The 2013 Jane Rainie Opel Award was presented to Christin McConnell ’03 during a ceremony on Radcliffe Day. Since graduating from Harvard College, McConnell has devoted herself to international development work, including working with the Peace Corps, completing a master’s degree in development economics and international education policy from the Fletcher School, and consulting with the World Bank on educational reform in Malawi. This year’s ceremony was particularly poignant as Opel passed away this past spring.The Jane Rainie Opel Award, given to a woman celebrating her 10th reunion, was created to honor the long time service of Opel ’50 as the executive director of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association. The award is presented by the Alumnae and Friends of Radcliffe College Shared Interest Group and the Harvard College Women’s Center.
Fitbits, the activity tracking wristbands, have become a popular identifying feature of Notre Dame freshmen this year. Five hundred Fitbit-wearing freshmen are participating in a study called NetHealth, which aims to explore the relationship between social networks and health.Notre Dame sociologists David Hachen and Omar Lizardo, in conjunction with University computer scientists Aaron Striegel and Christian Poellabauer, are conducting the study. Hachen said the National Institute of Health is funding the study through a $3 million grant.“The National Institute of Health is very interested in the social conditions that influence peoples’ behaviors, like sleep, diet and activity,” Hachen said.According to the NetHealth website, the Fitbit devices will be used to track each student’s sleep and fitness, while a monitoring app on their smartphones will record social activity. The study therefore attempts to find a connection between social activity and health, one already seen by freshman Brian Quigley, who is participating in the study.“I can see my friends on Fitbit and how many steps they have, and so I always want to have more steps than them,” Quigley said. “It’s a way to compete in a friendly manner.”Hachen said he believes “our patterns and health related behaviors are amplified by the people we hang out with.” The challenge, though, he said, will be determining the direction of the causality between friendship and health.“The biggest puzzle is we believe we are affected in our behaviors, attitudes, and taste by who we hang out with,” Hachen said. “… It’s also the case that we tend to choose as our friends people that are similar to us, so we’re trying to disentangle whether your networks are influencing you, or you select the networks to be like you.”In looking to solve that puzzle, Striegel said one of the major questions in this study is, “Do you conform to the group, or do you change the group?”Hachen said the researchers plan to note changes in each student’s social groups over time, which is made possible by the continuous data collection from the Fitbits and smartphones.“People’s networks are much more fluid than most social scientists have ever thought,” Hachen said. “So we want to look at how people’s networks change, because if I’m not healthy and I hang out with someone who is healthy, I could become more healthy, or I could stop hanging out with them. I could change my network.”Hachen also said the study’s use of Fitbits and smartphones will make it more accurate than similar past studies, which usually rely only on surveys for information.“On surveys, you may not tell the truth, you may not remember or recall your social networks. … By this method, we get continuous, reliable data that’s probably better than the self-reports that come from surveys.”In addition, Striegel said the study can be used to “improve the health of the network,” since the researchers receive data on how many times people try and fail to connect to the network in different locations on campus, thus allowing them to identify the network’s weaker points.Hachen said in the next few months the study will be expanded to include about 400 more students — without Fitbits — who, through smartphones and surveys, will further contribute to the data collection. Further, Hachen said in the future he hopes to perform the same study at different universities and with different age groups.Tags: Fitbit, NetHealth, sociology
Students will have to wake up early this year if they want to attend the Wisconsin football games.[/media-credit]The University of Wisconsin Athletic Department will once again be changing its ticket policy for the upcoming 2009-10 football season.According to a news release from the Athletic Department Monday night, the new policy will be based on two different sales times, both on a first-come, first-served basis. The first sales period will take place on June 22 at 8:30 a.m. and will be available exclusively to undergraduates, including incoming freshmen.The next wave of sales will take place on July 6 and will be available exclusively for graduate and professional students. This group also includes incoming graduate students. The Athletic Department has allotted 1,700 tickets for this group based on previous records of how many students from this category have traditionally purchased student football tickets.If there are any remaining tickets from the allotted number given to graduate students after 4:30 p.m. on July 10, both undergraduate and graduate students will be able to purchase these tickets starting July 13 at 8:30 a.m.According to the release, the Athletic Department changed the policy based on feedback from students through personal communication with students on campus, an online survey given to student ticketholders throughout the 2008 season and a postseason focus group.Members of the Associated Students of Madison Shared Governance Committee were involved in the focus groups trying to get a better perspective on students’ views.Logan Hulick, a Shared Governance Committee member who also works with the Athletic Department, said between 60 and 100 people were asked to participate in the focus groups. The people who received these emails were members of ASM, student media and concerned students. Of this group, about 25 people attended.“It was everywhere from seniors to freshmen,” Hulick said. “I don’t know how even it was, but it was definitely from both, and graduate students were there.”According to both Hulick and Jake McGee, also a member of the Shared Governance Committee, the consensus of the group was to eliminate the lottery system and change it to a first-come, first-served basis regardless of class standing.“The freshmen are equally excited, and they are students too,” McGee said. “It’s hard to throw out judgments saying the freshmen might be later, and the seniors might be earlier.”While the purchasing process for student tickets may have changed, the distribution system has not. Those who receive tickets will still get vouchers for their seats as they have in years past and will be able to redeem them at the stadium gates on game day.The Badgers will hold seven home games this coming year, including a night-game opener against Northern Illinois on Sept. 5.Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Vince Sweeney could not be reached for comment as of press time.