells to himself. He walks past all of the big piles of shell, the loners and walks straight to the ocean. He stands hunched over where the waves roll up onto the beach, and will hopefully bring in a “keeper.” He does not pay attention to anything but the shells when he is out for his morning search. My Grandpa is a very private sheller, and although he will never hesitate to show you his “Hall of Famers,” he is not so quick to show you how he is able to see, then grab the shells as they come in and go out with every wave. My Grandma is not nearly as serious or private when it comes to shelling. My Grandma wakes up, reads the paper, and eats breakfast, and then heads down to the beach with her shelling bag in tow. By the time Grandma gets down to the beach, more people have shown up and have claimed their spot on the beach by putting up umbrellas, laying down brightly colored beach towels, beach bags, and whatever toys they may have. Grandma does not claim any part of the beach—she just strolls. She is not a big fan of water so she stays on the dry part of the beach and stops to look for shells when she feels like it. Sometimes it seems as though she has a sixth sense when it comes to shelling. She will walk past pile after pile, then she’ll stop, sift through a pile that caught her eye, and come up with a beauty.

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The Fine Art of Shelling Jill Johnson

Some people have an ocean right by their homes and other people have to fly, drive, or take a train hundreds (possibly thousands) of miles to get to one. Children prefer to make sandcastles, play in the water, run along the beach, or simply throw shells back into the ocean. Adults and teenagers enjoy sunbathing, playing beach volleyball, boogie-boarding, surfing, snorkeling, fishing, looking at attractive people of the opposite sex in their bathing suits, or just sitting, watching, and listening as the waves roll in. Beaches have been the destination of many family trips, spring breaks, summer vacations, and honeymoons. I have been shelling since I was a little girl, though I was not a very serious sheller when I was a child. I had not yet learned what “good” shells were; I thought that any I found were “good.” I started out picking up any shell that had pretty colors. This meant that I would be coming home with thousands of ordinary scallops—some broken and some with barnacles attached to them. When I was ten years old I found my first “keeper.” I was combing the beach with my Dad when I found a Wintletrap—a tiny, white shell that has a spiral shape, and somewhat resembles a screw. Wintletraps are hard to find because they blend in with white sand beaches and are covered up by the bigger shells. Since I found my first Wintletrap, I spend my time on the beach shelling. Unlike my Grandma and Grandpa, I constantly look for shells. I don’t have a specific time when I go out, and use all sorts of different methods to find my shells. Everyone enjoys shells. People decorate their bathrooms in shell décor, complete with towels that have scallops embroidered on them, a soap dish in the shape of a conch, a shower curtain with a myriad of shells pictured on it, and maybe a basket that has been filled with shells. If you don’t like scouring the beach for a shell you can go to gift stores and buy them. If you are a sheller you can use your prized shells to make frames around mirrors, fill clear lamps, and make a tissue-box cover. Some shells are used for food. People search the ocean for oysters, clams and mussels to enjoy at seafood bakes. Shells were even used by some American Indians as currency. I use shells for decoration, and although I don’t have my bathroom adorned with shell towels, every woman in my family has at least one room devoted to shells. There are very few things that people 50 years apart can enjoy together, but the Gulf of Mexico and the shells it brings in, bridge the gap between my grandparents and me.

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My Momâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Youth by Thuy Pham

Whenever my brothers and I complained about how we did not have a computer, iPod, or the newest electronic devices like other kids in school, my mom would give us a glare and tell us how spoiled and easy our lives have been. She would scold us about how we take what we had for granted. After that she would tell us what her childhood life was like. When it happened, I would roll my eyes and mumble jadedly, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Here comes another story.â&#x20AC;? Thirty-three years ago, when I was about twelve-years-old, the war between North and South Vietnam came to an end. The North had won the battle, and its soldiers were coming down to the South to capture every soldier that fought during the war. The families of captured soldiers were pushed out onto the streets, and their personal belongings were taken away from them. Our family was one of the unlucky ones. All the men in our family who were old enough to be soldiers joined the war. By the time the war ended, three of my older brothers died during battle, and one was captured and put in a camp. My father, who had retired from the battlefield, committed suicide when he heard that the South had fallen. He was scared that when the North came down, their soldiers would capture him and send him to a camp to be tortured and killed. The thought terrified him so much that he chose to take his own life, even though it was against his own Catholic beliefs. Still mourning over her dead husband and sons, my widowed mother and her three remaining children were kicked out of their home with just a little bit of money and some of her jewels. My mom did not know what to do after that. At that time she had heard an announcement that the North people wanted to develop more useful land and trees to make materials. Anyone can go deep into the South where there are mountains and cut down all the trees, they can obtain that land to be theirs. My mom took my brother, sister, and me to the mountains. When we reached the place, we found a small abandoned house. The walls of the house were made from wood and the roof was made from straw. There were just two rooms in the house: a kitchen and a bedroom with no walls or doors to separate them. After we cleaned the house, we got settled in. The fourth day after our arrival, when the sun had just risen, my mother awakened me to help her with the trees. For breakfast we would have plain porridge, and then my mom would 99


My Mom’s Youth Thuy Pham

lead my brother and me out into the woods. Luckily the trees were young—just about fifteen feet tall and width was not wide either. My brother was just eight years old, so he could not cut the trees with my mom and me. He was there just to pull the branches aside to make room for us to work. Every night I would check my hands to see how many new cuts I had from the branches. It was the worst part about cutting down the trees. Whenever I cut down a branch and did not jump out of the way fast enough the branches scratched my arms and legs. One night when I was awakened because I needed to go to the bathroom, I spotted my mother’s shadow reflected on the wall from the candlelight in the kitchen and was surprised. I tiptoed from behind because I wanted to scare her. That was when I noticed that she was holding our family picture and tears were running down her cheeks. In that moment I realized that my mom just put up a strong face for us to see, but she was still mourning over the death of her sons and husband. For months, from dawn till dusk, we were out cutting trees until there were no more trees to cut because other families had taken them. During that time all we had to eat was rice that my mom bought from a small neighborhood store that was about ten miles away from us. For the first couples weeks we just had watercress, which was found in the backyard, to eat with the rice. Time went by, and each day we would have more food to eat with the rice because the vegetables my mom planted in the backyard had grown. It was my sister’s job to stay home, watch the house and taken care of the vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, water squashes, beans, and peas. We also discovered a river about five miles long ran through the middle of the forest. There were many fish, crabs, and shrimp living in the river that we could catch. Every time my mom finished telling us the story, I could see tears about to run down from her eyes. After she would tell us the story, she just went about her business as usual like we had not said anything. Several days later she would take us to buy what we wanted. When I was about eighteen years old I saw the same circumstance happened with my little sister, so I asked my mom the reason and she said that she just wanted us to know how hard life can be, but she does not want us to experience it.

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The Rocket Ship by Wayne Schutsky

I watched them every day that summer, the one between sixth and seventh grades. The rocket ship whirred off into the air with a tiny explosion that sent the children into a frenzy on the ground They all went completely mad in an attempt to catch the falling, inanimate model. The one who succeeded gained, if only for a moment, the complete attention and awe of his peers as they watched and waited for him to set it off again. I watched. There are reasons for frailty. If everyone could make a living on physical accolades alone, who would create? Every man would be a sports star and every woman would be a supermodel. No teachers. No writers. No politicians. No doctors. No bureaucracy. Maybe everyone would be happy. There is no need for anger, right? Everyone loves how you look, so you do as well. No sadness. I’ve never been that fast or competitive. Sure, I could keep up with a lot of them, but what’s the point? To go around like a madman for a one in fifty shot at snagging the glory from the grips of the more athletic boys is insanity. I liked watching anyway. It’s better that way. I could observe, and almost feel, the glory that comes with every catch. Maybe I’d never feel the physical supremacy or pride that comes with an actual catch, but I didn’t need that kind of gratification. I’d always been satisfied with the sideline; it was comfortable, safe. It felt like home. Or at least as close to home as I could feel at that point. The only memories I have of the house I grew up in revolve around TV dinners and the Lutheran channel. After school I would always go to some afterschool program with other kids, whom I can only assume were just like me. After working on homework and reading my books for a few hours in the white-tiled kiddie room with the Noah’s Ark walls that doubled as the after-school containment area, my mother would pick me up a few minutes before the six o’clock deadline. She would drive me home just in time to heat up a microwave dinner. All of the glory of soggy fluorescent carrots, elastic chicken nuggets, and tasteless mashed potatoes. Then she’d send me to the shower and bed. From underneath my red and blue superman sheets, I’d read until I was tired enough to fall asleep. All the while, I could hear my mother—every night, doing something with the Lutheran channel on in the background. These obscure messages of faith, sometimes without a tinge of faith at all.

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The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

Sometimes she would read the mail; collect her child support check. Sometimes she would have boyfriends over. And sometimes she would just sit there. Always with the Lutheran channel on in the background. I remember hearing the southern drawls running through my room as I tried to read or sleep. “At some points in life, individuals are challenged to reach beyond the confines of, say, gravity or reality. This is not to say that you must shun the modern conception of truth altogether; but, more so, challenge the status quo in order to achieve an elevated sense of self purpose,” a voice that escapes me drones on. “Some would call it, well, a calling. To others it may seem to be an exaggerated description of normal events that, if experienced by another, would be completely ordinary. But whatever the name or personal purpose for the event, it must be done.” “Whoever is given the opportunity to redefine the structure of the universe must also do so in their own, individual way. They are challenged with not giving in to any sort of pressure that may skew the mission. It is a personal struggle. I have spoken in generalities, always referring to the change as earth shaking or monumental. This can be in some ways true, but also misleading. The impact made, may, on the surface, seem to only affect a finite amount of people. However, the ripple effect will eventually shift all facets of truth. In the same way, some situations will appear on the surface just as monumental as they are. It is the former that is generally more difficult to accomplish because of the isolation that accompanies it. Although, the latter provides more pressure to succeed as millions witness every success, and every failure,” he says. The town I lived in revolves around this park. It’s not big and it’s not small, the town that is. It’s just the perfect size for living. The park sits directly in the center with the outsides lined in trees of all different sorts. The children’s playground is situated in the southwest corner and the rest is divided into large playing fields. I used to just sit on the edge of the grass and read my books while the other kids ran around a dozen feet away, but my mother told me I was now too old for that and suggested I play with kids my own age. The shiny new rocket ship was on everyone’s mind. I almost tried to play when I first arrived, but decided against it when I saw the barreling children, sacrificing each other for the glory. Life is full of objects that rise and fall, like the rocket. Desensitizing at its finest. Who needs that? I could feel more out of my books than I could, chasing a stupid piece of flying, space junk. Those books were my life. I lived through them. In their pages I could do more than this body could ever offer me. Chase the rocket ship. Chase it, it’s a dream that only luck can catch. My dreams are always there. Those pages may wilt and tear, but their stories do not disappear. I could count on that. That day was different. The clouds were out. It was windy. The normal June weather was cloudless, warm, and beautiful. I loved the rain; it hardly ever rained. I loved the wind. That day was so different. I could feel the odd sensations running through my infrastructure. The same spot. I sat in the same spot. The slightly rain102


The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

moistened grass wet the back of my jeans. I just sat and soaked up the beautiful nature as I tried to grasp something from the yellowing pages of my second-handstore books. I thought I could will myself to feel the great emotions and convictions bled onto those pages. Maybe lethargic waiting is inevitable. I wasn’t designed to succeed in this world, this realm of bright smiles and shiny toys. My heart felt nothing for them; these children felt nothing for me. My parents, bless their souls, knew nothing about mine. I was alone because I didn’t fit. I was the coming-of-age prototype—lost and confused while knowing more than I should. I should come out of my shell, win the prize, and learn a valuable, albeit corny, lesson. I’ll leave that to the professionals. I could hardly come of age. I just stuck my head in some book; Frankenstein I think, while they ran past me. They didn’t look at me or pay much attention to me at all; they just ran. I started to doze off into my own head for a moment, leaving the pages of the book behind, when I felt something coming towards me. I looked up just in time to catch the fat end of fat Tommy Tubkins’ shoe in my face. Tommy tripped over my head, catching his second shoe underneath my chin, before falling completely on his face behind me. A few more kids ran past us to grab the rocket as Tommy hit the ground. My nose began to bleed and my jaw felt like I had TMJ. As I stifled the tears that felt ready to run out of my face, I saw Tommy get up and dust off his brown cargo shorts. His striped yellow and brown shirt, that made him look like a chocolate bumble bee, rode up over his pudgy, freckled stomach while the weather-bleached grass of the field tangled into his curled, red hair. The smattering of freckles on Tommy’s face soon disappeared as both round cheeks became enveloped in rashy, red anger. Tommy looked over at the mothers sitting and talking on the brown park benches at the other end of the park, completely oblivious to our plights. “Fuckin’ queer. Don’t they have a library in faggotsville?” he said to me, low enough so the mothers would not here, but loud enough to illicit a snicker from the kids nearby. With that, he wound back his thick sausage leg and took a heaving swat at my book, which had landed at his feet. Worn and fragile from its many years of previous use, the kick caused the blue book to come apart at the binding, pages gliding in all directions as it flew. Tommy just chuckled and trotted off to the others, awaiting another flight. I looked over to my mother who was chatting with some of the other women. I continued to fight off the tears that begged my eyes to be set free. This time, my stares caught my mother’s eyes and she looked back at me with the sort of indefinable indifference only a mother can provide. Deciding I was fine, she waved one hand in the direction of the middle of the field before going back to her conversation.

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The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

Whatever it was, the rain or wind or a need to please my mother. I wanted that rocket. It wasn’t the seclusion; I enjoyed that. For some unknown reason, I just had to fight for it. Instead of collecting the pages of my book, I let them scatter along the sidewalk as I ran towards the group of my peers. They all looked at me with slightly odd expressions for a moment, but then generally accepted the newcomer. The winner of the last hunt, some tall blond kid, ran to light the rocket’s fuse. The rocket went up and I needed it. I felt it. This was more than any book could give me. I needed it just once. I ran and ran. A strong gust of wind blew and took the rocket into a nearby tree. The tree’s imposing size cannot be accurately described because of the imaginative explosions of the youthful mind. However large it actually was, no one could muster the courage to retrieve the white, hot red, and ivory rocket ship. Now was my chance. All eyes on me. Ten minutes prior I couldn’t have cared less, but now the feeling was contagious. I lusted for the importance. I stood up. They shouted my name. Or what they thought my name was. It didn’t matter. They all wanted me and I knew it. I looked over at my mother, who was too busy talking of motherly things to pay attention to me. I began the treacherous climb to the top, taking each branch in stride. I didn’t want to look down, but I had to so that I could soak up the energy and pride. With each new branch passed, I became inebriated in self-importance. I was the only one strong enough to brave the tree. I was the only one desperate enough. The white eyes of the rocket grew ever closer. I could read the name written in venomous blood red ink on the side: Glory. I needed one more step to grasp it. One more foot and the glory was mine. They would all love me. I stepped. The branch creaked beneath my weight. Every new realization rushed to my cranium as fast as a heart attack. Is this the price we pay for glory? What the hell was I doing? If I just moved slowly down, I could still make it out. Back out, back down. Lose the pride, and keep my life. The ridiculous notions of self-aggrandizing success seemed like a distant memory as I saw my life fall before my eyes. “There is nothing wrong with failure. Hell, we all fail many more times than we succeed. But anyone who says that every failure is a success in its own right is ignorant. The very fact that they are failures is the reason they hold so much importance. Failure spurns the soul, ignites anger. These emotions can accomplish more than happiness. Happiness is boring. Love, the most obvious source of happiness, provides a fleeting sort of ecstasy; but it is when love is lost that true passion thrives. Only when we realize that everything surrounding us is there to tear us down, can we build ourselves up. Only when we decide that one moment of horrific change is better than a lifetime of safe consistency can we rid ourselves of every inhabitation and fear in order to realize true potential.” I once heard someone say that; maybe it was a president or something. Or maybe it was Tupac. I don’t know, maybe it was just someone trying to sell me something.

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The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

I made one last reach. I prayed for a creak and found a crack. Just like that, I missed the prize. I began to fall down through the tree with my face to the ground, but the mess of branches twisted and contorted my body so that my back ended up in that direction fairly quickly. As I felt each branch whip, and eventually break, across my back I couldn’t help but wonder how I had gotten into such a predicament. The 15-second fall took hours to me. Every second was a lifetime. I reflected on the numerous months spent watching, why now? Why today? Nothing made any clear sense. It was as if I hung still in complete acceleration until I figured out why I would never … I hit the ground with a deafening thud—the kind that makes everyone else grab their heads as if I transferred the pain to them. Maybe I did it because I really couldn’t feel much. I felt the blood, white hot, sticking my head to the ground. Scratches all over my body ached. The other kids scattered in all directions back to their mothers as I fell. Tommy stuck around just long enough to catch the rocket before running to the benches. I felt a shooting pain in my right leg and looked down to find a jagged edge of bone sticking through my jeans. My hair was matted with blood and grass and the numerous broken tree limbs shredded the yellow shirt I was wearing to mere strips of fabric. The pain in my leg continued to grow, but I could not cry. The tears were not there. Instead my mind seemed transfixed on the blinding sun that had appeared from behind the clouds sometime during the past several minutes. The light blinded me and sent streaks of pain, separate from the ones in my leg, shooting through my brain. I could hear my mother’s shrieks mix with those of the ambulance sirens as one of the other mothers consoled her a few feet away. I blacked out. I had to spend a few nights in the hospital after that. The doctor—a portly old man with two chins and no hair—set the bone in my leg and put a cast on it. Because I was unconscious, I didn’t get to pick a color, so they gave me the standard white. I woke up in the beige hospital room early the second morning, alone. A television hung above the old wooden door of the room, playing some random rerun on mute. A green tray with cereal and milk sat suspended over my torso. The sun was just beginning to shine through my window when my mother burst back into the room and began blubbering immediately. She was muttering something about going home to take care of something and how sorry she was for letting this happen to me. As she receded into baby talk, her newly lined mascara began to run onto her clean, starched blouse that was buttoned one off all the way down the shirt. The blinding light of the sun sent streaks of pain shooting through my temple that shut out all of her noise.

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photo by Ryan Wolf


Assignment prompts

Assignment prompts play a critical role in the dissemination of our pedagogies and can also provide a valuable context in which to read student essays.


WAC 101: Intro to Academic Writing

Writing to Share Experiences: The American Dream Narrative In an attempt to share personal experiences in a way that is relevant and interesting to an academic audience, you’ll begin by grappling with a pertinent question: What is the American Dream and what does it mean to you? After reading other people’s thoughts and perspectives on the subject, you’ll be asked to synthesize these ideas into a definition that you feel captures the essence of the dream as it exists today—as the majority of Americans perceive it (which won’t necessarily be your version of it). This definition will then serve as a catalyst for the experiences you’ll share— which will be written in the form of a personal narrative­— and which will be intimately linked to some aspect of the American Dream, whether it be your struggle for it, your disdain with it, your disbelief in it, etc. The essay will conclude with a paragraph in which you subjectively define/reflect on the dream as you now see it, a version of the dream that will be derived from your past personal experiences as well as your newfound understanding of it. Narrative Frame: an opening and closing that are thematically and/or stylistically similar and serve as a literal frame for a narrative essay and can make it more universally resonant

Your Frame: Definitions of the American Dream • The first part of the frame should be a synthesis of what you believe to be the most prevalent sentiments regarding the AD • The latter part of the frame should be a first-person/subjective definition of the dream as you understand it/believe it—you can borrow ideas from sources you’ve read here, but you have to make this one your own

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Your Narrative This is the personal story that will be between the frames; it should: • Be written in first person • Describe the events of a specific time/event in your life during which you and/ or your family were struggling to achieve the dream, redefine the dream, realizing the dream, rejecting the dream, etc. • Contain rich description/detail (precise, evocative language) • Contain a chronological plot, i.e. action/movement/progression through a month, a day, an hour (note that this is not a progression through your entire life or even a year of your life) • Contain some dialogue (if you feel comfortable with dialogue) • Contain a point/significance/catharsis/moment of epiphany

Requirements • • • • •

4 – 5 pages in length APA style in-text citations (in the first part of the frame) Sound organization. Creative and grammatically correct language Lastly, know your purpose in telling this story/writing this essay and put yourself into the piece—literally and figuratively

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ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Share Experiences Topic Choices Here are the generic criteria for a “good” topic: you have some passion for it; you want to learn more about it; it’s do-able. Because you have had many experiences in life, you have much material from which to select. Although you may choose from any of the four arenas of life (academic, professional, civic, personal), you probably have the most experiences in the academic and personal arenas. I caution you to avoid certain topics. For example, because you will have a public audience for this project, you should avoid writing about experiences that are embarrassing to you or the other participants. Because you will have a public audience, you certainly should avoid writing about any experiences in which illegal activities were involved, especially if those activities have not been adjudicated. I encourage you to write about experiences that have made you think about life. We will do a number of generative exercises and brainstorming activities, but you may find that a topic will come to you when you least expect it. Be aware: listen to what speaks to you.

Helpful Hints You might find it useful to talk to family members or friends who participated in the experience with you because they can offer multiple perspectives on the experience. They can also help you remember details that may have slipped from your memory. If you have photos that help illustrate the experience, discuss them with others who were there. I encourage you to include some of those photos in your project. To help with that, consult the photographs section (pages 812-815) in Chapter 18, “Communicating with Design and Visuals.” Many people keep journals in which they reflect on the day’s activities. If you or other family members keep daily journals, you might consult those documents or individuals to refresh you memory about an experience. Because writing about experiences will inevitably include writing some narrative and description, refer to those sections (pages 687-702) in Chapter 13, “Strategies That Guide Readers.”

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ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Persuade Assignment Now that you have become intimately familiar with your topic through research and collaborative writing projects; it is time for you to carve out your place in the controversy. Your final writing project, number three, will be a researched essay in APA style format. In it, I want you to use the resources you have been collecting and reading this semester, and any new resources you discover that you want to include. I will expect you to have your writing organized in a way that best suits your subject matter; however, it should have an introduction, a body containing your views (with support) and others’ views (with refutations), a conclusion, and, most importantly, a thesis or major claim: your position. The order in which you present these components will be entirely up to your discretion. Meet with me if you need help arranging your ideas, or with any other task.

Helpful Hints and Reminders • • • • •

• •

Write in 12-point New Times Roman font Double-space your essay Include page numbers Develop a strong thesis; make sure that each one of your major points supports it Edit and proof read, set your essay aside for at least an hour or more, take ten minutes to read it aloud carefully and slowly to someone who will listen before you turn it in Consider the opposing side of the argument and refute it Page limit: 4 – 8 pages

Activities •

First peer review workshop; read peers’ papers in their entirety for overall meaning. Logos workshop; read peers’ papers for logos Round-robin workshop; read peers’ papers for basic grammar and editing Second peer review; read peers’ papers in their entirety for overall meaning and bring a hard copy for me to review

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ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Explore: News Talk Show Our news talk show groups will consist of four to five students who will write a script to discuss hot topics in the news today. Groups will consist of a host who is armed with thoughtful and provocative questions on the subject matter. You will earn points for participating and for doing the written and collaborative work together. You cannot get credit for participation if you are not in class or in scheduled group meetings.

Goals The goals of this exercise include the following: • Learning to research, critically analyze, and gather information which is relevant as evidence to your argument • Becoming adept at identifying not only differing sides of an issue, but the groups or parties that represent those opposing views • Developing the skill of creating thoughtful questions regarding the issues you are researching, which will help in developing a thesis for a written essay • Retaining information that you have gathered and studied

Format The talk show hosts will first identify the issue along with the guests (and the group/profession/organization to which they belong) in the introduction of the show. At the close of the script/discussion, the host will conclude by wrapping up the major points of the discussion and reiterating who the guests were. You are challenged to make the script readable; in other words, make the introduction to the topic, guests, and the issue meaningful, and also cohesive with the actual question and answer section (the body); and make the conclusion really wrap up the discussion of the subject, and what was at issue. Make sure you suggest some implications, recommendations, gaps in research, or future projections and calls to action.

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Structure of the Script The host will introduce the issue, the guests and their interests, and then will fire off a question allowing each guest to answer; then the host will offer another question, allowing guests to answer it; and so on. The host will conclude after all questions and answers are complete. Checklist for your groups: • Know multiple sides to the issue, and the groups that represent the differing views • Develop thoughtful and provocative questions raised in your study of the issues • Make sure each member contributes at least four sources to the talk show preparation, though you do not necessarily have to use all of them

Teamwork: Writing Your Document • •

• • •

Collaborate; get together and discuss what sources tell you Answer the following questions as a group: Who are the differing groups? What are the opposing positions? Why are they in opposition? What questions do these views bring to your mind? How does the issue relate to you, your family, your classmates, and your world? Why does the issue matter? Write out an introduction to the controversy Write the most provoking questions about which you all agree upon as a group Know the issues, address multiple sides of the argument, and write a conclusion that wraps up the most significant and diverse opinions/points expressed

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ENG 102: First Year Composition

Part 1 of 2: Exploring: Legitimizing a Social Problem Before you begin arguing for the betterment/improvement or eradication of something that you perceive to be problematic, unjust, unconstitutional, or inhumane, you must first familiarize yourself with the problem and attempt to establish its validity and seriousness via an historical overview, causal links, effects, and past attempts to quell the situation. In short, this is a research project that will address the issues chronologically, laying the groundwork for a complex argument, a solution that you will propose in your final essay. In this paper, you will need to: • Explore the history of problem (region, groups involved, longevity/duration) • Identify and explore catalysts/causes (focus on the most significant) • Provide details of its perpetration • Identify and explore effects/repercussions of the problem (via scholarly evidence, stats, anecdotal evidence, etc.) • Introduce 1 or 2 past failed solutions to serve as a bridge/transition into your solution • Additionally, each of the above should be established using a variety rhetorical appeals, which can be achieved through the use of the following: • Ethos: case studies/examples (media sources, scholarly sources) • Logos: data/stats, charts/graphs • Pathos: anecdotal evidence (personal narratives), photos • Lastly, you are strongly encouraged to employ visual strategies – from section subtitles, to bullets, to charts/graphs, to images – to strengthen your argument

Research Requirements •

Minimum of seven sources • Two multi-media sources (film, photos, etc.) • Two scholarly sources (something written by a scholar and published in a scholarly journal or book) • Three other reputable sources

Other Requirements • • •

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4 1/2 – 5 1/2 pages in length (not including visuals) 12-point Times New Roman font APA formatting throughout


ENG 102: First Year Composition

Part 2 of 2: Proposing a Solution Since you’ve already addressed the problem and established its legitimacy (via essay #3), you’re ready to move forward and propose a solution. Keep in mind that the problem portion of your essay should NOT be longer than the solution, so pare down the former if necessary. You might also want to revise your “problem thesis” since you no longer need it to function as the thesis of the argument. In the proposal, you will need to: • Begin with a transition of some sort, perhaps one that includes a brief discussion of a failed solution(s) (*note: you may only need to revise the end of your problem essay) • State your solution (note: this is the thesis of your argument, and it’s what’s called a “delayed thesis”) • Include an overview of the steps you’ll take to achieve your solution (supporting points) • Include your objectives/goals/desired outcome in the thesis or in a subsequent sentence • Discuss each of the steps you’ll take in an attempt to implement your solution (body Ps) • Consider addressing funding at some point. How and from whom will you be obtaining funding? • Discuss your desired goals/outcomes and explain how they’ll improve the situation • Identify and refute the opposition (to your new proposal) Source Requirements: • Minimum of nine sources total • Two multi-media sources (film, photos, etc.) • Three scholarly sources (something written by a scholar and published in a scholarly journal or book) • Four other reputable sources

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ENG 102: First Year Composition

Arguing Value In an essay, develop a revelatory argument about the worth of a specific topic. As always, the success of the writing depends on your intellectual commitment to transcend initial thoughts and explore the concept in depth. It will be easy to offer an initial opinion, but a more inventive and insightful essay will go beyond a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the topic; it will also call readers into a fresh perspective—a new way of seeing the harm or worth of the topic.

Part 1: Invention Notes Invention notes should be typed (word-processed) and posted to the Discussion Thread. As you will notice, Chapter 8 of the textbook includes key invention questions—those marked by gray arrows. Also, notice the sample responses—in which a writer responds. The writer uses the questions to extend thinking, to develop support, and consider opposing positions. Successful invention notes will take on several questions from each section of the chapter and fully explore the possibilities of the topic. You needn’t worry about paragraph coherence, transitions, and other arrangement features while writing invention notes. Instead, aim your energies at exploration—at analyzing ideas and unearthing new thoughts. For this project, please see invention questions on pp. 268, 273, and 282. Use the most helpful questions from each group. Also, we will conduct in-class invention workshops. You may borrow any/all insights from these workshops for your own invention.

Part 2: Drafts Draft 1: Content and Arrangement will be due and should be brought to your individual conference. Draft 2: Style and Conventions will be brought to class for peer review. Remember that writers who bring fully developed rough drafts to conference and peer review workshop consistently get better instructor and peer feedback —and consistently achieve better final results.

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Part 3: The Essay Use the sections of Chapter 8 to help develop a narrowed thesis, support strategies, and a well-organized essay. • •

• •

• •

Starting Places (266-67): Use this spread to explore for possible topics Analyzing the Situation (268-69): This section will help generate your particular understanding of the topic—and help you to dig up particular and focused thoughts that distinguish your assertion from others Entering the Argument (270-73): Although we’re NOT necessarily using outside sources for this project, we can still explore how others think—through surveys and invention workshops Inventing a Thesis (274-76): These pages will help you to articulate your assertion in a single, focused sentence Inventing Support (277-82): This section offers particular strategies for fleshing out your ideas—for illustrating various dimensions of your point. (Explore forms of evidence and appeals) Arrangement (283-86): This section addresses common questions for organizing your argument Audience and Voice (288-90): With all writing tasks, we should try to transcend a flat and disengaged voice. Explore a range of possibilities for making your voice engaging Revision and Feedback: (290-91): Use these strategies to re-see your argument and develop it into an increasingly engaging and pointed reading experience

Outside sources are not required for this essay. However, one or two are permissible. Just be sure to cite and document as per APA format.

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ENG 102: First Year Composition

Arguing Crisis In an essay, develop a revelatory argument in which you evaluate a situation you deem a public crisis. Seek out a crisis beyond the most obvious social problems—those that constitute talk-show themes and political propaganda: violence in schools, welfare, street drugs, deceitful politicians, etc. Instead, try to discover a crisis that emerges from the life you have lived: problems in your community, attrition in college classes, lack of part-time employment for college students, and so on. Also, consider crises that lurk beneath everyday consciousness—those that people tend to overlook. A successful argument will go beyond expressing an opinion; it will also call readers into a fresh perspective—a new way of seeing or recognizing the crisis. This may include examining causes and results (e.g. the reasons why prisoners are now put in solitary confinement and the effects –obvious and hidden) and/or redefining a situation or problem (e.g. does solitary confinement constitute torture?). Use a minimum of four sources. Of these, three must be ASU Library research resources: database articles, books, government documents, etc. Any source of less than a page does not count as one of your four sources; nor does material gleaned from dubious or non-credible sources. If you are not sure if a source is sufficiently credible, please check with me. Please remember that while you are encouraged to use Wikipedia as an exploratory research tool, you may not use it in your paper. At all. The essay should be approximately 4 – 7 pages (not including the Title and References page), and in accordance with all syllabus and APA formatting instructions. Standard conventions of written English, including clarity and precise word choice, factor into the acceptance of the paper for grading and determination of its final grade. This is worth 25 percent of your final class grade. All research topics and thesis questions are subject to instructor approval.

