Sarah Hillyer: Eva Mag’s Woman of the Year

Posted March 15, 2009 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Tags: , ,

Miriam Williamson

Sarah Hillyer was honored in Eva Mag's January edition as Woman of the Year. Photo submitted by Sarah Hillyer

Sarah Hillyer was honored in Eva Mag's January edition as Woman of the Year. Photo submitted by Sarah Hillyer

Knoxville is full of women making a difference and changing lives. This year, EvaMag’s woman of the year has taken this idea and crossed new boundaries. Sarah Hillyer is working to help women on two fronts: both abroad and at home.

Hillyer used her love for sports and desire to help women across the world to create Sport 4 Peace. With Sport 4 Peace, an organization that works to improve the quality and availability of opportunities for sports for females around the world, Hillyer has traveled to many countries, including Iran, Turkey, Israel, China and more. She has helped empower girls and women by creating new opportunities to play sports.

Now, Hillyer is using her experiences to make a huge difference in the world, both abroad and here in Knoxville.

“Sarah is a phenomenal person,” says Ashleigh Huffman, Hillyer’s roommate, classmate and workmate. “She is one of the most selfless people I’ev ever met. She puts herself aside and sees the greater need to reach places that have never been reached.”

In the countries Hillyer visits, women don’t have the same opportunities to play sports as women in the U.S. Sometimes it is a lack of equipment, while other times it is cultural hindrances that prevent them from having these oportunities.

While there, Hillyer learns about the lives of these women and provides them with the opportunity to learn a new sport, play a new sport, learn about new cultures and enjoy the benefits that come from competition and teamwork. During all of this, she remains sensitive to their needs and cultural expectations.

“Sarah’s work is changing the lives of these women,” says Dulcie Teccolo, director of student services for the college of education, health and human sciences. “Lot’s of us are well-intentioned, but Sarah understands the importance of immersing herself in another culture. Where some of us might barge in and say, ‘Here’s what we want to do for you,’ Sarah listens and tries to understand them.”

Sports have always been an important part of Hillyer’s life. Throughout she has been very involved with sports, with most of her focus on basketball and softball.

She graduated from Liberty University with her bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration, then went to Murray State University for her master’s in Sport Psychology. Now, she is attending the University of Teneessee and working towards earning her doctorate in Sport Sociology.

The combination of these elements – compassion, athletics and academics – has led Hillyer to create benefits that extend beyond the women abroad. Hillyer brings her experiences and the things she has learned and observed back to the U.S. to make a difference – by raising awareness, researching ideas related to things she has experienced and creating opportunities for others to learn from her work.

“She’s the whole package deal,” Teccolo said. “She’s a very brilliant scholar. She also is very philanthropic and involved with outreach projects, and her research is both timely and cutting edge. We don’t know many people who are looking at Muslim women and the role that their participation in sports has to do with peace initiatives.”

Hillyer has used sports to empower women and bring together cultures. In 2006, Sport 4 Peace hosted a “Sport For Life Peace Camp” in Israel for Palestinian and Israeli girls. It was the first overnight sports camp available for these girls that aimed to promote understanding and friendship across cultures.

“The most interesting part of her work for me,” says Lars Dzikus, assistant professor in the department of exercise, sport and leisure, “is she’s taking her research and using it in the classroom. She’s has brought back her wealth of experdience, pictures and videos and shared with students.”

As a doctorate student, Hillyer has introduced a new special topics class for undergraduate students. “Women in Sports: A Global Perspective” is a course that incorporates what she has learned with study of issues regarding race, gender, sexuality, religion and politics associated with sports.

“It fits right into the spirit of broadening horizons for students,” Dzikus says. “Ideally we would take all of our students abroad and have them experience it themselves. But through Sarah and people like her we can bring the world into the classroom and to other students. She goes out and does her field work and brings that experience home to our students. She not only impacts the lives of the women overseas but also the students here in Tennessee.”

This class is part of UT’s Ready for the World initiative, which aims to prepare undergraduate students for life in a global society.

“Her work certainly increases our awareness and sensitivity of global issues,” says Teccolo. “She’s a role model for other women because she combines scholarship with service-based learning or outreach.”


