Second interview for Final Project

I just interviewed my second contact for my final project, Samantha Willis. She is a student and the energy programs intern who works closely with the physical plant near campus to initiate projects for sustainability and energy efficiency. This interview got me particularly amped up about this topic.

Samantha is a student and a serious advocate for more alternative energy on campus. She was an excellent contact because she works with the physical plant so she knows the ins and outs on how these projects work, and what goes into it. She was also a great contact because she is very passionate about having more alternative energy on campus. She revealed to me some of the limitations in the way of alternative energy including money and politics. This is sort of what I suspected, I’m going to do more research and talk to more people to see if my “hunch” is more than just a “hunch”.

So far, I’ve learned that although our campus has a particularly “Green” mindset and a lot of people out there are pushing for renewable energy, there are certain complications in the way of implementing alternative energy. I need to find out what’s missing and standing in the way of these advocates.

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Southwest Survey

Our class went to Southwest residential area tonight to conduct a survey asking a series of questions related to study habits, nightlife, and drinking. My group went out to Washington tower, and had a little trouble finding people willing to take our survey. It seemed like not a lot of people were really around for some reason. However, we found a few willing and found out some interesting things.

I found that no one said they took stimulants like Adderal to help them study. This could be because none of them actually had, or because they were unwilling to admit to that. I’m willing to guess if participants had actually used these stimulants, they would keep that to themselves.

Although students may have been a little sketched out to talk about stimulant use, the participants seemed extremely open about drinking. One student admitted that he consumes over 10 drinks in a night.

While drinking is a huge issue on campus, students don’t seem to concerned with sharing their binge drinking habits.

Most students seemed to be studying or doing homework, but I have a feeling if we did this survey over the weekend, we would find a very different result.

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Moving to America

Yesterday I interviewed a senior year student from Afghanistan who moved to America in 2000 to escape a war ridden country and to gain equal rights. I have to say I was truly honored and touched to meet this girl. Her story is so inspiring and unique. Afghanistan is a country taken over by the Taliban, a group who torture and oppress to violently control and take over.

She taught me a lot of things about foreign students coming into this country and attempting to integrate their lives with ours. Culture shock is an understatement to what she went through trying to live her first few years of life in America. Some things about our culture really upset and offended her at first, such as the way in which boys publicly show interest in girls. In her old country, girls are completely covered by a Burqa and it is illegal for men to even look at women.

It is really important to take into consideration what people from other countries are experiencing while moving to America. We need to be as tolerant and welcoming as possible. Imagine…moving your life to another country where you don’t understand not only the language, but anything about the way of life as well. Just because you don’t understand something or why someone is acting a certain way, does not mean it’s wrong or bad. Remember, EVERYONE has a past and EVERYONE has a story.

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All the President’s Men

Prior to watching this movie, I knew very little about the Watergate scandal. I knew of course that Nixon was involved and was the first president to resign early from office.

After watching the movie, I did some background research to understand a little more what went into this scandal. It’s amazing to me how Woodward and Bernstein were in their twenties while investigating this case! They were “hungry”, as the film portrayed them, and followed the clues to unveil a huge controversy that shook up America.

In class we talked about the importance of this scandal in how unwatched power can very quickly become corrupt power.

To me, this just goes to show how important Journalism is to a democratic society. It provides a window into the world and keeps an eye out for things happening on a governmental and community level. If we just didn’t care about things like government policy, the power would go unchecked and our democratic society could become less than that very easily.

The film also illustrated the trials and triumphs of investigative reporting in general. Woodward experienced an extremely high up but very confidential source “deep throat”, and while “deep throat’s” information was vital and accurate, the public needs a real concrete and visible source for reliability. “Woodstein” worked their way through their sources and pieced together the puzzle to discover what was really going on with the Watergate burglary. Most importantly, they didn’t give up. The Post was criticized for being misleading and biased, but they pressed through the investigation and brought justice to the public.