Part 1: Invention and Research Journal As you will notice, each chapter of the textbook features a writer responding to key invention questions. The writer uses the questions to extend thinking, to develop support, and consider opposing positions. Successful invention notes will take on several questions from the chapter and fully explore the possibilities of the topic. You needn’t worry about paragraph coherence, transitions, and other arrangement features while writing invention notes. Instead, aim your energies at exploration—at analyzing ideas and unearthing new thoughts. Invention notes should be typed and posted to the Discussion Board.

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• •

• • •

Starting Places: Use this spread to explore for possible topics. Analyzing the Situation: This section will help generate your particular understanding of the topic—and help you to dig up particular and focused thoughts that distinguish your assertion from others. Entering Argument: This section will help you develop your position among other opinions. Inventing a Thesis: These pages will help you to articulate your assertion in a single, focused sentence. Inventing Support: This section offers particular strategies for fleshing out your ideas—for illustrating various dimensions of your point. (Explore forms of evidence and appeals.)

Although your position should not be eclipsed or overpowered by outside research, you will use sources as part of an overall argumentative strategy. Remember that sources need not only confirm your position. Do inventive research and explore sources that may oppose your ideas, help to illustrate a particular supporting point, develop your counterarguments, flesh out allusions, or even develop concessions. Your research entries will be used to create the Annotated Bibliography of Writing Project four. Please see Writing Project 4: Journal and Annotated Bibliography for further information.

Part 2: Drafts and the Essay Your first draft will be due at individual conference. Make certain to develop a good draft—something that warrants a close read, a careful examination. Those writers who bring fully developed rough drafts to conference and peer workshop consistently get better instructor and peer feedback—and consistently achieve better final results. • •

Arrangement: This section addresses common questions for organizing your argument. Audience and Voice: With all writing tasks, we should try to transcend a flat and disengaged voice. Explore a range of possibilities for making your voice engaging.

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Using Artifacts as Catalysts for Creative Non-Fiction Artifacts are indicative of an individual’s culture, shared experiences within families or between friends. Artifacts are literal, tangible things that can be described using sensory detail, but they also serve symbolic purposes, represent emotions, bonds, people, beliefs, etc. Once you’ve chosen the best artifact for your essay, allow it to serve as a conduit for a memory or series of brief memory fragments; furthermore, allow it to dictate the information that you include (remember, everything has to be connected; in other words, everything you write about in this essay must tie back into the artifact in some way). Your assignment is essentially writing exercise 12 on page 62. Keep in mind that though the artifact is the catalyst for series of brief narratives about the self and the self’s relation to others, the entire piece must have a purpose, i.e. must express something significant about you, your relationship with someone else, etc. Lastly, try to surprise your audience by making unique connections, weaving unique thread. For example, avoid using something like a “hair clip” as your artifact and then writing a brief narrative about your first haircut. Ultimately, you want the association between the thing and the narrative memory to be less obvious, anti-cliche. The final product should: • Be 3 – 4 pages in length • Employ the techniques discussed over the past two weeks: • Strong metaphors/beautiful language • Characterization (self or other or relationship) • Detail pertaining to scene (the action) • Sensory images/memory • Have a title • Should employ a unique artifact and contain surprising connections/threads • Be grammatically and syntactically sound, as well as rhythmical

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Personal Writing with Universal or Historical Implications: The Fine Art of the Essay Bernard Cooper’s essay “The Fine Art of Sighing” explores the author’s relationship to “sighing,” examining the seemingly mundane act through several members of his family while simultaneously acknowledging its biological and geographical universality. For this project, you’ll be using Cooper’s idea and template, but you’ll need to choose an act, action, or behavior that has both personal significance and universal or historical resonance. Like Cooper, you’ll need to: • Describe the act/action/behavior in impersonal terms—i.e. biological, physical, psychological, literal, metaphorical, behavioral, emotional • Explore the act via your personal relationship to it and/or practice of it • Explore the act through several generations/members of your family • Link it to the outside world by showing its universality, discussing its applications/manifestations within a larger community • Stay focused on the act at hand—your goal is to cover the vast territory of autobiography, biography, and universality through the lens of one minor act/ action, so stay on task

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Writing the Spiritual or Philosophical: Autobiography As with any strong work of creative nonfiction, the successful spiritual autobiography hinges on discovery through the writing process itself. The writer does not set out to give us predetermined answers, but instead allows us some insight into the questions that drive him. Spiritual autobiographies, in particular, “find interesting” the turns in the road, and the roadside attractions; they do not necessarily follow a straight line, but proceed more intuitively, meandering from point to point in a way that may seem digressive, but actually form a clear path in retrospect. Once you set out to examine your own spiritual inclinations, you will find yourself with a new set of writerly dilemmas: spirituality can be an arena fraught with pre-fabricated rhetoric and tired clichés. Your challenge, as a writer, is to find a language and a form so personal that only you can give us this rendition of the spiritual life. You must remain aware of how your brand of spirituality has been depicted in the past, and find a way to circumvent the expectations and resistance of your reader. Using one of the following prompts as a guide, write a creative nonfiction autobiographical piece focusing “on moments of insight” that have led you in a new direction. Use very specific, sensory details to reveal, “your self and its particular voice” in a non-cliché manner. •

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Describe a religious or semi-religious ritual that took place in your childhood with some regularity. Use quotes from this ritual as a frame within which you can describe memory, conflict, pleasure, and pain. Move your reader through this ritual with you. Using present tense and vivid imagery, show the emotion you felt about this particular rite as a child. [Variation: Write the scene in the past tense, from an adult perspective. How does your attitude toward this rite change?] Try to remember a moment in your childhood when you were first aware of a spiritual “presence” in your life. This can be anything from a moment within your spiritual tradition, or a moment in nature, or a moment when you were alone in your room. Describe this experience from the child’s point of view, in the present tense. [Variation: Describe a moment when you were aware of the absence of a spiritual “presence” in your life. Where do these different moments lead you?]


• •

If you have a repeating spiritual ritual, give us one particular scene out of this rite. Focus on one day, or one morning, or one hour that encapsulates what this ritual means to you. Try not to tell us what it means, but show us through the details you choose, the tone you create. Using Anne Lamott’s “Why I Don’t Meditate” as a model, write a scene of some spiritual “failure.” Using David James Duncan’s “The Mickey Mantle Koan” as a model, think about the “koans” that exist in your own life. What objects, people, places, or situations have always puzzled you? How do these things represent emotions or ideas that you haven’t yet been able to articulate? Begin an essay whose goal is to “push” at these objects until they yield some unexpected answers.

Keep in mind: • Develop your characters (you and others) with sensory descriptions, characterization through expression and movement and voice/dialogue. • Specifically detail your scenes to create setting, action, mood, theme, etc. • Is there an implicit purpose? Does the piece express personal significance, but also communicate universal emotions, themes, etc? • Do you avoid the use of clichés and “prefabricated rhetoric”? Do you manage to circumvent the reader’s expectations and resistance? • Is it clear? Does it use specific, precise language and word choice and omit needless words? • Is there fundamental accuracy of statement? • Do the elements of the piece function both literally and symbolically? • Is the language metaphorical and/or lyrical at times? • Is it 3 – 4 pages in length (when typed and double-spaced)? • Per the conventions of Standard Written English (SWE), is it grammatically and syntactically sound? • Does the punctuation add style to the piece and conform to SWE conventions? • Is the spelling correct? • Does your essay have a title? Page numbers?

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Writing the Family Using one of the following prompts as a guide, write a creative nonfiction biographical piece that informs both our and your understanding of one of your family members. The focus is on the family member, although it is fine to include yourself—either in first or third person point of view. •

• •

Begin an essay by imagining the life of a family member—before you knew that person. You may interview the person and/or use concrete clues (artifacts, documents, photographs, etc.) to form a portrait of your subject before you were in the picture. You may also choose to include a comparison of the person then and now. How are they similar or different? Almost all families have some mythic story about someone meeting a famous person. Re-create a relative’s encounter with a famous person (Rekdal’s “The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee” may serve as a useful model). Write a family story in a voice other than your own. Think of a news story that has affected a family member. How does your family members involvement with, or reaction to, the news story affect your relationship with, or understanding of, that person?

Some things to keep in mind: • Develop your characters (sensory descriptions, characterization, voice/dialogue) and relationships. • Develop your scenes (movement, action, sensory description, settings). • Is there an implicit purpose? Does the piece express personal significance, but also communicate universal emotions, themes, etc? • Do the elements of the piece function both literally and symbolically? • Is the language metaphorical and/or lyrical at times? • Is it 3 – 4 pages in length (when typed and double-spaced)? • Per the conventions of Standard Written English (SWE), is it grammatically and syntactically sound? • Does the punctuation add style to the piece and conform to the conventions of SWE?

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ENG 288: Writing Stories

Fiction Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. – Anton Chekhov Over the course of the semester, you will submit two stories and one revision to your classmates and me for workshop critique. You are free to write a story about whatever you’d like—as long as it is literary fiction incorporating the elements. Each submitted draft is to be approximately 8 – 12 double-spaced pages in length. Please choose 12-point type in an easily readable font. Your name, the course number, the date, and story title (it must have a title) should appear on the first page. Please number your pages; this is necessary for workshopping. All drafts should always be proofed for grammatical and mechanical errors, spelling, awkward sentences, etc.

Elements of Story • • • • • • • • • • •

Showing and telling Characterization Dialogue Voice Point of view Conflict Plot Time Setting Theme Figurative language

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ENG 301: Writing for the Professions

Research and Writing about Professional Writing Assignment You will be conducting research, both primary and secondary, into writing in a specific profession and then using it to construct a formal report. The reason for the research: You would like to eventually create an organization (in the private or public sector) that can be modeled on the organization you are now researching (the one your interviewee works for). Use your imagination here if you have never thought of starting your own business.

Primary research You will conduct primary or “field research” and interview at least one member of a profession (more than one is allowed!) to learn about (1) the objectives and goals of writing within her/his organization, and (2) its writing culture (remember “professional writing” encompasses email, memos, web pages, newsletters, brochures, and/or reports, both formal and informal). You will want to ask questions that tell about the organization’s overall structure, and what its “writing culture” is. The structure includes the hierarchy of the organization, the chain of command, number of employees, various departments, etc. The writing culture entails challenges, benefits, and issues that writers and/or readers must deal with in order to communicate with the written word.

Secondary research You will also conduct secondary research to learn everything you can about the organization, including its writing culture—the needs, issues, and processes; and about professional writing in general, or specifically in the field or business your interviewee currently works in. Keep track of where you find these sources so you can cite them and list them in your references page. Collaborative Nature of Writing Tasks: Continuing the scenario consider me (your instructor) as your senior partner or team member collaborating with you and other team members to accomplish mutual goals; thus when you complete your report, we will help you fine-tune it by reviewing it and giving you suggestions for revision.

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Tasks and Experiences Involved: • • • • •

Conducting research in ASU libraries for academic resources Conducting field research: creating an interview protocol and conducting an interview Taking careful notes in the collection of primary and secondary data Using APA documentation, style, and formatting Collaborating with others to peer review writing

Additional Overview of WP1 Components Note: “Informal” means it does not need to be copy-edited or polished carefully—but it should always be read over before it is posted, even if it is informal, for higher order issues of meaning; “formal” means it must be carefully copy-edited. Informal research notes (posted first to BB Final Drafts for Grading) (a) document collection of data in ways that reveal sufficient primary and secondary data collection—i.e. date and summarize interviews, conversations, etc. in primary data collection; and cite and briefly summarize any secondary data collection; (b) provide the basis for claims to be made in the formal report Formal Report (posted first to BB Discussion Board for peer review; and second to BB Final Drafts for Grading) (a) front matter includes cover page, abstract, and table of contents; (b) body includes introduction, body with appropriate headings, conclusions/recommendations, and references page; (c) completion of research is evident with claims and conclusions clearly articulated and supported with adequate research; possible alternatives and opposition adequately addressed; (d) APA documentation of material is used carefully in the text, and in the references page; (e) back matter includes references page, and appendix if writing samples were provided by interviewee. Informal CAT (Classroom Assessment Tool; posted to BB Discussion Bd) (a) claims are made for each learning outcome that applies, or for each difficulty encountered with the assignment (b) substantial evidence is provided to back-up each claim ; (c) clear evidence of struggle, grappling with learning is presented.

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We Want Your Creative Work! Write On, Downtown!, is the journal of student writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The editors are seeking exemplary pieces of writing projects and creative works for its 2011 publication and conference.

What we’re looking for: •

Writing produced for any English class taken on the Downtown Phoenix campus during the spring or fall 2010 semesters. • First-year composition essays • Creative writing, any genre • Rhetorical writing • Literary analysis • Professional writing Multi-media or digital projects, such as Web sites and digital photography.

Submission Deadlines May 28, 2010 for your and Spring 2010 assignments

Dec 24, 2010 for your Fall 2010 assignments

Please send an electronic copy (or the URL if it is a Web site) of your submission to writeon@asu.edu. All photographs must be high resolution.

Your entry MUST include: 1) 2)

A cover page that includes: • your name. • the title of your paper. • the class you wrote it for. • your instructor’s name. Your paper. Please do not include your name on the paper itself.

Disclaimer: By filling out this form, you give the editors of the Write on, Downtown! publication

permission to copy edit and publish the paper named above in electronic or print media as part of the Write on, Downtown! publication and conference.


Write On, Downtown! A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus

Issue 4 April 2010 Editors-in-Chief Regina Clemens Fox Rosemarie Dombrowski

Editorial Board Belen Arriola Christine Camou LeeAnn DiSanti Myriam Hubbard Jennifer McCoy-Meshey Nathan Meacham Anthony Pomposelli Jessica VanZalen

Graphic Designer Deanna Johnson Mullican

Web Administrator Regina Clemens Fox

Cover Photograph Sean Deckert

Contributing Artists Ryan Wolf Sean Deckert

Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu


Acknowledgments The editors of Write-On, Downtown! would like to express our deepest gratitude to Fred Corey, dean of University College and director of the School of Letters and Sciences, for his continued support of our endeavors. Moreover, we’d like to acknowledge Kattina Famoso for planning the conference and luncheon and Deanna Johnson Mullican for creating the design of this year’s printed and electronic journals as well as arranging for their publication. Lastly, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to the director of Languages and Cultures, Dr. Barbara Lafford, whose support, encouragement, and direction has been invaluable to us over the past three years. We would also like to thank our wonderfully talented team of student editors whose participation and commitment helped create this year’s journal. Their editorial skills as well as their innovative ideas contributed greatly to the process as well as the final product, ultimately furthering the evolution of the publication. Finally, we’d like to thank all of the students who submitted their writing for this publication and who continue to make our teaching experiences on Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus some of the most positive and enjoyable of our careers.

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Introduction The Mission of the Project This fourth edition of Write-On, Downtown! is a publication of student writing and part of the Write On, Downtown! project at the Downtown Phoenix campus. The project has grown and now includes an electronic journal featuring multimedia writing projects and a conference where the published authors speak about their works. In 2007, the first year of the journal, our mission was to showcase exemplary writing produced at the Downtown Phoenix campus by students of all levels and across multiple genres. After three years of growth, the project has developed into a celebration of the teaching and learning of writing in a variety of media. The project as a whole fosters relationships between students, teachers, and tutors and goes beyond expectations of coursework, practicing valuable revision and editing skills that will prepare them for future professional and discipline-oriented writing endeavors. The quality of the 2009 journal superseded that of previous years, which has allowed us to market the project more effectively to publishers, two of which made offers to publish the journal as a “course reader,” a companion for textbooks to be used in English classes across the genres. We are very excited that the journal will be made available in English classes and in the ASU Bookstore in the coming semesters.

Sustainability through Grants The publication is growing in visibility and scope and we continue to encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity to be published and acknowledged by the university and the downtown Phoenix community. Accordingly, we are expanding the journal by publishing assignment prompts that correspond to the student essays, creating a journal that can be used as an effective teaching tool—inspiring both students and teachers. The e-journal and its printed counterpart serve as an example of how writing functions effectively in larger contexts, and gives students a more “real” audience and purpose for their writing. We hope to sustain this project with the financial support of grants and awards like the Women and Philanthropy grant that we received in 2009, which made the aesthetic and pedagogical evolution of the journal possible.

The Role of the Editorial Board The Write On, Downtown! project has grown to include an internship allowing student editors to participate in the creative and critical processes that are integral to journal production. Through the study of multiple genres of student writing, and of the pedagogy behind the teaching of writing, the editorial team and internship mentors determine the criteria by which submissions to the journal will be evaluated, selects exemplary and topically relevant pieces for inclusion, and edits each

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piece for publication. The student editors also provide valuable input regarding the layout and design of the journal. The team also contributes to the planning and execution of the Write On, Downtown! conference.

Reflection on Evolution and Efficacy The project was first conceived of as a way for students to tangibly experience self-efficacy, so they could carry such experiences into their lives beyond college. It was designed to provide a foundation for a life of success and learning. Now that the project is in its fourth year, we have received feedback from a few of our students whose works were published and who participated in the conference. This has allowed us to see the positive impact the project has had on studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lives. Adam Juel, author and presenter from our inaugural year recently sent a note saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Write On, Downtown! provided a way for me to be part of something unique and lasting. It also gave me renewed confidence in my writing abilities.â&#x20AC;? Muriel Tataw, author and presenter from 2009, has visited several English classes in the semesters following the event to tell other students about the positive impact the experience has had on her life as a student at the Downtown Phoenix campus. She will again participate in the 2010 conference. Though this feedback is informal, it is valuable and validates our mission and purpose. Our future goal is to conduct research, document the impact the project has on our students, and test our hypothesis that recognizing students writing accomplishments publicly enables students to improve self-efficacy. We look forward to accomplishing that goal in the year ahead, and to building our relationship as collaborators in the success of our students.

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photo by Ryan Wolf

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Contents Investigation Publishing’s Industry.com: Can and Should the Print Publishing Industry Survive in an Internet Age? by Victoria Morrow

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script by Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

15

The Subtext of a Text by Lauren Dingess

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking: Modern Day Technology’s Effect on Academia by Cortney Bennett

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Opinion Gay Adoption by Victoria Bain

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Death Penalty’s Deterrence by Jennifer Spaude

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Organizational Communication The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best by Tim Nguyen

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Communication in the Workplace: A Study on the Importance of Writing Workshops by Myriam Hubbard

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Argumentation The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick by Madison Rogers

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The Drug Wars in Mexico by Mariana Roman

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The Teenage Materialism Complex in America by Alex Reese

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Reflection Proof by Manny Santellano

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Let’s Get Married Soon by Grace Thornton

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My Year with Donna by Gina Bompartito

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A Guinean’s American Dream by Mariama Bah

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The Fine Art of Shelling by Jill Johnson

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My Mom’s Youth by Thuy Pham

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The Rocket Ship (Fiction) by Wayne Schutsky

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Assignment Prompts WAC 101: Intro to Academic Writing

Writing to Share Experiences: The American Dream Narrative

ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Share Experiences Writing to Persuade Writing to Explore: News Talk Show

ENG 102: First Year Composition

Part 1 of 2: Exploring: Legitimizing a Social Problem Part 2 of 2: Proposing a Solution Arguing Value Arguing Crisis

ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Using Artifacts as Catalysts for Creative Non-Fiction Personal Writing with Universal or Historical Implications: The Fine Art of the Essay Writing the Spiritual or Philosophical: Autobiography Writing the Family

ENG 288: Writing Stories Fiction

ENG 301: Writing for the Professions

Research and Writing about Professional Writing

108 110 111 112 114 115 116 118 120 121 122 124 125 126


photo by Ryan Wolf


Investigation

These pieces explore the complexity of an issue through the investigation of multiple angles of a relevant and timely issue, demonstrating the critical understanding and synthesis of secondary research.


Publishing’s Future.com: Can and Should the Print Publishing Industry Survive in an Internet Age? by Victoria Morrow

Browsing my local Barnes & Noble bookseller, it seems there is no shortage of the paperback published written word these days. Literature seems to be a dime a dozen with shelves upon shelves of bestsellers. Yet, out of all of these purported “bestsellers”—romance serials, cookbooks and thriller genre books, actual avantgarde—one is hard-pressed to find groundbreaking literature. Print publishers are facing a crisis, one that began at some point about a decade after the dawn of the television set, and one that has only been exacerbated by the presence of the Internet and the American assumption that if information isn’t hyper-fast and Tweet-length, it isn’t worth devoting attention to. The visual age of YouTube and MTV has left publishing companies employing mostly genre-fiction authors who churn out cookie-cutter romance novels and crime mysteries and prove lucrative. The publishing crisis is twofold: reading, quite possibly, has become passé in an age of so many distractions and consequently does not draw in the profits print publishing companies need to stay afloat. Literature is a form that explores the human condition and questions the very purpose of existence and is easily outsold by genre fiction that can be made or have been transformed into blockbuster movie deals. Yet, the less literature is published and marketed, the less people have a chance to purchase and support literary efforts and talents. Thus a vicious cycle is perpetuated where the economic downfall of the publishing industry can be directly associated with the lack of literary talent popularized in the past few decades. Modern-day neglected literary talents need a home, and publishing companies need a future in a digital age that becomes less and less interested in bestsellers day by day. With the rise of the Internet, it seems literature will only become more antiquated and publishing companies will have to continue sacrificing true talent for profit. Ironically, it is the online medium that (if utilized correctly) could reinvent both literature and the publishing business. By re-sparking the flame of interest in reading and appealing to the heightened tastes for convenience, technology, and hipness now possessed by consumers, the Internet has the capacity to make reading, particularly that of literature, profitable and popular again.

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Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

The New York Times article “Serving Literature by the Tweet,” (2009) describes how the economically spawned publishing crisis is harmful to new or unknown literary voices seeking publication (Lee). Paraphrasing Scott Lindenbaum, the article explains, “writers complain that they drown in the great middle between the mega-sellers like Dan Brown and the avant-garde work produced in small quantities.” Lindenbaum, an editor for an online quarterly literary magazine, is hoping to build a pulpit for those authors struggling to stay afloat in an age where publishers are attracted only to blockbuster book deals. His site, electricliterature.com, pays authors around $1,000 to produce short stories it hopes will appeal to a modern, busy audience. Online subscribers pay a fee of $24 per issue, and that’s how the site makes its profit. Sites like Electric Literature provide a unique and progressive outlet for literary authors finding it difficult to find a print publisher. While the site says it is difficult “to get enough subscribers so the venture is self-sustaining,” it incorporates a number of social-networking outlets like Facebook and YouTube to spread and market its products. With advertising that is free and highly effective in targeting today’s online consumer—most particularly the next generation of readers—Electric Literature provides a palpable model for how new literary talent can showcase their work. It is a model struggling big-name publishing companies can adopt in an effort to reverse the economic loss the industry has felt since the seventies or eighties. Plus, not only does a site like Electric Literature provide an outlet for existing unpublished literature, but it creates a form of its own—one brief and compelling enough to attract an audience ruled by text-message-length information blurbs rather than novel-length delivery of information. The site offers excerpts of the five stories featured in its current online issue. One, titled “The Slough” by Pasha Malla, is as brief as “‘I should probably tell you,’ she said, swallowing coffee. ‘I’m about to lose my skin.’” The preview is poetic enough to stand on its own. As Tweeters submit customer-created reviews to Electric Literature’s Twitter page, raving over Malla’s short story or any of the other four accompanying the current issue, the desire to subscribe is undeniable. The process of contributing to sites like Electric Literature as well as the consumption of these site’s content feels “indie” or independent and creator-generated, yet simultaneously finished and legitimate, appealing to a modern audience looking for something innovative. Juris Dilevko and Keren Dali, who are affiliated with the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Ontario, describe the crisis as one that has come about throughout the years, “as traditional mainstream publishers consolidated and were often loathe to take chances on unknown writers whose books might not turn immediate profits, some authors found that fewer and fewer publishing venues were open to them” (Dilevko, 2006). Were the ease of accessibility of computer published and marketed literature embraced by the mainstream print publishing world, promotion as well as production costs would be much lower. If big-name publishers were to adopt this method of book distribution for its literary clients, then profits would increase and costs would be minimized, along with an increase in the satisfaction and appeal of housing a variety of authors, spanning from bestsellers to Pulitzer Prize winners, to those who accomplish both. 11


Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

Electric Literature is far from being the only site that offers an opportunity for literary artists to share and showcase their work. Sites like iUniverse and the teentargeted InkPop allow for authors to upload manuscripts, poems, and, in some cases, photography. iUniverse, a site that describes itself as an alternative for “authors who are unable to break into the highly exclusive world of traditional publishing or who don’t have the time or resources to do it all themselves,” makes a profit—not off the books its authors publish, but off the services it offers to authors trying to self-publish. Self-publishing utilizing the Internet is still in its early stages, but the profit for both author and host-site look promising as the shift from paper page to Web page is more concrete (“What Advantages,” 2010). Currently, however, most authors use these sites in hopes of being scouted by a professional publisher and eventually having their books printed, which remains the pinnacle of literary success despite the growing popularity of the Internet. With the implementation of the e-book and Amazon’s wireless reading device the Kindle, that hasn’t changed. It is no accident that the most popular digital books are also those teetering atop print bestseller lists, as popular digital books are typically print published works stored in digital form. If the online arena is playing host to the same discriminate, profitdriven publishing companies responsible for ignoring less-lucrative budding talent, or is too focused on publishing online versions of pre-existing, already-popular, print-published books, won’t literary voices get swallowed by this giant sea too? In an age of technology and an addiction to information consumption, the more variety and choice an audience has, the better. Experimental, postmodern, or new literature—like genre fiction—has a specific and targeted audience. Just as Stephen King or James Patterson may not appeal to all readers, neither do James Joyce or Salman Rushdie. Publishing companies working in the print industry can only take on so many authors due to the escalating costs of manufacturing and marketing a new book, and these companies—understandably—function in a way that maximizes profit, even if that means favoring a profitable genre-fiction author over a more talented literary one. Economically, publishers are struggling to sell books, which leads to their having to discriminate between authors they feel will make money as opposed to those they feel have fresh and legitimate talent. The Internet, with its limitless space and boundless opportunity allows publishing companies to embrace a wide array of voices, and at much lower costs by cutting out the cost of manufacturing and distribution. Were publishers to embrace the online forum in order to sell the books they adopt, a greater variety of literary voices could be showcased, as more consumers would take part in the process of reading and sharing in a forum large enough to encompass all interests, from thriller to nonfiction, literature and Harlequin romances. However, until print publishers embrace the Web, the quality of online content is skeptical to some readers. Print publishing companies, apart from making books available to the masses, reassure people that what they are reading is of quality enough to make it through the extensive reviews traditional companies employ. Despite the economic woes of print publishing

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Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

companies, there exists among both literary as well as academic and genre fiction circles an overwhelming assumption that a book is not quality unless approved by someone at Random House or HarperCollins. As Jemimah Noonoo (n.d.) of the Houston Chronicle puts it, “… there’s the stigma. If a book is any good, the thinking goes, why can’t the author find anyone to publish it? Traditionally, literary agents have been entrusted with weeding out the bad stuff. Without that vetting processing, many people assume that self-published work is substandard.” If publishing industries were to embrace the Web-format and lend their names to online distribution and promotion methods, the standards of print publishing could apply to online published material, assuring consumers that the online material is of legitimate quality. From news articles to Facebook pictures, one of the predominate uses of the Web have come to not only display or communicate information one way, but to allow for feedback or commentary creating a two-way conversation. If publishing companies were to move to an online forum format, and allow for both clients as well as consumers to engage in a relationship, one that would appeal to new, nontraditional consumers and perhaps even attract a new generation into readership via the Web. When given the ability to discuss and recommend books online, readers feel more intimately connected with the books they purchase and love. This model has already been proven successful by booksellers like Amazon.com, which generates a recommendation for what a particular customer might like to read based on their purchasing habits. Online book groups like booktalk.org give readers a space to feel as if they are part of a community. If publishers were to fully embrace the Web, they could create new, social-media-fueled spaces for communication, promotion, and essentially consumption and would make money off both advertising as well as subscription fees or fees for full e-book access to books. Yet, some publishers are realizing what it will take to survive as a physical industry in a new digitally dominated era. Publishing powerhouse HarperCollins has recently created authonomy.com, an online space to publish work and get it scouted by online readers, enticing a new generation of Internet consumers to a print publishing company that has existed for over 190 years. The move to the Web is an inevitable move for those publishers who want to survive the next decade, but in order to truly save reading, it has to be done correctly. Novels and literature are losing their appeal as consumers are drawn towards online forms of entertainment and information, and authors who have been neglected as a result of publishing houses’ lack of funds have turned to the Web only to find that online audiences are skeptical of the legitimacy of straight-to-Internet authors. Every component of what an online print publisher would need to successfully reinvent itself using the Web exists, but it has yet to be harnessed and utilized by most print publishers. HarperCollins’ authonomy.com and smaller independent Web sites are leading the way to finding new and appealing ways to reach a dwindling market that is less versed in Shakespeare than HTML. Authonomy’s motto is

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Publishing’s Future.com Victoria Morrow

“we’re on a mission to flush out the brightest, freshest new writing talent around,” and its online home provides the space and accessibility to do just that, all the while allowing its creator, HarperCollins, to not only survive but thrive in a world dominated by computers (2009). The solution to the publishing crisis in the midst of the Internet already exists: The solution is the Internet itself.

References

Authonomy. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.authonomy.com BookTalk. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.booktalk.org Dilevko, J., & Dali, K. (2006). The self-publishing phenomenon and libraries. Library & Information Science Research (07408188). Retrieved from EBSCOhost. iUniverse. (2009). What advantages do you have when you publish with iUniverse? Retrieved from http://iuniverse.com Lee, Felicia R. (2009). Serving literature by the tweet, electric literature magazine offers fiction in new media. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Noonoo, J. (n.d.). Houston Chronicle: A revolution for writers. Retrieved from http://www.authorsolutions.com

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script by Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Andrew: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Today, on Inconvenient News, I, Stephen Colbert, will moderate a debate, and by moderate I mean throw my two-cents in as frequently as possible; I learned it from the best: Papa Bear O’ Reilly himself, between two scientists, one republican and one democrat, one crazy conservative radio personality (who’s probably high on pain killers right now), and a liberal personality, who flew here on a private jet and was then escorted from the airport in a Hummer H2. Everyone here agrees that the earth is getting warmer; the question is “what is causing the warming, and what will the consequences be?” So with that, let’s begin. “It’s getting hot in here because of carbon emissions, so take off all your clothes,” I’m Stephen Colbert, and this is Inconvenient News! **play music** Andrew: While there has been some evidence to support rising CO2 levels, some scientists believe that there is not enough data to prove that the increased CO2 levels are significant enough to say that they are in fact rising due to man-made causes, what is your position on that? Ian: While some may bicker and argue that, ‘oh global warming is a myth, global warming is just a natural occurrence, etc. etc.,’ the question is, can we afford to ignore it until every single person can agree on it? Global warming is a serious threat and if we just stand around arguing on whether it’s natural or not, by the time we all agree on something it is going to be too late. CO2 is not the only cause of global warming either, a report titled ‘Combined Effects of Urbanization and Global Warming on Subsurface Temperature in Four Asian Cities’ shows clear evidence that urbanization is heating up the underground water supply. While this doesn’t sound very harmful, the increased heat is causing bacteria to build up and is now a breeding ground for all sorts of infections and diseases waiting to be released unto the population. My point here is that just because some people think there is not enough ‘evidence’ to be 100 percent sure that the CO2 levels are rising, it does not mater. We need to take action now.

