Category Archives: Discussion

Event Post #3

Does photographing a moment steal the experience from you? (Erin Sullivan)

In this talk, Erin Sullivan spoke of her experiences of being a professional photographer. These included amazing landscape shots from across the globe, close images of wild animals, and even constellations free of light pollution. Not everyone can be professional photographers, but the advancement of phone cameras has given access to billions of people. Each person can capture a moment and have it stored for later. While her work took her to so many places, Sullivan began to realize the effect on her enjoyment of always having her camera out. She saw a similar trend in tourists. People traveling just to take their own photo of a landmark and only experiencing it for more than a couple of minutes. Sullivan argues that social media has increased this artificial impulse to take a photo of everything deemed sharable. Capturing memories has not become something to share with family, but something to receive likes on. She claims that she too had become enveloped in this as we all want to capture our own perspective of some moment. Sullivan’s main point is that sometimes we should leave our cameras behind, and fully experience an event. While there may be nothing to post, we have fully concentrated on a memory instead of scantily looking through a screen.

This talk relates to the study of leadership because it shows our desire of a shared social identification. Whenever we have travelled to some place, we want to make sure we have gotten a good shot of it because the memory has not happened if there is not a picture online. Although I have tried to limit myself, the artificial impulse we have culturally created is powerful. I have been to concerts where people have taken photos or filmed for nearly the entire time. In some famous art museums such as the MOMA, people will take pictures of paintings throughout their visit. Our cameras and phones have become an extension of us because sharing our own perspective and receiving praise gives us immense pleasure. The iPhone in our pocket allows us to create pictures that give us the praise we yearn for. This cultural practice is not how memories should always be captured. We are losing precious memories with friends, family, or even the earth because of this unhealthy obsession to capture what we see. While I cannot claim innocence from this obsession, times where I haven’t had my camera have allowed me to truly understand what I have seen with my eyes. During one summer, I hiked on the Billy Goat Trail in Maryland with friends and I forgot my phone in the car during the hike. Although I was at first annoyed since we had already walked 4 miles from the cars, I began to forget about it. I took in the sites on a beautiful summer day and enjoyed traversing over the rocks. I am glad that I could not take pictures of the scenery that afternoon. This accident allowed me to not seek pleasure in maintaining my status in a shared social identity, but to seek pleasure in authentic and personal moments with close friends.

Ted X Talk:

Event Post #2

I watched a TED x Talk entitled: Why are drug prices so high? Investigating the outdated US patent system. Priti Krishtel, a lawyer and activist, talked about how the outdated patent system has allowed for legal loopholes for pharmaceutical companies. Krishtel spoke of how the patent system was created to incentivize innovation in the United States and further human progress. With extensions to various patents, companies have in Krishtel’s words a “time limited monopoly” on their product. For the medical community, this can have damaging effects as medication for diseases is something that an individual cannot live without. Thus, these pharmaceutical companies can increase their product to whatever value they see fit as there is no alternative for their customers. Krishtel’s argument is that this system must be modified so the public can afford medication for loved ones without going financially bankrupt. Her reforms include a limitation on patents, changing the financial motivation for the US patent office, increase public awareness, having more legal suits against these corporations, and having stronger oversight on how our health data is being distributed.

This talk is related to the study of leadership because it shows a model of followership that is defined as being a bystander. While these pharmaceutical companies are immensely powerful and rich, the public has accepted that medication and healthcare in the US is expensive. As a nation, the United States spends the most amount of money on healthcare among developed nations and yet there are millions of people without proper access to healthcare services. This bystander mentality can definitely be attributed to the cutthroat narrative of American business. America is a country where its citizens are mostly self-interested and focused on their own aspirations. The business side of the medical industry is currently operating on similar standards of ethics comparable to investment bankers. The only way change can occur is if more citizens are actively engaged in the political process. If Americans are willing to protest the absurd costs of their medication and pester the US congress, lawmakers will see the importance of amending the US patent system and the prices of common medication such as insulin. The battle to keep drug prices fair cannot be won by individuals such as Krishtel, but only by a substantial number of perceptive Americans. 

