Laura Woodard ’13 began her presentation, “Fighting for Workers Rights and Your Life: Human Rights Violations Against Labor Unionists in Columbia,” with grim statistics on the state of recent human rights violations in the country. In the statistic of murdered trade unionists, three of five are Colombian. Woodard unveiled her thesis which plans to explore how Plan Colombia, multi-national corporations, and silence from the Colombian government are all contributing factors in the violence against labor unionists within the Colombian borders.
The first development of labor unions in Colombia came in 1857 with the founding of the Bogota Artisan Society. With intermittent lapses in union fervor between the later 19th century and into the 20th, the union movement in Colombia has stayed consistently strong since the 1980s. Resulting from this struggle for workers’ rights have been violent clashes between workers and management, especially in the coffee, banana, and oil industries.
According to Woodard’s sources, “the shift from the international community moved down to Central America, opening the door for foreign investors and the focus of United States military aid.” The United States’ Plan Columbia – an expansion on counter insurgency – formed between 1998 and 1999, added to the United States backing of paramilitary organizations in an effort to curb drug production during the Clinton years. Woodard argues that because labor unionists are connected with leftist groups who are also connected with groups responsible for the production of drugs, the United States’ Plan Colombia is responsible for violence against labor unionists as it systematically targets the left to counter drug production. Even so, there have been few improvements to the “war on drugs” and a subsequent increase in crime and corruption.
Additionally, multinational corporations contribute to these human rights violations and Woodard used two examples, Drummond Coal Company out of Birmingham, Alabama, and the Coca-Cola Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia. Drummond outsources to Columbia, and has been marked for its mistreatment of workers, sending threats to unionists, and administrating lie detector tests asking simply, “Do you support the guerillas?” Reportedly, there are many paramilitary sympathizers in higher ranks of Drummond. Union leaders have been reported missing and killed and the only U.S. response has been ones of detached complacency: these incidents have been reported, and are not systematic.
With the infamous human rights record of Coca-Cola, it is known that several of their workers have been targeted and killed or gone missing. Woodard quoted an anonymous Colombian Coca-Cola worker saying, “Everyone knows Coke works with the paramilitaries.” Woodard studied some of the hundreds of interviews and testimonies of people who have been threatened or know people who have gone missing within the Coca-Cola Corporation in Colombia.
Woodard explored also how the Colombian government opposes labor unions and why. Austerity measures to cut public sector jobs have added heightened pressure to the already tense relationship between the government and the unions. Several labor union leaders within Colombia who have written to the government report a common response that associating with strikes and protests is “violent” and no unionist is targeted that is not “violent.” This mismanagement of the word “violent” by the Colombian troubled Woodard and seemed an important aspect of her research. The silence by the Colombian government contributes to how difficult it is to find justice and protection for victims of human rights violations within the labor union movement.
Woodard carefully introduces counterarguments to her thesis and offers caveats in order to strengthen her position. Mejia and Uribe write from an economic standpoint that there is no proof of a systematic or targeted attempt to suppress labor unionists, that any deaths or violent clashes are just results of a generally violent Colombian culture. Woodard is quick to point out that one of the co-authors, Uribe, shares the last name of the former Colombian president and most likely experienced privilege and protection in the high ranks of the government.
Woodard also explores the United States’ “Colombia’s Union Activity: Myths vs. Facts.” The source states that the idea of Plan Colombia supporting paramilitary groups is a myth, while Plan Colombia funding national military groups is fact. Woodard pointed to her previous points about the cross-associations of leftist guerillas, paramilitary, and governmental groups in the very complicated Colombian issue to express that while the United States’ government might not explicitly state they are funding the paramilitary, partnerships and associations between the national military and paramilitary groups with backing from the United States do result in violations of human rights toward the labor movement. By citing a violent culture in Colombia, the United States can deny their responsibility in contributing to a culture of impunity.
Toward the end of the presentation, Professor of Political Science Dr. Cathy Scott asked why focus on Plan Colombia and not the United States Government? Woodard responded, “I only have 25 pages!” For the purpose of project length, focusing specifically on Plan Colombia fits research constraints, but Woodard is interested in exploring further and expanding her research in the future.
Way to go Laura!
In this poster Laura Scaeffer presented her study investigating the correlation between eye gaze and color preference. As her abstract notes, “some research has shown a sex-linked genetic difference in color receptor sensitivity suggesting females prefer colors in the reddish-purple region whereas males prefer colors in the bluish-green region. Therefore, researchers predicted females will both gaze at and prefer colors of a reddish-purple hue. Using an eye tracking device, participants were shown an image of six squares of different colors and then asked to indicate their most favorite and least favorite color. Fixation points, measured by the duration of eye gaze, were used for data analysis. Early comparisons indicate a correlation between least favorite color and eye gaze. Findings may be useful to marketing.”
“Strong Sisters a, wo-mentoring program, continues to seek innovative ways to support the needs and concerns of DHS girls.” –Strong Sisters
Bullock 304E was packed when I entered the classroom. The room was filled with students, teachers, and staff. Achane Madden, Beverly MCall, Quianna Smith, Joy Smith, and Tammy Leverette showed so much enthusiasm when introducing the subject matter. The subject matter in this case was the non-profit organization known as Strong Sisters.
