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Bowen 1 Krystal Bowen Discourse Community November 21,2012 Professor Wolcott English 1101

University of Central Florida College Democrats is it a discourse community?


When we are born we are automatically placed into communities of practice which include; religious, economic and social standing. Yet we choose academic communities based upon our own personal interest, and goals. That is why the concept of a discourse community is complex and abstract in nature, because it is not always simple to identify what a discourse community is; they could either be communities of practice, academic, and or professional communities. What factors should they have to be to classified as a discourse community? And do all communities have to share the same components? According to Ann Johns discourse communities focuses on texts, languages, and lexis that enables members throughout the world to maintain their goals, regulate their membership while communicating efficiently with one another. Pg 500. Yes we can. and Keep Moving Forward. are slogans used by the College Democrats to convey their point of unity while making you feel a part of the group as your walking around campus or come across their Facebook page. As I began to study their group I instantly identified this group as a discourse community based on Ann Johns definition. There was large value placed on the vernacular and texts that were

Bowen 2 used; acronyms such as DNC (Democratic National Committee) and OFA (Obama/ Organizing for America) was very common, and in order for me to truly understand everything that was being said in the meetings and throughout conversations with members I had to go on there webpage and learn their lingo. Another component that coincides with Ann Johns definition is that they communicate with other member throughout the world using the same terms allowing them to be a member of the larger discourse community called the CDA (College of Democrats of America). I chose to observe this community because I was particularly interested in seeing if this successful campus organization was in fact a discourse community while learning more about its members, goals and purpose. Throughout my observation process I learned that not only were they a discourse community but that they were also apart of a larger one. Unveiling to me that some communities are apart of larger ones in order to achieve there goal more effectively, because if we didnt have our own Democratic Club on campus the impact would not have been as powerful throughout the election or with their allied clubs (clubs on campus that they continuously work together with to spread the word and produce successful events). The association with the university to the Democratic Political party makes controversial topics less intimidating and overwhelming to students who are just now exercising their rights to vote. Allowing the purpose of this discourse community to be fulfilled which are educating voters on the issues, gaining votes for democratic politician and welcoming a continuous flow of new members. Swales Criteria

Bowen 3 According to John Swales in order for a group to be labeled as a discourse community they must fulfill his six characteristics; broadly agreed set of common goals, a mechanism of intercommunication among its members, use its participatory mechanisms primarily to participate to provide information and feedback, utilize and hence posses one or more genres in the communicate furtherance of its aims, has acquired some specific lexis, threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise. It was a good guideline to use while deciphering whether or not this was a discourse community, and understanding what exactly a discourse community was. The UCF College Democrats has a unified goal that is published on all forms of the way they communicate whether on their webpage, Facebook, or at their table in front of the student union. They make it a vital point to get across what their purpose is overall to new and old members, especially since every month they have a new initiative. For example November is Hunger and Homelessness month and they use all there sources they advertise it, and also what they are doing in the community to help such as a can food drive and educating downtown Orlando about homelessness through signs. Swales next rules require a consistent form of communication through members in the community the democrats use social networking sites, their weekly newsletter and weekly meetings to communicate with one another. They also take part in participatory mechanisms through there partnership with other clubs and events that they produce ideally for club members, so if one does not commonly attend the meeting and activities they would miss out on a significant purpose of the group which is building relationships with other people and getting the necessary information to spread the word. Being a discourse community that relies heavily on

Bowen 4 communication they make good use of resources such as flyers, buttons, phone call scripts, and newsletter called swag/chum (political goodies, such as buttons, bumper stickers and posters). As a result of being such a large discourse they have formed their own lexis that allows them to stay unified and achieve their purpose. Their common terminology is a main component that differentiates this community from many others but it unites the members as a facet of this discourse community. The last major relevance of Swales criteria is a major purpose of this community because they rely on new members to keep the progress and the growth of this organization alive. The UCF college democrats were able to meet all the necessary requirements to be classified as a discourse community under Swales criteria but if other clubs do not does that indicate that they are not? Methodology/Observation In order for me to acquire the information needed for me to decipher whether or not they were a discourse community I had to immerse myself in the activities of the club by attending there regular meetings in the Student Union on Tuesdays at 7:00pm and having various conversing with members of the club and their president who holds authority over them. To ensure the accuracy of the information that I was collecting I tried to remain a complete bystander at the first meeting which was on Election night. Even though I attempted to keep myself separated from them they were very welcoming and willing to educate me on what exactly was going on. On election night it was more of a celebration filled with anticipation and sporadic chanting of Four More Years than their typical meeting. Prior to the airing of the counted ballots they aired Road to November 6 from Barack Obamas website live stream from Iowa convention the day

Bowen 5 before it order to revisit the last major thing he did he the hope of trying to get more votes in an influential state. On that night the club was slightly divided, half of its members were in one room watching the election updates on a large teleprompter while in another room others were calling last minute voters to get their vote in up-state Florida and along the West Coast. Despite what they were doing all the members were working together, reminiscing about some of the activities they had partake in to get them to this point. They continued educating people who came to the meeting simply because they knew it was going to be more of a event tonight, due to the election, and informed them more about the typical meetings and what they do. As the night progressed they had asked me whether or not I would like to assist in calling potential voters, and that was a new experience because I have never worked at a call bank before. During the calling process I learned that this discourse community relied heavily on it lexis and genre because I had to have some of the terminology explained to me, while gaining understanding of where the phone call script originated. A member of the club was explaining to me the difference between the kind of votes electoral and popular, and was listing all of the important states and what was required for President Obama to win. Not only did they pay attention to the presidential election they were also acutely aware of the other minor elections and were commenting on them while attempting to determine who would win it overall. At the end of the night it was a euphoric reaction of elation when it was concluded that President Obama won due to all the work they had done. At the next weeks meeting they were still high from the victory. On the teleprompter they had in bold letter below the Angry Donkey (the UCF College democrats logo developed by their summer 2010 president) that sated Yes we did!.