Ted x Talk URL :





Implicit Test Result

For the implicit bias test, I chose the random topic assignment, and the assigned test assessed my bias between Christianity and Islam using a grouping method with “good” and “bad” words.  My result was “no automatic preference between Islam and Christianity”.  I thought this was interesting because I answered incorrectly for both Islam and Christianity a couple times, but the results revealed it is based on the time it took for me to make a connection between Christianity with “good” words or whichever.  Although my results weren’t that interesting, I thought it was interesting that following the grouping assessment they asked for the postal code that I have lived in for most of my life (I don’t know if they asked that for every test?).  I just thought that was a unique way to collect data and understand possible biases by geography.

Event Post #1

On February 15, I went to see The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. This play was centered on an indoor girls soccer team called the Wolves. The audience only knows the characters from the numbers on their jerseys. The girls, who are in their junior year of high school, debate current topics and issues during their pre-game warmups. The girls converse on the topic of teen pregnancy, the Mexico-U.S. border, and even the ethical concerns of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Each subsequent interaction between the characters allows the audience to see how the unity of the team changes across time. These interactions include one girl’s use of Plan B and the ensuing rumors that her teammates create. This performance did not feel like a play, but rather an accurate depiction of how teenage girls view the world around them and how the world perceives them.

This performance relates to leadership studies because it highlights how intergroup dynamics shape human interaction. Every character desires to be heard and listened to in a noisy group of teenagers. In large groups, one can see that all the weaknesses and strengths of each individual make up the group’s meaning. No matter the calmness or rationality of the leader, there are certain individuals who speak out against their leader’s decisions. This play highlights the fact that social groups must determine their own collective meaning for success. The reason for many of the aggressive interactions in this performance is the fact that each person feels that they are not valued and do not have influence over anything. A common experience helps to bind this group together and this group learns to unify themselves. Overall, this play was very fascinating because it showed the power of team communication in verbal and physical ways.






Lecture Response #1: One Book, One Richmond Lecture

Tonight, February 5th, I attended the annual One Book, One Richmond Lecture in Camp Concert Hall at 7:00 PM. The lecture was with author, pediatrician, and environmental rights activist Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Mona is the author of What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resilience, and Hope in the American City and she came to the University of Richmond with Dr. Karen Remley, former CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Two empowering women with incredible expertise in the field of public health, they came to campus with the intent of discussing What the Eyes Don’t See as well as the importance of environmental justice. Dr. Hanna-Attisha came to the United States from Iraq when she was four years old, and she noted in her talk that she has always been aware of the injustices around her, so she wanted to combine her passion for social justice with medicine. As she noted, “you are always a part of history, and history repeats itself,” so entering the field of pediatrics Mona knew she wanted to make both social, environmental, and medical leaps and bounds towards equity, for children in particular during her time on this Earth.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha never knew that lead could contaminate water– as you do not physically see it as a contaminant of drinking water and the physical detriments do not appear for decades after consuming it. Residents in Flint, Michigan have an average life expectancy that is 15 years lower than that of other districts in Michigan– evidence that zip codes can predict health– and this has to do with the water crisis there. Environmental justice pertains to leadership in that the children and families living in underfunded and redlined districts– a consequence of race, class, and gender issues– and Dr. Hanna-Attisha felt that it was her civic duty to protect children among the most vulnerable communities. Environmental justice is also tied to political leadership and followership; as she pointed out, the “most essential aspect of democracy is voting,” so we can make a change in unjust environmental and climate issues pervading the United States and around the world.

I highly recommend What the Eyes Don’t See to anyone interested not only in the Flint, MI water crisis but environmental issues in general and their relationship to social justice.