Elon and Burlington residents expect Obama to discuss economy in Inaugural Address

Posted December 11, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Tags: , , ,

Miriam Williamson

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

At 8 a.m. on a rainy first day of exams, President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural address was the last thing on Elon students’ minds. Instead, they were either sleeping, studying or starting exams.

Some simply had no opinion, others were “too busy to care right now” and there was even the embarrassingly uninformed response of, “Oh, I didn’t watch it yet.”

But outside of the bubble, Elon and Burlington residents are well-aware of what an important part of history is in the making. The words economy, turmoil, mess and help all seemed to be top words on everyone’s mind.

Residents express concern for economy

“I think it’ll be a big event,” said Glen Rudd, a retired Burlington resident. “I hope he’ll get across the points that he had in his campaign. The economy is the main thing … and Iraq. I’m looking forward to seeing if he can do what he said he can do. I didn’t vote for him but I’m behind him.”

Other residents shared a similar concern for the economy.

“Obviously he needs to talk about the economy,” said Kim Debrito, a Burlington resident and mom of two. “Just here locally people are losing their jobs left and right … so job loss and what he’s going to do to turn it around.”

Even residents who did not support Obama are eager to see what he will do to improve the economy.

“I hope he gives ideas to help the economy,” said Pat Christie, an Elon resident. “It can’t get much worse.”

“In general the economy and specifically the automotive bailout need to be addressed,” said William Barham, a 1960 Elon alumnus.

Junior Sammi Miller expressed concern for the individual industries being affected by the current economic situation as well.

“I think it’s important to work on the auto industry because that’s a mess,” Miller said. “I think also he should say something about the tribune company and that our print media is really having an issue right now keeping afloat, and that’s the biggest source for in-depth news.”

Aside from the economy, residents expressed concern for every aspect of Obama’s plans to help the country, from medicare to education.

“I want to see what’s going to happen,” said Robby Wheatly, an Insurance Adjustor in Burlington. “I don’t know if there’s anything specific he should address; there are just so many problems. He’s not going to be able to address it all in one speech. The bailout and his new medicare system are probably the most important topics I can think of.”

Elon senior Leah McLeod couldn’t pinpoint a single idea she wants Obama to discuss, but she wants him to show concern for those who have supported him.

“Already a lot of people have given him a hard time and we’re not seeing a change,” McLeod said. “I’m pretty liberal and it seems like right now conservatives are thinking he’s doing an OK job so I think he needs to make some liberals happy. Just as far as  a very specific plan goes to bring change to America.”

Obama’s inaugural ceremonies, which will take place on Jan. 20, 2009, will have the theme of “A New Birth of Freedom,” according to Ian Bauder with The Washington Times.

Elon experiences the inauguration

The junior class of Elon teaching fellows will have the unique opportunity to be in Washington, D.C., to experience the event first-hand in January.

Janice Richardson, Associate Professor at Elon and Director of N.C. Teaching Fellows Program, said this will be a moment they will all remember for the rest of their lives.

“They will be there in the midst of everything, all the emotions,” Richardson said. “That’s something they will be able to tell their grandchildren. This is such a historical event, and being there in the moment is so exciting.”

Like everyone else, Richardson expressed concern for the economy. But her biggest concern was the future her students will be highly involved in.

“I hope he addresses the future of education,” Richardson said. “I think that is something the students will also be concerned about and want to hear.

As Obama begins his term, his inaugural speech will be an important way to set the tone for his presidency. People are primarily concerned about the future of the economy and want to hear what Obama plans to do to fix it.

Math Tools For Journalists: 9-12

Posted December 8, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Math Tools

Directional Measurements

Because people are always curious about location, it is important to double check these details. Numbers requiring little effort to figure out can make a huge difference for readers.

To determine time, date and distance equations, the formula is distance = rate x time.

Speed and velocity are two different measurements. Speed is how fast something is moving, while velocity also indicates direction.

Something’s speed is often better represented by an average as opposed to at a particular moment in time. To determine average speed, the formula is average speed = distance / time.

Acceleration = (ending speed – starting speed) / time.

Weight and mass, like velocity and speed, are often used interchangable, but they are very different things. Mass is a measure of amount. Weight is the measure of gravity pulling on an object.

Momentum is the necessary force required to stop an object from moving. The formula is momentum = mass x velocity.

