Daily Digest: Americans in Egypt, women and Wikipedia, students against color lines

by Taryn Wobbema

Happy Monday morning. While snow continues to fall outside my window and I look forward to a long wait for a bus, here is your Daily Digest for January 31, 2011.

While Egyptian protestors hit the streets in Cairo for the seventh day, study-abroad officials are trying to find a way to keep safe the U.S. students who are studying there. The U.S. State Dept. issued a travel warning yesterday: don’t go to Egypt. If you’re in Egypt, abide by the curfew, avoid demonstrations and leave as soon as you safely can. Problem is, the airport has to follow the 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew, so flights are being canceled and people are stranded in the airports. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, American University – where about 500 U.S. students are currently studying – administrators have been contacting parents and schools over the weekend to assure them the students are taken care of. The cancellation of the Internet has been problematic.

Wikipedia is looking for more female contributors. A recent study of the online encyclopedia found that contributions by women make up a mere 13 percent of total contributions to the site. Wikimedia Foundation – which controls the site – has set a goal to increase female contributions to 25 percent by 2015. Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, told the New York Times it isn’t about “diversity for diversity’s sake.” It’s about people’s crumbs. “Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table,” she said. “If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb.”

The Times also wrote an interesting piece about mixed race students in Maryland who make up the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association – a group that creates community for students who refuse to let society’s color lines fit them into a single category. With trends like “One in seven new marriages is between spouses  of different races or ethnicities,” mixed race Americans are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., according to Pew research. Optimists look at increased “blending of the races” and see a potential transcendence of the established color lines. But grouping all multiracial people together also kind of maybe could cause the same problems as grouping any racial groups together (Asian Americans for example) – one sociologist said it “glosses over differences in circumstances.” The 2000 Census was the first time a person could check more than one box for race, so when the 2010 Census data comes out soon, it’ll be interesting to see where this multiracial trend goes.