Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Bristol police report

Below is a link to the Bristol police report from Nov. 13-24. RWU makes a few appearances including two assaults and credit card fraud. We will be posting a link to the police report weekly.


Friday, November 21, 2008

New Herald out today

The latest issue of the Hawk's Herald came out earlier today. Inside you will find the following:

Why one student wears shorts in the winter
An article on dorm damage
Faculty approve proposed new contract
An article about students stealing food from the cafeteria
A synopsis of David Gergen's visit to RWU
A number of interesting opinion pieces and letters to the editor.
How RWU plans to combat student drug use
and much more

Actually after listing all of that I would say this is a pretty packed issue. Check it out, and remember you heard this week's breaking news first on this blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Faculty contract approved

Members of RWU's faculty union voted overwhelmingly earlier tonight to approve a new four-year contract; the current contract officially ran out over the summer. Pending approval by the board of trustees the contract will go into effect for next semester.

The new contract includes a number of revisions such as an increase in the amount of merit pay available to faculty, and changes in medical benefits. Possibly most important is that the faculty teaching load (the number of classes faculty are required to teach per semester) has been reduced from 4/4 to 4/3. Smaller course loads are common at established universities.

A late addition to the contract, the reduced load means that additional teachers will have to be found for 1/8 of the courses currently offered. It is unclear at this point how the university plans to deal with the disparity. One possible temporary solution is that faculty would be unable to take their course release until the fall of 2009.

The new contract was approved by 71% of the votes according to an email sent out to union members. After months of waiting, faculty received the proposed contract only a few weeks ago and have been debating it ever since then. The contract was discussed at a Nov. 7 union meeting, and its approval was by no means a forgone conclusion. According to a source close to the negotiations, the contract was the most controversial since faculty at RWU became unionized.

Part of the reason that it may have been approved --even as many faculty members agreed it was weak-- was the slumping economic climate. Many felt that faculty lacked sufficient leverage to play hardball at this moment. Had the contract been voted down, new negotiations would have taken place in the midst's of a time when RWU is coping with the loss of around 18 million in endowment.

Expect more updates on this as the story unfolds

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Senate Coverage- Noteable News and possible leads

For the Senate Meeting of November 17th, 2008

Student Russell Feely came to the meeting to speak during the open floor portion. Feely voiced his concerns about what has been done in the past to improve the transparency of the Senate as well as building a Senate that works well together.
In response the Senate sited retreats that Senators attend in order to create stronger relationships between them. Also the Senate mentioned there success in strengthening their transparency through holding meetings at the Mary White Teft Center more frequently in order to encourage participation. Further the senate sited time sensitive legislation and student involved sub-committees. Above all the Senate commended Feely for coming before them and holding them to their responsibilities, something the Senate wishes it could see more of.

On Wednesday Alicia Merschen-Perez will be talking to John King about various items. Most notably, the Senate will be bringing up the concept of a Safe Ride program for the student body. Plans like this at other schools have utilized methods to provide rides home for drunk drivers.
IRHA- Mr. RWU is set for Saturday Night.

ICC- Hosting Senior Night this Friday at Gillary's 7:30-12pm- There will be one extra bus than there were for last Senior Night at Topsides.

WQRI- In following with creating more jobs by splitting positions the station appointed a new Promotions Director, as well as an Underwriting Director.
The station also appointed their first Genre Director ever. Max Blackledge is now the Hip-Hop Genre Director.
$800 was granted to the station for a new HP Laptop for a live unit. The intention is to created better quality remote broadcasts. Along with this the station plans to begin broadcasting home games at RWU. This will start with the men's basketball team and parlay into several other sports as time progresses.

The Multi-Cultural Student Union will be hosting a Senior Yard Work Day on November 22nd and will be hosting the annual 5K Trot on the following day, the 23rd.
Planning is also continuing for their celebration of Chrismahanukwanizakeed as well as the next Global Fest.
Planning has also begun for Black History Month

CEN-Friday at 9pm in the upper commons there will be a comedy show.
The Dark Knight will be showing on December 2nd at 8pm in CAS 157
On December 5th there will be a Stuntman for a Breaking Norms program. CEN is also working on improvements for the Spring Chameleon Club.

