Neylan McBaine Discusses the History of Women's Suffrage in Utah at the Annual G. Homer Durham Lecture

Illustration by Brooke Smart

On February 13, co-founder and CEO of Better Days 2020 Neylan McBaine delivered the G. Homer Durham lecture. It was standing room only at the event! She discussed the history of women’s suffrage in Utah, highlighting how February 14, 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Utah women being the first Americans to vote under an equal suffrage law. Better Days 2020 is an organization that seeks to spread the word about the heritage of these suffragists in order to encourage and support Utah women today in their corporate and political endeavors.

History of Women’s Suffrage in Utah:

McBaine summarized the history of women’s suffrage in Utah, starting off with the noteworthy anniversaries that the year 2020 marks: the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes. McBaine then told the story of what happened 150 years ago: On February 12, 1870, the Utah territory gave women the right to vote. Two days later, Seraph Young cast the first ballot under equal suffrage law in a modern nation. McBaine explained that this law was passed for a specific reason: voting rights in Utah were linked to polygamy. In 1869, Utah territory was told to enfranchise their women, because people outside of Utah wanted Utah women to use the vote to free themselves from polygamy. However, Utah women did not cooperate, as McBaine shared, but instead, they formed large protest movements in defense of polygamy.

Yet the battle against polygamy continued, as McBaine explained: in 1887, Congress revoked Utah women’s suffrage rights under the Edward Tuckers Act that disenfranchised all polygamous men and women. However, that did not stop the Utah women from fighting for suffrage, as McBaine reported. They formed connections with key eastern leaders, including Susan B. Anthony, a national women’s suffrage leader. They even changed the names of their relief societies to “suffrage associations.” McBaine said that in 1896, Utah women regained the right to vote. Among the prominent suffragists in Utah who McBaine highlighted were Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, the first female State Senator who ran against her husband and won, and Emmeline B. Wells, who edited one of the largest women’s suffrage papers, the Woman’s Exponent, and was one of the few early suffragists who was able to live to see the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.

However, the story did not end in 1920. McBaine shared that there is a broader narrative to this history as well: Native Americans could not vote in Utah state elections until 1957, Asian Americans until 1952, and African Americans until 1965. McBaine said that the voices of all of these women need to be recognized and remembered, including those of Zitkala-Sa, Alice Kasai, and Alberta Henry, civil rights activists and suffragists.

McBaine also presented three key takeaways from the history of women’s suffrage in Utah:

  1. The story of suffrage isn’t just about voting. The suffrage movement marked a transition for American women to move from the limited domestic sphere to the broader political sphere.
  2. Utah women worked with men to achieve their goals. It was not a power grab between the two sexes, but more of a church and federal government conflict.
  3. Utah women were neither pawns nor militants. Don’t depict women as all good or all bad, because often both women’s and men’s lives are contradictory. Working together for the betterment of humanity is messy but always worth it.

McBaine also left us with these parting questions: what does this legacy mean for us today? Are you living up to the legacy that these men and women left for us 150 years ago? McBaine encouraged both men and women to live up to this legacy. She said that sometimes we as women “let things limit what we are capable of,” for reasons including a lack of role models or a supportive community, but we can look to the suffragists of the 19th and 20th centuries as our exemplars. In fact, Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, first female state senator, succeeded in earning four degrees because of support from her community. McBaine said that these women were “trailblazers” and that “you can claim this heritage!”

Take Away the Phone: Restrictive Monitoring of Social Media is Less Effective than Parents Think

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Does restricting screen time help teenagers be wiser social media users? How can parents help promote positive social media use in their homes? BYU Students Ronde Walch and Alyssa Sabey provide answers to these questions in their article “Parental Monitoring of Adolescent Social Media Use and Emotional Regulation” in Family Perspectives, a journal published by BYU’s School of Family Life and written by students. Walch and Sabey conclude the following about teenagers and social media use:

First, it is helpful to know what social media use is considered “normal.” Walch and Sabey cite researchers who found that 30-60 minutes a day is a “moderate” amount of social media use for teenagers. Normal uses of social media for teenagers include socializing with friends, making relationships, creating their own identity, exerting their independence, and exploring their social world. Research also indicates that positive outcomes such as meaningful connections with friends and family and support from groups can be results of proper social media use. However, much research also focuses on the dangers associated with social media use as well, such as cyberbullying, verbal abuse from former partners, and the threat of online predators. Being aware of the positive and negative effects of social media, what can parents do to promote positive outcomes for their teenagers? Is restricting their social media use the answer?

