Alpha Chi National College Honor Society's Blog

Partnership with The Princeton Review
Posted by GreekTrack Support on September 17, 2021

 

 

Alpha Chi is proud to announce a partnership with The Princeton Review, giving members access to free practice tests, strategy sessions, and The Princeton Review’s premier webinar series. Alpha Chi members may also receive 20% off test prep courses* and 10% off one-on-one tutoring.

Find a free sample class.

Upcoming Webinars and Facebook Live Events.

Explore resources for advice on Medical, Graduate, Law, and Business School admissions.

Alpha Chi members may email Kortney.Sorrell@review.com or call (469) 398-2852 to register for a test prep course or tutoring hours.

*Discount does not apply toward MCAT Summer Immersion, GMAT Self-Paced, and GRE Self-Paced.

Add Your Voice to the Conversation
Posted by GreekTrack Support on July 8, 2021

 

Aletheia Editors and Student Author Share Top Reasons to Submit to a Scholarly Journal  

While it often feels like completing an academic paper for a course, a grade, a thesis, or a presentation is the finish line for your scholarly writing process, at Alpha Chi, we want you to think bigger. The time and effort you have put into contributing your voice to the scholarly conversation can have a much larger impact on the academic world than what circulates your classroom.

At Alpha Chi, part of the way we make scholarship effective for good is by providing undergraduate students with the opportunity to publish their scholarly writing in our academic journal, Aletheia. Unlike a literary magazine or all-accepting academic magazine, Aletheia is one of the only scholarly, peer-reviewed journals for undergraduate students. Your work is chosen based on close reading and evaluation by our team of qualified editors, many of whom who have worked in scholarly publication for years. Your piece will be selected based on your own merit, hard work, and contributions to the on-going scholarly conversation, and it has the potential to reach Aletheia’s entire readership based nationwide. 

But having your work published in Aletheia results in more than just “bragging rights.” Aletheia editors and authors spoke with us about the top three reasons students in Alpha Chi should without a doubt submit to Aletheia

1) GAIN CONFIDENCE AND FAMILIARITY WITH THE PEER-REVIEW PROCESS. 

Like many students in Alpha Chi, you have plans to continue your educational journey after you receive your undergraduate degree. In many post-secondary degrees, you will be faced with the challenge of publishing a thesis or dissertation in a peer-reviewed source. Rather than feel overwhelmed by that daunting challenge, you have the opportunity to learn and complete that process before you even graduate with your undergraduate degree. 

As the founding editor of Aletheia, Dr. Tim Lindblom spoke to the National Council of Alpha Chi’s desire to provide even more opportunities to their members. As a biologist and author, Tim has published articles, written academic grants, and served as a peer reviewer for many manuscripts. He along with other members of the National Council saw the tremendous advantage they could afford students by allowing them to practice the peer review process early on in their educational journey. 

Aletheia offers the chance for undergraduates to get a great feel for the review process in a system designed to be friendly to student authors,” he says. “We can help guide them through the process and can promise a friendly and supportive review process.”

Another editor, Dr. Kathi Vosevich, agrees that the process is one of the biggest benefits to submitting to Aletheia

“Commit to the process,” she says. “Hopefully, your submission will make it through to publication, but even if it doesn’t, you will gain valuable experience about the process that will help to get your next article published.” 

The editorial staff of Aletheia ensures that each contributor receives feedback from scholars in their field, as well as determines if the piece will be published. This peer-review process involves multiple rounds of review, including a blind peer review process, which increases the caliber of articles selected for the journal. 

“Peer review points to the high quality not only of the journal, but also of the article,” Kathi says. “Aletheia goes a step further by using a blind peer review process. This means that the work is carefully and thoughtfully vetted by impartial experts in the field.” 

Alpha Chi member and published Aletheia author Sarah Geil Bramblett agrees. The process she undertook in her undergraduate career led to her confidence as a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University. 

“I was grateful for the advice from the reviewers; revision is such a wonderful opportunity to learn and improve,” she says. “Aletheia offers a wonderful opportunity to learn how the publication process works.”

Sarah, now an instructor at GSU, encourages all of her eligible students to submit to Aletheia as early as possible. 

2) ACHIEVE THE ‘GOLD STANDARD’ ON YOUR RESUME OR CV

Beyond the confidence you’ll gain to walk through the scholarly review process, publishing your work in Aletheia will stand out on your resume or CV. Regardless of if you plan to further your educational journey, or step straight into your career, publishing in an academic journal will demonstrate to employers and graduate school decision-makers that you are committed to the process of researching, writing, and revising. 

“Scholarly articles are the gold standard for evaluating the work of academic professionals,” Tim says. “Getting published as an undergraduate is a remarkably rare occurrence and demonstrates an early dedication to scholarship.” 

Kathi, who has been published in more than 200 publications, first volunteered with Aletheia as a Manuscript Editor and Reviewer because of her desire to see students take advantage of the opportunities the journal afforded them.

“I wanted students to learn about opportunities that I wish I’d had as an undergraduate,” she says. “I really want to promote the opportunities with Aletheia and help students understand the value of a peer-reviewed publication on their resumes and CVs.”

