I support the rights of ALL students to engage in thoughtful discourse and legal political actions.
As an educator (and specifically one at a state university) I continually acknowledge my own personal bias along with my political, social, and religious ideologies. I do not apologize for them as it is within my rights to hold each and every one of them. I tell students in our first day of class together – who I am.
I have chosen to attempt political neutrality in my classroom. To that end, I am avoiding discussions of specific political views, actions, and candidates. While many of our classroom topics are very much impacted by what is happening in the world around us, I believe – at this time – it is important for me to err on the side of caution. So, while I may use the example of Donald Trump’s hand gestures during a discussion of body language and the workplace, I won’t talk about Trump’s executive orders, for instance. One is a useful example that I can provide so my students understand a topic. The other is unnecessary at this time and would simply provoke dissent among students when they should be focused on their studies.
Am I thrilled with this decision? No, it’s quite uncomfortable to feel as if I’m boxing myself in, but I believe I can serve my students better in my capacity as educator. It is our job to help you develop skills in thinking rather than to tell you what to think.
Please do not mistake my silence for apathy.
Do not assume that I acquiesce to any policy simply because I remain mute.
Here is what I will say – because I think it is essential to do so:
You have value, place, and purpose.
I will respect your person-hood. Regardless of your past, your family, your faith, or the design of the meat-suit you inhabit, you are valuable. Our past provides clues in terms of context and motivation. It does not need to dictate our future.
I will respect your right to hold the beliefs you cherish, regardless of how far they are from my own. I will expect you to extend that same courtesy to me and your student colleagues.
As it is within my power, I will protect you and your rights. I will not permit you to trample on the rights of others on my watch.
I will encourage you to consider the perspective of others – as I always have – and I will continue to believe that there is good in all of us, ALL OF US.
You are amazing. I celebrate that.
And, last but not least…
One of the great outcomes of this election cycle and our new POTUS -in my humble opinion- is that many more Americans are now discussing important political topics while taking the time and energy to learn how our government works. People are becoming involved again with the mechanics of governance. I think this is a positive.
And, in taking a page from many Librarians who navigated political waters following the PATRIOT ACT all those years ago. There may come a time when I am told that I cannot alert people to requests for information. I take my cue from the men and women in the stacks…
Nobody from the federal government has requested
any information from me about any of my students
or coworkers. Watch for the removal of this message 😉
For anyone checking in on our book challenge… more info is coming. The response was so fantastic, they had to bring in a bookshelf to accommodate donations!
I’ll post photos and final tallies soon.
Now… what are we going to do THIS semester? Hmmm…
On a somber note, this past week was a frightening one for the students we are working with. While the young man who lost his life was not one of the students in the group we’re partnering with – his passing was sudden and too sad to imagine. Our thoughts are with his family, the students who were touched by the tragedy, and the school community at large. Eleven years is not enough.
What a difference a week can make. Over the last week, the Green Team has risen to the challenge and we saw over 30 books + items come in!
Oh, and we now have another team on the board. While it is not part of the competition, it’s a way to keep track of donations that are coming from OTHERS (who’ve heard what we are doing and wish to help).
Keep it up! I had to extend the bookshelf in our graphic! I’d LOVE to add more length to it – what a wonderful problem to have.
Simon & Garfunkel “I am a Rock”
We’re in the second week of our book challenge. Over the weekend, the Green Team woke… and while it may have been a single book that arrived, it is A BOOK… do not underestimate the power of each one that comes in and heads off to the middle school. I’m looking forward to the rest of this week and what is going to appear next! So far, every single donation has been useful and appreciated.
My current students may very well be the last generation that has a collection of books – as we continue to move to digital media. Let’s keep those wonderful stories out of boxes… away from cobwebs… and in the hands of other children who want (and need) to read.
The blue group dove in head-first with 13 books donated in the first two days of the official challenge. Let’s see what comes in over the weekend!
The first batch has already been handed over to the kids!
Competition is fun, eh?
We (Buckeyes) have a long-standing feud with the folks up north… y’know.. Mmmm(cough)ichigan! Ah, but it isn’t all football – we also use that competitive urge when we have blood drive challenges with the Red Cross to see which university can bleed the most – and save lives while they do it.
Competition CAN be fun and it CAN be productive.
So… drumroll please… This semester, my activity of choice is a book drive. In our text (The Second Shift by Hochschild and Machung) we learn that not all families are created equal. In class, we view a video (Nigel Marsh’s tedtalk about balancing family and work), in which the speaker relates how he read to his son from Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. We discuss how some families have no books on hand.
This semester (AU16), students in my two 2367 classes will have an opportunity to help children in their community WHILE scratching that itch to compete.
I’ve worked with a staff member from a local middle school to gather a list of these students’ favorite books, authors, and topics. My students will collect books and other supplies that these students (in “inclusive” programs) can use in their classroom. Those students will be encouraged to fall in love with some of those books and be permitted to take them home – to keep – as their own.
I’ll pop in from time-to-time to post updates as we will not be taking one load of donations (as we did with our clothing drive in Sp16), but delivering books and items as we collect them… in order to get them into the hands of those who need them as quickly as possible!
Let the games begin…
When possible, I encourage my students to step out of their LITERAL comfort zone – to venture into the community around OSU – to see life through someone else’s lens.
I do this through many of my extra credit opportunities. I also do this – from time to time – with agencies. A few years ago, my 2367 students collected food for the Mid Ohio Foodbank and my “Helping Skills” class was visited by a representative of that foodbank to explain what they do and how we can help. Often, my 5440 students meet activists in the human sexuality realm and learn – firsthand – the challenges they face.
