Feature on Fashion at AU

November 16, 2009



Jennifer Rollin

Equestrian boots $200. Pair of leggings $10. North face outdoors jacket $165. Longchamp microfiber bag $145. Being a fashionable American University student, priceless.

Is there some kind of unofficial code of cool style at American University, and does it have anything to do with the clothing’s original purpose? Style watchers and students, themselves, generally agree with the first question, and say no to the second

“I remember my first week at AU, it looked like everyone was wearing a uniform,” said freshman Diana Lovener, who favors a funky mix of skinny jeans and eccentric vintage tops.

“I know at Boston College, friends tell me that there are certain necessary wardrobe pieces like Ugg boots and NorthFace jackets,” Kristin Pionati, a junior and the writer of the AU fashion blog, said in an email interview. “At AU, I feel like there is more diversity and that maybe there are ‘uniforms’ within groups.”

Many trends come from historical and practical clothing or were created for certain activities, and those who wear such clothes for their original purpose might laugh at the cost of the item when worn for high fashion.

English riding boots, for example, were created to keep the leg from rubbing against the saddle, not necessarily for showing off the thigh in a pair of leggings, though a quick walk across the quad reveals tons of female students plodding through the grassy lawn in equestrian style boots.

These low-heel boots usually come in brown and black, are made of leather, and have brass buckles on the sides.  Students usually wear them over leggings or skinny jeans. Many students cited their extreme annoyance at this popular trend.

“I get mad became I came from a farming school, and, I’m like, have you ever seen a horse in your life?” said sophomore Abigail Seaver, who went to a high school specializing in agriculture.

Sophomore Emily Shrader agreed.

“Those stupid equestrian boots are really popular,” she said. “It’s like everyone wants to look like a model out of an Urban Outfitters catalog.” Hip stores like Urban Outfitters sell equestrian-style boots from $158 to $450 and they are often shown on models wearing skinny jeans or leggings.

“Equestrian boots are cool, I just probably wouldn’t spend the money on them,” said sophomore Kelcie Pegher, who prefers to buy shoes at cheap retailers like Target.

Leggings, too, have had a different past. They served as winter insulation, but emerged in the 1980s, first as fitness fashion, and then later as something to be worn under long shirts. The American Indians originally wore them in an effort to keep warm during the cold winters. They’re back, and can be seen gracing the legs of celebrities, supermodels and AU students.

Leggings are often worn in place of pants. They come in different colors, but the most popular is the basic black stretch fabric leggings. Although, there are also “leather” or “liquid” leggings, denim leggings, and animal print leggings.

Often they are worn tucked into equestrian boots or the dreaded Ugg boots. This trend has become highly controversial and some view it as just plain lazy and unflattering.

“Not all girls can pull off leggings–in fact, most cannot, said sophmore Avi Cohen,” “However, apparently at AU girls all think they just look fantastic in them.”

Experts agree that this trend is unflattering.

“This is a global epidemic that everyone falls prey to at some point, but at AU there seems to be a real problem with certain groups of girls,” Pionati said, “I have seen blazers and tank tops paired with leggings. That’s like putting a button down shirt and tailored vest with sweatpants. Just wrong.”

Others said their appeal was due to the revival in “retro” inspired fashion.

“Cheap vintage clothes are definitely making a comeback!” said Jen Corey, current Mrs. District of Columbia and recent AU grad.

One can purchase a pair of leggings at retailers like Forever 21 for $10, and students argued in support of the leggings trend.

“Despite the fact that at first I felt like I was 7 again, they are really comfortable,” said Pegher, “It’s also a great substitute to sweatpants without looking completely terrible.”

Sophomore Cait Brogan agreed.

“I wear leggings as pants all the time. My friend and I call them no- pants days,” she said.

Another controversial trend was first marketed as a fold-up travel bag, but is now a popular “professional” book bag. Take a large sack of lightweight nylon, some twig-like straps of brown leather, and a decorated metal zipper, and one has the highly coveted Longchamp Le Pilage tote bag, made in France.

Sophmore Ciara Desmond proudly totes a Long Champ bag.

“It’s huge and holds all my books. I bought it for college because everyone has one,” she said.

