Post Deliberation Report: preventing Sexual Assault at Penn State

For my deliberation I chose to explore, I decided to check out Take back our campus: How can we Prevent Sexual Assault at Penn State? It was located at Webster’s Bookstore in Downtown State College. The topic itself was presented really well, and there was a very varied amount of people present there which was nice. It was, unfortunately, kind of crowded and a little uncomfortable squeezing in so many people in such a crowded area. The information was presented in a very friendly manner, as far as sexual assault as a topic goes, and conversation flowed freely, although men were underrepresented in the discussion as a whole, since not as many showed up.

The deliberation began with statistics on sexual assault on campuses as well as statistics at Penn State, which could have had better sources, as I saw none listed in the pamphlet they gave us. They decided on dividing the group ups into three tables where around ten students sat to each one, but I think this was a good idea since it allowed for a more close knit environment for shared discussions. The first subject they decided to discuss in small groups was alcohol and it’s role in sexual assault on campus, and that was quite interesting. They went into detail on the university’s policies to help students avoid compromising situations, but overall everyone agreed that besides telling students not to drink, the university does not really provide much assistance in the exposure students receive once they reach college. A major issue I see with this, and that I have gone into extensive detail in with my passion blogs before is the fact that in the United States at least there arises a drinking culture where alcohol is considered taboo for much of our adolescence, and once we reach college we do not understand how to deal with it in such quantities. I personally was annoyed with my group leaders a little because the group moderator, or at least the guy running the first sub section was obnoxious about cutting people off in the middle of their points, to continue on with one of his sub points or to pose another question. If he had just let the conversation flow naturally, there would have been a better dynamic to the deliberation and to the discussion overall, I think.

As for the second point that the group went into, they discussed Help available on campus for sexual assault. We discussed programs available to help intoxicated students return home, as well as their pros and cons, how Safe Walk doesn’t respond fast enough due to being understaffed, the cons with catching buses to and from downtown, the issues with frat parties and not knowing anyone, as well as the fact that due to fear of receiving underages, some students do not reach out to medical services when they ought to, with negative results.

The third point we talked about in the deliberation was bystander intervention, and I think this was really well done. We talked about how to avoid awkward situations, how to distract people from a negative situation, and other methods of intervening when we see something happen. We talked about what the university could do more to fight this issue, from sanctions against frat houses where rape occurs, to punishments students should face for committing these assaults. Overall it went well, and I’m glad I showed up, I thought it was quite interesting and informative.

Civic Issues 2: Lies Lies Lies

Something that has shocked me in the election cycle of Donald Trump and the first weeks of his presidency are how convoluted and twisted his methodology of politics has become. Looking at a website that tracks statememnts made by leading politicians, only 4% of statements issued by Trump presented as facts are 100% true. The rest are wither mostly true, half true, mostly false, false, or simply Pants on Fire, a special option given to the statements that are simply outrageous.Currently, Trump’s statements are all shifted heavily in the false category, and this is something that can be backed up with measurable evidence, it’s not opinion. What he says is not true. What I find shocking is the apparent disregard for the truth that people have in defending him no matter what he says. When I see and hear about people blindly gobbling up his tweets and nonsense statistics, it is infuriating. to be completely honest though, I am not sure which is more infuriating, the orange hot air balloon currently president, or the people that voted him in. The disregard for facts is shocking, and I find it ridiculous that in this day and age these people can be so incredibly vocal on subjects they know nothing about.

I think it’s a good thing that higher ups in top security positions are skeptical of him however, and are hesitant to provide him with information especially considering the man doesn’t even read his security reports because they’re too boring. This president has built his support on a web of lies, so we shall see just how well it can hold up to the strain of bull spouting from his administration. With recent news of members of his security advisory having ties with Russia, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an ongoing investigation into his administration as we speak, collecting dirt on the shady dealings Trump is undertaking and exploiting in his current position of power. I fear for the future of this country, and the future of global balances of power, because it seems to me things are destabilizing at an unprecedented rate.