Academic Affairs- expressed concerns about diversity within the curriculum

Student Affairs-had an interesting discussion about Juicy Campus. They suggested ways not only to deter students from using the site but also to offer support to those who are targeted. A support hot line was offered as a potential method. Student Affairs also met with Director Dan Goff to discuss the safe rides program.

Public Relations-are putting the finishing touches on Student Senate Day on Wednesday from 10am-2pm

Winter Illumination Committee is having Ginger Bread Cookie Decorating for their event to accompany the illumination itself.

Alumni Council- is continuing to plan for the Alumni Dinner in the commons. Ron Tippe, the President of the Alumni Executive Council, is compiling a list of Alumni along with their occupations. The date is still tentative but it will take place either December 4th, 5th or 6th.

The Ad-Hoc Committee on Alcohol and Students- building their foundation as a young committee. They want to ask the student body "Does RWU have a drinking problem?" or perhaps "What would happen if RWU banned hard alcohol?". Committee chair Brian McGrath suggested posing these questions will create a stir among the student body, thus spreading awareness of the committee.

The Senate passed three bills, all of which were chair appointments sponsored by the Senate Executive Board. Cory Egan was appointed to the position of Finance Chair, Lindsey Spinella was appointed to the position of Senior Class Vice President and Senator Cait Gosselin was appointed as chair for the Recycling and Sustainability Committee.

Say Word

Kyle P Toomey

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This is actually an old post that was once up on another site that no longer exists (The Birdcage). But it's still kind of a cool video: it's the truck/stage from the Eve 6 concert back in Aug. That's right--a truck that transforms into a stage. A real-life transformer...

stage crew and truck-company.

To make this video, I had to film the entire stage-to-truck transformation, and than take a snapshot of every other second (sometimes every other 5 or 10 seconds) to make a time-lapse video, than put all of the snaps into a slide show and add music, using Windows Movie Maker. Over 200 snapshots were taken, but not all of them were used. Needless to say, the video took some time to make, but it was worth it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Faculty contract negotiations

Last Monday the faculty union held an all faculty meeting to discuss the proposed new faculty contract for the next four years. The current contract officially ran out last summer, and negotiations have been going on for some time to bring a new contract up for ratification.

Faculty received the product of those negotiations last week. They are set to vote on the proposed contract next Monday evening. Since becoming unionized, no faculty contract has ever been voted down here at RWU. From what I have heard, faculty as are close this year as they have ever been to voting a contract down.

That is not to say that they will vote it down. But it seems that excitement for the proposed contract is very low. One of the issues some faculty have is that the contract downplays the idea of merit. Another issue is that pay increases for the contract are unusually low this time.

And while many faculty may be unhappy with the proposed contract it seems that there is a serious worry that this is not the time to vote one down. The argument goes that with the economy so weak, faculty have little leverage to renegotiate a new contract. If they were to vote this one down at least three things could occur:

They and administration could decide to extend the current contract longer. They could vote to strike (highly unlikiley), or they could work without a contract. it will be very interesting to see how next monday's vote plays out.

Stay tuned for updates

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

53% of RWU students cheat

One student recalls seeing cheat sheets pasted on the back of a Dasani water bottle; another admits to programming chemistry formulas into his calculator; a third says he has actually heard a student listening to tape recorded notes in the back of an exam.

“We could all hear him playing it,” says Joe, who asked that his full name not be used. “He spent the entire exam fast forwarding and rewinding the tape.”

Though these methods may be somewhat extreme, they are evidence of a pervasive cheating problem at Roger Williams University. A survey of 330 students, conducted by the Hawk’s Herald in early December, found that 53 percent admitted to cheating while at RWU.

The survey, which defined cheating as “anything your professors wouldn’t condone,” found that of those 53 percent, 67 percent said they cheat rarely, 25 percent said they “sometimes” cheat, and 8 percent admitted to cheating frequently.

“There’s a lot of pressure to do well in school,” said Marian Extejt, Associate Dean of the School of Business. “I think much of what happens is desperation: ‘I chose to go out with my friends instead of studying and now I’m up against the fence and I got to do something, I can’t flunk this class’.

RWU’s student handbook calls academic dishonesty “the most serious academic crime there is,” and lays out the conceivable penalties for cheating: “A first offense may result in failure of the course involved; the ultimate sanction is suspension or dismissal from the university.”