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Tavis: The facts are all that matter. This is a case and point of what all liberals believe. They try to make it sound like global warming will destroy humanity if not addressed. The fact is we are in a cycle of cooling and heating and the CO2 levels are normal. The variable CO2 levels in the atmosphere are normal. There is not enough evidence to support the myth that we are doing all this harm, and the liberals know that. That is why they try to lead people off on the little studies about how heating from cities is causing bacteria to build up and oh no … it is going to hurt people. That is not the question good sir. We must get the facts before taking drastic measures to stop CO2 buildup. The world’s economy is far too unstable to be thinking about ruining many developing nations economies. Andrew: Well, apparently our conservative talk show host feels that the warming is as natural as conservatives hating liberals. So, how do you explain the abnormal high amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere? John: Well, I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that statistically more CO2 has been found in the atmosphere. That is simply factual and can be proven with science. However, the cause is where the real debate begins. Change is normal in an ecosystem. Our world has gone through stages, and since the ice age, the world has been heating up. Temperature is bound to change and humans are bound to adapt. I don’t think you can really explain any reasoning for the CO2 other than natural change of the earth. Haris: I blame humans. Ever since the industrial revolution in Britain, we’ve been warned that carbon emissions will cause the planet to heat up. That is exactly what’s happening now. Carbon gasses are being trapped in the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. The heat is unable to escape the atmosphere, and we’re seeing increases in temperature. Large factories are also the cause of this problem. Their factories emit large amounts of carbon emissions that not only pollute the air, but get trapped in the atmosphere and heat the planet up. Tavis: There is not enough evidence to support any myth on global warming. As I have said before, the planet has a natural heating and cooling cycle. Part of this cycle includes that natural build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as shown by a recent noteworthy study. Accordingly, humans do not have any major affect on the build up. Show me the evidence that says that this is not just a natural affect of the heating and cooling cycles. Ian: CO2 doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Something needs to produce it and the producer is humans. It’s not a coincidence that, as humans continue to develop and grow, the CO2 levels are on the rise. The continuous urbanization is the cause of the increased CO2 levels. ‘Observational Constraints on Past Attributable Warming and Predictions of Future Global Warming,’ an article written by a team of climate scientists, proves that the increase in CO2 is a direct cause of rising 16


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

temperature. The fact that this was published three years ago means that CO2 was rising even then, so what is happening now? We need to take action to prevent even further damage. Andrew: Well, conservative scientist, how can you prove that the rising temperature is due to natural causes and is just a trend that has been supported by historical data? John: I would agree, I think that if you look at the statistical reasoning, the world heats up due to natural causes. It is an amazing feat that our atmosphere alone is a self sustaining system, free of any other natural factors. Historical data is a very large part of this process by looking at medieval times. Consider this, our earth was once a place completely covered with frozen land and icebergs. However, a few hundred years later, the earth was one of the most fertile and habitable places in the universe. How is that explained other than natural cooling and heating cycles. Back in the day, there were no SUV’s or aerosol cans, it was simply humans and the natural way of the earth. This data alone proves the natural cycles are actually helpful to our development and not detrimental. Haris: I would disagree. We have models that show that temperatures in this century are increasing faster and higher than these natural rises in temperature. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that temperatures have risen to more than double in the last 50 years than they have in the last century. In addition, global warming is a complicated process. NASA scientists believe that while the Earth may be cooling off at some period, global warming has many stages, including a cooling off period, but we’re not out of the water. Global surface temperature is expected to rise between two to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in the 21st century. Carbon emissions are the cause of our problems, not natural occurrences because carbon gasses are being trapped in the atmosphere creating a greenhouse effect. This is not a natural cause, but one caused by humans. Andrew: So we agree that there is a natural cooling off and heating up cycle. There’s higher CO2 levels, and warmer temperatures than before. Your argument is that we are in a natural cycle, but there is evidence stating that we have already surpassed the natural heating cycle and the temperature continues to rise. How do you explain that? Tavis: I would say that this is a misinterpreted study. The planet is in its natural cycle. As pointed out in a study published in the international weekly journal of Science; The “global warming” prediction models are not correct and do not take into account many of the millions of variables required to make the prediction. How many have liberal scientists skipped?! I want to see facts, not useless speculation gentlemen. The United States and the world as a whole can not afford to devote so much to something we know so little about. The natural cycles have been going on 17


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

forever. As we know, the earth has been covered by ice and has given way to very warm weather. We do not have the evidence that says these high record temperature are out of the norm. This could simply just be one of the warmer heating cycles in many. Ian: We cannot overlook the fact that we are warming up no matter how little people may make it out to be. I can not stress enough the importance of taking action now before events spiral out of control and can not be repaired. Climate scientist M.L. Khandekar and his team published a report, The Global Warming Debate: A Review of the State of Science that proves that the Earth is warmer than it should be, one way or another. Sure it may be only a few degrees at a time but it is beginning to add up and sets off a chain reaction that we may not be able to contain in future years. While the Earth may go through climate cycles we have exceeded what that ‘rise’ should be and we continue to rise. I am not saying humans need to stop expanding and growing, but rather we need to find alternative methods that are less harmful to do so. John: While the peculiar nature of the heating during a cooling cycle statement is evident. I would stress to say that, by acknowledging the existence of the cycles, what’s to say that this is simply a short sustained oddity that will eventually figure itself out. You cannot speak for the future, but you can reference the past, and as stated earlier, the past proves to support the natural-cycle argument. Andrew: You previously mentioned devastating effects of global warming. What do you predict are the effects of global warming? Haris: Well, for starters, let’s talk about the polar ice caps melting. Both the South Pole and North Pole are seeing their ice caps melt the last few years and snow cover has decreased in these regions as well. Not only is this destroying the living environment of many species in the area, like polar bears, penguins, and others that depend on the ice, but sea levels are rising because of the melting ice caps. The Arctic has seen such a decrease in ice that the Northwestern Passage between Russia and Europe is now considered open water. Sure, this opens up another shipping route, but ice melting and increasing sea levels in the area is detrimental. In Greenland, ice is quickly melting, leaving not only animals, but humans unable to find food. Ice hunters in the area have less than a month now to hunt for food for their families with the decreased ice pack compared to the three months they had prior to global warming concerns. Hurricanes are getting stronger with the increased levels of ocean temperatures, not to mention global warming is messing with weather patterns to begin with. John: While the ice caps melting on both the North and South poles may prove useless, bear in mind the benefits of ice removal actually can help the world. Melting certain ice passages can actually open up new trade shipping routes in the 18


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

northern part of Russia and Canada that save fuel, time, and money. Also, areas that have since been uninhabited by ice coverage, will now melt and can possibly become habitable for animals and maybe even humans. A large percentage of the country of Russia is not livable due to ice coverage. If the ice melted over time, it could lead to many possibilities of expansion. Andrew: Liberals say we’re gonna die, and conservatives want Russia to prosper. Where does global warming fall on the list of the American public’s priorities? John: Where does it fall, and where should it fall are two separate questions. Through media hype and other general scare tactics, the issue may land high on the list. However, in the grand scheme of things, Americans should be focusing more on other problems like the recession and the war. If we run ourselves into nuclear warfare, or diminish the world’s economy so much that it becomes unlivable, it will not matter what the temperature on the earth is, because we will all be dead. All the stress is on irreversible damage done to the atmosphere. If that is true, then why would we waste our time trying to fix something that simply can’t be fixed? Ian: Global warming is not a short term thing; its not going to go away if we just cover our eyes and ears and go ‘blah, blah, blah, I can’t hear you global warming,’ so we have to think of the future. America contributes one of the highest emission rates in the world and this simply must change, we have to change our ways if we want to continue to live on a habitable planet. If we don’t start acting even more now it will cost even more time and money to fix later. There is no reason why we should not be developing ways to make a cleaner Earth right now, passing legislation to force businesses to cut down on harmful emissions. Every day we waste, it is going to cost us more in the future and that is not a risk I am willing to take. Andrew: Due to the increase in awareness of global warming, a push has been made to enact legislation regarding global warming, do you feel that global warming should be addressed in the form of government policy? Haris: The Obama Administration has already introduced global warming policies into government with the American Clean Energy and Security Act that Congress passed earlier this year. The environment has been addressed in government policy since the 1970s with the Clean Air Act. What Congress needs to do is cap off the total amount of carbon emissions as they have done, but make them stricter for this time and age. Obama is already working on curtailing carbon emissions with his “cap and trade” system of giving rewards to companies who cut their total carbon emissions into the atmosphere and encouraging them to work on new technology to reduce emissions. Those that continue to purchase and trade these allowances will see increases in their expenses. By passing this bill and encouraging companies to reduce emissions, and others to work on new technology for the future, Obama

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

has already introduced global warming into government policy. This not only benefits the nation, but if the United States is willing to step up to the plate in reducing global warming, other countries can follow suit in order to fix this mess we have created.

Tavis: Sure we can do everything we want to help clean the air. Even if the heating and cooling cycles were being changed by the human greenhouse gas contribution, the United States of America is the least of the problems. As pointed out recently in Time International (Asian Edition); The developing nations like China and many others are the main contributors to the CO2 output of the world. The United States has done enough in my opinion, and at this time we cannot risk the future of our country on something that has yet to be proven. Andrew: Global warming is a global problem, do you feel that intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations should enact global policy? Ian: Global warming is not an American problem, it is a global problem. The countries of the world need to work together in order to guarantee that we do not destroy ourselves. What the U.S. can do is to set examples for other countries to follow and to put pressure on them to introduce environmental policies of their own. Already we have several policies in place to prevent unnecessary greenhouse gasses from being emitted but in the future this might not be enough. We need to put more funding into researching means to make things more environmentally friendly; cleaner ways of producing products as well as ways to keep cities cooler. Americans alone cannot stop global warming, however, we need to cooperate with other countries in order to make sure that we do not cause irreversible damage to our environment. John: Who are you to say that just because Americans try and change something, the world will follow suit? The most polluted city in the world, Mexico City, is on the verge of being overrun by drug cartels and have numerous economic problems. Not only are the residents of Mexico City unfit to think about global warming at this point, but they probably have no intentions to change their way of life either. It is ignorant to think that just because American’s decide to change their ways, the world will follow exactly in line and the world will somehow work as one. Haris: Well it’s not called “global warming” for nothing. We’re facing a global issue here, because the United States is not the only country that emits carbon emissions on this planet. You have China who surpassed us this year in carbon emissions. Now they’re regulating their carbon emissions, but it’s not so easy in the United States with the freedoms we have. We’ve already seen this issue in American politics, and it’ll have a bigger presence in the future. In December, there is a United Nations Summit to address carbon emissions again. What Congress did a couple of months ago with Obama’s backing was pass the Cap and Trade system legislation. 20


Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Not only is that in place to regulate the environment, but it’s also there to provide an example for the global community that Americans are serious about global warming, and ready to bring change. Tavis: I think that now when the country needs it most we must focus on our economy and that of the world. Many countries do not have the economic means to do anything but use carbon emitting power and cars. In recent studies we have found that China depends in a major way on technology that requires carbon emitting fuels. If we were to force them to stop their ways it would backtrack their economic growth significantly. Andrew: In regards to policy, is it more important to try and repair past damage? Or prevent future damage? Tavis: In my opinion there is no damage done. The Earth has been cooling and heating long before the human race started pumping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The amount of gas that we have contributed cannot be held responsible for the heating of the Earth. The heating will one day start to change to cooling and a “little ice age” will form again. The cycle will continue and the Earth will go on as normal. Show me some hard facts and I will tell you what we should do. Till then we can not afford to devote so much to something we know little about. Ian: In a way, preventing future damage is essentially repairing past damages. What’s done has been done and we need to focus on ways to prevent the temperature from rising because of humans. If we spend too much time trying to repair past damages we could be letting more harm happen then we would fix. Replacing a factory that produces greenhouse gases with a newer and cleaner one is not only fixing past damages but also is taking steps towards preventing damage that would be caused by the factory in the first place. The important thing is that we start cutting down on harmful emissions and start doing it now. Andrew: Where do we go from here as a nation? What exactly do we do? John: We go this way. My opposition has made it very clear that “damage” has already been caused and we’re at a standstill with irreversible damage. So why worry? If we know that despite all our efforts, the damage will still remain, then why spend millions of dollars and years of time on something that cannot be replaced. Americans and the citizens of the world need to focus on problems that actually can be controlled like the global economic crisis. These are problems that are actually fixable. What the nation needs to do is stop buying into the negativity of the liberal media, educate themselves, and realize this issue that has been completely blown out of proportion, is actually one giant scare tactic by liberal media and politicians.

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Inconvenient News: A Talk Show Script Ian Blake, Tavis McDonald, John Spataro, Haris Heldic

Ian: The best way to fix a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place, unfortunately we have already missed the boat with global warming but there is still time. We must take measures to prevent global warming from getting out of control and must contain the problem before we are unable to do anything and therefore will suffer on it. As I mentioned before we need to get the nations of the world to work together and pass laws and regulations that limit the amount of harmful emissions, design new technologies to prevent further environmental damage, and plan our growth so we are sure that we do not cause harm that could be irreversible in the future. Tavis: The only way to go is how we have been. The nation needs to focus on true problems that are of greater importance right now. The economy and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to stop going off on random tangents of little importance. Once we have fixed problems that need fixing we can do much needed research on the subject of global warming and see what is the true problem and how it can be fixed. I am sure that the findings will be that we are just in a natural cooling and heating cycle that will continue forever. Till then God bless Texas and the United States of America. Thank you. Haris: As a nation I think it’s time we put politics aside, and realize that what we have on our hands is not a domestic issue, but a global issue. The planet is warming up, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, we are experiencing a global phenomenon that we need to address together as a nation. We need to continue to impose restrictions on carbon emissions, by rewarding companies who push for greener technology, and fine those companies who continue to push the envelope. In addition, this country needs to make investments in new technology. If state governments or companies are not willing to provide funds, I think it should be the federal governments duty to fund these projections. We have done it before, and we can certainly do it again. Andrew: Nation, we have seen four ‘experts’ go at it for approximately 15 minutes. And honestly, I’m blown away by how little has been accomplished. Papa Bear O’ Reilly would be so proud. We had two expert scientists, and two expert cry-babies go at it, yet they have left the two viewers who even watched this debate more confused and more apathetic towards global warming. So congratulations fellas, next time, waste Jon Stewart’s airtime with this boring debate, I have an Emmy to win. Good night!

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The Subtext of a Text by Lauren Dingess

Every Friday afternoon, I suffer through the drone and moan of a chemistry lecture dribbling from the mouth of my seasoned professor. Fight the urge, I tell myself. But in the end, I know I can’t resist; I cannot wait until after class. I slide open my second generation Verizon Chocolate and fervently begin to touch each smooth, red key. I am addicted to the thrill of sending a secret message at inappropriate times—I am addicted to the warm vibration of receiving a message in return. I am addicted to the speed and dexterity it takes to type on a Barbie-sized keyboard. Yes, I am addicted to texting. Aren’t we all? The question here is why? When the news is flooded with stories warning the dangers of cell-phone usage, why do we text our neighbor to ask if they have heard the same? Why are we all so infatuated with this “instant” communication that really isn’t very instant at all? Is a tool designed to enhance our lives beginning to hinder them instead? Commercial text messaging was first introduced in 1995, and within ten years, according to AAA, car crashes related to cell phone use increased by over fortypercent, and eighteen states have passed text-messaging bans for drivers (“AAA Aims,” 2009). Not only has texting began to hinder our ability to drive, walking down the street has now become a safety hazard too. CNN reporter Jeanne Moos (2009) covered the story of a fifteen-year-old girl from New York who fell six feet into a manhole while texting; other interviewees admitted they had run into poles, tree branches, and oncoming traffic. Still, there’s always an excuse: “I was checking a date,” or, “I was in a hurry,” but the facts stand firm—people have lost the ability to distinguish appropriate times and places for communication. Texting is the new bad habit. True, the original intention for text messages was to create a tool for convenient conversation. Through rose-colored glasses, it allows users to integrate communication into their daily routines rather than being interrupted by it. But research has suggested that multitasking, in this or any form, may actually be causing long-term damage to the brain (Tamkins, 2009). It seems that more and more, people prefer a text message to a live conversation. Perhaps it has helped in facilitating personal growth—the anonymity factor 23


The Subtext of a Text Lauren Dingess

may allow users to open up or offer more truthful responses. I know that even I hide behind typed words when circling the terrain of an uncomfortable or controversial topic. There was a time when I averaged six thousand text messages per month (an excessive number, to say the least). I felt invincible. I could say virtually anything and rest assured that I would be safe from any adverse repercussions. There was no obligation to read a reply, no dread of a physical reaction, no real reason to worry. I held the power. I could control the outcome of each conversation according to my current desires. But what does that say about our character? Rip down all those motivational posters, kids—we have officially entered into a realm of cowardice and meekness. Despite my superhuman mentality, I knew that my relationships were feigned beyond recognition. Slowly, I had retreated into physical solitude because group settings became uncomfortably quiet. I began to realize that I had lost the ability to converse in person with those I texted the most: people I had previously considered my closest friends. I was no longer outspoken because I was not actually speaking. I felt like a cavewoman; I may have been able to write a strong, educated opinion, but I could not verbally prove my intelligence. The most embarrassing part was that I knew how avoidable such a state could have been—relying on text messages was, and still is, an unnecessary crutch. One must also take into account the possibility of abuse. A friend once scurried up to me in the hallway nearly overflowing with the latest morning gossip. Apparently a classmate of ours who had been losing a lot of weight recently had a “confirmed” case of bulimia. The source? A series of text messages claiming witness to the condition, a modern day version of the telephone game. As it turned out, the girl was diagnosed with leukemia, and the chemotherapy treatments were responsible for her sickly behavior and appearance. She originally wanted to keep her condition private, yet she was so mortified by the rumors being spread that she felt obligated to tell the truth. All it takes is one mass text to everyone in a person’s contact list that gets forwarded blindly to dilute the truth. People can be cruel, often times unintentionally, especially when it comes to creating and spreading rumors. Texting has made this process even more of an intense threat—whereas once it could have taken days to spread a rumor across a high school campus, now it can happen within a matter of minutes. Language is complex in any culture, but some of the most revered idols in history have been the greatest public speakers. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” was one of the most influential events in the civil rights movement; not only was the script of his speech well written, but also the delivery was almost just as important in creating such a powerful impact. That effect is lost through texting. There is no way to detect tone or sincerity when presented with just the words. We need to pursue other venues for personal expression before we lose the ability, or at this rate, possibly the will to verbalize our opinions.

24


The Subtext of a Text Lauren Dingess

Because most text messages have been confined to about 160 characters, it has become common to abbreviate many words or phrases, such as “LOL” for “laugh out loud,” or “TTYL” meaning “talk to you later.” However, the tendency to abbreviate has gone through a metamorphosis over the years. Once used to maximize space and efficiency, it has become an obsession and an outlet for laziness. As a prospective English teacher, I have often wondered about how I will teach my future students the difference between homophones like “your” and “you’re,” but lately I worry that it will become acceptable to substitute the SMS (short message service) version of the words (“ur”) into academic writing. Many students could not care less about the rules of spelling and grammar, partly because they are sometimes tricky and partly because the majority of their writing is via technology, a place where style is sacrificed for speed. I am not fully opposed to texting. I admit there are times when it is more convenient or more appropriate than a phone call or in person interaction. Consolidating pagers and mobile phones into one device is certainly an appreciated convenience. The main concern is that it is engulfing not only traditional language, but also the quality of human communication. How can a person ensure through a text that the tone—and, indirectly, the intention—is not misconstrued? How can one properly emphasize an important point? How can one be positive a text’s intended audience is the audience it actually reaches? A written message will never replace the warmth of bodies pressed together in a hug; “LOL” will never replace that twinkle in the eye of a person doubled over in laughter; an emoticon will never replace the thrill on a person’s face after a satisfying surprise. There are over fifty muscles in the human face that work together to create an infinite number of expressions. With only 26 letters in the alphabet and 160 characters per text, one is bound to fall short of true emotion. What is the subtext of a text? It says that we are lazy; it says that we are apathetic about our education. It says that we are avoidant; it says that we do not value each other’s company. It says that we are minimalists. It says that we are impatient. Does it say that we are dissatisfied with reality? Perhaps it says we have forgotten what reality is; perhaps it says that we have created an alternate reality that negates the original. Perhaps it is time for us to return from this fabricated reality and embrace the world with two arms instead of two thumbs. Perhaps it is time to be more creative in our expression, time to own our words with confidence. IDK. Does that sound 2EZ? MayB there’s N2M we can do. 2M2H 4 us peeps LOL. O well. GTG. TTYL!

References

AAA News & Safety. (Sept. 25, 2009). AAA aims to ban texting while driving. Retrieved from http://www.aaaaz.com Moos, J. (2009, July 14). [video]. Texting accidents: running into posts, tangled in dog leashes. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com Tamkins, T. (2009, August 25). Drop that BlackBerry! Multitasking may be harmful. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking: Modern Day Technologyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Effect on Academia by Cortney Bennett

It is a phenomenon that students have been doing since before they knew they could get away with it: putting off important schoolwork. Once they made the discovery that they could scrape by with last-ditch efforts, they mastered the art of it. Leisure took way over priority tasks, Internet and cell phone capabilities advanced at unfathomable rates, and procrastination evolved tenfold. It stealthily slipped its way into mid-term papers, final exam scantrons, quarterly projects, and the everyday classroom. Technology currently allows students to gain access to concise and specific information they instantly and temporarily need. To close up the loopholes that modern-day technology allows procrastinators to slip through, state governments need to develop more rigorous curriculums that enforce time management and true understandings of the material being taught. Students procrastinate for a number of known and unknown reasons. Research has found that the delaying of academic work can root itself in the following categories: behavioral problems, cognitive problems, motivational problems, addictions, and personality disorders (Ferrari, Lay, Pychyl, & Schouwenberg, 2004). The most common type of procrastination in academia is behavioral, where the student makes a conscious decision to do something other than study (Ferrari et al., 2004). This distinguishes the difference between students who are less capable of managing time (i.e. those with disorders such as ADHD) and students who possess the ability to efficiently get work done. Behavioral procrastinators tend to reject studying because they weigh their options between the attractiveness of their rewards (which may seesaw depending on the immediate situation, present company, deadlines, etc.) between leisure and studying (Groenewoud & Schouwenberg, 2000). They are â&#x20AC;&#x153;impulsive and weak in self-controlâ&#x20AC;? (Lee, 2005). With lack of discipline in time management, from both their selves and outside influences, students get lost in the cycle of pushing aside work and diving into fun. As many have experienced, the fun and games catch up when pupils find themselves scrambling at the last minute to crank out their assignments. 26


Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking Cortney Bennett

Praying to deities they never believed in before, students promise “to never procrastinate again” if they can only whip out enough information to get a decent grade. And in most instances (when the almighty passing grade is achieved) they don’t learn their lessons well enough. They unfortunately slip into the habit again and again, with their empty learning piling high into a teetering skyscraper that threatens to topple over with the next assignment. The use of mass information Web sites such as Wikipedia.com, search engines like Bing, and 3G messaging and Wi-Fi-capable phones makes students’ ability to slack off in the classroom (and get away with it) easier every day. They skip studying, putting it off until the last minute when they surf the Web for a few minutes or contact a friend who conveys the information needed for class. Students possess the surface knowledge, if only just long enough to regurgitate it onto paper, they need to pass their classes. While current technology is not to be held responsible for students’ choices, it is a definite source of delaying important tasks and a tool for finding certain information in a time crunch. When students are simply relayed what they need to know (as opposed to studying and learning the material themselves) they miss out on the learning process (Aydogan, Deniz, Tras, 2009). The severity that students abuse technology can range from rarely doing it (perhaps attaining the answer to one question on a worksheet) to chronic procrastinators (who consistently deceive their ways throughout their academic careers.) The latter results in problems when those students obtain passing grades in their classes and get credit for work they truly did not do. A domino effect ensues, and those people receive degrees they don’t deserve, get hired into jobs and careers they are not qualified for, and potentially become harmful to the common good. The big-time procrastinators cannot perform their responsibilities to their fullest abilities, a serious issue in general (especially when dealing with public service employees). While this complicated matter is a prominent one that will never entirely go away, the easiest way for people to avoid it is to actually do their work. Crazy, right? Obviously if nobody procrastinated, then the world would be a much more efficient place. But if students got just even a little bit more work done sooner than later, it would help in many ways. They would process the material better, have less work to do when due dates came around, and experience lower levels of stress (Ferrari et al., 2004). This may be a hard task for the technology-dependent procrastinators (due to the fact that technology never ceases to advance), but it is a much-needed change. A heart-transplant patient wouldn’t want his doctor Googling the surgery procedure the night before he goes under the knife, so why should a teacher accept a paper composed of a cocktail of facts from Wikipedia, Bing, and other speedy Internet sources? The answer is that the teacher shouldn’t. Even though there will be a select few that prove they can cheat almost their whole ways through school with ease, they

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking Cortney Bennett

will miss out (to some degree or another). These are the ones that text their peers for answers and read Sparknotes instead of their assigned literature, and they always suffer, regardless if they realize it or not. Fittingly, it is their ignorance that blinds them from understanding that. Comprehension is limited and performance is crippled when chronic procrastinators skip over important details and crucial facts (Groenewoud & Schouwenburg, 2000). Which is why it is critical that students find a balance between free-time and studying that suits their individual schedules and needs. Students who attempt to plan their schoolwork according to an agenda deserve recognition. But many do not have one of the most basic and effective skills in combating procrastination: time management. When faced with social temptations, lethargy, inability to understand the assignment, and other reasons, students fall behind on their schedules. Free-time and study-time blend, throwing people off track and ruining their ability to self-regulate their schedules. This is the most frustrating to students who attempt but are unable to discipline their academic time. However, other students who can study for hours and hours still do not retain the information they should, resulting in the same “surface knowledge” effect that technology-dependent procrastinators experience (Lee, 2005). This brings the attention to the learning style that the student is engaging in. When students are reading new material out of a textbook, they may not understand it on their own. But it can linger in their minds to be further explained by a better teaching source (peer, teacher, parent, etc.) An even tougher situation regards students with learning disabilities; ADHD, Dyslexia, and other disorders have serious effects on the rate at which people learn and how well they understand information (Groenewoud & Schouwenburg, 2000). But the fact that these types of students are trying to learn and absorbing some of the material at least counts for something. However, it should not be overlooked that there is a select strain of procrastinators that use their behavior for positive results. They are the “active procrastinators” that fulfill four characteristics: time pressure preference, intentional procrastinating, met deadlines, and satisfactory outcomes (Choi & Moran, 2009). These students don’t necessarily cheat when they run out of time, but they instead learn how to quickly prepare themselves for what they need to do. In these instances the procrastinators are in control of their situations and typically do not have harmful effects later on. This type of successful procrastination is few and far between. A definite counteraction to the harmful effects of technology-dependent procrastinators is the implementation of harder, more rigorous curriculums in state schooling systems during early academic years: regular pop quizzes, more thorough exams, greater scrutiny of assignments, better plagiarism catching software, individual student presentations, and more. As long as schools draw the line between comprehensive and excessive programs, students will understand that there is no avoiding the workload. Students taught from an early age that slacking will produce negative results learn to not do it. If that idea is continued to be enforced through-

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Procrastinating, Pro-Master-Faking Cortney Bennett

out their academic careers, then they will learn better and become more qualified and prepared for their careers and lives. This will immediately and later on benefit the workforce and essentially the common good. Unfortunately, this is not happening for a number of reasons, with the main one revolving around money. The economy is yanking out an alarming number of academic programs due to budget cuts. With the panic to preserve the education systems that are already in place, the idea of spending money to develop newer ones is out of the question. Now picture this: a world where school systems allow students to get by on picture messages of test answers, Wikipedia-ed presentations, essays bought online at $24.99 each, and No-Fear Shakespeare Sparknotes-ed literary discussions. Now picture a world where students walk into a room on test day without having had a sneak-peak at the questions, presentations that students researched and studied themselves, essays actually composed by the person whose name is on the title page, and Shakespeare discussions upon which thou hath read and analyzed thyself. While the difference between those two scenarios may seem unfathomable, the latter must be strived for if humanity is to continue to function with competency. This ideal is not to rule out technology from the learning process, but to rule it out as the foundation upon which so many students are basing their “learning” on right now. Procrastination is a habit that will always be around. To what degree is the key factor in determining how it will affect a student’s academic career? Learning timemanagement skills will benefit not only the pupils, but everyone in the end. More intense curriculums will further enforce true learning. In a world where technology is becoming more accessible, instant, and informative at every moment, students must do almost the opposite—take the time to do the work. Here’s hoping our future generation chooses to crack open a book instead of refreshing a browser page.

References

Aydogan, D., Deniz, M. E., & Tras, Z. (2009). An investigation of academic procrastination, locus of control, and emotional intelligence. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 9 (2), 623-632. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Choi, J. N. & Moran, S. V. (Apr. 2009). Why not procrastinate? development and validation of a new active procrastination scale. Journal of Genetic Psycholog y 149 (2), 195-211. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Ferrari, J.R., Lay, C. H., Pychyl, T. A., & Schouwenberg, H. C. (2004). Counseling the procrastinator in academic settings. New York: American Psychological Association (APA). Groenewoud, J. & Schouwenburg, H. C. (2000). Study motivation under social temptation: effects of trait procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences, 30 (2), 229-240. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com. Lee, E. (2005). The relationship of motivation and flow experience to academic procrastination in university students. Journal of Genetic Psycholog y, 166 (1), 5-14. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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photo by Sean Deckert


Opinion

These pieces represent the initial stages of argumentation, establishing competing opinions on controversial social issues and supporting or refuting them with secondary research.


Gay Adoption by Victoria Bain

Gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and transsexual (GBLT) often have to fight to not only become socially accepted but be treated equally. In the United States, Americans are familiar with the ongoing battle over gay marriage. Now gay adoption is a fast spreading concern of many Americans, and with various opinions and rumors floating around, it is noticeable that many are against it. Even though support for gay adoption is on the rise, it is clear that there are more laws against GBLT adopting children. In reality children need a place to go home to; they need love and support from a responsible adult, regardless of their sexual orientation and therefore gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals should be allowed to adopt. Many people in America do not “know what gay parents look like” (O’Donnell in Marucci, 2000) let alone a single gay person. Although support for gay adoption is rising with a 46 percent statistic, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, many Americans, 48 percent according to the same research, are remaining stuck on tradition and stereotypes when it comes to sexual orientation and adding a child into the loop makes it even tougher to try and break the trend. Who has the right to reject a child from a safe and stable home? And when it comes down to it, who has the right to deny someone the right to willingly care for a child due to their sexual orientation? Studies that have been done claim that single homosexuals or couples have a corrupt home atmosphere “characterizing [them to be full of] confusion and lack of affection, domestic violence, and sexual abuse” (Stefanowicz, 2007) have been proven to be biased. The professionals that conducted the trials knew exactly how they wanted them to turn out. However “gay and lesbian groups have [conducted studies and] produced favorable results” to contradict the “religious and conservative groups [studies that show] negative effects of gay adoption on a child. Experts now say, considering the strong feelings people have, it is nearly impossible to have an objective study on this topic” (Sturo, 2006). Statistically, there are always going to be homosexual couples who abuse substances or fight, but it would be unfair and unrealistic for someone to truly say that there are not heterosexual couples that fall into that category; “one in four women (25 percent) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime” (CDC, 2000).