Bowen 6 After discussing the conclusion of the election they began to reminisce about there journey and the activities they did from the van rides to voting polls to getting people to register to vote. After that they moved on and began discussing how November was Hunger and Homelessness month and what activities they were going to do such as the canned food drive and the making of the signs to add awareness to homelessness. At the conclusion of the meeting the president informed every one of the upcoming the soccer game (a fun club activity were the compete as the Anger Donkeys 2) and the Diva Invasion even that was held by the LGBT/Q, which is one of their allied clubs. After that was said they all broke up into group and started making signs for Fridays visit to downtown Orlando to teach people about the level of homelessness occurring in America. Whenever a student wants to become affiliated with an academic discourse community they commonly have to make sizeable sacrifices to do both because they both require time, and energy. According to Ann Johns cost of affiliation is making considerable sacrifices to be affiliated with an academic discourse community. Members of this discourse community similarly face the same struggle because most of their member out reaches and informational activities are down throughout the day. So instead of take a nap after class they have to spend that time outside transporting votes to polls, or waking up early to educate people about homelessness, which is one of the costs of affiliation that they experience. Both school and the college democrats require a lot of time and sometimes conflict with one another and balancing both is a struggle that members aim to balance in order to succeed in both. Discussion

Bowen 7 Throughout the observation process I learned that the University of Central Florida College Democrats is a discourse community that meets all of Swales criteria and fits Mirabellis definition. This discourse community is known for its various text used for sparking an automatic reaction from its audience or to serve a particular purpose. In particular the phone script that they use to recite to potential voters. To begin it requires particular access information in order to view it on votebuilder.com. When the script pops up you must be on the phone that is connected to your account, you have to wait for the name to pop up in tab on the right hand side, then you must address them in order to uncover whether or not they fit into and of the radio button classification on the left side of the screen; if they do you will automatically be placed through to the next caller. Even though it is known that you have to check it off it is not told, also you do not have to check off whether or not it is the person who picked up the phone because you simply follow the script. I subliminally just followed unwritten directions because that is what you ought to do. After inputting their name you make them aware of whom you are and were youre from. Then you reinstate that theyre are a supporter of President Obama, and if not, you have to mark it in an option tab on the right side marking whether or not they are Democratic or Republican. The script informed me that they are only contacting registered voters, who live in that county/state. Next they asked them whether or not theyre going to vote on November 6th and input the response in another option tab. While in addition offering them the option to receive text messages with important campaign information. Depending on the answer to the prior question you were able to tell them either were their polling location is located or give them the importance of voting. The script even offers information on what to do if the caller is undecided or leans

Bowen 8 towards Romney. After reading and executing the script to potential voters it is obvious to me that there are apart of a larger discourse community because it is very structured and is formatted for efficiency, while attaining the purpose of learning whether or not there going to vote and if not educate them on why they should and whom to do so for. This format does allow for participation by not only the caller but also the person who picks up the phone because you are not obliged to follow it directly it is a guideline that allows for a discourse to occur.

In the end the information I gathered has validated that the UCF College Democrats are a discourse community. From the various genres I have collected which includes a Voting Script (Appendix C), flyers (Appendix D), and buttons (Appendix E) it not only shows their various methods of communication but, also that everyone is welcome to participate. Their purpose is simply to educate and gain new members while fulfilling there various causes; even putting there lexis on a public forum which would give anyone the ability to get acquainted. Within the community the president has a lot of authority because everyone looks to her for guidance; however everyone else is equally just as important because without them make of there goals would not be feasible. She places a lot of value on the member by creating various activities to keep them together. Through there various modes of communication it is easy to learn of the goals because it is clearly depicted on each source so that you are aware and might somehow decide to take part in attain it. It goes to show that even though I am uneducated in politics that I am welcome in the democratic meetings. I could go there and learn while making a impact on issues that affect also. It is also a new way to meet new people as a freshman in

Bowen 9 college because they intermingle with other clubs so Im to get involved with other clubs as well.

Work Citied
"College Democrats at UCF | Facebook." Facebook. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <https://www.facebook.com/DemsUCF>. Eskamani, Ida V. "College Democrats at UCF." College Democrats at UCF. Mystic Fox Productions, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://www.demsucf.com/getinvolved/know-your-lingo>. Swales, John. What is Writing. Writing about Writing: A College Reader. Boston. Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. 466-480.Print

Bowen 10 Tony Mirabelli. What is Writing. Writing about Writing: A College Reader. Boston. Bedford/St.Martins, 2011. 538-555.Print

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