Thursday, December 11, 2008

Residents Speak: Groups 9, 10, 11 and 12

This past week the residents speak groups have found themselves in somewhat of a panic, scrambling to make sure they have acquired sufficient interviews before departing for winter vacation. The recent emergence of clearer guidelines and specifications for what their final projects must include have left the students frustrated, wishing they had known the requirements at the onset of the project. Two points of contention have arisen specifically. First, the students must participate in interviews in their specified cities or face missing out on receiving credit for a section of the assignment. Second, even students who did participate in CBLI organized interviews will have to conduct further interviews due to the insufficient amount of interviews with residents they were able to attain.

The first point has been expressed by the resident speak groups through emails and discussed in group meetings. They wish that they could have been made aware of the requirement that each student must participate in interviews earlier in the semester, especially because they were given the impression that it was unnecessary for all students to conduct the field work (and literally impossible because the CBLI organized field trips set limits on the number of representatives from each group). The students claim that they would have made more of an effort to visit their specified city earlier on if they had know that such participation was mandatory. Because many of them are preparing to leave campus and travel home for winter vacations, it will be hard for them to organize interview trips to their respective cities, especially for those students who do not live close to Princeton or their respective cities.

The second point is more specific to the New Brunswick and Newark group members, who even after going on their CBLI field trips will have to make another trip to their cities because they were unable to secure enough interviews. The New Brunswick group was sent to a food pantry where only heads of local food providing agencies were present and there were no residents to be found or interviewed. While the interviews they conducted with the agency heads will add to their final project, they will still need to make time to secure interviews with actual New Brunswick residents so to meet the requirements for their papers. The Newark group encountered a similar problem in which they were dropped off at a location to conduct fieldwork where no residents were present. They were able switch locations, but because of delays earlier in the day, only secured four interviews. They do not believe that four interviews will be sufficient to base their entire research project on. They have tentatively scheduled an independent trip into Newark for this Friday in hopes of conducting more research.

Ultimately, while inconvenient and frustrating, the students in the residents speak group need more interviews in order to complete their final projects. While it will be more demanding and require them to make more of an effort, it is by no means an impossible feat. Hopefully, in the next few days the groups will be able coordinate further research. If actual fieldwork proves to be unfeasible due to the last minute nature of the endeavor, referencing previous interviews and findings or conducting phone interviews have been proposed as alternatives for those group members who have not yet had the chance to personally investigate resident opinions about food.