Campus Speaker: Drug Policy & Implications for the real world

Each semester, my sorority offers an array of programs and talks on campus that are available for our chapter to attend. These events typically bring in outside, professional speakers or experts on particular topics. Typically, these topics are academic in nature, but are usually also applicable to real world situations or work experience. I love these events because they provide into into the professional world and give us an opportunity to hear from individuals who have taken classes like we do now in undergrad and built a career from that. Moreover, these SOE’s make events like these extremely accessible to us. For example, one week a professional nutritionist came to speak with us. She not only presented information about the scientific evidence and implications behind the food we put in our bodies, but she also spoke about what her job looks like on a daily basis. Thus, we received applicable advice related to our physical well-being and gained insight into a potential career opportunity.
However, one SOE that I just attended is the one I will focus on in this particular post, because the event really stuck out to me and was somewhat different than typical SOE’s. This SOE centered around drug awareness. When I initially heard the topic of the SOE, I planned on skipping it. Throughout middle and elementary school, I have sat through countless talks given by police officers and firemen about drug awareness. And they all end in the same predictable way with “Drugs are bad.” or “You don’t believe this can happen to you, but it can.” And that was the perspective I went into this talk with. I was not expecting to gain much insight from it, to be completely honest.
However, the woman who spoke defied my expectations. When she initially started speaking, I just assumed that she was professional speaker, or someone who worked in a legal setting or for a non-profit that raises awareness about drugs. However, I quickly realized I was wrong as she began to tell her story. She first described her ambition and life path for the majority of her life. In undergrad, she went to a prestigious university, worked extremely hard, excelled in sciences, and made significant sacrifices throughout her time that enabled her to be accepted to a prestigious Physician’s Assistant program. This really struck a chord with me because I am studying sciences and hope to pursue a career in the healthcare field. She then went on to describe a day that changed everything for her. It was a long story, but essentially, just weeks before she was scheduled to enroll in classes at her PA school, she went to a concert, was stopped by the police, and was arrested for being in possession of a single pill of the drug Molly.
She went on to describe the shock, emotional difficulty, and financial burden that this placed on her family. Her enrollment to PA school was denied and she faced significant legal action and bills. Based on the court’s verdict, they required that she contact a certain number of academic institutions and give talks to undergraduate students about her experience. The court wanted her to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs not only from a medical perspective, but from a legal one that has potential to jeopardize your entire future. After giving her talk and informing us about the significant struggle her entire case has been and the extent to which it has impacted her life, she engaged us in discussion. This was my favorite aspect of the event. She gave us the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues. She confronted us with difficult questions such as why are drugs so prevalent on college campuses even though so many people recognize them as wrong? Do we understand the consequences of drugs: legally, medically, socially, etc.? And considering what those consequences are (as she described) are they fair or what should be the consequences be?
Her questions got me thinking about how prevalent and how much of an issue drugs are on college campus and how that intersects with our lives as university students to an even greater extent than we realize. One thing I was thinking about was the ethics behind taking ADHD medicine when you are undiagnosed in order to enhance your performance. This was actually also spoken about significantly in one of the readings we read earlier in the semester. Her talk stood in direct contrast to the perspective of that reading, which claimed that self-prescription should be diagnosable.
Finally it even relates to university policy on this campus. I started thinking about of athletes are randomly drug tested and their participation is often contingent on these tests coming out clean. Moreover, many students at UR are on financial aid. Drug violations go directly against national and university policy. Such instances can jeopardize one’s financial ability to continue to study here.
Overall, this SOE was very informative and thought-provoking for me. It challenged me to think simply beyond “drugs are bad for you” and grapple with why such strict parameters and consequences are in place and what happens as a result when they are violated.

Event #2

Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher gave a talk during the Honor week which regarded questions of ethics and honor. She elicited the three V’s which were values, virtues and visions – which although seems relatively cliché holds extreme prevalence in this day and age. I say this because the modern generation has somewhat shifted each of these V’s and gravitated towards alternate forms of focus, be that through the increase of social media and capability for instant gratification or elsewhere.