PAS 13 Academic Alcohol

For my 13th Passion blog, I decided to take a look at The Anth 197 course Anthropology of Alcohol taught by Dr. Kirk French. I am currently in the class and I think it is fantastic. In the class, you learn about other cultures around the world and their traditions involving alcohol, which are varied and fascinating. Currently, we are on the subject of Mongolia, after having visited China and Japan, where we learned of the varying types of alcohol produced there. It really is quite interesting learning how different cultures and people use whatever is available to them to produce booze, whether it be from grapes, grain, cactus, rice, or even horse milk! We learn about different societal norms when consuming alcohol, which are quite interesting, and I would definitely recommend learning about chinese customs involving drinking, as they are unique and bizarre from an outsider perspective. The course has not explored many other places around the world just yet, but I hope to use the information I learn in the course to target people from specific countries, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of their perspective. I really enjoy the class and highly recommend anyone take it, because without fail in every class I learn something new about a foreign culture and the people in them.

Another thing Dr. French does to keep the class interesting is bring in containers of the alcohol from around the world, whether it be vials of airag or the fermented milk he brought from Mongolia, or bottles containing unique and rare animals inside, like cobra liquor. I find that I really enjoy the class and all of my classmates do as well. I find that the class actually inspires me to learn more about alcohol and the background it has around the world and helped broaden my perspective which I am very grateful for. I believe that in a university that is so labeled as a alcohol intensive location, it is useful to have a broad global perspective on this topic and learn how other people drink too. Not only for personal informative reasons can this information be considered useful, but in business as well. If you think about it, someone who is very familiar with the customs and beliefs of a certain foreign country has a much higher chance of succeeding there than someone who is completely alien to the people and their habits. In this aspect, I think the class actually prepares you for the future and is quite useful. Another thing I wanted to mention is that there is a fieldwork component involved in the class too where data on drinking at penn state needs to be collected through a variety of means which is quite promising. The fact that this data is being collected i think is fantastic, as I’m pretty sure no other liquor industry has collected data on the consumption of liquor on a campus. They might have an idea from the sales they make, but I think they are quite unsure about the specifics, and that is quite interesting. Besides all this I really think the class is super interesting and would highly encourage anyone to take it in the fall.

PAS 12: An Insightful Interview

For my 12th Passion Blog post, I was able to interview the professor that I had been interested in interviewing last week. In order to maintain the anonymity of these interviews, I only disclose that they work here at Penn State and are from the southern United States. The Professor I interviewed is from a very religious family, where his father was a deacon and believes this greatly shaped the motives and reasoning behind the manner in which he consumes alcohol. He tells me how his family never consumed or even purchased alcohol, which is by far the most unique case among people I have interviewed from the US. He tells me that he still drank, but it was secretive and he did it behind his parents’ backs, as did his friends.

He tells me that in a similar manner as how us students were taught that marijuana is a gateway drug into harder drugs alcohol was taught to be equally as bad in his household. I would be extremely curious in learning the manner in which he chooses to approach teaching responsible consumption of alcohol to his children, seeing as he grew up in this unique environment.

Something I was curious about in learning was how his parents dealt with social situations involving alcohol, but he tells me that his family never went to parties where alcohol was present, and his parents were not friends with people who drank.

In stark contrast to his parents, he tells me that he drinks alcohol almost every day and very much enjoys it and its effects.

In regards to drinking in social situations, he tells me that he actually finds it difficult to not drink in social situations, but because he has been conditioned to drink in most social situations for the past 10-15 years or so, which I found really interesting. However, he tells me that he does not feel incomplete without a drink and he does not feel that he needs to drink to have a good time.

In terms of the role alcohol plays in his life, he is very much interested in it and is currently doing research on alcohol related subjects, so for him, he finds that alcohol is a neutral subject in that it helps pay the bills.

