Gap in student’s learning of American politics

The lack of knowledge regarding third party politics revealed itself during this year’s election. With the media storm that surrounding Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this year, the major third party candidates got close to no media coverage. But the problem isn’t just with the media, it goes back to how students, future voters, are taught about American politics.


Goodrich High School located in Goodrich, MI Photo taken 12/3/16 by Sandra Harris

A throw-away vote , a protest vote, a vote for the opponent. These are all things people claim a vote for a third party candidate is . This year’s election in particular caused quite a bit of debate among Americans as to the point of a third party vote.

Contrary to what some people might think, the problem goes much deeper than protest votes or throw-away votes. The issue goes back to the way politics is being taught in our schools and the way it is talked about between teachers and students.

This year, Goodrich Middle School held a mock election. The school spent some time discussing the different candidates and political parties with the students. The catch, the only two candidates on the mock ballot were Trump and Clinton.


AP U.S. History book used by students at Goodrich High School. Photo by Sandra Harris

According to an AP United States History student at Goodrich High School, Ellen Chernowsky, third party candidates are hardly ever discussed. “We talked a lot about the election this year, but everything was about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.”

Even in the history books used, nothing is mentioned regarding third party candidates. Nothing is mentioned in the AP U.S. History course overview regarding third party candidates.

Although there may not be a huge history of third party candidates winning elections, they have played a vital role in many elections. A role that has affected the outcome of some presidential elections. This timeline lays out a short history of third party candidates in the United States.

This ideology sticks as these students go off to college. Brittany Gardner, a former student from Goodrich High School, now a students at Northwood University, holds the view that third party votes are a waste in today’s political atmosphere.

While some people may argue that third parties should be included in a student’s education. Some teacher’s focus is on teaching to the curriculum. Teri Jenson, a former U.S. history teacher, believes that third parties are left out of history classes because there is already so much to cover in our country’s history and third parties play such as small role.

“We teach to prepare kids for the near future, for tests,” says Jenson. “We don’t teach about third parties in depth because they don’t play as large of a role as the Democratic and Republican parties.”

Teachers like Jenson hope that by the time their students are old enough to vote, they will take the initiative to learn as much as they can about all the candidates.

For now, third party candidates take their small victories in stride. In this year’s congressional election, Libertarian Candidate Lisa Lane Gioia, was happy to walk away with just over 10,000 votes.

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“If anything we let people know that options do exist,” says Gioia. “We don’t have to have a two party system, we brought that upon ourselves. The more people know about their options the bigger chance we have in the future of making an impact.”

To learn more about what children are learning, contact one of Michigan’s Education Associations. We can’t blame young people for being uninformed, if schools aren’t taking the time to inform them.

If you would like to learn a little about your third party options, check out this quick Twine game.


Going Viral: podcast discussion


In this podcast, Steven Koss and I, Sandra Harris, discuss the book Going Viral by Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley. Listen as we briefly explain Nahon and Hemsley’s definition of virality and the way the book explains how a piece of information goes viral and the reasons a piece of information goes viral. We quickly touch on top-down virality versus bottom-up virality, both of which can lead to information becoming viral and reaching the masses.

The book touches on viral events such as Susan Boyle, Kony and Alexandra Wallace. In our discussion, we take a look at how the social media events following Osama Bin Laden’s death played out on Twitter and eventually on the news. These are the specific Tweets mentioned in the podcast by Keith Urbahn and Brian Stelter.


Screen shot of tweets from (Sandra Harris)

Listen as we discuss how examples in the book successfully frame the idea of virality in events that the reader most likely experienced as it happened. We also take the time to examine the downside of using such timely examples in order to simplify a complex topic.

This article quoted toward the end of our podcast includes an interview with Nahon that gives a little more background on the idea of virality and reveals some unintended consequences of virality.

In this video, Researcher and Author Jeff Hemsley sheds a little more light on why he has chosen to focus on virality as a vital topic. This video summarizes his research well.

In this video, Researcher and Author Karine Nahon answers questions on the impact virality has, and could potentially have, on our society.