Area Measurements

Sometimes numbers aren’t a good way to explain how large something is. Instead, it is good to use comparisons so readers can visualize.

But sometimes not all readers will know what youre comparing, or exact mesasurements are better respresentations.

To determine the perimeter of something, use the formula perimeter = (2 x length) + (2x width).

The area of a square or rectangle can be determined by multiplying the length by the width.

Use square inches or feet to represent small spaces, or square feet, square yards or square rods to represent larger areas. Fields, farms and yards are represented by acres, and cities, states and counties are represented by square miles.

The radius of a circle is the distance from any edge to the middle. You need this to determine the circumference, which equals 2 π x radius. π, or pi, can be rounded to 3.14.

Volume Measurements

Liquid measurements apply to liquids in recipes, bodies of water, or other fluids.

For a rectangular solid use the formula volume = length x width x height.

Cord is a measurement that firewood is sold by. It is defined as 128 cubic feet when the wood is stacked in a line or row. It is about 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 4 feet high.

There are three different types of tons. A short ton is equal to 2,000 pounds. A long ton, also known as a British ton, is equal to 2,240 pounds. A metric ton is equal to 1,000 kilograms.

The Metric System

Americans don’t really have a good understanding of the metric system, but it is the measurement system used by the rest of the world. It is based on multiples of 10. Familiarity and acceptance are growing.

The meter is the basic unit for length. Mass is derived from this. The metric unit of foce is the Newton.

Each unit is 10 time larger than then next smaller unit in the metric system. Prefixes are added to make a larger or smaller factor. You can also just move the decimal point one unit left to for a bigger unit, or one unit right for a smaller unit.

There are some style moves associated with units.

Lowercase all units except Celcius. Lowercase symbols except for Liter or units derived from the name of a person or country. Capitalize symbols of prefixes that mean a million or more or lowercase those less than a million.

Only make names of units plural when the numerical value is more than one. Symbols are never pluralized.

Put a space between the number and the symbol. There is no need to hyphenate if it is used as a modifier before a noun.

In names or symbols for units having prefixes, there is no space between letters making up the symbol or name.

Do not use a period with metric unit names and symbols except at the end of the sentence.

A dot or period is used as the decimal point within numbers. Always write a zero before the decimal point in numbers less than zero.

1.    If Emily is driving on I-40 east for 5 hours, at an average speed of 72 mph, how far did she drive?
2.    If Food Lion wants to put a sidewalk around their entire parking lot, and the parking lot is 100 yards wide and 40 yards long, how big do they need to make the sidewalk to make it cover the entire perimeter?
3.    If the radius of a circle is 14 inches, how big is the circumference of it?
4.    If something is 1254 mm, how many meters is it?

Animal abuse results from irresponsibility, Alamance County faces the consequences

Posted December 1, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Miriam Williamson

When the Alamance County animal control division received a phone call from a Town of Elon resident about a loose dog “terrorizing” the neighborhood, no one imagined how it would end.

cimg6341Instead of finding a single dog who had escaped from its yard, officers discovered 17 pit bull dogs and puppies crowded into a small backyard. There was only a dog house for the mother dog, and according to neighbors the dogs were only fed once a week.

This immediately became an animal abuse case and the 17 pit bulls were loaded into the back of the Alamance Animal Control Division’s two trucks and taken to the Alamance Animal Shelter.

While there is still no national reporting system for animal abuse cases, compiles most cases from across the country.

Compared to other counties in North Carolina, Alamance does not have an unusually high amount of animal abuse. Buncombe County, in eastern North Carolina, had eight times as many cases. Compared to its neighboring counties, Alamance has fewer cases than Guilford, but more than Chatham.

Regardless of the statistics though, animal abuse is very present in Alamance County. The sherrif’s department reports a high number of incoming calls dedicated to citizens suspecting animal abuse.

Neglect: Lack of education and finances prevent owners from properly caring for their pets

The owner of the pit bulls was charged with 17 counts of animal abuse, related to neglect.

According to the U.S. Humane Society, neglect is when an owner does not provide proper food, water, veterinary care or shelter for an animal for an extended period of time.

“I think a lot of times people are getting caught up in other things and just neglect the animal,” said Matt Evans, deputy of the Alamance County Animal Services division. “You decide to go on a trip, and think ‘Well the dog’s fine.’ Well if no one’s home for a week, how’s the dog getting fed?”