In terms of how his opinion on alcohol has shifted since coming to Penn State, he tells me that now he drinks for a different reason. While he understands that young adults go out and drink to have a good time and socialize and hook up, he tells me that ever since he has been married the drive to go out every night has dropped and now he goes out to actually have fun, as opposed to looking “for a mate” as he put it, haha.

In terms of alcohol allowing him to fit in with society, he definitely feels that alcohol helps things out, which I find interesting, and I definitely appreciate the more knowledgeable perspective, it provides an external view of this whole passion blog, which is something I really appreciate.

I think interviewing this professor was very useful and beneficial for my blog, and the perspective from someone who has seem Penn State for quite some time is really cool.

I’m not sure who I’ll interview for my next passion blog, but I’m confident that whoever it’ll be will be able to offer a unique perspective that offers more insight into the cultural norms that flow invisible to ourselves in this society. Maybe I’ll try interviewing a member of the police force, or someone in that genre.

Stay tuned!

Civic Issues 1 Politics of Power

For my first Civic Issues Blog post of the second semester, I decided to take a look at the politics involved in policies regarding our environment and energy sources. With the recent Trump administration appointment of an oil billionaire in the position of the lead interior transition team, our environment has been at risk like never before. Short term profits are overlooking the planet we all share. The arrogance of these people to willingly tarnish our public lands astounds me. What shocks me even more is how stubborn these executives can be against the obvious truth. It is a FACT that the climate is changing as a result of the carbon emissions we have released and the criminal behavior of these people who deny it should be punished. It seems to me that the only thing that would change the mind of these people is if they saw the results of their abusive policies where they lived. This worked in the past, where a man named Hugh Hammond Bennett took advantage of a massive dust storm rolling into Washington DC to pass legislation regulating soil and irrigation practices in the US that were causing millions of dollars in damages and vast unemployment in the Dust Bowl region of the United States. It was not until the senators saw the thick clouds rolling in and felt the sand get everywhere that they realized this was something that was an issue. Is this what we’ll have to wait for? Are we going to have to wait until the private beach houses of these oil billionaires are flooded by rising sea levels and overrun with non decomposable plastic to see change? I for one refuse to wait this long. Among haunting Wall-E -esque visions of our world filled with trash and humans being forced to evacuate, I think it is abhorrent to let our natural beauty be sacrificed over quick dirty profits. Where is the push toward renewable energy? We know that oil reserves are limited, and that it takes millions of years to create, so why can politicians not push towards a sustainable future? I sincerely wish to understand the rhetoric going on inside these people’s heads.

Unfortunately, looking back at the example Hugh Bennett left us, I shudder to think about the type of storm needed to wake up the consciousness of these people. The scary thing is, a simple search reveals the rise of the Earth’s average temperature by less than 10 degrees could spark increased severe weather events, mass extinctions on a global scale, difficulty growing crops, and mass human migration. Imagine the refugee crisis in Syria right now. Now imagine the catastrophe that could arise if such a situation were replicated around the world as living conditions become unbearable and crop shortages become standard. I admit, it sounds apocalyptic to think of that stuff in today’s day and age, but I envision this increasing in severity over the next 50 years, unless drastic measures are taken to address these issues. As much as this blog asked us to be impartial, I believe I am, seeing as this concerns everyone, because we all share the same planet.

I think it is also interesting to note the cultural prevalence that gas has in our lives. Simply looking at Penn State, something I found to be extremely ironic are the CATA buses that go around campus. If one stops and looks at the sides, you can see written “Powered by Clean Natural Gas”. I find this extremely misleading. How can burning gas be considered clean? If the buses were based on 100% renewable energy I would believe this slogan, but the way I see it, it is simply misleading and false. I think the misleading and poor understanding of climate issues and the need for responsibly powered machines stem from a failure in the education system. To keep the public in the dark, or even to confuse them is an excellent tactic for maintaining control over them. To keep them blissfully ignorant allows these wealthy people to maintain the influence they have achieved. I think I will continue exploring these topics I mentioned in further blog posts, as I am deeply committed to understanding how our political situation is shaping the world around us.

