Diablo Valley College COVID V

Essay #3: Position Paper Context:

In the rhetorical analysis assignment, you read an article on a controversial topic, looking for the aim of the author and trying to determine if the author was successful in their aim. There, you were focused on rhetorical strategies rather than the content of the argument. Now, you will integrate those skills and apply them to the task of developing your own point of view on a contemporary topic. This means you will look not only at how the authors you read address their topic, but what they say about the topic. The readings you’ll be doing are from the news.

Prompt: Write a paper in which you take a position on a current topic that is, or has recently been, in the news. In order to support your position, you will also include these elements: 

  • A summary of the issue and the different positions on this topic
  • Rhetorical analysis of some of the opinion-based journalism on this subject
  • Synthesis of differing points of view to build your own

Requirements and additional guidelines:

  • 1500-2000 words
  • Reference at least three works of written journalism, including at least one relatively “neutral”

source, and two different opinion-based articles.

  • Also include one article from either CQ Researcher or Gale Virtual Reference Library

(both available on the DVC library website) that is relevant to your topic.

  • In addition to these four text-based sources, you may also cite videos or audio that

represent different political opinions on your topic: think political commentators,

satirical news shows, interviews, etc.

  • Be sure that you acknowledge and respond to conflicting points of view, i.e. include


  • Follow MLA formatting rules (double-spaced, etc.), and include a list of Works Cited in

MLA format.

News of article 1:  https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/10/28/world/covid-vaccine-boosters

News of article 2: https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/22/health/covid-vaccines-death-rates/index.html

News of article 3: https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/why-covid-19-vaccines-should-not-be-required-for-all-americans 

Diablo Valley College COVID V

Write/complete a body paragraph that summarizes one side of the argument in the debate around vaccine mandates on college campuses. Use some evidence (i.e. at least one quote) from the article your group studied in class today to support this position.

Bring your paragraph to class on paper, typed and printed or handwritten.

Tip: Remember that the focus here is not so much on your point of view as it is on the point of view of whichever side of the argument you examined in class.

Another tip: To get you started, it might help to begin the paragraph with a sentence starter like:

  • One one side of the argument, X believe…
  • Some people argue that…
  • Those opposed to/in favor of vaccine mandates say that.


    Write a short essay in the form of a letter to our Chancellor Bryan Reece in which you take a position on whether our community college district should introduce a vaccine mandate for students and staff.

    Required structure

    Use this outline to structure your paper:

      1. Introduction – introduce the question you’ll be evaluating, why it matters, and end with a thesis that states your position on the matter.
      2. Side A – What does one side say about this issue? Why do they believe what they do? What arguments are typically made on this side?
      3. Side B – What does another, opposing side say about this issue? Why do they believe what they do? What arguments are typically made on this side?
      4. Your side – What do you believe? Why? Does it align with one side or the other, or is it in the middle? How would you respond to the naysayers that would disagree with you?
      5. Conclusion – Wrap up the paper by telling Chancellor Reece what you think he should do about this topic, why this issue is so important, and/or how you think it might evolve in the future.

    Use of evidence

    You must use quotations and/or summaries of evidence from at least TWO of the articles we read in Unit 1. If you would like to use additional outside sources, you may, as long as you use the minimum of two sources from class. In sections 2 and 3, where you represent others’ points of view, you’ll use evidence to show what arguments people make to support their arguments. In part 4, you’ll use the most convincing evidence to support your own ideas.

    Length requirement

    Your paper should be a minimum of 800 words and a maximum of 1200 words.


    • Focus on persuasion – Your job is to persuade the chancellor to take action (or not). So how can you be most convincing?
    • Stay focused – This is a short essay, so you won’t dive into every nuance of the argument.
    • Keep paragraphs focused and unified – You will be most convincing if each paragraph is focused on one main idea.
    • Remember to frame all your evidence – Introduce each piece of evidence and be sure to tell us why it’s important.
    • Aim for clarity in your language – The best sentences are the clearest. Don’t try to be fancy!
    • Proofread carefully!

    • Context:

      To start our class, we are diving into critical thinking by looking at a very contemporary and very controversial topic: COVID vaccine mandates in schools and other public settings. We are using this topic as a way to dive into the reasoning of various positions on this topic.

    • Quote resource
    • https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-health-religi…
    • https://edsource.org/2021/california-community-col…
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