Contrary to popular opinion, Walch and Sabey report that restricting teenagers’ social media use is not the best way to promote positive social media use. Research shows that restricting teenagers’ social media use causes teens to not feel trusted and can also limit their abilities to develop self-regulation skills, which can be related to the development of anxiety, depression, aggression, and internet addiction. So, if restricting teenagers’ social media use adds to these negative outcomes, what can parents do to promote positive social media use?

One of the most effective ways parents can help teenagers be wise social media users is to have conversations with their teenagers about what they encounter on social media so that teenagers themselves can learn to be “critical consumers of media.” Although not directly linked to it, emotional regulation skills can also be fostered in this environment of “active media monitoring” versus restrictive monitoring. Studies have found that when teenagers know how to work through their emotions in a healthy way, they are also better at monitoring their social media use and the amount of time they spend on it. This means that the best thing parents can do to promote positive social media use is to talk to their teens about social media content, which supports the development of self-regulation and enables teens to “navigate their social world, both online and off.”

To read the full article, go to “Parental Monitoring of Adolescent Social Media Use and Emotional Regulation.”

 To check out more articles on family issues, visit https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/familyperspectives/.

To Troll or Not to Troll: Millennials and Politics Today

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

What does trolling have to do with millennials’ political participation? Dr. Lynn Clark, communications professor at the University of Denver, kicked off the Fall 2019 Civic Engagement Research Conference with her lecture on “Growing up Tracked: How Millennials are Changing Politics by Harnessing Attention in a Society of Surveillance.” Dr. Clark discussed how young people today are combining digital media and civic literacy as they participate in the political process and advocate for change. This participation often takes the form of trolling and “soft trolling,” a term coined by Dr. Clark. Here are three things that you need to know about trolling and younger generations’ political participation:

Trolling is Not What You Think It Is

Dr. Clark defined trolling as “saying something online to upset as many people as possible using whatever linguistic or behavioral tools that are available.” However, when young people engage in trolling to participate in politics, they troll for a purpose, not just to be antagonistic. For example, they troll the trolls (call out people that slander them), troll the system by challenging its flaws, and engage in “soft trolling.”

“Soft Trolling”: A More Indirect Approach

“Soft trolling” refers to how youth are “calling attention to power dynamics” with their peers as the intended audience, not larger corporations or governments. Youth use this method to advocate for political change in a more indirect manner so that they will not be viewed as too antagonistic. An example Dr. Clark presented of soft trolling was a meme depicting a man playing tennis, swinging at tear gas instead of a ball. The creators of this meme were “making light of the situation” while also taking a certain political stance.

Sharing One’s Story

Young people are using social media to tell their stories and fight misrepresentation. Dr. Clark shared an example of a Senegalese Muslim high school student who created a TikTok video in response to the Netflix film “Tall Girl,” because she felt that her experience was ignored in the media’s narrative. This student and others are saying “my story is important and it’s not being validated here.” Dr. Clark further explains: “Rather than being framed in a way they don’t like, young people are utilizing media savvy to address their own concerns.”

Through trolling the trolls, trolling the system, and engaging in “soft trolling,” young people are combining their digital media and civic literacy to participate in politics. Because social media is emotionally charged in general, Dr. Clark ended her address with the following advice: “it is important for young people to figure out what they want to do and to see themselves as agentive [taking an active role] in some way” as they participate in politics through the use of social media.

Co-Founder of the Difficult Break-up Support Group Shares that Healing Comes Through Connections

“The most powerful catalyst for healing is making connections with people who have had similar experiences,” says Laura Waters Black, co-founder of the Difficult Break-up Support Group on BYU campus. Waters Black, a family studies major, started the group because of her experience with a broken relationship and because she “did not want other people to feel alone.” With help from a friend, Waters Black was able to start the support group, receiving additional assistance from Professor Haupt of the School of Family Life, who, Waters Black reports, “believed in me and saw value in the idea.”

At the time Waters Black had the idea to start the group, she was also taking Professor Haupt’s SFL 315 writing class, a course that encourages students to publish their work and coaches them through the process. Waters Black felt inspired to write about her experience with a broken engagement for a class assignment, because she had “felt marginalized and isolated at that time and wanted to help others” by telling her story. Writing about her experience proved impactful to Waters Black, who said, “I never thought I’d do public scholarship, but writing about my experience was transformative and took me to areas I’d never thought I’d be in.”

