Kennesaw State University

Incumbents’ financial advantage + friendly redistricting = long odds for challengers

Name of Publication: 
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

  Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, March 8, 2014


The crowds began gathering early Monday in the Capitol’s expansive lobby, and they didn’t stop filing in until four days later. By the week’s end, hundreds of candidates had qualified for political office. And for most incumbents, a cakewalk awaits to another term.

Qualifying week brought a cascade of candidates with their eyes on November. But despite hundreds of offices up for grabs, most candidates face no opposition. Redrawn political districts have etched out safe zones for most incumbents. And those who have managed to get elected wield an almost insurmountable financial advantage.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis found that incumbent state lawmakers together have roughly $11 million in campaign cash ready to unload against anyone with the temerity to mount a challenge. A fund aimed at protecting House incumbents has raised an additional $762,000.

That may help explain why only about one-third of incumbents seeking re-election in the Legislature face opponents.

The challenges only stiffen for those seeking higher offices. Republicans, who won every statewide post four years ago, have amassed nearly $8.5 million to maintain their foothold. All told, statewide and legislative incumbents have raised nearly $20 million to protect their offices. 

The lack of competitive down-ticket races is a perennial one. The Republican majority in the Legislature redrew the political lines after the 2010 census, making most districts virtually unwinnable by Democrats. Meanwhile, minority Democratic districts were reworked to make them largely impossible for a Republican to prevail.

The perks of incumbency, and the campaign cash that goes along with it, only complicate a would-be challenger’s strategy. ...

A ‘security blanket’ for officeholders

Analysts point to several reasons for the lack of challenges. Redistricting and financial advantages have surely given incumbents a “security blanket,” but the media attention on marquee races at the top of the ticket also doesn’t help, said Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political analyst.

“Legislative races are taking a back seat to all the statewide activity this year — the open U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s race,” said Swint, a former political operative who studies campaign rhetoric. “That can sometimes drain the fundraising pool, as well as party commitments and other resources.”

The Black Woman

From left, Roxanne Donovan and Griselda Thomas co-teach interdisciplinary course on the black woman.

History and contemporary life connected in interdisciplinary course

At a recent weekly meeting of a course called “The Black Woman,” one of the 30 students seated in the wide class circle prefaced her response to the professor’s query by saying, “I really love this class.”

She moved seamlessly from her unsolicited comment to the matter at hand:  How have stereotypical images of black women such as that of the welfare queen become entrenched in the culture and how are they harmful to black women?

Led to Service

Rev. Young fields audience questions read by Shekesa McLaurin of the KSU African American Student Alliance.

Throughout his career as a pastor, civil rights strategist with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as a U.S. congressman, U.N. ambassador, mayor of Atlanta, co-chair of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and leader in organizations working for human rights and economic empowerment, the Rev. Andrew Young acknowledged the hand of God at work.

From Romania, With Love

2013 Roman Diplomacy dc 10-XL.jpg

The government of Romania, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented Kennesaw State a “150 Years of Romanian Diplomacy” Honorary Award to recognize the role of the 2011-2012 “Year of Romania” in promoting the country’s values and culture abroad.

Handel hopes 2010 bid leads to 2014 victory

Name of Publication: 
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

(Subscription required to link to full article) 

Handel hopes 2010 bid leads to 2014 victory

Karen Handel says she learned a valuable lesson from her 2010 bid for governor.

“Yeah,” she said. “Don’t lose.”

The former Georgia secretary of state lost by 2,500 votes in a Republican primary runoff to now-Gov. Nathan Deal.

The loss stung. But now, Handel believes her experience will help her in the race for the U.S. Senate. Seven candidates are vying for the GOP nomination for the seat now held by fellow Republican Saxby Chambliss, who plans to retire when his term ends in 2014. The field includes three sitting congressmen and a business executive who is a cousin to former Gov. Sonny Perdue.

