Research Project 2 – Sequoi Phipps, Section 2 – Letter to Dining Services

Alternative Research Project – Sequoi Phipps – Section 2

For the alternative research project, I chose to present student opinions of dining on campus to UMW Dining Services staff. I circulated a survey among students that contained questions about dining on campus this semester. The survey inquired about topics regarding what type of dining plan the respondents had, where they most frequently ate, their opinions on the changes to dining this semester, what they felt is working well and what they felt needs attention or improvement. There were 61 student responses to this survey from 1st to 4th year undergraduate students.

In order to use this information to make some type of community impact, I sent the data to dining services with explanations and analysis of each diagram. I also included some of the free responses to questions regarding what each respondent thought is working well and what needs improvement. I also attached a letter explaining what I was sending them and why I wanted to share this information with them (that letter is attached to this post).

In relation to power, I wanted to take this opportunity because I believe that, though I often feel as a student of the University of Mary Washington that my voice and opinions are not heard, that decision making departments do not often consider the opinions of the students, and that I do not have much pull as an individual student. However, I decided to use this survey to harness the voice of as many students as I could, and present those responses as one concerned voice. Though I do think that we, the students, fall very low on the ladder in reference to power on our campus, I do also think that we have a unique experience to express our opinion to those higher up and at least get some recognition.


LettertoDiningServices (1)

Dining Services Survey

Hey friends!

I’ve been circulating this survey to gather student opinions/responses/ideas about dining services this semester for my second research project. Don’t know why I haven’t posted it here yet, but if you want your opinions to potentially be heard by dining services I would love to include your responses before I send them to the dining services staff!

Peep the survey here: dining services survey.



Reaction 3, Sequoi Phipps, Section 2

Reaction 3, Sequoi Phipps, Section 2

A brief examination of recent events in the United States will reveal that some of the most talked about events involve policing, riots, and systematic racism. There is a long list of the names of citizens killed by police officers, and in many of these cases, the events that followed these deaths included rioting, policing, curfews, destruction of property, and filtered media coverage. As an example, let’s take a look at Baltimore; what happened, what were the reactions to policing, what has happened since the riots, and how do “we” react now? (We – in this short reflection, “we” are students, scholars, citizens, humans. But remember that though I am attempting to speak generally, you will ultimately be reading the view of a student who thinks that this is how “we” should react to this problem in comparison with the ways in which the public and the media are reacting.)  

In two sentences, here is a brief overview of what happened in Baltimore. On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray died after suffering injuries while in police custody. At the news of his death, the city of Baltimore experienced riots that were met by police officers, the National Guard and a declared state of emergency. There has been discussion since these events about the ways in which all members of the city reacted. In these next few paragraphs I am going to talk about what happened after.

Police brutality in Ferguson or Baltimore or Oakland represents the failure to bring real economic reforms that might have a chance of ameliorating the suffering of the poor and unemployed” (Palermo). During the riots, mirroring the events of any other recent riot in the United States, there was aggression displayed towards to police. The trigger of the riots stemmed from an instance of police brutality, during the riots there was visible animosity against the police, and ideas of who the police were and how they used their power were impacted after the riots (both on a local level in Baltimore and on a national level).

Another ripple of riots like the one in Baltimore is how the community and economy are impacted. Often, the cost of damages is immense, local shop owners often suffer the blow after their stores are vandalized and looted, the stigma surrounding a city can quickly alter how often visitors come to the city, and the dynamic of neighborhoods and housing can also be impacted. Nathan Connolly suggests that events like the Baltimore riots could bring up other important questions about jobs and unemployment. But in so many cases after events like this one, tax payers money is going to increased policing and more resources are being dumped into ways to make law enforcement and politicians look like they are making an effort to be better (Gwen Ifill, PBS). But what if the question was not only “how do we make law enforcement better” but how we begin to approach the real issue of systematic racism? Law enforcement’s relationship with minorities is absolutely a part of that, but so is job inequality, housing segregation, and the ongoing stigma attached to territory and “who belongs where” in the eyes of law enforcement.