Organizing and joining in on sessions of the Difficult Break-up Support Group has also proved to be a transformative experience for Waters Black. The support group involves 10-week sessions, with therapists leading psychoeducational discussions on topics such as trust, shame, and ambiguous loss. Participants engage in deep interactions and confront challenges together. As someone who has gone through similar trials, Waters Black says that she can be a mentor figure in these sessions, showing these women that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Waters Black adds that the “most beautiful thing to see is when people with different experiences come together.” The group has included 20-year-olds and 60-year-olds, who are able to connect with one another despite their differences in age and life experience. Waters Black says that what has stood out to her from these group sessions is how the older women respect the pain of younger women. An older woman who experienced years of relationship challenges once comforted a 19-year-old who had a painful 6-month relationship by telling her: “Pain is pain for you, and I don’t think your pain is less than mine.” For Waters Black, the experience of creating and participating in the Difficult Break-up Support Group has been “healing for me in ways I didn’t think I needed.”

To learn about the importance of human connections in overcoming trauma, read Waters Black’s article here. Also, watch out for her upcoming article in the Ensign: “How a Broken Engagement Healed My Heart.”

Writing Westward Podcast: Exciting Stories from the North American West

Brenden Rensink, Producer and Host of the Charles Redd Center’s Writing Westward Podcast

With topics ranging from Native Studies to rural America to race and ethnicity, the Redd Center’s Writing Westward Podcast features conversations with writers who focus on the American West. With a new episode released each month, the podcast has recently passed its one-year anniversary mark. Brenden Rensink, the Associate Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, producer and host of the podcast, began the podcast “as a way for the Redd Center to engage with more scholars and give more authors a platform to share their work.” The Redd Center invites scholars to give lectures on campus, but Rensink found that there are more people to spotlight than there is time in the semester. The Writing Westward Podcast allows the Redd Center to feature more scholars in a unique way that reaches additional audiences. Rensink also adds: “It would be dishonest if I claimed it wasn’t also an excuse for me, personally, to sit and read interesting books.”

And the books featured on the podcast are interesting. Rensink reports that he tries to “choose topics that will appeal to academics and the general public.” Many of these topics fall under the umbrella category of history, literature, and poetry. Because the podcast is multidisciplinary, the series as a whole features a wide variety of subfields: Native Studies, the environment, rural America, immigration, race and ethnicity, memoir, and more. The authors of these works are renowned in their particular fields. As Rensink explains, “Guests have included many prominent scholars whose books have won many awards.” One of these authors is John Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Journalist, who wrote The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the American West. Another one of these authors is Tacey M. Atsitty, writer of Rain Scald: Poems, and recipient of multiple creative writing and poetry awards.

In addition to compelling topics and authors, a casual conversational style is a distinguishing characteristic of the podcast. Rensink says, “One of my guiding principles is to host a loose conversation that is flexible and goes where it will. Rather than stock Q&A, I like to allow us to wander. I think this makes for a more engaging listen.” Rensink reports that listeners’ response to the podcast has been “very positive,” and the Redd Center is continuing to work on attracting more and more listeners.

In the introduction to each episode, Rensink states that the episodes are meant to “inspire you to learn more about the North American West as a region as well as its peoples and environments, histories, and literature, and so forth” and to “provoke as many questions as they provide answers.” Join in on the conversations about the North American West and gain valuable insights and discoveries at http://www.writingwestward.org.

Exciting Archaeological Discoveries Made by Joint BYU-Jordanian Team

In a June, 2019 press release, the Ad-Deir Monument & Plateau Project (AMPP) revealed that a joint Brigham Young University-Jordanian team recently made groundbreaking archeological discoveries in Petra, Jordan.

These findings are important contributions to the overall mission of AMPP, which is to identify, map, excavate, study and restore the major ancient Nabataean water control and containment systems that were originally built to protect the Ad-Deir Monument (the Monastery)–the largest rock-cut façade in Petra from seasonal erosion.  AMPP’s archeological efforts in Petra began in 2013 with drone linked GPS photography and mapping of the entire Ad-Deir complex.

The press release reports that one of the most important discoveries of the 2019 Field Season was the uncovering of a huge deposit of whole and partially whole Nabataean pottery dating to circa 40 BCE to CE 350. This discovery was particularly monumental because as Dr. Cynthia Finlayson of BYU’s Anthropology Department and Director of the AMPP project explained, it is “one of the largest deposits of complete Nabataean pottery assemblages ever discovered in its original contexts in Petra.”

