Recent mass shootings encourage Elon and Burlington students, faculty and community members to reflect on America’s gun culture and violence

Chief of Burlington Police addresses Elon students’ questions on gun violence.

The two recent mass shootings have provoked a debate all across the nation. At Elon University, this debate has focused on America’s gun culture, the restrictions placed on bump-stocks and automatic weapons, and the general feel of safety within the community.

In the span of 35 days, two of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States occurred one after another. The first, which happened in October 1st in last Vegas’ Route 91 music festival near the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, resulted in 58 deaths and 546 wounded. The second, on November 5th, there was in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and resulted in the death of 26 people.

‘It’s our culture, and we created the circumstance,” commented Burlington Police Chief Jeffrey Smythe regarding America’s gun violence culture.

Thomas Nelson, associate professor of communications, compared America’s gun culture with that of German’s auto and speeding culture. You can’t change Germany’s speeding laws without angering a lot of people, and the same goes for gun laws in the U.S.

“With the recent mass shootings, I am constantly paranoid in any public setting that can put me in danger. I think it’s a human right to feel safe in your environment.”

– Murray, a sophomore at Elon University

For Nelson, the creation of new laws should not be the main focus, due to America’s gun culture. What should be the main focus in reducing gun violence are the possible modifications within the framework already in place.

“It does not matter what I think or anyone else thinks because it’s [laws regarding gun legislation and regulation] not going to happen.” Said Nelson.

Although there is no sure way of knowing how many guns are owned illegally and legally in the United States, a 2012 Congressional Research Service report stated that the number of civilian firearms in 2009 was 310 million. This number, the Congressional Research Service reported, has been consistently on the rise. In 1996 it was estimated that the number of civilian owned guns was 242 million, in 2000 it increased to 259 million.

With the number of gun related homicides well in the thousands—according  to the CDC’s most recent data in 2013 it was 11,208—more and more people are worried for their safety.

Livy Murray, a sophomore at Elon University, expressed her growing concerns after the two most recent mass shootings.

“With the recent mass shootings, I am constantly paranoid in any public setting that can put me in danger. I think it’s a human right to feel safe in your environment.”

The general misconception that mass shootings similar that of Las Vegas have increased, however, is incorrect. since 2000,2  the rates of homicides in the U.S. have decreased significantly. This is according to Maggie Koerth-Baker, a senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight.

Even though there are many opposing sides to the debate on gun violence, many people believe that the most important thing is to regulate gun laws.

Clarissa O’quinn, a sophomore at Elon said,

“The more regulations on guns the better. Because gun violence is such a huge problem.”

“Background checks. That’s the first line of defense,” said Hays.

Discussion surrounding gun reform and safety usually centers on the effectiveness of background checks and which restrictions should be placed on automatic weapons, as well as bump-fire stocks, which have the ability to transform any weapon into an automatic one.

For police chief Smythe the solution to gun violence lies in investing in good education and civil values.

“The best way to prevent gun violence is proper education,” said Smythe.

In regards to the availability of bump-stocks and automatic weapons, Smythe believes that a person who has a gun, no matter which type, is dangerous. He referred to these questions as the “red herrings” of gun violence debates.

In his view, the debate on background checks is also broad and convoluted. It’s not about making the background checks more complex, but about,

“Making it effective in identifying people who are not fit to have firearms.”

Yet, even though police chief Smythe believes that restricting the availability and use of bump-stocks and automatic rifles does not help in reducing gun violence, many members of the community do believe so.

“I think there is the key—all that junk. Because people who are buying that stuff are already fetishizing guns.” Neslon said.

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Stephanie Hays, a senior at Elon University agrees that taking some guns off of the market is the key.

“Any sort of automatic weapon or rifle like that is unnecessary for civilians. Any kind of automatic weapon or stuff like that should be left to the military and the country’s defense,” said Hays.

These discussions have already gone way past party lines in the United States. the National Rifle Association said in October of 2017 said that it would  support measure to limit bump stock sales, while some congressional Republicans have signaled  that they are willing to negotiate on gun reform.

“I think people are paranoid that at any given moment anyone could jeopardize their safety,” remarks Murray on the current atmosphere of the United States.



Math Tools for Journalist (Chp. 7 – 12)

By Ana Gabriela García

Chapter 7: Stocks and Bonds

Bonds are used by both governments and businesses to raise money.


  1. Stocks

Stocks serve as investments for individuals, as through them a person can own a part of a company. Corporations issue millions of stocks, giving away tiny amounts of ownership, in order to raise cash.

The value of a stock varies over time, based on demand. For instance, if less people want to buy a stock, the price goes down.


Mutual Funds are an alternative to individual stocks. Mutual Fund Companies buy stock from other companies and then sell the shares of funds used to buy those stocks.






Stock Table Vocabulary

Above is an example of a newspaper’s stock table.

  • 52-week High/Low: In the past year, it states which stock prices have been the lowest or the highest.
  • Div: the lsdt dividend that the company paid shareholders
  • PE- Price/Earnings ratio: you can get this by dividing the stock price with the per-share earnings of the last 12 months
  • Last- the cost of one share at the end of the day before the newspaper was printed
  • Change- the amount of fluctuation in the value of the stock, how much it increased or decreased in value that day


  1. Bonds

Governments and companies can also raise money by selling bonds. A bond acts like a loan, given by an investor to a corporation or government of their choosing. These are often referred to as “low-risk” investments. Many bonds are also tax-exempt.


A buyer can also earn interest at a set rate with bonds, since bonds have set payment dates and a set maturity date.


A bond’s face value can be the original amount a buyer has paid for it, most often it is the amount the buyer will receive at maturity.


Yet bonds are often sold on the open market before they mature, and therefore, even as their face value and interest remain the same, the value of the bond can increase or decreases depending on fluctuation demand and supply of the market. In other words, Buyer A can buy a bond with a face value of $1,000 and a 5 percent interest rate of ($50), but then sells it when the market is down for $500, Buyer B will get a better current yield.


Current Yield is the return on investment on a bond, which fluctuates. To calculate this, follow the formula:

Current Yield = (interest rate x face value) / price


Carla Muñoz buys a bond for $2,000 that had an original price of $1,500. The bond has an 8 percent interest rate. Her current yield is:

6% = (8% x $1,500)/ $2,000



Ricardo Velez then bought that same bond for $1,000. His current yield is:

12% = (8% x $1,500)/$1,000


Bond Cost

For reporters, the cost of bonds issued by municipalities are news worthy. The formula to calculate this is:
Bond Cost (interest) = amount x rate x years


  1. Market Indexes

Instead of examining dozens of individual stock prices, investors can look at stock indexes for a snapchat of the overall market conditions. Stock indexes looks at certain groups of stocks and track their prices.


NASDAQ, S&P 500, Russell 2,000, and DOW JONES are examples of stock indexes.


Bonds also use indexes, like the J.P. Morgan Government Bond Index, to convey a snapshot of the overall market.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones provides a view of the entire stock market. It represents the total value of a divisor divided by the respective shares of 30 select stocks.


The divisor is a figure that includes account stock dividends, splits, spin-offs, and other applicable corporate actions.




Or the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations is a quotation system that reports on the trading of bonds that are not listed on regular markets and of domestic stocks. NASDAQ is monitored by the Securities and Exchange Commission.



Chapter 8: Property Taxes

The greatest source of income for local governments are property taxes. Property taxes are very news worthy, since they pay for day-to-day expenses.


