The Data Behind the Movement

With all of the media attention people are giving to police brutality and the black lives matter movement coming together, I decided to look beyond what the media is telling us and do some research for myself. Some of the questions I had were “are blacks really more likely to be shot by police?” and “Is there a correlation between the ratio of blacks being shot and blacks being arrested?”. The only way to find the answers was to find the data to support it.

My first question can be answered with a simple yes. This actually surprised me, but it was not a large difference. Looking at the statistics alone, there were 990 people shot and killed by police in 2015 alone. That is an alarming number. Of those 990, 494 were white and only 258 were black. So now you’re probably wondering what percentage of the population is that. Is there still a higher chance you’ll be shot as a black man simply because there is a smaller population of African Americans? For whites that is .00025% of the total U.S. population, for blacks its .00068% of the population. So yes, there are proportionately more blacks than whites being shot. A whole .00043%.  This is also only taking into consideration people who identify solely as one race or the other and it does not take into consideration socioeconomic standings. That is another topic for another day.

To answer the next question, I wanted to use data that was reliable, so it is a combination of the 2015 and 2014 data but assuming a similar amount of people were arrested in 2014 as 2015. Of the 8,730,665 arrested 6,056,687 were white and 2,427,683 were black. The ratio of the killings to those arrests are .0081 per 100 for whites and .0106 per 100. There is definitely a difference but not one that I would deem a social epidemic.

The statistics for Hispanics its .00034% of the population being killed by police and the killings to arrest ratio is .0139. That is higher than both blacks and whites. Hispanics are more likely to be killed if arrested than blacks, whites, and any other race. So why is there no “Hispanic lives matter” movement? Does that mean they simply accept these statistics because it is better than they were treated in their respective countries of origin? It is something that can only be determined case by case.

What they DON’T tell you in these statistics is that of the 990 killed is that 782 were carrying a deadly weapon. Only 93 were entirely unarmed. If they felt threatened, those officers can easily justify their actions. And of the over 8 million arrests in a single year 93 is very few to have been injured even by accident. I realize that every life matters but in the grand scheme of a whole country and a social movement it seems like a lot to destroy property and kill others for such a small change.

So overall what I learned is that the media is not always right. The news is not always factual, and you can’t always trust what other people are telling you. So PLEASE BE SMARTER THAN THE MEDIA! Before deciding this is a cause you will support or even die for, please know the facts. Everyone in this country is entitled to speak their mind. It’s one of the best things about America, but it can also be our worst enemy sometimes.

In the future I hope I can continue research in this topic and look into it further to better understand the cause and hopefully find a solution if there is one. That is the only way to truly make a change. Violent riots don’t help, distrusting the police doesn’t help, and criticizing others is not going to change anything. So please respect our officers who do their best to keep us all safe.


Freshman Year Essentials

As I start my sophomore year of college I am seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and other sites about the ultimate college packing list. I saw these last year, printed them out, and followed the religiously. What a mistake! Making such a list is hard because no dorm is the same, but I have come up with a list of things that I found particularly helpful during my freshman year along with the reasoning behind my choices.

  • A water filter- Particularly if you don’t have a sink in your room, a pitcher with a filter is a great investment. It also means you don’t have to buy a million plastic bottles which saves money and the environment. Double win!
  • A Toolbox- A lot of other lists include this and I thought, oh I don’t think I will need one of those, I don’t do any handiwork around the house now. But you will be amazed at how handy something as simple as a hammer is.
  • First aid kit- If you are as clumsy as me, this is important. Of course there is probably a nurse on campus, but do you really want to have to walk the 15 minutes just for a band aid?
  • A Vacuum- From personal experience this is great especially if you have carpet and are a girl. There are some fairly inexpensive vacuums out there that do the job, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars. Everyone on your hall will ask to use it and thank you later.
  • A Husband pillow- I absolutely could not live without this. When you’re up until 2 am writing a paper, having a pillow that supports your back is heaven sent. It makes sitting in bed so much more comfortable and when you have limited seating it’s nice to have.
  • A journal- You may not have journaled before but it is great to have somewhere to vent and get things out.
  • Command Hooks- They are an easy way to hang things on the walls and great for organization.
  • A small Keurig- You can make almost anything with it. Ramen, mashed potatoes, coffee, tea, anything that needs hot water. If you are a coffee drinker it is definitely worth the investment instead of going to Starbucks every day.
  • Tide Pods- They are sooooo much easier than trying to measure out detergent and fabric softener. Trust me, so worth it.
  • Extension cords/surge protectors- Especially at LR there is never enough outlets. Technically these are banned but I have never heard of anyone’s being taken so go for it!


