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Students watch as fireworks are set off in honor of the Class of 2015 in front of the Main Building on Sunday evening.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After University administration canceled the 132nd University-wide commencement Saturday because of weather and safety concerns, graduates took to social media and planned their own celebration.

Radio-television-film graduate Marshall Kistner said he started the Facebook event for the student-run commencement after he and many others were disappointed with the University's cancellation. Kistner said he posted on the Class of 2015 Facebook page Saturday night to see whether anyone wanted to go watch the fireworks before they were canceled, and that eventually sparked the unofficial commencement event.  

“Of course, that [the planned fireworks display Saturday] was canceled as well, so someone on my Facebook post said to start a Facebook event,” Kistner said.  “Within 2 hours of posting, there were almost 1,000 people invited, and many said they were attending."

Fireworks still lit the sky 10 p.m. Sunday, as the University planned.

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Kistner said Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky jumped on board with the event as it was being put together because of their three years together at the Texas Travesty, UT's student-run humor publication.

Communication studies graduate Ignacio Cruz said, since he is the first person in his family to graduate from college, he wanted commencement the way it was suppose to be.  However, Cruz said he was still excited about the unofficial commencement.

“I am so excited to be attending the unofficial commencement tonight,” Cruz said.  “It goes to show our unity as a campus.  Tonight it will be special — it’s a moment I’ve been waiting years for.”

Outgoing SG President Kori Rady gave a shorter version of his speech from the night before, and President William Powers Jr. came on short notice to give his final speech as president at commencement.

“I called President Powers’s spokesperson and told him needed Powers right away,” Rady said.  “To his credit, even though he was at a wedding, Powers came when we needed his help.” 

As Powers spoke, he said this event shows what UT students are all about. 

“I can’t believe the crowd we have tonight and the organization … this is what students at the University of Texas are all about,” Powers said.  “This tenure with you all has been the blessing of my life.  You all are the very best students in America.”

Students also listened to the jazz band, Interrobang, which was called up in the spur of the moment because of a band member’s friend. 

“Early on, a friend of [a band member] in communications asked him if we could perform for the School of Communications,” said Sung June Lee, who plays the trombone in the band.  “It was not until we got here that we realized we would be performing in front of the Tower.”

All the members in the band said this was the largest crowd they performed in front of, and the experience was surreal. 

Kistner said Saturday was heartbreaking for a lot of people, but the Class of 2015 did not need to end their college career like that.

“We managed to turn a negative into a massive positive,” Kistner said.  “The spirit of the Class of 2015 is unmatched, and I’m so proud to be a part of such an incredible group of new alums.”  

As part of their executive alliance campaign platform, President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu promised a Chili’s on campus. While there are no plans for a restaurant, the sit-down food chain is offering a coupon to UT students in honor of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu victory.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Over the course of their campaign to lead Student Government, Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu had several joking goals, including renaming the West Mall the South Mall, reducing the hours the Perry-Castañeda library is open and bringing a Chili’s Grill & Bar to campus, just to name a few. 

A few weeks into their term, the West Mall still faces west, and the library has remained open — but when it comes to Chili’s, the duo have actually made some progress.

Although Chili’s hasn’t established a restaurant at UT, the sit-down food chain is offering a coupon to UT students specifically in honor of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu win.  

“After learning they landed the top positions, we knew we had to do something special for those hungry Longhorns who wanted to bring a Chili’s restaurant to campus,” a Chili’s spokesperson said. “To celebrate the win, we put together an exclusive offer, so all UT students could raise a chip to the new student body president and vice president.”

That’s meant to be taken literally — the coupon offers UT students free chips and salsa, guacamole or queso if they purchase an adult-sized entrée.

“[Chili’s is] really excited that we included them in our playful platform during the campaign,” Rotnofsky, a Plan II and linguistics junior, said. “Students seem like they love it.”

Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Rotnofsky said he’s seen a lot of feedback from students about the coupon.

“On the Facebook post that we made, a lot of people were tagging their friends in what seem like invites to go to Chili’s,” Rotnofsky said. “I’ve been getting a lot of Snapchats and texts of things of people who are at Chili’s using the coupon.”

Chili’s also started an ad campaign about the coupon. They purchased sponsored advertisements on Facebook, with slogans such as, “Your new student government promised you Chili’s & they delivered. Sort of.” 