The property tax rate is determined by dividing the total amount of money the local government needs with the property owners in that tax district. The individual amount each property owner pays depends on the value of their respective property.


Taxing districts take homes, boats and other valuable assets into account. The formula for tax property varies depending on the state and local government.


These taxes are measured in units called mills, which are 1/10 of a cent ($0.001), and they are expressed in mills levied for each dollar of assessed valuation or property. One mil per dollar is 10 cents per $100 assessed valuation.


The price that a home would be sold at has no influence on its property tax. Property taxes only take into account the assessed value of the home, in other words, a percentage of market value.


Reappraisal is when real property values are updated to reflect the current market value of all the taxable properties within a taxing district. If a neighborhood improved in value, a reappraisal takes this into account.


Reappraisals can occur every few years, or never.


Property can also be taxed by many different governing bodies. For instance, some home owners have to pay county and city taxes, other might just have to pay city taxes.


Different types of property have different percentages with which to calculate their assessed value. A farm real estate can be assessed at 15 percent, while an industrial property is assessed at 35 percent.


Officials within local governments regulate the tax rate process.


  1. Mill

The formula for finding mill levy is:

Mill levy = taxes to be collected by the governmental body / assessed valuation of all property in the taxing district


  1. Appraisal Value

Based on:

  • Use of property (i.e. business, home, etc.…)
  • Location
  • Square footage
  • Number of stories
  • Exterior wall type
  • Year it was constructed (age)
  • Quality of construction
  • Amenities (bathrooms, porches, etc.…)
  • Other characteristics of the property similar to those mentioned above ^
  • Current market conditions (the sales in the immediate area over a period of years)
  • A visual inspection by trained appraiser


  1. Assessed Value

Local policies in the end are what determined the assessed value of a property, to which a mill levy is always applied.


The formula for assessed value is:

assessed value = appraisal value x rate


Market Town assesses residential property at 30 percent of the appraisal value. A house at 201 Town Place is appraised at $135,000. What is the assessed value of the house?

$40,500  = .30 x $135,000



  1. Calculating Tax

The formula is:

Tax owed = tax rate x (assessed value of the property/$100)

If the rate is based on an amount per $1,000 of assessed value, the assessed value should be divided by $1,000 rather than $100.


Chapter 9: Directional Measurements

  1. Time, Rate & Distance

The basic formula for all time, rate and distance is the same, with elements of it switched around at times. The units of measurement (i.e. mph) should be the same for all three components of the equation.

Time = distance x rate


Rate = time x distance


Distance = rate x time


If time is given in minutes and you are working with mph, divide them by 60 to use hours instead.


For example:

Marnie is in a rural, mountainous part of North Carolina and she wants to leave and rejoin civilization at Greensboro. How far did she travel if she drove at an average speed of 20 mph for five hours.

100 miles = 20 mph x 5 hours


  1. Speed & Acceleration

Speed and Velocity are not the same measurement.

Speed = how fast an object is going

Velocity = indicates the direction of that object


Instantaneous Speed is the speed an object is going at that exact moment.


To find the average speed (or rate) of an object, use the formula:

average speed = distance x time


To find the acceleration of an object, use the formula:

acceleration = (ending velocity – starting velocity) / time


The formula for acceleration can be changed in order to find the ending velocity, starting velocity or time.


ending velocity = (acceleration x time) + starting velocity


  1. G Force

An acceleration measure in which one “g” represents the normal force of gravity in the Earth’s surface.


One measures the acceleration produced by Earth’s gravity at 9.8 meters or 32.2 feet per second per second. Two g’s equals 2 x 32.2.


  1. Momentum

The force needed to stop an object that is in motion. The formula used to find an object’s momentum is:

momentum = mass x velocity


Chapter 10: Area Measurements

Measurements can be explained in two ways.

Analogies: “The hotel was as big as twelve football stadiums”

: These fail when readers do not understand the comparisons being made

: Or when exact measurements are needed


Accurate Numbers (area, perimeter, circumference, etc.)

  1. Perimeter

For square and rectangular shaped objects, always use the formula:

Perimeter = (2 x length) + (2 x 5) = 28 feet


Add the lengths of all sides to determine the size of the perimeter of an irregular shaped object.


  1. Area of squares and rectangles

The formula for both is the same.

Area = length x width


  1. Area of a triangle

Use the two shortest sides as ‘base’ and ‘height’

Area = .5base x height


  1. Square feet and Square yards

Square inches or square feet are used to measure small spaces, while square feet and square yards are used to measure larger areas (i.e. parking lots).


Fields are measured in acres and cities, states and counties in miles.



  • 144 square inches = 1 square foot
  • 9 square feet = 1 square yard
  • 30 square yards = 1 square rod
  • 160 square rods = 1 acre
  • 1 acre = 43,650 square feet
  • 640 acres = 1 square mile


  1. Radius, Circumference and Area of Circle

The distance from any edge to the center of a circle is the radius.

The distance around the radius, or the area of the circle, is its circumference.

Pi (π) is 3.14


The formula for finding the circumference is:

circumference = 2 π x radius


While the formula for finding the area is:

area = π x radius2


For example,

Allie wants to know the distance around the fountain in front of the Alamance building at Elon University. The distance from the end of the fountain to the middle if 6 feet.

2 π (or 6.28) x 6 feet = 37.68


Chapter 11: Volume Measurements

  1. Liquid Measurements

These apply to measurements in cooking recipes, and other fluids.

1 U.S. gallon = 4/5 imperial gallon

1 British or Canadian barrel = 36 imperial gallons

Crude Oil barrels in international markets contain 42 U.S. gallons or 35 imperial gallons.








  1. Rectangular Solids

volume = length x width x height

  1. Cord

Cord is a measurement used when selling firewood.

1 cord = 128 cubic feet (when wood stacked neatly in line or row)


1 standard cord = a stack of wood 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high.


  1. Ton

There are three different kinds of tons:

  1. Short ton = 2,000 pounds
  2. Long ton (or British ton) – 2,240 pounds
  3. Metric ton = 1,000 kilograms, or 2,204.62 pounds


Chapter 12: The Metric System

The metric ton is used by almost every other country except the United States, therefore it is an imperative measure for international commerce and science.


This system is based on multiples of 10.



The meter is the basic unit for length.


Mass is derived from the meter.


1 gram is the mass of one cubic centimeter of water at 0 degrees celsuis.


The Newton is the metric unit of force. When applied to a one-kilogram object, the Newton gives the object and acceleration of one meter per second per second.


A Newton can be used as a measure of weight.


1 kilogram weighs 9.8 Newtons on Earth.



In the metric system, a user can change from one unit to another by multiplying or dividing by 100, 1,000, and other multiples of 10.


Each unit is 10 times as large as the next smaller unit. Prefixes, added to the front of a unit’s name, create smaller or larger factors.



  • Meter (length)
  • Gram (mass)
  • Liter (volume)



Micro (1 millionth) or 0.000001

Milli (1 thousandth) or 0.001

Centi (1 hundredth) or 0.01


Deka = 10

Hecto = 100

Kilo = 1,000

Mega = 1,000,000

Giga = 1,000,000,000

Tetra = 1,000,000,000,000



To convert American lengths to Metric:

Millimeters = 25.4 x inches

Centimeters = 2.5 x inches


Centimeters = 30 x feet

Meters = 0.3 x feet


Centimeters = 90 x yards

Meters = 0.9 x yards


Kilometers = 1.6 miles


To convert Metric lengths to American:

Inches = 0.04 x millimeters

Inches = 0.4 x centimeters

Inches = 3.9 x meters



Feet = 0.033 x centimeters

Feet = 3.3 x meters


Yards = 1.1 x meters


Miles = 0.62 x kilometers


For instance,

Marie wants to find out the length, in feet, of the 30-meter swimming pool she swam at during her time abroad in Europe.