Although the student handbook states that instances of cheating are to be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs, students are rarely caught, and when they are, many professors often choose to deal with the matter internally, handing out light punishments that entice students to cheat over and over again.

“I allow for a certain amount of weakness in the face of temptation,” said philosophy professor Michael Wright, who prefers to keep instances of cheating between the student and himself. “It’s got to be mighty severe for me to take it to the point where the student runs the risk of expulsion.”

Wright said that when he was a college student, administrators relied on the honor system to keep students from cheating, something he still believes in today.

“I’ve left my philosophy classes to take exams by themselves and I’ve never had any trouble with them,” said Wright.

“When you ask a given professor ‘do the students cheat in you class?’ they will tell you no, but when you ask them ‘do they cheat in the university?’ they will tell you yes,” said Professor Robert Engvall, who received a presidential fellowship to examine cheating at RWU in 2004. “It’s a kind of moral myopia… It allows me the comfort of saying ‘I know there’s a problem out there but I’m not a part of it.’”

Engvall said it became obvious to him that cheating was a problem at RWU after he caught a few students doing it during his first five years here. And it wasn’t just at RWU; everything he read told him that the cheating problem in the US was widespread. According to a national survey conducted by The Center for Academic Integrity, 50 percent of students were sure that another student had cheated in the past year. The survey he conducted in conjunction with the CAI found that RWU’s numbers were higher than the national average, with 65 percent of students saying they knew a peer had cheated in the past year.

“What I found is that we’re a little better at cheating than the typical university, but only marginally,” said Engvall, who wasn’t surprised by the results.

There are a number of reasons why cheating occurs so often at RWU, including light punishments and the ease of getting away with it.

“I’ve gotten through an entire semester cheating,” said Joe. “You take a risk and if you get away with it you keep going with it.”

Like many students, Joe, a senior, didn’t cheat when he first came to RWU, expecting that the school cracked down hard on those who attempted it.

“My freshman year I was a saint when it came to that thing, but by sophomore year you kind of get a feel about who’s paying attention and who’s not paying attention.”

The Hawks Herald survey found that only 49 percent of freshman cheated compared to 58 percent of sophomores and 67 percent of juniors.

Many faculty members say they do what they can to stop perennial cheaters like Joe. Robert Potter, the Dean of the School of Engineering, Computing & Construction Management, said the professors in his departments make students spread out for exams, frequently write fresh tests, stay with their students while they take the exam, and tend to devise questions that require problem solving so as to reduce a copy and paste mentality.

“Our examinations don’t lend themselves to the type of sophomoric cheating that some people envision as cheating,” he said.

“Some faculty in the School of Business, especially during exams, will say you can’t wear a cap because people write answers on the brim,” said Extejt. “I think as you learn that these things are possible there are faculty who have the initiative to put in the preventive measures.”

A few years ago the university invested in Turnitin, a computer program that analyzes papers for plagiarism, in an attempt to curb cheating.

Extejt said a student recently passed in a paper that the program realized was identical to one passed in two years earlier.

“Before the technology the faculty member would never have remembered those answers two years later, and I’m sure that’s what the student was counting on.”

But some faculty members remain undereducated about the use of such technology. While Wright said he had seen programs like Turnitin used in New Zealand when he was on sabbatical there, he didn’t know we had it here.

And many students say that their professors are not doing all they can to make cheating difficult.

Lots of professors are very into something else while they’re proctoring an exam, like grading other papers, or reading a magazine or newspaper, and not really paying attention to what’s going on in the classroom,” said a student who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s pretty obvious if you are looking around and there’re a lot of kids looking down at the floor, or looking at their crotches.”

And then of course there is the innovation of cheating: notes stuffed in socks or written on the soles of shoes and hat brims; iPod playlists of recorded information stealthily listened to through headphones taped inside shift sleeves; and more recently text message filled trips to the bathroom.

The battle between cheaters and those who try to stop them is in constant evolution. Websites dedicated to cheating, like, boast “detailed instructions on how to cheat in school, no matter the grade level,” and a search of “how to cheat on tests” on turns up 2,840 results.

