Portfolio Memo Draft

To: DU Writing Program Faculty

From: Sophie Van Den Handel

Date: March 8, 2015

RE: Writ 1122 Portfolio

Over the last 2 months, I have been learning in Professor Benz’s Writ 1122 class about the different styles and methods of writing an argumentative paper. At the beginning of the class, he outlined a couple learning goals that he wanted us to focus on and grow our skills based on where we assessed ourselves against the goals at the beginning of the class. These goals, as well as the writing projects he assigned us illuminate these different argumentative styles.

Out of these goals, I had three that I focused on. The first, to “Demonstrate practical knowledge of the concept ‘rhetorical situation’ through the abilities both to analyze and to write effectively in different kinds of situations.” With this goal, I started the class of unsure. I hadn’t taken an argumentative writing class since junior year of high school, and this showed in my first writing project. However, with practice in the forms of blog posts on WordPress and forums on Blackboard, I was able to start fine tuning my abilities. My second writing project went much better than my first in understanding the rhetorical situation, and my last project went better than the second. This by no means signifies that I have mastered the ability to understand any rhetorical situation, but it does show progress.

I also worked on my ability to effectively review and edit my peer’s work. We started immediately reviewing our peer’s work by responding to their posts on Blackboard, and working in groups to effectively collaborate on the different aspects of different rhetorical styles. In addition to this, we all participated in read-arounds the class before a writing project was due. In a way to award those giving beneficial feedback to their peers, Professor Benz awarded extra credit points on the last two writing projects to those who were pointed out by their peers for giving beneficial feedback. I received an extra credit point for each writing project that it was offered, pin-pointing my ability to effectively give feedback to my peers.

The last goal I worked on was effectively providing evidence to the argumentative pieces that I wrote. It started off a little rocky at first, as I was hesitant to put a lot of evidence into the piece. I ended up needing more evidence that was effective towards my arguments, and so for my second writing project, I worked on finding effective evidence. I had less comments about it in that project, and in my last project, I was not instructed to add any more.

For the writing projects I revised, I started with my second project. This project was written in an Op-Ed style and effectively used the Toulmin model of argument. The topic was open to the class, and I decided to choose the issue of unpaid interns being exploited in the work force. I revised a couple of things, the first of which being a couple grammatical errors that I didn’t catch previously. I also added a few more links to more evidence to strengthen my argument. I fixed these areas because the grammatical errors made me seem uneducated in the area I was talking about, and the added evidence strengthens my argument as it pulls from different areas and different articles discussing what I’m talking about.

The other writing project I revised was my last writing project. This writing project utilized the Rogerian argument and was formatted in the style of a memo. The topic for this project was also open to the class, and I decided to address the artistic staff of the ballet company, LakeCities Ballet Theatre, where I used to dance. The artistic staff was not holding to the times they laid out in the company contract, but they hold their dancers to that contract, so I wanted to address this. In this project, I needed to revise a couple things, two of which were very big: the common ground, and the ripple effect. I added more to my common ground in the first paragraph by adding in my own experience, and then I added more to the ripple effect in paragraphs 8 and 10 with the bringing in of the dancer’s families. I also revised a sentence in the second paragraph that initially attacked my audience. This was very important to revise, as the audience should never feel attacked.

At the end of these 2 months in Professor Benz’s class, I’ve learned very much and have honed in my abilities with writing rhetorical arguments. With the application of goals and the three writing projects assigned, I have been able to figure out and fix my issues with the argumentative styles. Thank you for listening.

Portfolio Memo Draft

Unpaid Internships: The Monster Under Every College Grad’s Bed


Internships are scary.  Like Gremlins-under-my-bed scary.  Take away the salary and you’re looking death in the face.  Schools and businesses have told us that in order to get a job in the current economy, we must secure an internship.  That causes students who are either graduating soon, or are looking ahead towards their impending doom to have night terrors in the form of Gremlins in suits.  Would it relieve them, or stress them out more, to know that internships don’t necessarily lead to a job offer?

Over the last couple years, lawsuits have been brought up that question the soundness of unpaid internships, the type of internship most available to college graduates or soon-to-be graduates.  Unpaid interns tend to be overlooked and exploited in the workforce and often don’t lead to job offers.

In a study of 2013 college graduates, a whopping 63% of unpaid interns were not offered a job.

That is remarkable.  For the amount of weight we as a society give unpaid internships, for 63% of those interns to not be offered a job is something that is quite disturbing and needs to be observed.

Of those who had paid internships, 63.1% received a job, and made more money than those who were not paid. They made a median of $51,930 as a starting salary coming from a paid internship, whereas those who were given jobs after having an unpaid internship started with a median of $35,721.