Here are my sources

Trump Appoints Big Oil Think Tank Director to Lead Interior Transition Team

RCL: This I Believe Script

I believe it is crucial for everyone to know fluently at least 2 languages. In my experience, having a second language completely rewires your brain and the manner in which you approach problems. It sounds abstract to monolinguals, but if you ask any bilingual person, they will certainly agree. Not only can you experience and appreciate foreign cultures better, you gain a unique perspective towards the natural world. In my experience at least, I have found that when I look at an object, be it an apple, computer, pencil, or book, my mind doesn’t just limit itself to classifying the object in its English name, I also immediately think about the other names for the object in Italian, or French, since that is what I am currently studying here at Penn State. But it is not that simple. Oh no. When I see an object, I find myself not only thinking back on how the American culture I live in engages it, but how the Italian culture I know approaches it. I think it’s something that transcends words. Take Ice Cream for example. In the U.S. we all have memories of chasing the ice cream truck as it jingles down the street on a hot summer day, but in Italy, ice cream is a more stationary, traditional event, where handmade or “artigianale” batches are appreciated with family and friends at a bar.

I think everyone should be able to look at any object and admire how different cultures approach it. A similar analogy I would liken this to is knowing that you are a person, but at the same time, you can be male, female, white, black, old, young, healthy, and sick as well. These are all adjectives to describe you as a human and all make up a part of who you are. To understand another language and even better, the culture where it is spoken is like adding an entire layer of adjectives to describe yourself, ones that you cant even think about yet, because you may not know them. Not only do you gain another layer to understanding the world around you, I believe that knowing more languages has helped me gain an appreciation for the diversity that surrounds me and how not everyone shares your same viewpoint, but that is perfectly okay.

I believe that if you learn another language, you will experience this too. I believe that knowing another language enriches you as a person and will make you completely different from before. In my opinion, the earlier you begin, the better, but there is no harm in taking your time with it. On the contrary, I think that when one takes their time it allows you to completely submerge yourself in another world. The beautiful thing about us humans is that in our small world we have such vastly unique customs and habits, its almost like exploring an alien planet, but the extraterrestrials look just like you. To then be able to speak with these people and learn how they live is incredible to me and I honestly love it. Nothing engages me quite like learning about other cultures and to be able to speak with them is like obtaining a key and unlocking a treasure room in a magnificent castle. I invite anyone I know to explore traveling abroad, and most importantly to learn another language, as you will be so happy you stuck with it, I guarantee it.

PAS 11: A Continued Look

For my first passion blog post of my second semester here at Penn State, I think I will continue what I started in the first semester, in other words, interviewing students here at Penn State, both foreign and local, on their experiences growing up with alcohol and how they have changed since coming here to Penn State. I decided to continue this blog because I realized that with the start of a new semester comes the possibility of interviewing new people, and with new people come new experiences, and opinions, and ideas. For my first Interview, I’ll interview a good friend of mine who I met during my first semester. As with every interview I do, I will keep the identity of each interviewee anonymous, and will only divulge information they feel comfortable sharing.

My friend I asked to interview was born here in State College, so she is very familiar with the culture of drinking at Penn State. She has one of the most complicated relationships I have ever seen regarding alcohol in someone and I think this makes her very unique.

She, like most people I have interviewed so far, believes that alcohol is treated as a forbidden fruit in the United States, and that the later a drinking age is delayed, the more issues arise, especially with underage people. She provided a unique perspective in that she told me that she thinks that as a result of the drinking restrictions here in the US, it forces people to drink in private, where it is much more unsafe, in her opinion. She explains how her sister worked as a bartender and how at bars, once you have clearly reached a limit, the bartender cuts you off for the night, whereas at a house party no one does such a thing, and you run your own risk. I never thought about it in that manner, and I found that to be really interesting.

She tells me that in her house alcohol was never taboo, and there was open drinking since she was a kid. She tells me how her grandparents on both sides were alcoholic and how it runs in the family. As a result, she has seen the nasty side of drinking quite often.

