Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Research Blog #1: Initial Topic Idea

I am currently deciding between two different topics for my research paper:

Topic #1: Sexual Assault 

Sexual Assault is a new issue that students face when they leave high school because it is not often talked about and not relevant in their lives yet. Universities undermine this important issue whether to save their reputations or to decrease sexual assault statistics that would turn away potential students. This issue needs to be brought into the light in order for victims to feel like they are not alone. 

Topic #2: Effects of Being Unprepared for College

Going to college is a major decision in a person life and we have to make it when we are eighteen years old. Often times, high schools do not supply students with the information or tools to place them at a school that is adequate for them. In turn, this can effect a student's success in the future. 


  1. These are both viable topics, though I think the sexual assault topic is very current and probably the easiest to research (though you will eventually have to decide on a particular focus). Here are some notes to help you get started on whichever you choose:

    1) Sexual Assault
    I have had a number of students do this topic over the years, and it seems especially relevant at the moment due to Betsy DeVos's apparent reluctance to enforce Title IX as strongly as it had been in recent years. There also seems to be a rising tide of books and articles raising questions about Title IX enforcement, such as The Campus Rape Frenzy (though most border on "alternate facts"). So I think we are entering a backlash moment that is consistent with the election of Donald Trump. In any case, it will be easier to enter into a debate on this issue and find controversy than it has been in recent years.

    Likely you have seen the film The Hunting Ground. If you have not, you should watch it on Netflix or Amazon. The movement it documents was partly responsible for pushing the Obama administration to focus more attention on Title IX enforcement, which led to several cases against schools where campus rape was not being given the attention it should. There is another film, It Happened Here, that might be worth seeing too.

    Here are a couple of the student blogs where you can find interesting resources on this topic:

    I personally found Jon Krakauer's book Missoula: Rape and Justice in a College Town very compelling reading on this topic and the student who wrote about college athletes and rape made good use of it. The case of the Columbia University "mattress girl" made an interesting case for one of my students.

  2. 2) Effects of Being Unprepared for College
    This topic seems a little under-developed yet, or at least it is unclear exactly what you want to focus on. A lot has been written about the number of students having to take remedial courses at college, and this last gained national attention with the publication of Diploma to Nowhere. This is a very important issue now, especially as more students go to college and the costs associated with remediation continue to rise.

    But, based on your description of your topic, it might be that you mean that students might not be making the best choices in where to go to school -- especially by "undermatching", which is much discussed in the literature and somewhat controversial.

    I will wait until you clarify your topic, though, to offer more advice here.

  3. If you pursue the sexual assault topic, you might keep an eye on what is happening with Title IX enforcement and university policies related to it. I suggested in my note yesterday that Trump's election and the selection of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary might help feed a backlash against Title IX complaints and even sexual assault victims themselves. Today the NY Times has an article about how Stanford let go its main student advocate shortly after Trump's pick of DeVos started to look like a sure thing.

    I think we are headed into chilly territory for Title IX enforcement.