In the Media

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 8:35am
The Washington Post

Muslim candidates, including Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, endured torrents of hateful, xenophobic and threatening tweets during last year’s campaign season, much of it amplified through bots and other fake accounts, according to a study to be released Tuesday.

The study, by the Social Science Research Council, analyzed 113,000 Twitter messages directed at Muslim candidates.

The threats and verbal attacks flowed so heavily toward Omar (D-Minn.) — who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia and has become a visible symbol of Muslim political aspirations — that the report categorized more half of all accounts that mentioned Omar as “trolls” because they tweeted or retweeted hateful, Islamophobic or xenophobic content.

“All these things that happened online — all this hate, all this controversy — were manufactured.” said Jonathan Albright, a social media researcher at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and a co-author of the report. “They wouldn’t exist if somebody hadn’t built a platform like this to amplify them.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 8:26am
The Social Science Research Council

Pintak, Lawrence, Albright, Jonathan, Bowe, Brian J. and Pasha, Shaheen

This report examines the campaign experiences of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and other Muslim candidates who ran in the 2018 US midterm elections. While many Muslim candidates reported limited encounters with Islamophobia among their constituents, a social media narrative of manufactured outrage was disproportionately Islamophobic, xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic. It was heavily influenced by a small number of agents provocateurs, whose hate-filled messages and disinformation were amplified by networks of accounts operating on a scale that signals the involvement of organized networks. These operations largely replaced Breitbart and other extreme-right media entities that were the primary source of anti-Muslim dialogue in the 2016 presidential campaign. They spread hate speech like a virus on social media through both human interaction and the use of bots, sockpuppets, and automated “cyborg” accounts, poisoning the political narrative, drawing in both likeminded and unsuspecting individuals, and disproportionately amplifying—and, for some, normalizing—the message of intolerance.

 Download #Islamophobia: Stoking Fear and Prejudice in the 2018 Midterms here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 8:19am
The New York Times

By Lawrence Pintak, Jonathan Albright and Brian J. Bowe

Dr. Pintak, Dr. Albright and Dr. Bowe are the authors of a study by the Social Science Research Council on anti-Muslim sentiment on social media during the 2018 midterm elections.

Donald Trump has made the demonization of Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, a key element of his 2020 re-election strategy. But the targeting of Ms. Omar and her fellow Democrat and Muslim member of Congress, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, started as soon as they became candidates.

We published a study this week that found that, around the 2018 midterm elections, Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib were in the cross hairs of a tiny band of Islamophobes, long before Mr. Trump elevated them in his tweetstorms, and likely before they were even on his radar.

We studied more than 113,000 tweets, posted from early September 2018 to the weekend before the election, that mentioned Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Omar Qudrat, a Republican congressional candidate in California who lost his race.

Ilhan Omar was the prime target. Roughly half of the 90,000 tweets mentioning her included hate speech or Islamophobic or anti-immigrant language. Put another way, almost 60 percent of the network of accounts that mentioned or tagged her had posted at least one tweet containing hate speech or overt disinformation. Almost one-third of the tweets mentioning Ms. Tlaib were Islamophobic or xenophobic. Even Mr. Qudrat, a former military terrorism prosecutor, faced online harassment.

Monday, November 4, 2019 - 9:08am
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Three years ago, Carles Badenes and his fellow astrophysicist Todd Thompson were at a conference where researchers were invited to put together impromptu proposals — pitched and awarded in the same weekend — in hopes of getting a small amount of seed funding to pursue a “crazy idea.”

But not long into the search, they – along with a third partner in the project, Kevin Covey of Western Washington University — found what they were looking for, a discovery made public Friday in a paper published in the journal Science.

Monday, November 4, 2019 - 9:02am
Campus Rec Magazine

Pools are for more than just lap swimmers.

In fact, Richelle Williams, the aquatics coordinator and youth program advisor at Western Washington University (WWU), hopes to create an environment that welcomes more than those who want to swim laps. “I have some of my happiest memories at pools,” she explained. “I strive to create that same experience for people with the widest variety of aquatics experiences.”