This notion that college students should accept unpaid internships in the business circuit under the assumption that it will eventually lead to some paying job needs to be eradicated. The best thing these internships can do is boost resumes. That’s it. Maybe one can gain some experience in the field, but most of the time it’s darting around the office double-fisting coffees.

In this regard, companies and corporations are exploiting their interns.

Numerous cases of companies exploiting their interns have been brought to court, as having interns completing non-educational menial work without payment is illegal and serves as a prime example of work force abuse. The vast majority of these cases come from well-known companies that many college graduates dream of working for: Fox Searchlight Pictures, NBC Universal, and Hearst Corporation.

One such example of this exploitation comes from a student at NYU who hoped to work in animation during her internship, but instead was told to sanitize door handles every day to minimize the spread of swine flu.


There are other such stories along the same lines of the NYU student. A major lawsuit was brought up where two men who worked on the set of “Black Swan” complained of doing “menial work that should have been done by paid employees”.

These two examples bring up the question of whether or not these internships are good for graduates and students, not just because of the lack of future involved with them, but also based on how they are viewed by the company. If the company is going to exploit the unpaid intern because it is a cheaper and easier way for the company to make profit, then something needs to be done.

Although there are already laws in place for what categorizes an unpaid intern, companies are still managing to get around the issue.  It’s not a question as to what law should we implement next, it’s more a question of how should we change this?

Drexel University believes that co-ops are the way to go about this change.  The president of the school believes that businesses and universities should “acknowledge their mutual goals and work together to create new pathways of career training that benefit all parties”, according to an article by John A Fry.

This may alleviate some of the fears that have college students stressed out of their minds.  As a co-op, students would earn, on average, $16,500 over six months.  Though not all co-ops receive money from their employers, work is being done to rectify this and give these students a stipend.

These co-ops will be difficult for universities to accept as the academic area would need to change slightly to make connections with different companies and corporations.  This would take time and a lot of expenses before coming together, but it is definitely an option for the future.

In the mean time, college students should get as much information from their future employer as possible, figuring out what exactly their tasks will be as an internship and if that internship could possibly turn into a job in the near future, laying this monster to rest.


Unpaid Internships: The Monster Under Every College Grad’s Bed

Helping Out Nikki Frick

Revised Opening Paragraph for Clarion Article on DU Winter Break

What did you do over break?  Travel Europe or visit family one state over?  Work at a coffee shop?  Or did you sleep and watch tv every day, all day long, for six weeks?  I know I did.  And maybe that isn’t such a great thing.  We all need our sleep after that first quarter of the year, of course, but six weeks of it?  That seems a little unnecessarily long.  DU’s winter break is two weeks longer than the majority of colleges nationwide, and maybe we should change that, putting an extra week on Spring Break, or adding it to our summer vacation. Sadly though, this might be harder than it sounds.

Two Places to Add in 1 Sentence Paragraphs:

At the end of the fourth paragraph, she should break off the last sentence and make it a paragraph of its own: “A shorter winter break would be a worthy sacrifice for an earlier release date for spring quarter.”  It would emphasis this idea that she has.

Add in a sentence between the 8th and 9th paragraph: “We could keep the dorms open over Thanksgiving break.”

Helping Out Nikki Frick

Analyzing Marcus’ “Dartmouth’s New College Try”

In Marcus’s article, “Dartmouth’s New College Try”, she talks about student consumption of alcohol on Dartmouth campus and how the school plans to work on this problem.  The kairos of this article, or the timeliness, could go on into perpetuity.  College students drinking alcohol at alarming amounts has been something that has taken place for decades and is always a relevant issue.  Her beginning of the article, which includes a hook, draws in her readers.  She starts off with a little joke, tying in the alcohol issue that Dartmouth is trying to address to the idea of the “new college try”.  She also includes all schools: “and, by the way, on almost every college campus across the country.”

Marcus isn’t afraid to use colloquialisms and informal diction in her writing.  Some examples of this include “(Fraternities, that’s you)”, “so pregaming becomes dicier”, and “–dare I mention it–“.  These phrases add spark and sizzle to her writing.  Also to keep her writing interesting, she varies paragraph length.  There are 2 examples of her using one sentence as a paragraph: “Seriously, if these people put as much dedication into schoolwork as they do into obtaining alcohol, they’d all be Rhodes scholars.”, and “For this we’re spending $65,000 a year?”  Along the same lines as the varied paragraph structure, Marcus also throws grammar to the wind in an effort to make a point.  Two examples of this would be, “But it could perhaps be reduced.” and “Mondays, ditto, because ‘senior societies’ meet then.”