My friend tells me how she is not a big drinker at all as a result, and how she might have alcohol twice a year, both on special occasions, but never at parties.

In response to my question on whether or not she needs alcohol to have a good time, she tells me that she’s honestly afraid of drinking, and that if she starts it could easily descend into alcoholism. As a result, she does not know if she needs it to have a good time, and I think that is really interesting.

She tells me that even after all the things alcohol has done to her family she still firmly believes that alcohol has a minimal impact on her life, which I found interesting as well, especially considering her family.

In spite of having such negative experiences throughout her life with alcohol, since coming to Penn State she feels that alcohol is not a bad thing, and fun for those people who enjoy it.

When I asked her if she felt left out for not drinking, she told me she does, and that she feels judged for not drinking, and that makes her not fit in as cohesively with her peers. She also has an understandable fear of being fat after drinking, which makes sense.

This concludes my first interview! I’m not sure who I’ll interview next, maybe a professor, if I can get a hold of them!

RCL: This I believe Ideas and other Civic Issues

I really enjoy the randomness within each episode. Each podcast is unique enough that I have no doubt they are completely original. Another thing I enjoy about them is that they are rich enough that they are meaningful in their own way. Each podcast is the essence of the speaker, and they are delivered in such a manner that you cannot help but appreciate the unique perspective each one provides. There isn’t really any doubt in my mind that each person truly lives by the belief they state. As obvious as this sounds, I found it to really ring true, at least in the examples I looked at.

Another thing I really admire in each blog is the fact that they are all very fluid and well rehearsed. As banal as this sounds, they all sound very well executed and organized, and you can definitely tell they are radio quality recordings, not something done on a Mac at 2 in the morning with a broken microphone, which I appreciate. Everyone’s voice is fluid and clear and you do not hear them cough, stop, or otherwise introduce foreign sounds to the recording. I really admire the production quality of these podcasts. I’d like to make my podcast as fluid as these and really make them something enjoyable to listen to. I’ve been tossing around some ideas for the podcast and came up with these:

I believe it is essential to know more than one language.

I think traveling outside not just your city, but rather the country is essential to the development of our global consciousness towards one of equality and acceptance.

While the second one is quite long, I’m not really sure what I could use as a shorter title.

Regarding the Passion Blogs, I think I will retain the topic idea of interviewing people and discovering more about their experience with alcohol since I’ve begun new classes with new people, and everyone has a different story to tell. I think I’ll focus less on my perspective in this semester, and instead really try to find new people and their experiences. Regarding the blog that I wrote last semester, I was contacted by my Anthropology of Alcohol professor Dr. French, and told that my blog idea of interviewing foreign students on their experience with alcohol may be incorporated into the curriculum, so I am very excited to continue interviewing my peers in order to better understand what makes people do what they do.

Regarding ideas for the Civic Issues blog, I think looking at the consciousness of the United States in regards to the recent election is fascinating and worth exploring. Politics aside, I think it has been a fascinating trip and I would really like to go in depth analyzing the components that stuck out as compared to past election cycles.

Another idea I would like to explore is that of the idea of Identities and Rights within the United States. I think the issues presented are fascinating and deserve to be investigated further and I would love to explore this issue within our country.

PAS 10 A Look to the Future

For my final Passion Blog, I think that rather than interview someone I’ll focus on how I felt doing this blog. I do not know about the rest of my classmates, but I enjoyed doing this blog. I think I learned a lot both about myself and about people in my life. Not only did I explore other perspectives on a very controversial topic, I was also able to look into how other countries’ citizens approach the taboo on alcohol in their lives. I’m glad I did the interviews, as they allowed me to get to know people better, as well as understand myself more. I am glad especially i was able to interview my dad, it was interesting to hear his side of the story and to possibly learn something about how the way he experienced alcohol growing up influenced his teaching rhetoric. I think the human mind is a fascinating subject, and it is really interesting to analyze how different people approach different things, simply by looking at what they believe and dream about. I guess it sounds cheesy, but I dont care, since this is my blog, haha.