Journalism junior Karla Martinez said she’s enjoyed seeing Chili’s’ interaction with the alliance. Following Rotnofsky and Mandalapu’s win, Chili’s congratulated the two on their Facebook page.

“I was definitely impressed by the way that Chili’s responded to the RotMan campaign,” Martinez said. “I didn’t think [Chili’s] would do anything.”

Other Texas universities, including Baylor University and UT-San Antonio, have a Chili’s-to-go on their campuses. Mandalapu said there are no current plans to bring an actual Chili’s to UT. 

“Chili’s embodies the American spirit,” Mandalapu said. “It’s universal in America. We really just joke about it. … There are a lot more issues that are pertinent on campus to address, but, in our spare time, we’d love to make something happen.” 

Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Blair (Shelley Hennig) and her friends are puzzled by the anonymous caller in their Skype chat.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Ghosts have leveled up from haunting houses to haunting the internet in “Unfriended,” a found-footage horror film set entirely on one computer screen. The story revolves around a group of friends’ interactions on Google, iMessage, Skype and Facebook as they talk to each other even while being tormented by a ghost. The concept of cyber-haunting and the webcam gimmick sound dumb, but “Unfriended” takes advantage of its central premise with surprising cleverness. 

The film opens with the main character, Blair (Shelley Hennig), watching the suicide video of her deceased cyber-bullied classmate, Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman). Blair’s boyfriend, Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), calls her on Skype, and the rest of their friends soon join them.

When a mysterious seventh person joins the call using Laura’s account, the friends assume the mystery user is a glitch or an internet troll. When the stranger threatens to kill them if they leave the call and begins to reveal how they have secretly sabotaged each others’ lives, the teens realize the entity is Laura’s vengeful spirit. One by one, Laura attempts to brutally murder each friend as their relationships with each other crumble apart.

“Unfriended” demonstrates a striking understanding of how modern audiences actually use the Internet. Even as she’s Skyping her friends, Blair simultaneously sends messages, chooses new songs to play on Spotify and browses Facebook. It isn’t distracting — it’s realistic. 

Director Levan Gabriadze and screenwriter Nelson Greaves exploit audiences’ familiarity with the online world by twisting the familiar and innocuous sounds of Facebook notifications and incoming Skype calls. Under their direction and script, the sounds become malevolent alarms.

The film starts off slow, but once it gains momentum, it develops into a roller coaster ride fraught with thrills and jump scares. The actors do an excellent job arguing, screaming and crying as Laura’s revenge unfolds. It’s unfortunate that Gabriadze poorly presents the characters’ deaths. Their webcam feeds glitch and freeze during those scenes, making it hard to understand what is going on. 

The script also has its fair share of purely humorous moments. The characters act like real teens, teasing one another and making dirty comments. Laura occasionally takes control of Blair’s Spotify account and plays happy-go-lucky tunes with titles and lyrics that ostensibly match the events on screen but clash with the horror that is actually unfolding. Some of the friends’ arguments draw a few laughs, too.

“Unfriended” suggests that the line between the bullies and the bullied is blurrier than it seems. All the characters appear to be genuinely nice at the start of the movie. Eventually, Laura shatters the audience’s perception of each character by charging them with various acts of lies and deceit. Each teen is equally a victim and a perpetrator of bullying. “Unfriended” illustrates the idea that anyone can bully someone else and asks people to consider how their actions affect others. Some parts of “Unfriended” don’t work. Blair relies heavily on a sketchy website’s instructions for how to interact with angry ghosts, rendering her just another dumb teen in a long line of dumb teens in horror movies. Whenever the characters try to flee Laura, they have to take their laptops so their webcams can stay on their frightened faces. It’s an unwelcome reminder that we’re watching a movie, and these people aren’t real.

“Unfriended” provides some effective scares and thoughtful social commentary throughout its brisk 82-minute runtime. It’s an innovative take on the found-footage genre worth watching. After it’s over, the ring of a Skype call might make chills run down your spine. 