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Gay Adoption Victoria Bain

There have been recent studies demonstrating that homosexuals who are raising a child have a home just as stable, if not more stable, than a heterosexual run household. The children who are raised by same sex couples often turn out to be better rounded people, learning at a young age to accept people for who they are not what they are. Not only are they learning to accept people but deal with the ridiculous things people do and say because of the social group they relate with. For example, hate crimes, more commonly known as bias-motivated crimes, occur when someone targets another person, the victim, because of the victim’s membership in a certain social group. Bias-motivated crimes do not always have to be physically harmful toward the victim, although those are the ones that sustain the most attention via the media, but they can also be emotionally and mentally damaging. Damaging to the point of driving the victim to turning to a permanent solution for the temporary problem, suicide. Each state is choosing to take its own approach to same sex adoption, but “Florida is the only state with a law prohibiting gay men and lesbians—couples and individuals—from adopting children. The Legislature voted to prohibit adoptions by gay men and lesbians in 1977.” Then “in 2005, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Florida law” (Almanzar, 2008). Although Florida does not allow adoption of any sort in favor of homosexuals, the state does allow homosexuals to house foster children. As of right now all fifty states in the United States allow homosexuals, whether single or as a couple, to house a foster child; homosexuals go through the same screening as heterosexuals to see if they meet the standards. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press there is a growing number of over 15,000 children in foster care that are housed in a homosexually-based household. Allowing homosexuals to house foster children but not to adopt seems illogical, almost hypocritical. Florida’s neighbor, Georgia, is encouraging single homosexuals to adopt children, primarily special needs children. This is because the state feels that homosexuals have a warmer household that will offer these children unconditional love and support. Another reason Georgia is encouraging gays and lesbians to adopt special needs children that is kept quiet is due to the fact that they are not the mainstream desired child. Each state is taking its own stand on this issue, just as it is with gay marriage. As of right now Arizona, our state, is taking a neutral stand. Our state allows single GBLT’s to adopt, as long as they meet the normal requirements. Some of the requirements include meeting the correct financial stability, having reasonable living capacities, and, of course, having a clean background check to ensure the safety of the child. Although our state allows singles to adopt, the laws do not clearly state whether or not homosexuals can or cannot jointly adopt children. The law only allows joint adoption on rare and special exceptions such as death of the legal parent. On the other hand, Arizona also leaves the laws for second-parent adoption unclear; meaning after one homosexual adopts a child their partner tries to get joint custody of the child. Today, in 2009, 49 of our 50 states in the United States allow at least single gays to adopt children. There are a few states, such as North Dakota, where the 33


Gay Adoption Victoria Bain

laws are unclear whether they are allowing homosexuals to adopt but there have been cases of gay adoption. Florida is the only state that bans both homosexual couples and singles to adopt children. In the majority of the states that allow single homosexuals to adopt they do not allow gay couples to adopt; “couples have lied in order to adopt, usually with one partner adopting and the other pretending to be a roommate or friend” (Craft, 2009). Although there are ways around this law so that couples can adopt, it is obvious that this is “illegal since it is against the law to lie on an adoption application. This is considered [to be a form of] fraud, and if they get caught the adoption may become void, and possible criminal charges may be filed” (Sturo, 2006). In the worst situations along with the child being taken away and with the criminal charges being filed against the couple, they both could also be banned, so to speak, from adoption in that state. Currently, there are several different clubs or organizations, such as Colage, that support the growing number of 65,000 gay families (Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 2006) that have adopted children to join across the United States. Where children and their families get together as a “community to work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy” (People Press Org, 2009), as well as to show the rest of the United States that gay adoption and families is a reasonable option and should be considered. These clubs are trying to show the rest of America that allowing a person to adopt and willing to take care of, love and support a child should not depend on their sexual orientation. Biology and gender is not what makes up a family, the strongest families rely on the love they have for one another.

References

Almanzar, Y. (Nov. 26, 2008) Florida gay adoption ban is ruled unconstitutional. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2000). Intimate partner violence. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov Colage. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.colage.org/ Craft, C. (2009). Gay adoption basics. About Adoption. Retrieved from http://adoption.about.com Domestic Violence Statistics. (2000). Domestic Violence Resource Center. Retrieved from http://www.dvrc-or.org Jalsevic, M. (Mar. 7, 2007). Lesbian mother fights to have gay adoption declared void in Georgia. Life Site News. Retrieved from http://www.lifesitenews.com People Press. (2006). Less opposition to gay marriage, adoption and military service. (2006). Retrieved from http://people-press.org Marcucci, S. (2002). Rosie O’Donnell stands up for gay adoption. Retrieved from http://www.hollywood.com Sturo, J. (2006). Baby adoption for gay couples. Ezine Articles. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com

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Death Penalty’s Deterrence by Jenny Spaude

The death penalty is a punishment that has been used for centuries and debated for decades (Stuart, 2002). The United States is still unsure whether or not they wish to use this type of punishment because they are unsure if it is a cruel and unusual punishment for horrendous crimes. There are people who feel the death penalty is too harsh of a punishment and life imprisonment should only be used for murderers (“Death Penalty Debate,” 2005). There are also people that feel the only true justice for murderers who have killed and ruined the lives of many people should be given capital punishment (Breen, 2009). They feel it is the only way for peace and justice to be carried out. It is decided in each individual state whether the people in that state should use capital punishment or not. After that is decided, and it is voted on, in each individual case where the punishment is allowed, the jury and judge are able to decide whether the convicted murderer is eligible for the death penalty. The death penalty is usually a punishment used for those who have killed multiple victims and ruined the lives of the people who loved them. The convicted murderers are given the death penalty for justice and peace for the victims’ friends and families. The death penalty is a tool the government and justice system use to deter crime, and sometimes it is the only way for justice to be carried out. Convicted murderers are given two types of punishments, life imprisonment or the death penalty. Those who are opposed to the death penalty view life in prison as a good alternative, but the question that should be asked is whether “life imprisonment” really means life imprisonment. The judge and jury members are given the right of deciding the fate of a convicted murderer or serial killer. The death penalty is given as a way for the victims, whether it is the actual victims or if it is their families, to obtain justice that they so desire and need to move on. Life imprisonment is the alternative, but are people who are given “life” in prison really incarcerated for the duration of their lives? The U.S. Department of Justice states that the average time spent in prison for those given the death penalty is five years and eleven months (Lowe, 2009). One error that cannot be changed with life imprisonment is time. Over time people forget things, people move, boards and judges change, which then allows murderers the opportunity to be given parole, when they should not be given the opportunity. 35


Death Penaltyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Deterrence Jenny Spaude

Wesley Lowe is an author who has written several books and writes passionately about the death penalty and the errors in our legal system. In one piece he talks about a specific example that shows exactly how time can change so much in a death-penalty case. He uses the example of the Moore case in New York. The year was 1962, when a man named James Moore raped and killed a 14-year-old girl named Pamela Moss. When Moore was convicted of the murder, Pamelaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parents decided to spare Moss his life only if the state made sure Moore was given life imprisonment and would not be eligible for parole. In 1982, the laws were changed and he then was eligible for parole every two years. The parents were not granted the promise they desired to have peace and the justice that their daughter deserved after being murdered, and that is only one of many cases that has changed because of time (Lowe, 2009). Lowe writes a very descriptive piece that shows how the death penalty affects people and how statistics show that it is something worth using. How could someone who has done something so vicious and appalling be set free to possibly do it again? A mistake like this is something that can be avoided when using the death penalty as a sentence. The chief debate of the death penalty is whether or not this drastic tool really does deter crime in any way. Those who are against the death penalty say that the it causes more crime, but there are statistics showing the complete opposite. From 1972 to 1976, the United States completely abolished the death penalty in all states. During those four years, the murder rate rose (Lowe, 2009). States were already trying to use the death penalty less, but the less they used it, the more murders occurred. According to Lowe, in 1960, there were 56 executions that were carried out, and there were 9,140 murders. In the year 1964, there were only 15 executions, and the murder rate rose to 9,250 people. In the year 1975, even though the death penalty was abolished during 1972-1976, it hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been used for six years at this point. During this year the murder rate sky-rocketed to 20,510. During the years 1965 to 1980, the death penalty was used very little, and during this fifteen year period the murder rate went from 9,960 people to 23,040 people, a 131 percent increase during those years without the death penalty (Lowe, 2009). With these statistics that have been taken over a long period of time, they show that the death penalty most definitely does deter crime and causes such a major difference in society; how could anyone think otherwise? The death penalty deters crime in general, and prevents murders in a very effective way. Why should a tool like this be abolished if it causes such a difference? A recent case that shows a close account of the court system and how the death penalty is given to someone convicted of murder is the case of Dale Hausner in Arizona. Dale Hausner is a serial killer who was sentenced officially on March 27, 2009, and he was convicted of killing six people and attacking 19 others (CBS News, 2009). They believe he has killed several more, but they were unable to find enough evidence to convict him of those murders. He was a threat for two years in Phoenix, Arizona, causing people to be on edge while he killed random people

36


Death Penalty’s Deterrence Jenny Spaude

by shooting them. His victims were pedestrians, dogs, horses and basically anyone who was outside and an “easy target” in his eyes. The court had officially given him the sentence of the death penalty, and the jury was given this right to decide. The court is still deciding, though, whether they will be able to convict him of 74 other convictions, and that will be carried out soon (CBS, 2009). Dale Hausner shows a person who does not care about the lives of people and recklessly shot and killed random people at night. He did not care that they had families, friends, and co-workers who cared about them. These victims did not do anything to have their life ended so quickly and unexpectedly. Dale Hausner wanted the thrill of killing people, and he killed as many people as he could for as long as he could. Since his pattern was so random, it was difficult for the police and investigators to find out that Hausner was behind these killings. Hausner was sneaky and was purposefully ending life, and he deserves to have the death penalty. He has caused so many people pain and suffering, and not just those who were killed; there were several who were injured, 19 and maybe more who now have to live with the disability that Hausner gave them. He affected so many people’s lives in so many ways and deserves the punishment given to him because these people deserve justice and peace. This man shows why we need the death penalty. This is an extreme case where Dale Hausner has killed so many people and now affected those families forever. They will never have their loved ones back, and isn’t it only just that he is given the death penalty? Can justice be served in any other way? The death penalty is argued so often about how it isn’t right to kill people, but what about the fact that these murderers have killed so many people who did not deserve to die. These people were living their lives and they were cut short because these vicious murderers just thought that it would be something fun, or a thrill. The death penalty is a tool that has effectively deterred crime throughout the United States and makes sure that the people who are guilty are given the sentence that they deserve. Life imprisonment is argued as a useful alternative, but why then are so many vicious murderers set free to repeat what they previously did?

References

Banner, S. (2002). The death penalty: An American history. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Breen, M. (2009). Should serial killers be killed? Korea Times. Retrieved from http:// www. Koreatimes.com Death penalty debate finally produces useful result. (2005). USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com Lowe, W. (2009). Pro death penalty Web page. Retrieved from http://www.wesleylowe.com Phoenix serial killer gets death sentence. (2009). CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com

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photo by Sean Deckert


Organizational Communication

These pieces explore the professional communication that occurs within specific organizations. These formal reports are based on primary and secondary research that students conducted within their ideal professions.


The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best by Tim Nguyen

Abstract Legal writing could be considered one of the most perplexing entities known to man. This paper will explain the legal writing within the Cavanagh Law Firm, focusing on aspects such as legal jargon (legalese), hierarchy of legal tools, and writing based on the law. Research conducted included interviews with Alex Campbell, Lindsay Sims and Jane Hundley (key members in the legal field). As well as researching the firm’s history to understand the entity better. Research will demonstrate that the incorporation of a writing workshop would be counter-productive to the legal field in many aspects.

Introduction The legal writing culture is a beast within itself. From the uniqueness of the jargon to the metamorphic discretion of the writing tools—no wonder the first words an attorney learns in law school is, “it depends.” A law firm, like a chameleon, adapts to the ever changing legal world in order to survive and destroy their enemies. This paper discusses the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law Firm (focusing on insurance defense), the writing culture, analyzing the unique legal jargon, the importance of different writing tools, and writing based on the law, in order to gauge the necessity of incorporating a writing workshop into the legal field.

Hierarchy within the Firm To run a successful law firm, it will require dual entities to cohabitate and strive properly. The first organization is the administration side and the second is the legal side (see appendix A).

Administration The first half of the cohabiter is the administration branch, which includes records and accounting. The accounting director focuses on bills, salary, billable hours per attorney, etc. Any monetary transaction that occurs will go through

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

accounting. The next entity is the records manager. This manager maintains the storage and organizations of legal documents generated per attorney. Law requires that records and documents, in regard to lawsuits, are kept for five years after the lawsuit is dismissed. This precautionary measure is performed in case the lawsuit goes to appeal or the client or attorney requests a file for various reasons. Both of these entities report to the chief administrator. The administrator’s function within the firm is to hire, run and manage the firm. For instance, one of their responsibilities is to seek new attorneys or clerical staff, as well as look for ways to generate revenue for the firm (in the non-legal sense), such as advertising and prospective new clients (Personal Communication, 2009).

Legal The other half of the hierarchy is a bit more perplexing, the legal division (see appendix A). Depending on what type of law firm you look at, the “highest in power” in the chain of command will vary. However, at the Cavanagh Law Firm, the hierarchy begins with the board of directors, and then on the next step are the shareholders and senior partners, followed by members then associates. Below associates are legal interns, then paralegals. Finally at the bottom of the hierarchy are legal secretaries and file clerks. At most firms, the bottom of the chain (file clerks to members) are generally the same. The higher echelon does differ though. At the Cavanaugh Law Firm, after a being a member of the firm and you bring in x amount of dollars to the firm, you are promoted to a senior partner with the option of being a shareholder, meaning you can buy into the company like stock options. Then comes the board of directors. The board is comprised of four partners and the executive director. One of the board members (who is an attorney) will be elected from within to be the chairman of the board (who controls the board and manages conversation, etc). The firm (partners and stockholders only) vote for the board members based on nominations and then votes.

Hierarchy of Legal Writing The anomaly with legal writing is that there is never a definitive answer. Thus, when asked, “what is the hierarchy of legal writing at the Cavanagh Law Firm” the response was, “it depends.” The general hierarchy for written documents follows: 1. Emails 2. Memos 3. Letters 4. Pleadings Where one is the least formal and four is the most formal, but like any good attorney would say, “it depends.” Generally, an email is “a less-formal means of communication than either letters or memos” (Oliu, Brusaw & Alred, 2006, p. 264), but at Cavanagh, that is not 41


The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

the case. Lindsay Sims (2009), a paralegal for 14 years, stated that emails could be more formal than a letter or a memo. Formality has more to deal with what your intent is than the format. She also recalled that in some situations in the past, emails were used as exhibits in motions. The major idea behind why an attorney would use an email over a letter is basically efficiency. Mr. Campbell (2009) states that he uses emails when conversing with co-counsel on various motions. This allows him to get fast, binding responses, as well as saving the client money. Mr. Campbell (2009) elaborates on the use of a legal memo. For him, memos are small projects that attorneys are asked to do (either by other attorneys or the client). Memos are attorney work product, meaning that it is billed and is protected under attorney-client standards. Memos that are not to be used outside of the office are detailed conversations discussing the attorney’s strategies and research with the client, according to Mrs. Sims (2009). Letters are commonly used throughout the entire field. Generally a letter is the formal history of communication between attorneys and clients. In regards to the writing culture, it is customary to send a formal letter summarizing a phone conversation in terms of what was discussed, when and what are the terms. This procedure allows for verbal messages to be documented and used in the court, in case the question were to arise that one party did not mention or agree to what the other is claiming (Personal Communication, 2009). The highest part of the writing culture in the legal field is called a pleading. Pleadings are “every legal document filed in a lawsuit, petition, motion, and/or hearing” (ALM, 2009). This is the highest of the high for attorneys. As Campbell (2009) describes, pleadings are an open-ended conversation, “Anything can be argued as long as you have precedent on your side.”

Legal Jargon The beauty of the beast in the legal field is that it has its own language. As described by Jane Hundley (2009), a secretary for 40 years, writing (and reading) in the legal field is difficult because of the common use of legalese or legal jargon. Legalese is basically a plethora of Latin derived words that are used so commonly among the attorneys that to someone else it seems like a completely different language. Legalese also includes the names of different pleadings that attorneys can litigate with. For instance, a common legalese word is Subpeona Duces Tecum. This word is defined as “an order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness” (ALM, 2009). Lawyers are constantly being bombarded by different documents and reading so many motions, they begin to develop legalese as a second language. Attorney Alex Campbell (2009) mentions how it is sometimes difficult to break out of the legal mentality when one is not in the office. “All you can think about is ‘did I get that motion for summary judgment’ or ‘I hope the senior partner likes my motion in limine.’” The legal jargon is just one facet of the chameleon known as law.

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Writing based on the Law One of the more intriguing parts in regards to the writing culture at Cavanagh is that every day your writing format can change. Mrs. Sims (2009) states that according to what court and what jurisdiction you are writing for, the format can change. The biggest concern would be page length. The discretion on the format in regards to length is held with each judge. For instance, some judges prefer only ten pages for a response to any pleading. If one were to go over the legal limit, the motion is automatically denied. This makes legal writing very difficult because one has to be precise and choose which point should or should not be argued in a response. To add to the limitations on length, some legal documents, when filed and served properly, have response deadlines. Otherwise, the party that filed the motion gets a default judgment (that is whatever the party requested the court grant them in their motion).

Conclusion Legal writing is always changing because the law is constantly changing. If law did not change, society cannot grow and be tolerant. It is required for someone in the legal field to write with precision, to assure that their point comes across strong and to the point. Whether it is in an email or a pleading, legal writers need to choose their words wisely or they might get sued.

Recommendation Understanding the legal beast more clearly, I would suggest a writing workshop is not necessary. Legal writing is a beast within itself, and it is a skilled attorney who is capable of taming the beast. Thus, allowing the attorney to be able to bill at a higher rate. Providing a writing workshop will only create a generic format or style that many attorneys would follow and thus we lose too much of their passion in legal writing.

References

ALM (2009). Law.com Dictionary. Retrieved from http://dictionary.law.com Oliu, Walter E., Brusaw, Charles T., Alred, Gerald J. (2006). Writing that works: Communicating effectively on the job (9th ed). Boston, New York: Bedford/ St. Martinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s The Cavanagh Law Firm. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cavanaghlaw.com

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Appendix A Board of Directors Shareholders/Partners Members Associates

Executive Director Accountant

Records Manager

Legal Interns Paralegals Secretaries and File Clerks

Appendix B Research Notes Questions for Alex Campbell Q How long have you been working in the legal career? A Eight years. Q Describe to be a normal day at the office and how much writing is involved? A I communicate a lot with clients and other attorneys via email (of the phone). Because I am an associate attorney, higher attorneys have the authority to assign me research memos in regards to certain cases. If I am not communicating about a case, I am writing various motions assigned from other attorneys. Q Can you tell me about the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law Firm, such as, if you had an idea or project, what would you have to write or do to get that idea into effect? A If I had an idea or a prospective client, I would simply send an email to our executive administrator and ask her if there was a conflict check. If I were to accept it, depending on the type of case it is, it might require me to draft a contract which defines our scope, fees, etc. Q What is so unique about the writing in the legal field? A Definitely the language (legalese). Q What is the concept of a memo and how does it differ from memos in other fields? A Memos are in house projects that I do to discuss a question posed. For instance, I am generally asked to see if we have a right to appeal based on x, y, or z factors. Memos are generally more formal then an email, thus are billed out for more than emails normally are. Q What is the importance of emails and why would you utilize this form of writing over others? A Emails are efficient. I can respond to multiple clients in a matter of minutes, and is more convenient then a phone call. They also save the client money (which keeps our clients happy). I would generally use emails when talking to other attorneys or Cavanagh employees. 44


The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Q What is the hierarchy of writing in the legal field? A For me, Pleadings are the most important writing tool I would use. Then it would trickle down to letters, memos, and then emails. Q Explain the writing standards held toward motions and other legal documents that you work with? A It depends. Federal or state courts have different requirements. There are limits on how many questions you can ask on a discovery to the page limits on responses. That is what makes responses so challenging, because the opposing counsel will mention so many points, and you have to determine which questions are critical to the overall case and argue against it. Surprisingly ten pages go by really fast, because anything can be argued as long as you have precedent on your side.

Appendix C Research Notes Questions for Lindsay Sims Q How long have you been working in the legal career? A 13 years. Q Describe to me a normal day at the office and how much writing is involved? A The entire day is constant writing. From emails, letters (most of the day), to legal documents such as pleadings and discoveries. Q Can you tell me about the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law firm, such as, if you had an idea or a project, what would you have to write or do to get that idea into effect? A Talk to the most relevant person/attorney. It might require an email or a memo explaining the background information. Then if there is a potential conflict between the attorney/firm/client, then it would require an email to the board of directors to see if we can represent them. Q What is so unique about the writing in the legal field? A Legal jargon. Q What is the concept of a memo and how does it differ from memos in other fields? A Memos are attorney work products, which are generally kept in house. They discuss the strategies or plan of action in regards to a case. Like emails memoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s can be billed. Memoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s are just a tad more formal and generally hit items such as research topics. Q What is the importance of emails and why would you utilize this form of writing over others? A Faster** itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s used in this field to maintain contacts with the clients/claims representative. It is also used to build a history of communication with the parties incase that issue ever came up. It can also be used in motions and be references. Emails can be equally as binding as a formal letter. Texting: used when communicating with clients, but are not binding nor can you use it to demonstrate a communication history with the client. Only used for friendly reminders.

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The Chameleon: Legal Writing at Its Best Tim Nguyen

Q What is the hierarchy of writing in the legal field? A Pleadings are the highest. Where as in general letters are second highest. But like I said earlier, depending on how formal your email/letter/memo is written, a formal email can be equally as binding as a memo or a letter. For paralegals, correspondence (such as emails and letters) are the documents we use the most. Q Explain the writing standards held toward motions and other litigation documents? A Biggest issue with writing standards is that different jurisdictions and states have different limits on pages one can write. For instance, for responses, a judge will limit how many pages a person have to respond (generally 10 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 12 pages). But in the overall, a judge has the most discretion in this sense.

Appendix D Research Notes Questions for Jane Hundley Q How long have you been working in the legal career? A 40 years. Q Describe to me a normal day at the office and how much writing is involved? A A lot of drafting. Letters to clients, motions, etc. Q Can you tell me about the hierarchy within the Cavanagh Law firm, such as, if you had an idea or a project, what would you have to write or do to get that idea into effect? A Email to relevant attorney. Then if the lawyer wants to accept the case or not its their call. If there is a conflict problem, an email to the board of directors and they will decide. Q What is so unique about the writing in the legal field? A Legal jargon. Most words have are derived from Latin, but are commonly used in this field in every aspect (emails, memos, telephone, pleadings). Q What is the concept of a memo and how does it differ from memos in other fields? A Not relevant. Q What is the importance of emails and why would you utilize this form of writing over others? A Emails are fast. Less stressful/laborious to do then to draft a letter, retrieve it from the printer, create an envelope, send it to get signed from the attorney, then mail it. Q What is the hierarchy of writing in the legal field? A Emails are the lowest. Then faxing. Then letters. Q Explain the writing standards held toward motions and other litigation documents? A Format is not an issue because we have programs that have pre set formats for whatever needs to be done. Besides that, there is not much of a legal standard that I am required to pay attention to.

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Communication in the Workplace: A Study on the Importance of Writing Workshops by Myriam Hubbard

Abstract This is an analysis of the role communication plays in the professional sphere. With the issue of eliminating writing workshops in an effort to cut costs, the options and potential outcomes must first be weighed. I researched the importance of communication in a general sense and the empirical data related to written communication within Arizona State University. Referencing several texts that encompass the broad and ambiguous scope of communication and interviewing Dr. Cayle Lisenbee, ASU faculty member, about more particular information, I drew the conclusion that writing is fundamental to the success of this institution. While still considering the possibilities of other options that could produce the same desired effects, writing workshops are the best option at this time. In terms of dollars and time, the risks of ineffective communication outweigh the cost of maintaining a writing workshop.

Communication by Definition Communication is defined as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior” (“Communication,” 2009, para. 1). Messages can be verbal, non-verbal or written. We are constantly sending messages by the way we hold ourselves, the emphasis and arrangement of our words, or the tone of our voice; it all has meaning. That meaning is later determined and assigned by the other half of the interaction. The message is first filtered through noise (noise is anything that disrupts the reception of an intended message including biases, understanding, experiences, auditory disruptions, environmental distractions and the like) and then interpreted (West & Turner, 2009). This explains why two individuals can extrapolate different values from the same piece of information. Conveying a message and having the intended meaning understood compels a greater knowledge of the dynamics involved and deliberate actions to ensure clarity.

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Written communication can be seen in the form of symbols and sketches on cave walls; the importance spans time and disciplines. Additionally, the nature of written communication has its advantages. As opposed to verbal communication, it is more premeditated and allows for a greater amount of information to be expressed in a precise manner (Anderson, Baxter, & Cissna, 2004).

The Value of Communication A great number of things hinge upon the understanding derived from communication. Especially in an organization as large as ASU, if we are not communicating effectively, we risk lost time and wasteful spending. At its worst, it can cause us to produce inaccurate information. In research, faulty information has the potential to trickle down the system and waste resources; grand efforts can be spent with no resulting value because they were initially misguided (C. Lisenbee, personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). On a daily basis, poorly worded communication manifests in the misunderstanding of assignments or directions which results in degraded productivity. Additionally, misinterpreted emails can lead “to confusion, frustration, and poor morale among the various workgroups” (S. Sorensen, personal communication, Sept. 10, 2009).

Communication and Productivity Productivity is the measure of output to a measure of input (Organization for Economic and Co-Operation Development, 2001). Input can be measured in terms of time and money (the two having variable values dependent upon the individual and situation involved). Output is one’s product or goal. In Dr. Lisenbee’s case, that includes publishing research or instructional materials. Communication plays a role on the input side of this relationship. A great deal of effort is spent resolving miscommunication consequences; adding clarity to a message, or redirecting misinterpretations, and the like. The same end result is achieved but, with more effort, consequently lowering productivity. Dr. Lisenbee stated, “… concerning issues that the student could have probably found their own answers to, that leads to a large amount of my time that could have been spent more productively. And I think within a school or within any organization, we would probably be amazed at how much time could be saved by more efficient communication particularly through the use of email” ( personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009).

Communication and Efficiency Diewert and Lawrence (1999) defines efficiency as the “maximum amount of output that is physically achievable” (as cited by The Organization for Economic and Co-Operation and Development, p. 12). This output can reach a higher degree without the hindrances of miscommunication. Miscommunication drives down efficiency by creating more work. It is an unnecessary obstacle and the cost of avoiding it is justified. 48


Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Communication Applications Within the professional and academic sphere, communication has various forms and uses. In all instances, it provides documentation of a conversation and should be prepared for correctness. Depending upon the presentation or form, the appropriate format should be used. Audience and purpose largely determines what is appropriate (Oliu, Brusaw & Alfred, 2006). The purpose of the writing or communication will lend itself to a medium in which to present and the quality of the audience will determine what content to include and in which format. Consideration for these two factors will give writing focus.

Hierarchy A basic hierarchy model illustrates the structure within our organization. A respective school is headed by a dean. The immediate descending level is occupied by faculty directors, followed by the faculty heads, then faculty. Students comprise another component of the structure and call for a different presentation of material.

Deans Faculty Directors Faculty Heads Faculty

When addressing various colleagues, the hierarchy should be considered. For example, written communication to the president of the university should contain more formal and proper formatting than materials intended for a student. “If it’s say materials for teaching, format is huge … Because format is how I convey organization, it looks like much more organized content if it has a consistent format” (C. Lisenbee, personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). Additionally, the content should be prepared and tailored with the audience in mind. The sharing of information and delivery of instructions is integral in accomplishing a common goal. With this in mind, the content of written communication should be clear in order to relay the message.

Public image As an institution of higher education, Arizona State University must maintain a very high level of professionalism. At any point of contact, we must always look and sound professional, or our research, work, and programs lose credibility. If we hold

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

ourselves to high standards, and desire a position to compete within the academic arena, then we must communicate with the highest level of professionalism. A great deal is spent each year printing mailers and producing commercial materials. For this to be effective we must be direct and we must express the words that provoke interest and moves one to contact us. New visitors to a Web site spend an average of three minutes and view four pages (S. Sorensen, personal communication, Sept. 10, 2009). Effective writing skills are critical.

Inter-office ASU has a student body numbering more than 69,000 and roughly 25,000 employees (C. Lisenbee, personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). These two populations rely heavily upon the ability to share information in order to perform. Keeping this many people conversant requires effective writing skills. Communication must provide more accurate information, or more timely information, in a better format, to function as a unit and stay resourceful (S. Sorensen, personal communication, Sept. 10, 2009). Emails are becoming the standard form of communication within most organizations. It allows a great amount of information to be sent and viewed quickly by many people. Rainie & Shermak reported that in 2005, more than 50 percent of American Internet users send email on a daily basis (as cited in Stacks & Salwen, 2003, p. 389). Dr. Cayle Lisenbee estimates that within the School of Letters and Sciences, hundreds are sent in one day and, within the entire university, thousands (personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009). He also expressed a general feeling of disappointment in the casual approach it has generated in terms of drafting written correspondence.

Workshop Advantages Conducting workshops has several advantageous points. Primarily, the skills are instilled within the participants and can be applied to other circumstances and disciples. The knowledge gained will relate to utilizing better communication strategies and can be assembled as different situations present. Writing workshops also provide an interactive opportunity; there are lessons, activities and exercises involved to accommodate different learning styles and reinforce the message. More experienced writers can augment their skills and review concepts while, their less experienced counterparts can alleviate any deficits.

Draw Backs and Limitations Cost. The current yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; budget for training is nearly exhausted. We do not have the funds to perform training for all of our projected programs and that means eliminating programs that are unnecessary.

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Alternatives There may be other options to consider as well. Keeping the goal in mind (efficiency and professionalism through communication), alternative avenues may be considered. For email correspondence, a template design may be an option to consider. The purpose of the email determines the template used and the necessary information could be inserted in the proper place. This would ensure the details are not omitted and structured in a way that would alleviate possible confusion.

Drawbacks and Limitations This approach doesn’t help individuals actually gain communication skills. Lisenbee suggested instilling good writing habits in instructors in all disciplines: “Students see the instructor doesn’t work with consistency, formality and professionalism and they assume that can be instilled in their own work … it has to start with the instructors and make sure everyone is presenting an appropriate level of professionalism.” Templates should not replace independent ability. Not all interactions will fit neatly within a given template and the capacity needs to exist in order to communicate without one (personal communication, Sept. 25, 2009).

Conclusion I believe that our final training course should be spent on writing workshops. This is supported by analyzing communication’s constituents and daily applications. The process and instances saturate the professional and academic sphere and consequently, the ability to write is a necessary skill. The value of communication is evident; it permeates productivity within the entire school and is integral in achieving efficiency. While the institution takes a more cost-conscious direction, writing workshops are a justified expense when compared to a proposed alternative or the possible consequences of miscommunication. Writing is fundamental to the success of many organizations, and when magnified in an institution as large Arizona State University, this importance reaches a higher degree. In conclusion, in order to perform at capacity, effective communication is a priority and thus writing workshops as well.

References

Oliu, Walter E., Brusaw, Charles T., Alred, Gerald J. (2006). Writing that works: Communicating effectively on the job (9th ed). Boston, New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s Anderson, R., Baxter L. A., & Cissna K. N. (Eds.). (2004). DIALOGUE Theorizing difference in communication studies. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc. Communication. (2009). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com The Organization for Economic and Co-Operational Development. (2001). The OECD productivity manual. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard Stacks, D. W., Salwen, M. B. (Eds.). (2009). An integrated approach to communication theory and research. New York: Routledge. West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2009). Understanding interpersonal communication: Making choices in changing times. (2nd Edition). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Appendix A Research Notes Merriam Webster Online Dictionary 1 : an act or instance of transmitting 2 a : information communicated b : a verbal or written message 3 a : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior <the function of pheromones in insect communication>; also : exchange of information b : personal rapport <a lack of communication between old and young persons> Organization for Economic and Co-Operation Development Efficiency. The quest for identifying changes in efficiency is conceptually different from identifying technical change. Full efficiency in an engineering sense means that a production process has achieved the maximum amount of output that is physically achievable with current technology, and given a fixed amount of inputs (Diewert and Lawrence, 1999). “There are many different productivity measures. The choice between them depends on the purpose of productivity measurement and, in many instances, on the availability of data. Broadly, productivity measures can be classified as single factor productivity measures (relating a measure of output to a single measure of input) or multifactor productivity measures (relating a measure of output to a bundle of inputs). Another distinction, of particular relevance at the industry or firm level is between productivity measures that relate some measure of gross output to one or several inputs and those which use a value-added concept to capture movements of output.” (OECD page 6-7) An Integrated Approach to Communication Theory and Research: Page 389 Marcus Messner & Bruce Garrison • online services first offered in 1980 by companies. Has grown drastically since • More than 40 percent of American internet users use search engine on daily basis and 50 send email (Rainie & Shermak, 2005) • Chats forums blogs blur professional and non professional writing. DIALOGUE Theorizing Difference in Communication Studies. Territories of dialogue: Oxford English dictionary definition of conversation- “the informal exchange of information, ideas etc.”