But Handel is the only candidate who has won, or even run for, statewide office, which is largely an advantage. She is well known to Republican primary voters, nearly 300,000 of whom voted for her in 2010. She has worked to maintain her statewide network of supporters. And in the time between campaigns she also managed to shore up support among anti-abortion activists, a sizable contingent of the GOP base.

Yet, a question about her 2010 campaign lingers. She struggled to raise money then, and the trend continues in the Senate race.

 ...  --    ... Thus far in the Senate race, Handel has maintained her sharp edge. She’s lambasted Broun, Gingrey and Kingston as double-dealers on Obamacare, saying they stood to benefit from special congressional perks in the law.

“Only in Washington can congressmen campaign against Obamacare — while receiving special treatment and thousands in taxpayer subsidies that the rest of us don’t get,” she said in a radio ad released in September.

That message — that she’s the outsider facing veteran politicians — is smart, said Kerwin Swint, a Kennesaw State University political scientist.

“She’s trying to carve out a niche for herself, that non-incumbent candidate,” he said. “The one not tarnished by holding public office.”

But, Swint said, the challenges of fundraising will be significant, and she’ll likely face questions about 2010.

“She might have to defend how she ran that runoff against Nathan Deal, which was a winnable runoff,” he said. ...




KSU students pitch TV, movie ideas in film studies class

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
by Rachel Gray
December 09, 2013 12:23 AM
KENNESAW — Before yelling “lights, camera, action,” rounds of writing, editing and critique are given to even the shortest of scripts, which is the lesson students learned in a local film class this semester.

On Thursday, 25 undergraduate students at Kennesaw State University presented their final script ideas to demonstrate everything they were taught in Film 3105, “Fundamentals of Writing for Film and Television.”

Jeffrey Stepakoff, who is credited on 36 television episodes and 14 series, said he came to KSU seven years ago to build a program in the English department, with a concentration in film studies.

Every semester, Stepakoff’s classes fill up within an hour of registration opening, and the waitlist is full before each semester begins.

“The interest in film and television is explosive,” Stepakoff said.

Film 3105 is designed to give students the principles of storytelling, specifically through visual media, Stepakoff said.

The course’s syllabus touts the class as “essential for those who intend to work in any field that uses story, such as actors, playwrights, agents, development executives, directors, editors and writers in non-visual fields, like novelists.”

The listed reading for the course includes the screenplays of “Moonstruck,” “Silence of the Lambs” and “Notting Hill,” as well as the pilot script for “Hill Street Blues” and the “Friends” episode “The One Where Ross Finds Out.” The listed viewing assignments include the movies “When Harry Met Sally,” “Roman Holiday” and “Almost Famous.”

The final story board projects were “beat sheets,” or condensed outlines, for feature films, one-hour dramas or two half-hour sitcoms.

During Thursday’s critiques, Stepakoff asked students what the major event was in each script.

Stepakoff said audiences in the past used to take their time for a story to develop, but now the action often begins when the opening credits start, demanding that writers go up a level in intensity.

“Why is no one getting up to go to the bathroom during his movie?” Stepakoff asked. ...

Beyond the Wall: Outsider Art Goes Inside

Name of Publication: 
NY (New York) Arts Magazine
Excerpt of Article: 

This past October, famed UK street artist Banksy spent a month in New York City, leaving behind 31 provocative works in public spaces scattered throughout the city’s five boroughs. Each new piece threw the press and public deeper into the kind of frenzy usually reserved for pop culture events like a new Harry Potter book or Miley Cyrus’s latest fashion curveball. Art news, by comparison, tends to be more austere.

Yet by the time Banksy left a small mural on the Lower East Side, featuring a stencil of galloping stallions in steampunk goggles who looked like the four horses of the apocalypse, the piece found itself quickly surrounded by barbed-wire. Its property owners apparently realized the value of the work by the sheer traffic it drew. The Post made it headline news. The Times and CNN were not far behind. ...

