Günther Jekeli asks and answers a question for the times: "What Do Legal Immigrant Professors Do in Summer During a Pandemic If They are Stuck in Bloomington? -- Bloomington is a great place. But it's also a small place. And from time to time it's just a good place from where to travel elsewhere. Especially in summer when it's hot and humid. However, it quickly became clear to me that I had to scrap all summer 2020 travel plans, firstly because of the pandemic and secondly because of our pending Visa applications (which have been dragging on further because of the pandemic).
After two months of Zooming, I had accepted the idea that this would become an online summer. If I couldn't travel to seminars in other places as I had planned earlier, perhaps I could bring people together virtually in Bloomington and work on a project that I wanted to do for some time. Together with graduate students from data science, linguistics, and statistics, as well as professor Damir Cavar from Linguistics, we designed an international datathon and hackathon competition on social media and antisemitism. We received applications from around the world and selected 30 high school and college students from Brazil, Canada, Germany, and the United States. We trained them for a month before they competed in teams for the best data evaluation of thousands of tweets and training algorithms that can identify antisemitic posts.
The three winning teams were announced on July 5 in an awards ceremony with key speakers Lee Feinstein, dean of the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, and Elaine Monaghan, an IU journalism professor. The first prize went to a group of students from Potsdam University and Technical University Berlin. However, we are particularly proud of the local team of four high school students from Bloomington who won the third prize. In the process, we learned a lot about hateful content online, like homophobia, sexism, racism, or antisemitism. While we focused on antisemitism in that project, we are now planning a second datathon and hackathon for racism and conspiracy theories in the context of the pandemic for summer 2021, hoping, however, that the pandemic (and Visa issues) will then be something of the past. Here's a link to some more information about the project: https://isca.indiana.edu/news-events/Datathon-and-Hackathon-Follow--Up.html.