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Appendix B Research Notes Lisenbee, C. (Personal Interview, Sept. 25, 2009). Q When you write a colleague, student or scholarly document, respectively, what image or impression are you trying to maintain? How does writing reflect that? A Audience targeted and I‘m trying to instill professionalism or clarity Q Is content and format important? If so, when? A Yeah. Yeah content and format. I that it varies with the audience too. And it varies with the purpose of writing. Format is really important when the audience demands a bit of formality. So I’ll format email for example or. So yeah I’ll take emails for example. So I’ll format email with proper salutations and proper closing if the purpose demands it. If it’s say materials for teaching, format is huge with me. Because format is how I convey organization. Umm it looks like much more organized content if it has a consistent format. That the students can conceive that or perceive that consistent format that you have. So format’s really important. Umm. The other thing was … content? Yeah. Content’s one of those audience targeted things. Q Emails are becoming the standard form of communications within most organizations. Can you describe how often you use email? To whom are you usually writing? A I use it way too often. I’m usually writing to students and, I hate email as a communication tool. I actually I don’t mind communicating via email but I hate it for what’s it does to communication. And that it takes the formality out of communication and because of that, most individuals have very little respect for an email they submit and they pay very little attention to all of these things that you’re talking about; content, format, purpose. They throw an email together in 30 seconds and never read it before the send it and often times, it has an unclear purpose or, it’s not suggesting the appropriate and necessary response from the target. The emails kinda go into the ether, find their destination and, for somebody like me, who takes every single one as seriously as necessary, it becomes a burdensome process. Yeah Q Could you guess how many business-related emails are sent within ASU in a day? A Man … maybe inter-office communication or emails with a message that give direction? Yeah email, oh it’s, even within our school is probably, within our school it’s probably in the hundreds. Within the university, thousands. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m off, even by factors of ten. Q What about formal letters? A Boy, there are just not very common anymore. But what’s interesting is that they’re still, there’s some extra sense of importance, intent, purpose to a formal letter on paper, a hard copy letter, ya know, so they’re still used for all of those

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

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really important things. But documenting things on paper now, it has new implications. Now that email is used for common communication. Yeah, if you go through the trouble to put in a hard copy letter, it must mean it’s really really important. Do you know roughly how many students attend ASU? 69,000 roughly this semester, this fall semester. How many people are employed? At ASU I believe it’s roughly … 25,000. I think. But that includes faculty, staff, everyone. Within the school or department, what’s the hierarchy? Umm, within our school, on the faculty side of things it’s, the umm, within our school, our school is headed by a dean, below the dean are heads of faculty groups/ faculty directors or faculty heads, and then below the faculty heads are all the faculty. What other forms of communication do you utilize? Umm, written? I still send hard copy letters every once in a while, via mail, particularly to people who are not savvy with email but, that’s less common. Umm, email is probably the primary written communication. And then when communicating to students, or to scientific journals or something, it’s written papers or written study materials. Umm the purposes of all those are different of course. Sometimes I put together written communication in the form of flyers or advertisements to advertise a class or course. Do you know about how much ASU spends on flyers and written commercial material? (shriek) no I don’t know how much but, I’m sure it’s a lot. Now ASU’s big on environmental impact and stuff so they’ve cut down a lot on common flyers and things. I think they discourage that for the most part and they do as much as possible electronically. Well, if I were weighing the cost of a writing workshop versus the cost of poor communication, are there any figures I could use? Umm, I’m not sure, well they wouldn’t publish that probably because it varies so much from department to department. But, it’s a very common thing for universities within departments or schools or even disciplines to calculate cost per student. In the sciences, the cost per student is very high because we have labs associated with them and even the student lab fees that we collect to help us offset the cost of labs, doesn’t offset it completely in a lot of cases. So, science budgets are often times much larger than say, a writing budget. But those would be the things you would have to consider for calculating that cost. How much does it cost the university per credit hour to teach to those writing students? In that case, it can vary a lot depending on the method of instruction. But if the instructor is using electronic resources and needs computer labs, there’s overhead in maintaining computer labs. There’s software that needs to be acquired, there’s the cost of paying faculty members to put together the content that needs to be delivered electronically.


Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Q A

Q A

Q A Q A

Umm, they’re hard costs to calculate but, it can be done. And then I guess you balance that by the amount of money that is brought in from not lab fees in this case for writing workshops, but tuition. The students are paying tuition to offset the cost of teaching. What are the potential of consequences of ineffective communication or misinterpretation within the academic sphere? At the most severe side of things it can be huge. It can be the miscommunication of research results but then that’s trickles through the system and lead to new scientific endeavors that do nothing but burn money because they’re based upon inappropriate results or falsified results or results that haven’t been properly falsified. Hopefully peer review in the science realm filters that out. But miscommunication can lead to the wasteful spending of millions of dollars of research funding if it happens. At the student teacher levels, the stuff I experience each day, it’s it can be big. Miscommunications can be as severe as misunderstanding about disciplinary hearings or plagiarism hearings or something like that to simple misunderstanding about scores on test or written work or quizzes or assignments. It, that stuff, that’s why I spend so much time writing emails and don’t take for granted; that I try to make sure there’s clarity in every email message because the implications to student sanity and stress and transcripts can be very, very big. Can this be related in terms of time? Yeah, for me, it consumes a great deal of my time to answer email messages because of my teaching load. When those email messages from students are concerning issues that the student could have probably found their own answers to, that leads to a large amount of time of mine that could have been spent more productively. And I think within a school or within any organization, I think we would probably be amazed at how much time could be saved by more efficient communication particularly through the use of email. Can you suggest any other ways to gain necessary communication skills besides costly workshops? Templates maybe? Templates is a really nice idea, but it doesn’t really give anyone any skills. No it doesn’t. That’s exactly correct. Instilling good writing habits in instructors in all disciplines would be a really, really good thing. I’ve seen a lot of instructors who actually exhibit some poor writing skills of their own and those get translated to the students. And it can be as simple as not instilling formality or organization in the materials you present to the students. Students see the instructor doesn’t work with consistency formality and professionalism and they assume that can be instilled in their own work and they send email messages that are grammatically incorrect and have no punctuation. So I think it’s got to start with the instructors and make sure everyone is presenting appropriate level of professionalism

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Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

Q How much of a time commitment do you anticipate a workshop would require? How much would it cost roughly? A I think you could put together some purpose-driven, important writing workshops for students that are no more than 10-15 minutes long and cost no more than it would cost to pay a faculty member to oversee it. Or if you get a faculty member to put together a review session or volunteer effort it could cost absolutely nothing. It might cost a box of pizza to get some students to it.

Appendix C Research Notes Sorensen, S. (Personal Communication, September 10, 2009) TO: Myriam Hubbard FROM: Steve Sorenson DATE: September 10, 2009 SUBJECT: Re: Writing Assignment Dear Myriam, Understanding the exhausted budget, an argument in favor of writing workshops at Pierce-Eislen, there are several areas where writing is critical to the success of the company. Attracting New Customers Our website is the first point of contact for most of our potential clients. New visitors to the website spend an average of three minutes and view four pages. It is important that our message is delivered in a clear and concise manner, and free of errors. If we fail to attract their attention in a very short amount of time, they will go to a competitor. We spend thousands of dollars each year printing mailers and producing magazine ads. Additionally, we have started doing email campaigns. The copy is done in-house. For our advertising to be effective, we must be direct and we must drive home a message that induces prospective clients to contact our company. Effective writing skills are critical. The Eislen Reports are new to the industry. In order to displace the well-established market reports, we must provide better a better product. The Reports must provide more accurate information, or more timely information, in a better format, or something which creates a competitive advantage. However, none of this matters if the information is suspect. If the report is poorly worded or unclear, the data itself becomes questionable. Our sales team routinely writes emails to potential clients. They also produce writ56


Communication in the Workplace Myriam Hubbard

ten sales quotes. If these communications are not well-written, it reflects poorly on the organization. This makes closing a sale considerably more difficult. Retaining our Customer Base There are numerous points of contact with our client base. We produce billing statements, we respond to customer complaints and error checks, we provide training materials, and we introduce new services. If our customers begin to doubt our competence at any time during our interactions, they may begin to doubt our competence in research as well. Inter-office Communications Emails are becoming the standard form of communications within most businesses. If we are not communicating effectively, we run the risk of misunderstanding job assignments. This can degrade productivity. Even worse, it can cause us to produce inaccurate information. Additionally, poorly worded emails can be misinterpretedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;leading to confusion, frustration, and poor morale among the workgroup. The ability to write is critical to the success of Pierce-Eislen. Sincerely. Steve Sorensen Research Coordinator

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photo by Sean Deckert


Argumentation

The argumentative writing in this section assumes a specific position on a controversial issue, oftentimes exploring causation and proposing plausible solutions as well as acknowledging and refuting opposing perspectives.


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick by Madison Rogers

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man!” – Albert Einstein It is terrifying to think that Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most renowned scientists, declared the apocalypse upon the loss of something so small and overlooked as the bee. Those annoying and buzzing pests that strike fear amongst five-year-olds everywhere, due to their reputation of implanting a sharp stinger into anyone who gets close, could determine the survival of the human race. During the time that Einstein made this statement, the possibility of such a seemingly abundant species becoming extinct was laughable. However, now more than ever, individuals around the world are seriously heeding Einstein’s warning as recent scientific studies show a drastic decrease in the bee population. This phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and is killing off entire hives, which, on average, can house 50,000 bees. The mature, worker bees are leaving the hive in large numbers and dying of unknown causes. As a consequence, the whole colony will collapse; the abandoned queen and immature bees die soon after (Driscoll, 2008). This may seem like a common act of nature as everything has a time and place to die. However, with the bee population dropping at such drastic rates, and with such devastating effects to the ecosystem, this problem must not go without regard.

Collapsing Colonies and Collapsing Ecosystems Colony Collapse Disorder became a common problem to beekeepers in the fall of 2006. “It was like a ghost town,” exclaims Dave Hackenberg, a 42-year commercial beekeeper, who discovered his bee colonies almost deserted after a month of being away (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, ¶ 2, 2009). As one of the first victims of CCD, Hackenberg lost 50 percent of his 3,000 hives that year, which was a hard thing to ignore (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Coincidently, the same 60


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

thing was happening to beekeepers all over the world in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, and Europe. Of even greater concern, the problem has not ceased. In 2008, there was a nationwide 36 percent reduction of colonies because of CCD. These days everyone is concerned with the environment, but apart from this general concern the questions remains: What does all of this have to do with us? The most important thing that bees do, besides making yummy honey, is act as one of the world’s most active pollinators. While flying from flower petal to flower petal, bees move pollen from one plant’s male reproductive organs to another’s female reproductive organs. The reason why bees can do this so much more effectively than other animals, according to Mary Wultz (2008), an experienced beekeeper in Long Island, N.Y., is that “In the Spring, they can build up to such large numbers.” The more bees there are in one concentrated area means the more crops that eventually will be produced. A little more than one third of the world’s flower population is pollinated this way (Deweert, 2008). In addition, a majority of the nation’s food source comes from plants that are pollinated by bees such as fruits and vegetables like apples, blueberries, and broccoli. In fact, one of the most important crops that benefits from bee pollination in the U.S. is almonds (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). In California alone, this 20 billion dollar industry produces 90 percent of the world’s entire crop (Pickert, 2009). However, our homage to bees does not end here. Not only do bees aid in producing many of the foods we eat, but also much of the foliage that other animals eat such as feed for cows. Without this feed, cows would not produce the beef and dairy products on which humans are so dependent (Deweert, 2008). As anyone can see, by one simple act of pollination, bees help provide biomass, the primary producers for all living creatures on this planet, food. This is why the issue of disappearing bees is so important to us. Additionally, without bee pollination, one of the most important industries in America, agriculture, would collapse. Eventually, if this problem is not fixed, and if bees do disappear and fail to pollinate our crops, we will soon appreciate the consequences.

Causes The most terrifying aspect of this epidemic of the disappearing bee is not only that it could drastically affect the way humans live, but that for the past three years, scientists still have not found what causes CCD (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). This problem has never been encountered before and is stumping scientists across the nation. “We had no clue what to look for,” states Diana Cox Foster (2009) who is a professor of entomology at Pennsylvania State University and co-director of the CCD working team (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, ¶20, 2009). However, some theories have been developed about what the possible causes could be.

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The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

Theory #1: Poor Nutrition Bees feed from flowers such as dandelions and violets. However, these flowers are also considered weeds. An entire herbicide industry is dedicated to killing these sources of food for bees because they make our lawns look seemingly “messy.” There are even regulations and noncompliance fees set in homeowner’s association communities for keeping weeds out of front lawns. Because our communities have found the need to groom our lawns, we may be killing off some of the most important aspects of the bee diet (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009).

Theory #2: Poor Beekeeping Practices Another important aspect of a bee’s diet is honey. However, bee’s rarely get to feed upon this naturally produced substance due to beekeepers collecting it and selling it for profit. Instead, beekeepers provide their bees with high fructose corn syrup as an unhealthy substitute (Meerkat Media Collective, 2008). Also, in order to bulk up hives for the pollination seasons, commercialized beekeepers provide more than the needed amounts of sugar and pollen through these harmful substitutes (Pickert, 2009). These commercialized processes of beekeeping became more and more popular as the industry continued to grow at a rapid rate. In general, this is because many farmers and growers depend on honeybees to pollinate their crops in order for them to produce more. Many of these farmers rent hives from commercial beekeepers, which is how the beekeeping industry was born (Deweerdt, 2008). Beekeepers then truck their hives back and forth across the country through warm climates to extremely cold climates, not giving the bees enough time to adapt to their surroundings or to rest (Deweerdt, 2008). “Bees have to rest just as all of us humans do” explains Dave Howard (2008), a beekeeper from New York City (Meerkat Media Collective, 2008). Dave Hackenberg (2007) explains that, “Sometimes these bees will travel 55,000 miles a year on the back of a truck” (Schultz, 2007). However, Jim Cane of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bee Biology Lab states, “Without a doubt, if there was one bee you wanted for agriculture, it would be the honeybee” (Deweerdt, ¶11, 2008). The more honeybees in one area the greater the amount of pollination, which in turn means there will be more crops produced. Unfortunately, it so happens that the honeybee is one of the species of bee that is most effected by CCD. The poor nutrition and poor health caused by these harsh farming practices and industrialization of bees could be one of the causes of CCD. Yet, scientists are still uncertain that this is the only cause.

Theory #3: Exposure to Pesticides Like every other insect, bees are susceptible to pesticides that all growers spray on their plants in order to ward off bugs (Deweerdt, 2008). These poisons can come from either the environment or the plants that the bees actually pollinate (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). One pesticide in particular, neonicotinoids, can actually enter the pollen and nectar of a plant, increasing the probability of a 62


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

bee’s exposure to the poison (Cox-Foster, ¶14, 2009). Yet, farmers have been using pesticides for years. Why would this all of the sudden be causing massive amounts of bees to drop dead?

Theory #4: Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) could possibly tie all of these factors together. Carried over to the U.S. through the commercial importation of bees from other countries, this virus has become one of the most credible theories that scientists support for why the bees are beginning to disappear. Although some place the blame on human involvement, research data suggests the IAPV is the most probable cause of CCD. Upon exposure to IAPV, in two to three weeks time, insects will succumb to paralytic seizures, simply fall to the ground, and die (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Further research, including multiple biopsies of bees from failed colonies, concluded a positive exposure to IAPV in bees from colonies that were victims of CCD. While many of the other theories have only applied to small percentages of the entire U.S. bee population, IAPV can account for nearly all of the failed colonies. However, does that mean that the other theories can be discounted? Scientists think not. Their conclusions concur that CCD is caused by a combination of all of these. Scientists relate the problem to the human condition of AIDs, which causes immune deficiency and leads to most patients dying from common ailments like pneumonia or the flu. Poor nutrition, poor farming practices and pesticide poisoning can lead to immune deficiencies, making bees more susceptible to IAPV, which will then be the ultimate cause of death. Therefore, scientists and environmentalists can both get their way. CCD is not simply a human-caused problem or a diseasecaused problem; it is both. Regardless of who or what is to blame for CCD, Nature is sending us a message that something is wrong (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009).

Effect #1: Poor Nutrition for Humans As mentioned before, without bees pollinating our crops, production of naturally grown food sources will drastically decrease, leading to the conclusion that without the bees, our diets will become vitamin poor. This is not only due to the loss of fruits and vegetables, but also to the loss of foliage that animals feed on due to decreased bee pollination and the subsequent loss of a source of food for humans. Bees are the basis of our ecosystem, and without them, food will become scarce (Deweerdt, ¶2, 2008).

Effect #2: Damage to our Economy On a more industrial level, our economy will be drastically affected as well. The industry of commercialized beekeeping has certainly made a name for itself due to the billions of dollars it provides to our economy. The annual value of bee pollination totals 14 billion dollars in the U.S. and 215 billion dollars worldwide 63


The Disappearing Bees: Nature’s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

(Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Also, with farmers constantly relying on pollination from bees, in 2008, bee hive rentals cost as much as $160 per hive (Pickert, 2009). Dr. Foster (2009) explains that the “pollination industry, replaced what was once a free service provided by a diverse community of native bees.” Many ecologists use the term, “agricultural intensification” to describe this concept (Deweerdt, 2008). It has become easier and cheaper to provide more food to more places using the beekeeping industry (Deweerdt, 2008). Now that we are realizing the consequences of agricultural intensification, it may be too late to go back. Many companies rely heavily on the foods that bees help produce. Without the bees, these businesses would fail. One of these businesses is the ice cream mogul, Häagan-Dazs, which uses so many of these foods to flavor their ice creams. Kathy Pien, brand director of Häagan-Dazs, says, “We use 100 percent all natural ingredients … which we get from California. The Bee problem could badly hurt supply” (Kavilanz, ¶6, 2008). The California almond industry could also be greatly affected by the disappearance of bees. As stated before, these growers produce a large amount of the world’s crop, making bees the backbone of the 2.2 billion dollar industry (Pickert, 2009). These almond growers require 60 billion bees to pollinate its 223,000 hectares of blooms from mid-February to mid-March each year (Deweerdt, 2008). Without these bees, almond trees would produce one tenth of their usual crop, ultimately putting the entire industry out of business (Pickert, 2009). Many other crops are pollinated mostly by bees. Without bees, the production of these crops would decrease substantially, with a cascade of economic and biological effects. As a keystone species, the bee is too important to be ignored.

Looking for Solutions So, the question remains, how are we to solve this problem in order to preserve the bee and its role in nature? One approach is to take better care of the environment and the bees on a global scale. Restoring balance to the bee habitat by, for example, prohibiting regulations demanding weed-free lawns may promote the general well being of bees and lessen the chance of a colony collapse (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Beekeepers need to make changes to their agricultural practices such as implementing better procedures relating to hive hygiene, which has actually shown to have positive effects on that hives that would otherwise be susceptible to CCD (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Scientists are also looking to develop a RNA interference that would block a certain virus such as IAPV from replicating itself in the bee’s cells (Cox-Foster & VanEngelsdorp, 2009). Although all of these solutions are viable, more research needs to be conducted since scientists have not yet pinpointed the cause of CCD. Research, however, is accompanied by the inherent issue of funding. Most scientific research requires a lot of capital,

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The Disappearing Bees: Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Unsettling Magic Trick Madison Rogers

and because this problem is still relatively new, there are not many grants available for this specific study. There needs to be outlets and campaigns specific to funding CCD research. Yet, whether it is one or all of these solutions, something needs to be done. If the bees continue to disappear at this rapid rate, it is predicted that by 2035 they will become extinct (Shultz, 2007). Our humanity is at risk and we need to band together, much like a colony of bees, to correct this problem.

References

Cohen, W. (Executive Producer) & Meerkat Media Arts Collective (Director). (2008). Every third bite [Motion Picture]. USA: Meerkat Media Collective. Retrieved, from http://www.meerkatmedia.org Cox-Foster, D., & VanEngelsdorp, D. (2009). Saving the honeybee. Scientific American, 300(4), 40-47. Retrieved from nature.com. DeWeerdt, S. (2008, November). Pollination panic. Worldwatch Institute, 21(6), 24-29. Retrieved from http://www.worldwatch.org. Driscoll, A. (2008). Where have all the bees gone? People, 70 (4), 80-80. Retrieved from http://www.people.com Kavilanz, P. B. (2008). Disappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers. CNNMoney. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com. Morse, R. A., Calderone, N. W. (2000). The Value of Honey Bees as Pollinators of U.S. Crops in 2000. New York: Cornell University. Pickert, K. (2009). Postcard from Hughson. Time, 173 (11), 9-9. Retrieved from time.com. Schultz, D. (Producer). (2007). Silence of the Bees [Television series episode]. In Nature. Phoenix, AZ: PBS. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/

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The Drug Wars in Mexico by Mariana Roman

Mexican Drug Cartels: An Overview A vicious war has broken out in a chain of states in Mexico. It has become a place where the drug cartels, not the government, run the country. Thousands of civilians are getting trapped in the middle of drug cartels and their enemies costing their lives. For the children of Tijuana, going to school every day is a dangerous task because of this massive war between drug cartels raging throughout Mexico. Groups of children pass through the violent display of carnage left from a shootout the previous day. Bodies lie with tongues cut out and other missing body parts, spreading fear throughout the community. At the age of 14, Victor Rene, a member of the community said, “I saw four dead guys last week, but that was clean. Their heads were wrapped in tape” (Marosi, 2008). Even children have become victims of stray bullets. Since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drugs in January of 2007, there have been 7,337 drug-war-related deaths. He has sent in about 45,000 troops and 5,000 federal police into 18 states where there is suspicion of drug trafficking (“Mexico Under Siege,” 2009). This enormous problem has effects on the immediate communities in Mexico, such as the children, and it is slowly making its way to the United States’ borders. This is evident by the money laundering taking place in the U.S. Action needs to be taken to control this dangerous war through awareness, tougher laws, border safety, and U.S. involvement.

History Drugs in Mexico date back as early as the 1900s where marijuana, opium, and cocaine where mainly used for medical reasons. As addiction rose, The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was put in place to control opium use (Astrorga, 1995). During this time period the Mexican revolution was taking place which then became the main focus and not drug addiction, so this act was never enforced. In the 1930s, marijuana production increased and could be counted by the tons in certain states (Astrorga, 1995). Drug traffickers began making small fortunes smuggling marijuana and opium, developing their routes through Nogales, Mexicali, Tijuana, and Ciudad Juárez (Logan, 2006). A political scandal came to light in 1947 when General Pablo Macías Valenzuela, ex-Secretary of War and Navy and governor of 66


The Drug Wars in Mexico Mariana Roman

the state of Sinaloa, was suspected of leading a drug-trafficking ring or protecting the opium traffickers (Astrorga, 1995). Since the beginning of the drug business, the best known drug traffickers in Mexico were related to high ranking politicians in special official reports in Mexico and the U.S. (Logan, 2006). These politicians were suspected of protecting and even controlling the illegal trafficking. The origins of drug trafficking lead back to Sinaloa where today some of the most powerful drug cartels work. Los Gomeros, also known as the opium traffickers, started in this region (Astrorga, 1995). They created a nationwide business by passing down their skills to younger generations, who then took over. Drug trafficking then became a way of life. The business had grown and so did the violence associated with it. Confrontations in urban areas were between traffickers or against the police in specific areas, but not everywhere in the city. In general, innocent people were not touched. It was not a blind violence. In the 1960s came the marijuana boom transporting about 45 percent of the U.S. supply from Mexico (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). This created riches that surpassed any earnings from before. The number of new, younger, and wilder players in the drug business grew. The unwritten codes were broken. Assassination of high-ranking police officers was a sign of changing times. The killing of the chief of the Judicial Police in Sinaloa in 1969 was suspected to be the doing of the drug lords (Astrorga, 1995). A new generation was taking over, flashing their earnings with fancy cars and showing pride in being a drug dealer.

A New Generation This young generation is so careless that they are even paying Norteño bands large amounts of money to write songs about their business. These songs tell the stories of how traffickers kill, smuggle drugs, have extravagant parties and even reveal who’s involved. As a result, these songs have helped investigators catch some of the most notorious drug smugglers (Astrorga, 1995). In retaliation, the drug cartels warned the bands about the songs and have started to kill them off. One of the most recent victims was Valentine Elizalde, a famous singer from Sinaloa. He was shot in cold blood after he held a concert in a forbidden area. About 30 bullets were found in his body, excluding the 20 bullets that remained in his truck (Astrorga, 1995). The violence will not stop until someone steps in.

The One Who Sparked the Wars Amado Carillo Fuentes was one of the most powerful leaders of the drug wars in Mexico for more than 30 years, controlling the drug cartels in Tijuana. He was nicknamed “El Señor del los Cielos” (the lord of the skies) because he owned a small fleet of planes that transported his drugs. He was making about 200 million dollars per week trafficking cocaine and marijuana through Mexico from Colombia (“El Señor,” 2007). Officials from the United States believe

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that about 50 percent of cocaine comes from Colombia, which is passed through Mexico in to the U.S. Amado Carillo Fuentes was forced to hide out in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the run from enemies. He underwent surgery to change his appearance. It was said he died due to post-surgical complications in 1997, but there was tremendous suspicion surrounding his death. Mysteriously, every surgeon involved in his surgery mysteriously died (“El Señor,” 2007). Now the violent drug cartels are battling each other to take his position as the new Jefe or boss.

The Major Current Drug Cartels These drug cartels have started a rivalry war with each other in hopes of becoming the new power. The following are some of the biggest drug cartels: • The Sinaloa Cartel is led by Hector Palma Salazar and Joaquin Guzman Loera also known as “El Chapo” (Logan, 2007). • The Tijuana Cartel is led by the Arellano-Felix brothers, one of the deadliest cartels in Mexico (Astrorga, 1995). • The Gulf cartel, also known as “Los Zetas”, is ran by Osiel Cardenas who is in jail and runs everything via cell phone (Astrorga, 1995). Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has been on the run ever since he escaped prison in 2001. Some believe he paid guards for his escape. He is currently number two on the America’s most wanted list (Logan, 2007).

Effects on Mexico This drug war has taken over the lives of residents in towns such as Tijuana, Sinaloa, Sonora, and many other small towns bordering the U.S. With the regular grenade attacks and shootings, cartels do not care who gets in their way; anyone is fair game. Twin grenade attacks on a dense, celebrating crowd on a major holiday and in the Mexican president’s hometown killed at least seven people (Ellingwood, 2008). Every day there are numerous bodies found horribly mangled in broad daylight. Newspaper headlines read; • 12 Decapitated bodies found in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula • Death Toll in Mexico’s drug war surges • Two held in Mexico in killing of 24 • Tijuana Finds 11 dead in 3 days A close observer, 39-year-old nurse Ordulia Castro, says, “We are reaching a very extreme level of violence that we’ve never seen before. They are killing innocents. This isn’t going to stop here. It’s going to continue until we are in a guerrilla war, just like Colombia” (Ellingwood, 2008). This drug war has even gone as low as terrorizing schools by plastering threatening messages on the walls of the school. The teachers are being told to give up their earnings or suffer the consequences (Ellingwood, 2008). Parents are in dire fear for their children’s lives. There is no place to run. These dangerous groups are even beginning to invade the borders of the United States.

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Effects on the U.S. Violence Increases The drug wars are leaking over into the United States because they are in proximity. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said, “Mexican drug cartels … pose a direct threat to Americans” (Smith, 2009). It has been reported that drug cartels now operate in 230 cities in the U.S., a dramatic rise from 50 cities in 2006 (Smith, 2009). Firearms and immigration officials estimate that weapons are being smuggled across the border by the hundreds on average daily. These weapons are more advanced, including .50-caliber rifles with five-inch shells capable of going through walls (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). This violence can come into bordering towns of the U.S. adding to the spread of violence.

Drug Use in U.S. The two major drugs being brought in from Mexico are marijuana and cocaine. It is adding to America’s drug addiction as the numbers start to climb in recent years. According to the 1999 National Household Survey, marijuana is by far the most commonly used drug with 11.1 million current users. Following is cocaine with about 1.5 million users (“Who are America’s,” 1995, ¶ 6). America is having drug issues especially in its youth. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse says an estimated 14.8 million Americans were current illegal drug users. In age ranges, the highest rate of illegal drug use is found among older teens, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 26 percent of 12th graders reported using illegal substances in the past month (“Who are America’s,” 1995, ¶ 2). They are closely followed by young adults 20 – 21 percent of Americans aged 18 – 20 reported past month use of some unlawful drug (“Who are America’s,” 1995, ¶ 4). This problem needs to be stopped at the borders to prevent drug addiction from sky rocketing.

Border Security Elements of the Juarez cartel were identified in at least 44 cities from West Texas to Minneapolis. Gulf cartel affiliates were operating in at least 43 cities from South Texas to Buffalo, N.Y. The Tijuana cartel, active in at least 20 U.S. cities, is extending its network from San Diego to Seattle and Anchorage (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). The drug cartels have become a strong group who are determined to make their profits. They are now coming over to America looking for fresh areas where they are not recognized. How do they get past border patrol? Cocaine traffickers now spend more than twice the attorney general’s budget just for bribes (Astrorga, 1995). About 450,000 citizens are estimated to be involved in the drug trade (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). Intimidation and greed play a huge part in the involvement of so many officers and civilians alike. Drug leaders use the famous threat “Plata or Plomo” which means money or a bullet (Quiones & Serrano, 2008). The United States’ borders need to be secure in order to stop this drug epidemic. 69


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Money Laundering There are estimates that Mexican drug traffickers make and launder between $18 and $39 billion in drug profits annually (Logan, 2007). Drug traffickers deposit cases of cash in American banks without any problem. They also transfer the money to Colombia or to other areas of the world (Logan, 2007). In November 1995, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin calculated that the world’s money laundering was approximately between $300 and $600 billion a year. In the United States, $100 billion alone was from drug trafficking (Astrorga, 1995). These drug groups are making millions of dollars in profit at the Americans’ expense. Using the United States as a middle ground to make deposits and transfers only strengthens the possibility of having this battle come to America. In an attempt to prevent this from happening, the U.S. government approved laws in 1986 requiring banks to report every deposit of $10,000 or more (Astrorga, 1995). This has not stopped the money laundering in the U.S. because there are so many loopholes around it.