30 meters x 3.3 = 99 feet

Area, & Mass:






Style Rules

  • All the names of units should start with lowercase when in the middle of a sentence, except for “degree Celsius.”
  • Symbols for units are pluralized
  • Names of units are plural when the numerical value that precedes it is greater than one.
  • The symbols for units (i.e. mm) are never pluralized



There is a space between the number and the symbol to which it refers. For instance, 10 m, 24.8 kg




Consistent rise in tuition fees fosters discussion on the affordability and value of college degrees

By: Ana Gabriela García

A report by the College Board, published earlier this semester on Oct. 24, announced that tuition and fees increased at Colleges and Universities across the nation by less than 2 percent between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

For non-profit four-year academic institutions, the increase in tuition fees was 1.9 percent. In dollars, the increase averaged $34,740 in 2017-18, after adjusting for inflation. Elon’s tuition fees are $34,273.

Elon’s tuition, along with that of other four-year institutions, has been rising consistently for six straight years, the report states.

“I get that all colleges and Universities have to increase tuition, but I think it’s sad to the people applying here that it limits them,” said Diego Pineda, an Elon junior.

Sourced: The Rice Thresher

Greg Zaiser, the vice president for enrollment at Elon University, believes that by maintaining a lower cost, Elon is accessible to a larger number of student applicants.

“Elon is working to keep cost increases at a minimum,” Zaiser said. “Our total cost is often $10,000 less than schools to which our students also apply.”

Many students believe that another factor that limits future applicants of less economic resources is the amount of financial aid and scholarships offered at the university.

“I don’t think the rising tuition impacts as much the students that it (Elon) attracts,” said Stef Milovic, a student at Elon University. “The availability of scholarships is more important in bringing a diverse socio-economic group of applicants.”

“One of the biggest things I think they should change is the amount of money the give for scholarships,” said Sophie Eng, an Elon student.

In fact, Sophie says she has experienced first-hand the effects that a good scholarship can offer students. Even though her brother’s tuition was more than half of Elon’s, the scholarship package given to her brother cut his tuition cost in half, ultimately making it the same as that of Elon’s.

From left to right: Sophie Eng, and Diego Pineda. Discussing Elon’s tuition and fees.

The increase has cumulated in a national debate on the affordability of higher education and the “return of investment” that college education offers undergraduate students. Although many people question the “return of investment” of a college education, many Elon students do not.

“I do think college is a good return on investment. This day and age it’s very difficult to find a job without a college degree,” says Grace Morris, a sophomore at Elon.

Morris believes the education that she receives at Eon’s Communications school is what makes her degree a definite return on investment.

“Especially at a school like Elon, where the Communications program is incredible, I feel like my degree is worth something even though it costs a lot.”

Milovic agreed with Morris on the value of her Elon degree, and also believes that the value of a degree is based, really, on what type of higher Ed institution a student goes to.

“Yes, I do think it is a sound return on my investment. For Elon, especially. They not only build an inclusive community, but even offer ample networking an professional opportunities that lead to future careers.”

Tuition at higher education not only impacts current, enrolled students, but also future applicants, as it continues to be an important deciding factor for future students looking at various four-year institutions.

“When I made a college decision it was based on money at the end of the day, because Elon gave me more money than other colleges I applied to,” says Pineada.

“My brother went to a more expensive school in New York, so that was a big deciding factor—my dad was really excited about that because it was half the tuition of my brother’s school,” said Eng.

Kat Blaque offers Elon students insight as social media influencer

By Ana Gabriela García | 11/14/17 5:52pm



Kat Blaque was featured as the keynote speaker at this year’s Intersect Conference. Photo courtesy of Kat Blaque.


Last Saturday, the 2017 Intersect Conference keynote speaker, Kat Blaque, candidly addressed important, yet ignored topics on gender and sexuality, dating, growing up, failures and white supremacy.

The Intersect Conference is a two-day conference where participants, through education sessions and roundtable discussions, engage in dialogue, reflection and social justice. All topics discussed focus on the intersectionalities of diversity and leadership. “If…” was the main theme of the conference. Students from more than four different colleges and universities attended this year’s event.

Blaque, a social media influencer with 132,000 subscribers on YouTube and 199,000 on Facebook, began her keynote address explaining the desire to explore her own narrative after buying a knock-off Lisa Frank diary from her community’s catholic bookstore in elementary school.

“That’s when I started having a continuous conversation with myself,” Blaque said. The self-reflection ultimately led to her awareness of the ways in which she was different from most kids.

Before using YouTube, she used other platforms, such as Myspace, as a public diary. Later, she began using YouTube, on a $25 “rinky-dink” Logitech webcam, and began vlogging routinely. For Blaque, the power of YouTube was not in her ability to express herself, but rather in the empowerment it gave her.

“I started to recognize that social media had that ability to allow you to recreate yourself in many ways,” she said.

During her speech, Blaque also addressed the obstacles she faced as a transgender woman in college, a turbulent time where Blaque recognized that she wasn’t a queer person, but rather a trans person.

“I had this realization that I really had no responsibility to be the person I said I was the day before,” she said.

Blaque turned back to YouTube during this time, to talk about her concerns on transitioning and the stress of her college assignments. She also started ordering hormones online and began doing hormone update videos.

Knowing that the world around her didn’t fully accept her, Blaque decided to be “stealth” in college. “Stealth” means to live in a situation where the people around you do not know you are trans. In this way, Blaque existed without being thought of solely in regards to her transgender status.

“As a trans-person, sometimes you just hate having to go through life with your trans-ness being the thing, — the first thing — that people talk to you about,” she said. “Believe it or not, trans people do exist for more things than being trans.”

Staying “stealth” also allowed her to not be laughed at or rejected from a job opportunity, something which occurred many times before Blaque changed her gender marker and “dead name,” otherwise known as her birthname. In addition, Blaque no longer had to email her teachers and explain to students her real name and gender.

Today, her internet presence extends weekly more than 4 million people. The south California native is also an animator and illustrator who contributes to Everyday Feminism, and The Huffington Post.

Before, during and after her speech, students tweeted responses to Blaque. Elon University junior Carolina Ferreyros tweeted in response to Blaque:

“@kat_blaque is apparently my spirit animal, she walked to steak n shake last night and is going to cookout later, can’t wait to hear what else she has to say.”

Her unabashed and insightful take on difficult and personal topics, something which undoubtedly rose her to fame, kept students, faculty and staff engaged throughout her talk.

“The intersect conference’s decision to choose Kat Blaque as the keynote speaker shows that they are truly dedicated to diversity in all its forms,” said junior Raechel Brunson whom attended this year’s event.

Confronting Hazing on College Campuses

Sourced:, Stock Photo

A dangerous trend of hazing in Greek organizations has been spreading across the country, resulting in at least three deaths of male fraternity members in Penn State, Louisiana State, and Texas State Universities.

Eleanor Finger, Elon University’s Studen Life administrator, said,

“Extreme behavior among Greek-affiliated chapters continues to be a concern for colleges and universities across the country.”

Nationally, it is all fraternity’s policy to prohibit hazing, yet according to a 2008 study published by an Elizabeth Allan, a University of Maine professor, 80 percent of fraternity members report being hazed.

