2 UF faculty selected to attend program that teaches how to tackle tough social issue conversations

A research organization chose two UF faculty members to work through social issues that don’t have explicit solutions.

Michael Spranger and Muthusami Kumaran, both from the UF Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, will join a program through the Kettering Foundation, which promotes conversations about issues such as poverty, obesity, public safety and environmental concerns, known as “wicked issues.”

For full article, click here.

Picture source: ics.ufl.edu

“Good writing is re-writing”

Today was the first day of my Reporting class and it was great. I am so pumped. Slightly nervous. Definitely a little bit anxious. But, for sure excited. Just in the first day of lecture, I feel like I’ve picked up so much writing advice that I am ready to try out and work with. Current attitude: bring it on. It’ll be interesting to see how that’ll change as the semester goes on — because let’s be real, it definitely will.

image2

That being said, I’d like to add a new goal to my already extensive list of goals for this year: stop complaining. I don’t want to be that person who’s most defining character trait is “tired,” because I feel like that’s what I hear from a lot of people when you ask them what’s up. We’re all students, we’re all busy, and we’re all tired. It’s not a point of pride to brag about how tired you are, and it’s not impressive or pleasant to spend a conversation listing off the reasons you’re so exhausted. It’s — dare I say it — tiring. So from this day onwards, I’m going to work on minimizing the word from my vocabulary. If someone catches me doing otherwise, I’m going to need them to call me out.

image1

Another high point of today, besides Reporting, was finishing an 8 mile run this morning. I’m still in disbelief because whenever I see the milage slowly increase one at a time on my health app each week, I keep remembering how before I started running, I would have to stop to catch my breath the moment the treadmill hit 0.6. I keep waiting for shin splits to come back and ruin my life like they used to, but *knock on wood* it hasn’t happened yet. This half-marathon may actually happen — who would’ve thought? Definitely not high school me. Maybe not even college freshman me.

Ok pEaCe oUt for now. This week is so far panning out nicely and can’t wait for the semester to start rolling.

I suck at consistency, obviously

Here is most rant-filled, grammatically cataclysmic post thus far to make up for my three days absence. 

The past couple days have been a roller coaster — a phrase which I can now confidently say is not one word and not hyphenated in AP Style, because of a timed writing I had to do yesterday for my multimedia lab. It was used in a quote by a woman to describe a week during which her first grandson was born, and her husband shot himself with a nail gun (don’t worry, he survived). My week wasn’t quite as macabre, but for some reason, weirdly emotional and sleepless and stressful and just ugh I want to go home. In no particular order, the events of this week that have built up and torn down my faith in humanity.

The lack of indictment in the Eric Garner case. Like actually wtf. I was upset about the way the Michael Brown case turned out and could understand the frustration but could also acknowledge the ambiguity of the witness testimonies. With Eric Garner, I watched the horrendous video (that for some reason news channels have taken the ridiculous liberty of playing non-stop without giving thought to the fact that we are literally seeing a man die over and over again  on television) and broke down crying at work because it was such a moment of helplessness and frustration. I couldn’t deal. I still can’t deal. I’ve never felt so helpless in something I care so much about and that’s such a scary feeling.

Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Other Concerns. I read this book despite the fact that a) I promised myself that I wouldn’t pick up another book until I finished Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone which I have been trying to get through since summer and b) it’s currently finals week so I really shouldn’t be reading for pleasure anyways. That being said, it was great. It reminded me how much work and failure and rejection it takes to get anywhere in life. It made me laugh when I was pissed off at everything. Which, in turn, reminded me how essential entertainers and commentators and comedy are to society. When I was younger, I don’t think I had every very many opportunities to read/experience any form of entertainment media in the U.S. by South Asian Americans. But recently, I don’t know if I’ve become more aware, or if there are actually more by number, I’ve found so many great writers. Atul Gawande, Mindy Kaling, Aasif Mandvi, Abraham Verghese — even seeing that new kid Hassan Minhaj on the Daily Show makes me so happy. It’s so validating to see snippets of your own experience, and acknowledgement of your frustrations, told in the stories of others.

The stupid shooting threat at my school. I can’t stand people who go out of their way to make people feel unsafe. I don’t understand what is accomplished by that and it just makes me mad. So when I got an alert by my school about a Twitter shooting threat, my internal monologue was 1.) “aw hell no” followed by 2.) little bit of fear followed by 3.) John Oliver saying “There have always been motherf***ers, there will always be motherf***ers, but what we can’t do is let them control our motherf***ing lives.” And then I wrote up a story about the threat for USA Today College that got edited and published with a bunch of grammatical errors and typos but got 1.2k shares so I guess it’s ok in the end.

