Political convention what?

I was talking to my sister Shannon on the phone yesterday about politics and her life, and I realized I am a bum.  She mentioned how she didn’t get that involved in her school’s mock political convention, as she preferred to let other people kinda talk and just gain the experience.  She was an Indiana delegate.

When I was in college, my school hosted a debate.  I think.  I didn’t really pay much attention.  I knew there was something going on on campus since things were even more crowded than usual.  One of my then-or-former roommates, Michele, was helping out with it.  But that’s pretty much her nature – very perky, and helping with stuff.  I’m pretty sure it was a presidential debate, because I do remember being pissed off at not being able to vote in the Gore/Bush/Nader election.  Due to some rather unfortunate party politics back home, I didn’t get my absentee ballot in time.

Even with all my raw political power and skills, I was forced to ask, “what do they actually DO at the convention?”  So she explained a little bit about the party deciding on its stance and platforms, and of course, nominating the candidate.  Evidently OWU’s been doing this since the 20s.  Wow.  I’m in awe.  Actually educating students about politics through doing!  I love it!  We should do this with state governments!  We’ll call it “student’s state”!

Truth be told, I didn’t even realize parties had platforms.  I thought that nonsense was just for candidates.  Whoops!  Do I pay attention, or what?

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What People Should Pay Me For

Through another blog I came across this published study about college-bound senors and how the internet (in particular social networking sites) affects the application and recruiting process.  This particular study focused on Myspace, which really should be replaced by the up-and-coming Facebook now, but its salient points remain valid.  Students and young people generally are going to a variety of informational and informal sites across the web to get a better feel for schools and possible job opportunities as well.

I think this should be my new position.  Someone pays me to sit online all day and write reviews and other sorts of information for the school in order to help with recruitment.  Or I could do the same thing for my job here, just recruiting college seniors for employment instead.  It really is a good idea, and most companies and organizations are trying to be more flexible about including this kind of nontraditional information and approach.  MIT actually does a really good job with thier website being an accurate reflection of what’s going on with and at the school.

The problem that comes with most admissions attempts to include these new features is the isolation of these offices from the rest of the campus.  Current students often provide a good bridge between the actual campus and prospective students, but there needs to be a lot more done by individual departments and professors, especially at large schools.  Academia itself should be excited about the prospect of opening their fields to a larger audience.  I would like to see blogs or other informal updates going up on school websites across the country about what is going on every day research- and publication- and education-wise at schools.  Let’s really get the content out there, rather than waiting for a potential feature article in my alumni magazine.  It’s something that I really think MIT is trying to expand through Open Course Ware.  While this is not possible for all schools, at least short updates about what’s going on direct from the professor or researcher could be implemented anywhere.  I love learning.  Why not have more?

Urban Caving and the Oven Glove

After noticing this post online, I decided to do a little digging into this ‘new trend’ known as urban caving or urban exploring. Wikipedia has a pretty complete article, if you’re interested in learning more yourself. And it’s nice that this idea of really looking at our buildings and built structures appeals to me. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in, just seeing how all the spaces fit together, even if they aren’t meant for human habitation. Maybe especially if they aren’t meant for human habitation.

The idea of UE that really got to me is examining our history through the remnants of built structure.  It’s an almost archaeological sensation, like visiting a ruin or a sacred space of past ages.  I can remember climbing up into the attic of our church in my teens, watching the light filter down over various stored boxes and old church school supplies.  There was something magical and maybe a little spooky about it, like an abandoned building or a cabin sitting empty and alone in the woods.

In addition, there’s the excitement of exploration.  This I’ve seen most actively at college, both at the one I attended and the one I am currently employed by.  Higher educational institutions, with their array of buildings, comfortable nooks, and display areas for various departments and groups, are prime for non-trespassing exploration, simply because even the private instituions often open thier doors to the public at large.  There are some restrictions, of course.  At my alma mater, WUSTL, every building except the U College, where night classes were held, was locked down at 5 pm.  If you didn’t have the right security clearance, you weren’t getting in.  This was a bit frustrating for me at times as a major in Architecture and minor in Composition – I had full access to the Architecture building, but none to Language Arts.

Security is not so tight at my current employer, which I will henceforward refer to as the “Oven Glove” to protect the innocent.  The Oven Glove has no such wide-ranging security.  Offices and some classrooms are locked up, but mostly with physical locks only rather than any sort of electronic system.  I’m sure the labs are adequately protected, or else we’d be losing much more money to theft.  Still, the Oven Glove is basically an open campus.  Which means, while I haven’t nearly explored it to completion, I have found a few niches of my own already.  As an active member of the Oven Glove community, I look forward to finding more.