“It does help to have chapters take time away to re-evaluate their priorities, values, and purpose in order to realign.”

– Eleanor Finger

Two interesting things occurred earlier this months, both on the national and local levels. The first was that Florida State University suspended all Greek life after a pledge died at a Pi Kappa Phi party. The second was that Elon University’s chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha was suspended by its national board of directors for violating the alcohol-related norms in the university’s code of conduct.

“It does help to have chapters take time away to re-evaluate their priorities, values, and purpose in order to realign,” Finger said. “When they return with new members, they have a fresh start to move forward rather than remain stuck in the ‘old way’s that were unproductive, misaligned, and potentially harmful or dangerous.”

Yet, while Finger praised the suspension, many students believe it is not a true solution to the problem of hazing.

“A lot of frats that have already been kicked off are still operating anyways.”  Maddy Gross, a student at Elon University said.

Jackie Pascal agreed with Gross, and believes that neither the actual act of suspension nor the threat of it will change the dynamic of Greek life at Elon’s campus.

“If people actually disbanded once they were kicked off, I think it would set a good example. The past two fraternities that have gotten kicked off are still underground, still functioning, still recruiting new members,” Pascal said.

Pascal and Gross also believe that getting kicked off might actually give Greek life organizations the opportunity to haze students and practice other prohibited acts with more freedom.

Once you get kicked off, I think it actually gives them more opportunity to do some of those kinds of things because

Pascal said, “… They have less regulation, no one is really holding them accountable anymore.”

“They’re gonna want a new pledge class and are probably gonna haze them just the same,” Gross said. “And now, no one from the school is watching them.”

“… Now, no one from the school is watching them.”

– Maddy Gross

Jordan King, one of the director’s of Greek life at Elon said that the problem of hazing at an academic institution starts with being able to define what hazing actually is.

“I think a lot of times, the perception of hazing is where it gets a little foggy,” King said.

He believes the issue that institutions and members of the community must combat focus on normalizing certain activities that have nothing to do with the recruiting process, such as servitude.

He also believes that suspending and disbanding all Greek Like organizations is not the best way to combat the issue of hazing.

“In my personal opinion that can be very dangerous,” King said. “They’d manifest themselves in different ways. It’s idealistic.


Math Tools for Journalists (Chp. 1 – 6)

Sourced: Vanity Fair

The book, Math Tools for Journalists, by Kathleen Woodruff Wickham, explains the importance of having tools in statistics, understanding of the manipulation of numbers, numerical language, percentages and so much more.

Journalists have to always be prepared to make even the most tedious but important math-related news interesting to the public. Math has a bad “rep,” and good stories might be avoided by readers if the math in it is unclear, or worse yet, wrong.

Below is a summary of Chapters one through six, where I highlight the most important information from these chapters that aspiring journalists can use to better understand the math behind what they are covering.


Chapter 1: The Language of Numbers

Understanding the language of numbers, and more importantly, how to use numbers to convey information properly and efficiently, is imperative to any journalist who wants to report accurately.

Below are some tools & tips on how to best represent numbers in an article.

What is a Numeral?

  • A symbol that represents a number

The 2 Types of Numerals:

  • Arabic: 1, 2, 3,
  • Roman: Uses letters.

1 = I, 4 = IV, 5 = V, 6 = VI, 9 = IX, 10 = X,

50 = L, 100 = C, 500 = D, 1,000 = M


In Roman numerals the problem 11 plus 54 is spelled out as such:

XI + LIV = LXV (65)

Roman Numerals are also used for formal names. (i.e. Pope John Paul VI)

When Evaluating Numerical Documents…

  • Always fact check official Reports and budgets.
  • The person who has prepared the documentation might not always have the best math skills.
  • Keep a keen eye on outliers, or on numbers or values that might have been manipulated to benefit the author(s) of the document.
  • Evaluate the words written alongside the numbers. (i.e. few, many, several)

AP Style Number Tips…

  • Spell out numbers one through 9
  • Use numerals for multiple digit numbers (i.e. 10, 38)
  • Use a numeral in front of a spelled out word for values like or greater than 1 million
  • Round off larger numbers, when a specific number is not required
  • Round off numbers to one decimal point (i.e. $ 4.5 million)
  • Spell out fractions less than one (i.e. one-quarter)
  • Ages less than 10 are spelled out

Language Tips…

Know the correct definitions of these similar words:

  1. Among v. Between
  • Use among when subjects in question are a group or a collective
  • Use between when there are two or many individual, specific items
  1. Compared to Compared with
  • Compared to: comparing one item with another figuratively
  • With: used to examine the differences or similarities of two statistical/numerical values
  1. Different from > Different than
  2. Differ from Differ with
  • From: when two items are different
  • With: when two items or subjects are in conflict with one another
  1. Don’t use the word (i.e. five-fold increase)
  2. Less than v. Under
  • Less than: smaller quantity
  • Under: refers to a physical relationship/description
  1. More than v. Over
  • More than: numerical values and figures
  • Over: describes spatial relationships
  1. Writing “times less” does not show a numerical decrease. Do Not use this phrase.

Always keep in mind that it is better to translate numerical values into words.


Chapter 2: Percentages

 Often, the best way to express or explain complicated figures clearly is through percentages.

The 5 Common Uses of Percentages and their Formulas:

  1. Percentage Increase

Perc. Inc. = (new figure – old figure) / old figure

C = (A – B)/B

Convert to a percentage by moving decimal two places to the right.

Salary Increases

Contracts for salary workers span multiple years and each year has its own specific increase. To calculate the salaries for those contracts, follow the formula below.

First Year of Contract:

Original Salary x Percent Increase = dollar amount of salary increase of the first year

Original Salary + Salary Increase = Salary for the first year of contract

Second Year:

First Year Salary x Percent Increase = dollar amount of salary increase for second year

First Year Salary + Salary Increase = Salary for the second year


Percentage Decrease

The formula is the same as that for the percentage increase, however it will result in a negative figure.

-C = (A-B)/B

For example,

The salary of the receptionists working in Orange Tech.’s headquarters declined from $3,264 to $244, once the company had to stop using outsourced cheap labor due to public outrage.


A= New Figure: $244

B= Old Figure: $3,264

Formula: ($244 – $3,264) / $3,264 = -92.5%


  1. $244 – $3,264 = $3,020
  2. $3,020/$3,264 = -0.925


Percentage of the Whole

Putting figures and values into context is made easier when calculating the percentage of the whole and comparing it to a specific figure.

Formula: C = A/B

Percentage of a whole = Subgroup / Whole group

Move the decimal two places to the right.


Percentage Points

Sourced: Dilbert Comics

Percent and Percentage points are not the same thing.

A Percent represents one hundredth of something. (i.e. a penny is one percent of a dollar)

A Percentage Point can be:

  1. One Percent of a Hundredth (or 1 percent)

Orange Tech owns 100 percent of the market for smartphones, and its market share goes down one percentage point.

They lost 1 percent of their market share. (one of one-hundredth)

  1. Something other than 1 percent

Orange Tech owns 5 percent of the market for smartphones and loses one percentage point. It’s new market share is 4 percent.

This is not equivalent to losing one percent, because the loss of 1 percentage point here means that their 4 percent market share is 20 percent lower than their previous 5 percent share. It does not represent a value of: “one of one-hundredth.”

To calculate percentage points, subtract the new percentage with the old one.


The rate of new hires in Orange Tech was 3.3 percent in Sept. and 6.8 in October. By how many percentage points did the rate go up?

C = A – B

6.8% – 4.3% = 2.5%

Previous formulas can be used to find the percentage increase and decrease using  percentage points.


The rate of new hires in Orange went up 4.5%, what was its percentage increase?

Our New and Old values have already been subtracted, so the first part of the formula is done.

C = (A-B)/B

C= 2.5%/3.3%= 0.581 or 58.1%

The rate of new hires rose 2.5 percentage points and 58.1% percent between September and October.


Simple/Annual Interest

Computing interest is a very common use for percentages. The interest that is charged varies, and depends on the amount of time borrowed money is kept and not paid back.

Principal is the amount of borrowed money one has acquired.

Interest is the money paid for using borrowed money.

Rate is the percent that is charged for the use of borrowed money.

The Formula for calculating interest is:

Interest = Principal x Rate (decimal) x Time (years)

I = P x R x T


Ana García borrows $2,000 from El Banco Popular to pay for Diesel for her electrical plant. She agrees to a 4% percent interest, payable in one payment at the end of the year. What was her interest?

P = $2,000

R= 4% or 0.04

T= 1 year

$80 = $2,000 x 0.04 x 1 yr

Because Ana García is aware that the prices of Diesel keep rising, she decides to buy all the Diesel she can and pay back her loan ASAP. She does so in three months.

P = $2,000

R= 4% or 0.04

T= .25

(Three months = .25 of a year (3/12) )

$20 = $2,000 x 0.04 x .25 yr


Compound Interest is when interest is added to the original principal.

Subsequent compounding occurs when the interest to the principal is added to the interest of previous compoundings.

Monthly payments are most common for consumers.


Chapter 3: Statistics

Sourced: Google, Stock Photo

Understanding statistics, and the ways in which they can be manipulated to benefit certain studies, companies or people is very important. This chapter looks at different statistics and the formulas with which to find them.


Or average is the sum of all figures in a group divided by the total number of figures.



The Median can be found two different way:

  1. Arrange numbers in a group from lowest to highest and find the one in the middle.
  2. If you have two middle numbers (numbers that have the same number of numbers preceding and following it) and they are the same, that is your median. If the two middle numbers are not the same, add them and divide by two.



Is the number or numbers that appear most frequently in a group. If no number appears twice in a distribution of numbers, there is no mode.



            A percentile refers to the percentage of scores that fall at or below the designated score. A percentile score is founded on it’s relationship with all other scores.

i.e. If Carolina’s score for the SAT’s is on the 35th percentile, that means 35% percent of all other test takers scored the same or lower than Carolina did.

Formula for Percent Rank

Percentile Rank = (Number of people at or below individual score)/ (number of test takers)

P = A/B

Formula for number of people that Scored at or below one level

Number of people at or below an individual score= (percentile) / (number of test takers)

A = P/B


Standard Deviation

Indicates how much a group of figures varies from the norm.

            A small standard deviation is equivalent to a group with figures consistently grouped around the mean. High standard deviations thus show signs of inconsistent result.

Standard deviation values are represented and written in the same way as the original data it is founded on. (i.e. dollars, decimals, etc…)

To compute standard deviation, follow the formula/steps below.

  1. Subtract the mean from each score in the distribution of numbers
  2. Square the resulting number for each score
  3. Compute the mean for these numbers; the variance
  4. Find the square root of the variance



Calculating probability is really about a ratio.


In Purple Town, 50 people die from diabetes strikes. There are 10,000 people living in Purple Town.

50 deaths / 10,000 people = 0.005

Because, the number “0.005” is difficult to bring into context, reporters use the phrase “one out of (blank).” To find blank, divide 1 by the answer.

1/0.005= 200

Therefore, the odds of anyone in Purple Town dying on any particular day due to diabetes is one out of 200.

Instead of “one out of” some journalists use “per 100,000 people.” They follow the following formula to do so:

Deaths per 100,000 people = (Total Deaths/total population) x 100,000

When finding the probability of deaths from diseases, narrow the population by risk group to be more accurate in your reporting.


Lottery and Pure Chance

The issues of accurate probability findings diminish when calculating “pure chance” events, like winning the lottery.

When finding the possibilities tied to any series of events, the odds of a particular result is equal to the odds of each event multiplied together.

Formula, if the odds are not the same for each event in a series:

Odds of a series of events = Odds of first event x odds of second event x odds of third event x etc…

Formula, if the odds are the same for each event in a series:

(i.e. coin toss) Odds of a series = ON

when O = Odds

            and N = Number of events


Chapter 4: Federal Statistics

Sourced:, Stock Photo

This chapter tries to break down and give understanding to the never-ending stream of information the federal government provides its constituents.



The rate of unemployment represents the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively seeking work

The labor force is made up of anyone over the age of 16 who has a job, and has looked for one in the past four weeks. People who are not actively seeking work are not part of the labor force.

Employed people are those who did at least one hour of work for pay, or 15 hours of unpaid work for a family business a week before the survey was taken.

The formula for Unemployment Rate is:

Unemployment Rate = (unemployed/labor force) x 100


Inflation and Consumer Price Index

            Annually, inflation might vary in its impacts on the U.S. economy. Yet, it affects the U.S. economy consistently.

Inflation in the United States is determined using the Consumer Price Index, which displays the level of inflation of eight major product groups.

The CPI can be written as an index number (a number greater than a 100) or as a monthly or annual inflation rate.

The formula to find inflation is:

Monthly inflation rate = (Current CPI – Prior Month CPI)/Prior Month CPI x 100

The formula to find the annual inflation rate is:

A = (B – C)/C x 100


 A= Annual inflation rate

B= Current Month CPI

C= CPI from same month in previous year


Adjusting for Inflation

This occurs when a historical figure is changed to show how it’s value would be in current dollars.

The formula for adjusting inflation is as follows:

A = (B/BC) x AC


                        A = Target year value, in dollars

B = Starting year value, in dollars

AC = Target year CPI

BC = Starting Year CPI


Gross Domestic Product

The total value of goods and services produced by a nation’s economy is the Gross Domestic Product or GDP. The higher a country’s GDP is, the healthier and more productive it is considered to be. The changes within a country’s GDP are the main focus of heads of states, journalists, scholars, and experts.

The growth rate of GDP is reported annually, while the GDP itself is reported quarterly.

The formula for GDP is:
GDP = C + I + G + NX


                        C = Consumer spending on goods and services

I = Investment spending

G = Government Spending

NX = Net Exports or the exports minus the imports

To compare the wellbeing of different country’s populations, one could use the figure real GDP per Capita.


'It's your other 0.5.'

Sourced:, Stock Photo


Trade Balance

The trade balance is the difference between the goods and services a country imports and those it exports to other countries.

The formula for Trade Balance is:

Trade Balance = Exports – Imports


If, in December, the country Purple-Land exported $65.3 billion dollars worth of goods and imported $230 billion, its trade balance would be:

-164.7 = $65.3 billion – $230 billion

In December, Purple Land had a trade deficit of negative 164.7 billion dollars. Things aren’t going so great in Purple Land….




Chapter 5: Polls and Surveys

            Evaluating and informing on the validity of polls and surveys taken is one of the most aspects of journalism.

Polls are an estimate of public opinion on a respective, individual topic or question.

Surveys are similar to polls in all but the fact that they are used in a wide array of social science studies and include a variety of questions.

Random Selection is very important when evaluating the validity of Polls and surveys. Random selection is the equal opportunity for everyone in the population to be selected.


Populations and Samples

            Samples are used to represent the population being studied, and must be large enough (around 400 people) to keep the margin of error within acceptable limits.

