Monthly Archives: November 2016

Spring 2017 Course Reserves

Course reserve material requests for both print reserves and electronic reserves (via Ares/eLearn) should be brought to the Circulation Desk by Friday, December 9th.  Faculty who are planning on using a course pack for the spring semester should bring all materials to Sue Conant by Friday, December 2nd before bringing materials to the Document Center for printing.

Holidays and Politics

Holidays and Politics
By Liz Chase, Head of Collections, Assessment, and User Engagement


In an article published last year, Kent State University professors discussed the family dynamics at play during the holidays: “Quite often, people are expected to be listened to because they are older, and people are also expected to be listened to because they’re learning new things and their values could be changing,” says Susan Roxburgh, professor of sociology at Kent State. “Young adulthood is a period where people are growing towards their peer group and away from their family, in terms of socialization, so there are bound to be bumps along that developmental road. … sometimes arguments at the Thanksgiving table are playing out over these generational differences in social values.”   


If you’re anticipating political conversations over Thanksgiving turkey this year, Kent State offers some tips for productive conversations. Some of their suggestions? Be proactive and Set a goal. They suggest that “instead of making it your personal goal to have your opinions heard or to ‘win’ an argument with family members, having your goal be to simply get through the dinner will help solve some of the issues.”


This sounds a bit like the traditional advice to avoid “religion and politics” in polite (or family) company. But you may also feel it’s important to engage family members in difficult conversations, not in the interest of “winning,” but in order to begin the process of building connections and understanding in the wake of last week’s presidential election. If you’re going to take on those difficult conversations, you may want to:


1.      Have a Plan

Spend some time ahead of time deciding what you’re ready to talk about, what topics might be raised by your friends and family, and how you would respond.


2.      Be informed

This means a couple of things: it means both understanding a little bit about family dynamics and intergenerational conflict, so that you are mentally and emotionally prepared for difficult conversations, and it means having reliable sources of information for your opinions. Consider visiting mainstream newspapers (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, The Economist), and make an effort to look at news sources that match your political leanings as well as those that do not.  Be aware of fake and satirical news sites such as these compiled by Melissa Zimdars, assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College.


Take a look at Connecting Across Cultures (DDA):


Or view the Ted Talk: “The Walk from “No” to “Yes””


3.      Set Boundaries

While it’s vital to engage in difficult conversations, it’s also important to know your limits, and to tell family and friends when a conversation is no longer productive or you need to take a break.


4.      Practice self-care.

This means recognizing that your physical, mental, and emotional health are important. People often joke about “taking a mental health day,” or “eating my feelings”; jokes aside, there are very good reasons to pay attention to your well-being, especially during tense times and during the holiday season.


How can you practice good self-care when you may be balancing obligations to family and friends over Thanksgiving? This website is aimed at faculty but has tips that are applicable to students and staff as well.


You can also take a look at the Universty of Buffalo’s “Self-Care Starter Kit.” The kit was originally developed for social work students, but has tips and readings that are useful for all students.


How to begin the conversation

1.      Focus on listening

This Education Week blog suggests asking “What are your fears? What are your hopes? What would you like to see happen?” And this blogger suggests that if you begin from the stance of trying to “educate” someone, you’re likely to be frustrated. If you go in willing to listen, you may be able to find common ground.

2.      Assume Nothing

Assume nothing. No matter how perceptive you think you are, you can’t possibly know what someone else’s personal beliefs are. Don’t presume that someone agrees with you—or disagrees, for that matter.”


Some conversation starters:

If you’re not sure how to begin a conversation over the holidays, or you know the political confrontation is coming and you want to take control of the way that conversation begins, consider starting with some of these questions:


  • I understand you and I voted differently; can you tell me what motivated your vote so I can understand where you’re coming from?
  • Can I explain to you why I didn’t feel I could support X candidate?
  • I am concerned that some of my friends may feel personally unsafe because of the election; do you have suggestions for how I can reassure them?
  • I feel that I am being unfairly judged for my vote; can I explain to you how I made my decision? 