In the AMPP Press Release, BYU students also explained how retrieving and transporting the pottery to the AMPP lab for processing, along with their overall experience in Petra, had a lasting impact on their academic and professional growth.  MA Archaeology student Elizabeth Whisenhunt reported that it “has given me a whole new perspective on archaeology, its potential intensity, and processing levels.  I also really liked the dynamics of working with our local crew and learning about Jordanian culture.  Being immersed in this every day was very important to me.” Archeology undergraduate BA student Jake Hubbert added that it “gave me more professional experience as well as seeing the progression of a project long-term. Working with our local Jordanian crew is always exciting and fun.”

Among the other significant discoveries was discovery of “the ancient rock-cut entrance and exit ramp to the Great Circle itself,” which is “the world’s largest known rock-cut circular water containment pool,” and 400-500 pound stones that were a part of a “built dam wall” on its eastern side.  Also, south of the Great Circle’s Outer Ring Wall, MA Archeology student Josie Newbold found “an undisturbed burial” which “in Petra is always a rare event.” To learn more about the Field Schools offered in Archeology, visit the BYU Anthropology Department website.

Gerontology Students Get Hands-On Experience at Miami Jewish Health

An unexpected connection began between a Jewish care facility in Miami and the BYU Gerontology department when Dr. Marc Agronin, VP of Behavioral Health and Clinical Research at Miami Jewish Health (MJH), came to BYU to speak at the annual Russell B. Clark Gerontology Conference. The connection between the department and MJH led to a new internship program, which helps students earn a minor in gerontology, the study of old age and the process of aging. The BYU Gerontology department offers students the opportunity to earn the minor, which complements other majors. Four students minoring in gerontology recently returned from Miami, where they experienced a professionally and personally enriching internship at MJH.

The four interns had the opportunity to observe staff members at MJH and provide hands-on care. They lived on campus and alternated weekly between the various branches of the facility. One of the interns, Meagan Proffit, an exercise science major, reported that living on site was great, because she enjoyed “passing other guests and residents each day during meals, activities, and their ‘porchtalks’ near the front of the building which helped us build special connections with them and lifted our spirits as well as theirs each day.” Another intern, Grant Flindt, a biochemistry major, enjoyed learning about the different aspects of MJH, including entertaining and interacting with patients during the P.A.C.E. (new form of geriatric healthcare) week. Flindt found the P.A.C.E. week to be “one of my favorite weeks because the doctor we shadowed, was so willing to take us on and answer any question that popped in our heads. We got a good view at what a gerontologist/internist will deal with in the hospital, which was encouraging!”

Among the highlights of the internship for the students was their interactions with the staff and patients. Seth Smith, a neuroscience major, found that staff members “genuinely care about the geriatric population of Miami Jewish and about us…Dr. Agronin does everything he can to make our experience there specifically meaningful to each participant… he is dedicated to helping the interns.” Profitt added that they made many close connections with people, and that “many of them were asking if we could stay for longer, the whole summer if not a whole year. I felt deeply touched by the number of people who had that kind of response.”

Because of the connections they made and the practical knowledge of gerontology that they gained, the interns felt that their time at MJH impacted their future beyond what they had imagined. Mandy Gilmour, an exercise and wellness major, gratefully reported: “I can’t explain how much this [internship] was a blessing in my life to learn and grow from. I have gained knowledge that will help direct my future as well as continual service for the rest of my life. I have also made relationships with individuals that I will be able to take with me and carry through the rest of my life.”

Are robots stealing jobs? A BYU sociologist finds some answers

What do you think of when you hear the word “robot?” Do you think of inventions that will spur greater innovation and technological change, or of nearly-human machines that will use their combination of humanity and superiority to take over the world? Sociology professor Eric Dahlin understands that there are conflicting viewpoints on robots and the impact that they have on society today and in the future.