The data and grounds that Marcus uses to support her argument as she progresses through the paper center around alcohol consumption before and after students get in to Dartmouth.  One of the data she uses is “(72 percent non-drinkers at Dartmouth, compared with 59 percent nationally)” and how by the middle of the term, “35 percent become high-risk drinkers. . . compared with 26 percent among college students nationwide.”  Closer to the end of this article, Marcus uses a turn and presents her own argument: “Still, if students can drink this much and maintain 3.8 GPAs, something seems wrong.”  She discusses how students drink due to too much pressure, not because there isn’t enough pressure placed on them.

Analyzing Marcus’ “Dartmouth’s New College Try”

Denver Post Editorial Board

Diction, Jargon, Word choice

  • The words are short and used to cut to the point.  Jargon is barely present, if at all, and the word choice is geared towards the audience, this being DU.  Though some words are more complicated than others, the audience is not lost in them.
  • “access and affordability”, “doesn’t have the cachet of open access”

Paragraph Length

  • The paragraphs are short and to the point.  Every now and then, the writer throws in a paragraph with only one sentence.
  • “Covering those costs often is a substantial hurdle for students, forcing them to work long hours at low-paying jobs while trying to get the education necessary to propel them into the middle class.”

Sentence Length

  • The sentence length is varied, but most of the sentences are long, compound sentences.  There are some sentences that are shorter, but there is specifically one sentence that looks as long as two or three of the writer’s sentences.
  • “It’s important to keep in mind that while Pell Grants, at a minimum of $5,730 per year, often are used for tuition, they can be used for other expenses, such as books, supplies, transportation, living expenses like room and board, and even dependent care for a student with dependents.”

Claim and Evidence

  • The op-ed does a good job of stating the claim in the beginning of the article.  “We agree with the goals of access and affordability, but believe there are better ways to get there.”
  • The evidence is very strong towards the claim, pulling in the use of Pell Grants and outside references

Hook, Push, Turn

  • The opening paragraph acts as the hook in this op-ed.  The idea of the first two years of community college tuition being free is something to grab the attention of the reader, specifically the readers in this college where we pay $50,000 a year to attend.
Denver Post Editorial Board

Steinem, Wise, and Pierson

From reading the report about Karl Pierson, I found that there were a couple things that supported both Steinem and Wise’s theories on school shootings.  The biggest thing I saw from reading Karl’s diaries was his superiority complex that Steinem talks about.  Karl is filled with a need to prove how superior he is to those around him in school by being “judge, jury, and executioner” (pg 29).  Steinem believes that the reason the majority of school shooters have been male is because they grew up believing that they had to prove that they are superior to others.  These shooters take it to the next level and act on their superiority complex in a violent way that obliterates the lives of the students around them.  Karl’s report also has facts that align with what Wise was saying about the small towns believing they are immune because they are quiet and nice.  The students that Karl went to school with couldn’t believe that he would do this because, all though he was violent, it was always verbally released.  Some also believed that it would be difficult to shoot up the school because how small the town was and that it would take less than four minutes for him to be completely stopped by police.  The students proved Wise correct in that they live in a bubble of denial that ignores the awkwardness of others and dismisses it for being a ‘nerd’ or just weird.

Eric and Karl are very similar in the way they thought of life.  Both of them were filled with hate (they both explicitly declare it in their writings) and they both had tempers.  Eric believed he was God and had this ridiculous superiority complex that rivals Karl’s.  Karl never explicitly said he was God, but he did want to be judge, jury, and executioner, which is basically the same thin.  It’s interesting to see the similarities between these two kids.  They’re from “quiet” communities, yet they both committed these atrocious crimes based on some inner belief that they could play God.  They both hated school because of being bullied and they lashed out because of it.  Reading about both of them almost makes it seem like there is a pattern to the kids that shoot up schools.

Steinem, Wise, and Pierson

Harris’s Journal

In this specific entry in Eric’s journal, he’s almost paranoid with society by how it runs its schools. He starts off by saying that “Its society’s way of turning all the young people into good little robots and factory workers” and then talks about the bell schedules and that the reason they learn this way is because this is how the real world works. Staples talks about this, with one of the main issues in schools being that one of the main priorities of teachers is to keep discipline in the classroom. Children are supposed to speak when called on, sit up straight, be attentive, and act like perfect little statues that absorb information. But that’s not how kids learn and an atmosphere that is like this loses the children that it is attempting to teach. This alienation between the students, the teachers, and the subject material lead to issues with the student in school and they become more susceptible to violence and acting out.

Eric Harris. SchoolShooters. Peter Langman Ph.D,. Website. Jan 11, 2015. https://schoolshooters.info/sites/default/files/harris_journal_1.3.pdf

Harris’s Journal