These bags retail for around $145. Some feel that the bag is ugly, and too expensive.

“If I made something really ugly and really expensive people would still buy it,” Pegher said.

So is it worth the cost of these “trendy” items in order to be seen as fashionable?

“You should pick and choose which trends you like. It’s pointless to buy all of them, because the trends for fall won’t all be fashionable in the winter,” Pegher said, “but I think if you really like one, then it’s definitely worth the money.”


American Forum

October 14, 2009

American Forum: Are Young Voters Talking Back to President Obama?

At an American University Forum panelists sought to answer the question, “What part have young voters played in the election of President Obama and will they continue supporting him?”

“I think there is a lot more love for Obama than there ever was for Bush in this demographic,”  said Erin McPike, a political reporter for CongressDaily.

Panelists met to discuss young voter’s support of Obama in the packed Katzen Recital Hall.  Jane Hall introduced the panel and asked how many people would be tweeting the forum, a few students raised their hands. “You just reminded me,” said panelist David Gregory as he took out his blackberry. The main question was whether Obama can ever be as transparent and effective as his online campaign?

“Is it 18-29 year olds following Obama? Or is it Obama following the 18-29 year olds?” asked David, a Republican Strategist, during The American Forum at American University.

The panelists thought that both young voters and social networking played a large role in the election of President Barack Obama. “Young people engaged in politics have a voice in a way they didn’t have before,” David Gregory,the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, said, “Young people voting for Obama was about leadership, they could identify with someone who appeared to be hip.”

Social networking was discussed as an important political strategy. “This is at a time in which Facebook, if you think of it as a country, it is the largest country in the world,” Jose Vargas, an editor of Huffington Post, said.  Since Facebook and Twitter are gaining momentum and influence, it is important for a political candidate to use these resources.

“There are 6.9 million members on Obama’s Facebook page, granted Michael Jackson has more,” Jose Vargas said.  David Corn, bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine, rebuffed the charge that the Republican Party wasn’t adequately using social networking to its advantage.

“The challenge in the Republican Party isn’t how to use the internet, it’s how to have a conversation with 18 to 29 year olds,” David Corn said.

The panelists agreed that Obama seemed to be losing favor with his young supporters. “Young people may not be as enchanted with Obama as they once were,” Erin McPike said.” The panelists tried to address the issue of why young voters would not continue their support for Obama after his election.

“Campaigns work. Campaigns are highly effective, the federal government is not. Young people say this is a leader guiding me to action. What you have is faith in a leader and less support for his policies,” David Gregory said. Obama is a great and inspiring leader, but many young people were more interested in him than in his way of running the government.

“I think it’s very easy for young people to identify with Obama because it was a very historic candidacy. He seemed to be talking about a different kind of politics. He doesn’t look like he’s going to be a transformative president,” David Corn said.

There was also a discussion of why young voters would elect Obama, and then not bother to show up to protest or support the real issues. “When you’re at a certain age, you don’t worry about your own healthcare because you feel strong and young,” David Corn said.

American University students protested the statement that young people don’t care about issues in the world. “American University students are a very bad example of where students stand regarding government. We come here because we actually care,” said Bryan Konig, a senior in the school of public affairs.

Many students agreed that American University is highly involved in political issues.

The panelists seemed skeptical of student’s claim that they care about the real issues. “Anything involving Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, and sex, hopefully all three young people find interesting,” said David Corn.

Class Blog by Jennifer Rollin: September 28, 2009

September 30, 2009

Today’s class focused on the decline of Journalism as we know it. This topic is interesting but is also highly relevant to Journalism majors. It serves to enlighten them about changes happening in their field. Journalism is not dead but the definition of what we consider news is changing dramatically. When class began the hard news articles we had written about the death penalty were returned to us with corrections. We were given some time to fix the articles, retype them and resubmit them for grading. Common mistakes were the use of inconsistent tenses and incorrect quote attributions. We talked about how to make a story newsworthy and about good ledes.