Engvall said that even in the rare cases where faculty do catch students cheating, the punishment system is set up in a way that places the burden of proof on professors who often don’t want the guilt that comes with confronting a potential cheater.

“We have the interaction with them and say: ‘hey I caught you cheating in class, this is what I’m going to do,’ and often that’s met with tears, or met with a story legitimate, or otherwise talking about how their life is going to ruined,” said Engvall. “That changes things for a lot of professors.”

“You want to give somebody a break,” said Extejt. “You want to say ok you made a terrible poor choice in this class and you’ve learned from it, I’m not going to negatively influence other faulty in some future semester.”

Wright felt the same way. Though he said he has never suspected a philosophy student of cheating, he has on occasion encountered cheating in his core classes.

“In the very few cases in which people have actually copied, or worked together, I call them in, and if they ‘fess up to it I’ll give them an F, and that’s it.”

It is also common, Engvall said, for student to lie about their cheating habits when confronted by a professor. He would like to see a system utilized where teachers submit reports of cheating incidents to a central database that can be checked to see if they are telling the truth or not.

Engvall also said that the introduction of an Academic Integrity Officer would take the burden and guilt of punishment, out of the teacher’s hands, and lead to more reporting of cheating from professors.

“That’s what the Center for Academic Integrity recommends,” said Engvall. “It is possible that our system makes it a little easier to cheat and a little bit harder for professors to take the time to have to deal with it.”

In the meantime students continue to cheat at RWU and get away with it.

Last year Joe received an email from a professor that said he and another student in his class had submitted identical homework assignments. The professor said he knew they had cheated and mercifully told them they would only have to redo the assignment.

But this time Joe knew he hadn’t cheated, that in fact the other student had found his assignment and copied it, and now his neck was on the line.

“At first I was kind of angry” said Joe. “But the kid was cool about it and he redid the assignment for me.”

In an ironic twist, Joe turned to cheating to deal with a problem caused by cheating.

“If I know I can get away with something than I’ll do it,” said Joe. “Not to insult our own learning institution, but it’s easy to cheat here.”

No students allowed - full article

It became one of her “tool-bar favorites”. Searching Craigslist for off-campus housing became a morning ritual. For months she looked at tons of houses, and in each search found the perfect home for her—unfortunately, it came with a minor snag:

No students allowed.

“I understand why [homeowners] have prejudices against college students,” says Katie Heuston, 21, a senior at Roger Williams University. “But there are good people in college, too, and if you’re going to live in a college town you have to assume you’re going to be renting to college students.”

Although she moved into the house in August, Katie has been paying for the house since May to ensure that she had a place to live come the beginning of the semester.

“I basically used it as really expensive storage over the summer,” says Katie.

Unlike the stereotypical college party house, Katie lives with two other girls in the suburbs of Bristol, RI. The white house comes equipped with a canopy of grape vines to the left of the driveway. With the exception of the clucking of chickens from the coup in the backyard, the house is quiet.

“We like having an apartment where we can come back and work, but you go out to parties,” says Katie. “We have friends over, but we’re quiet here.”

According to Mary Tavares, Century21 employee of 18 years, about 90 percent of rentals say no to students, and usually only take one if they’re a law student. Legally homeowners can say they don’t want students and it’s not discriminatory.

Homeowner Nicole Sowning, of Bristol, has her reasons not to rent to RWU undergraduate students.

“I did have some RWU students and the ones I had problems with were the underclassmen,” says Sowning. “Graduates have more direction and are a little more respectful. I’m a graduate from RWU so I know what college life is like.”

“[College students] are stereotyped,” says Tavares. “But unfortunately, you read the police reports in the paper every week and they’re stereotyped for good reasons.”

On a weekly basis, one to two RWU students are sited to appear in court due to house parties and noise levels such as loud music, revving engines, and unamplified human voices, according to Lieutenant Steven Contente, who has worked for the Bristol Police for 13 ½ years.

“Normally students go out at night Wednesday through Saturday, and when they come back they make a lot of noise,” says Contente. “It’s not for a long duration…but in a quiet neighborhood it’s disruptive.”

