My first topic poses the question: Should students be required to cover a college’s athletic costs through mandatory fees? In researching my website, concerning student debt, it came to my attention that at many schools all students are forced to pay fees, often hidden, to help fund the huge payout to athletes, coaches, and programs. In some sports centered colleges, students have contributed up to $100 million over the past 5 years in mandatory athletic fees to support football and other athletics. As the salaries of many coaches soar and players demand payment, student fees may increase even more. I would like to investigate whether the sports subsidies actually undermine universities by making tuition even higher and by threatening the academic mission. I would like to compare the academic expenditures vs sports expenditures at different universities and also see how they can really justify charging a hidden athletic fee which only adds to the skyrocketing costs of college and burden of student debt. It will be interesting to find out if UD has any of these hidden sports fees. I would argue that this practice of imposing mandatory athletic fees is unfair and should not be required of students.
My second topic asks the question: Would awareness of the effects of “fast fashion” and the resulting excess of second hand clothing change people’s buying habits? My last semester’s sociology class examined the globalization of the fast fashion industry, something I had never given any thought to. We analyzed the origin of many clothes found on Main Street to see where they were produced and what the minimum wage was in that country. I related to this because one of my favorite clothing companies, Serengetee, has a mission of supporting causes and artisans around the world by collecting fabrics from poor countries and making t-shirts from them here in the US. This is a company that many people my age can become student ambassadors on college campuses to promote their company and mission. I would like to examine how the lack of knowledge about the second-hand clothing industry actually hurts poor countries. Most people like me assume that by buying new clothes and donating our used clothes to “the poor” we are helping them. Actually this practice often undermines the country’s economy making it impossible to establish or protect their own clothing industries. I would like to see how Serengetee has made a difference so far and if other clothing companies in the US are following their lead. I would argue that many clothing companies, unlike Serengetee, are using the disguise of charity to encourage buyers while in reality they are acting solely in their own interests.
My third topic investigates: How did the environmental concerns became political? When researching my website, which concerned student debt, it became clear that many causes and concerns lose support because of political affiliations. This does not make sense to me. Research in biology last year led me to become aware that genetic engineering in food was actually having an opposite effect on the problems they claimed to help. Also, we read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and it struck me that her environmental concerns, written about in 1962, are still being argued about today. Much of the reason we as a country move so slowly in making any environmental progress is that it is politically divided. I would like to investigate why the parties are always at odds with each other when it comes to environmental issues. I would also like to learn more about the new Biden Institute here at UD which claims to be a nonpartisan institute and see if it will be likely to work toward environmental sustainability by bringing together both political sides as it promises. I would argue that for the good of the planet, this issue needs to be removed from the political arena.