Come visit the Global Affairs and Human Security Student Association

Have you ever thought about traveling the world, becoming a diplomat, or helping those that are less fortunate than you? If you have, then you should check out the Global Affairs and Human Security Student Association (GAHSSA). GAHSSA is a student run organization at the University of Baltimore that is “dedicated to exploring international affairs related to global health, socio-political events, economic issues, transnational problem solving, global governance, and issues effecting human security.” In order to fulfill this mission, GAHSSA has implemented a guest speaker series that provides international affairs experts, from around the world, with a venue to express ideas and discuss global topics. So far, GAHSSA’s guest speakers have included former US Ambassador to South Africa, Princeton Lyman, and Middle East media commentator Alireza Jafarzadeh.

A few months ago, GAHSSA’s latest guest speaker, Ambassador Lyman, stood in front of a large group of undergraduate and graduate students and explained his many experiences in South Africa and South Sudan. Before providing details about his time in South Africa, Lyman gave some background on the political situation, explaining that the US civil rights movement was occurring at the same time as the South African apartheid movement, which enabled each movement to feed off each other, in turn, creating a “symbiotic” process to promote change. Lyman also explained that, around this same time, the US congress placed economic sanctions on South Africa, in order to punish the South African government. These sanctions were passed after much disagreement and political drama which involved President Ronald Reagan vetoing the proposed bill, against the will of the US State Department, and congress eventually overriding Reagan’s veto.

Lyman went on to explain that these legislative activities going on in the background contributed to a particular atmosphere in South Africa, a distrustful atmosphere that made Lyman’s job a lot harder. This distrust of the US government, among both the ant-apartheid movement and South Africa’s white government, was a result of the US government’s flip flopping on economic sanctions and other foreign policies. Ambassador Lyman explained that due to the atmosphere in South Africa, Lyman and other members of the State Department not only had to help resolve the overarching conflict in South Africa, they also had to resolve these trust issues. Lyman went on to speak about how a transition process was eventually facilitated in South Africa and how this led to an increase in US credibility in the region.

In regards to Lyman’s involvement in South Sudan, Lyman explained that he was sent to South Sudan to ensure that the Sudanese followed through with a peace agreement they made with people in surrounding regions. During this time, Ambassador Lyman and other diplomats had to deal with changing US positions and had to settle several other issues, including setting boundary lines and establishing a currency.

The guest speaker session closed with comments and questions. Students from across the university asked several interesting questions, one of which was why does the US intervene in some international conflicts but not others? Ambassador Lyman answered this question by explaining that the US usually only involves itself in areas where it has a strategic interest.

If you want to learn more about interesting international topics, such as South Africa and South Sudan, or if you just want to get firsthand knowledge from global experts then be sure to check out GAHSSA.

GAHSSA is even expecting to have another guest speaker come to the University of Baltimore this upcoming semester, so be on the lookout for flyers and emails about GAHSSA’s next guest speaker.

Is it their fault?

Students are often blamed for their disinterest in academic pursuits

By Zachary Nelson

The professor must first convince the student that the subject at hand is useful in real life. Only then will the student agree to care about anything the professor says.

It is a complaint of teachers and parents alike that students are not engaged in coursework. Professors and parents decry this apparent disinterest as laziness or another flaw of character (Kohn). They claim that video games and socializing, is all they ever do. To confirm this, I conducted a survey of UB students this past month (n=21). Student engagement in various activities was measured on a 1-7 scale (7 meaning high engagement). Electronic entertainment scored a 4.46 while spending time with friends scored a 5.95. Meanwhile, academic pursuits (class lectures and homework assignments) scored only a 4.1. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1 shows how engaged students are in the corresponding activities. A score of 7 indicates “very engaged.”
Figure 1 shows how engaged students are in the corresponding activities. A score of 7 indicates “very engaged.”

To understand the reasons behind this undesirable deficit, we will consider the average day of a gamer who attends UB. First, this student listens for an hour and a half to a lecturer talk about a subject which does not seem to have an application the real world. Then, during their study time, the student attempts to memorize this seemingly meaningless information and so he can fill in the correct little bubbles with a led pencil at the end of the month.

The student then goes home and unwinds by playing a videogame where he is participating in a breathtaking rescue scene. As the student is playing, he reacts emotionally as if he was actually doing the act himself – which would certainly be an exhilarating and engaging experience (McGonigal).

