Op-Ed Assignment

Choosing your topic for the Op-Ed Assignment

Your topic must:

  • Have a personal connection to your life.Being a citizen or a student is not enough of a connection.You want to be able to use/show your connection in your paper.
  • Be a civic concern.Annoying customers or customers who don’t tip – not a civic concern.Wanting handicapped access for customers is a civic concern.Writing about a problem with your major, not a civic concern.Writing about a problem relevant to all the school students may be a civic concern.
  • Must be a current issue.
  • Be an issue about which reasonable people have differing opinions.
  • Have a reasonable solution.The school needs more parking spaces is a valid point.But unless you do research and can explain where those spaces would be, where the funding would come from, and why the solution hasn’t already been tried, then it’s unlikely to be persuasive.
  • Have a narrow focus.Healthcare, Education, Banking regulations are all important and far too large for this short paper.Find a specific issue within the issue if the overall topic is large.

Some Op-Ed Assignment topics students have written well about in the past included:

  • A nutrition major arguing for more healthy food options on campus
  • A child development major arguing for continuity of care for preschool children
  • A call for an on-campus coffee kiosk to carry free trade coffee.
  • A lifeguard writing about beach safety
  • A gerontology major writing to the about funding to prevent elderabuse
  • A nursing student writing about the dangers of hospital personnel wearing scrubs outside of the hospital.
  • A student who volunteered with a homeless services organization, arguing for the benefits of volunteering.
  • A student who volunteers at an animal shelter arguing for adopting pets
  • Student coaches arguing (in different papers) for safer equipment or standards for youth sports

Topics based on something you have studied in class are excellent.This is how op-eds get written in the “real” world.Just remember, a paper you have written for a course in your major is a specific audience.It’s important to recognize how different the style is, and you are likely to need to educate your readers.

The following topics are ineligible because they are overly broad and rarely have a close personal connection to the writer.They almost always result in unsuccessful papers—writing about one of these topics will result in an automatic score of zero for the assignment.

Death Penalty

Gun Control

Abortion

Plastic Bag ban

Topics specific to a particular major

Topics related to the current election (If you are working on a campaign, contact me directly)

Legalizing marijuana

Topic Proposal for Op-Ed Assignment

Typed–bullet points are fine as appropriate

Complete the following Op-Ed Assignment

You may want to do it for two possible topics in case your first choice is problematic.

Think small – the more narrow your focus, the more successful you’ll be.

1- What is your overall claim?

Examples:

School food service should donate past date prepared foods to local food banks.

Styrofoam fast food containers should be banned in…

College students should volunteer for __________because ___________.

2- Which of the assigned publications have you chosen and why? (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Daily Aztec)

3- What is your specific personal connection to this topic?(“I’m a citizen” is most likely to be too broad.“My grandfather is on dialysis because of diabetes and I’m a nutrition major” or “I volunteer at ________” or ”I’m a lifeguard and have been a member of Surfrider for five years are specific connections.)

4- List at least two significant sources for support for each topic as needed.

This means listing actual possible articles – not general.You should include the title and the publication information. You aren’t committing yourself to using these sources – you are just showing that you will be able to find support. (By significant I mean not Wikipedia or an encyclopedia—be sure to watch the video on working with outside sources.)

The following topics are ineligible because they are overly broad and nearly always result in unsuccessful papers:

Death Penalty

Gun Control

Abortion

Plastic Bag ban

Topics specific to a particular major

Topics related to the current election (If you are working on a campaign, contact me directly)

Legalizing marijuana

Also to keep in mind—all of the assigned publications are made up of broad audiences.You can presume readers are educated and middle-to-upper income level, but you can’t presume they share the same view on the subject.

 

Last Updated on March 24, 2019

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