My question, though, is what is being done as a result of these riots across the United States? Often, it appears that all of these outcomes – tension between law enforcement and minorities, economic changes, skewed media coverage, and nation-wide debates – result in band aids and cough drops rather than real treatments. In Las Vegas, bias training classes were being taught to law enforcement in order to educate and condition law enforcement officers to make critical decisions based upon the situation rather than making judgements based upon the person they are encountering (This American Life). Are bias training classes bad? Absolutely not. The inherent intention behind these courses is to educate and prepare in ways that best serves a community. But we can reference again to Palermo, “The simple fact is that millions of Americans are living under a distorted form of laissez faire capitalism that will continue to breed civil unrest.” That is the wound that needs to be addressed.  The ripples that can happen after a riot can spur on good change, yes good, if the right questions are being asked and the actual wounds are being healed.

This American Life


Ifill, PBS


UMW’s Alcohol and Drug Policies A reaction by Sequoi Phipps, Section 2

UMW’s Alcohol and Drug Policies

A reaction by Sequoi Phipps, Section 2

At the University of Mary Washington, like any university, there are policies in place to regulate students’ alcohol and drug possession and use as well as to publicly state the consequences that are enforced for anyone that is found in violation those policies. I would like to discuss some of the aspects of these policies that stand out to me as an undergraduate student. I will address certain elements of the alcohol policy and the lack of an amnesty policy at UMW as well as elements of the UMW drug policy and the scorecard on this policy and who has power to enforce the regulations.

The UMW alcohol policy makes most of the statements that you would expect a university alcohol policy to make. It addresses the laws of the state of Virginia that regulate age, possession, and purchasing alcohol for anyone under the drinking age. The policy clearly defines what the university considers University-controlled public space, private spaces, possession, and intoxication. Then, all of the elements of how the policy is enforced and what violates the policy are explained. A thorough and clear university alcohol policy. However, in UMW’s alcohol policy, emergency services are mentioned once. Section 12 of the policy elements states “Severely intoxicated students will be referred to the University Police. Any student who is unresponsive or otherwise thought to be in danger of serious acute alcohol poisoning will be referred to Fredericksburg Emergency Medical Services or a higher level of care for treatment.” The end of section 12, however, states again that violators of the policy will still be reported, “Violations of the policy against alcohol intoxication are reported to the Director of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility or designee.”

Many universities have a medical amnesty policy in place. This policy allows students subject to a medical emergency due to dangerous or excessive alcohol or drug intake, or students reporting the medical emergency on someone’s behalf, to be excused from any disciplinary action related to the university’s drug and alcohol policy. The one time response to a medical emergency is even mentioned in UMW’s drug policy, it is clear that violations of the policy are still addressed. Often on our campus, things like “if a student’s health is in danger, contact the authorities without worrying about getting in trouble” are communicated to students from people in positions like Resident Assistants, Orientation Leaders, and the like. Coming from students in positions of some power, this sounds like a medical amnesty policy that does not actually exist. Unfortunately this presents some grey area.

In terms of the UMW drug policy, it reflects the alcohol policy in that it states the expected regulations that a university drug policy should state. However, UMW’s drug policy was rated by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international organization of students that raise awareness, have discussions, and are focused on the impacts of drug abuse especially in college students. From the SSDP, UMW’s drug policy received an F. They state that the reasons for this grade were the absence of a medical amnesty or “good samaritan” policy and “Strict sanctions focused on punishment with suggestion that students in violation of drug policy risk judicial action from the university in addition to federal/state authorities.” They also mentioned that “marijuana grouped with other illegal drugs in policy”.

The policy states how illegal drugs can be seized by the university and who is allowed to enter a campus residence. But who has power and what happens? Resident Assistants (RA’s) on campus are part of the Residence Life Staff. These RA’s are enrolled undergraduate students. Because of their positions and the training they undergo, they are permitted to report and confiscate illegal drugs or paraphernalia, “Materials in plain view will be confiscated by the staff members…”. But remember, these staff members could also be current students. Meanwhile, the policy states that violations can be reported to University Police and/or UMW Judicial Affairs. That’s a lot of power to place in the hands of students.