  •  
  • Title: Unfriended
  • Running time: 82 minutes
  • MPPA rating: R
  • Score: 7/10
Photo Credit: Lex Rojas | Daily Texan Staff

As students without cars prepare to head home for the weekends or holiday breaks, many turn to UT Facebook groups, asking to tag along with people on their journeys home. Posts such as “Is anyone going to Dallas this weekend? Will pay for gas!” often flood students’ Newsfeeds. 

Students have been discovering new ways to find convenient and inexpensive transportation for decades. According to an article published in The Daily Texan on Feb. 10, 1972, students in the 1970s filled bulletin boards and dorm walls with ride requests.

In the article, reporter Jamie Carter described how the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity set up “rider boards” in the second-floor lobby of the Union and the lobby of Jester Center. The service fraternity mounted maps of the United States on the walls and separated them into 14 sections. 

Students seeking transportation to anywhere in the U.S. filled out white tags with their names, destinations and phone numbers and placed them on the map. Drivers could browse the board and contact prospective passengers or fill out separate orange cards to advertise rides. 

“Will help with gas and driving,” one note read. “I will also provide amusement and conversation, free of charge.”

A student requesting a ride to Virginia said he needed “to take much stuff. Hope you have a van or station wagon,” according to the article.

Ride-givers who filled out cards had their own offers and requests. According to the article, a driver named Paul wrote, “I love women,” and promised to “play guitar and sing.” One male student simply wrote that he “would like any female” to join him for spring break in Midland.

Giving rides to complete strangers gave some students apprehensions, according to the article. While students today can creep through people’s Facebook profiles before accepting or offering rides, this wasn’t an option back then. One student, Barbara Thornton, who offered to drive passengers to California, expressed her safety concerns about the system in the article.

“It’s kind of a risky thing,” Thornton said in the article. “You don’t get to see their faces until they ride with you.”

Students criticized the system when the boards eventually became overcrowded and not enough needs were being met. One student put a note on the board pointing out the system’s flaws.

“The cards become stacked so thick that those on the bottom of the pile have no chance of getting rides,” the student wrote. “Chance determines who gets a ride. I come back and put my card on the top of the stack every day.”

Facebook groups and other transportation options, such as Megabus, Uber and Lyft, have eliminated the need for rider boards, but students today still feel the urge to head home every now and then. One rider board participant summed up this desire in a note she posted.

“Whenever you’re going to my hometown, please call,” the woman wrote. “I would like to get there sometime this semester.”

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Public relations seniors Gabby and Allie Byers take the “identical” part of their status as identical twins seriously. The sisters share a Facebook profile and the same class schedule, and sometimes, they even dream in sync.

The twins’ unconventional relationship serves as the subject for MFA graduate student Shelby Hadden’s new documentary, “Her & Me.”

Last year, while perusing the Internet in search of a subject for her documentary, Hadden came across a Daily Texan article about the Byers twinsThe identical twins choose to dress alike, share the same friends and schedule their entire lives together, including mealtimes and work shifts. Their story instantly intrigued Hadden, whose grandfather was also an identical twin.

“Everybody is fascinated by twins,” Hadden said. “People who aren’t twins want to know what it’s like. Everybody has a million questions.”

Hadden began filming her 15-minute documentary last September in hopes of providing some answers. She sought out interviews with sets of identical twins all over Austin. Hadden said she used interviews with the other twins in between scenes of the Byers to further explore issues of human connection, independence and family.

Although the Byers sisters said they occasionally face backlash for choosing to dress identically, they said they simply feel more comfortable living in sync. In the first two years of high school, the twins tried to lead separate lives, with different wardrobes and schedules, but they said it didn’t feel right.

“It may look kind of funny from the outside,” Allie said. “But once you start talking to us, we are super normal and sane.”

In an attempt to understand how and why the Byers sisters choose to live such closely paralleled lives, Hadden spent hours filming and researching. She filmed “little moments” — the twins playing mini golf with friends — and “big moments,” such as Thanksgiving with the Byers family. In order to capture the sisters’ more subtle moments of teamwork, Hadden filmed them picking their daily outfits and straightening the hard-to-reach parts of each other’s hair.

“It’s really amazing to be able to enter someone’s life and share their story,” Hadden said.

Hadden said she has been a documentary filmmaker since the fourth grade when she made her first film, “A Cat’s Life,” a comparison of the life of an indoor cat to an outdoor cat. She’s moved on to human subjects, but documentary work remains her passion because she said there is no predicting what will happen next.