Strong Sisters is an organization between Agnes Scott and Decatur High School that inspire girls to stay in school. This program has a focus on girls that are at risk of not graduating, but caters to other girls as well. The vision of Strong Sisters is “to facilitate both academic and interpersonal growth and success through mentorship.” This organization is beneficial because it builds strong relationships between Agnes Scott, Decatur High, and the city of Decatur. When Strong Sisters was founded fourteen years ago by Professor Tina Pippin; the organization focused on girls that were at risk of becoming pregnant. Now, fourteen years later, the focus has shifted from teen pregnancy to teens graduating. That is a great improvement since its beginning. Strong Sisters are fundraising to bring awareness and financial support. The Case Grant gave ASC $1000 to help with sustainability. T-shirts are now being sold to help raise money and awareness. The latest fundraising act was the School Supply Drive in Alston so that the girls at Decatur High would have school supplies next year.
This organization touched my heart so much that I felt the need to join. I feel that all students, especially those in high school, should have a mentor to help them through any situation that may potentially handicap them.
Danli Lan gave a presentation on “A Case Student of Amnesty International Southern USA” based on her internship with Amnesty. Lan introduced AI as an international organization that fight for human rights. AI has many missions as told by Lan. Some of the mission include helping countries in poverty, ensuring refugee and migrant rights, and ensuring the rights of women, LGBT, as well as children’s rights. AI works through different campaigns such as Demand Dignity and Security with Human Rights.
AI has over three million supporters, members, and activists in over 150 countries; but their headquarters is in New York. Lan explained that campaigns are easy to start and join if interested. Campaigns are based mainly on whether or not AI can pressure the issue. This was a problem to Lan. She felt that people should not be pressured to support a campaign if they do not feel the need to.
I found this to be universally true. Many people get caught up in the “hype” of a situation and feel that everyone should join. We as a people have to remember that there are so many universal issues going on that everyone may not be able to participate in every campaign.
Heather Williams, Meron Hailerkiros, and Aditi Adhikari are advocating for an organization on Agnes Scott campus known as Teaching English to Students of Other Languages or TESOL. In their lecture they informed the audience on the strengths, weakness, and the ways that they can improve in the future. TESOL gives back to non-native speaking Agnes Scott and Valley Crest staff whose first language is not English by teaching them the language.
During the start of the presentation Hailerkiros informed the audience that TESOL is a strong organization due to its committed group of tutors, the tutor’s flexibility, and application of skills. Adhikari later explained that in order to better TESOL, they need more committed students and ESOL certification for the tutors so that the tutors can be better organized. Williams confirmed these facts by explaining that the aforementioned improvements within the organization will be beneficial by creating a network for the students as well as tutors in different colleges and universities throughout Georgia.
I found this lecture to be very informal because I have never heard of the organization TESOL and loved the fact that students can take time out of their day to give back to the staff that keeps our campus looking beautiful.
Kelly Smith traveled to the coral reefs in the Caribbean to study the Thalassoma bifasciatum fish. With Doctor Rogers and other students, she wanted to research what happens when certain patterns occurred in the species’ IP/TP types and what effect population had on plankton duration.
Hypotheses that were tested:
1. Mortality rate is higher for males than females on smaller reefs. Fantastic
2. The mortality rate is equal between male/female, but the growth rate in males is slower than in females.
4. IP males are avoiding small reefs since they are not as productive and are unsuccessful in smaller reefs.
5. IP females are avoiding large reefs.
The Thalassoma bifasciatum is known for having the ability to change sex. In her research, Kelly focused on analyzing the Otholith (or ear bones) to determine the age of the fish as well as when it had emerged as an adult. Similar to trees, the fish’s bones have rings that continually add new, outer layers. After collecting 700-800 fish from 19 different reefs, the group then shipped them back to Agnes Scott, counted the Otholiths, and then quantified the results. The data showed that IP males are on small reefs and that females are avoiding large reefs.
The research still has room to grow, and the Caribbean has its plusses (Kelly’s pictures of the trip had clear, blue water, who doesn’t like that?). If you are interested in research similar to Kelly’s, the research course is offered occasionally in the summer.
“Musical fluency implies more than the ability to read music; rather, it’s an understanding and implicit knowledge of what’s correct and incorrect, and what has meaning and coherency in our musical culture.” – Andrea Love
There was much excitement in Bullock 209W as Andrea Love prepared to give her presentation. Her presentation according to her abstract served a study to prove that nursery rhymes serve the bedrock on which the English language is learned.
Andrea Love, a senior at Agnes Scott gave an informal lecture on Musical Fluency and Nursery Songs. Love started the presentation with a sing-a-long where everyone in the room sang Three Blind Mice. Having the room break out in song served as a basis of her presentation explaining that everyone has musical fluency. She explained that musical fluency helps one to better understand a language better than studying the language. One can say that they can form expectations of what will come next in a song through musical fluency. This is what helps you to sing along to a song that you barely know or do not know at all. One cannot do this with music from other cultures because they have not been exposed to the music of that culture. Nursery songs are the first music learned in infancy. Nursery rhymes teach babies fluency in the way that they are rhythmic, structural, and tonal; which encourages musical fluency.
A little more than 12 hours before the first talks of SpARC 2012 will begin. There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes. The facilities department has prepared the classrooms in Bullock Science, the IT department has double-checked all computers and the projection equipment. The administrative assistants have made last-minute adjustments to schedules, and students and faculty-advisors have fine-tuned and rehearsed presentations.
Here’s the final schedule: