Goodbye Summer, Hello New Students!

Today is August 12th which really isn’t a day of any importance, but for me it just happens to be the last Thursday of my summer break. Thus begins the countdown of all dates important and well, dreaded: the first day of school to name one. Now, although I say my summer is almost over, I don’t actually start classes for another two weeks. However, I get the opportunity to be an Orientation leader for a third and final year. So it seems almost ritualistic to start the school year off this way. I may complain that my summer gets cut short but secretly, I wouldn’t be anywhere else. OK, it is not really a secret anymore:) The excitement of Orientation is tremendous with all the new students hauling their luggage on to campus while being followed around by just as nervous and confused parents is a sight for sore eyes. It brings me back to my first days at the Puge and reminds me of all the journeys and lessons I have learned since my first days on campus. And going into those experiences with an open mind is really beneficial and I have the Orientation program to thank for that. The University’s program is one in a million and I have heard of no other program as hard core as ours! Most schools have a day or two of Orientation with an optional outdoor portion. Well, here at Puget Sound, we have a whole 9 days! That is just how we do it: Go big or go home. But, honestly, despite the level of exhaustion at the end of the 9 days, it is so worth it because you come out with some friends and many great memories. Even if those friends aren’t the ones you spend your entire college experience with, it helps you get through those first few weeks of awkward adjustment.

Since I am cutting my summer short by two weeks, this means I must have my research completed this week! For the past few weeks I have been madly interviewing people on both sides of the property rights battle in Oregon, drawing conclusions from everything I have heard and realizing that what I originally assumed about my research is not entirely true. I began my research by focusing on Oregon’s UGB (Urban Growth Boundary) and using that to focus my research about the corresponding ballot measures. However, I have discovered that the UGB didn’t really play a role in the campaigns for the Oregon ballot measures. I find this amusing since I named my notebook for this summer’s research as “The Oregon UGB.” Although the UGB is not playing a major role in my research, it has come to be a symbol not only for my own research but as I have discovered, a symbol for many Oregonians. The UGB, although just one component of Oregon’s iconic land management plan, is special because no other state has such a comprehensive system for containing urban sprawl and preserving the natural landscape. Therefore, the UGB has become this prized possession for many Oregonians who value their land use system. And even though the UGB was not used in any messages during the campaign process, it still represents something important in Oregon. It is actually kind of ironic the UGB was not used in any messaging for the ballot measure campaigns; many of the people I interviewed said the UGB was a concept that most citizens did not understand or care to learn more about. Thus, they did not think it would be effective in garnering support for their measure because voters would not be able to connect with it. This is funny since it seems to be quite representative of Oregon’s ability to champion and preserve its unique land management system.

Regardless of the direction my research has turned (deviating from my original plan) I feel like it has been successful. Of course there is more I feel like I can learn and I have a list of other sources I want to read, people to talk to etc. but I accomplished what I wanted to do: learn about the two opposing property rights measures in Oregon and develop some sort of conclusion on how frames were used in the campaign process. Ultimately, I have discovered that while framing was an important component in the passage of the two measures, there are several other factors which had substantial influence on voters as well. This is where I would love to dive deeper into the research, if I had more time. Then I could develop a more comprehensive conclusion about the battle. But as far as my summer research goes, I feel good about what I’ve learned. And who knows, this could turn into a graduate thesis or doctoral dissertation someday. Maybe. But I do think this is a political arena I would enjoy working in.

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