This concept also goes along with the 60 Minutes documentary quote “the good news is we’re not cops, the bad news is we’re 60 minutes.” Sometimes Journalists have much more power and responsibility than law enforcement.

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Final Project: First interview

For the final project in class “Improving UMass”, I’m looking into alternative energy and sustainable practices on campus. Environmental issues are extremely important and necessary for not only the school community but the global community. UMass does a pretty outstanding job of incorporating “Green” practices on campus, but why isn’t there more use of alternative energy? For my project I’m going to focus on what is standing in the way of implementing alternative energy and how our campus could benefit from it.

For my first interview I contacted Jeff Quakenbush part of planning and facilities here at UMass. He worked on the ISB building and is now working on a few buildings in progress such as the New Laboratory Science building. Jeff Quakenbush gave me some useful insight into what goes into constructing a new building on campus and gave me a list of energy efficient and sustainable practices incorporated in constructing the buildings. Interestingly enough, the new lab science building being built does not use alternative energy, BUT Quakenbush explained they took advantage of the excess heat already existing from the building by implementing a Heat Recovery Chiller. Quakenbush explained how using alternative energy was not cost effective and did not work out for the building.

Jeff Quakenbush also gave me an official document accessing the checklist used for LEED guidelines for new buildings. LEED ensures new buildings utilize certain green practices.

I learned how there’s a lot that goes into incorporating alternative energy in buildings which is a good start into the project, moving on I would really like to see how more alternative energy could be used on campus…

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Rebels in Libya



I started following the events in Egypt at the very tail of the revolution. Now I’m attempting to follow what’s going on in Libya, it seems a little more complicated to me but I found a few good resources that have given me some useful insight and background into not only the current events, but also a background on U.S involvement in past foreign situations.

I found this piece interesting as it gave me some insight into the dynamics of the relationship between the U.S and some of the countries in crisis at this time .

The article pointed out how there are pro-democracy revolts in Yemen and Bahrain as well as Libya, but the U.S. is providing the most aggressive support to only Libya. The writer: Andrew North, noted the U.S. is allies with both Bahrain and Yemen so it would be of the best interest for the U.S to keep a distance. Another point the author made is that Bahrain neighbors Saudi Arabia which is in close ties with the U.S.

I’ve also been reading about the Libya revolts in the New York Times. The Multimedia section has some useful means of clearing up some confusion or questions about this crisis in Libya. Specifically, there is a slideshow  called Battle for Libya. There are various images of the rebels actually in battle with weapons and wounds. This is effective because it’s one thing to read about people fighting for a revolution, and to actually see these people right in the middle of their efforts.

One picture of a man pointing a rifle at a fellow rebel with suspicions of a traitor being in the midst just shows how hectic and intense this situation actually is rather than reading a whole article about how hectic and intense the situation is.




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What’s Going on Over Seas?

I watched a video yesterday presented by The Media Education Foundation based on the book Blood and OIl by Michael T. Klare that gave some history and background on U.S relations with the middle east.  The video emphasized the centrality of oil in U.S. foreign policy and the middle east. It was interesting to me how up until around the 1940’s-50’s, the U.S. produced all the oil we consumed. Now it is apparent that we are desperately dependent on imported oil.

Something that disturbed me was the U.S alliance with Saudi Arabia. We provide military support and protection for a country that oppresses it’s people, especially women. We provide this support because Saudi Arabia has that precious resource: oil. Maybe I’m naive to think this, but I really don’t think a democratic country with a historic reputation for freedom should be supporting an oppressive country for economic gain.

According to the National Defense Council Foundation: the U.S. spent 137 billion dollars on oil-related defense in 2007. The U.S spent around 70 times the amount spent on developing alternative sources of energy during that same period.

Oil is not a renewable resource, it seems to me we should be making efforts towards a more sustainable alternative rather than fighting brutal fights for a resource that is contributing to environmental demise and will deplete sooner rather than later. 

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