”It’s a really fun process when you can’t anticipate the magic that you are going to find,” Hadden said. “You’re constantly learning.”

“Her & Me” was Hadden’s first experience working with a film crew. She said her director of photography and producer, MFA graduate student Tom Rosenberg and radio-television-film senior Avalon Gordon, respectively, helped ease this transition.

The crew began shooting in September and finished in December. “Her & Me,” fully funded from a successful Kickstarter campaign that wrapped up March 31, will premiere May 17 at the radio-television-film end-of-semester screening. Hadden said she plans to submit it to film festivals in the future.

After seeing the rough cut, the twins, who worried they weren’t interesting enough or that the film would portray them incorrectly, said “Her & Me” stays true to who they are.

“So far, people are reading it differently,” Hadden said. “It makes people look at their own relationships and ask themselves why they are so quick to judge [the twins].”

From left, UT students Julia Waicberg, Kyla Harrison, Katherine Allen and Hannah Kelly are collaborating to promote and expand the music app JamFeed. The app streamlines music-related news into one easy-to-use platform.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

Your favorite artist tweets a little tidbit about a highly anticipated album or single. Your heart starts beating rapidly as you scramble to find any information about this potentially life-changing musical masterpiece. All of a sudden, your newsfeed swallows up the precious tweet, never to be seen again. 

That’s where JamFeed comes in. JamFeed is a 6-month-old free music app created by two brothers, Cameron and Tyler Gibson. With the help of UT students, the Gibsons developed the app, which places all music-related news onto one convenient platform.

JamFeed operates much like Team Stream, an app that notifies its users about the current status of their favorite sports teams. In JamFeed’s case, the app notifies users about album releases, concerts, tour dates and events. 

The Gibson brothers created the app when they realized how cumbersome it was to find current information about artists or bands they listened to. Updates on newly released singles or last-minute concerts were quickly lost in their Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds, making it difficult to keep up with the latest music news. 

The app has nearly 3,000 users and is the official app for Euphoria Music and Camping Festival, an annual, outdoor alternative music festival, which is taking place April 10-12 in Austin. The Gibsons’ main objective is to gain exposure and users  for JamFeed in the next few years and partner with local bands to promote the Austin music scene. 

Julia Waicberg, advertising sophomore and JamFeed social media intern, said she’s excited to see JamFeed gain traction at Euphoria and finds volunteering for JamFeed worthwhile.

“It’s not a paid internship, but it’s so rewarding still,” Waicberg said. “Each good thing that happens is because we put in the effort. Katherine Allen, mechanical engineering and Plan II freshman and the JamFeed Kickstarter campaign coordinator, said she hopes to reach potential users during promotional events at SXSW.

“For SXSW, we’re having a party that will host some local bands,” Allen said. “We’ll be in JamFeed shirts passing out JamFeed stickers. Hopefully we can get a few artists signed on.”

Aside from aggregating music news and notifying users of upcoming tours and events, JamFeed shares original content, such as artist profiles and Q-and-A’s, with its users. Bands that partner with JamFeed will share exclusive content about secret shows or new music.

Hannah Kelly, journalism and Plan II freshman and JamFeed’s content writer, said the app fills a void that Facebook and Twitter aren’t equipped to fill.

“With Twitter, it’s just really convoluted,” Kelly said. “You’re following so many things, and it’s hard to actually see what you want, and then on Facebook, it’s really expensive for artists to get all of their news out to their users.”

Allen said she views JamFeed as a gateway of opportunity into the technology startup industry. She said organizations such as the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency, which introduced her to JamFeed, give students a chance to explore innovative business ventures that otherwise wouldn’t have been as accessible. 

“It’s an amazing learning opportunity,” Allen said. “You’re not stuck in a cubicle. You’re not running getting donuts. You’re really making a difference, and you know if you weren’t there, then this thing wouldn’t be running.”

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

State Rep. Molly White (R-Belton) filed a bill that, if passed, would allow private business owners to refuse business to people based on the owner's religion or on “conscientious grounds.” 

HB 2553, filed Friday, would edit the Texas Business and Commerce code, and, if passed, would prevent private business owners from being compelled to provide goods and services that are “in violation of that business owner’s sincerely held religious or personal beliefs.” It would also remove owner liability for refusing goods or services based on religious beliefs or conscientious grounds.