In his study on the effect of industrial robots on the job market in the US, Dahlin found that robots do not steal jobs from humans. Instead, using information about robots and jobs from 327 metropolitan cities in 2010 and 2015, he found that “a strong, positive relationship exists between robots and employment.” He discovered that an increase in these robots actually correlates with not only an increase in high-skill occupations, but an increase in middle-skill occupations that involve routine and manual tasks, which are the positions that people fear will become obsolete by the use of robotics. In reality, robots work alongside humans in these types of jobs, which actually increases the need for middle-skill laborers. Dahlin said his findings show “there is no statistical information that shows robotics have impacted middle-and low skill jobs.” While it is possible that low-skill jobs involving routine tasks could become the work of a robot, overall, the data shows that robots are not decreasing the need for humans in these positions.   

So if robots are not stealing jobs, what will be the relationship between robots and human jobs in the future? Dahlin explains: “My research does not indicate that robots and humans can work collaboratively in the future. My findings described what happened in the years 2010 and 2015, so anything could happen…However, a hopeful interpretation of my findings is that as robotic technology continues to improve…robots and humans could work in new, collaborative ways together in the future.”

To find out more about Eric Dahlin’s study on the impact of industrial robots on the US job market, read his article published in SAGE Journals, “Are Robots Stealing Our Jobs?”

Former College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Dean David Magleby Retires

The College of Family Home and Social Sciences would like to congratulate Dr. David Magelby, professor of Political Science and former Dean of the College on his retirement and outstanding academic and professional career. Professor Magleby taught political science at Brigham Young University from June 1981 to July 2019 and served as the dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences from 2001-2011. Although his last day was this week, on July 1, 2019, he gave his last lecture in December 2018. Department manager Carina Alleman recalled, “The students and teachers lined the hallway and applauded him as he left the classroom that day. It was pretty cool.”

On June 7th, 2019, the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (CSED) also showed appreciation for Magleby by holding a banquet in his honor. A scholarship has been created in his name, and those who will receive the award will be referred to as Magleby Fellows and will receive financial assistance based on academic merit. 

The political science department also honored Magleby in an article about him and his accomplishments in their summer 2019 edition of their newsletter, The Political Science Post. The article describes some of the many contributions that Magleby made to the field of political science during his time here at BYU:

“After coming to BYU as a professor, Magleby was named a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association. This distinction meant he worked for a year with the U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Robert C. Byrd. During that year Magleby provided staff support for the leader, focusing primarily on legislation to reform campaign finance.”

“Magleby is the author of several books. His first, Direct Legislation, is considered the seminal work on initiatives and referenda. Along with the other works Magleby has written, he is the lead editor of a series on presidential election finance, including Financing the 2016 Election. He has also written several works on issues related to soft money in campaigns. In 1990, he served on a bipartisan Senate task force on campaign finance reform and his book on the subject, The Money Chase, was published by the Brookings Institution. In addition, Magleby authors a best-selling American government textbook, Government by the People, which, as of early 2019, was in its 28th edition.”

Prior to joining the faculty of BYU, Magleby was a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Virginia. Magleby received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

To learn more about Dr. Magleby and his achievements, read the article in The Political Science Post’s summer 2019 edition.

Celebrating the life of a hero: Brent and Jennie Taylor Family Endowed Scholarship Fund

National and local media alike covered the life and death of Major Brent Taylor, an alumni of the BYU political science department, who passed away last November while deployed in Afghanistan. He had been a successful community leader as the mayor of North Ogden and a loving husband and father of seven children. To help his example and legacy live on, his wife, Jennie Taylor, has decided to create the Brent and Jennie Taylor Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.

As explained on the Major Brent Taylor Legacy Foundation website, the plan with the new scholarship is “to establish a memorial scholarship in Brent’s name at each of his collegiate alma maters–namely, Brigham Young University and the University of Utah… [there will be] one full-tuition undergraduate scholarship each year, awarded in perpetuity [to BYU]; one master’s and one doctoral candidate scholarship each year, awarded in perpetuity.”

Jennie Taylor decided to create the scholarship, because she wishes to continue Brent’s commitment to service. As she explains on the scholarship fund’s website: “It is our desire, as a family, to carry on Brent’s legacy of service, sacrifice and statesmanship in a way that inspires future students to likewise focus on the same. Our cities, communities, state and nation need more of the kind of service-leadership that Brent exemplified. There are many things Brent might have gone on to do with his professional and public-service life, had he had more years of life on earth. Now that he is no longer here to fulfill any such future roles of leadership, that torch must be passed on to the next generation.”

To donate to the Brent and Jennie Taylor Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, go to http://www.majorbrenttaylor.com/. Also, read the article featuring his story in the Political Science Post, the quarterly newsletter published by BYU’s political science department.