As such, she will look at trends in popular culture to determine creative aquatics offerings. Plus, Williams said they are always looking for collaborative opportunities with campus partners. She said it begins with asking how the aquatics department can best serve them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 - 10:07am
Seattle Business magazine

In a related development, earlier this month First Mode and Western Washington University announced they had secured a contract from NASA to develop geological-research technology that will help advance scientific understanding of Mars surface and its history as NASA prepares for its Mars 2020 Rover mission.

The automated technology being developed as part of that contract, called a goniometer, will make possible extremely accurate 3D measurements of rock samples at different angles. The work is being funded by NASA’s Planetary Science Division and the resulting technology, including the goniometer design and software, will be released publicly.

Monday, October 28, 2019 - 9:40am
KUOW Public Radio

While the treatment plant on the Skagit is standing its ground, that approach won’t work everywhere.

One river to the south, Katrina Poppe and John Rybczyk sledge-hammered a white, meter-long tube of plastic into the mud.

Rybczyk sported mud boots and shorts; Poppe, hip waders. Both were surrounded by sedges, rushes and other marsh plants near the mouth of the Stillaguamish River, just south of Stanwood.

The Western Washington University ecologists have been studying a soggy 150-acre plot with low-tech and high-tech tools.

“We pound it into the sediment, and then you extract it so you can have up to a meter of sediment,” Poppe said of their brute-force method of extracting data from mud. “It shows you the different layers.”

Those layers of sediment tell the story of evolution from marsh to farm to marsh again.

Monday, October 28, 2019 - 9:37am
Boston Globe

That past includes a pact by Jackson and fellow parishioners George Ledain and Edward Tothill to smuggle slaves illegally from Barbados to Suriname, according to Jared Ross Hardesty, the former BC doctoral student who now teaches history at Western Washington University.

What made the trip illegal was a prohibition on British subjects from trading outside the British Empire. Meanwhile, the Dutch West India Company held a monopoly on all slave trading in Suriname.

Jackson, Ledain, and Tothill — who was working in Suriname as a shipping agent — all donated to erect Old North’s steeple, which has since been replaced by a close replica. The largest contribution for the bells came from Gedney Clarke, a Salem native who had moved to Barbados, masterminded the voyage to Suriname, and eventually became fabulously wealthy.

A commemorative sign in Old North’s pew 13 (above), which is where Newark Jackson sat during services, will be replaced with updated findings about the slave trader.LANE TURNER/GLOBE STAFF/GLOBE STAFF

Centuries after the voyage, the long-forgotten details of their enterprise surfaced serendipitously.

Ayres reached out to Hardesty after reading “Unfreedom,” his 2016 book on Boston and slavery in which Jackson was mentioned. Hardesty was asked by Ayres to do more research, which was funded by grants from the Mars Foundation and the National Park Service. During that work, Hardesty found a treasure trove of Dutch colonial records about three mutineers of mixed race who murdered Jackson and Ledain shortly after leaving Suriname.

Monday, October 28, 2019 - 9:32am
The Bellingham Herald

As for why people get into the non-chain restaurant business, passion for food and delivering a great experience are the most common responses I get when interviewing new owners. That’s also the kind of comments CJ Seitz hears. She’s the director at Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center, which gets plenty of clients in that sector.

In her years of advising people about opening a restaurant, she can’t recall one listing “making money” as the top reason they want to do it. The development center helps new owners understand the financial realities, particularly keeping expenses in check.

Friday, October 25, 2019 - 8:49am
Seattle Times

The New York Times asked readers about their college experience and what they wish they had known sooner both inside and outside the classroom. It heard from hundreds of students and former students across the country and in Canada. The answers have been edited and condensed.

Grace deMeurisse, Bellingham, Washington; Western Washington University

I wish I had known how to separate my learning from my grades. My educational experience became profoundly better and more enriched when I learned how to start learning for the sake of learning, and not for the sake of monotonously turning in an assignment for the grade I would get in return.