On Jan. 29, Texas Muslim Capitol Day, White posted a controversial Facebook status asking Muslim visitors to publicly pledge allegiance to the United States.

“I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws,” White wrote in a public Facebook post. “We will see how long they stay in my office.” 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anika Agarwal and Sammy Minkowitz | Daily Texan Staff

The Election Supervisory Board suspended two Student Government candidates, University-wide representative candidate Anika Agarwal and Liberal Arts representative candidate Sammy Minkowitz, from campaigning for two days.

In a majority opinion, the Board concluded that Agarwal and Minkowitz violated the election code of “prohibited association” by showing support for other candidates. 

Graduate school representative candidate Katherine Jensen submitted a complaint to the Board, saying Agarwal solicited votes on behalf of Minkowitz via social media. In the complaint, Jensen said Agarwal’s support of Minkowitz on Facebook showed a clear collaboration between the two campaigns because Minkowitz did not “untag” herself in Agarwal’s endorsement photo in the two days following the original post.

“Sammy and Anika were kind of confused on whether they were associated,” Molina said. 

Agarwal said Minkowitz asked her to make her campaign photo Agarwal’s profile picture on Facebook, and Agarwal instead shared the photo on her Facebook wall. Agarwal said she did not consider her actions to be co-campaigning because she did not share the photo within her campaign page. 

“I didn’t really see it as co-campaigning,” Agarwal said. “It was a miscommunication and forgetting how open Facebook can be.”

Minkowitz said she had similar misunderstandings as to what co-campaigning meant. 

“I thought of co-campaigning as putting two candidates’ names on the same poster, two candidates speaking together or two candidates posting a campaign photo with both faces,” Minkowitz said. “I didn’t think I was co-campaigning, and nobody told me what I was doing wrong.”

Jensen also said Minkowitz showed public support for University-wide representative candidate Jonathan Dror. On Facebook, Minkowitz clicked that she was going to the event “Vote for Jonathan Dror,” and she also liked his Facebook page. The Board found that Dror was not in violation of the code.

According to the election code, candidates can not support other candidates unless the candidates are running together in an Executive Alliance campaign for Student Government president and vice president.  

“We take the prohibited association clause very seriously,” Board chair Nick Molina said. “We don’t want any students to get the idea that two candidates can run together.”

In their resolution, the Board said Agarwal was in direct violation of the election Code and Minkowitz received undue benefits from the prohibited association. Both candidates are suspended from campaigning between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday. 

“Except in cases of a bona fide executive alliance as provided for in this code, no candidate is allowed to contribute financially or provide any other form of tangible support, including but not limited to campaign materials, to another candidate’s campaign,” the code says.

In addition to a temporary ban from campaigning, the Board required that Agarwal and Minkowitz no longer spend 10 percent of their total available campaign funds for their respective campaign races. University-wide representative candidates are allowed to spend $612, and college representative candidates may spend up to $408. 

“The way that I see it, it’s meant to not necessarily hurt the candidates. It’s meant to level the playing field,” Molina said. 

The two will be able to campaign again Monday night in time for the University-wide representative debate. 

Humans of the Forty Acres is comprised of a group of students who spotlight an individual on campus every day of the week. The blog has a large following through its Facebook page, where the group posts photographs and quotes from the students, faculty and staff they encounter.
Photo Credit: Mariana Gonzalez | Daily Texan Staff

Every Sunday afternoon, the Humans of the Forty Acres team walks around campus getting to know seven random strangers. The only things they bring: a camera, a recorder, and a couple of prepared interview questions.  

Humans of the Forty Acres, a photo blog which Jordan Cope, international relations and liberal arts honors freshman, Daniel Orr, classics and Plan II freshman and Gauthier Fally, economics freshman, founded operates like its namesake blog, Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York. The founders post one picture and an accompanying quote per day on Facebook to spotlight people around campus. The project began three months ago when the founders realized it might potentially take off on a large campus like UT. Humans of Forty Acres now has more than 900 “likes” on Facebook.

“It just seemed like everyone’s on social media here, it could have a big following, and it’d be a fun project to do,” said Cope. “So I approached my other co-founders, and I was like, ‘How would you guys be interested in something like Humans of the Quad?’”