However, noise isn’t what students are normally sited for. According to Contente, when the police arrive at the scene the noise quiets down, so other violations, such as underage drinking, procurement of alcohol and disorderly conduct are the charges that are sited. These charges are than bought to the attention of RWU’s judiciary system as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Students living off-campus abide by the “good neighbor policy”, in which students living off-campus have the same punishments and expectations (respecting neighbors, the law, etc.) applied to them as students living on-campus. With the exception of being kicked off housing, students are still fined, given warnings, and put on probation. According to Heidi Hartzell, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards, if a student off campus violates probation they can be removed from school for a semester.

“Most students who live off campus really work with us and understand the good neighbor policy,” says Hartzell. “Students…are representing themselves and the university while they’re in our communities, as well as the value of their diploma.”

Although RWU has no official office for off-campus housing, they do have their own ways to help students find homes. According to Jen Stanley, Director of Residence Life, there are about 1,000 undergraduate commuters at RWU, which in turn means that each of them lives off-campus. Online students, graduates, and faculty can find local listings put up by different realtors and landlords, along with lease-signing information.

Another way the school tries to help students find housing is with an off-campus housing fair. Four or five realtors come to campus to answer students’ questions about finding housing, prices, etc. Last year there were about 85 students who showed, according to Carol Sacchetti, Assistant Director of Housing.

When going to a real estate agency, students can walk in and ask if anything is available. If the landlord allows students, an agent will show them the property. When it comes time to fill out the credit application, the agency normally asks for the parent’s signature and does a credit check on the parent rather than the student.

“They come in hordes looking for apartments or houses,” says Tavares. “Every parent says their child is a very studious child, that there will be no partying. And than we get complaints from the landlords, and we have to turn that over to the parents because they can be held liable for a whole year’s rent if [the student] gets kicked out.”

In the last year to year-in-a-half, three sets of students that Tavares knows of have been kicked out; one only living in the house for two months this semester.

“When I see boys coming at me I almost want to run the other way,” says Tavares. “Landlords tend to think girls will be better. But what happens with the girls is that they attract the boys, and you end up having the boys over anyway.”

Joe Delamura, 20, a junior at RWU, had a difficult time trying to rent a house. With two real estate agents, it still took over five months before anyone would rent to the group of four boys. In one instance, a group of four girls looked at the same house, and the landlord gave it to the girls “hands down, no questions asked.”

“If I owned a house, I wouldn’t want to rent to college kids either,” says Joe. “Things get broken and things happen in your house that you prefer not to happen. If I was a landlord and drove by my house to see people getting charged five dollars a cup at the door, I’d be a little upset. …But a lot of people just won’t rent to guys.”

Joe and his roommates lucked out when finding the waterfront property in Bristol during Law School spring break. The vacation home is an academic rental (meaning from September through the end of May), and though Joe and his roommates were not the Law School students the landlord was looking for, they were the first to offer her the price she wanted, so she took it.

“I absolutely hated living in the resident halls; the rules are ridiculous, it’s like living in some type of communist society,” says Joe. “For the same amount of money I’m able to afford a much nicer place and not have to deal with people knocking on your at 11pm saying to quiet down.”

Of course, Joe admits that he and his roommates are not exactly the “cleanest or most orderly and civil people.” Having already broken their glass stove with a fist, throwing a can of Monster through a wall, and trying to make Moonshine in the back of a toilet, things have been broken and repaired.

“[Our landlord’s] brother-in-law lives four or five houses down the road, so we told her about the stove,” says Joe. “She’s very cool with us because she knows if we were to leave or she was to evict us, she’d lose out on a lot of money.”

Katie also decided to live off campus for the freedom. In addition she says it’s cheaper to live off campus with roommates: while she was paying about 800 dollars a month to live at RWU, she pays about 300 dollars a month in the house.

“[Living off campus] makes me feel like a grownup now—I have to worry about bills,” says Katie. “And I can have my dog here—that was big.”

Whatever the reason for wanting to live off campus, students will continue to find it difficult to find off-campus housing with college stereotypes, whether true or not.

“Off-campus housing is disruptive in many neighborhoods,” says Contente. “But there are a lot of good college students that are good neighbors, too.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

June Speakman preview video

After going through hours of footage, I managed to make a close to 90 second preview video for the article that Teddy is writing. The video features June Speakman's Election Day, and includes quick quotes from a student of hers, a fellow politician, herself, her husband and her mom. Enjoy..