Kathi also notes that the thorough blind peer review process adds to the caliber of excellence that students will be able to promote on their resumes and CVs. 

“The article, if published in Aletheia, shows that the research has been reviewed for quality and substance and that the student is making a significant contribution to the field. That’s a big accomplishment to help the student stand out in the crowd for grad school and job applications.” 

3) ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE SCHOLARLY CONVERSATION 

Aletheia offers students the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. When you publish your work in Aletheia, you are joining in with new thoughts and ideas. You step beyond a research consumer and become a research contributor

Sarah, who studied psychology, English, and liberal arts (with a focus in history) for her undergraduate degree at Shorter University, submitted a paper in which she questioned the psychological trends perpetuated and suggested by literature. She specifically examined the siblings in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“I was excited about the subject of my topic, so I was thrilled to be presented with the opportunity to share my curiosity with others,” Sarah says. “Being published in Aletheia gave me confidence that others might be receptive to my ideas.” 

Editors Tim and Kathi agree—evidence that the student writer has contributed something new to the scholarly conversation is one of the clearest indications of a strong piece. 

“My number one criteria is to determine if the author has contributed something new to the conversation about the topic of the submission,” Tim says. “I also look for both quality and ethical research, sound investigative procedures, and reasonable conclusions.” 

“I look for articles that contribute to scholarship in new, creative, and engaging ways,” Kathi explains. “Perhaps it is easier to say what I do not look for—I do not look for literature reviews or summaries of someone else’s work. I want to see the student’s thinking, analysis, and synthesis of ideas.” 

Sarah, Kathi, and Tim agree: students should submit to Aletheia for the chance to be published. 

Kathi says, “Bottom line, if you don’t submit in the first place, you definitely won’t get published.” 

INTERESTED IN SUBMITTING TO ALETHEIA

We think you should be! Submissions to Aletheia can come from any scholarly paper you have written and may be sent in at any time. To have your piece published in next fall’s issue, submissions must be received by April 1. If accepted, a submission will be published in the next available issue after it has been fully reviewed and prepared for publication. And remember, there is no per page charge on articles for Alpha Chi members.

WHAT CAN YOU SUBMIT? 

The types of work accepted in Aletheia span a variety of disciplines and forms including:

  • Reports on Empirical Quantitative and Qualitative Research
  • Policy Analysis
  • Historical Analysis
  • Case Studies
  • Critical Literary or Artistic Analysis
  • Novellas, Individual Short Stories, or Individual Creative Essays
  • Collections of Poems
  • Plays or Film Scripts
  • Scores of Musical Works
  • Films, Multimedia Productions, or Sound Productions

For a complete list of the work we accept, as well as further instructions on what to expect in the Aletheia submission process, visit our Journal Mission and Workflow

Collaborative Scholarship In Action
Posted by GreekTrack Support on July 6, 2021

 

Aletheia Editors and Student Author Share Top Reasons to Submit to a Scholarly Journal  

While it often feels like completing an academic paper for a course, a grade, a thesis, or a presentation is the finish line for your scholarly writing process, at Alpha Chi, we want you to think bigger. The time and effort you have put into contributing your voice to the scholarly conversation can have a much larger impact on the academic world than what circulates your classroom.

At Alpha Chi, part of the way we make scholarship effective for good is by providing undergraduate students with the opportunity to publish their scholarly writing in our academic journal, Aletheia. Unlike a literary magazine or all-accepting academic magazine, Aletheia is one of the only scholarly, peer-reviewed journals for undergraduate students. Your work is chosen based on close reading and evaluation by our team of qualified editors, many of whom who have worked in scholarly publication for years. Your piece will be selected based on your own merit, hard work, and contributions to the on-going scholarly conversation, and it has the potential to reach Aletheia’s entire readership based nationwide. 

But having your work published in Aletheia results in more than just “bragging rights.” Aletheia editors and authors spoke with us about the top three reasons students in Alpha Chi should without a doubt submit to Aletheia

1) GAIN CONFIDENCE AND FAMILIARITY WITH THE PEER-REVIEW PROCESS. 

Like many students in Alpha Chi, you have plans to continue your educational journey after you receive your undergraduate degree. In many post-secondary degrees, you will be faced with the challenge of publishing a thesis or dissertation in a peer-reviewed source. Rather than feel overwhelmed by that daunting challenge, you have the opportunity to learn and complete that process before you even graduate with your undergraduate degree. 

As the founding editor of Aletheia, Dr. Tim Lindblom spoke to the National Council of Alpha Chi’s desire to provide even more opportunities to their members. As a biologist and author, Tim has published articles, written academic grants, and served as a peer reviewer for many manuscripts. He along with other members of the National Council saw the tremendous advantage they could afford students by allowing them to practice the peer review process early on in their educational journey. 

Aletheia offers the chance for undergraduates to get a great feel for the review process in a system designed to be friendly to student authors,” he says. “We can help guide them through the process and can promise a friendly and supportive review process.”

Another editor, Dr. Kathi Vosevich, agrees that the process is one of the biggest benefits to submitting to Aletheia

“Commit to the process,” she says. “Hopefully, your submission will make it through to publication, but even if it doesn’t, you will gain valuable experience about the process that will help to get your next article published.” 

