RCL #5 Analysis of Advocacy Site

Organization: The Flat Earth Society

The organization I chose is the Flat Earth Society, which consists of people who believe the earth is flat rather than a spherical shape. This may sound like a parody, (and some members join as a joke) but most affiliates of the origination truly believe that the Earth is flat and they try to advocate others to believe them. A few years ago, the Flat Earth Society opened up for Donations to help fund an expedition to prove their cause. They were to hire a crew and a cartographer to make a map and travel to the “ice rim”. The ice rim is what they believe to be the edge of the flat Earth and traveling there will prove their cause. To my knowledge, this expedition has not happened yet.

IFERS Portrayal of Flat Earth

The first and most obvious logical problem with this organization is the overwhelming amount of evidence that the Earth is a spherical shape and rotates around the sun. Since the launch of Sputnik, the first satellite in 1957, humans have vastly explored space, orbited around the Earth, and taken pictures of it as visual proof. There are also numerous accounts of circumnavigation around the globe which farther prove its spherical shape. Still, the Flat Earth Society rejects this evidence calling it “the greatest lie ever told” without providing a direct counter-argument, undermining the logic in their appeals.

Photograph of Earth from Apollo 17

Another logical issue lies within the evidence provided on their website that they use as “proof” that the Earth is flat. Without even reading any of the publications, you can see that they were all published in the 19th and 20th centuries, the earliest book in 1989. Most of these were published by unknown individuals before the irrefutable visual evidence came from space exploration. They have all since been debunked by exploration, science, and mathematics alike.

The last issue with the Flat Earth Society is a question of ethos. The heads of the organization, the president, vice-president, and secretary all have no background in astronomy, physics, or any field relating to knowledge of the shape of Earth. With no experience in these areas within the leaders of the organization, I see no credibility within the entire Flat Earth Society. The wording of the website overall is very non-technical with some typos, further undermining the credibility of the organization.

Persuasive Essay

The Rise in College Tuition

Thesis: Due to decreased subsidies and frivolous school spending, the cost of a college education is rising at dramatic rates, to the point where it costs an arm and a leg to receive a higher education. Budget and policy reforms are needed in order to help reduce this cost and its effect on students.

Audience: Government policymakers, school administrators, students


College is a special time. Young men and women branching out on their own for the first time in their lives. Leaving the comfort of home and their parents to learn exciting new things and gain a wider perspective on the world. Sure, it can be stressful with making new friends, keeping grades up, and searching for jobs and internships, but overall it is a priceless experience. However, there is indeed a price alongside a college education. A price that students and their parents must struggle with if they want a college education. That price is becoming higher and higher, creating negative consequences such as extreme debt and increased dropout rates.

  • How high tuition has increased over the past decade compared to inflation.

Why is tuition increasing?

The Aftermath of the Great Recession- The Great Recession dealt a hard blow to the American economy, leaving states with nearly $425 billion in budget gaps that had to be covered by spending cuts. This lead to decreased spending on higher education subsidies.

  • Reduction in funding per students, the extra cost was placed on students.
  • The educational funds were never brought back even after recovery

School Spending- With a reduction in subsidies, schools have not tried to reduce spending, but only the opposite. They are investing heavily in marketing to prospective students and creating unnecessary amenities.

  • Schools target higher-income families who don’t care much about tuition prices
    • No incentives for colleges to cut costs to lower tuition
  • Sports programs can hike up tuition costs

Affect on Students and Families

  • This has affected students and graduates greatly
    • Massive student debt, a higher dropout rate

Conclusion/ What could, or should not be done

  • Restructuring Federal Aid
  • Differential Tuition
    • Basing tuition cost off the major chosen: Majors who make more money on average or who use more resources are charged a higher tuition.
  • Free college is not the answer
    • Taxes would skyrocket
    • Nothing of value is free (value of college education would decrease)
      • Higher saturation of the job market
    • Higher competition for admittance
      • European countries- government tests determine if students can go to college at a young age.


