Ninad's RCL Blog

Responses to the RCL-specific blog prompts

Category: Uncategorized

RCL #5 – Analysis of the Appeals of an Advocacy Website

The organization I’ve chosen to discuss for this post is the NRA. In the light of many recent school shootings, the NRA has taken measures which I am not in full support of. In taking a look at their website, I was able to analyze some of the logical appeals that they use in order to coerce donations from various different populations.

One of the most prominent appeals that the site uses are references to constitutional rights. Throughout the site, appeals to “your rights as an American” are sprinkled everywhere. A lot of the logical appeals can also be found in the politics, policy, and legislation section, in which the NRA details the policy-based solutions they see fit for gun control. A lot of the logic here is also rooted in granting the American people what they interpret the 2nd Amendment to give them. Primarily, the NRA feels that Americans have the right to protect themselves with arms, and thus should not have those rights taken away from the government. When reaching the actual portions of the website that ask for donations, the site does its best to suggest that each small amount of money goes towards maintaining that constitutional right among all citizens.

There aren’t many pieces of evidence offered on the site, instead using pathos-based appeals to advance their case. A large part of the website’s convincing strategies include references to American pride and patriotism, placing love for America’s founding values over everything else. I noticed a lot of logical fallacies with little actual argumentative strategies put in place to convince visitors of the site. The NRA feels that its target audience is most likely people who will never change their mind about pro-gun laws. As a result, their approach is tailored towards ensuring that those people simply continue donating to their cause at a similar or greater amount as they were before.

The actual website has a lot of visual appeals and is well designed. This lends me to believe that the NRA is looking to target both visual and emotional cues of their users. In doing so, they hope to produce a professional-looking website, maximizing profits from donations. Through the deep organization of the website and proper placement of items on webpages, the NRA website attempts to place the most important and emotional statements of the website at the forefront, leaving the less prominent logical appeals for body text.

RCL #4 – Persuasive Essay Draft

Audience: high school students, teachers, and administration

Thrust head first into college, our first taste what the experienced call “the real world”, it can be surprising to find just how unprepared four years of a supposedly rigorous, transitional high school program can render someone. With the transition to university comes a sense of independence students yearn for their whole lives, but also a plethora of personal responsibilities that they frankly aren’t prepared for. Doing laundry, recovering from illnesses, and even attending class on a regular basis, are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of tasks that become so much more difficult away from home. Perhaps one of the most prominent problems, however might be the general lack of a solid financial literacy background for most students on campus here on Penn State as well as around the country.

In a time where college expenses seem to increase by the day, wealth management could not be any more important of a skillset. While some students fall into addiction traps for products or services – Starbucks, fast food, and online shopping come to mind – others can find themselves neglecting life’s necessities, which proves to be detrimental in the long ru. Like with many problems of this nature, an instant solution remains place faith in education to do the job. Unfortunately, with standardized testing and examinations comprising a majority of high school focus for both teachers and students, administrative figures in today’s current secondary education system find little reason to promote the implementation of additional curricula regarding financial literacy. Firsthand experiences in college, however, tell a different story. Mandatory wealth management courses have the potential to instill within students life lessons in spending, saving, and prioritizing. Without any doubt, these types of classes are warranted, and though they might struggle to appeal to all students initially, they will surely expose high school students to smart financial practices, when they need said exposure the most.

Potential sources:

Body 1 will discuss the advantages financial literacy classes can have for students, including personal life lessons and habits that can be sustained long-term.

Body 2 will go into depth about the advantages financial literacy classes can bring schools in the large picture, including ways that these classes can promote curricular diversity.

Body 3 will go into some of the perceived negatives and challenges  their institution, and ways that the proper institution of classes can avoid these issues.

RCL #3 – Post-Deliberation Reflection

As part of the two-week Deliberation Nation event, I attended another deliberation which discussed the implications of mental health. While the topic was not the most interesting to me, I wanted to see how other students in Professor Hamilton’s classes were conducting their deliberations. Despite my initially low levels of interest in the topic, I left the deliberation with a better idea of mental health’s role on Penn State’s campus, as well as resources (as well as shortcomings) that I didn’t know our university even had.

The discussion took a few different approaches to tackle the issue. The one, however, which engaged the audience the most, was talking about the ways Penn State could incorporate psychological and mental health education into their own academic curricula. While some people were against the institution of mandatory coursework to teach mental health, I, along with others, were in support of replacing a general education requirement with a low-credit mandatory mental health awareness class, which would be taught by trained professionals and direct students to internal and external solutions to deal with issues. The main positives that I took from these types of solutions were their practicality, and their immense reach to a large portion of the university. Instituting such a class as a graduation requirement would severely decrease the amount of communication and logistic issues students have when dealing with their own mental health problems.

In the broad scope of things, the deliberation really showed me the value of voicing opinions in one’s community. The third pillar of the Schreyer Honors College stresses civic engagement, and I felt that the entire two-week span of Deliberation Nation really lent itself to allowing students to achieve that goal. The deliberation helped me learn about mental health in more ways than I expected, from an individual level to the university-wide level. It also gave me an idea of how a deliberation was to be conducted, and I took some of the positives and negatives from the event and tried my best to incorporate the good things into our own deliberation, which came only three days later. Experiencing a deliberation from both the audience as well as the driver’s seat really gave me the most immersive perspective of the event.