Professor Walker asked the class what we thought of her blog titled “The Seven Laws of Journalism this Semester.” Most students agreed with her laws of journalism, but with a few exceptions. Two students argued with her statement that “Eighteen-year-olds aren’t really interested in revisiting The Front Page or even All The President’s Men.” A couple students said All the President’s Men was one of their favorite movies. A student said she liked the fact that Professor Walker acknowledged the fact that we aren’t all journalism students. Another student said that she got a lot of her news from facebook and twitter. The professor said that by the end of the semester we will have created a new word for journalism. I agree with the professor. I don’t think that Journalism is dead.  I believe that it no longer exists as it used to be, and is a new emerging field.

Next, we watched a brief video clip from Comedy Central that mocked the newspaper for being old fashioned. In the clip a man referred to the New York Times office as a walking colonial Williamsberg. Professor Walker commented that even though this newspaper is mocked, it is one of the best online journalistic websites. We were given an article to read in groups that was from The Chronicle. We divided it into sections, and then reported back to the class. The first section mentioned that there was a lot more enrollment in Journalism programs then in past years. The second section talked about the lack of available jobs for Journalism majors. The rest of the article discussed how schools are teaching more about presentation than content, and how we are entering an era of specialization. It also talked about how young people are redefining news. This article made it seem like a major in Journalism is not a very productive use of time, as It is hard to find jobs.

At the end of the class we were given time to think about our feature story assignments. The professor showed us some sample ideas. She played us a video of a broadcast feature story showing UCLA freshmen doing lots of community service. Overall it was a very engaging class, although I’m sure it caused a few Journalism majors to think twice about their career paths.

New Age of Journalism?

September 28, 2009



Jennifer Rollin

I thought that the blog entitled, “The Seven Laws of Journalism this Semester” by Danna Walker was enlightening because It showed a teacher’s perspective on teaching a college class. She compared the narrow view teenagers have on journalism, to the broader views that adults have embraced. I could identify with this because when I think of journalism, I think of stale news stories that I would rather not read. Also I never wanted to make a twitter and only made one because it was a class assignment. For some reason I don’t see twitter as being the new exciting form of social networking. Maybe this is because the facebook stage is still in full swing. Twitter is just a bunch of status updates, with no pictures or other forms of entertainment. 

I think that it’s interesting, that most teachers teach journalism from past techniques. I don’t think that Journalism is dead, but I think a new field is emerging that encompasses old journalism techniques and new modern ideals. Maybe there should be a new title for the growing field. I think Journalism as we used to know it is dead. I also agree that technology is important in the field of journalism. In this age saying that you don’t know about technology isn’t acceptable. People have to change and adapt to the trends of the time. It’s impossible to ignore the amount of online journalism that exists. I realized while writing this blog, that understanding technology is highly important to journalism. In the middle of writing this my computer crashed, also It is important to have knowledge of blog writing not just newspaper writing.

This blog was great because it was no-nonsense. “It sure beats the heck out of a month practicing pyramid-style ledes,” Dave Brooks said. This blog definitely felt like a breath of fresh air in the mass of other dry insidious blogs.

Our book discussed tips for effective meeting coverage. I thought that it was important that they brought up the research aspect, before attending a meeting. One must know background information before attending a meeting or speech. Also the book mentioned that a journalist’s job is to sift through the boring bits, until they uncover the real drama when attending a meeting. Asking questions of the reader is a good way to make them feel more involved and interested in an article. 

“Fashion, put it all on me?”

September 16, 2009

It is a breezy sold colored tote that is constructed of nylon. It is supported by two exquisitely thin twig-like leather straps that look delicate enough to snap. The material is flimsy and weightless, the design utterly simplistic. The word that comes to mind is “plain” or “functional.” It looks like the kind of bag you would use for groceries. It costs upwards of 200 dollars, and is one of the hottest fashion accessories at American University. Walking around campus you will spot many girls snidely toting their Longchamp ‘Le Pliage’ bags piled to the brim with mounds of heavy textbooks.

Recently, my grandmother bought me a purple Longchamp bag. My roommate asked me what a Longchamp was. I looked at her is shock, but explained that they were a popular preppy staple. Eventually she began to spot them all over campus. So what is the allure behind this seemingly basic bag? The first girl I ran into was seated with her large purple long champ on her lap. “I got this bag a gift when I lived in Kuwait, right before I came to AU, “She explained, “When I got here I was surprised to see that it was so popular here. I think this bag is definitely worth the money.”