Morgan, Julie Margetta. “Making College More Affordable.” Center for American Progress, www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/reports/2012/02/02/11082/making-college-more-affordable/.

Patton, Mike. “The Cost Of College: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 25 Jan. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/mikepatton/2015/11/19/the-cost-of-college-yesterday-today-and-tomorrow/#1f511f4e6060.

Schoen, John W. “The Real Reasons a College Degree Costs so Much.” CNBC, CNBC, 8 Dec. 2016, www.cnbc.com/2015/06/16/why-college-costs-are-so-high-and-rising.html.

Other Sources 






Deliberation Reflection

The deliberation I chose to attend was titled “The Price is Right. What is the true cost of a college education?” This is a subject I am very interested in. For one I am a college student who is currently trying to balance the financial burden. Also, my civic issues blog is on the cost of a college education, so I am decently educated on the subject. The deliberation was split into three approaches; free public education, implementing differential tuition, and revising scholarships.

The first approach on free public education is a currently a highly debated topic, as the population is split between people for it and against it. Even within the deliberation, there were people on both sides. The benefit of free public education is, of course, access to higher education for those who would be unable to afford it otherwise. The drawbacks discussed included decreasing the value of a college education, a spike in competitiveness for college admission, and a decrease in technical jobs. Personally, I do not believe that publicly funded college is a good solution because of the reasons above and I think it is too much money to ask taxpayers to pay for someone else’s education.

The second approach narrowed the focus to policy in individual schools in the form of differential tuition. Differential tuition is when the tuition charged to students depends on the major they pursue. The difference would be based on the resources used at the college or the expected income after graduation. For example, an engineering student would be charged a higher tuition that an education major. This would reduce the amount of debt graduates are unable to pay off. A main drawback to differential tuition is that it assumes that students will receive a job in their major field, and they will make the expected income.

The final approach was on scholarships in the form of federal aid, aid from the school, and merit-based aid. One question discussed is the exclusion of the middle class from federal aid. A few students shared their story of how the estimated family contributed was much higher than what their family could afford. There was also a man there who working in finance that brought up a good point that the government cannot appease every special case and that they try to include the most people they can.

Overall, I thought the deliberation was very interesting and engaging. There were adults from places like admissions staff and finance offices as well as students that provided a wide array of perspectives. I believe the deliberation was very beneficial to me and the community as a whole.

RCL #2 Articles on Penn State Mental Health Issues

The two articles I read were both specific to Penn State’s CAPS. The first was an article written for the Daily Collegian that talks about the struggles of getting counseling services from CAPS. It is especially intriguing because it tells personal stories of students who have sought help from CAPS. A student named Marion shares the story of her struggle with panic attacks. She needed counseling services at school, however, she found herself waitlisted for CAPS and unable to get the help she needed. This led to her having several panic attacks during the semester, interfering with her education. Luckily for Marion, she was eventually able to get help and it has greatly reduced her panic attacks. The article also talks generally about the shortage of CAPS employees and space that causes these long waits for students. It is disturbing to know that students with mental health issues often cannot receive help, negatively affecting their education, career, and social life.

The other article I read was from Penn State’s Student Affairs that consists of stats about CAPS and the mental health of students at Penn State. It states that CAPS sees in excess 2,500 students each year. 40% of these patients are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and half are diagnosed with a mood disorder such as depression. It also provides stats that can cause mental health issues such as stress, abuse, and discrimination.

The stats in the Student Affairs article prove that there is a great need for mental health services for Penn State students, and the Daily Collegian’s article shows that currently, CAPS is unable to fill this need properly. Our deliberation seeks to discuss what can be done to improve psychiatric services and the overall mental health of the Penn State community. The Student Affairs article can be used to show to participants that mental health issues are very prominent in our community. We can also provide statistics to show there is a high demand for psychiatric help. The article for the Daily Collegian can help to show the community that we do not currently have the resources needed to cope with the high demand for counseling. Marion’s story can even be mentioned during the deliberation to add a personal touch for the participants.