Failed Past Solutions Mexico’s attempts to crush cartels that distribute drugs ranging from marijuana to methamphetamines to cocaine into the United States have lasted for decades. The Mexican government is finally taking action against this huge problem. However, Mexico’s various police forces are flooded with corruption and its tolerance of violence (Thurman-Springer, 2009). Many drug cartels have taken advantage of this, bribing the authorities, particularly the intelligence service, to side with them by waging war on their rivals (Thurman-Springer, 2009). This problem cannot be fixed if there is a faulty government where half of the people involved are on the enemy’s payroll. Several drug policies have been put in place in an effort to contain the widespread use of drugs. Certain drugs were made legal for medical purposes only (Berry, 2009). The purpose of doing this was to reduce the violence the cartels have stirred up. Legalizing drugs only condones this lifestyle. The demands for drugs have risen and so has the hostility. Mexican authorities would not prosecute people found to be carrying small amounts of drugs if they declared they were addicts and submitted to a treatment program. Those who are not addicts could avoid prosecution by entering a prevention program (Berry, 2009). Fines could be imposed for those who declined to enter such programs. The new legislation caps the quantities that would not be subject to prosecution at 50 milligrams of heroin, two grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine, and 40 milligrams of methamphetamine (Berry, 2009). Prosecuting organized crime has been so overwhelming that there is not time to deal with the small drug related cases. The drug addicts are given chances to escape the law by setting limits, which promotes drug use. It is said that the United States has failed Mexico by supplying the drug cartels with their weapons. It has been reported that most of the weapons are smuggled from the United States (Berry, 2009). This is partially because the border laws are not being enforced. One of the attempts to correct this problem was The Secure 70


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America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (Nahmias, 2009). This act was supposed to secure U.S. borders to ensure national security, but cartels still manage to come in through underground tunnels to supply the U.S. with drugs (Nahmias, 2009). These drugs and weapons are still being smuggled across the borders right under the noses of officials.

The Solution Action must be taken NOW! Too much time has already been wasted in stopping these dominant cartels to the point where it is getting out of hand. The drug cartels have become the new government because of the wealth that has resulted from this business. They now have the power to do as they please and get away with it because as the saying goes, “money talks.” But this could be seen as an advantage given that one possible solution would be to cut off their resources. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard agrees, “You fight organized crime with … the carefully honed ability to interrupt the most important thing for organized crime, and that’s the money” (Thurman-Springer, 2009). Tougher laws and more money for law enforcement are needed to prevent drug-cartel violence in Mexico from spilling further across the border. The first step toward accomplishing this is to raise awareness through education. This war has been through the media, but not all facts are known. If the public knows the facts, maybe there can be a breakthrough and some of these laws can get pushed. The next step would be at the borders to minimize the traffic flow of these drugs. Finally, the United States government should be involved in fighting this war or its security will become compromised. Together, these two nations can bring this major war to an end to bring peace to their citizens.

Step 1: Awareness Not many citizens are aware of how massive this problem has become. One step in the right direction could be to start a non-profit organization to inform local communities and schools. This group could be made up of volunteers of Mexican and American citizens to minimize the costs of forming this organization. The first area they would target would be the border states where the violence of the drug cartels are felt the most. This organization could slowly move its way up to the neighboring states. The first way to raise awareness is having presentations with the necessary facts the citizens have a right to know. The presentations should focus on how it endangers Mexican citizens as well as American citizens. One way to prove this point could be the alarming death toll that keeps rising in Mexico as a direct response of this war. Also, America’s drug addiction growth over the years has become an issue. Most of the drugs being used by American citizens are coming from across the border. This affects America because drug use correlates with increased aggressiveness, crime, and murder. The second way to raise awareness is through advertisements on popular Web sites such as YouTube, MySpace, and 71


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programs on television as well. What this would accomplish is establishing a rising concern in areas that would have never given this problem a second look. Where there is concern, action takes place. With this new information, citizens could then be encouraged to write letters expressing their concerns to their state senators. The senators should be the voice of the people and address this problem. To cover the costs of traveling and other expenses, the organization could start a fund where donations are accepted.

Step 2: Border Safety Unregulated immigration, organized crime, and terrorist threats are separate issues that need different solutions. You cannot target every family coming through the border and classify them as drug traffickers. Border patrol should increase in number to protect the border day and night. This is their job now, but it is not being taken as seriously as it needs to be. This is why some citizens have taken the law into their own hands by reporting illegal aliens. Too many times, vehicles are not even stopped at the border, just given the green signal to head on through. Every person crossing the border should be able to properly identify themselves. Known areas where illegal immigrants cross should be under heavy surveillance. The tunnels underground where drugs are transported should be destroyed. They are widely known, but nothing is being done about them. Border safety should be among the most important issues because this is where it begins to be an American issue.

Step 3: Tougher Laws After raising awareness, making stern laws to help put society at ease should be a bit easier. Several laws should be considered as follows: • Stricter policies on gun buying and selling • Laws tightening up on opening accounts with legitimate information • Complete background checks when working for the government in any position • Harsher punishments for those accused of illegal drug possession These laws are crucial to help dissolve the problems faced due to the drug cartels. When putting stronger restrictions on gun-selling policies, it will be more difficult for these weapons to fall into the wrong hands. Part of this law could be to raise taxes on guns or if you have a criminal background you cannot purchase a gun. If the guns are controlled in the U.S., it is less likely that they could slip over to Mexico. Banks could also help by investigating large amounts of money being deposited or someone having several accounts under the same name. If banks would take the time to investigate suspicious actions, such as false names, money laundering would decrease. Money is one of the cartel’s biggest resources; if somehow it was interfered with, they could not make any major moves. They would not have the money to produce the drugs or bribe officials.

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Many government officials and officers are believed to be involved in drug trafficking. Laws need to be made to ensure the quality of these officers. Mandatory in-depth personal background checks need to be undertaken so these people can assume the duties of the law and put them into force. Also, specialized officers should be put on specifically for this problem. For example, the Phoenix Police Department has applied for a $7.2 million federal-stimulus grant to expand a unit that investigates kidnappings and home invasions tied to drug and human smuggling (Berry, 2009). Local police departments and sheriffs are eyeing federal funds because it is worth it to use this money to ensure the safety of families everywhere.

Step 4: U.S. Involvement America is the protector, the policemen among the nations. They have the responsibility, the duty to help a nation in distress. The U.S. must aid Mexico in this battle because it cannot do it alone. This solution has been discussed, but no real movement has been made. Money has been given to supply Mexico with its weapons and utilities, but this is not enough. The U.S. needs to be personally involved to make sure everything is handled the way it is supposed to be. United with Mexico, it is a much stronger possibility that this war could be diminished to a level where it should be. The U.S. has the money, the military, and alliances to help this nation in need. Republicans and some conservative democrats say a real solution would be to cut off foreign aid to Mexico which would place the burden of their problems fully on their shoulders, not ours. It would require them to do more for themselves. Even president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, strongly oppose U.S. involvement in this drug war. These two presidents see it as hypocrisy on the United States’ partly because of the nation’s own drug problem and because of this, refuse to do anything to help the United States in this war (Nahmias, 2009). However, this is now America’s problem as well because it has spread over to the U.S. Last spring, the Justice Department declared that Mexican drug cartels pose the “largest threat to both citizens and law enforcement agencies in this country and now has gang members in nearly 200 U.S. cities” (Nahmias, 2009). If Mexico is not helped, it will fully become America’s problem and could affect our citizens on a daily basis. Deputy Attorney General Salvador Ortiz says U.S. aid would be a valuable asset in fighting the gangs. He also says “It would be useful to have U.S. agents work more closely in the training of Mexican police and prosecutors, a marked change from the aggressive nationalism long held by many Mexican officials” (Quiones, 2008). The only reasons these politicians oppose is because the U.S. being involved is not to their benefit. Therefore, aiding Mexico will be the best solution to attempt the destruction of these cartels. This problem is affecting the lives of innocent people and something must be done to protect them.

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References

Astrorga, L. (1995). Drug trafficking in Mexico: A first general assessment. Discussion Paper No. 36 Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org Berry, J. (Apr. 20, 2009). Arizona hosts border-violence talks. Arizona Republic. Retrieved from http://www.azcentral.com Ellingwood, K. (Sept. 18, 2008). Mexicans fear they are all targets now. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com Ellingwood, K. (Dec. 4, 2008). Schools become latest targets in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com El Señor del Los Cielos. (2007). [video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inJiDSysP6k Logan, S. (2006). Mexico’s uppermost threat is organized crime. MexiData. Retrieved from http://mexidata.info Marosi, R. (Oct. 25, 2008). For Tijuana children, drug war gore is part of their school day. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com Mexico drug gangs ‘top U.S. threat’. (2008). BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk Mexico under siege. (2009). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://projects.latimes.com Nahmias, D. (2009). Mexico, a failed state? Free Republic. Retrieved from http://www.freerepublic.com Quiones, S. & Serrano, A. (Nov. 16, 2008). Mexico drug wars spill across the border. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com Smith, J.R. (Mar. 17, 2009). U.S. efforts against Mexican cartels called lacking. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com Thurman-Springer, L. (2009). U.S. intervention in drug war futile. Rebel Yell. Retrieved from http://unlvrebelyell.com Who are America’s drug users? (1995). Frontline News. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline

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The Teenage Materialism Complex in America by Alex Reese

Introduction “Whoever said that money doesn’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop” (Schwartz, 2007) exclaimed Blair Waldorf, a high school socialite on the hit show Gossip Girl. This materialistic mentality is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst adolescents. It seems everywhere we turn these types of promotions are being flashed before our eyes. Society is constantly being told that money can, in fact, provide increased levels of satisfaction and the teenage generation is being convinced more than ever before. In the year 2000, “most teens [had] a significant amount of money to spend. In fact, teens spend more than $100 billion every year” (Moses, 2000, p. 1). Even despite the harsh economic climate of our country, people seem to be unable to control their spending especially those with bloated trust funds under the age of 21. The problem of adolescent materialism and extravagance is overlooked; in fact, it is promoted, by hit television sitcoms such as Gossip Girl and reality TV shows like The Hills, My Super Sweet 16, The City, and Cribs. The growing infatuation with the lives of the wealthy can lead to the encouragement of extravagant habits in underage adolescents. From over spending and little understanding of money management to excessive partying and adult-aged behavior, and even to future embezzlement and extreme debt, the potential for chronic materialism amongst teens seems to be on the rise.

Causes Spoiling The most obvious cause of the problem seems to be the spoiling of children at a young age. These actions can begin to affect children as early as infancy (Bredehoft, Mennick, Potter & Clarke, 1998). When a child has the ability to acquire anything that they may desire, the child is being spoiled. This includes allowing the child to have control of a situation and allowing them to establish their own consequences (if any). The Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences published a study in 1998, “it has to do with a parent relinquishing power to the child and results in children who are ‘obnoxious, ill-tempered, ill-mannered, selfish, and often immoral’” (Bredehoft et al., 75


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1998, p.2). According to Bredehoft et al., (1998), these poor parenting skills can be classified into four different types: authoritarian, authoritative, rejecting-neglecting, and permissive. Authoritarian parents are capable of setting standards and rules, but have a difficult time following through. Parents who are authoritative are those that punish and follow through with the punishments. When a parent is classified as “rejecting-neglecting,” they are said to show little support or concern for their children, therefore, leaving them to fend for themselves and develop their own morals. Finally, permissive parents are those who keep watch over their children but allow them to make their own choices and mistakes (Bredehoft et al., 1998). Most of these strategies have dire pitfalls that leave room for implementation of extravagant behaviors.

Media Influence The poor influences of the media and examples being set by celebrities also provide potential for inappropriate habits amongst youthful individuals. Examples of poor judgment by famous adolescents reside in the past actions of celebrities like Drew Barrymore and current actions of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, etc. A celebrity documentary said, “When Drew was nine, she was secretly smoking cigarettes. Next came drinking, and by the time she was 12 or 13 she’d tried cocaine and other drugs” (Parish, 2007, p.5). More currently (and involving individuals of an older age), Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan seem to be gracing the covers of multiple magazines inebriated after a long night out and wearing expensive new outfits. Clearly, parents do not condone such actions, but to a teenager, the media’s coverage of such events may seem like a form of acceptance. This can lead to a skewed understanding of the outcome of such actions.

Effects Money Mismanagement Thriftiness is a practice that must be learned. Money management is extremely difficult to execute because of an individual’s natural instinct to obtain the things that provide satisfaction. Indecisive and irresponsible consumers often run into a multitude of problems as they are forced to make important purchase decisions. A 1992 nationwide survey of consumer knowledge noted that most high-school seniors are not well prepared to make many critical purchasing decisions (Bonner, 1992) and “therefore, consumer educators are concerned with enhancing adolescents’ shopping strategies such as planned shopping, comparison shopping, and negotiating skills” (Shim, 1996, p.548). According to an Adolescent Consumer article, there are eight different kinds of shoppers and it is vital to understand which category one fits into in order to recognize weaknesses and eventually obtain selfcontrol.

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Perfectionist and high-quality-conscious consumers: Consumers who search carefully and systematically for the best quality in products. Often, they are not satisfied with the good enough products. Brand-conscious and price-equals-quality consumers: Consumers who are oriented toward buying the more expensive, well-known national brands, believing that a higher price means better quality. They also prefer best-selling, advertised brands. Novelty and fashion-conscious consumers: Consumers who like new and innovative products and gain excitement from seeking out new things. Keeping up to date with styles and variety seeking are important aspects of novelty and fashion-conscious consumers. Recreational and hedonistic consumers: Consumers who view shopping as recreation and entertainment. These consumers find shopping a pleasant activity and shop just for the fun of it. Price-conscious and value-for-money consumers: Consumers who are particularly conscious of sale prices and lower prices in general and, more importantly, are concerned with getting the best value for their money. These consumers are likely to be comparison shoppers. Impulsive and careless consumers: Consumers who tend to buy on the spur of the moment and appear to be unconcerned about how much they spend or about getting best buys. Confused by over choice consumers: Consumers who perceive too many brands and stores from which to choose and who likely experience information overload in the market. Habitual and brand-loyal consumers: Consumers who have favorite brands and stores and have formed habits in choosing these repetitively (Shim, 1992).

This list exemplifies the different types of consumers, such as those attracted to brands, quality, trends, etc. All individuals (including adolescents) fall into at least one of these categories, in particular, the first few. These classifications have consequences and if a person is placed in one of these categories at a young age, the consequences could reach a greater magnitude. Consumerism amongst teenagers and adolescents should be limited. Label lovers need to be able to control their purchases, style hoarders need to be able to limit their piece selection, and impulsive shoppers need to limit their exposure. These qualities should not develop at such a young age because the consequences may accumulate in the future.

Adult behavior Practices such as drinking, smoking, drug use, partying, etc. are all learned behaviors that require active involvement and participation. These are thought of as mature, adult behaviors to be shared by an older group of individuals. Many celebrities currently partaking in these activities are of age and are legally capable of participating. But the constant promotion of these activities to a younger audience 77


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often encourages a desire to attempt similar practices such as underage drinking, smoking, etc. It has been “hypothesized that adolescents’ consumer decision-making styles are influenced by socialization agents and antecedent variables” (Shim, 1996, p.550). Society has the ability to influence the actions and behaviors that adolescents choose to partake in. The media portrays these practices as appealing and acceptable. Even after being informed of the consequences, teenagers seem to continue to over indulge because these habits form a false sense of exhilaration and pleasure. Moderation is the key to participating in such activities; however, this concept gets lost when there is over exposure and publicity of its practice.

Future Financial Issues Poor money-management skills can be ominous for an adolescent when they reach adulthood. As discussed earlier, money-management skills must be taught at a young age. Improper money management in adulthood can lead to financial turmoil such as significant amounts of debt. If privileged children who have little concept for the value of money are put into this situation, they may turn to illegal practices in order to obtain their shopaholic fix. Psycholog y and Marketing reports, “From a business perspective, consumers with social or conspicuous oriented decision-making styles can be a marketer’s dream. However, marketers need to be cognizant of the fact that these adolescents may not be as mindful of the financial consequences of consumption as those with utilitarian orientations” (Shim, 1996, p.566). It is important for society to also realize that younger individuals have not yet learned the concepts of saving and spending within their means. To encourage a purchase from an individual lacking education can give rise to negative consequences.

Unsuccessful Approaches Credit Card Limitations In the recently released film Confessions of a Shopaholic, the main character expresses her understanding for the use of credit cards. She says, “They didn’t even need any money, they had magic cards” (Bruckheimer & Hogan, 2009). Coincidentally, this character ends up in serious credit-card debt and finds herself desperately seeking money to spend. Although this statement may seem exaggerated, it is not uncommon. Most young children and teenagers have a misunderstanding of the purpose and proper use of a credit card. Even large populations of young adults have a distorted understanding of credit-card use. The government believed that establishing the legal age for acquiring a credit card to 18 could solve this problem. However, this solution proved to be ineffective after research showed that “in the United States, one in five teens is able to access a credit card” (Moses, 2000, p.29). This showed that parents allow children access to their credit cards at a young age and promote their consumerist lifestyles.

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Encouraging Future Financial Success There is an ambition for members of society to become financially successful individuals. This concept is stressed in schools and families across the nation and is one of the leading foundations of education. One of the first things a child is asked when they enter school is about their aspirations. Teachers, administrators, and even parents continue to guide the child towards a path that they believe will be beneficial to their future. This method has been proven to backfire. One study showed that “the more people valued materialism, the less they valued ‘warm relationships with others.’” And furthermore, this is “demonstrated in three samples that late adolescents evidenced lower well being (e.g., more depression, lower global adjustment, and self actualization) with aspirations for self-acceptance, affiliation, or community feeling,” (Kasser, Ryan, Zax, and Sameroff, 1995, p. 907). Therefore, the more the concept of financial success is forced upon a child, the less likely they are to actually become financially stable in the future.

Saving In the United States, it is common for an average teenager to pay at least a portion of their first car, luxuries, and their college education. In order to make these payments, it is crucial for the teen to save money for a significant amount of time. A common misconception about teenagers is that they are simply unable to save their money. Many studies show that adolescents save money with surprising greatness. Unfortunately, it is suggested that they only “reflect short-term savings for big-ticket items such as leather jackets, sound systems, and so on. In the United States, many teens save to buy their first car or raise money for car insurance” (Moses, 2000, p. 30). This means that young individuals have the capability of saving their money for short lengths of time in order to save up for luxuries such as computers, sound systems, pieces of clothing, etc. Teens often have a skewed perception of saving because they have simply been misguided.

A New Approach America is a land of opportunities a land built upon an economic foundation of consumerism and interdependency. The country has developed a system of reliance where we buy and sell goods from one another perpetuating a cycle of industry throughout our nation. Although it is important to keep this fluid motion, it is also important to remember good economic practices. These practices should be instilled at a young age. Currently, it is expected for children to learn these habits through schooling and textbook knowledge. Although it is important to learn the basics of economics through finance classes, this method is not always effective, especially when used alone. To reinforce these classes, endorsements by celebrities and other influential figures is often beneficial.

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The Solution Albert Einstein claimed that “three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed” (Tentmaker Ministries, 2009, p.1). Materialism is comprised of all three forces, which makes it a formidable social issue. Greed is most evident due to its fundamental premise of wanting more than you need or deserve. Fear plays upon the insecurity of being unaccepted by others if one fails to possess certain material goods. Finally, stupidity arises from being ill informed about the issue and failing to comprehend its outcomes. When all three of these forces unite into that which is materialism, the consequences can be financially and psychologically devastating. When this quality is instilled early in life, the effects can build and exacerbate with time. In society today, “parents, peers, media, and school are among the important socialization agents for adolescents” (Shim, 1996, pg. 550). Because of this, it is important that influence be beneficial and divergent from the materialistic mentality. Children must have positive influences, first from their parents, then from their peers, and finally from the media in order to reinforce proper spending methods.

Recommendations Studies have suggested that socialization occurs first in the home, then through peers, and finally through media. Schooling plays a crucial role as well, but is not nearly as effective without similar encouragement from the other three sources (Shim, 1996). This form of education can be equally effective when used to educate adolescents about financial practices. By first implementing a system of positive reinforcement in the home, a child can learn that good monetary management is rewarding. Once implemented in the home, this influence must be reflected amongst one’s peers. If an adolescent recognizes that acceptance can occur without material goods, they will feel less inclined to spend. Finally, the young adult must see these good financial habits being practiced amongst their idols, celebrities, and other influential figures. When collectively uniting these three sources with formal education, positive outcomes will result.

Step One: Parental Reinforcement. Parents use a variety of methods to influence their children. Bribery is one of the most common forms of enticement chosen by parents and is often effective. Another method commonly used by parental figures is the use of threats. Although both methods prove equally effective, they distort a child’s perception of purpose and why things are done. The awareness of right and wrong becomes unclear due to fear of consequence or constant desire for the suggested bribes. The best motivation amongst adolescents is frequent conversation with them by family members. It is also important to practice similar habits because of an adolescent’s tendency to imitate. According to a study in the Journal of Marketing Research “there is a positive relationship between the frequency of family communication about consumption

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and (a) the degree to which the adolescent holds economic motivations for consumption and (b) the strength of the adolescent’s attitudes toward prices” (Moschis and Churchill, 1978, p. 601). This infers that there is a direct correlation between the financial habits of children later in life and upbringing. Witnessing good financial practices as a child will increase the likelihood of practicing such habits in adulthood.

Step Two: Peer Approval. Throughout adolescence, particularly during the teenage years, the approval of one’s peers seems to be an extremely important factor. Studies suggest that peer recognition becomes prevalent during this time period because “during the adolescent years a person’s need for independence from his/her parents lead him/her into establishing a dependence on peers” (Moschis and Moore, 1979, p. 103). The parental influence becomes of less importance to the information-absorbing mind of a teenager. The youthful individuals are now turning to their peers for advice on spending habits and product approval. They slowly become less individualistic, stray from their personal likings, and have a “greater the tendency to use peer preferences in evaluating products” (Moschis and Moore, 1979, p. 104). Eventually, co-mingling adolescents will come to have similar tastes and likings. Their product choices will begin to coincide and their possessions will frequently match. The idea of being depreciated due to the lack of a possession frequents the teenage psyche. It is at this time that peer suggestions must be appropriate. Children of this age group should not possess extravagant items that could further coerce their peers to desire items beyond their means. Therefore, it is important to discourage the bearing of age-inappropriate items so that children do not develop inadequacy complexes and extravagant desires at a young age.

Step Three: Positive Media Influence. These inadequacy complexes can be brought about through the media as well. Adolescents frequently look up to celebrities as idealistic and influential figures. When these celebrities are seen with flashy and expensive items, adolescents begin to believe that they too should own similar goods. However, the average adolescent and their family does not possess that same level of disposable income and perhaps these idealistic personalities should be seen in more affordable garb. One study suggests, “marketers should remember that youths in different socioeconomic classes of society have different motivations for consumption” (Moschis & Churchill, 1978, p. 606). Advertisers should appeal to children in all social classes and stores should provide appealing and affordable goods. Influential media figures should be seen with these goods in their possession and advertisers should provide evidence that a plethora of individuals around the country are enjoying these affordable products. Research has also shown that television commercials are quite influential to young people. Therefore it can be recognized that “the amount of television

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viewing would be related positively to the adolescent’s strength of social motivations for consumption materialist values, and to his/her frequency of interaction with parents and peers regarding consumption matters” (Churchill & Moschis, 1979, p. 27). Viewing such advertisements on television would prompt parental discussion, therefore, creating a cycle of influence that can continue throughout adolescence until a sense of independence is acquired.

Opposing Views There is only so much that one can do to influence a child. Their personal actions and behaviors will ultimately be determined by their own decisions. Family, peers, and media can only provide a basic guideline for admiration and manipulation. Other factors, such as birth order and social class, play a role in the development of a child and those too must be taken into consideration. Although we can hypothesize this method of manipulation, “there is scant justification for suggesting a relationship between socioeconomic status and frequency of interaction with peers” (Churchill & Moschis, 1979, p. 27). If the adolescent chooses another path, such as over-independence and rebellion, these influences are immaterial. Other measures must be taken to address a separate issue. The solution discussed (influence from parents, peers, and media) is merely the foundation for a positive future.

Conclusion An adolescent’s financial behavior is greatly influenced by a number of sources that all unite for purposes of economic education. Children and adolescents are like sponges that absorb knowledge at every opportunity. Because of this constant retention and storage of information, it is important for every influential figure to put forth positive information. Education through schooling can only provide a certain amount of understanding. A majority of a child’s knowledge comes from outside the walls of their school. It is important for external sources to provide a strong moral foundation so that as the adolescent ages, they may be able to amalgamate the information and decipher right from wrong. Materialism and excessive consumerism will always exist as possible hazards as one navigates life’s journey. Children are the future, and it is the shared responsibility of parents, peers, and society to prepare them for the world ahead.

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The Teenage Materialism Complex in America Alex Reese

References

Bredehoft, D. J., Mennicke, S. A., Potter, A. M., & Clarke, J. I. (1998). Perceptions Attributed by Adults to Parental Overinduglence During Childhood [Electronic Version]. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 16, 1-15, from http://www.overindulgence.info/ Bruckheimer, J. (Producer) & Hogan, P. J. (Director). (2009). Confessions of a Shopaholic [Motion picture]. USA: Touchstone Pictures. Churchill, G. A., & Moschis, G. P. (1979). Television and Interpersonal Influences on Adolescent Consumer Learning. The Journal of Consumer Research, 6 (1), 23-35. Hymowitz, K. S. (1999). Ready or not: Why treating children as small adults endangers their future - and ours. New York: Simon & Schuster. Kasser, T., Ryan, R. M., Zax, M., &Sameroff, A. J. (1995).The Relations of Maternal and Social Environments to Late Adolescentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Materialistic and Prosocial Values Developmental Psycholog y, 31, 907-914, from http://www.psych.rochester.edu/ Moschis, G. P., & Jr., G. A. C. (1978). Consumer Socializaiton: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis. Journal of Marketing Research, 15 (4), 599-609. Moschis, G. P., & Moore, R. L. (1979). Decision Making AMoung the Young: A Socialization Perspective. The Journal of Consumer Research, 6 (2), 101-112. Moses, E. (2000). The $100 Billion Allowance: How to Get Your Share of the Global Teen Market. New Jersey: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. Parish, J. R. (2007). Hollywood Book of Extravagance: The Totally Infamous, Mostly Disastrous, and Always Compelling Excesses of Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Film and TV Idols. New Jersey: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. Schwartz, J. (Executive Producer). Gossip Girl. [Television Series]. New York: 17th Street Productions. Shim, S. (1992). Adolescent Consumer Decision-Making Styles: The Consumer Socialization Perspective [Electronic Version]. Psycholog y and Marketing, 13, 548-568, from http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/ Tentmaker Ministries. (2009). Materialism, Greed, Avarice Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.tentmaker.org/

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photo by Sean Deckert


Reflection

These reflective essays often culminate in a cathartic realization, a moment of enlightenment. They provide writers with the opportunity to revisit past experiences while transforming the autobiographical act into one that is more universally resonant.


Proof by Manny Santellano

On September 19, 1998, my family and I went to my aunt’s house in east Phoenix after Sunday mass. It took us about fifteen or twenty minutes, a shorter trip than usual. We pulled onto the street, one so calm and peaceful, just like the words of the pastor a few minutes earlier. When I opened my car door, cries and screams pierced my ears. Sounds so rare and strange to me that I had no idea what was going on. My mom also heard this terrifying screeching that seemed to be coming from her sister Luisa’s house. She looked around, puzzled with no idea why those screams were coming from my aunt’s house. As she looked, to grasp some idea of what was occurring, she spotted my uncle Salvador’s car along with his wife Mary’s pick-up truck. At that moment, I saw in her eyes, a sense of realization. She, as well as the rest of us, knew where those screams were coming from. It was Mary. “Love thy neighbor” kept repeating in my head as I looked down on the sight. How could he love thy neighbor when he couldn’t even love his own wife, the one he promised to care for in sickness and health in the almighty eyes of God, his God? His mother’s God? As we ran up the steps of the porch, her screams became more audible, louder and stronger. Their faces were so shocked and stunned by what they saw before them. I managed to catch a glimpse from a small window next to the door. My uncle was standing over his wife Mary, hands clenched as if he was holding on to dear life itself. Mary’s face was unrecognizable. Blood, bruises, and swelling from the blows she had received made it hard to look at her. I looked down at her in wonder, looking up at him as well, wondering to myself, “How could someone so kind and gentle, as he was to my sister and me, inflict that much pain on the woman he allegedly loved?” My mother soon realized that his two-year-old son, Jesse, had witnessed the horrid scene from the kitchen entrance, crying. My uncle began moving toward my mom and dad with his raging blood-shot red eyes silently telling us we were next. I thought they were red because he had been crying too much, but now I realize that those red striations around his eye were compliments of lines of cocaine and a few milligrams of heroin which blinded him in more ways than one.

