By: Chris Hewgley
Week three at UNC was very unusual. The previous week, students received the news that the majority of on-campus students must leave due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases in Chapel Hill. This caused everyone’s world to get flipped upside down. Personally, I was feeling a lot of stress going into the weekend because I had no idea where I was going to go live. I spent the weekend looking through my housing options, while also working on the final draft of my first English feeder assignment. As the stress continued to build, we received an email cancelling classes for Monday and Tuesday. This was a huge relief and very beneficial for many students because it gave them time to move out of the dorms without missing classes. The cancellation of classes also extended deadlines for assignments providing me with two additional days to finalize my English feeder assignment. Personally, I also used these days to go on numerous house and apartment tours so I could figure out the most logical, yet affordable, place to live. As I prepared to resume classes on Wednesday, I felt I had regained my footing and my mind was starting to clear. I had found a place to live off-campus, allowing me to remain in Chapel Hill. On Thursday we had our only English class for the week. We started with a check-in with students anonymously typing their feelings into a word document. Starting class with this activity was very uplifting and helped me realize I am not alone, as everyone else is facing similar struggles and emotions. Next, we went into a quick review on how to positively peer review each other’s writing since that is something we will be doing regularly over the next few weeks as we continue to work on feeder assignments. We then reviewed how to analyze, research, and correctly site our sources, before diving into the main focus of our lesson.
Thursday’s main focus was discussing an article about Volkswagen’s emissions scandal where they performed emissions tests on cars that were different from those actually on the roads. The altered cars showed false evidence that the car emissions were not harmful or cancerous. Once the truth was discovered, VW faced a 26-billion-dollar lawsuit. Discussing this topic really opened my eyes to how science isn’t always the truth, and how easily large corporations can sweep things under the carpet. If Volkswagen got caught in the act, how many more companies have gotten away with lying, skewing or not reporting certain information? Hiding controversial information is more tempting than ever, especially with what’s going on in today’s world. Seeing UNC sending their students home due to the large number of COVID-19 cases made me think about the other universities in America. I don’t believe UNC is that different from others schools, so I wonder if there is a lack of testing or reporting at other schools.
This class activity directly relates to our feeder assignments because we are required to examine academic articles and studies related to the topic of our choice. This challenged me to look deeper into the studies I am analyzing and look for gaps in the design and methods of the study. Also, I am going to apply this thinking to other aspects of my life and really give an extra effort to fact checking information.
As we wrapped up class, we were assigned our next feeder assignment. In this feeder we must focus on a specific study and really pick it apart. After class, I began scanning the sources I had used previously and chose my article. I then shifted my focus to packing, as I prepared to move out of the dorm, over the weekend, and enter the next stage of my hectic first semester at UNC.
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