Sociology Undergraduates Present at Symposium

Oberlin is welcoming over 30 students from across the region to present and discuss their sociology research at the sixth annual Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Sociology Symposium on April 13.

Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Sociology and Comparative American Studies Daphne John, who was instrumental in coordinating the symposium, emphasized that this event is unique in its emphasis on undergraduate research and in its diversity of presenters.

“Undergraduates are spotlighted and it’s one of the few academic conferences like that in sociology and particularly in [Northeast Ohio],” she said.

Undergraduates will be presenting with posters, roundtable discussions, or independent presentations in the Science Center. Several Oberlin students will present posters, but only four Oberlin students — College seniors Jahkeem Wheatley, Olivia Canning, Madison Fink, and Charles Sherman — will be delivering oral presentations. These four students are also in the midst of working on their Sociology Honors projects.

Wheatley’s project is called “It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Networking and Getting Into Law School and Beyond,” and is about networking and meritocracy regarding law school admittance.

Canning is focusing on how women navigate public spaces.

Fink is exploring “spaces of consumption — bars and restaurants mainly — and how they are emotionally felt and formed by consumers to feel hospitable,” she explained.

Finally, Sherman’s project is titled “Nightlife Utopias: Exploring the Symbolic and Material Economies of Politically-Oriented Nightlife.”

John pointed out that this symposium can be extremely beneficial for all students, and especially for those sharing their work, due to the multitude of participating institutions.

“[Symposium attendees] will recognize [the students’] work as contributing to our knowledge in the field, and they get to meet other students who have done sociology at other schools,” she said. “The different schools that are represented may have a somewhat different approach in terms of what their specializations are. … I think the students get to hear the different ways that sociologists look at the world through the lens of research. They get to also learn what it’s like to do sociology. It’s not research done for the purposes of just sitting in isolation. We do it to share and to communicate.”

Oberlin student presenters also expect to learn from their peers through this experience.

“I want to learn more about their research process, and I am interested to learn more from them,” Wheatley said.

Canning was also excited to learn from the symposium.

“It’s cool that I can see what people are doing at other schools,” she added. “It’s awesome that Oberlin hosts that.”

While Oberlin students can attend the symposium for free, tickets cost $42 for faculty, $20 for non-Oberlin students, and $27 for non-student guests. Tickets cover admission to all talks, as well as a lunch. All expenses not covered under these funds have been sponsored by the Oberlin College Sociology Department.

“Oberlin students can attend for free,” John explained. “We are sponsoring it. So there wouldn’t be any real reason for students to register, so students can come in and drop in.”

In addition to undergraduate presenters, the symposium is hosting keynote speaker Dr. Liz Piatt, who specializes in studying how race disparities impact both mental and physical health. Events kick off in the Science Center at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning and will continue until 3:30 p.m.