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Proof Manny Santellano

My mom called for Jesse, wanting to keep him from seeing his mom in that condition and from seeing his father hurting his mother anymore. As baby Jesse ran toward my mom, my uncle snatched him by his shirt, pulled him up and held him in his arm. Mary got up, fearing that he was going to hurt Jesse. She then ran toward my mom, but didn’t make it more than five feet when my uncle grabbed her, pulling her by the hair. He soon dragged her outside into the yard. My dad rushed to him, trying to take Jesse out of his arms. He quickly pulled out his handgun, aiming it towards my dad and signaling him to back away. My dad complied. “Let go,” my mom begged. “Do you want him to see what you’re doing and hate you the rest of his life? He shouldn’t see what you’re doing. Just give him to me, Salvador. Now!” Screaming and pleading, she tried to reach out to the smallest speck of humanity that was in her brother, attempting to grasp the young life dangling in his arms. Salvador obliged, crying hysterically as he handed Jesse to my mom. Mary watched this happening above her as she lay on the hot clay-like ground. He lifted her up, pulling up his gun as well, placing it between her eyes. He cocked the gun, screaming at her, ordering her to tell him, “I love you.” He didn’t stop there. Aiming the gun at my mom, her sister Luisa and my dad, he took hold of her body and dragged her for about 60 feet on the blistering pavement. The French doors leading out to the front porch limited my viewing range. I could still hear her screaming. I leaped outside to make sure my mom and dad were okay. The comforting sound of the sirens brought about a sense of serenity. This wasn’t the first time, and somehow I knew it wasn’t the last. At the next Sunday mass, I knelt down on my feeble knees and prayed for Mary. I asked God to heal the wounds that landed on her face and the ones inside she still had not yet begun to deal with. I looked up at my mom and saw her begin to cry silently. She was thinking the same thing I was. God heard my prayer, or maybe it was my mother’s loving plea, but the next couple of weeks remained the same. My uncle Salvador was apprehended later for drug smuggling and possession of more than six different illegal narcotics. Months after Salvador’s arrest, Mary met Fili, who would eventually become her husband and mend the scars Salvador inflicted. It’s weird to think that at the age of nine I had found God. He saved Mary. In his own mysterious way, he saved my uncle. God to me, at the time, was refuge. He was shelter and protection, or so I thought. I was always taught that God’s word and will was delivered through many different messengers. These were of the holiest of men and their presence and friendship was of the highest esteem. We were fortunate enough to have our priest be a friend of my family’s. He often attended dinners, special gatherings, and holidays with us. He was a part of the family. One summer we gathered at my Tia Julia’s house for the fourth of July. Everyone stopped what they were doing as they heard my drunk cousin Ofelia begin with her “fuck you”s and “bitches” around the neighborhood. My dad asked our friend and priest if he could watch my brother, 87


Proof Manny Santellano

sisters and me while they figured out what was going on. We eventually got tired as our skin began to wrinkle in the water like raisins in the sun. My sisters got out of the pool and began to change in the bathroom while my brother began to gorge down yet another cold cheeseburger and Flaming Hot Cheetos. The pastor came and dried the glistening sparkles of water and chlorine, rubbing his hand over every inch of my skin while holding the towel in his other hand. As I stood frozen still in terror, I slowly shed panicked tears. Fireworks once festive rang in the New Millennium; they now play a scene of a horror movie I lived and I tried to forget. Once again, he was invited. As the countdown continued, late night turned to slumber while the adults continued to celebrate. The floorboard creaked, and I feared what might happen. I lay there motionless, as the icy hands would glide up my leg, further and further than the last. The musk scent and alcohol breath lingered on my body, penetrating every inch of my skin. His heavy weight pressing me down as I let out the loudest cry, hoping someone would hear me in the next room. But those cries for help fell on people drowned in Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo. I began to want to die that “oh, so joyful night,” and every day thereafter. My faith began to dwindle with every passing day. I couldn’t fathom the cruelty a noble ex-man-of-God caused me until the day that he died. Even then my family didn’t believe me. Until this day, they deny the fact that he hurt me in more ways than one. I continued to go to the regular Sunday mass. I entered the red oak double doors to the house of God with my head bowed down. I couldn’t raise it until I got home. Time went by and he was sent to Columbia to do missionary work. I still felt uneasy. When I was younger I always knew I was different. I never knew what exactly made me different until I saw my neighbor Joseph kiss his husband David. I wanted that love, that connection. I wanted a man when I was older. As I sat on the hard wood bench listening over the cheap speakers down the main aisle, I listened to a rant from the priest that stated death or punishment to any man who lay with another man as he would his wife. “God hates fags” and “they should all burn in hell” fell out of my mother’s mouth. I began to sink with every word uttered after the last. I knew I was gay. It hurt even more hearing those words from my mother, for she was talking about me. I decided to stop going to church. I stopped listening to arguments and opinions that made me out to be a “sinner” or an “abomination.” I knew I wasn’t a bad person. I was told that God loves all of his children. I was disappointed with the results as I put it to the test. You can only try for so long to fight for what you believe in. I was told over and over that I wasn’t worthy of his love and that was my affirmation. God turned his back on me. I turned mine on God. Some say I’m irrational for my departure from what I believed was the Catholic faith. It’s too bad they don’t know why. Those who speak without knowledge are ignorant or just simply see through rose-colored glasses. 88


Let’s Get Married Soon by Grace Thornton

A lunchbox sits on the very tip-top shelf in a corner of my bedroom. When I say “lunchbox,” I don’t mean the cheap plastic superhero kind moms buy at WalMart for their kindergartners. I’m talking about an old-school lunchbox – one with class. One David Cassidy would consider. One thoroughly devoted to The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” It’s made of smooth, cold tin, and cartoon versions of Ringo and the gang pose on top of the double-hinged lid. The iconic yellow submarine sits to the right, surrounded by a typical 60s geometric border full of radical colors. If you flipped its silver clasp, you would see a space potentially large enough for a triple PB&J, Capri Sun, grapes, and a baggie full of Pringles. However, not a cookie, cracker, nor a crumb has ever made it to the big belly of this replicated antique. The things that go in are not for consumption. The things that go in are profound and deserve the highest level of respect. I keep a napkin in the lunchbox, a starchy crumpled napkin I took home from my favorite frozen yogurt spot. Originally, it was designed to clean a sticky dribbled mess or grubby hands. Originally. No longer a thing for wiping, the napkin has what I assume to be an accurate, detailed sketch of a modern V8 engine. My best friend, a self-proclaimed Henry Ford, whipped up the little beauty one summer evening while we sat on a wrought iron patio set just outside the yogurt shop. I knew nothing about cars other than the fact that the little red light next to the gas gauge was bad sign. My Mr. Ford loved cars. He loved gawking and crying out sensual exclamations at every Audi and Porsche on the freeway. He dragged me to the annual car show in Phoenix, where I spent four hours walking around an abnormally large convention center collecting free pencils and sweatbands, while he crooned and drooled and stared speechless at all the wonderful machinery God had given to man. The napkin, though now twice-creased, was imprinted with an outline of his simple love for all things automotive, his passion, the thing that clearly defined him and made him the happiest. One could only hope to match that degree of unwavering obsession — the true conviction of a devout car fanatic. Passion is a silly little bug, latching itself to all kinds of people, places and things. It hides behind sanity and good sense until liberated by the location of the stamp of all stamps or a furious haggle against “dernst52” on E-bay. It’s not some89


Let’s Get Married Soon Grace Thornton

thing one can learn, this type of sick compulsion and fleeting joy, and once discovered there’s no denying it. I have a tremendous amount of love for ChapStick; it’s inherent. Oprah has a tremendous amount of love for the planet Earth — because she owns it. However, despite our differences, Oprah and I both become notably agitated when the object of our fixation begins to melt. The passion bug had bit, taken residence, and multiplied within my Mr. Ford. I, on the other hand, have only a small tick of the disease that perks up when I quench my dry lips with cherry lip balm. Nothing beats reaching for my ChapStick and finding a twenty-dollar bill I didn’t know I had lost in the back pocket of my favorite jeans. Nothing is better; except for a ticket to Disney on Ice. Made of thin, white, glossy cardstock the corners are upturned and rounded, diluted blue text states the when, where and what: “Disney on Ice Presents: Disney/Pixar Finding Nemo.” Sharp blades, pyrotechnics, lavish costumes, acrobatics, and a frozen slippery surface make up the best combination Disney has ever concocted. At 17 years young, the one thing I wanted more than losing eight pounds was to see Nemo etching himself through fabricated seaweed hung from the ceiling all the way down to the traverse floor. Besides parents, grandparents, and a few awkward daters, it’s safe to say I was the oldest person in the audience who genuinely wanted to be there. I appreciate Disney and Crayola and all things elementary much more today than I did during the actual elementary years. A Hello Kitty coloring book and a 24-pack of markers went with me to church every week until my senior year of high school. It only started staying home when I discovered it was much more productive to take a nap on my mom’s lap during the meeting. In truth, growing up is overrated. Everybody’s doing it. A ticket to Disney on Ice is like buying a ticket back to the simpler life of swings and bad hair cuts, allowances and hairy legs belonging to both boys and girls. I paid $26.75 for a kind of mental Botox. The crinkled napkin and voided ticket don’t reside in the lunchbox alone. A rubber duck, which glows red from the inside of his gut, is in the lunchbox. He sits on top of a hand written letter from a boy who wrote “Let’s get married soon” in my yearbook. I keep a “Happy Halloween” card behind the silver clasp, addressed, mailed and signed by someone else’s grandparents who apparently loved me more. When the box is lifted from its shelf and tipped onto its back, a small crash can be heard as a salt and pepper spotted rock slides across the metal interior. My lunchbox doesn’t hold things for snacking, as I don’t advise chewing on a duck, rock, or any sort of papered good, but it holds fond memorabilia from my life thus far. With the reliable tin frame standing against time and Ringo on the lookout, my Beatles lunchbox is the perfect haven.

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My Year with Donna by Gina Bompartito

Many people walk in and out of your life, but when you least expect it one of those people can leave a foot print that will never disappear. When I got my first job in the beginning of my senior year of high school, I never thought it would do anything other than give me some pocket cash. Instead, it allowed me to meet a woman who made a very large impact on my life — a kind-hearted, strong woman named Donna. When I started my senior year, I was nothing more than a lazy girl who just wanted to save up money for her senior expenses. I got a job at a local health food restaurant up the block from my house, which was awesome because I only had to walk two blocks to get there. It was quick and simple, which I loved. Everything was easy at my job until my boss brought his wife Donna into the business. Donna was very well educated within the food business; she knew what the Board of Health wanted and just how we needed to fix what was wrong. That, of course, meant more work for me, and I definitely didn’t like that. I’d see a large white van come flying up to the store at nights and a blonde woman dressed in scrubs jump out. For a while, Donna was nothing more than my boss’s wife who came in and made more work for us, but then again, I never gave her the chance to be anything else. In October of my senior year, I was assigned to a community service project. Every senior needed to complete 20 hours of volunteer work and write a report about it in order to graduate. Being the lazy person I was, I waited until the last minute to look for my job. I could not find any project opportunities! One day while I was at work I over heard Donna talking about being a first grade volunteer religion teacher at my church. After getting up enough nerve, I walked over to Donna and asked if I could help her with her religion classes for my service hours. It didn’t take her longer than a second to say “of course!” That was the first time Donna helped me, but it wasn’t the last. Every Wednesday I would go down to Blessed Sacrament Church and help teach little first graders about their religion. Imagine hearing “Miss Gina, can I use the bathroom?” a million times each week! Five weeks later, when my community service hours were up, I had learned three things: one, I missed going to church, 91


My Year with Donna Gina Bompartito

having God in my life and having faith in something; two, I really enjoyed teaching kids, and three; Donna Tillman was really nice and funny. She wasn’t a woman to be messed with, but she was definitely a sweetheart. After my hours were up I asked Donna if I could finish out the year with her and the kids. Of course, she agreed with the idea. Back at the restaurant in mid-December I wound up getting fired — for a ridiculous reason, I must add. On my day off from work, I decided to go into the restaurant and visit my boyfriend at the time. I was sitting at a table after I ordered food when my boss asked me to leave. I didn’t listen to him and stayed there. I was fired the next day. After getting fired, a couple of weeks later I got my job back after learning Donna had talked to her husband and convinced him to hire me back. This was the second time I was thanking Donna for something. She seemed to have my back over and over again. I didn’t know why though. She was an adult with two daughters, three jobs, and she was always busy. Why was she helping me? I was just some kid. I didn’t understand. Five months later, in the beginning of May, I ended up getting fired again! Knowing I had to leave for college soon I gave my boss a month and a half notice. He hired a girl that week and fired me that weekend. I was out of a job and it was the beginning of summer. I really needed money for the summer and for college. I didn’t know what I was going to do without a job. That same week I received a phone call from Donna. She couldn’t believe I was fired and told me that she’d give me a job at her summer snack shop. I couldn’t believe this woman who had become my friend, was helping me out yet again. The summer wasn’t starting for another month though. Until then I was out of a job — or so I thought. One day, Donna called me and said to meet her at the snack shop because she had a job for me. I went there and I waited for her; I waited for a while. Finally I saw that big white van fly into the parking lot and there she was. That day my job was pushing around her shopping cart while she got the things she needed. I couldn’t believe she was paying me for this. She had to be doing that just to help me out and do me a huge favor. Yet again I couldn’t understand why. That night I climbed into her big white van and Donna started driving me home. One thing I loved about being with Donna was talking to her. Whether I was talking or listening, any conversation was one I enjoyed. That night I listened, and she spoke. She talked about her past and her life, and the things she’d gone through. That night I learned two lessons from Donna: first, no matter what, you must be strong; a woman does not need a man. Work however many jobs, or do whatever you need to do to survive on your own no matter what obstacles are thrown at you. She was a perfect example of that. The second lesson I learned that night came after I told Donna I can’t imagine how I could ever repay her for everything she’s done for me. Then she said the words that have stuck with me every day since that night, the words I live by everyday: “pay forward.” I had no idea what that meant. What did “pay forward” mean? Did she want me to pay her for helping me? Then

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My Year with Donna Gina Bompartito

she explained, “Pay forward means if you help someone out today, then maybe you gave them the opportunity to help someone else, and so on.” Every time I help someone, even in the smallest way, I’m saying “thank you” to Donna. Two weeks before I left for Arizona, Donna called me into work on a Sunday because her cook didn’t show up and she was short a person. An hour later I was there at the snack shop with my hat on and ready to work. My whole bus ride there I was wondering who the cook was that would fill in. Would it be the cute kid Austin? Or maybe the funny guy José? But to my surprise there Donna was behind the counter cutting lettuce for the day. She couldn’t get anyone to cover the shift and had to work it herself. That entire day I worked with Donna, and I loved it. We talked a lot about school, people, and she was giving me her usual life-lesson talks she probably didn’t realize she gave me. Around eight o’clock that night, Donna handed me the money I earned for the day, “Thank you Gina, I’ll call you.” “No, thank you Donna, I’ll see you during the week.” Little did I know the next time I’d be seeing Donna would be at her husband’s wake. That night, Donna’s husband, my former boss, died in a motorcycle accident. I couldn’t believe it. The following day I was so scared to go to the wake and see Donna. I found myself preparing to see a crippled Donna. Yet when I got there she was head high, and standing tall. Obviously heartbroken, but she was strong not only for herself but for her daughters. The day after her husband’s burial I was on the bus headed into work. Once again, I was so worried about Donna, not knowing what to expect when I saw her. On the bus I realized I was going to be late. Immediately I called Donna and told her I’d be 10 minutes late. I found myself asking “How are you?” and I heard Donna take a deep breath and start, “Well you know Gina … I have faith that he is okay, and that I will see him again one day. I found myself mad at God, but I have faith in Him, and I know everything will be okay. He is always going to be with me.” After we hung up, I sat there on the noisy bus, but it felt quiet. I thought about Donna and her positive attitude. Even then, she was teaching me something; no matter how hard things get you still need to have faith. For the longest time I didn’t understand Donna. I didn’t understand why she helped me so much, and I didn’t understand how I could ever thank her for doing so. How do you thank someone who had your back, talked to you, listened to you, taught you things, brought you back to your religion, gave you job after job, and changed your lifestyle? You spread their story. I live by those two words, pay forward, and the more people I tell about it, the more people are being helped, and the more I thank Donna, the kind-hearted, strong woman who made an impact on my life.

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A Guinean’s American Dream by Mariama Bah

In James Truslow Adams’ “Epic of America,” the term “American Dream” refers to “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” In “The Day an Immigrant Refugee Can Say, ‘I’m an American,’” Helene Coopers’ understanding of the dream is a place where change occurs, where dreams come true at last, and where happiness takes place. She came from a totally different continent, Africa, from the country of Liberia, where dreams are crushed. It is not a country of laws, but a country “where soldiers could enter your home, rape your children and murder your parents.” In America, she is more comfortable and secure, with a less-crowded house and police who actually do their job instead of committing the crimes themselves. Adams’ theory of the American Dream and Helene Cooper’s experience reflect my own transition from Guinea, a place of poverty and dysfunction, to the United States, a nation of tremendous opportunity and security. In Guinea, where I was born and raised, a decent education was restricted to the small minority of children whose families were wealthy enough to afford private school. The rest of the country’s children were stuck in public schools, where the classrooms were overflowing with students, and the teachers were impatient and careless. The school system in Guinea did not reward smart, ambitious students. I like to consider myself an intelligent student, so their carelessness for my education really affected me mentally and physically. There is a saying that applies to this time in my life: “The people around you influence you the most.” Students around me were not doing homework or studying for exams, so neither did I. It wasn’t doing me any good; we were paying for an education that wasn’t educating me, so my father came to his senses and said it was time for a change. It was then that he proposed the idea of going to the United States. I was excited when my dad told me that I was going to America, but also sad because I was leaving my friends and didn’t speak the English language. I feared people would react to the African stereotype of nudity and spear throwing rather than to me as an individual. I imagined a world where I could not communicate

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A Guinean’s American Dream Mariama Bah

with others or ask others for help. The good side of it was that I was going to a place where I could use my intelligence to obtain a better education and have more opportunities. Having that in mind gave me the strength to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. When I was 13 I moved to the United States with my family, where the school system was profoundly different. At Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Arizona, the classes were small enough for each individual student to learn. The teachers were patient, friendly, and actually cared about us. I was able to stick out as a promising student. There were days where I said I wasn’t going to school, but my parents were always there for me, encouraging me. They used to tell me, “We didn’t bring you to America to slack off, we brought you here to make a difference, and it’s now or never.” With that in mind, I tried hard to make them happy. I was an honor student, and with the help of tutors and my everyday studies, I was able to pass every exam, test, quiz with flying colors and earned an award for perfect attendance over four years. With the encouragement of my parents, who recognized the precious value of an American education and hardworking caring teachers, I was able to earn my 4.0 GPA. Arizona State University recognized my great potential and granted me a scholarship and admission. Unlike that of Guinea, Arizona’s public school system had such a wealth of extracurricular activities that I was able to involve myself in the intellectual and social pursuits that I needed to become a well-rounded young woman. I played sports, volunteered, mentored, and competed in French Club. I really enjoyed the club because it was all about competition, which I adore. We competed with other schools. Our school always won because, as a citizen of a former French colony, I am a native speaker of the language. My teammates and I got along very well; we were all on the same page, and all of us contributed in all competitions. On the bus going to competitions we laughed, played and just simply enjoyed ourselves. The good times I had in French Club made me believe America was a very friendly country. Like America’s educational system, its powerful economy helps realize the American Dream. Unlike in Guinea, where a person can go to school for a very long time and not even find a career for all her hard work, in America a student can feel secure knowing a well-paying job waits for her after graduation. It offers a generous wage to anyone who can do the jobs that need to be done, including nurses, and in eight years I expect to be a registered nurse working in a prestigious hospital. Furthermore, as the richest country in the world, the United States, with its charities and foundations, enables people not just to realize their own dreams but also to improve the world in whatever way they can. My goal is to go back to Guinea and provide its people with the medical care they need.

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A Guineanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s American Dream Mariama Bah

My experience in Arizona has made me understand Adamsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; view of America as a place that rewards ability and achievement with opportunity. The American Dream is nowhere to be found in Guinea, where a high-school student cannot stand out in an atmosphere of apathy and a college graduate cannot find a wellpaying job for her effort. It is unique to the country whose name it bears. It is a country where a bright kid can be recognized for her innate ability and given the financial support she needs, where she can pursue whatever interest fascinates her and where a skilled, accomplished person can make a living. Adams and Cooper grew up in different parts of the world, yet they recognized the same truth about the American Dream. It does not mean a person is given everything she wants, but rather that she is given everything she needs to make the most of her own Godgiven talents and ambitions.

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The Fine Art of Shelling by Jill Johnson

You go out to the beach; it may be low tide, high tide, or somewhere in between. You see the vast ocean in front of you, but you are more concerned with what the swells have been bringing in and depositing onto the shore. Instead of looking out to where the ocean meets the sky, you hunch over and focus your eyes on the array of shells that lay beneath your feet. The shells are scattered all along the beach: some in big piles, some sitting by themselves, and some form a line where the waves roll up onto the beach, which makes them look like they are standing guard against the mighty sea. Some people comb the beach slowly while on their quest for the perfect shell; some sit down at a pile, and sift, while others simply stroll the beach picking up anything that catches their eye. No matter what method is used or whether the tide is ebbing or flowing, the ocean never fails to bring you a gift. My Grandpa gets up around 5:30 in the morning. Right before the sun comes up he gets his morning cup of coffee, puts on a flannel shirt, his topsiders, grabs a mesh bag and heads for the beach. He is a daybreak, low-tide sheller. At this time of day, the few people seen on the beach are jogging, so Grandpa has all the shells to himself. He walks past all of the big piles of shell, the loners and walks straight to the ocean. He stands hunched over where the waves roll up onto the beach, and will hopefully bring in a “keeper.” He does not pay attention to anything but the shells when he is out for his morning search. My Grandpa is a very private sheller, and although he will never hesitate to show you his “Hall of Famers,” he is not so quick to show you how he is able to see, then grab the shells as they come in and go out with every wave. My Grandma is not nearly as serious or private when it comes to shelling. My Grandma wakes up, reads the paper, and eats breakfast, and then heads down to the beach with her shelling bag in tow. By the time Grandma gets down to the beach, more people have shown up and have claimed their spot on the beach by putting up umbrellas, laying down brightly colored beach towels, beach bags, and whatever toys they may have. Grandma does not claim any part of the beach—she just strolls. She is not a big fan of water so she stays on the dry part of the beach and stops to look for shells when she feels like it. Sometimes it seems as though she has a sixth sense when it comes to shelling. She will walk past pile after pile, then she’ll stop, sift through a pile that caught her eye, and come up with a beauty.

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The Fine Art of Shelling Jill Johnson

Some people have an ocean right by their homes and other people have to fly, drive, or take a train hundreds (possibly thousands) of miles to get to one. Children prefer to make sandcastles, play in the water, run along the beach, or simply throw shells back into the ocean. Adults and teenagers enjoy sunbathing, playing beach volleyball, boogie-boarding, surfing, snorkeling, fishing, looking at attractive people of the opposite sex in their bathing suits, or just sitting, watching, and listening as the waves roll in. Beaches have been the destination of many family trips, spring breaks, summer vacations, and honeymoons. I have been shelling since I was a little girl, though I was not a very serious sheller when I was a child. I had not yet learned what “good” shells were; I thought that any I found were “good.” I started out picking up any shell that had pretty colors. This meant that I would be coming home with thousands of ordinary scallops—some broken and some with barnacles attached to them. When I was ten years old I found my first “keeper.” I was combing the beach with my Dad when I found a Wintletrap—a tiny, white shell that has a spiral shape, and somewhat resembles a screw. Wintletraps are hard to find because they blend in with white sand beaches and are covered up by the bigger shells. Since I found my first Wintletrap, I spend my time on the beach shelling. Unlike my Grandma and Grandpa, I constantly look for shells. I don’t have a specific time when I go out, and use all sorts of different methods to find my shells. Everyone enjoys shells. People decorate their bathrooms in shell décor, complete with towels that have scallops embroidered on them, a soap dish in the shape of a conch, a shower curtain with a myriad of shells pictured on it, and maybe a basket that has been filled with shells. If you don’t like scouring the beach for a shell you can go to gift stores and buy them. If you are a sheller you can use your prized shells to make frames around mirrors, fill clear lamps, and make a tissue-box cover. Some shells are used for food. People search the ocean for oysters, clams and mussels to enjoy at seafood bakes. Shells were even used by some American Indians as currency. I use shells for decoration, and although I don’t have my bathroom adorned with shell towels, every woman in my family has at least one room devoted to shells. There are very few things that people 50 years apart can enjoy together, but the Gulf of Mexico and the shells it brings in, bridge the gap between my grandparents and me.

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My Momâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Youth by Thuy Pham

Whenever my brothers and I complained about how we did not have a computer, iPod, or the newest electronic devices like other kids in school, my mom would give us a glare and tell us how spoiled and easy our lives have been. She would scold us about how we take what we had for granted. After that she would tell us what her childhood life was like. When it happened, I would roll my eyes and mumble jadedly, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Here comes another story.â&#x20AC;? Thirty-three years ago, when I was about twelve-years-old, the war between North and South Vietnam came to an end. The North had won the battle, and its soldiers were coming down to the South to capture every soldier that fought during the war. The families of captured soldiers were pushed out onto the streets, and their personal belongings were taken away from them. Our family was one of the unlucky ones. All the men in our family who were old enough to be soldiers joined the war. By the time the war ended, three of my older brothers died during battle, and one was captured and put in a camp. My father, who had retired from the battlefield, committed suicide when he heard that the South had fallen. He was scared that when the North came down, their soldiers would capture him and send him to a camp to be tortured and killed. The thought terrified him so much that he chose to take his own life, even though it was against his own Catholic beliefs. Still mourning over her dead husband and sons, my widowed mother and her three remaining children were kicked out of their home with just a little bit of money and some of her jewels. My mom did not know what to do after that. At that time she had heard an announcement that the North people wanted to develop more useful land and trees to make materials. Anyone can go deep into the South where there are mountains and cut down all the trees, they can obtain that land to be theirs. My mom took my brother, sister, and me to the mountains. When we reached the place, we found a small abandoned house. The walls of the house were made from wood and the roof was made from straw. There were just two rooms in the house: a kitchen and a bedroom with no walls or doors to separate them. After we cleaned the house, we got settled in. The fourth day after our arrival, when the sun had just risen, my mother awakened me to help her with the trees. For breakfast we would have plain porridge, and then my mom would 99


My Mom’s Youth Thuy Pham

lead my brother and me out into the woods. Luckily the trees were young—just about fifteen feet tall and width was not wide either. My brother was just eight years old, so he could not cut the trees with my mom and me. He was there just to pull the branches aside to make room for us to work. Every night I would check my hands to see how many new cuts I had from the branches. It was the worst part about cutting down the trees. Whenever I cut down a branch and did not jump out of the way fast enough the branches scratched my arms and legs. One night when I was awakened because I needed to go to the bathroom, I spotted my mother’s shadow reflected on the wall from the candlelight in the kitchen and was surprised. I tiptoed from behind because I wanted to scare her. That was when I noticed that she was holding our family picture and tears were running down her cheeks. In that moment I realized that my mom just put up a strong face for us to see, but she was still mourning over the death of her sons and husband. For months, from dawn till dusk, we were out cutting trees until there were no more trees to cut because other families had taken them. During that time all we had to eat was rice that my mom bought from a small neighborhood store that was about ten miles away from us. For the first couples weeks we just had watercress, which was found in the backyard, to eat with the rice. Time went by, and each day we would have more food to eat with the rice because the vegetables my mom planted in the backyard had grown. It was my sister’s job to stay home, watch the house and taken care of the vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, water squashes, beans, and peas. We also discovered a river about five miles long ran through the middle of the forest. There were many fish, crabs, and shrimp living in the river that we could catch. Every time my mom finished telling us the story, I could see tears about to run down from her eyes. After she would tell us the story, she just went about her business as usual like we had not said anything. Several days later she would take us to buy what we wanted. When I was about eighteen years old I saw the same circumstance happened with my little sister, so I asked my mom the reason and she said that she just wanted us to know how hard life can be, but she does not want us to experience it.

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The Rocket Ship by Wayne Schutsky

I watched them every day that summer, the one between sixth and seventh grades. The rocket ship whirred off into the air with a tiny explosion that sent the children into a frenzy on the ground They all went completely mad in an attempt to catch the falling, inanimate model. The one who succeeded gained, if only for a moment, the complete attention and awe of his peers as they watched and waited for him to set it off again. I watched. There are reasons for frailty. If everyone could make a living on physical accolades alone, who would create? Every man would be a sports star and every woman would be a supermodel. No teachers. No writers. No politicians. No doctors. No bureaucracy. Maybe everyone would be happy. There is no need for anger, right? Everyone loves how you look, so you do as well. No sadness. I’ve never been that fast or competitive. Sure, I could keep up with a lot of them, but what’s the point? To go around like a madman for a one in fifty shot at snagging the glory from the grips of the more athletic boys is insanity. I liked watching anyway. It’s better that way. I could observe, and almost feel, the glory that comes with every catch. Maybe I’d never feel the physical supremacy or pride that comes with an actual catch, but I didn’t need that kind of gratification. I’d always been satisfied with the sideline; it was comfortable, safe. It felt like home. Or at least as close to home as I could feel at that point. The only memories I have of the house I grew up in revolve around TV dinners and the Lutheran channel. After school I would always go to some afterschool program with other kids, whom I can only assume were just like me. After working on homework and reading my books for a few hours in the white-tiled kiddie room with the Noah’s Ark walls that doubled as the after-school containment area, my mother would pick me up a few minutes before the six o’clock deadline. She would drive me home just in time to heat up a microwave dinner. All of the glory of soggy fluorescent carrots, elastic chicken nuggets, and tasteless mashed potatoes. Then she’d send me to the shower and bed. From underneath my red and blue superman sheets, I’d read until I was tired enough to fall asleep. All the while, I could hear my mother—every night, doing something with the Lutheran channel on in the background. These obscure messages of faith, sometimes without a tinge of faith at all.

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The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

Sometimes she would read the mail; collect her child support check. Sometimes she would have boyfriends over. And sometimes she would just sit there. Always with the Lutheran channel on in the background. I remember hearing the southern drawls running through my room as I tried to read or sleep. “At some points in life, individuals are challenged to reach beyond the confines of, say, gravity or reality. This is not to say that you must shun the modern conception of truth altogether; but, more so, challenge the status quo in order to achieve an elevated sense of self purpose,” a voice that escapes me drones on. “Some would call it, well, a calling. To others it may seem to be an exaggerated description of normal events that, if experienced by another, would be completely ordinary. But whatever the name or personal purpose for the event, it must be done.” “Whoever is given the opportunity to redefine the structure of the universe must also do so in their own, individual way. They are challenged with not giving in to any sort of pressure that may skew the mission. It is a personal struggle. I have spoken in generalities, always referring to the change as earth shaking or monumental. This can be in some ways true, but also misleading. The impact made, may, on the surface, seem to only affect a finite amount of people. However, the ripple effect will eventually shift all facets of truth. In the same way, some situations will appear on the surface just as monumental as they are. It is the former that is generally more difficult to accomplish because of the isolation that accompanies it. Although, the latter provides more pressure to succeed as millions witness every success, and every failure,” he says. The town I lived in revolves around this park. It’s not big and it’s not small, the town that is. It’s just the perfect size for living. The park sits directly in the center with the outsides lined in trees of all different sorts. The children’s playground is situated in the southwest corner and the rest is divided into large playing fields. I used to just sit on the edge of the grass and read my books while the other kids ran around a dozen feet away, but my mother told me I was now too old for that and suggested I play with kids my own age. The shiny new rocket ship was on everyone’s mind. I almost tried to play when I first arrived, but decided against it when I saw the barreling children, sacrificing each other for the glory. Life is full of objects that rise and fall, like the rocket. Desensitizing at its finest. Who needs that? I could feel more out of my books than I could, chasing a stupid piece of flying, space junk. Those books were my life. I lived through them. In their pages I could do more than this body could ever offer me. Chase the rocket ship. Chase it, it’s a dream that only luck can catch. My dreams are always there. Those pages may wilt and tear, but their stories do not disappear. I could count on that. That day was different. The clouds were out. It was windy. The normal June weather was cloudless, warm, and beautiful. I loved the rain; it hardly ever rained. I loved the wind. That day was so different. I could feel the odd sensations running through my infrastructure. The same spot. I sat in the same spot. The slightly rain102


The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

moistened grass wet the back of my jeans. I just sat and soaked up the beautiful nature as I tried to grasp something from the yellowing pages of my second-handstore books. I thought I could will myself to feel the great emotions and convictions bled onto those pages. Maybe lethargic waiting is inevitable. I wasn’t designed to succeed in this world, this realm of bright smiles and shiny toys. My heart felt nothing for them; these children felt nothing for me. My parents, bless their souls, knew nothing about mine. I was alone because I didn’t fit. I was the coming-of-age prototype—lost and confused while knowing more than I should. I should come out of my shell, win the prize, and learn a valuable, albeit corny, lesson. I’ll leave that to the professionals. I could hardly come of age. I just stuck my head in some book; Frankenstein I think, while they ran past me. They didn’t look at me or pay much attention to me at all; they just ran. I started to doze off into my own head for a moment, leaving the pages of the book behind, when I felt something coming towards me. I looked up just in time to catch the fat end of fat Tommy Tubkins’ shoe in my face. Tommy tripped over my head, catching his second shoe underneath my chin, before falling completely on his face behind me. A few more kids ran past us to grab the rocket as Tommy hit the ground. My nose began to bleed and my jaw felt like I had TMJ. As I stifled the tears that felt ready to run out of my face, I saw Tommy get up and dust off his brown cargo shorts. His striped yellow and brown shirt, that made him look like a chocolate bumble bee, rode up over his pudgy, freckled stomach while the weather-bleached grass of the field tangled into his curled, red hair. The smattering of freckles on Tommy’s face soon disappeared as both round cheeks became enveloped in rashy, red anger. Tommy looked over at the mothers sitting and talking on the brown park benches at the other end of the park, completely oblivious to our plights. “Fuckin’ queer. Don’t they have a library in faggotsville?” he said to me, low enough so the mothers would not here, but loud enough to illicit a snicker from the kids nearby. With that, he wound back his thick sausage leg and took a heaving swat at my book, which had landed at his feet. Worn and fragile from its many years of previous use, the kick caused the blue book to come apart at the binding, pages gliding in all directions as it flew. Tommy just chuckled and trotted off to the others, awaiting another flight. I looked over to my mother who was chatting with some of the other women. I continued to fight off the tears that begged my eyes to be set free. This time, my stares caught my mother’s eyes and she looked back at me with the sort of indefinable indifference only a mother can provide. Deciding I was fine, she waved one hand in the direction of the middle of the field before going back to her conversation.