Formulas for Selecting Samples

  • Census, universe or population: when everyone in the population being studied is sampled.
  • Cluster: when a group in one well-defined area (country, ZIP code, town) is sampled
  • Multistage: starts by selecting one particular geographic area, then sub-groups within this area, next to individual blocks within the sub-group and then, a smaller block.
  • Systematic Random: Using a random number, like 5, and calling or contacting every 5th person in state/city directory.
  • Quota: this is based on demographic characteristics that pollsters are aware of.
  • Probability: randomly putting all possible participants in a hat and making draws until reaching the designated percentage.


Margin of Error

            A percentage which indicates a particular research’s degree of accuracy based on standard norms. It is found on the size of the random sample selected for the poll or survey.

To include the margin of error in an article, and assure the most accurate information regarding the research, make sure to add and subtract it to the particular percentages being compared.


In a poll of 300 people, 57% said they thought Labradors where cuter than Golden Retrievers, while 43% thought the former was cuter. The margin of error in a poll or survey of 300 people is 5.7%. Then, do more people think Labradors are cuter than golden retrievers?

Team Labrador: (57% + 5.7%), (57% – 5.7%) = 62.7%- 51.3%

Team Golden: (43% + 5.7%), (43% – 5.7%) = 37.3% – 48.7

At least in this case, the statistical difference between those who thought Labradors were cuter: 62.7%- 51.3%, to those who thought Golden Retrievers were cuter: 37.3% – 48.7%, was fairly large.

Therefore it evidences there is a greater majority who believe Labs to be cuter.

Confidence Level

A percentage representing the level of confidence researchers have of the results of their research. Or, the possibility of attaining a given result by chance.

For instance, a result has a 10 percent probability of occurring by chance if confidence level of a study is 90 percent.

Confidence levels fall between 90, 95 and 98 percent and is calculated before the research begins. When it increases, so does the margin of error.

Subtract and add the confidence level to the percentages being compared in the same way that the margin of error was added and subtracted earlier to achieve the most accurate rendering of the information.



In 2000, the U.S. Census was a knock-on-door and mail survey of every household in the country. There was a 67 percent return rate and the results are still coming out, slowly.


Adjusted v. Unadjusted Figures

Figures that are manipulated statistically to make up for missing data are called Adjusted figures.

            For the 2000 Census, unadjusted figures were used to create congressional districts with reasonably equal populations. Adjusted figures could not be used by rule of the Supreme Court.
The states, however, may use adjusted figures based on the results to re-form legislative districts. On state levels, unadjusted and adjusted figures can only vary from 1 to 4 percent.

            In the form of maps, local City planners have copies of official census tracts, which are supervised by the U.S. Census.


z Scores and t scores

Z scores, or standard scores, reflect the difference between a particular value and the mean. Their unit of measurement is the standard deviation and depending on their proximity to the mean are either negative or positive.

The formula for a Z score is:

Z score = (raw score – mean)/ standard deviation.

T scores, or Student’s t distribution, is utilized with sample sizes of 100 or fewer. A table of critical t values is required in order to calculate it.


Chapter 6: Business

            This chapter focuses on breaking down the math and the reports of “Big Business.”

Sourced:, Stock Photo ]

Financial Statements

Financial statements are published in a company’s annual report and include quantitative statements about its business transactions, a balance sheet and a profit and loss report.

These statements on the company’s performance are made available to many stakeholders, such as shareholders and regulatory agencies.


Profit and Loss

This document is imperative since it shows if a company is making a profit. Profit is calculated by subtracting expenses from income.

Expenses within a company take many forms. The “cost of goods sold” refers to expenses directly related to the finished product, while “overhead” expenses refer to those that are entirely unrelated to what is being sold. (i.e. utilities and insurance)

The Gross Margin is the difference between the selling price and the “cost of goods sold.” The net profit, net earnings or net income is the total, annual or monthly difference of the overhead and the gross margin.

The formula for Gross Margin is:

Gross Margin = Selling Price – Cost of Goods Sold

The formula for Net Profit is:

Net Profit = Gross Margin – overhead


Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a financial statement of a corporation’s liability, equity and assets. The liabilities and equities side of the balance sheet must always be equivalent to that of the assets.

The formula is expressed below.

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

This occurs because the assets of a company (i.e. real estate) minus its liabilities (owed money) equals its equity (the true value of the company).


If Orange Tech. reported that it had $500,000 in liabilities and $650,000 in equity, then it’s asset is:

$500,000 + $650,000 = $5,650,000

And the true worth, or equity, of Organge Tech is:

$5,650,000 – $500,000 = $650,000

(Assets – Liabilities = Equity)


Ration Analysis

            Ratio analysis is used as a tool of comparison between two companies or as a measure with which to examine the trends occurring within a company. More importantly, however, these calculations are used to examine the market value, operating efficiency, and profitability of a company.

Current Ratio

This is a measure of the ability a company has to meet its liabilities. The formula is:

Current Ratio = Current Assets/Current Liabilities

Quick Ratio

            This is a liquidity ratio, basically, it measures whether a company can meet its current liabilities with cash on hand. The formula is written below.

Quick Ratio = Cash/Current Liabilities


Debt-to-asset Ratio

            This measures a company’s ability to meet both its total assets and its total liabilities. It is a more efficient measurement of long-term health.

Debt-to-asset ratio = total debt/total assets


Debt-to-equity Ratio

            This is calculated by comparing what a company owes to what it owns.

Debt-to-equity = total debt/equity


Return on Assets

This is a probability ratio, which evaluates the return on the investment, made in equity.

Return on equity = net income/equity


Price-earnings Ratio

            This value, likewise to return on assets, examines the return of the investment—but based on stock price.

Price-earnings = (market price/share) / (earnings/share)

Looking for Citizenship in The City upon a Hill

By Ana Gabriela García


Tito Quote.png

Quote from, Tito, one of the Dreamers interviewed in this story.

“Five years ago, we as a country told 800,000 young people who came here when they, on average, were six years old: ‘Come out of the shadows, allow us to fingerprint you, allow us to take the picture, give us your address, tell us where your parents live.’ said Vanessa Bravo, assistant professor of communications at Elon University.

We told them: ‘Come forward, get out of the shadows, give us all the information.’ Now we are telling them: Just joking, and we can deport you.”

On January 2017, president Donald Trump re-ignited the discourse on immigration reform, when he issued the executive order for ‘Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.’ This order rescinds Obama’s 2012 executive order for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The rescinding of DACA surfaced issues related to the human rights and privileges of Dreamers, those protected under DACA, the powers, policies and capabilities of U.S.’s immigration law and the capacities of immigration enforcement agents.

“I think as a country, that’s not who the United States is supposed to be,” Bravo said.

What is DACA?

DACA uses deferred action to give illegal aliens who came to the U.S. before the age of sixteen certain benefits that had otherwise been denied to them by law, such as the eligibility to request employment authorization. Deferred Action means that prosecutorial discretion is to be applied only on an individualized case-by-case basis.

Info Source.png

Information sourced from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Website

A person whose case has been deferred cannot unlawfully reside in the United States, nor can deferred action give an immigrant lawful status.

DACA Recipients

National Numbers

“I always grew up, with the basic knowledge of the fact that, ‘hey, you’re not a regular person. You are a quote-on-quote ‘illegal’. People don’t think of the psychological toll that puts on people.”