The editorial staff of Aletheia ensures that each contributor receives feedback from scholars in their field, as well as determines if the piece will be published. This peer-review process involves multiple rounds of review, including a blind peer review process, which increases the caliber of articles selected for the journal. 

“Peer review points to the high quality not only of the journal, but also of the article,” Kathi says. “Aletheia goes a step further by using a blind peer review process. This means that the work is carefully and thoughtfully vetted by impartial experts in the field.” 

Alpha Chi member and published Aletheia author Sarah Geil Bramblett agrees. The process she undertook in her undergraduate career led to her confidence as a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University. 

“I was grateful for the advice from the reviewers; revision is such a wonderful opportunity to learn and improve,” she says. “Aletheia offers a wonderful opportunity to learn how the publication process works.”

Sarah, now an instructor at GSU, encourages all of her eligible students to submit to Aletheia as early as possible. 

2) ACHIEVE THE ‘GOLD STANDARD’ ON YOUR RESUME OR CV

Beyond the confidence you’ll gain to walk through the scholarly review process, publishing your work in Aletheia will stand out on your resume or CV. Regardless of if you plan to further your educational journey, or step straight into your career, publishing in an academic journal will demonstrate to employers and graduate school decision-makers that you are committed to the process of researching, writing, and revising. 

“Scholarly articles are the gold standard for evaluating the work of academic professionals,” Tim says. “Getting published as an undergraduate is a remarkably rare occurrence and demonstrates an early dedication to scholarship.” 

Kathi, who has been published in more than 200 publications, first volunteered with Aletheia as a Manuscript Editor and Reviewer because of her desire to see students take advantage of the opportunities the journal afforded them.

“I wanted students to learn about opportunities that I wish I’d had as an undergraduate,” she says. “I really want to promote the opportunities with Aletheia and help students understand the value of a peer-reviewed publication on their resumes and CVs.”

Kathi also notes that the thorough blind peer review process adds to the caliber of excellence that students will be able to promote on their resumes and CVs. 

“The article, if published in Aletheia, shows that the research has been reviewed for quality and substance and that the student is making a significant contribution to the field. That’s a big accomplishment to help the student stand out in the crowd for grad school and job applications.” 

3) ADD YOUR VOICE TO THE SCHOLARLY CONVERSATION 

Aletheia offers students the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. When you publish your work in Aletheia, you are joining in with new thoughts and ideas. You step beyond a research consumer and become a research contributor

Sarah, who studied psychology, English, and liberal arts (with a focus in history) for her undergraduate degree at Shorter University, submitted a paper in which she questioned the psychological trends perpetuated and suggested by literature. She specifically examined the siblings in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“I was excited about the subject of my topic, so I was thrilled to be presented with the opportunity to share my curiosity with others,” Sarah says. “Being published in Aletheia gave me confidence that others might be receptive to my ideas.” 

Editors Tim and Kathi agree—evidence that the student writer has contributed something new to the scholarly conversation is one of the clearest indications of a strong piece. 

“My number one criteria is to determine if the author has contributed something new to the conversation about the topic of the submission,” Tim says. “I also look for both quality and ethical research, sound investigative procedures, and reasonable conclusions.” 

“I look for articles that contribute to scholarship in new, creative, and engaging ways,” Kathi explains. “Perhaps it is easier to say what I do not look for—I do not look for literature reviews or summaries of someone else’s work. I want to see the student’s thinking, analysis, and synthesis of ideas.” 

Sarah, Kathi, and Tim agree: students should submit to Aletheia for the chance to be published. 

Kathi says, “Bottom line, if you don’t submit in the first place, you definitely won’t get published.” 

INTERESTED IN SUBMITTING TO ALETHEIA

We think you should be! Submissions to Aletheia can come from any scholarly paper you have written and may be sent in at any time. To have your piece published in next fall’s issue, submissions must be received by April 1. If accepted, a submission will be published in the next available issue after it has been fully reviewed and prepared for publication. And remember, there is no per page charge on articles for Alpha Chi members.

WHAT CAN YOU SUBMIT? 

The types of work accepted in Aletheia span a variety of disciplines and forms including:

  • Reports on Empirical Quantitative and Qualitative Research
  • Policy Analysis
  • Historical Analysis
  • Case Studies
  • Critical Literary or Artistic Analysis
  • Novellas, Individual Short Stories, or Individual Creative Essays
  • Collections of Poems
  • Plays or Film Scripts
  • Scores of Musical Works
  • Films, Multimedia Productions, or Sound Productions

For a complete list of the work we accept, as well as further instructions on what to expect in the Aletheia submission process, visit our Journal Mission and Workflow

Alpha Chi’s Role in Fighting for Racial Equity
Posted by GreekTrack Support on February 3, 2021

“To be silent on the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the violent shooting of Jacob Blake, among too many others before and since, would be unacceptable for an honor society founded on the tenets of Truth and Character. Alpha Chi stands united with those facilitating change and denouncing racism and discrimination of all kinds. The pursuit of truth requires us to study and listen to understand; character compels the work needed to break down barriers of structural racism wherever they are found. Working toward “justice for all” by dismantling centuries-old systems of racial inequality, inequity, white supremacy, and violence against people of color is the work of each of us until the work is done.