On a side-note, the music in the video is by a band called The Postal Service. The song title is Natural Anthem.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Senate Coverage- Noteable News and possible leads

For the senate meeting of 11/10/2008

During this weeks meeting there were a few things that may be newsworthy in the coming weeks-
WQRI is undergoing their semester evaluations and making assessments on their evolving station. QRI Representative to the senate Dom Lombardi said that they will be creating new jobs in the station by splitting the responsibilities of current positions. Also, the station will be planning to make changes to their on air sound including better broadcast sound quality as well as "new music" time slots. Additonally the stations methods for training will be changing.

The Multicultural Student Union will be hosting a Christmahanukwanzikee[sp] which now includes a middle eastern holiday.

IRHA- Mr RWU seems to be slated for December 2nd if I have it correctly.

Student Affairs talked about parking issues including several appeals which have generally been tabled. Juicy Campus continues to be a point of discussion within the senate and SA wants to address ways to deter use of the site. Also SA spoke about having a meeting about a Safe Rides program, which in the past John King has said he and President Nirschel wouldnt necesarily be thrilled about, arguing that such programs do not work proactively towards the drinking issue. Finally the SA will be soon to host an Open Session much like the open forum with the president but with the Senate.

Finance Committe declined to allow AIS and Construction Management sizeable moneys (which will further be investigated)

The Alumni Council has set a date for the AEC dinner where Alumni will attend dinner at the commons and students will be encouraged to sit with them. The Alums would be separated by major allowing same major students to sit with the almimlni. The hope on the end of the AEC is to build relationships between Alumni and students that bear fruits of networking and mentoring. The date is set for December 4 at 6pm in the upper commons.

The Winter Illumination Committe, who got $500 after their bill passed this evening, will be involving the chorus for the event.

The Dining Committee reminded everyone of the food drive that is going on as well as the holiday pie sale. The deadline for pie orders is thursday, November 20th.

The senate passed two bills. One bill allowed the afformentioned funding for the WIC. Finally, a bill passed creating an ad-hoc committee on Alcohol and Students. The committee would be comprised completely of students and would encourage all students to contribute ideas, concerns and criticisms related to the alcohol issue at RWU.

Say Word

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Local woman takes drive-thru literally

A woman took the concept of a "drive-thru pharmacy" just a tad too literally today when she hopped a curb and smashed through the wall of the CVS/Pharmacy on Metacom next to the King Phillips residence hall. The impact injured three people and left the car partially lodged in the wall.

We happened upon the scene on our way back from Stop & Shop. By the time we arrived ambulances had already departed though we were told that at least one person was taken to the hospital on a stretcher. A Cumberland Farms Employee said she was told everybody was expected to be OK.

Surprisingly when the car was removed from the wall it was in relatively good condition save a little damage to the front bumper.

In a good sign for RWU journalism a number of student reporters had gathered to take in the scene. Stephen DePasquale and Lorin Richardson of The Feed were gathering interviews for a video that they just finished completing. You can view it on the top of the video bar on the right of the blog.

Photos by Gregg Kelly

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Feed

If you didn't know, The Feed is a weekly news video put together by a team of journalism professor Micheal Scully's students here at RWU. Their coverage spans a wide array of topics, from features to issues. We have placed links to The Feed on the right of this post. Notice the strip of videos entitled "The Feed." These should automatically update whenever a new Feed if uploaded. The top clip --an update on campus construction-- was posted earlier today. Enjoy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Interviews in the Biltmore

At the Democratic Party at the Biltmore in Providence, we were able to get a few interviews on video. Some of them are a bit hard to hear, but we pulled out the best quotes into an article ("A snapshot of history). So if you were curious to see the emotion and rest of the interview, here they are...

Jermaine Whitehead, 30's, of RI

Amanda Buckley, senior at RWU, VP of College Democrats

Brian Leby, 16, of RI (on the right, Elizabeth Rose A'vant)

Ok, so this video isn't actually an interview, but it's still pretty interesting. Unfortunately, the Flip ran out of space so we only caught about 14 seconds. Walking back to the car through Kennedy Square in Providence, we came across a hoard of college students euphorically screaming for Obama. It looked like the Patriots won the Superbowl...