“I always grew up,” Tito, a 20-year-old Dreamer, and activist, says, “with the basic knowledge of the fact that, ‘hey, you’re not a regular person. You are a quote-on-quote ‘illegal’. People don’t think of the psychological toll that puts on people.”

The United States’ immigration population is 40.7 million people, according to a report by Nolan G. Pope. It is the largest immigrant population of any nation in the world. The U.S. also has four times as many foreign-born residents than any other country, and many of it’s immigrant youth and former DACA recipients came to the U.S. around the age of six.

Pew Research Estimates 2015.png

Information sourced from the Pew Research Center

Many experts, immigrants, and citizens alike claim that DACA recipients and Dreamers, having grown up in the U.S. for the majority of their life, are just as American as native-born citizens. Carla Mena, a 27-year-old Peruvian-born Dreamer and activist who grew up in North Carolina says that she is a southern-bred American, who even knows the colors and the design of Raleigh’s flag.

“We have all these things that we grew up with, that are so ingrained within ourselves.” Mena said. “We’re so loyal to this country that is so not loyal to us. And that is so wrong.”

Bravo’s beliefs align with Mena’s. She says,

“These [DACA recipients] are Americans, it’s just that they weren’t born in the United States. But by any other mean, they consider themselves American. They grew up in this country.”

“I think it’s about human dignity,” Carla says, “and I think we have been so removed from that at this point, and I hope that a Dream Act passes or a comprehensive immigration reform passes. We have done so much and I think it’s time for us to be recognized and be elevated, instead of being told we’re not wanted here.”

DACA in North Carolina

In the last three decades, North Carolina has experienced one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the U.S. In 2000 this population rose to 7.6% from 5.3% in 1990. In 2015, the American Immigration Council reported that 7.9% of the population (794,684 people) were immigrants.

A 2013 fact sheet produced by Noth Carolina’s Budget & Tax Center found that in Alamance County, specifically, 7.3% of the residents are immigrants.

In fact, according to a study by The Latino Migration Project University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC was the state that sent the highest number of DACA applications in 2012 and 2014. 75% of an estimate of 26,000 eligible unauthorized immigrants in the state applied, and 21,389 of those applications were accepted.

Despite the growing numbers of immigrants, some of which are recruited by industries looking for foreign-born individuals, the legal means of entering the country, ergo the state, have diminished. The percent of unauthorized immigrants in this state is nearly double that of the national rate, 26%. It is estimated that in 2012 about 44% of the immigrant population in North Carolina (350,000 people) did not have legal immigration status.

DACA’s impact on the state was significant not only because of it’s large population but also because it helped stop the state from almost consistently passing restrictive legislation aimed at immigrants. The 2006 North Carolina Driver’s License Law, for instance, which barred immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license, was replaced soon after DACA in 2012 when the state passed a law that enabled recipients to apply for driver’s licenses.

Economic Breakdown

Pew Reasearch Center .png

Information sourced from the Pew Research Cente

The Nolan G. report found that 3.6% or 11.4 million of these immigrants have no lawful legal status within the country — and therefore suffer greater economic challenges than other residents. 

Moreover, immigrants contribute greatly to North Carolina’s economy. The same 2013 fact sheet produced by North Carolina’s Budget & Tax Center reported that immigrants make up both one in ten laborers ages 18 to 64 and one in ten of the state’s small business owners.

New American Economy.png

Information sourced from New American Economy


The Powers & Limitations of DACA

DACA’s impact on immigrant communities in the U.S. was, for the most part, a positive one. It was successful in that it integrated immigrants further into the American economic and social spheres that were once prohibited to them, for lack of basic facilities and tools, such as driver’s licenses and social security numbers.

For instance, while Mena was getting her undergraduate degree at Meredith College, she only used her car for basic necessities: work and school. And she never drove at night, for fear of being pulled over.

Talking about her experience under DACA, Carla calls for recognition of undocumented people working towards rights. [Photo by Jackie Pascale].JPG

Carla Mena and Tito address a DACA panel hosted by Elon University. Sourced from ENN.

“I turned 21 reading for my organic chemistry class,” Mena said. “There was no partying in my life that really happened because I was too scared to drive. And I had to be okay with that. Because that was my reality and I had one goal: I needed to graduate from College and that’s all. So I did.”

While DACA did help her get a job after college and advance in her professional and personal life, both she and Tito knew that the program was still not representative of comprehensive immigration reform. Tito states that,

“Something like DACA… we all know is not a solution, we also know that it did not even offer a pathway to citizenship or anything like that, it just offered the basic ability to own a driver’s license, and to work and to go to school. The fact that we’re fighting so hard for just this, it says so much.”

“The fact that we’re fighting so hard for just this, it says so much.”

In addition to DACA not providing Dreamer’s with a pathway to citizenship, it also could not work as a replacement for a VISA.

“People who had DACA had to pay an additional three hundred and sixty-some additional dollars, whatever it was, to ask for permission to leave this country,” Mena said. “And then on the way back, we would have to pray and hope that the immigration agent will let us back in.”

Tito remarks on the frustrations that this misconception brings him presently when he lobbies.

“One of the most frustrating things ever is every time I go lobbying or try to talk to my representatives, they look at me straight in the face and they’re like: ‘Why haven’t you become a citizen yet? I’m trying to explain to them that I can’t even get a driver’s license and they’re over here asking why I’m not a citizen.”

In the thousands, as of Sept. 4 2017. Pew Research Center.png

Information sourced from the Pew Research Center


When DACA was implemented, there was no government-sponsored or funded legal infrastructure to assist immigrants in the process of applying for DACA. Immigrants heavily relied on non-profit organizations, like the North Carolina Justice Center (NCNJ) based in Raleigh, to help them in circumventing obstacles, like the affordability of legal assistance, when enrolling.

Many immigrant communities, who were out of reach of non-profits, were targeted by ‘notarios,’ unlicensed individuals who practiced fraudulent law.

Money played a big role in being able to enroll in DACA. It cost close to five hundred dollars to apply to be a DACA recipient. Mena was one of the thousands of unauthorized immigrants who worried about not being able to get the money to apply.

“They were two of us, my brother and I,” Carla said. “That’s almost a thousand dollars. And we all know, as people of color, we don’t have money laying around.”

What was most baffling to her about the DACA enrollment process was that she needed to write an essay explaining why she needed to work and then pay additional for that in order to apply for work authorization. The total application ended up costing Mena close to five hundred dollars.

“You need to pull money from the places you don’t have,” Mena said. “And then help your community, to make sure no lawyer, no ‘notario’ was making money off of the backs of people that had been suffering for years.”

One of the biggest obstacles Dreamer’s faced when enrolling for DACA, other than the ‘notarios,’ was providing the government papers that proved they had come to the United States as early as 16, lived there ever since and were living in the U.S. at the time of the announcement of DACA’s implementation.


As of Sept. 4 2017,  Pew Research.png

Information sourced from the Pew Research Center

This was a difficult request for the immigrant community. Undocumented immigrants, for evident reasons, avoid interactions with institutions and agencies that provide them with any document or indication of their unofficial presence in the United States.

Mena herself remembers running to Bank of America to make a deposit when she learned of this criteria. This bank account was the first receipt, the first tangible piece of evidence that she had been living the U.S.

“I had to prove to America that I had been here,” Mena said. “Because at some point I was trying to be under the radar, and at that moment, I had to prove that I had been here.”

 Waiting in Line

For Tito, “The biggest misconception of all is people’s concept of the U.S. immigration system. It does not work in a line, it doesn’t even work in general. It takes like twenty years for someone to even be considered for residency.”