– Statement from Lara Noah, Executive Director, and David Jones, National Council President

“… AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”

Racism is an uncomfortable topic for many people. However, for many people of color, it is the reality and the lens through which they live their experiences. By keeping the conversations around racism open, we allow ourselves the space to grow and learn. Alpha Chi’s spring national conference theme, “… and Justice for All” is central to the event series in the upcoming months.

We hope you join us for these virtual events Alpha Chi has planned, led by a diverse group of speakers:

Racial equity links and resources can be found on our “Seeking Racial Equity” page.

What follows is a recap of our November 12, 2020 virtual anti-racism workshop led by Jennifer Spellazza, the Coordinator for Lindenwood University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. A speaker for timely and important topics, she also led the development of the Linden Ally Project, designed to promote LGBTQ+ allyship among employees and students in Lindenwood University’s physical and virtual campus spaces.

AN INTRODUCTION FROM LARA NOAH

Lara began the session by acknowledging that this was a discussion about race led by a white person. White people are not the targets of racism, and white people cannot understand what it feels like to be black. She recognized that the responsibility of racism education and eradication should not be placed entirely on communities of color.

“Racism is a problem created by white people, and white people should bear the responsibility of educating ourselves and ending white supremacy. Today’s discussion falls into the category of white people taking responsibility for their own education.”

RACE ISN’T REAL: THE MYTH OF RACE AND U.S. POLITICS

Jennifer transitioned into her presentation with a Vox Explains video aptly titled, “The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes.” The crux of it is this: Even though race drives a lot of political, social, and economic outcomes, the concept of categorizing humans by “race” was first developed around 1776 by German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. 

According to historians, Americans of white European descent bought into this idea right around the same time in order help them reconcile the practice of slavery to the idea of one’s natural right to freedom. However, the concept of race is so nebulous and subjective, and changes with the priorities of that time. Take the following example:

  • In 1929, if you were of Mexican ancestry or birth, you were considered “white.”
  • In 1930, you were considered “non-white” because the government needed to limit immigration. 
  • When the U.S. needed to increase its workforce for World War II, it again switched its definition back to “white.”
  • The government even tried to define what it means to be “black” by tracing one’s ancestry and descent. 

Then, in 2000, the U.S. Census introduced a “multi-racial” option, which further confused many Americans. All of this leads to the idea that “race” was, and is, a human or person-made concept that is highly complex and nuanced. However, in order to be anti-racist, we must understand what “race” actually means and recognize how unclear it can be.

BECOMING ANTI-RACIST: GETTING TO THE GROWTH ZONE

Jen asked the audience where they think they fell in the chart below. As a lesbian cisgender-woman, she recognizes what it is to be marginalized, but acknowledged her own privilege as a white person who has never felt the impact of racism in her own life. Her black coworkers at Lindenwood challenged her last year to step up to the plate – to rise up to the challenges that faced BIPOC populations at Lindenwood University. It wasn’t enough for her to say, “I am not racist,” she was spurred to come forward as a white ally and create the space to allow for these conversations to happen.

Jen’s coworkers pointed out that the chart above is not necessarily a fixed concept. Ideally, everyone would be in the learning and the growth zone, but the reality is that where you are can fluctuate at any given moment.

DEFINING RACIST VS. ANTIRACIST

Below, the audience’s definitions of racist and antiracist were varied but similar:

Dr. Ibram X. Kendis’s book “How to Be An Antiracist” offers the following definitions:

  • Racist – one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
  • Antiracist – one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.

The harms of racism include:

  • Dehumanization
  • Exploitation
  • Assimilation
  • Oppression
  • Marginalization
  • Enslavement
  • Cultural erasure/whitewashing
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Historical and intergenerational pain, grief, trauma
  • Unearned power/privilege
  • Environmental injustice
  • Death/genocide

DEFINING COLONIZATION VS. DECOLONIZATION

According to Jen, teaching decolonization at higher ed institutions is extremely important. Colonization and racism are tied closely together and go hand-in-hand, but each deserves its own space to be explored. She offered up the following definitions to help clarify the terms used in her presentation:

The harms of colonization include:

  • Dehumanization
  • Segregation
  • Unearned power/privilege
  • Oppression
  • Marginalization
  • Enslavement
  • Historical and intergenerational pain, grief, trauma
  • Educational achievement gaps
  • Mass incarceration
  • Health disparities
  • Social justice inequities
  • Death

KNOWING RACISM EXISTS ISN’T ENOUGH; WE MUST COMMIT TO TAKING ACTION AGAINST IT

Ultimately, we are all called to take some form of action against institutional racism, and it starts with having a conversation and to continue showing up to these conversations, as hard as they can be. Jen suggested creating a mission statement on how one can be actively anti-racist, like the note she keeps on her desk:

“As a white ally, I see your color and I honor you and your experiences. I commit to hold space for your pain, your grief, and your trauma. I commit to antiracist thoughts, behaviors, and to supporting/creating antiracist policy. And I will create space for your voice and experiences.”