Construction Sign

So on Election Day as Teddy and I were following June Speakman around, we passed by the school to witness a huge construction truck running over and crushing a "No Construction Access" sign at the main entrance. Well, we thought it was pretty funny, so veered off the campaign trail for a few minutes to turn around and get some awesome video. Enjoy

By Teddy Applebaum

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We hope you enjoyed our live coverage of election day. You can expect to see more coverage of the election in Friday's Herald. Keep checking the blog in the coming days for more video of the day's events. The clips are currently on the editing room floor as they say.

Here are just a few more interesting moments from the end of last night:

- In the lobby of the Biltmore a highly intoxicated man became violent, punching a number of walls while lamenting the fact that he had been kicked out of the campaign party. He claimed to have been working for Obama for two years.

- A man in his early 20s wearing a thick pair of leather gloves approached us and explained that something green was growing on his hands. We found this to be relatively creepy.

- A Jack Reed campaign sign leaned against the bathroom mirror in the men's rooms outside of the party. Surrounding it were four cups of alcohol and a bloody napkin. Possibly this was the still life of an election.

- On Kennedy Plaza a large crowd of RISD students ran wild towards the Biltmore high-fiving us and screaming "Obama" as they passed. Many of them were stripping off their clothes as they ran. On half naked girl straggled behind, her fishnet clad lower body draped in a battered American flag. Trailing them was a lone police cruiser.

- There was a sound in downtown providence that I have heard only a few times in my life. It was a low rumble of muted screams and unquenched riots. I heard this sound after the Red Sox won the world series in 2004, when people poured onto the streets in need of mass celebration.

- As we drove towards 95, a group of college-aged people hurtled towards the statehouse steps. They were followed by three police cruisers. Where there is chaos there is order.

Obama wins!

I apologize for the Blair Witch type quality of the videos, but capturing the footage was much easier without a stand. The emotion in the room was incredible--possibly one of the most intense moments of complete blissful unity that I've ever experienced. I hope these videos do justice to at least some of the passion that we were surrounded by.

There will be more videos coming as soon as we can upload them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama headquarters: The Biltmore Hotel in provdence

Alright sorry this took so long but the connection at the top of the Biltmore was lackadaisical at best.

From the Obama headquarters.

The moment when the networks announced Obama as a winner was surreal. People flung themselves into each others arms with an emotion only wrought in moments of sublime unbridled joy or those of intense unquenchable sorrow.

A man danced with a women next to him his wine spilling on the floor as sweat rolled down his forehead. He exclaimed to nobody in particular "i love you"

The sound was overwhelming. Screams of pure excitement, distilled happiness. Then came the tears. They flowed free, breaching levees of self control.

They cried for the end of the Bush years, they cried for the first black president they cried because the emotion they felt could not be expressed with words or sounds. They cried because they could.

A black lady with dredlocks told me that she never in her lifetime expected anything of this magnitude to occur for african-americans. She cried as she spoke, a tear rolling down her cheek as her voice wavered. She didnt have the words.

June Speakman wins reelection

The votes are in and tallied and June Speakman won her reelection bid with over 5000 votes. For the second election running she was the highest vote getter. Now it is on to the Obama party
Its 7:00 and we are sitting in a cafe in warren RI. We last checked in five hours ago. here's what happened during that period.

3:00 We are sitting outside June's office at RWU she recently received an email from a former campaign worker of hers. He now runs the campaign to reelect democrats to the senate from Washington. He told her at least seven senate seats would be going to the democrats. June is visibly excited though she claims it has to do with the fact that her friend is so successful and not simply that the democrats are doing well.

4:00 June is getting tired. She has been trying to convince her aging mother to let he take her to vote. Her mother says she isn't feeling all that well and has so far declined. As is common with June's office a steady stream of students and professors filter in and out. Her view of relaxation is different than most.

5:00 June actually leaves RWU. She is off to see her parents in Barrington. On the way she stops to pick up a pizza for her mother and father. "Half cheese half veggie," she says.

5:45 Her parents live in a cluttered house. A picture of a younger June climbing on some rocks sits behind the kitchen table which is littered with newspaper clippings. Her mother explain that June climbs mountains - metaphorically. She emphasizes the last part. Her father, a jazz drummer, once worked as Motown Record's distributor in New England. Their basement is filled with soul paraphernalia. Her mother was a stay at home mom. June kicks back and opens a beer. Bush. She says she is drinking it because she wants it, not because she needs it.

