Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chillicothe Campus faculty members contribute to Ross County Heroin Partnership Project

By student public relations writer Leah Sternberger

Two OU-C faculty members are involved in an effort to improve the quality of life for area residents.

On July 24, a check in the amount of $100,000 was presented to the Ross County Heroin Partnership Project kick-off meeting which took place on OU-C’s campus. The Heroin Partnership Project is a collaboration of federal, state and local agencies dedicated to working together to reduce heroin deaths. Ross County was selected as the pilot site for the federal program to create and implement a model to combat the nation-wide heroin epidemic. If Ross County is successful in lowering heroin related deaths, the model will be replicated elsewhere to help other communities struggling with the drug.

Since the kick-off meeting, the project has entered the preliminary stages of planning and research. Marguerite Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Laura Bachus, a Lecturer of Psychology, are working on the county initiative.

“We are one piece of the big picture,” Bachus said. “The Heroin Partnership Project has very broad goals and is a community-wide, collaborative project, ranging from early education in schools to law
Laura Bachus
enforcement, assessment, and treatment. As members of Ohio University - Chillicothe, we were invited to join The Heroin Partnership Project specifically to help with data collection and analysis, which is instrumental in any project to report objective findings.”

The project is still in its infancy, but both Bachus and Hernandez are hoping that reviewing demographic information will unearth key insights about who is most at risk.

“There are several groups targeting different aspects of the heroin epidemic, including treatment, law enforcement, courts, and data analysis, which is the group that we are part of,” Bachus said. “We are working with the Ross County Coroner’s Office to determine demographic information of those who have passed away as a result of this epidemic to see if we can determine if certain groups of people are impacted more than others.”

The research and data analysis stage is critical to the success of the anti-heroin program. It will provide the foundation of knowledge necessary to develop a strategy tailored specifically to address heroin abuse in Ross County.

“Ultimately, we hope to gain greater insight into factors that make individuals vulnerable to heroin overdoses, as well as best practices for tackling the heroin epidemic in Ross Country,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez and Bachus hope that their research will ultimately lead to a healthier community. Since many OU-C students, faculty and staff live and work in Ross County, they have seen the devastation of heroin abuse first hand.

“Heroin abuse is an issue that has caused so much harm to this community and we welcome the
Marguerite Hernandez
opportunity to be part of efforts address it. A growing number of people are losing their lives to this drug in recent years, “Hernandez said.

 “I have students whose lives have been affected by this problem in a number of ways, including students who don’t feel safe taking their kids to a park because they come across used hypodermic needles on the ground, or students who avoid shopping at local businesses located in parts of town frequented by drug users.  There are students who have friends and family who have been harmed as a result of drug abuse and others who have personally struggled with addiction issues.  The knowledge we gain about this issue through research can hopefully make a contribution to larger efforts to reduce heroin-related deaths and the harm caused by the epidemic,” Hernandez said.

In addition to starting the research and data analysis phases, the program is also in the process of hiring a full-time project manager to help move the program along. While the program is not currently accepting student volunteers, Bachus and Hernandez hope to incorporate OU-C students in the future.

“It is possible that we may have an independent study project for students, or that we will incorporate data analysis into classes that are currently being taught,” Bachus said.

Star Wars Fall Film Series invites critical discussion of pop culture

By public relations student writer Madison Corbin

There are certain stories that transcend the time of their inception.  These stories withstand cultural, historical and societal progressions. They are deemed “classic” and are used as recurring reference points in the standard-setting of excellence.  They reach beyond the emotional capacity, intellectual depth and creativity of their predecessors and leave a longer lasting imprint on the imaginations of their recipients than successors ever can.  Undoubtedly, Star Wars is one of these stories.

In that spirit, the OU-C Cultural Committee is featuring three of the Star Wars episodes during the Fall Film Festival from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Bennett Hall Auditorium on the following evenings:

•    Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Sept. 23
•    Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, Oct. 21
•    Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi, Nov. 18

Tony Vinci, OU-C English faculty member, will provide introductory background information for each film and facilitate discussions after the viewing of the movies. The events are free to OU-C students. Free pizza and refreshments will be served.