“If I made something ugly, but it was really expensive I bet people would buy it,” said sophomore Kelcie Pegher. “It’s huge and holds all my books. I bought it for college because everyone has one,” said sophomore Ciara Desmond. In my opinion, these bags are popular for a couple reasons. The “preppy” style is probably the most popular style at AU, because of the wealth of its students. Preppy is a style that embodies clean lines, solid colors, and beautifully constructed basics. The Longchamp bag is clean, functional, and simple. It is also well constructed. Just as the other staple the dreaded “ugg boot” is simple, yet popular because it is lined with luxurious sheepskin. These purses that are simplistic yet expensive are manufactured in Paris.
“It’s leather and vinyl, quite possibly the most unremarkable combination. A plastic bag from FroGro evokes more excitement.” A website written by University of Pennsylvania students featured their take on the longchamp trend. http://underthebutton.com/2008/10/over-it-the-longchamp-tote/. The popularity of this seemingly “boring’ bag will continue to astound me. With all of the different materials and styles available why would anyone chose something so simple?  Nothing in fashion is predictable, but one thing is certain. It will continue to excite, amaze, and leave behind a legacy of trends. Hopefully American University students can learn to think a little more outside the box, and find their own original styles.

In short, save the travel bags for your next beach vacation. There are plenty of other book-bag options.

Opinion vs. Objectivity

September 3, 2009

     Is objectivity the best approach to journalistic writing? Many journalists try to maintain an objective viewpoint in their articles. Journalists often try to detach themselves from their subject matter, and their opinions. The real question is “why?” I would argue that objectivity doesn’t actually exist. True objectivity in journalism is a fantasy. One can never be entirely objective. This is especially due to the rise in the amount of media bombardment one receives on a daily basis. Everyone grows up in a culture, and with different experiences. It is impossible to entirely separate oneself from one’s world view.

     This idea of trying to be as objective as possible is one that seeps into many fields. Journalists try not to show their viewpoints when presenting news stories. This is because they want the reader to be able to formulate their own opinion based off of unbiased information. Psychologists try to “blank screen” their clients a practice where they try to maintain a completely objective viewpoint. This is impossible because they are all from different religious backgrounds and upbringings, and therefore offer biased advice to their clients. Many people recommend reading a lot of different news sites in order to get to the truth, because so many news stories are biased. On Newswire.com David Mc Girr defines objectivity as “a balanced account of a debate.” His article talks about how attempts at objectivity in journalism are on the rise. Many would say that the rise of attempting objectivity in journalism leads to more boring news stories. After all, It is the opinions that often make the stories more enticing. I think that news stories that raise provocative questions should be written by two journalists with contrasting viewpoints. That way both opinions are covered. Objectivity in journalistic writing is can be useful, but is generally uninteresting and unnecessary in my opinion.

      Someone who tries to be objective is Anderson Cooper, he states that he doesn’t involve his personal life in his career. He was named as the second most powerful gay men in America, so obviously his attempt at keeping his personal life private didn’t work.

my twitter account

August 28, 2009


August 26, 2009

       I expect to learn a lot in this class about journalism and also how to be a better writer. I don’t know a lot about how to write an article, because I have always leaned towards creative writing so this is a whole new area of writing for me. I would like to learn how to write in the correct journalistic format. I would also like to learn more about the process of interviewing subjects for articles. I thought that the reading was interesting, but the format of the textbook bothers me. But even though the format bothered me It was still really imformative regarding the basics of reporting.  

     I feel that this class will help me with my writing in general. Writing is a great skill regardless of profession. I have always been interested in writing a book, because I read all of the time. I think that this kind of writing could help me become a better writer in general. If I could have my dream job I would be a psychologist or a theatre teacher. I think that this class would help if I became a therapist, because a therapist has to basically “interview” their patients and learn how to ask the right questions. Writing, is an invaluable  tool that is needed for almost every profession, that is why there is so much empasis on a liberal arts education. Also, often they provide written reports or take notes on clients. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and hopefully this class can help me rediscover it.

Hello world!

August 26, 2009

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