Wouldn’t it be more natural for our brain to engage in the video game instead of the class lecture? Wouldn’t it be natural for our brain to tune out a lecture that is perceived as irrelevant to normal functioning? Wouldn’t it be natural for the student to pursue the next most productive alternative? (i.e. texting or watching sports highlights in class).

Perhaps students are harshly critiqued by parents and teachers unnecessarily. Talking down to someone for following a natural mental process may be quite misinformed and potentially hazardous to the portion of the student’s brain that dares to think beyond the PowerPoints and scantrons.

Please understand, I am not suggesting that the content UB lectures are irrelevant or meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Much rigorous work has been put into building the theories that are taught in the textbooks. I am, however, suggesting that if the contents of the lecture are perceived by the students as being disconnected from reality, students will perceive the lecture as a waste of time.

Fixing the problem does not require an overhaul of the wealth of knowledge we have accumulated over years of rigorous academic research. The solution, instead, lies in the presentation of the information. This is where further research should be done.

Image Source: Zachary Nelson
Text Citations:
Kohn, Alfie. “From Degrading to De-Grading.” High School Magazine Mar. 1999: Print.
McGonigal, Jane. “Gaming Can Make a Better World.” YouTube. TED, Web. Dec. 2016.

The New Technology Revitalizing Safety

roboranger
The Sound Grenade in blue

Forget the unease of walking to your car after a late night of classes or festivities. RoboCopp is a tech start up from Sam Mansen and Jill turner, who share a vision of preventing crime before it happens.

“In the future technology will be so advanced that the probability of you getting caught in a crime is a 100 percent,” says Turner. “That’s how advanced technology is. Our vision is kind of this utopian future where crime is non-existent, and that is kind of where the name comes from.”

According to Mansen the name has no relation to popular film of the same title, RoboCop. RoboCopp seeks to combine “a robot and police officer,” says Mansen. “Our futuristic technology can contribute so much to crime prevention that eventually you’re going to have a crime rate of zero percent. We really think that will be the case. Sensors will be so advanced, cameras will be so advanced, guns will be so advanced that your chances of getting caught anytime you commit a crime are 100 percent. In other words, getting away with a crime — a violent crime that is — is zero percent.” Mansen predicts this future happening within twenty years. When asked how this might be possible, Mansen explains the two factors of committing a crime: something to gain and “getting away with it”. RoboCopp’s focus on eliminating the chancing of getting away with a crime is what they believe to be the best way of eradicating it altogether. Mansen calls attention to Singapore with the deterrence method via increased surveillance.

“When you look at police officers who carry body cams, complaints have gone down by over 80 percent. That is no surprise. No surprise whatsoever. Technology is nudging us into behaving morally.”

“I think [technology] is getting cheaper and cheaper every day. It’s getting more affordable for most countries to have these basic technological crime prevention measures. I think most countries will be able to afford basic surveillance. Every year it gets cheaper for us to make body cams and personal alarms. Economically speaking it will be very affordable.”

The personal alarm from RoboCopp is a discreet device. If you saw it, you might mistake it for a USB drive with a square face. However, the top of the “USB” is a pin that you would pull to release a 120 db alarm, “which can be heard up to 300 feet away,” says Turner. Although the device is open to the public, many students have taken to the device, carrying the Sound Grenade on their keychains. Once the pin is removed, the alarm will sound for 30 minutes until it eventually dies out. The device is reusable within the 30 minutes, meaning after the pin is removed, you can reinsert the pin and save it for later use. Once the battery is depleted, the device would need to be replaced. According to Mansen, if used in an emergency, RoboCopp will replace the device, and if you never use the Sound Grenade the device should last up to five years.

“Recently a UC Berkley student was walking to her car from a train station and two men approached asking for her money and claiming they had a gun. And she just had the device on her keys and pulled it. They just take off running immediately. We’ve had a lot of these kinds of stories where students are directly confronted with someone or they’re being followed and they feel nervous. They pull the alarm and they see people running away.”

The device runs for $15.99, which is a part of the company goal to provide affordable personal safety for students. RoboCopp is currently working on their next device, the Robo Ranger which is an upgraded Sound Grenade that alerts the police from wherever you are.

“When you make someone aware that they’ll get caught in what they are doing, that’s the best deterrence,” says Turner.

The sound grenade is available for purchase via the RoboCopp website or Amazon.

