DECATUR — Intellectual stimulation isn’t hard to find at Millikin University.
But the task was even easier Friday during the fifth annual Celebrations of Scholarship as scores of students made project presentations on topics ranging from the cultural impact of Hasbro’s My Little Pony to the effects of supplemental feeding on area bird populations.
Barry Pearson, vice president for academic affairs, said the day is one of his favorites. “This event reminds me that when barriers are removed from our imaginations, we have unlimited potential,” he said.
In two neighboring classrooms in Shilling Hall, for example, one could hear honors freshmen presenting on the origins of homosexuality, herbal versus traditional medicine, the antisocial aspects of social networking, gun control laws and the sexualization of young children in the span of 90 minutes.
The faculty sponsor is Michael O’Conner, associate professor of English.
“This is part of our freshman writing sequence,” he explained. “Whatever feedback the students get during these public presentations can be used to enhance the final project.”
Meridian High School graduate Kathleen Wrigley, a political science major, said she found that sexually provocative behavior and clothing in children is caused more by a lack of parental supervision than it is by children’s media. “These children watched more shows not aimed at their age group,” she said.
Wrigley also concluded that older children’s movies are more likely than newer ones to reinforce the gender stereotype of females as submissive.
Representing one side of political spectrum was Thomas Ryan, a biology major from Chicago Heights, who argued that homosexuality is the result of biological and societal influences, but the differences are so slight from heterosexuals that homosexuals deserve equal rights. On the other was Adam Falasz, a chemistry major from Bloomington, who said Firearm Owner Identification cards, with associated background checks and waiting periods, are a better way to control gun violence than banning certain weapons.
Sarah Hickey, a biology major from Highland, said more research into and regulation of alternative medicines are needed. Daniel Sinclair, a biology major from Peoria, said overuse of social networking sites can cause isolation, worsen anxiety and depression, and result in cyberbullying and unemployment.