Ultimately, these policies do present and cover necessary information and regulations to promote a healthy and safe living and learning environment for students. Could some of these policies be changed to better serve the community? Could policies like a medical amnesty policy benefit the UMW community? Would more students view health and safety as a priority if disciplinary action would be waived? All of these questions, I think, are important for the University to examine. Maybe it is time for some policy updates or clarifications.


UMW Alcohol Policy:

UMW Drug Policy:

University of Florida Medical Amnesty Policy:

SSDP Drug Policy Score Card:

Parks and Recreation’s Sweetums: A Political Machine by Sequoi Phipps, Sec. 2


Parks and Recreation, a popular NBC television show, presents a satirical representation of a political machine through Sweetums, a candy company. Throughout the series, Sweetums shows signs of company with a massive amount of power and wealth in the community of Pawnee, Indiana. During an election for city council, the company reveals a number of characteristics of a political machine. In this paper, I have analyzed some of the more prominent instances of Sweetums appearing to be a power within the community that has the ability to manipulate and control certain aspects of Pawnee. In doing this I have referenced a few definitions and examples used by Kweit and Kweit from their discussion on political machines. The research and analysis done in this paper attempt to prove that this television series presents Sweetums as a political machine that is portrayed as a company which uses its social standing, local power, and wealth to monopolize the outcomes of an election and manipulate the residents of Pawnee.

Note: there are Youtube videos embedded into this word document. Their hyperlinks are also attached if you are unable to play them within the document.

Research Paper 1

Parks and Recreation Logo found at NBC’s website.

Written by Sequoi Phipps

Development of Lynchburg’s Riverfront

Lynchburg City is located in the center of the state of Virginia. The city is settled directly above the James River. It is a city whose downtown blocks have had a facelift in the last 15 years. In 2000, downtown Lynchburg was a place of a pawn shop or two, a struggling restaurant here and there, an old YMCA, a welcome center and a rehabilitation center, and a sometimes-used community market. It was not a hopping small town like many other historic small towns on the east coast. In fact, it was a place with little traffic and sketchy parking garages that most residents of the surrounding counties only went to when they received a traffic ticket within city limits or to make a deposit at the Bank of the James. The only residents that lived in downtown Lynchburg lived in housing developments on the farthest edge from the riverfront in apartment complexes settled between the the police department and public middle school. There were incredibly few single family homes.

In 2000 a Downtown & Riverfront Master Plan was drawn up. This plan expressed all of the projects, intended projects, and dreams for the riverfront blocks of downtown Lynchburg. Within the whole comprehensive plan, there are a number of projects that developers created. I have chosen to focus on the Downtown & Riverfront Master Plan for multiple reasons. I grew up in this city and lived about two miles from the area of focus. I both witnessed and experienced the changes that happened in this city. There are restaurants downtown that myself and other family members worked in for years, a pawn shop that my aunt managed, coffee shops and bars that my father’s band has played in, and a YMCA that my mother’s volleyball team practiced in. Also, there are clear, tangible changes that stemmed directly from this plan, and some ideas in the plan that did not make the cut.

In this short essay, I would like to use this plan to examine some of the private and public projects that were proposed in 2000; I am going to analyze who was invested and who would benefit from these projects. I will draw some comparisons to the Brooklyn Matters video we watched in class as well as draw some ideas and comparisons from Bartley’s Green Development Zones.