In addition to a mission statement, she advises continuously being mindful of these questions in our everyday experiences:

  • Who writes the stories/theories/policies?
  • Who benefits from the stories/theories/policies?
  • Who is missing from the stories/theories/policies?
  • Do we have the full breadth (of experiences and perspectives) at the table?
  • How might our implicit biases, attitudes, assumptions be playing out?
  • How might this decision advantage some and disadvantage others?
  • How can we make this process, program, policy, story, or theory more inclusive?

Further, she encourages everyone to take a look at your own institution and reflect on whether it has the following resources in place:

  • A DEI Statement (Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity)
  • A non-discrimination policy
  • Language in the student handbook that actively promotes antiracism
  • Bias incident reporting
  • Offices with CSAs (Campus Security Authority)
  • Student advocates who create safe spaces for students to be able to speak the truth of their experiences into existence so they can start dismantling racism

Spellazza also encourages following the chart below to keep the conversations around racism as open and productive as possible:

If you’re seeking to learn more, Alpha Chi’s page also offers racial equity resources, which you can find here. We encourage you to take part in the conversation and to join us for further virtual events in this series on February 6 and February 20, 2021.

Call for Aletheia Submissions
Posted by GreekTrack Support on February 2, 2021

 

The editors of Aletheia, Alpha Chi’s peer-reviewed journal of undergraduate scholarship, invite members to submit undergraduate scholarly or creative work for publication in its Fall issue. While work may be submitted for the peer review process at any time, only submissions received by April 15 will be considered for the Fall 2021 issue.

Aletheia publishes original, quality scholarship from all academic fields. Original scholarship does not include literature reviews (in which you basically summarize other people’s research). Original scholarship should be just that—original, or with a new and intriguing analysis that departs from merely repeating “status quo” research on a topic. Your chapter sponsor or faculty advisor can easily help you determine if your work would be a good fit.

Because Aletheia is peer-reviewed (or refereed), getting published in our journal means that your work is reviewed by experts and exemplifies the best research practices in a field—and this is a big differentiator to add to your curriculum vitae or resume.

Submit your work to the journal today!

Sincerely,

Dr. Kathi Vosevich, Editor
Dr. Tim Lindblom, Editor

P.S. Although Aletheia is a journal of undergraduate scholarship, graduate student members can experience the peer review process from the reviewers’ side, as part of the double-blind review process.

Seeking Awareness for Sea Level Rise
Posted by GreekTrack Support on October 16, 2020

 

FROM PERSONAL INTEREST TO PROJECT 

For Olivia Saucedo, a biology major and biochemistry minor at the University of Texas at Tyler, researching ecological conservation has always been more of a personal interest than an academic one. She has studied a variety of climate change issues, from weather patterns to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Yet she realized one topic in conservation doesn’t get as much attention as others. 

“I noticed that the issue of rising sea levels is really on the shadow edge of the conversation,” Olivia says, “but it’s really very important. It impacts a multitude of coastal species, as well as a lot of people who live on coastal lines.” 

As a self-described ocean lover, Olivia had already conducted a fair amount of research around human impact on sea level rise, and when her conservation class at UT Tyler required an extensive research project, Olivia saw the perfect opportunity to take her research to a broader audience. 

“I’ve been watching rising sea levels before I was required to perform any formal research on the topic,” Olivia says. She notes that even in the current media, the negative effects of rising sea levels don’t get much spotlight. “But it’s happening quite frequently. I knew this project would be a great opportunity to raise awareness.” 

CHANGING ENVIRONMENTS 

In order to uncover which species and coastlines are most impacted by sea level rise, as well as the current rate of rise, Olivia turned to several primary research studies conducted on the topic over the last three years. She examined one particular study on a salt marsh that covers land across several states including Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama.

“Whenever salt water rises and causes flooding, that changes the environment,” Olivia says. She discovered a particular species of snail in that area that is unable to survive adolescence due to the change in salt water levels. “Even that changes the environment,” she says.  

Olivia discovered that from snails, to fish, to birds, sea level rise causes many species to migrate to an unhealthy living environment or face extinction. She noticed that even humans are often the victims in sea level rise-caused migration. 

“For many years, people on the Louisiana coastline have had to abandon the place they called home due to rising sea levels,” Olivia says. 

CONTINUING AWARENESS 

Unfortunately, what Olivia discovered through the course of her research, is that humans are very much at the root of the sea level rise issue. As carbon dioxide continues to be released into the atmosphere, the warming of the ice caps will continue to cause a rise in sea levels. 

“There are little things being done, like building sea walls, but that really isn’t dealing with the root of the problem,” Olivia says. “That’s just contributing more.” 

Olivia says that the true solution to slowing sea level rise is to continue studying and bringing awareness and understanding around the topic. 

“When you bring awareness, it doesn’t mean the problem is going to stop in the next year or two,” she notes. “It’s something that has to gradually happen.” 

The gradual shift can happen through any number of best practices to reduce our ecological impact, including recycling, keeping the faucet turned off, finding alternative transportation, and flipping off switches and appliances. Olivia’s hope is that through her research, people begin to see the steps they can take as more than a chore, but something they can do to directly impact the health and longevity of their homes. 

She notes that after her research project was complete, she observed research on the reduction of carbon dioxide in the air due to stay-at-home orders from COVID-19. 