These articles can be used to help foster a discussion on mental health issues at Penn State and what possible actions can be taken to address these issues.

Mallon, Morganne. “Getting Counseling Services at Penn State Easier Said than Done for Some.” The Daily Collegian, 8 Feb. 2016, www.collegian.psu.edu/features/article_87095f1a -ce36-11e5-b2a3-fbe95d5c3c19.html.

“Important Statistics.” Student Affairs, https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/distress/workshop/overview_stats.html

RCL #1 Deliberation

Our deliberation, “State of Mind” will be about mental health issues. We will begin with deliberating about the psychiatric services on campus such as CAPS and other support groups. This will include discussing how effective these services are and how they can be improved. This will also lead to deliberations on how we can promote a better environment for mental health issues by better educating students about these issues.

I am a part of the overview team, which is basically in charge of getting the deliberation started with an introduction. Currently, I am working on writing an introduction that will present the topic and get the participants to start thinking of their opinions on mental health issues. We are also responsible for moderating the personal stake portion of the deliberation in which participants discuss how they are personally affected by mental health issues. We feel that it would be beneficial if we and other members of our team briefly discuss our own experience with mental health issues. As students, we often witness our classmates or even ourselves struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression and discussing this with the participants will help us to better connect with them and break the ice. It is very important that we give a good introduction in order to start the deliberation off right.

This I Believe Script

Growing up in a large family as I did, I had plenty of people to influence my lifestyle such as my three siblings, 27 aunts and uncles, and 40 first cousins. At the peak of this influence was, and still is, my grandfather. He taught me countless lessons on the importance of faith, hard work, and most importantly family. With him there was always a story to be told, a joke to be made, and a lesson to be learned. It wasn’t until after his passing that I realized the true importance of what he had been telling me my entire life.

In December of 2013, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. Watching the strongest man I knew struggle with such a terrible illness was very hard for my family and I. Throughout the holiday season, he was in and out of the hospital. Even with the pain he felt, he always carried the best attitude, cracking jokes with the nurses and, always showing off the big picture of his family. His family made him prouder than anything else in life, and he instilled that in all of us.

His health took a rapid decline in the spring of 2014. As Holy Week approached he was released home on hospice care. My numerous family members made it a priority to make it home for this Easter, for they knew it was the last one with their father and grandfather. Aunts and Uncles flew in from as far as California and Texas. Cousins left college to come home.

They came not only to support my grandpap in his losing battle, but to support each other. As we all gathered to see him for his final moments it was difficult to remain strong as there were countless tears shed by everyone. It was during this time that I realized why my grandpap had preached about the importance of family his whole life. When one family member was overcome with grief, they were immediately consoled by those around them. We all comforted each other.

On Easter Sunday, I awoke to the news that he had passed early that morning. For my family and I, the hardest part was over. He was not suffering anymore and I had no doubt he went to heaven. My grandpap left behind the greatest legacy one could, a wonderful family.

Thus, I believe in the power of family. My family is my backbone. No matter what happens in life, when the dust settles, they will always be standing by ready to help. When one family member is struggling, everyone rushes to pick them up. My family has shaped me into the man I am today and I would be lost without them. No matter how far my life takes me, I know my family will always be close.

TED Talk Script Draft

Topic: The positive influence of sports on society.

Purpose: To show people that sports can do lots of good for societies worldwide.

Thesis: Sports is not simply a leisure activity, but has the power to promote peace and impact societies for the better in the past, present, and future.


Whether we know it or not, we are all sports fans deep down inside. While not all of us are at the edge of our couch screaming at the tv every Sunday, we are all affected by the influence of sports on our society. It has grown to such a popularity that it has affected almost all aspects of life. Sports are no longer a simple form of entertainment, but have evolved into what the United Nations calls “human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide.”