RCL #2 – Deliberation Article Comparison

To expand upon the discussion of Greek life that will commence during our deliberation in a few weeks, I tried to find articles which covered both sides of the argument that forms. The first article, a Time entry titled “Why Colleges Should Get Rid of Fraternities for Good”, discuss the immoral foundations of fraternities in our country up, as well as the unfortunate fraternity-related events which have taken place in the past few years, including the death of Penn State’s own, Tim Piazza. The main point the article makes is that the problems surrounding Greek life at our university as well as those all around the nation are inherent and unsolvable. Reform, according to the author, is futile because problems continue to occur even after steps are taken at fraternities. By the end, she acknowledges that the solution will be tough, but with American victories against slavery and the like, we should have no problem abolishing fraternities.

“Why Fraternities Will Never Disappear From American College Life”, from Business Insider, indirectly refutes the first by simply showing examples of failed abolishment across the United States. It also discusses the benefits fraternities provide to surrounding neighborhoods and the means through which they lower the stress on university administration, including campus housing, offering of outside social outlets, alumni donations, and the sheer value of student rights in the entire equation.

Where the connection between the two articles lies is in the back-and-forth debate they spark. It seems that for each point the first one brings up, the second one has a rebuttal and another point to be made somewhere within. Though they contrast in purpose, they both acknowledge that there is some sort of flaw in Greek life systems throughout the United States, only disagreeing in the feasibility of a solution that involves their removal. The articles could contribute heavily to our deliberation because they together provide such a diverse outlook on Greek life issues, spanning from one end of the spectrum to the other. Because our deliberation seeks to look at the issues from a similarly wide lens, we could easily incorporate ideas and opinions from both articles into our discussions of each side. We would look to place them primarily in the second section of our deliberation, where we hone in on the issues on the university level.



RCL #1 – Deliberation Update

Title: The Nu Era of Greek Life: Can We Make Fraternities Beta? How Should Frat Rho Be Delta With?

The deliberation will be going in depth and discussing the implications surrounding Greek life, particularly fraternities, here at Penn State as well as around the nation. We will be taking a three pronged approach, talking about them from the perspectives of the nation, university, and individual brother. In doing so, we hope to analyze and discuss all of the aspects of fraternities, both negative and positive, with hope that we’ll shine an accurate light on the issue as a whole.

My role is specifically to help contribute to research and deliberation for the second tier of our deliberation, which is fraternities from the university’s perspective. Of course, we’ll be discussing the steps Penn State has taken, will take, and should take to make steps toward progress in our Greek life’s reputation. I’ll also be examining the role of the more general university, looking at solutions which have been incorporated around the nation. I will also be contributing to the issue guide in whatever way I can to make this deliberation as effective and smooth as possible.


RCL #0 – This I Believe Script

“Sit back down and finish what’s on your plate!” Now more than ever, my mom’s strict but sincere voice often rings through my head, an indirect, repeated reminder of the simple values that define me.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hail from a modest family. The Mahajan clan, including those of us in the United States as well as the majority back in India, live a lifestyle whose cultural and religious influences have played an influential hand in our upbringings. Being religious has allowed our culture to play an influential hand in our upbringings, and as a result, we’ve learned to define ourselves by a set of few, core values that we live and breathe by. Values like, family comes first. Simple things like, eat whatever’s on your plate. And perhaps most importantly, a line my parents always seemed to find a way to drill into my head: “don’t take things for granted.”

Trust me when I say that I’ve taken this to heart. Witnessing the poverty of India plenty of times firsthand has definitely helped, and with each trip I make, my sense of privilege matures with me. Just this last summer, I had the opportunity to get closer with a lot of the children from my father’s native village. Every trip, we like to bring our cousins chocolate, clothes, and school supplies. It’s the least we could do for their kind hospitality every visit.  On this last particular trip, however, my eyes opened up to something I had never seen before.

One morning, one of my cousins tugged on my shirt as I sat on the couch. “I want to go share the gifts with my friends,” he said. “Will you come with me?”

Taken aback, I followed him outside. For the next couple hours, we roamed the village, visiting all the small kids of the neighborhood and delivering pencils, notebooks, and candy to each and every one. I saw families living in small huts with aluminum sheet ceilings. Children without proper beds to sleep on. Holes in the ground designated as toilets. But above all this adversity, I saw gratitude and happiness written on the face of each and every kid I met. Regardless of their background, in that moment of time they felt truly special.

As we made our way back home, I couldn’t help but ask my cousin about his generosity. “We got the gifts for you guys back home,” I told him. “Why’d you share them?”

He took a second, and then responded: “I’m lucky,” he said. He told me what he has that others don’t. Pencils. Clean clothes. Parents who can afford a tutor, so he can do well in school. Three meals a day. “I have everything I’d want,” he told me. “The other kids need this more than I do.”

And so, with the remarkable experiences I’ve had in my father’s village always floating in my mind, I believe in the unparalleled power of being grateful. As I wake up from my bed every morning to attend class, as part of a prestigious honors program at an amazing university in the home of the American dream, I can’t help but feel blessed. Having witnessed the relative nature of poverty firsthand, I remain content with what I have, no matter what situation I may ever find myself in. After all, with a loving family and great friends, a world-class education, and the rest of life’s necessities, what more could I ask for?

For me, living with gratitude leads to a life of happiness, and that’s richer than all the chocolate and pencils in the world.

This I believe.

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