An additional point of her speech was the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which she had close relation to due to her place of birth. Upon prior hearings of this experiment my initial reaction was undoubtedly shock however when hearing of this with personal experiences and effects on the community this reaction was multiplied and grounded due to the personable aspect to it as it only seems as a situation one hears about in textbooks. This distance relates to concepts in leadership as the relation or understanding of fallacies can be overpowered or covered by anecdotes and Dr. Crutcher’s point of ethics. For many leaders reveal a façade of ethical standards by granting miniscule anecdotes as part of a grander ploy or hiding of bias. Which transcends into Dr. Crutcher’s alternate point on trusting no matter the abilities or ways of disparate people with various backgrounds. For everyone is able to be bias but it is when we let these biases overpower not only our trust but our understanding or relation to others is when danger arises. This related somewhat to the unethical choices in the Stanford prison experiment and the immorality Zimbardo projected onto those participating. For it is so easy to let your decisions be blurred thinking it is still an experiment when you are so invested in science and less so to the reality of situations – which can stand true on alternate standpoints not merely science.

Dr. Crutcher’s talk reminded me of although the importance of being honest and ethical will always hold prominence it is also crucial to respect alternate people’s ethics and values without the selfish concept or merely respecting our own.

Event: Virginia Tech Shooting Survivor

Earlier this semester, I attending the University’s talk where they brought in a survivor of the VA Tech shooting to talk about her experience as well as school safety and prevention of another school shooting.  She was in the building where the shooter attacked and was shot 3 ltimes.  She  ended up playing dead in the back of the classroom in order to survive while most of her classmates where killed.  She has since been dedicated to teaching people how to survive in a similar scenario as well as educated schools and law enforcement on how to create a plan of action when these events happen.

She talked a lot about how the building she was in had very few entrance points making it easy for the shooter to barricade himself into the building and harder for law enforcement to get inside once the shooting started.  Additionally, a UR police officer spoke to tell us about emergency resources on our own campus in order to help in an active shooter scenario.  Overall, our campus seems very prepared for the unlikely event that this would happen but one thing I learned is that you can never be fully prepared for a tragedy such as the VA Tech shooting.

Event: VA Holocaust Museum

This past Tuesday, I attended the VA Holocaust Museum to tour the museum and to have dinner with two survivors of the Holocaust.  I have been to the National Holocaust Museum in DC before but the tour of the VA museum was especially powerful as it tied many connections to Va to the Holocaust.  One fo the most interesting things I learned about VA in relation to the Holocaust was about a farm in western VA that sheltered Jewish men that had escaped from Germany prior to the war.  These men worked on the farm in order to make a living and in turn they were provided a place to live in safety away from Germany.  When the war started, these men joined the allied forces and fought against Germany in WWII.  I found this story unique and very interesting as it happened right here in VA.

After the tour of the museum, we sat downforce dinner and two survivors of the Holocaust spoke to our group.  The man spent time in 4 different concentration camps.  He claims the only reason he survived is because he was given better rations as he was a very skilled worker.  The camp he was at was responsible for building rockets for the German army.  He was liberated by the British army and then settled with his wife in Richmond.  His wife who also survived the Holocaust had a different story than he did.  She spent the Holocaust in hiding.  Her father purchased fake papers for her and her sisters that claimed they were Catholic.  At 14, she boarded a train with nowhere to go and eventually found work as a maid.  She spent the war working as a maid under a false identity and then her and her husband moved to Richmond.

This experience was incredible as it really brought to light the horrors of the Holocaust though personal examples as well as tying the Holocaust back to Richmond

Event: Take Back The Night

Last week I attended Take Back the Night on our campus forum.  This event gave survivors of sexual violence and other members of the University community to speak about the problem of sexual violence on college campuses.  The event structure was an open mic so student could come speak to the crowd on their own personal experiences or some students brought essays or poems they had written about the problem of sexual violence.

This event made me realize how prevalent sexual violence is especially on college campuses.  While I thought I knew how awful sexual violence is, hearing first hand accounts from members of our University community gave me new perspective of the horrors of this issue.  This event empowered survivors to be able to share their story about a topic that is often overlooked and uncomfortable to talk about.  The overwhelming majority of sexual violence is against women and I think men have a duty to be active bystanders as we all have the ability to help stop sexual violence before it happens.

This event provided powerful first hand accounts that I hope inspired every person who attended to become more actively engaged in combating the problem of sexual violence, specifically on college campuses.  I was unaware of how prevalent this issue was on our own campus.  I went through Spiders for Spiders training with my fraternity last year and I hope this event encourages others to attend similar training and become more active bystanders