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The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

Whatever it was, the rain or wind or a need to please my mother. I wanted that rocket. It wasn’t the seclusion; I enjoyed that. For some unknown reason, I just had to fight for it. Instead of collecting the pages of my book, I let them scatter along the sidewalk as I ran towards the group of my peers. They all looked at me with slightly odd expressions for a moment, but then generally accepted the newcomer. The winner of the last hunt, some tall blond kid, ran to light the rocket’s fuse. The rocket went up and I needed it. I felt it. This was more than any book could give me. I needed it just once. I ran and ran. A strong gust of wind blew and took the rocket into a nearby tree. The tree’s imposing size cannot be accurately described because of the imaginative explosions of the youthful mind. However large it actually was, no one could muster the courage to retrieve the white, hot red, and ivory rocket ship. Now was my chance. All eyes on me. Ten minutes prior I couldn’t have cared less, but now the feeling was contagious. I lusted for the importance. I stood up. They shouted my name. Or what they thought my name was. It didn’t matter. They all wanted me and I knew it. I looked over at my mother, who was too busy talking of motherly things to pay attention to me. I began the treacherous climb to the top, taking each branch in stride. I didn’t want to look down, but I had to so that I could soak up the energy and pride. With each new branch passed, I became inebriated in self-importance. I was the only one strong enough to brave the tree. I was the only one desperate enough. The white eyes of the rocket grew ever closer. I could read the name written in venomous blood red ink on the side: Glory. I needed one more step to grasp it. One more foot and the glory was mine. They would all love me. I stepped. The branch creaked beneath my weight. Every new realization rushed to my cranium as fast as a heart attack. Is this the price we pay for glory? What the hell was I doing? If I just moved slowly down, I could still make it out. Back out, back down. Lose the pride, and keep my life. The ridiculous notions of self-aggrandizing success seemed like a distant memory as I saw my life fall before my eyes. “There is nothing wrong with failure. Hell, we all fail many more times than we succeed. But anyone who says that every failure is a success in its own right is ignorant. The very fact that they are failures is the reason they hold so much importance. Failure spurns the soul, ignites anger. These emotions can accomplish more than happiness. Happiness is boring. Love, the most obvious source of happiness, provides a fleeting sort of ecstasy; but it is when love is lost that true passion thrives. Only when we realize that everything surrounding us is there to tear us down, can we build ourselves up. Only when we decide that one moment of horrific change is better than a lifetime of safe consistency can we rid ourselves of every inhabitation and fear in order to realize true potential.” I once heard someone say that; maybe it was a president or something. Or maybe it was Tupac. I don’t know, maybe it was just someone trying to sell me something.

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The Rocket Ship Wayne Schutsky

I made one last reach. I prayed for a creak and found a crack. Just like that, I missed the prize. I began to fall down through the tree with my face to the ground, but the mess of branches twisted and contorted my body so that my back ended up in that direction fairly quickly. As I felt each branch whip, and eventually break, across my back I couldn’t help but wonder how I had gotten into such a predicament. The 15-second fall took hours to me. Every second was a lifetime. I reflected on the numerous months spent watching, why now? Why today? Nothing made any clear sense. It was as if I hung still in complete acceleration until I figured out why I would never … I hit the ground with a deafening thud—the kind that makes everyone else grab their heads as if I transferred the pain to them. Maybe I did it because I really couldn’t feel much. I felt the blood, white hot, sticking my head to the ground. Scratches all over my body ached. The other kids scattered in all directions back to their mothers as I fell. Tommy stuck around just long enough to catch the rocket before running to the benches. I felt a shooting pain in my right leg and looked down to find a jagged edge of bone sticking through my jeans. My hair was matted with blood and grass and the numerous broken tree limbs shredded the yellow shirt I was wearing to mere strips of fabric. The pain in my leg continued to grow, but I could not cry. The tears were not there. Instead my mind seemed transfixed on the blinding sun that had appeared from behind the clouds sometime during the past several minutes. The light blinded me and sent streaks of pain, separate from the ones in my leg, shooting through my brain. I could hear my mother’s shrieks mix with those of the ambulance sirens as one of the other mothers consoled her a few feet away. I blacked out. I had to spend a few nights in the hospital after that. The doctor—a portly old man with two chins and no hair—set the bone in my leg and put a cast on it. Because I was unconscious, I didn’t get to pick a color, so they gave me the standard white. I woke up in the beige hospital room early the second morning, alone. A television hung above the old wooden door of the room, playing some random rerun on mute. A green tray with cereal and milk sat suspended over my torso. The sun was just beginning to shine through my window when my mother burst back into the room and began blubbering immediately. She was muttering something about going home to take care of something and how sorry she was for letting this happen to me. As she receded into baby talk, her newly lined mascara began to run onto her clean, starched blouse that was buttoned one off all the way down the shirt. The blinding light of the sun sent streaks of pain shooting through my temple that shut out all of her noise.

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photo by Ryan Wolf


Assignment prompts

Assignment prompts play a critical role in the dissemination of our pedagogies and can also provide a valuable context in which to read student essays.


WAC 101: Intro to Academic Writing

Writing to Share Experiences: The American Dream Narrative In an attempt to share personal experiences in a way that is relevant and interesting to an academic audience, you’ll begin by grappling with a pertinent question: What is the American Dream and what does it mean to you? After reading other people’s thoughts and perspectives on the subject, you’ll be asked to synthesize these ideas into a definition that you feel captures the essence of the dream as it exists today—as the majority of Americans perceive it (which won’t necessarily be your version of it). This definition will then serve as a catalyst for the experiences you’ll share— which will be written in the form of a personal narrative —and which will be intimately linked to some aspect of the American Dream, whether it be your struggle for it, your disdain with it, your disbelief in it, etc. The essay will conclude with a paragraph in which you subjectively define/reflect on the dream as you now see it, a version of the dream that will be derived from your past personal experiences as well as your newfound understanding of it. Narrative Frame: an opening and closing that are thematically and/or stylistically similar and serve as a literal frame for a narrative essay and can make it more universally resonant

Your Frame: Definitions of the American Dream • •

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The first part of the frame should be a synthesis of what you believe to be the most prevalent sentiments regarding the AD The latter part of the frame should be a first-person/subjective definition of the dream as you understand it/believe it—you can borrow ideas from sources you’ve read here, but you have to make this one your own


Your Narrative This is the personal story that will be between the frames; it should: • Be written in first person • Describe the events of a specific time/event in your life during which you and/ or your family were struggling to achieve the dream, redefine the dream, realizing the dream, rejecting the dream, etc. • Contain rich description/detail (precise, evocative language) • Contain a chronological plot, i.e. action/movement/progression through a month, a day, an hour (note that this is not a progression through your entire life or even a year of your life) • Contain some dialogue (if you feel comfortable with dialogue) • Contain a point/significance/catharsis/moment of epiphany

Requirements • • • • •

4 – 5 pages in length APA style in-text citations (in the first part of the frame) Sound organization. Creative and grammatically correct language Lastly, know your purpose in telling this story/writing this essay and put yourself into the piece—literally and figuratively

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ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Share Experiences Topic Choices Here are the generic criteria for a “good” topic: you have some passion for it; you want to learn more about it; it’s do-able. Because you have had many experiences in life, you have much material from which to select. Although you may choose from any of the four arenas of life (academic, professional, civic, personal), you probably have the most experiences in the academic and personal arenas. I caution you to avoid certain topics. For example, because you will have a public audience for this project, you should avoid writing about experiences that are embarrassing to you or the other participants. Because you will have a public audience, you certainly should avoid writing about any experiences in which illegal activities were involved, especially if those activities have not been adjudicated. I encourage you to write about experiences that have made you think about life. We will do a number of generative exercises and brainstorming activities, but you may find that a topic will come to you when you least expect it. Be aware: listen to what speaks to you.

Helpful Hints You might find it useful to talk to family members or friends who participated in the experience with you because they can offer multiple perspectives on the experience. They can also help you remember details that may have slipped from your memory. If you have photos that help illustrate the experience, discuss them with others who were there. I encourage you to include some of those photos in your project. To help with that, consult the photographs section (pages 812-815) in Chapter 18, “Communicating with Design and Visuals.” Many people keep journals in which they reflect on the day’s activities. If you or other family members keep daily journals, you might consult those documents or individuals to refresh you memory about an experience. Because writing about experiences will inevitably include writing some narrative and description, refer to those sections (pages 687-702) in Chapter 13, “Strategies That Guide Readers.”

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ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Persuade Assignment Now that you have become intimately familiar with your topic through research and collaborative writing projects; it is time for you to carve out your place in the controversy. Your final writing project, number three, will be a researched essay in APA style format. In it, I want you to use the resources you have been collecting and reading this semester, and any new resources you discover that you want to include. I will expect you to have your writing organized in a way that best suits your subject matter; however, it should have an introduction, a body containing your views (with support) and others’ views (with refutations), a conclusion, and, most importantly, a thesis or major claim: your position. The order in which you present these components will be entirely up to your discretion. Meet with me if you need help arranging your ideas, or with any other task.

Helpful Hints and Reminders • • • • •

• •

Write in 12-point New Times Roman font Double-space your essay Include page numbers Develop a strong thesis; make sure that each one of your major points supports it Edit and proof read, set your essay aside for at least an hour or more, take ten minutes to read it aloud carefully and slowly to someone who will listen before you turn it in Consider the opposing side of the argument and refute it Page limit: 4 – 8 pages

Activities •

First peer review workshop; read peers’ papers in their entirety for overall meaning. Logos workshop; read peers’ papers for logos Round-robin workshop; read peers’ papers for basic grammar and editing Second peer review; read peers’ papers in their entirety for overall meaning and bring a hard copy for me to review

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ENG 101: First Year Composition

Writing to Explore: News Talk Show Our news talk show groups will consist of four to five students who will write a script to discuss hot topics in the news today. Groups will consist of a host who is armed with thoughtful and provocative questions on the subject matter. You will earn points for participating and for doing the written and collaborative work together. You cannot get credit for participation if you are not in class or in scheduled group meetings.

Goals The goals of this exercise include the following: • Learning to research, critically analyze, and gather information which is relevant as evidence to your argument • Becoming adept at identifying not only differing sides of an issue, but the groups or parties that represent those opposing views • Developing the skill of creating thoughtful questions regarding the issues you are researching, which will help in developing a thesis for a written essay • Retaining information that you have gathered and studied

Format The talk show hosts will first identify the issue along with the guests (and the group/profession/organization to which they belong) in the introduction of the show. At the close of the script/discussion, the host will conclude by wrapping up the major points of the discussion and reiterating who the guests were. You are challenged to make the script readable; in other words, make the introduction to the topic, guests, and the issue meaningful, and also cohesive with the actual question and answer section (the body); and make the conclusion really wrap up the discussion of the subject, and what was at issue. Make sure you suggest some implications, recommendations, gaps in research, or future projections and calls to action.

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Structure of the Script The host will introduce the issue, the guests and their interests, and then will fire off a question allowing each guest to answer; then the host will offer another question, allowing guests to answer it; and so on. The host will conclude after all questions and answers are complete. Checklist for your groups: • Know multiple sides to the issue, and the groups that represent the differing views • Develop thoughtful and provocative questions raised in your study of the issues • Make sure each member contributes at least four sources to the talk show preparation, though you do not necessarily have to use all of them

Teamwork: Writing Your Document • •

• • •

Collaborate; get together and discuss what sources tell you Answer the following questions as a group: Who are the differing groups? What are the opposing positions? Why are they in opposition? What questions do these views bring to your mind? How does the issue relate to you, your family, your classmates, and your world? Why does the issue matter? Write out an introduction to the controversy Write the most provoking questions about which you all agree upon as a group Know the issues, address multiple sides of the argument, and write a conclusion that wraps up the most significant and diverse opinions/points expressed

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ENG 102: First Year Composition

Part 1 of 2: Exploring: Legitimizing a Social Problem Before you begin arguing for the betterment/improvement or eradication of something that you perceive to be problematic, unjust, unconstitutional, or inhumane, you must first familiarize yourself with the problem and attempt to establish its validity and seriousness via an historical overview, causal links, effects, and past attempts to quell the situation. In short, this is a research project that will address the issues chronologically, laying the groundwork for a complex argument, a solution that you will propose in your final essay. In this paper, you will need to: • Explore the history of problem (region, groups involved, longevity/duration) • Identify and explore catalysts/causes (focus on the most significant) • Provide details of its perpetration • Identify and explore effects/repercussions of the problem (via scholarly evidence, stats, anecdotal evidence, etc.) • Introduce 1 or 2 past failed solutions to serve as a bridge/transition into your solution • Additionally, each of the above should be established using a variety rhetorical appeals, which can be achieved through the use of the following: • Ethos: case studies/examples (media sources, scholarly sources) • Logos: data/stats, charts/graphs • Pathos: anecdotal evidence (personal narratives), photos • Lastly, you are strongly encouraged to employ visual strategies – from section subtitles, to bullets, to charts/graphs, to images – to strengthen your argument

Research Requirements •

Minimum of seven sources • Two multi-media sources (film, photos, etc.) • Two scholarly sources (something written by a scholar and published in a scholarly journal or book) • Three other reputable sources

Other Requirements • • •

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4 1/2 – 5 1/2 pages in length (not including visuals) 12-point Times New Roman font APA formatting throughout


ENG 102: First Year Composition

Part 2 of 2: Proposing a Solution Since you’ve already addressed the problem and established its legitimacy (via essay #3), you’re ready to move forward and propose a solution. Keep in mind that the problem portion of your essay should NOT be longer than the solution, so pare down the former if necessary. You might also want to revise your “problem thesis” since you no longer need it to function as the thesis of the argument. In the proposal, you will need to: • Begin with a transition of some sort, perhaps one that includes a brief discussion of a failed solution(s) (*note: you may only need to revise the end of your problem essay) • State your solution (note: this is the thesis of your argument, and it’s what’s called a “delayed thesis”) • Include an overview of the steps you’ll take to achieve your solution (supporting points) • Include your objectives/goals/desired outcome in the thesis or in a subsequent sentence • Discuss each of the steps you’ll take in an attempt to implement your solution (body Ps) • Consider addressing funding at some point. How and from whom will you be obtaining funding? • Discuss your desired goals/outcomes and explain how they’ll improve the situation • Identify and refute the opposition (to your new proposal) Source Requirements: • Minimum of nine sources total • Two multi-media sources (film, photos, etc.) • Three scholarly sources (something written by a scholar and published in a scholarly journal or book) • Four other reputable sources

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ENG 102: First Year Composition

Arguing Value In an essay, develop a revelatory argument about the worth of a specific topic. As always, the success of the writing depends on your intellectual commitment to transcend initial thoughts and explore the concept in depth. It will be easy to offer an initial opinion, but a more inventive and insightful essay will go beyond a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the topic; it will also call readers into a fresh perspective—a new way of seeing the harm or worth of the topic.

Part 1: Invention Notes Invention notes should be typed (word-processed) and posted to the Discussion Thread. As you will notice, Chapter 8 of the textbook includes key invention questions—those marked by gray arrows. Also, notice the sample responses—in which a writer responds. The writer uses the questions to extend thinking, to develop support, and consider opposing positions. Successful invention notes will take on several questions from each section of the chapter and fully explore the possibilities of the topic. You needn’t worry about paragraph coherence, transitions, and other arrangement features while writing invention notes. Instead, aim your energies at exploration—at analyzing ideas and unearthing new thoughts. For this project, please see invention questions on pp. 268, 273, and 282. Use the most helpful questions from each group. Also, we will conduct in-class invention workshops. You may borrow any/all insights from these workshops for your own invention.

Part 2: Drafts Draft 1: Content and Arrangement will be due and should be brought to your individual conference. Draft 2: Style and Conventions will be brought to class for peer review. Remember that writers who bring fully developed rough drafts to conference and peer review workshop consistently get better instructor and peer feedback —and consistently achieve better final results.

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Part 3: The Essay Use the sections of Chapter 8 to help develop a narrowed thesis, support strategies, and a well-organized essay. • •

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Starting Places (266-67): Use this spread to explore for possible topics Analyzing the Situation (268-69): This section will help generate your particular understanding of the topic—and help you to dig up particular and focused thoughts that distinguish your assertion from others Entering the Argument (270-73): Although we’re NOT necessarily using outside sources for this project, we can still explore how others think—through surveys and invention workshops Inventing a Thesis (274-76): These pages will help you to articulate your assertion in a single, focused sentence Inventing Support (277-82): This section offers particular strategies for fleshing out your ideas—for illustrating various dimensions of your point. (Explore forms of evidence and appeals) Arrangement (283-86): This section addresses common questions for organizing your argument Audience and Voice (288-90): With all writing tasks, we should try to transcend a flat and disengaged voice. Explore a range of possibilities for making your voice engaging Revision and Feedback: (290-91): Use these strategies to re-see your argument and develop it into an increasingly engaging and pointed reading experience

Outside sources are not required for this essay. However, one or two are permissible. Just be sure to cite and document as per APA format.

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ENG 102: First Year Composition

Arguing Crisis In an essay, develop a revelatory argument in which you evaluate a situation you deem a public crisis. Seek out a crisis beyond the most obvious social problems—those that constitute talk-show themes and political propaganda: violence in schools, welfare, street drugs, deceitful politicians, etc. Instead, try to discover a crisis that emerges from the life you have lived: problems in your community, attrition in college classes, lack of part-time employment for college students, and so on. Also, consider crises that lurk beneath everyday consciousness—those that people tend to overlook. A successful argument will go beyond expressing an opinion; it will also call readers into a fresh perspective—a new way of seeing or recognizing the crisis. This may include examining causes and results (e.g. the reasons why prisoners are now put in solitary confinement and the effects –obvious and hidden) and/or redefining a situation or problem (e.g. does solitary confinement constitute torture?). Use a minimum of four sources. Of these, three must be ASU Library research resources: database articles, books, government documents, etc. Any source of less than a page does not count as one of your four sources; nor does material gleaned from dubious or non-credible sources. If you are not sure if a source is sufficiently credible, please check with me. Please remember that while you are encouraged to use Wikipedia as an exploratory research tool, you may not use it in your paper. At all. The essay should be approximately 4 – 7 pages (not including the Title and References page), and in accordance with all syllabus and APA formatting instructions. Standard conventions of written English, including clarity and precise word choice, factor into the acceptance of the paper for grading and determination of its final grade. This is worth 25 percent of your final class grade. All research topics and thesis questions are subject to instructor approval.

Part 1: Invention and Research Journal As you will notice, each chapter of the textbook features a writer responding to key invention questions. The writer uses the questions to extend thinking, to develop support, and consider opposing positions. Successful invention notes will take on several questions from the chapter and fully explore the possibilities of the topic. You needn’t worry about paragraph coherence, transitions, and other arrangement features while writing invention notes. Instead, aim your energies at exploration—at analyzing ideas and unearthing new thoughts. Invention notes should be typed and posted to the Discussion Board.

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• •

• • •

Starting Places: Use this spread to explore for possible topics. Analyzing the Situation: This section will help generate your particular understanding of the topic—and help you to dig up particular and focused thoughts that distinguish your assertion from others. Entering Argument: This section will help you develop your position among other opinions. Inventing a Thesis: These pages will help you to articulate your assertion in a single, focused sentence. Inventing Support: This section offers particular strategies for fleshing out your ideas—for illustrating various dimensions of your point. (Explore forms of evidence and appeals.)

Although your position should not be eclipsed or overpowered by outside research, you will use sources as part of an overall argumentative strategy. Remember that sources need not only confirm your position. Do inventive research and explore sources that may oppose your ideas, help to illustrate a particular supporting point, develop your counterarguments, flesh out allusions, or even develop concessions. Your research entries will be used to create the Annotated Bibliography of Writing Project four. Please see Writing Project 4: Journal and Annotated Bibliography for further information.

Part 2: Drafts and the Essay Your first draft will be due at individual conference. Make certain to develop a good draft—something that warrants a close read, a careful examination. Those writers who bring fully developed rough drafts to conference and peer workshop consistently get better instructor and peer feedback—and consistently achieve better final results. • •

Arrangement: This section addresses common questions for organizing your argument. Audience and Voice: With all writing tasks, we should try to transcend a flat and disengaged voice. Explore a range of possibilities for making your voice engaging.

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Using Artifacts as Catalysts for Creative Non-Fiction Artifacts are indicative of an individual’s culture, shared experiences within families or between friends. Artifacts are literal, tangible things that can be described using sensory detail, but they also serve symbolic purposes, represent emotions, bonds, people, beliefs, etc. Once you’ve chosen the best artifact for your essay, allow it to serve as a conduit for a memory or series of brief memory fragments; furthermore, allow it to dictate the information that you include (remember, everything has to be connected; in other words, everything you write about in this essay must tie back into the artifact in some way). Your assignment is essentially writing exercise 12 on page 62. Keep in mind that though the artifact is the catalyst for series of brief narratives about the self and the self’s relation to others, the entire piece must have a purpose, i.e. must express something significant about you, your relationship with someone else, etc. Lastly, try to surprise your audience by making unique connections, weaving unique thread. For example, avoid using something like a “hair clip” as your artifact and then writing a brief narrative about your first haircut. Ultimately, you want the association between the thing and the narrative memory to be less obvious, anti-cliche. The final product should: • Be 3 – 4 pages in length • Employ the techniques discussed over the past two weeks: • Strong metaphors/beautiful language • Characterization (self or other or relationship) • Detail pertaining to scene (the action) • Sensory images/memory • Have a title • Should employ a unique artifact and contain surprising connections/threads • Be grammatically and syntactically sound, as well as rhythmical

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Personal Writing with Universal or Historical Implications: The Fine Art of the Essay Bernard Cooper’s essay “The Fine Art of Sighing” explores the author’s relationship to “sighing,” examining the seemingly mundane act through several members of his family while simultaneously acknowledging its biological and geographical universality. For this project, you’ll be using Cooper’s idea and template, but you’ll need to choose an act, action, or behavior that has both personal significance and universal or historical resonance. Like Cooper, you’ll need to: • Describe the act/action/behavior in impersonal terms—i.e. biological, physical, psychological, literal, metaphorical, behavioral, emotional • Explore the act via your personal relationship to it and/or practice of it • Explore the act through several generations/members of your family • Link it to the outside world by showing its universality, discussing its applications/manifestations within a larger community • Stay focused on the act at hand—your goal is to cover the vast territory of autobiography, biography, and universality through the lens of one minor act/ action, so stay on task

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Writing the Spiritual or Philosophical: Autobiography As with any strong work of creative nonfiction, the successful spiritual autobiography hinges on discovery through the writing process itself. The writer does not set out to give us predetermined answers, but instead allows us some insight into the questions that drive him. Spiritual autobiographies, in particular, “find interesting” the turns in the road, and the roadside attractions; they do not necessarily follow a straight line, but proceed more intuitively, meandering from point to point in a way that may seem digressive, but actually form a clear path in retrospect. Once you set out to examine your own spiritual inclinations, you will find yourself with a new set of writerly dilemmas: spirituality can be an arena fraught with pre-fabricated rhetoric and tired clichés. Your challenge, as a writer, is to find a language and a form so personal that only you can give us this rendition of the spiritual life. You must remain aware of how your brand of spirituality has been depicted in the past, and find a way to circumvent the expectations and resistance of your reader. Using one of the following prompts as a guide, write a creative nonfiction autobiographical piece focusing “on moments of insight” that have led you in a new direction. Use very specific, sensory details to reveal, “your self and its particular voice” in a non-cliché manner. •

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Describe a religious or semi-religious ritual that took place in your childhood with some regularity. Use quotes from this ritual as a frame within which you can describe memory, conflict, pleasure, and pain. Move your reader through this ritual with you. Using present tense and vivid imagery, show the emotion you felt about this particular rite as a child. [Variation: Write the scene in the past tense, from an adult perspective. How does your attitude toward this rite change?] Try to remember a moment in your childhood when you were first aware of a spiritual “presence” in your life. This can be anything from a moment within your spiritual tradition, or a moment in nature, or a moment when you were alone in your room. Describe this experience from the child’s point of view, in the present tense. [Variation: Describe a moment when you were aware of the absence of a spiritual “presence” in your life. Where do these different moments lead you?]


• •

If you have a repeating spiritual ritual, give us one particular scene out of this rite. Focus on one day, or one morning, or one hour that encapsulates what this ritual means to you. Try not to tell us what it means, but show us through the details you choose, the tone you create. Using Anne Lamott’s “Why I Don’t Meditate” as a model, write a scene of some spiritual “failure.” Using David James Duncan’s “The Mickey Mantle Koan” as a model, think about the “koans” that exist in your own life. What objects, people, places, or situations have always puzzled you? How do these things represent emotions or ideas that you haven’t yet been able to articulate? Begin an essay whose goal is to “push” at these objects until they yield some unexpected answers.

Keep in mind: • Develop your characters (you and others) with sensory descriptions, characterization through expression and movement and voice/dialogue. • Specifically detail your scenes to create setting, action, mood, theme, etc. • Is there an implicit purpose? Does the piece express personal significance, but also communicate universal emotions, themes, etc? • Do you avoid the use of clichés and “prefabricated rhetoric”? Do you manage to circumvent the reader’s expectations and resistance? • Is it clear? Does it use specific, precise language and word choice and omit needless words? • Is there fundamental accuracy of statement? • Do the elements of the piece function both literally and symbolically? • Is the language metaphorical and/or lyrical at times? • Is it 3 – 4 pages in length (when typed and double-spaced)? • Per the conventions of Standard Written English (SWE), is it grammatically and syntactically sound? • Does the punctuation add style to the piece and conform to SWE conventions? • Is the spelling correct? • Does your essay have a title? Page numbers?

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ENG 217: Writing Reflective Essays

Writing the Family Using one of the following prompts as a guide, write a creative nonfiction biographical piece that informs both our and your understanding of one of your family members. The focus is on the family member, although it is fine to include yourself—either in first or third person point of view. •

• •

Begin an essay by imagining the life of a family member—before you knew that person. You may interview the person and/or use concrete clues (artifacts, documents, photographs, etc.) to form a portrait of your subject before you were in the picture. You may also choose to include a comparison of the person then and now. How are they similar or different? Almost all families have some mythic story about someone meeting a famous person. Re-create a relative’s encounter with a famous person (Rekdal’s “The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee” may serve as a useful model). Write a family story in a voice other than your own. Think of a news story that has affected a family member. How does your family members involvement with, or reaction to, the news story affect your relationship with, or understanding of, that person?

Some things to keep in mind: • Develop your characters (sensory descriptions, characterization, voice/dialogue) and relationships. • Develop your scenes (movement, action, sensory description, settings). • Is there an implicit purpose? Does the piece express personal significance, but also communicate universal emotions, themes, etc? • Do the elements of the piece function both literally and symbolically? • Is the language metaphorical and/or lyrical at times? • Is it 3 – 4 pages in length (when typed and double-spaced)? • Per the conventions of Standard Written English (SWE), is it grammatically and syntactically sound? • Does the punctuation add style to the piece and conform to the conventions of SWE?

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ENG 288: Writing Stories

Fiction Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. – Anton Chekhov Over the course of the semester, you will submit two stories and one revision to your classmates and me for workshop critique. You are free to write a story about whatever you’d like—as long as it is literary fiction incorporating the elements. Each submitted draft is to be approximately 8 – 12 double-spaced pages in length. Please choose 12-point type in an easily readable font. Your name, the course number, the date, and story title (it must have a title) should appear on the first page. Please number your pages; this is necessary for workshopping. All drafts should always be proofed for grammatical and mechanical errors, spelling, awkward sentences, etc.

Elements of Story • • • • • • • • • • •

Showing and telling Characterization Dialogue Voice Point of view Conflict Plot Time Setting Theme Figurative language

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ENG 301: Writing for the Professions

Research and Writing about Professional Writing Assignment You will be conducting research, both primary and secondary, into writing in a specific profession and then using it to construct a formal report. The reason for the research: You would like to eventually create an organization (in the private or public sector) that can be modeled on the organization you are now researching (the one your interviewee works for). Use your imagination here if you have never thought of starting your own business.

Primary research You will conduct primary or “field research” and interview at least one member of a profession (more than one is allowed!) to learn about (1) the objectives and goals of writing within her/his organization, and (2) its writing culture (remember “professional writing” encompasses email, memos, web pages, newsletters, brochures, and/or reports, both formal and informal). You will want to ask questions that tell about the organization’s overall structure, and what its “writing culture” is. The structure includes the hierarchy of the organization, the chain of command, number of employees, various departments, etc. The writing culture entails challenges, benefits, and issues that writers and/or readers must deal with in order to communicate with the written word.

Secondary research You will also conduct secondary research to learn everything you can about the organization, including its writing culture—the needs, issues, and processes; and about professional writing in general, or specifically in the field or business your interviewee currently works in. Keep track of where you find these sources so you can cite them and list them in your references page. Collaborative Nature of Writing Tasks: Continuing the scenario consider me (your instructor) as your senior partner or team member collaborating with you and other team members to accomplish mutual goals; thus when you complete your report, we will help you fine-tune it by reviewing it and giving you suggestions for revision.

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Tasks and Experiences Involved: • • • • •

Conducting research in ASU libraries for academic resources Conducting field research: creating an interview protocol and conducting an interview Taking careful notes in the collection of primary and secondary data Using APA documentation, style, and formatting Collaborating with others to peer review writing

Additional Overview of WP1 Components Note: “Informal” means it does not need to be copy-edited or polished carefully—but it should always be read over before it is posted, even if it is informal, for higher order issues of meaning; “formal” means it must be carefully copy-edited. Informal research notes (posted first to BB Final Drafts for Grading) (a) document collection of data in ways that reveal sufficient primary and secondary data collection—i.e. date and summarize interviews, conversations, etc. in primary data collection; and cite and briefly summarize any secondary data collection; (b) provide the basis for claims to be made in the formal report Formal Report (posted first to BB Discussion Board for peer review; and second to BB Final Drafts for Grading) (a) front matter includes cover page, abstract, and table of contents; (b) body includes introduction, body with appropriate headings, conclusions/recommendations, and references page; (c) completion of research is evident with claims and conclusions clearly articulated and supported with adequate research; possible alternatives and opposition adequately addressed; (d) APA documentation of material is used carefully in the text, and in the references page; (e) back matter includes references page, and appendix if writing samples were provided by interviewee. Informal CAT (Classroom Assessment Tool; posted to BB Discussion Bd) (a) claims are made for each learning outcome that applies, or for each difficulty encountered with the assignment (b) substantial evidence is provided to back-up each claim ; (c) clear evidence of struggle, grappling with learning is presented.

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We Want Your Creative Work! Write On, Downtown!, is the journal of student writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The editors are seeking exemplary pieces of writing projects and creative works for its 2011 publication and conference.

What we’re looking for: •

Writing produced for any English class taken on the Downtown Phoenix campus during the spring or fall 2010 semesters. • First-year composition essays • Creative writing, any genre • Rhetorical writing • Literary analysis • Professional writing Multi-media or digital projects, such as Web sites and digital photography.

Submission Deadlines May 28, 2010 for your Spring 2010 assignments

and

Dec 24, 2010 for your Fall 2010 assignments

Please send an electronic copy (or the URL if it is a Web site) of your submission to writeon@asu.edu. All photographs must be high resolution.

Your entry MUST include: 1) A cover page that includes: • your name. • the title of your paper. • the class you wrote it for. • your instructor’s name. 2) Your paper. Please do not include your name on the paper itself. Disclaimer: By filling out this form, you give the editors of the Write on, Downtown! publication

permission to copy edit and publish the paper named above in electronic or print media as part of the Write on, Downtown! publication and conference.


Profile for College of Integrative Sciences and Arts

Write On, Downtown issue 4, 2010  

A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus

Write On, Downtown issue 4, 2010  

A Journal of Student Writing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus

Profile for writeon
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