Sports have been and still are one of the most influential aspects of popular culture. It has laid the groundwork for social change such as desegregation and women’s rights and can continue to be used as a tool to better not only our society but places worldwide. Sports is not simply a leisure activity but has the power to promote peace and impact societies past, present, and future.

This use of sports as a way to promote social change isn’t anything new, as it began in the mid-1940s.

*Slide 1 Picture of Jackie Robinson

  • Most prominent early use of this was Jackie Robinson- first African American to play major league baseball (1947).
    • His bravery and that of the management of the Dodgers converted many people’s thoughts on segregation
      • He received very cruel treatment at first (even death threats)
      • People began to realize this was wrong and that he was actually better than most white players at the time.
      • Led to desegregation of other sports teams and institutions and to the beginning of the civil rights movement.
      • (Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers)

*Slide 2 picture of Billie Gene King

  • Billie Gene King vs. Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, 1973.
    • King (female) beat Riggs (male) in a singles tennis match
    • Not only started the women’s sports movement (Title IX), but also thoughts on gender equality. (Greenspan)

*Slide 3 picture of Larry Fitzgerald or other athlete helping community

The influence sports wasn’t just a wave that came and went through in the 20th century, but rather it continues to build, furthering its reach and impact.

  • Major league players often use their stardom and money to contribute to charities and promote healthy living etc.
    • Larry Fitzgerald- Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund (charitable organization)
      • Also traveled to Ethiopia to plant trees, irrigation work, other projects
      • Just one example of an athlete who gives back
      • (Scherer)

*Slide 4 picture of kids in play60

  • NFL play 60
    • NFL program that encourages kids to be active and healthy
    • Donates millions to youth fitness programs and uses pro athletes to encourage kids to be active and healthy
    • (About Play60)
  • Talk about NFL kneeling during anthem maybe?

*Slide 5 picture of kids in underdeveloped country playing sports

Looking at what sports have done in the past and present, doesn’t it make sense to use sports to promote further social change? (and possibly development in countries, go beyond the reaches being active)

  • Sport for development and peace in action
    • Professional Athletes as ambassadors or spokespersons
      • David Beckham works as ambassador for UNICEF to help Unite Against Aids campaign (Scherer)
    • Sports used by the UN in SPD campaign to promote economic development and peace
      • Use sport as a way to promote peace; bringing opposing sides together in a place where they respect the opponent and rules and aggression is regulated and transformed
      • (Office on Sport for Development and Peace)


Sports has grown from a simple leisure activity into a right that should be enjoyed by all. It has a unique power to attract and mobilize people to achieve a goal. It inspires participation, teamwork, and citizenship and has the power to reach a vast number of people. Sport has been used in the past and present to promote social change and better the community. We should take this lesson and learn that sports can be used worldwide to promote unity and peace.


Works Cited

“About Play60.” NFL.com. NFL Enterprises, 2017. Web. Oct. 25 2017. http://www.nfl.com/play60

Greenspan, Jesse. “When Billie Beat Bobby.” History.com. A+E Networks, 2013. Web. Oct. 25              2017. http://www.history.com/news/billie-jean-king-wins-the-battle-of-the-sexes-40     years-ago

“Office on Sport for Development and Peace.” United Nations. United Nations, 2014. Web. Oct. 25 2017. https://www.un.org/sport/content/why-sport/overview

Scherer, Jasper. “Top 10 Most Charitable Athletes in Sports Today.” Bleacher Report. Turner              Broadcasting System, Dec. 23 2013. Web. Oct. 25 2017.              http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1901440-top-10-most-charitable-athletes-in-sports    today

Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, edited by Lyle    Spatz, and Maurice Bouchard, UNP – Bison, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central. Web. Oct. 25 2017. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pensu/detail.action?docID=946901.


Paradigm Shift Idea

My idea is a branch from my passion blog, sports. Over the last hundred years or so, sports and the way we view them has changed in every dimension. Professional sports have evolved from games played for leisure and entertainment, to multi-billion dollar industries that impact many aspects of our lives.