“When we come together, we can help lower our ecological footprint,” she expresses. She continues that as people have rallied together in 2020 to take safe, protective measures for our world, we can come together to continue preserving the planet we call home: 

“We need to be sure we are preserving what we have while we can. If we don’t bring awareness to these issues, we won’t have much of a world left.” 

TOMORROW’S HORIZON 

In the coming months, Olivia wants to continue making the world a better place but now through her future career in dentistry. She will be completing her degree at UT Tyler and then applying to dental school at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her long term goal is to provide dental care through her practice to lower-income individuals who typically do not have access to dental care and resolve systemic issues caused by lack of dental care. She even hopes to take her services abroad through missions trips to other countries, providing education and dental services to people without access to care. 

In the meantime, Olivia plans to continue making conservation efforts a part of her daily life. “This topic was completely different from what I plan to have a career in,” Olivia says. “It’s just something I want to continue to pursue personally. I love the ocean, and I don’t want to see it mistreated. Maybe one day the research I share will bring the attention for someone to learn about this topic, too.”

Vietnam: Past Flaws, Present Relevance
Posted by GreekTrack Support on September 22, 2020

 

A Look at the American Withdrawal from the Vietnam War

A SENSE OF MYSTERY 

As a double major in history and Christian studies at Bluefield College, Sam Kimzey has spent much of his college career uncovering the United States’ past. During his junior year, Sam took a course entitled “History of the 20th-Century United States” and found himself drawn again and again to a topic in U.S. history often fraught with controversy: the Vietnam War. 

“I was attracted to the topic of the Vietnam War, because there seemed to be this sense of mystery or confusion around it,” Sam explains. “Unlike other major American wars like World War I or World War II, there is comparatively little attention given to the Vietnam War. It seems almost like a war that many people would like to forget.” 

Sam also took a personal interest in understanding the confusion around the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, as his own grandfather fought in the war in the 1970s. The summer following the course in 20th-century U.S. history, Sam continued his own study of the Vietnam War through reading Larry Berman’s book, No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam. The conclusions that Berman makes in his book about the removal of U.S. troops from the war and the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement formed the foundation for Sam’s own scholarly work. 

Going into his last year at Bluefield College and faced with the decision of what topic to pursue for his history senior seminar course, Sam decided to pursue further research on the Vietnam War and Paris Peace Agreement.

A FATAL FLAW

Sam started his research by diving deeply into both primary and secondary sources on the Paris Peace Agreement signed in 1973. 

“Primary sources were pretty easy to find, given that this was less than 50 years ago,” Sam explains. “Most of these primary sources were written within my parents’ lifetime.” 

He even examined scholarly articles on the Vietnam War that were published as contemporary sources with the events of the Paris Peace Agreement, as well as memoirs written by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and their surrounding administration. 

And as he continued to read and research, Sam became increasingly convinced that while many scholars focus on the involvement of the U.S. in the Vietnam War, it is equally important to question our nation’s withdrawal from the war. 

“The war began when the communist nation of North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam, which was not communist. The final peace agreement the United States orchestrated allowed the North Vietnamese troops to basically remain in place in South Vietnam,” Sam says. “It kind of shocked me to learn that in a mutual peace treaty, the United States unilaterally withdrew, but the North Vietnamese weren’t even required to withdraw their forces from South Vietnam.” 

After the U.S. withdrew troops, North Vietnam eventually invaded and conquered South Vietnam, unifying the nation under the communist government. As Sam began to study the treaty more closely, he became more and more sure of the disservice this treaty presented to both North and South Vietnamese soldiers and the lives lost from U.S. troops.

“Even if they didn’t intend for it to happen, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger essentially allowed a peace treaty to be orchestrated that put into place all the problems in Vietnam that would come,” Sam says. He noted the overlaps of Richard Nixon’s Watergate Scandal to the withdrawal from the Vietnam War, along with mounting popular pressure for the U.S. to remove their troops from Vietnam. 

Sam acknowledges the complexities of the Vietnam War and their effect on the U.S. withdrawal. He also points out that the negative opinions on the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War are born from confusion or lack of support regarding the motive for the war.

“World War II was a sort of penultimate for wars in which America was involved,” he says. “Most people understand why we fought in World War II and most people are proud that America was involved. Even if they criticize things like the internment of Japanese Americans or the use of the atomic bomb, they don’t really criticize the motivation for the war overall.” 

Sam notes that with the Vietnam War the common opinion is totally different. The scholarship on the topic is varied, and conflicting opinions raise questions such as:  Who was responsible for what happened? Was it ultimately a winnable war? Was the United States justified in being there in the first place?

“I think we’ve sort of perhaps misinterpreted the Vietnam War,” he says. “Perhaps the flaw of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam was not that we became involved in the first place, but rather the way we exited. I think America’s guilt was that in beginning a war to protect a free people from communism, it handed over a free government into communism to save face.” 

“I argue that maybe the peace treaty didn’t fall apart, but that the peace treaty itself was flawed,” Sam says. He notes that the “peace and honor” that was spoken of around the U.S. departure from the Vietnam War was neither peaceable or honorable, as it gave way to many more lives lost in its wake. “I don’t think the treaty honored the sacrifices of all the American soldiers who had lost their lives or of all the Vietnamese people that died during the war.”