For more information and reviews of Going Viral you can checkout this article by Nikki Soo, PhD candidate at the University of London, Book Review: Going Viral by Karine and Jeff Hemsley. For a more comparative look at the book and the idea of virality, take a look at this article titled Plague of Viral Memes by Scott McLemee, the intellectual affairs columnist at Inside Higher Ed.


What is too Much? My Twine adventure

Our Twine game is about a college student’s struggle with depression and anxiety. We hope that this game ensures people that depression is a serious issue that college students face every day. This game not only tells the story of our fictional character, Jordan, as he struggles through the school year, but also provides some information and resources for people who relate to Jordan’s journey.

Overall, I think we succeeded in showing the struggles a college student can go through. We could have done more throughout to be more informative and interactive. The beginning of our game tells Jordan’s story, the ending gives the user more information and resources.

Twine as a creative tool allows us to tell a story in a way that gets the user involved. Often times, when reading about mental illness or news reports, people get bored and start skimming. By having people press each link, they are physically moving the story forward. And therefore, staying involved in the information.

The most frustrating thing about Twine is how much time, effort and planning it takes to make a nonlinear game. With that said, once you figure Twine out in general it becomes pretty simple and pretty quick to use. It’s exciting to figure out new things to add or different ways to like pages.

Personally, I made the final six slides, which included the resources and ending of Jordan’s journey. I enjoyed finding the different resources and videos to link to and add to the game. I got excited when I figured out you could link back to a page instead of making the user press the back button.

As stated before, our game focused on a college students struggle with depression and anxiety. This article from TIME talks a little bit about the increasing rate of mental illness in college students and tells a little bit about some students’ journeys. Articles such as this were looked at in order to figure out a realistic journey for our main character, Jordan, to go through.

For people struggling with depression or anxiety, we hope this game shows that they’re not alone. Thousands of college students go through the same struggles everyday. We also hope that the resources listed for Jordan are places people can actually look to for help. For people who think someone they love may be facing depression or anxiety, we hope this game provides information regarding symptoms and places they can seek support for their loved one.

Another important source for information on mental illness is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This site talks a little bit about what depression is, symptoms, treatments and different places to get support.

As a whole, we wanted to show that depression and anxiety happen, and that there are resources out there to help. By putting it in the context of our fiction character, Jordan, we hope to present the topic in a way that doesn’t offend anyone going through depression or anxiety, but also doesn’t sugar coat topic.

So without further ado, here is our Twine game: What is too Much? Created by Becca Hanna, Chester Flemming, Steven Koss, Timythi Hester and Me, Sandra Harris.

What is too Much?

Vice Presidential debate focuses on Presidential candidates, not the issues

Last night’s debate between Vice Presidential nominees Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine was filled with discussion regarding the actions and beliefs of this year’s presidential candidates. An article from The Guardian claimed that Pence won, while an article from the New York Times didn’t declare either nominee as a winner.

The general consensus from media reports is that Pence did win last night’s debate. But not by a huge margin.

The Guardian claims that Kaine was not on top of his game during the debate. Others on twitter agreed.

Both the Guardian and the New York Times agreed that Kaine spent much of the debate attacking his opponent on things his running mate, Donald Trump, has said.

Both articles agreed that the debate was less about the issues and more about defending the Presidential nominees.

To return the favor, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were quick to praise their running mates on their debate performance.

Many people noticed that Pence did not always defend Trump’s ideas and beliefs. Instead, Pence offered up some of his own views and ideas.

The major complaint about Kaine was the number of times he interrupted Pence the moderator during the debate.

Other’s came to Kaine’s defense stating that the interruptions came from both sides.

One question raised by both articles, as well as people on twitter, is how important was the Vice Presidential debate in the big scheme of things.

The Guardian states that quite a few people couldn’t even name the Vice Presidential candidates prior to the debate.

The impact of this debate on the Presidential campaign as a whole may not be clear. Hopefully, the debate at least made it so more than 40 percent of Americans know the names of our Vice Presidential nominees.

Students have less than 2 weeks to register for this years election

In a presidential election where both the Democratic and Republican nominee are so polarizing, it is important that everyone’s voice is heard. With November 8th election approaching, people are running out of time to register.

imageElection signs for Hillary and Trump found in Goodrich, Michigan

The last day for people to register for this year’s presidential election is coming up quick. And there are still thousands of people, particularly college students, who have yet to register. In order to vote in the election on November 8th, people must be registered by October 11th.