Kurt Lankford, a sergeant with the sherrif’s office and the animal control supervisor said he contributes some of the neglect seen in the county on a lack of education.

cimg6343“People just aren’t aware of what’s required,” Lankford said. “Animals have to have adequate shelter when they are tied out that is accessible at all times, cold or not. And they have to have water provided. Rabies vaccinations are even required by law.”

As the economy worsens, the Alamance Animal Shelter has seen an increase in owners that are unable to care for their animals.

“A lot of people simply can’t take care of their animals,” said Laura Michel, Alamance Animal Shelter outreach coordinator. “We’re just seeing an increase in surrender though, but not abuse or neglect.”

Neglect is the most common form of animal abuse seen in Alamance County, and the majority of calls the Animal Services division receives are complaints that animals aren’t receiving the proper care or shelter.

“The biggest majority is they’re not being feed or not getting the stuff they need,” said Rudy York, an animal control officer. “Especially with cold weather coming up… just not having the right shelter or bedding.”

While most of the animals involved in any sort of animal abuse case are dogs, the county sometimes faces abuse towards livestock.

“It’s expensive taking care of livestock,” York said. “With horses and cattle, that migh just be that they can’t afford them and they don’t have the ability to take care of them.”

In addition to protecting the animals, the Alamance County Animal Shelter puts a lot of emphasis on educating pet owners.

“These guys [animal control officers] work hard to try to educate people,” Michel said. “They’ll go and investigate and try to talk to the owner. Explain what would be a better idea to take care of the animal – whether it’s provide shelter or make sure the animal can get to the water. They work very hard to educate the people first and help them.”

Michel and York both cite a misconception of animal control that makes them seem unforgiving.

“It’s the idea of the ‘dog catcher,’” Michel said.

York has even been called that on a few occasions. But this is far from the truth.

“The last thing we want to do is take an animal,” York said. “If we can talk to them [owners] and give them a better understanding and check back and make sure the animal is getting what it needs, that’s far better than just ripping the animal away.”

The first thing officers do is always look at the situation and gather information. Unless it is a truly dangerous situation for the animal, the officers usually work with owners to try to rectify the situation. Then, they will return later to make sure adjustments have been made. But sometimes the animals still must be removed from the situation, regardless of whether or not the owner is OK with it.

“People don’t want to give up their animals,” York said. “In most cases it’s about like taking a child from somebody. You’ve got people who are abusing children but they’re not going to let you go in there and take their child. They’re going to put up a fight. We try to do it in the best interest of the animal with the least harshness for the person. A lot of times people love their dogs, but it’s like some people love their kids, but they just don’t give them what they should.”

In the case of the pit bulls, the dogs were seized immediately.

Abandoment: Owners unable to care for their animals surrender or desert their pets

Sometimes lack of funds to care for an animal results in neglect, but other times it leads to abandonment.

Of the 655 cases of neglect or abandonment reported in the US in 2008, 19 of these occurred in North Carolina, according to Neglect or abandonment also had the highest number of cases of any type of abuse in both the US and North Carolina.

According to Evans, at least 75 percent of the animals at the shelter are lost or strays.

“People are just dumping them out with the way the economy is,” Evans said. “Animals are not being fed. The way the economy is, people are not taking care of their animals.”

Because the Alamance Animal Shelter is a public facility, it must accept every animal that is brought. But the shelter and the animal control division for the entire county are operated by the city of Burlington. So space and funding are limited.

“We don’t have the luxury to be a no-kill shelter,” Michel said. “There is far more intake than space, and not every animal is adoptable. I think it really depends case to case, each animal. If it’s a case that the animal has simply been neglected and hasn’t had the basic necessities and it’s something that can be rectified, and we can put it up for adoption, then we will. But if it’s physical abuse it’s just going to depend on the extent of the abuse.”

The Alamance Animal Shelter takes in animals from owners who can no longer care for their pets, but there is no guarantee for what will happen to the animal. With little space available, it is not always possible to provide food and shelter for the amount of animals that come into the shelter.

Animals are also picked up that are strays. If there is any ID though, the owner will be contacted, so it is important to keep IDs up to date.