There are also a few things on the lists that you really do not need

  • A desk lamp- unless you really write a lot, most of your work is going to be done on the computer and a desk lamp is not necessary. Nor is any other extra lighting.
  • Extra sets of sheets- There really is no need, most people just wash their sheets and put them back on. I would say maybe one extra pair is okay but any more than that is not necessary
  • Towel Wrap or Robe- Unless you are super into wearing robes, you probably won’t use this.
  • Lap desk- I bought one of these and maybe used it twice all last year… sounds more helpful than it really is.

Making the Vote Count: An Insight Into the 2016 Presidential Elections


It’s all over the news, it’s taken over social media, and it’s impossible to ignore. This
year’s presidential election is topic of discussion in many classrooms and households, but it holds a special place in my heart. For a few years now I have been interested in politics and following what is going on in our society, and I feel as though it is my civic duty to do so. It started when I was about 16. I attended cyber school and in the mornings I watched the news for about an hour. My favorite segments were always political based and now that I am a college student my passion for it is elevated. What is different about this election from others is that I, like many of my freshmen peers are, for the first time, able to vote.

Now the hard part; making an informed and educated decision on which candidate to support. In order to do so, it is necessary to conduct some external research beyond what is presented on the forefront of mass media. To say it is hard to find sources that aren’t biased is an understatement.

As the primaries are under way, the forerunners in the 2016 presidential race are, on the democratic side, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, and on the republican side Donald Trump. All three agree that things need to change in our country but they do not agree on what those changes should be. According to Katha Pollitt, Hillary Clinton is being urged by Bernie Sanders to become more liberal and she is being pushed to conform to the democratic point of view instead of staying more towards the middle.

The ideas Clinton is being pushed toward, according Robert English’s article on Bernie Sanders, include a realist foreign policy. There have been many discussions of whether or not Sanders’ views are Utopian. English challenges this saying that Bernie Sanders plans to continue the U.S.’s military dominance but with more reservations. He doesn’t want to make quick military decisions but instead keep in mind the cost of overestimating minor threats. This is the opposite of what Donald Trump thinks we need to do to “Make America Great Again”.



Trump wants to amp everything up and make an impression.
Both of which he has done successfully so far. He and Bernie Sanders are both said to be making the most dramatic changes. While the article referring to Trump says that he wants to change immigration policies, the article on Sanders is more focused on his changes to foreign policy. These two can overlap and part of the charm for Hillary Clinton is she wants to change a little of everything but not do anything drastic.

Which candidate you choose may be based on these issues or others, but no matter why you vote or who you vote for, it is important to do so for your state and country.

Annotated Bibliography

English, Robert. “Bernie Sanders, The Foreign-Policy Realist Of 2016.” Nation 302.11 (2016): 20-22. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

Bernie Sanders is one of the leaders in the presidential race behind only Hillary Clinton in the democratic race. Robert English addresses the false accusations on Sanders and instead gives the reader what he deems to be facts about Sanders’ political platform in “Bernie Sanders, The Foreign-Policy Realist of 2016”. Bernie Sanders is thought to be seeking a utopian form of foreign policy but English argues that he instead is a realist in his foreign policy ideas. Sanders is also compared to the other potential candidates through the analysis by former defense secretary and CIA director Robert Gates.

Pollitt, Katha. “Yes, Hillary’s A Democrat.” Nation 302.4/5 (2016): 10-11. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

With Hillary Clinton as a forerunner in the upcoming election, it is no surprise that there are people who doubt her competence and who will “sling mud” at her. Katha Pollitt address those who have their suspicions of Clinton while also addressing those who support Bernie Sanders. Pollitt explains how Sanders has pushed Clinton to become an even better candidate and a more liberal at that. Pollitt suggests that Clinton was not influenced by her husband’s presidency and does not take anything for granted but instead she is doing something to empower herself and other women.