HISTORY IS HUMAN

Despite his conclusions that America’s departure from the Vietnam War was mishandled, Sam’s goal in his research was not to cast a light of condemnation on our historical predecessors, but rather to learn from the mistakes they’ve made and consider the implications of the past on our present.

“The past is our story. It’s who we have become. Who we are today is a result of who has gone before us,” Sam says. “These kinds of things tend to repeat themselves. The Vietnam War was a showcase of how difficult it can be when we become involved in a war in another country. The questions around that sort of war are ongoing. They’re not going away. If anything, they’re becoming more relevant because of the increasing interconnectedness of the world we live in today.” 

Sam also notes that when we take into account that people from the past were humans, just like us, it gives us a lens of compassion with which to view their failures and a sense of clarity to see how we can avoid similar mistakes in our current day and time.

“I’m not defending in any way, shape, or form the flaws of the past,” Sam adds. “But I am suggesting that history is human, so we have far more in common with those who went before us than we realized. Future generations will look at us with some praise and some criticism because history is a mixed bag. It’s not usually ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys.’ It’s the story of humans, who are flawed, who can be capable of great things and also very capable of evil things.”

After reflecting on the Vietnam War and the missteps made by leaders then, Sam acknowledges that the complexity of any decision on a global scale presents a host of opinions, challenges, and controversies in knowing how to best handle it. He hopes that his project provides the takeaways for readers to reexamine their own interpretation of the Vietnam War, as well as their own actions in today’s society.

 “As humans, we’re doing our best to learn from history, so that we can hopefully grow towards making good decisions,” Sam says. “The understanding that history is more complicated than we tend to make it gives us a sense of compassion for those who went before us, and it gives us the wisdom to learn from their actions rather than just moralize them from our own perspective.”

THE NEXT CHAPTER

Having earned his Bachelor’s degree from Bluefield College in history and Christian studies, with a minor in music, Sam will be starting as a teacher in the fall, teaching fifth and eighth grade humanities in his hometown of Blacksburg, Virginia.

“Power to the Pencil and Screen: Bridging Classic and Contemporary Texts”
Posted by GreekTrack Support on September 17, 2020

 

This week’s Research Spotlight features work from Lindsey Grow, Tennessee Nu chapter member from Milligan College. In this 2020 presentation, Lindsey discusses the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating TV and movies in the classroom.

All around the country, Alpha Chi members are producing extraordinary scholarship across the disciplines. This year we had the unique opportunity of receiving video and PowerPoint presentations of student research as Alpha Chi’s spring convention had to go “virtual.” Let their work be your inspiration!

Research Spotlight: “The Highlander”
Posted by GreekTrack Support on September 10, 2020

Featured here is the research of Gretchen Burnette of Waldorf University, Iowa Iota chapter. In her presentation, Gretchen talks about writing historical fiction and shares an excerpt of her work.

All around the country, Alpha Chi members are producing extraordinary scholarship across the disciplines. This year we had the unique opportunity of receiving video and PowerPoint presentations of student research as Alpha Chi’s 2020 in-person convention had to go virtual. Let their work be your inspiration!

Winner Takes All, Voters Don’t Show: An Examination of the Electoral College and Voter Turnout
Posted by GreekTrack Support on September 1, 2020

 

A MULTI-YEAR INTEREST 

For East Central University junior Ruth Herman, voting is about more than just aligning with one political party over another; it’s about the privilege of having a voice in the decisions surrounding our country. As a double major in counseling (with an emphasis in services to the deaf) and political science, it’s no surprise that Ruth is concerned with representation when it comes to political decision-making. 

“When I was about 13 or 14, I started speech and debate,” Ruth says. In many ways, Ruth credits her time in competitive speech and debate in forming her passion for political science. But when she was a few years into her time in speech and debate, Ruth’s eyes were opened to the topic that would carry her through college and an independent research study.

“There are certain aspects of political science I am really interested in, but electoral science has definitely been one of those that I’ve carried with me since I was about 15.” 

It was this year in speech and debate when Ruth uncovered a condition of the electoral college – the “winner takes all” mechanism – which raised the question in her mind, how does this all impact voter turnout? Several years later, Ruth decided to take the foundation she had laid in high school and build upon it to create the next tier in her research journey. 

WINNER TAKES ALL 

The primary research question that Ruth set out to answer though started out with a broader brush stroke. She asked instead, what causes voter turnout when it comes to the electoral college? 

Building off the secondary research she conducted on this topic in high school, Ruth began diving into extensive research, looking closely at both secondary sources for a literature review, and specifically her own primary research. 

“I went through the New York Times and government forums to see what was the percentage of the state’s population that voted,” Ruth says. Despite the myriad of variables involved, Ruth accounted for as many as she could in her research, even considering the disparities that exist when comparing different election years against each other. 

“The two things I primarily looked at were the percentage of the population who turned out to vote and the differences in who voted for what,” Ruth says. Ruth compared states that had very close splits between Republicans and Democrats, and then she used that metric to determine which were true battleground states. 

And as Ruth analyzed these states and their numbers, her hypothesis was confirmed. 