 Perhaps the reason why dialogue surrounding immigration offers very few or unsatisfactory solutions is because it is convoluted and misinformed. The conversations that seem to be suffering most from this lack of understanding are those regarding the attainment of citizenship and the attainment of visas or green cards to enter the country legally.

“The great myth around immigration is that you could just get in line and wait for your turn to come.”

“The great myth around immigration is that you could just get in line and wait for your turn to come,” said Heather Scavone, the director of the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic.

Very few immigrants have neither: the strict requirements to attain a visa or green card, which include having excellent credit, owning property and a business, and which vary depending on the country they come from. Nor the avenues to obtain the status of permanent residency and then citizenship.

Pew Research Center.png

Infromation sourced from Pew Research Center


Citizenship status is in fact mainly given to people as a result of a very specific circumstance. Including, familial or professional relationships, or misfortunes, like being a victim of a serious crime or being persecuted for one’s religion or race in one’s country of origin.

Bravo concurs with Scavone on this.

“There is no back of the line. If you don’t qualify for those few categories, you just don’t qualify.”

Additionally, where there is a line, it often tends to be too long.Heather recalls her own experience with “line,” specifically the one in immigration courts.

Scavone recalls her own experience with “line,” specifically the one in immigration courts.She was representing a Guatemalan woman with a group of Elon Law students in March of 2015 and found out that the only time available to calendar a hearing for the woman was in November of 2019.

Scavone argues that these extremely strict and specific pathways to becoming a citizen are the main reason why the United States needs to rethink its legal immigration structure through comprehensive reform.

“For 99 percent of the world’s population there is no line to get in.” Scavone said.

Doing it Right

Debates on immigration often include the rhetoric of ‘if you’re going to get your papers, or going to enter the United States, do it right.’ This rhetoric steers the conversation away from the true and more important question underlying debate on immigration: Is there a way to ‘do it right?’

“There is no right way, because it’s under the discretion of a person, however they feel at that moment.”

– Carlos

 It took Carlos, the pseudonym of a former DACA recipient, Elon student and Marine veteran, the majority of his teenage years to fight to attain his social security, work permit and then, finally, his residency.

Ironically, if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents and the police had not threatened to deport his mother, their family would never have been able to claim their status as residents. Because after she was stopped by ICE, his mother was forced to fight a tormenting and lengthy legal battle to achieve political asylum.

Yet, while took Carlos years to attain his residency, the process to get his citizenship lasted only three days. It was all thanks to the first sergeant of his platoon in the marines, who began the procedure to get Carlos his citizenship the very same day he found out Jorge was only a resident.

“I was chilling in my room… I had my camouflage pants, my socks with my chanclas on, my t-shirt, playing my FIFA game,” Carlos said. “And then all of a sudden I hear somebody calling the first sergeant and asking for me. I jumped out of my couch and ran.”

Carlos was already a seasoned marine and had just signed up for his four-year contract as a team leader, overseeing three marines. He had completed his boot camp at Paris Island, done his AP Hill training and went to the Majove Viper desert in California.

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Is this what it means to ‘Do it Right?’ And if it does, why does his path to citizenship, substantiated with the credibility of legal battles and military service, feel like a circumstance of luck?

Had deployment to Afghanistan not been around the corner, would the sergeant have checked his papers and found out he was undocumented?

Had his mother not been stopped by ICE, would he had ever gained the residency status that allowed him to join the marines in the first place?

“Let me tell you about doing it right,” Carlos says. Next to him are Tito, Mena and Christina, three undocumented young people who were discussing immigration policies, officers and their experiences.

“It’s not true,” Tito says before Carlos can continue speaking. But it doesn’t matter that Jorge was interrupted because it’s true and everyone at the table knew it.

“The credentials for you to come here varies,” Carlos says, “according to the country you are from.”

“The poorer your country is, the less likely you are to come here,” Tito says.

Mena argues that the likelihood of entering the united states and gaining citizenship varies depending on the day and the immigration officer attending the specific case.

When Mena and her family first went to apply for their visas in the American embassy in Peru, they were told ‘not today’ by the immigration officer.

Then, after finally getting their visas in Peru, one of ten years for her mother and two of five for her brother and herself, an immigration officer at Miami International, changed their visas to last three months each.

Mena still hasn’t been able to get her citizenship, and now with the rescinding of DACA, her situation is more precarious than ever. Yet, her argument on the power of immigration officers is resounding, and everyone at the table nods.

“There is no right way,” Carlos says, referring to coming to the U.S. legally, “because it’s under the discretion of a person, however they feel at that moment.” Immigration officers have too much power, Carlos believes, and act like persecutors and judges. Jorge also makes the comparison to the current issues that law enforcement has with abusing their power.

Immigration officers have too much power, Carlos believes, and act like persecutors and judges. Carlos also makes the comparison to the current issues that law enforcement has with abusing their power.

“It’s kind of like what’s going on right now with the police force. They have three or four jobs. They are ICE agents, they are persecutors, they are judges.”

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Tito clears his begin speaking at Elon’s DACA panel.

“My name is…” And he pauses.

“…one of the illegal aliens that y’all hear about all the time, because that’s who we’re known as.”

His dry and sometimes dark wit is not fully understood by all the audience members. His point, however, comes across clearly.

“We’re in this room,” He says, “because of lack of basic, mutual, human understanding. The reason why we have to sit here and explain to y’all why our existence matters or why our lives are important or why we deserve to have basic human rights, and to be valued and to be allowed to own a drivers license or be able to work is all because of the dehumanization and criminalization of our community.”


How do citizens work with their communities to bring back basic, mutual human understanding? Jessica Carew, assistant professor of political science at Elon University, believes that we should be working to eliminate certain harmful narratives surrounding immigrants. The diction used in immigration discourse can affect the way we think about individuals who might seem to be in violation of the law.

“It is really important that we are working to say, hey, those individuals who are on DACA are hardworking and they are contributing to society.” Carew said.

“However,” she says, “[…] we’re setting up this strange dynamic in covering it this way, as our public discourse regarding DACA enrollees, and that’s because if you say these DACA individuals are the good people, then we set up for ourselves in society the idea that any other people who are undocumented are not the good people.”

“… if you say these DACA individuals are the good people, then we set up for ourselves in society the idea that any other people who are undocumented are not the good people.”

Taking Action

For Mena, what allies should be doing is actively finding out, on a person-to-person basis, the way DACA has affected her and the larger immigrant community. The humanity of it, the clear and palpable distress and pain that lack of immigration reform has caused, will motivate allies to protest and work alongside Dreamers to attain reform.

“You need to make sure you find out what I’ve gone through, what he’s gone through, what all my other friends have gone through because that will enrage you,” Mena said.

Heather also believes that citizens are instrumental in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, and should physically and visibly support non-citizens. Since, she believes, that citizens are protected in a way that non-citizens are not.

“If you think about it, non-citizens, in terms of their advocacy abilities, have more to lose and more to risk by going out in the open and protesting and being politically visible,” Scavone said. “So visibly supporting non-citizens is one thing that can do. And doing that by supporting legislation that’s going to help individuals with an outcome akin to the Dreamer legislation.”

 For Carla and many other Dreamers, the rescinding of DACA didn’t put an end to the fight for comprehensive reform, it re-ignited it.

“There’s no reason to stop fighting.” She claims. “Yes, maybe there will be deportation procedures. From now until those six months we got a lot of work to do so that we’re not in deportation procedures.”

“There’s no reason to stop fighting.”