Maryland Men Win in Second Straight Trip To Baltimore

jon-and-ernie-grahamAfter playing a game in Baltimore in December 2015 for the first time in 17 years, the Maryland men’s basketball team returned to Royal Farms Arena on December 20 against the Charlotte 49ers. With one of the top scorers in program history serving as an honorary captain on the anniversary of a record-setting night, the Terrapins struggled in front of a crowd that was on their side.

A layup by Ivan Bender of Serbia gave Maryland a 7-5 lead just over three minutes into the game. However, that two-point lead quickly turned to a two-point deficit as the 49ers’ Andrien White hit a three-pointer from the right elbow, was fouled by Maryland’s Kevin Huerter, and then made the free throw to complete the four-point play. That started an 8-0 run by the 49ers that gave them a 13-7 lead. Bender and Michal Cekovsky got increased playing time because of an injury to starting center Damonte Dodd.

Upper Marlboro native Jon Davis then gave the 49ers their largest lead of the game at 32-22 by finishing a pass from Braxton Ogbueze for a layup with 5:42 left in the first half. Turnovers and an inability to hit open jump shots and finish layups plagued the Terrapins throughout the first half, but they fought back as the half came to a close.

After Najee Garvin committed an offensive foul with nine seconds left, Melo Trimble drove down the court, but missed a layup. Cekovsky finished the ensuing scramble by tipping in the ball to beat the halftime buzzer and pull Maryland to within 37-36 at halftime. Anthony Cowan had nine points and Cekovsky scored eight to lead the Terrapins in the first half. Maryland shot just one for six from the three-point line, and turned the ball over 13 times, leading to 14 points for Charlotte. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Charlotte’s zone defense caught his team off-guard.

“We didn’t expect them to start in zone. We’ve been practicing in zone a lot, and it showed in the second half,” Turgeon said. “They did some things a little bit different in their zone, and we were just kind of standing around, and we just couldn’t really get any rhythm. The turnovers were disappointing…the no-look passes and throwing to guys that weren’t there.” Turgeon added that injuries and illness racked the team in the week leading up to the game.

The Terrapins got off to a fast and furious start in the second half, scoring on each of their first three possessions, capped by Cekovsky finishing off an alley-oop from Huerter. The layup gave Maryland a 42-39 lead and forced Charlotte to call a timeout just under a minute into the second half. The Terrapins retook the lead with an 11-2 run over a 3:42 stretch on a jumper by Bender and back-to-back-to-back three-pointers by Huerter and Cowan for a 56-49 lead with 11:15 left. Another three by Jared Nickens just over 30 seconds later extended the lead to 60-51. A goaltending call on an attempted layup by junior guard Melo Trimble gave Maryland a 67-55 lead when a media timeout was called with 7:32 left in regulation. However, the 49ers wouldn’t go away.

Davis scored 6 straight points for the 49ers to pull them to within 69-61, but L.G. Gill set up Nickens for a three-pointer that stretched the Maryland lead back out to 72-61 with just under six minutes left in regulation. Trimble and Brantley then hit back-to-back threes to give the Terrapins an 83-64 lead with 3:47 remaining, effectively putting the game out of reach. Maryland

closed out the game on a 16-9 run over the last five and a half minutes and cruised to a 88-72 win before a paid crowd of 7,139, improving to 12-1 heading into Big Ten play. Trimble finished with 21 points (17 in the second half) to lead the Terrapins, while freshman Anthony Cowan added 16. Cekovsky, Huerter and Bender each finished with 10. Davis led all scorers with 28 points for the 49ers.

This was the second straight year that Maryland has played a game in Baltimore, which is home to a significant portion of the team’s fan base. Turgeon praised the crowd in Baltimore.

“It’s the best crowd we’ve had in three or four games, so I was proud of that. Our guys like coming over here. Every time I come to this city, there are so many Terp fans over here that make you feel special, so we’ve enjoyed it the last two years. Of course, we won both games, which helps, and we’ve had great crowds, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Turgeon said.

During the first media timeout of the second half, honorary captains Ernie and Jon Graham were recognized. Ernie currently ranks 13th on the all-time scoring list at Maryland. On December 20, 1978, Graham set Maryland’s single-game scoring record by scoring 44 points as the Terrapins defeated North Carolina State 124-110 in the season opener of the 1978-1979 Atlantic Coast Conference at Cole Field House. Jon, a graduate of Calvert Hall College in Towson, played for two years at Penn State before transferring to Maryland for his senior season last year.

Maryland will begin its Big Ten schedule on Dec. 27 against Illinois at the Xfinity Center in College Park.