Public Projects

One public project that gain much attention in the community was the development of the Riverview Artist Lofts. Essentially, the Riverview Art Space, a gallery in a renovated historic building for local artists to display and sell their work, was equipped with 36 loft apartments for those artists to be able to live where they worked and displayed their work. Still sound like a public or non-profit project? When this was drafted in the plan, it already had a government grant but still needed $4.5 million to be fully funded. It also already had deposits from artists to save their loft before the lofts were even renovated. Who was invested? Developers, artists, and local, wealthy investors to “close the gap via additional private investment.” So government money for housing was being spent on lofts specified for artists who would rent the apartments and gallery space. Who had power? The developers and private investors. Who would benefit from this projects? The developers, private investors, the 36 artists who got their deposits in soon enough, and any retail places nearby that needed a little extra foot traffic of gallery-goers. In this instance in Lynchburg, government money was used on multipurpose housing to house a very small and select group of individuals. In Brooklyn Matters, Ratner and his developers and investors proposed public “affordable” housing for people across classes to be able to afford, arguably a better proposed use of money, regardless of the outcome. The development did however supply jobs for artists in the area, a space for art events, and more foot traffic in an area with other local businesses.

A few other public projects in this plan were Amazement Square, a children’s museum, and the Community Market. Both projects have successfully benefited the intended beneficiaries, supplied jobs to the community, both in renovation and after opening, and drawn more of the surrounding community downtown.

Private Projects

Multiple private housing projects were also proposed in this 2000 plan. Because of the quantity historic industrial buildings in the blocks of riverfront Lynchburg, many private developers caught the same idea to transform these spaces into loft apartments. On Jefferson St., 12th St., 5th St. and Court St., private investors proposed housing plans. On Jefferson St. alone, just a few hundred yards from the restaurant I worked in for 3 years, two loft apartment buildings have opened, one in May of 2014, one within the last year. Between these two, there were 281 new units available downtown. Midpoint in particular is in fact managed a team of realtors and property managers that were already Lynchburg residents. Both projects provided local construction companies with jobs. Midpoint Apartments has a restaurant space on the first floor that has remained unoccupied but is between three popular restaurants and is neighbor to an outdoor stage used for festivals and other riverfront events. The park that has developed across from these lofts transformed from an unlit, empty, green space parallel to the train tracks into a lit, landscaped, family park with a modern walk-through style fountain and path connecting two riverside bike trails. The intention of developing both the lofts and park simultaneously was not only to improve the view and heighten property values, but also to provide the park and residents an “eyes on the park” idea to improve the feeling of safety and community unity along Jefferson St. Who was invested? Private investors, local wealthy residents that wanted shares, and potential new retail owners; new residents in expensive buildings meant customers in walking distance. Who would benefit? Local businesses (construction companies, restaurants, retail, museums and galleries, community events), 281 upper-middle class renters, and developers.

Other private projects in downtown Lynchburg included a Bluff-Walk center (think NYC’s High Line on a much smaller scale), and, proposed but never completed, an ice rink and a multi-screen cinema.

How Do We Categorize Lynchburg’s Growth and Development?

I do not think that Lynchburg falls into the category of a community growth machine. Bartley says that a community growth machine “harnesses the power and material momentum of an industrial complex but… applies it to meet the infrastructure and employment needs of low-income neighborhoods.” The infrastructure needs of the low-income neighborhoods were not expensive and limited housing, four star restaurants, and gallery and museum space. Though these elements of the development did supply some employment opportunities, they did not create well-paying, career opportunities.  Bartley laid out some of the objectives that PUSH aimed for as a type of growth machine. Though the development of riverfront/downtown Lynchburg did execute some of these objectives, other objectives that implemented benefits for the entire community, regardless of class, were not met. Bartley’s ideas of promoting triple bottom line principles of enhancing environment, equity, and economy and identifying, training, and employing community leaders were not intentions or outcomes of Lynchburg’s development. Bartley identified the necessity to build on the community’s assets, but the development in Lynchburg was more about creating what they wanted to become the community’s assets. The development of downtown Lynchburg is a product of developers’ ideas of what the city needed and private investors’ that saw potential for the riverfront and for their own pockets. Though the project did create a more attractive and lively downtown within a mere 15 years. On a much smaller scale, and not as potentially catastrophic, this project could be seen as a reflection of Ratner’s approach to Brooklyn. I see Lynchburg as a place that was told what they needed and wanted, and received those things regardless of the actual needs of the community.


Bartley, Aaron. 2011. The Green Development Zone.

Brooklyn Matters 2007

Lynchburg Downtown and Riverfront Master Plan 2000.