The ridiculous Rolling Stone / UVA rape case drama that’s going down. It’s so frustrating that such basic journalistic standards of ethics were completely ignored, which will, in the long run, harm the already marginalized and stigmatized voices of rape victims. While Rolling Stone may be able to save face with great PR (and they’ve already released statements covering their backs) this endangers so many victims and their willingness to come forward with their stories. Beyond annoyed, beyond frustrated.

My last day of lecture and lab in my favorite class of the semester: Multimedia Writing. I loved this class so much. I could go on for a while about all of the things that were amazing about it. And it’s my blog, so I’ll go ahead and do that. I learned a lot. The construction of the class was ingenious in the way that at the beginning of the semester, we were given a fact sheet and pretty much told how to construct ledes, nut grafs, and all of the the components of a news story — something that most of us were completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. But, each week, they would slowly take away some of the help, to the point that now, at the end of the semester, we can confidently interview, write, and get published a story without a rubric, in a style of writing that we literally had no idea how to work with just 14 weeks prior. It makes me love writing so much more, I feel so much more confident, and I’m so much more excited about my future journalism classes. The same cannot be said about orgo chem because jeez that class has just been one massive train wreck from start to end.

The last day of lecture in multimedia, our amazing professor read us a speech someone gave at a 50-year college reunion or something that pretty much listed all of the technological innovations and advancements and events and changes that had happened between college graduation and where they were now. And at first, it was inspiring because you realize how far we have come — in terms of media, communications and technology — in such a short amount of time. But, the more I think about it, the scarier it is. Everything I’m learning about now, everything I care about now, has the potential to become completely and utterly obsolete in just my lifetime. And as inevitable and obvious as that statement is, it’s really disheartening and makes me have all kinds of existential feels that I don’t know how to cope with because I am young and inexperienced and jacked up on caffeine and frightened by the concept of finiteness. Peace out.

University of Florida issues warning after Twitter threats

The University of Florida received 15 simultaneous Twitter messages Tuesday evening with the threat, “Im gonna shoot up the college tomorrow.”

In a campus-wide alert sent by email at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, the University of Florida Police Department said the threat is “general in nature” and that the “credibility of the threat is considered to be low at this time.”

For full article, click here.

Picture source: http://www.floridapolytechnic.org

Pentz lives in housing through Southern Scholarship Foundation

Dinner at Hansen is homemade lasagna prepared in a communal kitchen by the students themselves – a stark contrast to the infamous dining hall grub that other college students at UF are eating.

Ansley Pentz feels right at home.

Pentz, a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Chiefland, Florida, doesn’t hesitate in the slightest to call her 16 other housemates family. Living in Hansen, one of nine houses in Gainesville that are part of the Southern Scholarship Foundation, she couldn’t be happier with her housemates and the warm, home-like atmosphere the program provides.

“It’s so nice to come home to smiling faces,” Pentz said. “I love having someone to share things with.”

SSF provides rent-free housing to students across Florida with financial need and academic merit. Gainesville has nine houses: three for men and six for women.

The houses are a much more intimate setting than the standard dorm or apartment-style housing – possibly setting the state for quarrels and disputes. Pentz disagreed.

“Overall, the experience is really good because people are so carefully selected,” Pentz said. She emphasized however, that the house rules keep everyone in check.

“I really rejoice in the rules,” Pentz said. “I know I can come home to a safe, nice environment.”

After an extensive application process, Pentz toured the home before her freshman year and felt that the program would be a good fit. But, taking the plunge into communal living with 16 other people, Pentz had her hesitations initially.

“It was a little daunting at first because you’re living with all of these strangers,” Pentz said. But she quickly acclimated to the experience and became close with many of the women – bonding over similar majors and life experiences.

“I definitely Facebook stalked everyone first though,” Pentz said.

@Ansley_Pentz

Picture source: http://www.yt3.ggpht.com

University of Florida aims for ‘zero waste’ football games

A general view of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The University of Florida has ambitious goals for their nationally recognized football stadium, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The UF Office of Sustainability is working to achieve the status of the first ‘zero waste’ stadium in the Southeastern Conference, and have already had remarkable success.

For full post, click here.

Picture source: Kim Klement – USA Today Sports