Humans of the Forty Acres did start smaller — as Humans of the Quad. It focused mainly on students who lived within the Honors Quad — Carothers, Andrews, Blanton and Littlefield dormitories. As the Facebook page became more popular, the team decided to change the page’s name to attract a larger audience base. After switching to the new name a week ago, Humans of the Forty Acres now features students from across the University. 

Parth Kalaria, business honors and pre-med freshman and the page’s webmaster, said the team has already seen more diversity and variety in subjects’ responses. 

“Given the fact that UT isn’t a small, private college — it’s a big, large state university — the only way people are going to have a sense of what others are like around them is through forums like this,” Kalaria said. 

Orr said the team aims to promote cohesion among UT students, staff, fans and alumni. 

“We’re trying to create a community,” Orsaid said. “We’re trying to use this as a form of coalescence.”

Fally said he believes the job encourages stepping out of one’s comfort zone. 

“I think also the message is, it’s really not that hard to meet people,” Fally said. “It’s a lot easier than you’d think to meet
new people.” 

Saniya Walawalkar, design freshman and one of the team’s photographers, said that her favorite interactions happen when the interviewee forgets that the camera is there, making for a more candid and honest shot. 

“That’s when you know they’ve relaxed conversationally — when they don’t care that I’m snapping pictures of them,” Walawalkar said. “At the end of the day, we’re aiming for genuine, which comes with imperfections.”

Although they have had many successful interviews, the members of the team said they still experience anxiety when approaching potential interviewees.

“In all honesty, it’s like asking a person to dance,” Cope said. “You don’t want to do it, but you want to do it, and you’ve got to just put everything aside and go for it … and sometimes we get rejected. And we go crying on the other side of the room.”

 

Jenny Rice, a writing, rhetoric and digital media professor at the University of Kentucky, lectures about modern-day conspiracy theories in the Texas Union on Friday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

Modern-day conspiracy theories materialize from vast amounts of hyper-specific information gathered on the Internet, Jenny Rice, writing, rhetoric, and digital media professor at the University of Kentucky, said Friday in a talk at the Union.

Rice said “archival magnitude,” or the overwhelming amounts of information conspiracy theorists possess on controversial events, allows the theorists to easily view events through different perspectives. Conspiracy theorists known as “truthers” doubt widely-accepted theories about how major events unfolded, including events such as 9/11, Rice said.

“As I began to interview 9/11 truthers and joined Facebook groups devoted to 9/11 truth, as they call it, I very quickly found myself drowning in details, information and images and texts that circulated across these various groups,” Rice said. “The archive in conspiracy discourse is huge and also microscopic, often composed of time-lapsed images and still frames in order to give a second-by-second analysis.”

Rice said the Boston Marathon bombing is an example of an event that provided the “big data” theorists can collect on terrorist attacks. The marathon bombing, which took place in April 2013, killed three people and injured over 200.

“Such fine-grain attention to detail was seen in the truther community that sprung up overnight after the Boston Marathon bombing,” Rice said. “Many of the postings in online sites like Reddit and Facebook included intensive archival work.”

Rice said a distrust of the government often provides an underlying foundation for conspiracy theories, as evidenced by the Boston Marathon bombing.

“[Conspiracy theorists believe] the bombing was a false flag, which was perpetuated by the federal government in order to clamp down on civil liberties and take away guns,” Rice said. “The version of conspiracy is almost besides the point. Secrecy is at work. It’s nefarious. It must be revealed.”

Teddy Albiniak, a rhetoric and language doctoral student, said Rice’s discussion of big data opened his eyes to ideas he hadn’t previously considered.

“She was mentioning that the process of accumulation brings a certain type of enjoyment. That was one of the things I was taking out of it. To think about how processes are affected, I think, is integral to the ways we can kind of experience the world,” Albiniak said. 

Sarah Frank, a rhetoric and history doctoral student, said the lecture overlapped with her doctoral work in history. 

“I’ve been studying this woman who writes about doing history as mapping terrain, and she’s constantly gathering evidence to expand the map, and so what really clicked in the lecture for me was that the map could expand infinitely as you gather and accumulate more data,” Frank said.