Engelhardt, Tom. “What Trump Means When He Says He’ll Make America Great Again” Nation (2016): Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 May 2016.

Tom Engelhardt addresses the notions that Trump is just a fad and will simmer out. He says that Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again!” has been there from the time Trump announced that he was running, and even if he does not win, Trump will have made an impact. The reasoning for this slogan is because Donald Trump does not believe America is great the way it is now and he alone is able to change that. Engelhardt also addresses the history of the notion of exceptionalism. The term was not used by any president until President Obama. The reasoning for this according to Engelhardt is because the United States was so dominant that they did not need a word to prove it with a work like “exceptionalism”.

Who is the Snail?

In Paul Muldoon’s poem “Hedgehog” he describes first the movements of a snail, then the actions of a hedgehog and lastly he connects the poem with a reference to God.

In class we discussed some possible interpretations of the poem including one where the hedgehog symbolizes God and the snail is a serpent like creature based on its description of “move(ing) like a Hovercraft, held up by a Rubber cushion of itself”.

I would like to offer a slight variation to this interpretation where the hedgehog remains as a Godly figure, but in this interpretation the snail would be the disciples or “us”. Muldoon writes in the third stanza “We mean no harm. We want Only to listen to what You have to say. We want Your answers to our questions”. This is similar to how we as disciples look to God for answers and we often claim that we listen to him.

Only Paul Muldoon knows what he actually intended to say in “Hedgehog” but as with any form of art, each person perceives it in a unique way.


Muldoon, Paul. “Hedgehog.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.

College is Forever: Garrison Keillor’s Experience VS. My Own

Garrison Keillor’s College Days depicts the personalities and characteristics of people he encountered during his college career, focusing on the first impressions he had of each group of people as a freshman. This analysis included professors as well as students. He also describes places on and around campus to give the reader a vivid picture of what his “college days” were like.

While reading his interpretation of his own college experience I can’t help but compare it to my own. The groups of people and the professors, even the places in town Keillor describes can be compared to those in Hickory, North Carolina. He talks of “Africans and Indians and Pakistanis and Koreans come to study plant agronomy and engineering, Africans blacker than midnight who spoke with British accents like John Gielgud’s, black Africans speaking beautiful French” all of which come together to create the student body.

At Lenoir Rhyne I tend to connect people not with their ethnicity but instead what sport they play. Just the other day I was talking to a friend and I explained someone else as “runner Jake” or “basketball Madi”. This isn’t meant to be derogatory but instead a way of deciphering who is who similarly to how Keillor differentiated people on his college campus based on their place of origin.

Keillor also gives the reader visuals about the places around the campus such as “[Where I] buy my books at Perrine’s, down the street from Al’s Breakfast Nook, near Vescio’s Italian restaurant and a rats’ nest of a bookstore called Heddon’s”, “Virg ‘N’ Don’s Grocery and a coin laundry called The Tub, and McCosh’s Bookstore”, and “a fine little coffeehouse called the Ten O’Clock Scholar”.  They are a little outside of campus but still within walking distance.

Almost every campus now has a coffee shop, if not on campus, then nearby. At Lenoir Rhyne we have Joe’s coffee, where the infamous Joe takes your order, swipes your meal card, and if it isn’t too busy, asks you about your day. Instead of an Italian restaurant, Hickory has Nara’s, a Japanese restaurant that gives you a ton of food for a small price. Basically every college kids dream. Instead of Virg’N’Don’s Grocery we have Lowes foods that gives us a discount for shopping on Sundays. Although they have different names and slight differences, the campus Keillor went to, was almost identical to Hickory and Lenoir Rhyne. You could most likely find equivalents for this places at nearly every campus in the United States. Each with its own quirks but still similar.

Although we are never told exactly what years Keillor was in school it is safe to conclude that it was not recently. Sometime not long after the great depression would be my best guess, but it may perhaps be on purpose that he does not include the dates. By not giving us dates he alludes to the fact that although we think things have changed over the years, college is in fact nearly the same. The same kinds of people, similar places, and the same experiences had by the students.