In regards to the shelter’s euthanasia policy, three things must be determined about an animal that has either been seized or surrendered: space, medical state and behavior. Of the more than 8,600 animals brought into the shelter each year, approximately 6,000 must be euthanized.

“This is not a problem we created,” Michel said. “This is a problem we have to deal with.”

Physical Abuse: Pets face the consequences of owners’ agression and brutality

While much of the animal abuse in Alamance County is not directly physical cruelty, there are still cases, especially related to dog fighting.

North Carolina had the third highest number of dog fighting cases of any other state in the US so far in 2008.

While there is no efficient evidence that any physical cruelty or dog fighting was involved in the recent case at the Alamance Animal Shelter with the 17 pit bulls, according to Evans, the dogs were scarred, which could be a result of dog fighting. Also, while none of the dogs were aggressive towards humans, they have all shown aggression towards the other dogs.

“There is a bad perception of pit bulls, but really it’s just the way they’re raised,” Evans said about the animals’ aggression. “You raise up a dog like you raise a child.”

Like Evans, Michel said she believes the common stereotype of pit bulls causes people to think of scary or mean dogs, but in reality, it just depends on the environment an animal is raised in.

“This is what the breed has become,” she said.

Multiple studies prove a direct link between domestic violence and animal abuse. While some, like the one conducted by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, compare the link between animal abuse and domestic violence within the same household, Michel noted the link between victims and future abusers.

“You hear about teenagers doing these horrible things to animals, and that’s just the cycle starting all over again,” Michel said. “More than likely if you look, that child may have been a victim of abuse.”

Other forms of physical abuse and cruelty have been reported, and the officers’ jobs are to make informed decisions about what is the best option for the owner and animal.

“If it’s true cruelty… if a dog’s life is endangered, these guys [animal control officers] have the authority to go in and take it,” Michel said. “If it’s really scary they can have the police come and arrest them and take them to jail. Then the dog has to stay here until the court case is taken care of.”

Animals removed from abusive situations must be held until any pending court cases are resolved.

Animals removed from abusive situations must be held until any pending court cases are resolved.

Regardless of the type of abuse, the shelter is required to hold animals for a certain amount of time, and animals must be held if a court case is unresolved. The 17 pit bulls were taken back to the animal shelter until the case is fully resolved. The owner was found guilty, but is appealing the case, so the dogs will remain in the shelter’s custody.

“When you’re dealing with live evidence, it’s not like you can put it on the shelf and go back and look at it,” Lankford said. “The sooner we can make a disposition the better.”

In each case, the judge and shelter must determine whether or not the animal is fit for adoption or if they must be euthanized.

Several of the pit bulls have died while in the shelter’s custody, due to preexisting health problems. If the owner is still denied custody of the dogs after the appeals, some of the remaining dogs may be suitable for adoption.

The owner has returned to see the dogs since they were seized from his home, but still refuses to acknowledge that he did anything wrong.

“Hopefully he’s a little more educated than he was,” Lankford said.

If anyone in Alamance County suspects animal abuse, they are encouraged to call the Animal Services division immediately. Even if the officers do not find any evidence of abuse, they will investigate to ensure the animals’ safety.

Math Tools for Journalists Ch. 5-8

Posted November 24, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Math Tools

Polls and Surveys

Polls and surveys can be very useful for providing readers with a view of the public opinion about something, but often these polls are skewed. So it is very important that journalists are careful to check the validity of the survey, as well as provide the readers with as much information about the survey as possible.

Information about polls journalists should always consider:

Information about who conducted the poll

Information about who paid for the poll

When and how the poll was conducted

How questions were worded, and whether or not it encouraged a particular viewpoint

The size of the sample

How the sample was selected

The margin of error

Any exterior events or conditions that may have an impact on the results

A poll can never be conducted of an entire population, so the selection of the sample is important to consider. Random selection is the most reliable type, because it means that every person in the population has an equal opportunity to be selected.

There are different types of ways to select samples:

Census, universe, or population sampling: sampling everyone in the population

Cluster sampling: sampling in one area or region

Multistage sampling: sampling sub-groups within sub-groups within a specific area or region

Systematic random sampling: selecting a number n, and polling every nth person

Quota sampling: select the sample based on demographic characteristics

Probability sampling: randomly selecting a designated percentage from all potential subjects

The margin of error and confidence level are important in translating poll results. The margin of error tells the degree of accuracy of research based on standard norms. It is a percentage based on the size of a randomly selected sample. The larger the sample, the smaller the possible error, so the smaller the margin of error. The margin of error can be determined by charts determined by statisticians.