“I wanted to kind of make an assertion about the closer the battleground state, the higher the voter turnout,” Ruth says. “A lot of people ask, “Why should I vote if my state’s votes are going to be 100% Republican or 100% Democrat?’” Ruth explains. 

She began to uncover that many blame this “all or nothing” mentality on the electoral college, but that the real problem is the winner-take-all mechanism.

Ruth explains that the electoral college is built on a system of balance between the people and the States. So while individuals still vote, the state is allotted a certain number of representatives in the House. However, states are allowed on an individual state-level to determine how they want their votes allocated. Most states opt for the winner-take-all allocation, which can give the states more power at a national level, but often leave many voices unheard on an individual level. 

So what is the winner-take-all mechanism? As Ruth explains it, it’s a mechanism as old as the electoral college itself, that stipulates that either the majority of individual votes or the plurality of individual votes will get 100% of the electoral votes for the state.

“Take for example the 2016 election, if 51% of the state’s population voted for Hillary Clinton, 100% of the electoral votes would go to Hillary Clinton and nobody who voted against her would be represented on the national level. Likewise, if 51% of the population voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, 100% of the votes went to Donald Trump,” Ruth explains. “In some states it’s even worse when they allocate a plurality of the vote. A plurality is the most votes out of everybody who’s running.” 

Ruth realized that this mechanism really privileges a two-party system, as in a plurality allocation, 100% of the electoral votes could hypothetically go to a candidate with less than 50% of the individual votes. Even moreover, Ruth believes this system of allocation has had a profoundly negative impact on voter turnout. 

“In the state of Texas where I’m originally from, there were 38 electoral votes because we have 36 House Representatives and two Senate representatives that go to D.C. But because of the winner-take-all mechanism, we see that we have a decrease in voter turnout on both the Republican and the Democrat side during presidential elections,” Ruth says. “Many Texans think the state is already going to go Republican so their vote doesn’t matter. That’s why unless you see a state as a battleground state or a swing state, you really don’t see a lot of variation in voter turnout levels.”

A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM  

Ruth did uncover in her research that some states, specifically Maine and Nebraska, actually employ a district allocation to increase voter turnout. In this system the state divides up into districts to tally and assign electoral college votes. In both Maine and Nebraska the voter turnout has been higher than the average voter turnout consistently in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 elections.

“My question is could this minor or major reform to the electoral college actually benefit voter turnout?” Ruth asked. 

“The fact is that state’s rights tend to create this impossible situation where the states want as much power as possible within presidential elections,” Ruth explains. “If States were willing to put aside their pride essentially and say, ‘We’re going to do what’s best for our people,” we are going to see an increase in voter turnout or at least a shock to the system enough that within the next few presidential elections, you see an increase in turnout.”

Ruth’s advocacy for a change in the way electoral votes are allocated is born from her mindset that this is a relevant and pressing issue for our states and our nation. She says that if states want to increase their voter population, they can revisit their allocation system. And ultimately, she wants everyone to use their power and privilege to vote, regardless of what they expect the electoral college outcome to be.

She cites the recent Texas election where Beto O’Rourke almost beat out Ted Cruz for the Senate position, despite Texas’ long lasting reputation for being red. Ruth notes voting does indeed have the power to flip even the most deeply held state parties, and it’s worth showing up to vote to contribute.

“Go vote. It doesn’t matter what party I think you should vote for. The point is the electoral college system was literally created for there to be an increase in voter participation,” Ruth says. “And if we don’t have that voter turnout, then we’re really losing out on having so many voices heard. In the end we need people to turn out to vote. We need people to show up and be politically active.”

Ruth also encourages individuals to consider who they want to vote in as their state representatives and legislators and to consider how they’re decision-making impacts your daily life. She also hopes that the research on the allocation of electoral college votes will continue to make way for the best possible system.

“No matter what system we choose, the goal is to determine what is the best effective means to safely increase the voter turnout, to increase voter efficacy, and try to create a more politically engaged society.” 

IN THE COMING YEARS

In sculpting this project for her independent research study and the Alpha Chi convention, Ruth knew that she would be strategically laying the foundation for her senior thesis project. 

“This year I focused on the variables from a national, systemic level,” Ruth says. “I’m asking, ‘What have we done that prevents people from turning out to vote, psychologically speaking?’”

After all, one of the reasons Ruth has chosen to continue pursuing study and a career in political science is most directly tied to her desire to see the voices of underrepresented populations amplified. With her second major and emphasis in services to the deaf, Ruth sees a very direct intersection between her two majors.

“I don’t represent the deaf, but I would love to serve them,” Ruth says. One of the primary ways she sees herself serving the deaf community is to encourage voter turnout and therefore representation for the deaf community in state and national decision making. 

“That’s partially why my senior thesis will be on the variables of deaf voter turnout, because there is no research on specifically the deaf community,” Ruth explains. Her senior project marries two of her passions seamlessly while providing real-world research that can be used to better serve underrepresented populations.

After graduating from East Central University in the upcoming year, Ruth wants to pursue her master’s degree and continue researching the electoral college. 

“I don’t think there are enough people working in that field,” she says. “And I want to open the door to allow for more individuals to be politically active.”

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