Unit 1 Paper


To Be or Not To Be: Online

            New York Times article The Trouble with Online College addresses the pros and cons of online classes being offered to college students. This is a topic I find particularly interesting due to my personal experience with the matter in both High School and College. As a high school student I enjoyed the freedom of online classes offered, and the flexibility I was given to learn at my own pace, however many students find this aspect of online classes challenging. As the article suggests, many students do not stay enrolled in online classes or are ill prepared to transfer to another form of education. “Is there a solution to the problems with online classes? Should we continue to offer courses online?” These are the kinds of questions professors and institutions are asking themselves when looking at continuing to offer online courses.

When looking at solutions for online schools we must also take a look at what challenges students are facing in their learning atmosphere. Low retention rates are one of the main challenges student encounter while enrolled in online colleges and this is primarily caused by the lack of interpersonal relationships built between fellow students and professors. Since the students aren’t interacting with the professors or other students they don’t feel obligated to commit to the work or offer their best efforts in each assignment. There is no one there to let down other than themselves, and without outside forces pushing them it is easy for the student to fall behind and even drop out. One proposition to cope with this problem is to offer other forms of social interactions. If your only option is online, start a chat group or exchange phone numbers, that way the students are held accountable and have someone to lean on when they feel discouraged or unfocused. Instead of feeling like no one will notice their absence the student will feel more connected to others. As a student enrolled in a cyber charter high school, Commonwealth Connections Academy, I found it difficult to connect to others, but the school made an effort to connect students through clubs and regionalized gatherings for picnics. It is important for the school to take the initiative if they want to improve retention and success of its students. Classes like my Chemistry class saw significant improvements because students were able to support each other through difficult material.

Connecting with the professor is another challenge; one that is up to the professor. It is their responsibility to reach out to the student and create a relationship with the students. During my experiences it was much easier for the professor of my U.S. History course which was a hybrid course (partially online and partially in a traditional classroom) to do this than it was for professors of courses offered solely online. The online professors have to spend more time and put in more effort to reach out to its students through phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication. In a hybrid class the professor has the opportunity to see the student face to face at least a few times, and that kind of interaction cannot be replicated.

When thinking about whether or not to maintain the online courses or to terminate them, it is important to weigh the benefits compared to what you lose. It is an agreed on idea, that highly motivated students benefit from online courses but what about everyone else who is average or even below? The article says “low-performing who may be just barely hanging on in traditional classes tend to fall even farther behind in online courses.” (Trouble). There may be a way to keep these students on board though. They are considered “low-performing” but that could quite easily be from lack of good teaching, outside distractions, or a whole list of other factors. How can we be sure that these are not students who were going to drop out despite the kind of classes they enroll in.

The questions mentioned above cannot be answered simply and will require years of research, trial and error, and experimental classes. There may not be a substitute to traditional classes similar to how there is no substitute for face-to-face conversations. While online classes can be extremely helpful, there are some better suited for traditional classroom experiences. Science courses are extremely hard online because of the lack of hands-on experience you receive through a computer screen. Foreign Languages are also challenging since you cannot converse with another person and according to most professors that is an extremely important part of learning a language. So if the question is “Should we continue to offer online courses?” my answer is yes but modified, so that professors and students alike benefit from the experience.

Snow Day on a Snow Day

Billy Collins’ poem “Snow Day” is a depiction of a day with snow on the ground as he sees it. Collins includes descriptions of places covered in snow and schools that are closed down.

Collins writes “and the dog will porpoise through the drifts” (13). It is an interesting choice of words, where most of us would not have used the word porpoise to explain the actions of a dog. I often think about something in the water when that word is used, but I believe Collins found this word appropriate because he wanted to depict how the snow feels. It makes you wet and it especially sticks to dogs’ fur. Out of curiosity I did more research on the word “porpoise and according to it is a verb used to explain a movement up and down near the surface of water or through water, similar to how the animal of the same name moves. It gives a distinct image of how the dog moves and was a creative choice many writers would not think to include.