The confidence level is complicated, but is important to reporting. Confidence level is the percentage of confidence researchers have in the results of their research. It is determined in advance, and is closely related to the margin of error.

The U.S. usually conducts a census to create congressional districts relatively equal in population. It is sent to every household in the country, but the return rate is not as high.

When this happens, figures must be manipulated to make up for the surveys that weren’t returned, resulting in adjusted figures.

Z and t scores are another element a reporter must understand. A z score shows how much a specific figure differs from the mean in order to make it easier to compare figures. The t score is used for small sample sizes.


When reporting business, dealing with numbers is inevitable. But there are different situations in which statistics and numbers are more common.

Financial statements are used to update shareholders, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders about a company’s performance. It usually includes a profit and loss report and a balance sheet.

The profit and loss statement shows whether or not a company is making money. The net profit is calculated by subtracting expenses from income.

A balance sheet tells a company’s assets, liabilities and equity. For this, assets= liabilities + equity. Thus, the company’s assets (everything they own) equals liabilities (money the company owes) plus the equity (what the company is really worth).

Stocks and Bonds

Stocks and bonds are used by businesses to raise money, and it is important for journalists to report accurately on this.

When people buy stocks, it is an investment, and they become owners of tiny portions the company. A company’s stock’s value varies depending on the demand and business conditions.

Mutual fund companies sell shares, then use that money to invest in stock from other companies.

Bonds are sold by companies and governments as a loan from an investor to that company or government. They earn interest at a set rate and are low-risk investments. If owners wait until the bond matures, they receive the face value of the bond. This is often the amount the original buy pays for it.

To determine a bond’s “current yield,” or return on the investment,” use the formula: current yield = (interest rate x face value)/price.

Many bonds are tax exempt when they come from governments, so the return may be more from those. Also, the formula above doesn’t take into account reinvestment.

Reporters may be more interested in the bond cost though, and the formula for that is: bond cost (interest) = amount x rate x years.

Market averages are used to measure action on the exchanges, while stock indexes give an overall picture of market conditions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is one people are hearing about constantly. This is the total value of one share of each of 30 select stocks divided by a figure called the divisor. This number is used to show how the entire stock market is doing.

NASDAQ, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, is an automated quotation system that gives information about domestic stocks and bonds that aren’t listed on the regular stock markets.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are the largest source of income for local government, school districts and other municipal organizations. The property tax rate is generally decided depending on how much money the organization needs, and then dividing that among property owners. Owners pay a certain amount based on the value of their property (generally real estate, but sometimes includes other valuable assets).

Property taxes are usually applied to homes’ assessed valuations, not the actual prices they would sell for on the market. Reappraisal is important to update so that it reflects the current market value.

Appraisal value is based on the property’s use, certain characteristics (location, square footage, number of stories, exterior wall type, age, quality of construction and amenities), current market conditions and a visual inspection by trained appraisers.

Often property will be taxed by more than one organization – city, county, etc. Property may also be taxed with a different percentage used to calculate the assessed value.

The mill levy = taxes to be collected by the government body/assessed valuation of all property in the taxing district. This is then applied to assessed valuations. Assessed value= appraisal value x rate.

Each municipality figures its taxes differently based on local policies, so journalists should be sure to check before reporting about them.

To figure out the tax owed, divide the assessed value of the property by $100. Then multiply that by the tax rate.


1. If 200 Elon students were polled about who they voted for in the election, and 54 percent said Obama, is it appropriate to say that Obama won Elon’s vote?

2. A hot dog vendor earns $600 in one day. His cart is already paid for, but the food and wrappers cost $300, and he had to pay $25 to park his cart for the day. What was his net profit for the day?

3. Emily bought a $1,000 bond for $850 with a 4 percent interest rate. What is her current yield?

4. Elon issued $3 million worth of 5 year bonds, with 5 percent coupon, to pay for the new library. How much wil Elon pay in interest over the life of the bonds?