The last presidential election that took place was in 2012. Most seniors in college were seniors in high school when the election occurred, too young to vote. This year’s presidential election is the first time the majority of college students will be voting in a presidential election. Or really, have the ability to vote in the election.

There are still a staggering number of college students not registered to vote. This isn’t much of a shock considering past election attendance.

Historically, people between the ages of 18 and 24 tend to have the lowest turn out at the polls on Election Day. According to the data collected by the Census Bureau on the 2012 presidential election, 45 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted while 72 percent of people 65 and older voted.img_2537

Wayne State student planner marking the last day to register to vote

On campus, many groups are working hard to get Wayne State University students registered to vote. One of these people is Jad Maharem who said,
“If you guys want your voices to be heard, put out that millennials don’t vote stereotype and get your voices heard.”

Wayne State University student, Molly Singer-Miller says she registered to vote because, “If you don’t register to vote, or vote, you have no right to complain.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many college students who don’t feel the need to register.

Unregistered Wayne State student, Karmel Scrut, says she hasn’t registered because, “I don’t feel like my vote is going to make a difference.” A sentiment that is shared by people of all ages.

Another unregistered student, Kaitlin Schnur, says, “I dont really like either of the candidates and I’m honestly too lazy to register. My parents don’t vote either and no one has really told me how.”

It’s important to remember that there aren’t only two candidates to choose between. This year, Michigan will have six presidential candidates on the ballot. It’s important to take time and learn about all of the candidates.

For students who would like to register to vote, there are a variety of ways to do so. One way is to visit the Secretary of State website where you will find step-by-step instructions on how to register.


Flyer for session to learn more about the election found in State Hall

Another way is to stop at one of the tables found in and around the student center. These tables have forms to fill out and mail to the secretary of state in order to register.

One of the quickest ways is to visit one of the Secretary of State offices. Here are some of the closest offices to the Wayne State University campus:

Clinton and Trump go head-to-head in first presidential debate

The first of three presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took place last night, September 26th. Moderated by Lester Holt, the debate focused on three main topics; achieving prosperity, America’s direction, and keeping the nation secure.

The debate kicked off with Holt asking how each candidate would ensure America’s economy remains, or becomes, prosperous under their presidency.

The conversation began with the candidates talking about their plan for improving the economy. Trump coming from a business background understandably has a different take than Clinton coming from a political background. Both believe they have the best plan to improve the economy.

Trump started off the debate particularly strong, he had a lot to say about policies and things Clinton had done in the past. Clinton didn’t seem to start off as strong, but she got stronger as the debate went on.

Trump attacked Clinton for supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The debate got more heated when the conversation shifted to tax reform. Clinton talked about the fact that Trump has refused to release his tax returns. Trump stated that his taxes were currently being audited, and he would release his tax returns once the audit was complete. He also offers to release his tax returns if Clinton releases her private emails.

The second topic discussed was focused on America’s direction.

Both candidates agree that something needs to be done in terms of our criminal justice system.

The final topic of the debate discussed securing America. Clinton and Trump butted heads in terms of how to handle cyber security.

Although many hoped for a debate surrounding the issues, with such a heated campaign few people were surprised when both candidates attacked the other on everything from something they said in the 1970s to their appearance. The biggest weakness of this entire campaign has been the back and forth between the two candidates that has nothing to do with their presidential abilities.

Moderator Holt seemed to lose control of the debate at points. He tried to cut candidates off when their time was up, but both Clinton and Trump continued to talk despite his pleas. In such a tense debate, the moderator really needed to step up in order to keep things on topic and on time.

Three of the third party candidates who were not a part of the debate chimed in on twitter. These tweets come from Former Governor Gary Johnson for the Libertarian Party, Dr. Jill Stein for the Green Party and Darrell Castle for the Constitution Party for the U.S.

If you want your voice to be heard, it’s important that you get out and vote.

Don’t let the fact that you aren’t registered yet keep your voice from being heard.