Looking back on my blog, the new environment I was in in the first weeks of school was quite the surprise, and it is interesting to see how I changed in such few weeks. I wonder if other freshmen felt the same way after a few weeks, but with over 40 thousand students it is almost certain that this happened with at least someone. In other alcohol related news, I decided to take the Anthropology of Alcohol course offered by Dr. Kirk French, and I hope that expands my horizons even more.

I think I definitely learned more about myself over the course of this blog and I would like to thank whoever made this a part of the curriculum for providing me the opportunity. If I did not have to sit here and crank one of these out every week for a class, I definitely would not of my own free will. I would honestly encourage anyone to do an introspective blog series to learn more about themselves, because I think it helps you see a different side of yourself.

PAS 9: A Giampapa Generational Gathering

For my 9th passion blog, I decided to interview my dad to understand more about the experiences he had growing up with alcohol and how he viewed them when teaching me and my sisters responsibility with it.

My dad grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. He has seen a fair bit of the world, including Germany, Australia, Italy, and Austria, which I think is awesome.

Growing up in the United States, he tells me how he never really noticed laws against underage drinking in the US. He tells me how laws were much more permissive back then and there was not as much paranoia as their is nowadays over alcohol and underage drinking. He tells me how his parents rarely drank, save for special occasions, and would occasionally drink a bottle of wine or a shot of brandy, but that was it. He tells me how parents could instruct their children in whichever manner they wanted in regards to alcohol, and that you could buy alcohol without an issue if you were 18. He tells me how it was not until college that he actually noticed restrictions on the purchasing of alcohol and the laws regarding having open containers in a moving vehicle.

He tells me how my grandparents never really discussed alcohol in his household, and how my grandfather was against social drinking, due to various negative experiences with it in the past. I found it interesting that my grandparents did not say anything in this regard, especially since looking at trends nowadays things are so different.

My dad also told me how he drinks during social events and at dinner of course, but also to understand a culture better, which I found incredibly interesting. Now that I think about it, it really is true, you can learn a lot about a culture simply by analyzing the alcohols consumed by the populace. I think I’ll make it a point in the future to inquire about local spirits when traveling in the future, to learn more about the culture of the place which I am visiting, that seems like a really good idea.

My dad also told me how he definitely does not feel as though he needs alcohol to have a good time, when he drinks he tells me how he gets sleepy, instead of feeling a buzz, which is interesting. He also told me how he never really enjoyed beer until he visited the Black Forest in Germany, and tried the beer there. He told me how back in college him and his friends would have wine and cheese parties, where the entire point of their consumption was to accustom themselves with the various different flavors off wine and become connoisseurs, of sorts, which I found very amusing.

In regards to educating me and my sisters about consuming alcohol in moderation, him and my mother wanted to expose us in moderation, but at the same time did not want to be arrested, after they heard how their foreign friends were treated for their customs that were not accepted in the united states. Interestingly, I noticed that the biggest deterrents to alcohol in my house were my and my little sister. When my older sister would ask to try sips of wine, me and my little sister would explode in shouts of the road of alcoholism beginning here. Instead of being open to trying it out and learning what it’s like, my little sister and I raved on and on about how she was doomed to die in a gutter, alone and destitute, simply from wanting to try a sip of wine at the dinner table with both my parents present and vigilant. In retrospect, that was incredibly moronic of me, and more than anything shows to me now how strong of an influence living in the United States has placed on my views, and that’s something I really dislike. We should be more open rather than be closed, and I think I’ll apologize to my family about those antics I did, even up to two years ago, which is really embarrassing.

I’m not sure what I’ll do for my next PAS blog, I might interview a friend from Russia if things work out.

What about your parents? How were they raised in regards to alcohol? How has their perspective changed over time? How did they want to teach you? Ask them! you might be surprised to find out what they say! Stay tuned for next week’s blog!

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