Street art has, in fact, become increasingly romanticized and highly collectible over the last decade. Many of the genre’s artists have fallen under the larger umbrella of “outsider” art by virtue of their anti-establishment sensibility, especially in graffiti circles, where the artists tend to be self-taught. Those like Banksy have come to represent hope for a more open-door policy at the institutional level for artists working outside the system.  ...

Fascination with artists on the outside comes largely from the special hermeneutic codes and non-textbook discourse their works embody, which often catch us off-guard. Early in the 20th century, French artist Jean Dubuffet championed art brut—works he saw being made outside the boundaries of the established art culture, such as those by insane asylum inmates and children. ...

One of the most talked about subjects in this debate is Henry Darger, a custodial worker who lived in relative reclusion in Chicago and whose thousands of drawings and narrative writings were only discovered after his death in 1976. Darger’s first (posthumous) exhibit came quickly and his work has since been on display in every major art capital of the world. The fact that he worked in such untraditional, “non-painterly” ways—for example, he traced many of his images from comic strips and coloring books—and that his art was meant to illustrate the novels he wrote, may complicate Darger’s place among his contemporaries. Though it seems more that his exclusion has to do with his non-engagement of the art establishment while still living. For now, Darger remains largely relegated to the world of folk art.

“The ‘folk art’ label,” insists Jim Elledge, author of Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy: The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist. “allows us to marginalize him as a naïve, uneducated country bumpkin, although Darger was none of these.” Elledge is a writing professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, a poet and a champion of the LGBT community in American arts. According to Elledge’s book, Darger was physically and sexually abused as a child, eventually labeled “feeble-minded” by the state and bounced around foster homes before he was unleashed as an adult to survive amidst Chicago’s Near West Side, then its very worst vice district.     ...

Streaming Suicide

Name of Publication: 
Inside Higher Education
Excerpt of Article: 
December 3, 2013

A student at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, found a disturbing use for social media on Saturday: broadcasting his own suicide attempt to hundreds of viewers. Student counselors and mental health experts decried the act as exhibitionism, saying it could cause a ripple effect among students thinking about suicide.

“Tonight I will be ending my own life,” a user going by the pseudonym “Stephen” announced on the imageboard 4chan on Saturday night. “I’ve been spending the last hour making the preparations and I’m ready to go through with it.... All that I request is for you guys to link me to a site where I am able to stream it for you guys, then I will gladly fulfill my promise.”

Members of 4chan complied with his request, creating a temporary video chat room on that soon filled to its maximum occupancy of 200 viewers.

The thread has since been removed, but not before snippets were was saved to a screenshot

Since it was founded in 2003 to discuss Japanese anime and comics, 4chan has cultivated a bizarre and, more often than not, offensive subculture that has flourished under the protection of online anonymity. In particular, its “Random” section, known as /b/, regularly features gore and porn alongside the latest Internet memes. The site has a strong following among college students.

Stephen has been identified by some 4chan users, but Inside Higher Ed is not using his name out of concern for his health. He claimed to have been a regular poster on 4chan since 2004. In 4chan terms, he was an “oldfag” (a longtime user) preparing to “an hero” (take his own life). Stephen studies criminal justice and public policy at the University of Guelph, according to his Facebook profile. The profile references the same “doge” meme involving a Shiba Inu that Stephen used as a nickname during his broadcast: “LOLdoge.”

Footage from the suicide attempt is still available on the video site LiveLeak. In the video, Stephen is seen setting a fire in a corner of his dorm room in in Dundas Hall, East Residence. As smoke begins to fill the room, Stephen crawls under his bed. The frame grows steadily darker over the next 30 minutes until firefighters carrying flashlights burst into the room, locate Stephen, then carry his motionless body away.

The university has urged its students not to view or share the footage, but the story about the suicide attempt, first reported by The Daily Dot, hit dozens of websites by Monday afternoon. Student counseling professionals said the media attention could undermine the broader issue of suicide prevention among college students. ...

Others said the live broadcast goes well beyond a cry for help. Josh E. Gunn, president of the American College Counseling Association, said streaming the suicide attempt in some ways downplays its severity.