Twitter falls short of high potential

Posted November 22, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Tags: ,

Twitter falls short, with too much of a good thing. Too much information all floods to the same place, leaving users overwhelmed.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Twittering and Tweeting? It sounds like nothing but a child’s game. But recently it has become the new fad to hit the media and online gurus.

Twitter has the problem that is commonly seen in society: It has too much of a good thing.

By setting up a Twitter account, users are inviting unending streams of information, both pointless and meaningful, to overflow their computers and minds. This would seem like a great idea, but Twitter falls short of having a highly beneficial purpose by giving too much.

The idea of using Twitter to stay up-to-date on current news stories is great. Receiving short bursts of information about breaking news without going through the trouble of looking it up for themselves is ideal for Americans. After getting the brief synopsis, users can decide if it is worth the extra time to read the entire story or research the topic.

“With its requirement for people to squeeze their thoughts into 140 characters or less, Twitters is a perfect tool for a fast-paced, mobile society,” said Janna Anderson, director of a research project called Imagining the Internet. “Compressed information fits and it offers quick-hitting details we can apply to our lives. Most of the early adopters using Twitter to communicate today are writing on the road, from conferences, sales calls and other mobile stations in which they want to share tightly written information chunks.”

But how is this any different from scanning headlines on a news Web site?

The main difference seems to be that on Twitter, users not only get these bursts of news filling their screens, but there are personal updates from the users they are following. These can range from someone’s opinion about news to what someone ate for lunch.

This can be useful in its own way, as people catch up and learn what their friends, or even strangers, have been up to, but it seems to take the personal parts of friendship away.

Instead of personally conversing with their friends, people can just check updates and feel like they are connected. They know some of the tiniest details of others’ lives, and can get updates on the bigger parts.

“The positive is that it’s an easy and quick way to connect with people, however loosely,” said Colin Donohue, coordinator of student media and instructor in communications at Elon University.

When people do have “conversations,” they are publicized and actually a nuisance to their other friends. Even if someone sends a direct message, it shows up on everyone else’s homepage. This leaves the users who are part of the conversation in an awkward spotlight, and the users who are not part of the conversation annoyed and confused by their homepage filling up with one side of a conversation.

That is assuming these people can find their friends at all.

A major shortcoming of Twitter is the poor search tools.

Glyn Vandenberg, a junior at Denver University, set up a Twitter account nearly four months ago but has yet to get involved.

“It’s a little lacking,” Vandenberg said. “I don’t use it because I can’t figure out how to get friends without already knowing their e-mails or what-not.”

Twitter has the potential to serve as a very useful tool, for news gathering or connecting people, but as of now, the two combined together leaves an uncomfortable, overwhelming influx of information.

“Twitter is a hindrance to effective communication and storytelling,” Donohue said.

With a few adjustments, such as allowing for private conversations, separating friends’ updates from news updates and creating easier access to find people, Twitter could be an even bigger success

Open government laws agree with the First Amendment

Posted November 20, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Miriam Williamson

“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.”

The First Amendment is constantly under scrutiny, as people pick it apart and try to figure out what the original intention was and how it applies in today’s society.

Although the First Amendment does not specifically grant the press the right to Sunshine Laws, it prohibits government from hindering the press’ ability to report. Without Sunshine Laws, the press is unable to serve as a watchdog, and the freedom of the press is abridged.

In order for the government to run as a true democracy, it is important that citizens know what is going on and are invited to participate, even if it is simply by being aware. Journalists serve as the gatekeepers to this information and have the responsibility to determine what should be reported.

Public Records and Open Meetings laws ensure that the press, and any other citizen, will have the resources to properly obtain and report information the public needs to know, and further promote participatory democracy.

Threatening the freedom of the press is a slippery slope that journalists today cannot risk. When journalists are restricted from doing their job because they cannot access the information they need, it leads to a less-informed society.

Each state should have the broadest open government laws possible in order to enhance the country’s ability to practice democracy.

Citizens and journalists alike should lobby for more openness and less government secrecy.

But with these laws comes even more responsibility.

While the government agencies and employees should know the rules associated with these laws, it is the journalist’s job to enforce them. A journalist should know the rules, and insist that they be upheld, regardless of any opposition.

Elon students and journalists can learn more about North Carolina’s Sunshine Laws through the Sunshine Center, which was started in 2007.