William and Mary Digest: Nov. 29

Researcher digs into holiday shopping trends

While the Black Friday dust still settles and the holiday shopping season revs into high speed, one College of William and Mary faculty member is taking a closer look at the choices we make.

Kurt Carlson, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, is an expert in consumer and behavioral research.

Carlson wrote a series of reports on holiday spending, finding:

  • People are perfectly happy to spend on themselves this time of year, and especially on electronics.
  • They spend 60-65 percent of their holiday budget in the week of Black Friday spanning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday following it.
  • They will spend in categories where there are deals on buying gifts for other people.

“This is sort of the big takeaway from our three years of doing this: They go shopping because it’s for the holidays; they’re doing their Christmas shopping. But while they’re out shopping they buy electronics for themselves,” Carlson said.

Carlson has focused his research specifically on how people make decisions.

“Most of my consumer research is on how people process information on their way to making a choice,” Carlson said. “Most of that has focused on the way that an early preference that emerges from just a tiny little bit of information can influence the way we seek out new information, and the way that we evaluate that information when we receive it.”

Discussing sexual violence in Native American communities

Author Sarah Deer argues in her book “The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America” that rape was uncommon in native communities before European/Euro-American colonization, and she draws the metaphorical conclusion that the two are analogous.

Deer visited W&M in mid-November to speak to students about her book and the stance she takes in it.

In her book, she explains how modern-day tribal systems can be used effectively to protect women and mete out justice for all crimes.

“I think that punishing people or labeling people for common challenges that folks have in their lives is not particularly helpful, and the zero-sum game that the Western legal system offers is not a productive outcome in many, many cases,” she said.

“And so I am a big fan of the concept of restorative justice, the utility of it and the effectiveness and as sort of a method of decolonizing the law.”

Deer is a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma as well as a professor, activist and expert in tribal law and federal Indian policy who was a 2014 MacArthur fellow. She has worked for more than 20 years to end violence against women, with a specific focus on native women and communities. After working as a law professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., she recently returned to her alma mater, the University of Kansas, as a professor of women, gender and sexuality studies.

“The problem with federal Indian law has been that it treats all tribes the same,” Deer said. “One of the ways to counter that is to say that we don’t all have to be on the same page here.”

Healthy Campus 2020 initiative

Campus staff is continuing to pursue its goals set under the national Healthy Campus 2020 initiative.

The initiative, led by the American College Health Association, is an offshoot of the Center for Disease Control’s Healthy People 2020 effort and offers “a framework for improving the overall health status on campuses nationwide,” according to the Healthy Campus 2020 website.

Participating institutions are given a toolkit and asked to measure several areas including: health impediments to academic performance, communication, injury and violence prevention, mental health, sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse and tobacco use. They each hope to reach those goals by 2020.

“The great thing about it is these are national guidelines and part of a national program, but you can really customize what areas of wellness you want to focus on,” said Kelly Crace, W&M associate vice president for Health and Wellness.

Crace invites members of the campus community who are interested in getting involved to join the W&M Healthy Campus Coalition or attend one of its meetings.

For more information about the initiative and coalition, visit bit.ly/wmhealthycampus.

- College of William and Mary news services.

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