“With a lot of people who attempt suicide, there is some level of ambivalence about it,” said Gunn, director of counseling and psychological services at Kennesaw State University. “This draw to have people watch it overpowered a strong instinct in humans for life.” ...




A Studied Effort to Ease College Transitions

Name of Publication: 
National Journal/Op Ed
Excerpt of Article: 
November 27, 2013 

Stephanie M. Foote intimately understands the challenges to adjusting to college. After a dismal freshman year, she had to transfer from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., to Coastal Carolina University—a jarring experience for a high school student who had found getting good grades rather easy.

Stephanie Foote is an associate professor in education at Kennesaw State University and director of its forthcoming master of science program in First Year and Transition Studies. (Courtesy photo)Since that humbling experience, she has dedicated her life to addressing the issues of adjustment and retention of first-year collegians. Now an education professor at Kennesaw State University, 25 miles north of Atlanta, she works in its Department of First-Year and Transition Studies and is directing the launch of a master's of science degree in first-year studies that will start in autumn 2015. For 11 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Kennesaw State in the top 10 for first-year programs.

Nationally the trends are for an increasingly diverse student body, including a rise in first-generation collegians and community college transfers. For instance, 69 percent of Hispanic high school graduates last May are in a two- or four-year program this fall, up 30 percent since 2000. Accompanying that demographic infusion is the need to offer programs and services to ensure the social and academic success of students from varied cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The title of Foote's 2009 University of South Carolina dissertation was "A Multi-Campus Study of the Perceived Effects of First-Year Seminars on the Experience of Students in Their First Semester of College." Previously she directed the Academic Success Center and First-Year Experience at the University of South Carolina (Aiken) and now edits the Journal of College Orientation and Transition.  ...

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The idea of the new graduate program is rooted in our culture. My department is unique because we have tenured and tenure-track faculty dedicated to teaching first-year seminars, one of the fewtwo that we are aware of in the country. [The four seminar choices required of students with fewer than 30 credit hours emphasize "life skills, strategies for academic success, campus and community connections, and foundations for global learning."]

Our former president, Betty Siegel, [who stepped down in 2006] was the catalyst for the development of my department in 2007, and in many ways, the graduate program acknowledges her vision for student success and especially for first-year students.

Although the transition to the first college year has long been a concern in higher education, the growing body of empirical evidence demonstrates that the first year really matters. And one key to making a difference at this critical point is to train faculty and staff in more meaningful ways.  ......

Earliest use of chilli sauce put back hundreds of years

Name of Publication: 
Chemistry World
Excerpt of Article: 


Chemical analysis of 2000 year old pottery artefacts unearthed in southern Mexico suggests that the people living there were spicing up their diet with chilli sauce and drinking chilli flavoured beverages, possibly as part of rituals, almost a thousand years earlier than previously thought.

Relatively few ancient specimens of Capsicum have been uncovered and the earliest known evidence of domesticated chillis – from macrofossils – dates back to around 6000 years ago in Ecuador and Mexico. However, to date, no chemical analysis has been performed on artefacts either – whether pottery vessels or stone tools – to determine if chilli peppers were used by ancient cultures living in these regions.

Now, Terry Powis at Kennesaw State University, US, and colleagues have chemically analysed the residue in 13 pottery vessels, including spouted jars, pots and vases. The potteries are 1700–2400 years old and were discovered at an archaeological site in the state of Chiapas, which was at that time inhabited by the Mixe–Zoquean people.

'The best and most direct evidence for chilli pepper use in Mesoamerica prior to our study is from Ceren,' says Powis. 'So our work pushes back this date from circa AD540 to circa 400BC. To be honest, our study is the only one of its kind to show direct evidence of chilli pepper use. In all of the other examples listed in the paper there is only indirect evidence – of chillis and pots found together. We actually linked the two together for the first time, and that is an important development. Therefore, we actually have the earliest known consumption of the peppers.'  ...          ...

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