“As fantasy and science fiction become more a part of everyday culture, we seem to lose the ability to see the importance of these radical narratives,” Vinci said.

An active proponent of critical cultural analysis on campus, Vinci organized the Star Wars Film Festival as a way for students to interact intimately with an influential piece of pop culture and apply it to their understanding of the world around them.

“My hope is that this fall’s festival particularly will help community members to engage more deeply with these stories, use them to ask difficult questions about our lives and times,” said Vinci.

Vinci emphasizes that the consumption of outlandish achievements is dulled by time; that work once conceived as extraordinary and strange is melded into an accepted norm as generation after generation repeats a fondness for it.  Audiences begin to experience stories without actually examining them.  The elements that once made Star Wars so brilliantly “weird” are celebrated without being thoroughly acknowledged, inspected or understood. 

“Somehow, by 2015, this uncanny cinematic landscape has lost its strangeness, and audiences no longer engage with the film’s complex aesthetic composition or its competing cultural messages,” Vinci noted.  The film festival provides an opportunity for audience members to regain perspective about a specific pop culture piece and deepen their relationship with the stories they love.    

OU-C faculty members are invited to participate in Arts & Sciences learning community initiative

Members on the regional campuses are invited to participate in a faculty learning community (FLC) that the Ohio University College of Arts and Sciences is developing.

This faculty learning community will focus on the challenges of the use and/or misuse of social media, email, and note taking in the classroom. Opportunities for successful student engagement require a focus on the development of cognitive skills and a facility with social interaction in an academic setting. Commonly, faculty report that students use social media in class when they should be engaged in reading, listening, discussing, and note taking. University instructors describe how classrooms have become “sites of technological resistance and rebellions,” instead of centers of learning and critical thinking.

All full-time faculty and university staff with instructional roles are invited to participate. Regional campus colleagues are invited to participate in group discussions in person or via Skype.  Discussions will begin this fall and continue in spring semester; modest stipends are available for the participants, along with copies of the books that will be utilized. 

Participants will read and discuss the books Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning by Jose Antonio Bowen and Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk by Richard H. Hersha and John Merrow.

They will then develop a plan for communication expectations to students about social media, email and notetaking (SEN); incorporate strategies for SEN development in courses; and provide feedback following the incorporation of the SEN principles.

If you are interested in joining this faculty learning community or would like more information, please contact the facilitator, Robin Muhammad, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor of African American Studies (dearmon@ohio.edu). 

General questions about this professional development opportunity

New students adjusting to college life and making the grade

We regularly speak with OU-C students to gain their insider’s perspective on college life. This week, we asked some freshman students how the reality of college is matching their expectations.

 “I have been busy with school work, but so far, it is all right,” said Jake Bowman, a Unioto High School graduate who is undecided on his academic major. “A math class is a little more than I expected, but, overall, I guess the college experience is meeting expectations.”

“It is really good. It has been a lot of work, but I am getting used to it,” said Grayson Pittock, a
Unioto High grad who plans to major in Geology. “Overall, it is just about what I expected. There is more responsibility, but I like it better than high school. The teachers seem to really care.”

 “It has been excellent. I love it here,” said Brandon Anderson, a Chillicothe High grad who is undecided on his academic major. “There is more freedom than in high school and I can do my own thing. I love the professors. All of them are really cool. Also, the tutoring is great. They are willing to help you any time you need it.”

“It has been pretty good. I expected it to be hard, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Alyx Chaffin, a nursing student from Zane Trace. “Time management can be difficult in balancing school
work with a job.”

“So far, so good,” said Kaitlyn Mitten, a nursing student from Adena High School. “It is nice in that college is different than high school. There is less class time but more time for work outside of class, and I liked that. It is, overall, less scary and stressful than I thought it would be.”