7:15 in 15 minutes June will arrive at the democratic club in Barrington. This is where she will eventually receive the results from today's local elections.

One hour and forty-five minutes until polls close.

stay tuned

On the campaign trail

Sorry for the long blogging delay. Alyssa an I have been shadowing June Speakman since 8:00 this morning and haven't had a chance to log on until right now. Lets catch you up:

8:00 am June teaches her class. She is wearing red and blue, colors she says are traditional for candidates on election day. Her prediction is that democrats are going to win big tonight. In case you wondered, she had an English muffin with butter for breakfast.

9:00 She hurries to gather her things on route to the Barrington Senior Center which is a polling station. RI's Lieutenant Governor Roberts has come to campaign with Barrington democrats in order to build relationships that might help in a possible run for governor in 2012. This lasts for about an hour.

She comes across a baby and exclaims "I'm supposed to pick it up and kiss it, but I don't know..."

10:00 One of her fellow town council candidate's car broke down so June drives her home. The trip through Barrington proves the town to be the picture of a New England fall. The leaves scattered on the ground are a spectrum of reds, oranges, and yellows.

10:30 June proves she practices what she preaches by voting. She proudly displays her completed ballot. She voted the party line--no surprises there. For the next hour, as she waves a sign for a friend also running for office, she explains how she became a teacher (28 years and counting), and how she got her entrance into politics in 1998. She lost that campaign for school committee before running in 2002 for town council. She has held the seat ever since. To her delight and surprise she garnered the most votes in her 2004 bid for election.

11:30 We drive to June's house, a modest abode near the bay, where we spoke to her husband Jay. He told us that their sons, 18 and 21, both voted for the first time this year. One son was excited to be able to vote for his mother, showing off his absentee ballot to friends at school, according to June's husband. June apologized for the clutter in her house but it is nothing compared to her office at school.

12:30 June stops off at a Bristol polling place to visit with a few students from her campaigns and elections class. The students are dressed to kill, in suit pants, starched white shirts and pastel colored ties. If it weren't for the ties they would look remarkably like missionary Mormons. For her class, June requires that students spend at least 10 hours volunteering for a campaign. These students estimated their volunteering time thus far as between 18 and 25 hours and seem to love their work.

1:00 We drive to the Franklin Court polling place in Bristol where a few more students are busy holding signs and handing out fliers. A union employee from Mass. expresses his hope that ballot initiative 1 in Mass.--getting rid of the income tax--will pass. A few people wearing shirts emblazoned with cats and dogs stump for ballot initiative three in RI, which would allow for the construction of a new Bristol animal shelter. They brought four large dogs with them to the polling place, apparently hoping to for the guilt vote.

1:30 We arrive at the Performing Arts Center; or as RWU students affectionately call it, "the Barn". For the day the Barn has been turned into a polling station, supplanting classes in the building to the chagrin of performing arts faculty and staff. More of June's students are here. It seems that they are out in force. June reflects on herself as a leader, wondering out loud why it seems she always seems to be running things.

2:00 Junes sits down for a much earned rest in her office at RWU. She plants herself to grade papers for the next few hours and grab a bite to eat. She says she is tired. Only seven more hours until the polls close.

more soon.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Live election day blogging!

As advertised in the Herald, we will be blogging live from a number of locations on Nov. 4, election day.

Alyssa Persinger and I will be following either 2008 RWU graduate William Grapentine (R) on the last day of his campaign for RI's 69th district seat in the house of representatives, or political science professor June Speakman's (D) quest for reelection to the Barrington town council.

Hopefully a member of the Herald will also be blogging live from RWU's "Hawk's Nest," in order to convey student sentiment during what should be quite a historical, riveting and polarizing night.

Finally at the end of the night as election results pour in from around the nation we hope to bring you live coverage from Barack Obama's campaign party in Providence RI a the Biltmore hotel. If the McCain party is public we may blog from there as well.

Expect photo's and possibly video from the day's events throughout the day. Tune in and tell your friends. And obviously, make yourself heard and vote!