Today, sports have reached their way into nearly every aspect of our lives including popular culture, politics, school, and business. Over the last century, sports have often reflected changes in social attitudes and standards. Sundays, which used to be reserved for church, are now more known for football. Clothing changed from men in suits and women in dresses to gym shorts and yoga pants. College was once reserved for scholars, now many schools gain more attention through their sports teams rather than their academic achievement. Recently, sports have worked into politics, with arguments over players protesting the national anthem. Perhaps the largest change in sports is the big business behind it, as player’s salaries have increased dramatically.

These changes are primarily due to the rise of technology in our everyday lives. Before television, people had to buy a ticket and physically go to games to watch their team. Now, millions of people at a time can watch a game from practically anywhere in the world. People also use the internet extensively to follow their teams, brush up on stats, and play fantasy sports, things they could never do before. Thesis: Over the last century, due to the rise of technology and changing social standards, the influence of sports has developed from a small past time activity to a multibillion-dollar industry that affects our everyday lives.

RCL #7 Pairing Writing and Visuals

Lynsey Addario not only captivates her readers with moving and descriptive words, but also with striking images that build on the situation she describes. Her goal in her career as a conflict photographer is to tell people’s story through her pictures. She accomplishes this very well by being a master of empathy and conveying it in both her witting and photography.

The image that caught my attention the most was with the soldiers carrying the body of their fallen comrade in the Korengal Valley, 14 pages after page 210. Without even reading her accounts of that day, the viewer not only pieces together what is happening, but experiences the heartbreaking ambiance that surrounds the scene. The dusty, hazy background indicates the remanence of the battle. All the soldier’s faces are down and the viewer knows that they are all grieving. There is no caption with the image, as words cannot describe it.

My second image of Addario’s is 25 pages after page 210 where the children are around a burning car in Libya. My first thoughts were that this looks like an image out of an apocalyptic movie. Then you read the caption that tells you “Children play around a burning car…” I immediately thought, why are children playing by a burning car? Then she reveals that the Libyan uprising is gathering and we realize that these children will grow up in a civil war, and death and destruction will surround them.

Images captivate a reader when words fall short. Through her photographs, Addario further induces the sense of empathy that is prevalent throughout her book. Her readers not only look at the images, but they become immersed in them and the feelings that they convey. By using videos and images in my own passion blog, I can relate to my readers as Addario does. I will add images of the players I am discussing as well as video replays of certain plays or parts of games that will allow my reader to dive deeper into my blog and my passion.

RCL #6: Addario’s Conflicts

In part III of It’s What I Do, Lynsey Addario reiterates a theme that is prevalent throughout her entire book: conflict. Addario not only sees conflict in the scenes she photographs but in her own life as well. Throughout her memoirs, Addario constantly battles this strong conflict, splitting her between her work and her personal life and forcing her to try to balance the two opposite worlds.

This balance is questioned at the end of part III when Lynsey’s friends say “’Why not get pregnant?’” The question struck her deep. While all her friends at home were busy having babies and starting “normal” lives, a lifestyle most of her readers relate to, Addario has been bouncing all over the world living her passion, not leaving room such regularities. In turn, Lynsey was infuriated by this proposition. She was at the “height of [her] career” and saw no room for such an interruption, for she feared that when she started her family, it would be the end of her career. However deep down inside she feels the urge for a family and is torn between the two, further developing her inner conflict.

Contrary to Addario, my conflict with my passion for sports is not quite as serious as war photography or starting a family. My biggest conflict is the greatest fear of any big football fan, when players on the Steelers, my home team, are playing against players on my fantasy football team. Last week when the Steelers played Baltimore, I desperately wanted to see the Steeler defense destroy those Ravens, but realized I have the Baltimore running back on my fantasy team. Watching that game was a constant conflict for me as I wanted my beloved Steelers to win, but also needed the Ravens back to have a good game and get me points.

Life is full of conflicts, big and small, and like Addario, we must always work to keep a balance between the things we love.