If you feel personally disrespected by your friend or family members’ choice in this election, think about how comfortable you are discussing your own perspective.


Further Readings:


The Safety Pin

There has been a lot of debate online about wearing safety pins to signal that you are a “safe space” for people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. If you do choose to wear a safety pin, be mindful of what it signifies and how you may be called upon to act, and have a plan to do so. You can read more about this movement here:




Scholarly Articles:

Michael Devitt and Stephen Chaffee. “From Top Down to Trickle Up Influence: Revisiting Assumptions about the Family in Political Socialization.” Political Communication.  


Hyunjin Song and William Eveland. “The Structure of Communication Networks Matters: How Network Diversity, Centrality, and Context Influence Political Ambivalence, Participation, and Knowledge.Political Communication.


By Liz Chase, Head of Collections, Assessment, and User Engagement


Did you see this headline circulating on Facebook or Twitter?

Bernie Sanders Could Replace President Trump With Little-Known Loophole


Did you click on the link? Perhaps you were convinced this had to be false and wanted to see what fallacies it was promoting, or perhaps you were hoping it might be true. Either way, if the headline got you to click on the link, it served its purpose: drawing in readers to highlight the significant amount of clickbait and misinformation on social media during this election cycle.


We urge you to visit the link now if you haven’t done so already (it’s been shared pretty widely by people who have read it and want to share the content, and those who haven’t and have fallen into the trap). Read their advice on being a well-informed media consumer. As they note: “What we have now is not only uninformed but misinformed masses. That’s something that should scare us all.”


Briefly, their advice is to:

1.      Read first. Then share.

2.      Check the source (and their sources).

3.      Watch out for recycled stories (i.e. Check the date)

4.      If you care about facts, ignore the blatantly slanted.

5.      Google it.


In addition to Google, use sites such as Politifact,, and Snopes to double-check the veracity of a claim. You can also use Open Secrets to track campaign spending and contributions as well as lobbyist spending.  The New York times has also published its take on “The Hoaxes, Fake News and Misinformation We Saw on Election Day.”


If you are taking a critical look at your media consumption post-election, Melissa Zimdars has created a helpful list of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News’ Sources” to watch out for. These sites are heavily biased and/or purposefully spread misinformation. Zimdars is an assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College, who started the list as a resource for her students.

Do Research, Win Free Books!

Yewno topic map

Yewno topic map

Got a research paper or project coming up?  Try our new conceptual discovery tool, Yewno, to save time and find high-quality academic sources.  You’ll also be entered into our competition to win free books for a term!

Here’s how it works:
1.  Start exploring at Yewno
2.  You’ll quickly see how you can navigate interactive topic maps
3.  Save a screenshot of your favorite map and send it to
4.  Add 25-30 words about what you found

And that’s it!  One lucky student will get free books next term (up to $500 value).

Entries must be received before December 5th.  Happy exploring!

The Human Library at Stonehill

A reader listens to Bonnie Troupe, a Human Library Book.

A Reader listens to Bonnie Troupe, a Human Library Book.

On Thursday, October 27th, the MacPhaidin Library hosted its first Human Library event. We had fifteen Books who were ready to speak on topics ranging from the current election and our civic duty to vote to first-generation college students’ experiences to being an immigrant to gender-based violence to experiences of being LGBTQ and POC and many more. Each Book was a member of the Stonehill Community who volunteered to share their personal experiences with Readers who came in for cookies and conversation.



Thank you to our Books!
Constanza Cabello
Cheryl McGrath
Liz Chase
Joe Favazza
Patrick Hale
Cheryl Brigante
Jungyun Gill
Andrew Leahy
Bonnie Troupe
Katie Brenner
Daniel Osmani
Nicole Ambrosecchio
Phyllis Thompson
Lizzie Riley
Peter Beisheim


Created in 2000 by the Danish youth organization Stop The Violence, the Human Library program is now active on five continents, where it enables individuals to “establish a safe conversational space, where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and hopefully answered. … It was developed to challenge societal prejudices wherever and for whatever reasons they occur, and to help people form a better understanding of those with whom they share their communities.”