In Spring of 2016, I had two classes of 2367 students and they combined efforts to gather clothing (especially coats and OSU gear) for some students attending Beechcroft High School.
That effort far surpassed expectations and we created a board in Campbell Hall to commemorate the experience.
The whole effort came about organically. I spoke about students – in our own community – who walk to school without coats in the dead of winter. I talked about young people who have no college plans because that seed has not been planted.
My students were ready to help. Wow. What an amazing response it was. Over the course of two weeks, students brought in coats and hoodies along with t-shirts and fun items as well. They were encouraged to donate OSU items to foster college aspirations. The clothing drive was not attached to points or homework. They didn’t get extra credit for donating, but we collected more than 100 items in quick order.
With the assistance of Skye Zuza (at Beechcroft High School), several high school students in the special education program made posters about the drive to share with my students. Ms. Zuza was also instrumental in receiving and distributing the new and gently-used OSU gear to Beechcroft students.
- A special thanks to the students in both of my 2367 classes in the Sp16 Semester – for their generosity and interest in others.
- A special shout-out goes to Deston Howard (of my Monday/Wednesday class) who created the informative maps seen in the bulletin board image above. He took on that mapping project as an individual extra credit project and knocked it out of the park by providing all of us with a visual comparison of the demographics of the communities being served by a few of the wealthiest and poorest schools in our area.
- I am grateful to the staff at Beechcroft – They were essential in getting items to the students who had need and took the opportunity to talk to students about college aspirations.
Photo taken by – and used with permission of – Raquel Bahmer (student)
Tara is a local attorney who graciously offers her time to my students. Active in the local LGBT community, Tara is a tireless activist supporting equal rights for all people. Her presentation is followed by an informative Question&Answer period. Previous students have described her visit as life changing… and that echoes my sentiments. She is amazing.
If you are in another instructor’s 5440 or you’ve taken it with me previously… YES, you may come. But it is sometimes standing-room only, so be prepared. If you wish to bring a friend? The same thing applies. Make certain they are adults and tell them that chairs aren’t part of the bargain. Note: guests should not ask questions of speakers unless students have exhausted all of their inquiries.
This IS an extra credit opportunity for students in my 2367 class.
More about Tara: In 1987, Tara received her undergraduate degree in Marine Engineering, from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Following graduation, she served as a Commissioned Officer in the US Navy. After being honorably discharged, Tara worked as a nuclear engineer for over a decade. She is a licensed Professional Engineer. In 1999, she partially completed a MBA degree, at the College of William and Mary, before relocating to Columbus. In 2005, Tara graduated from Capital University Law School, cum laude, passed the Ohio Bar Exam, and was admitted to the Ohio Bar. Following graduation from law school, she has served as General Counsel / Contracts Manager for a mid-sized, construction-industry company, in Lexington, KY. In 2008, she relocated back to Columbus, in order to start her own law practice. She is a member of the Columbus Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. She practices primarily in the areas of domestic/family law, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender law, contract law, construction law, and civil litigation. Tara is an active public speaker on LGBT-related issues; she has spoken numerous times at The Ohio State University, The Ohio State University Law School, Capital University Law School, Dennison University, Ohio Northern University, Transylvania University, Columbus Alternative High School, the King Avenue United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio, and the LGBT Subcommittee of the Columbus Bar Association. She has been a presenter at the TransOhio Annual Transgender and Ally Symposium (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). She has also spoken on LGBT issues at the 2010 Ohio Diversity and Leadership Conference, the 2011 Equality Ohio CAUSE Conference at Columbus State Community College, before the Columbus Community Relations Commission, and the Columbus Police Academy.
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Just a reminder that I’m holding open office hours today (and Friday, July 22nd) from 8:00 to 11:00 am. I’m here now if you’d like to swing by.
Also remember that I can schedule a meeting with you at another time (if office hours aren’t convenient for you or you are remote and need a phone consult). Let me know if you’d like to schedule one with me.
You can find me in Campbell Hall, Room 127. I sent an email out with a map, but in case you forgot, you enter through the door to 129. There IS construction blocking the one hallway next to my door, so you need to enter from the SOUTH side of Campbell Hall.
I’m on campus for a meeting today.
Meetings aren’t generally my favorite thing but this one? Relatively painless 🙂
It’s a nice change from grading -to be simply talking with a colleague – and so here I am. Most of the work from Spring 2016 is behind us, and a new Carmen is on its way. Summer (and summer classes) are on the horizon. Change is hard but it is good.
Did you catch that?
Change. Is. Good.
Speaking of change… OSU is very very quiet today. This is what happens when students are either GONE for good, or have headed off for summer plans… or are curled up in a ball nursing their wounds after grade-posting. Here’s hoping it’s one of the first two for all of my students. What a great semester – and what fantastic students. Yes… fantastic for the most part. I said it.
We hear a lot about millennials and it’s often negative. I’ve got news for the world: My students aren’t better OR worse than the generation that came before them. Some of them have their head on straight and are focused on their work. Some of them could not care less about school work. Some are just trying to figure out who they are in the world. That’s okay. It’s what young adults are doing today. It’s the same thing their parents and grandparents did before them.
I want to thank my students for an awesome semester. Some of you gave me a headache but nearly all of you made me smile or laugh at least once. If you screwed up this semester? Time for a change. Don’t let that define you. If you screw up in the future? Same advice. We are all capable of monumental failures and epic achievements. I’ve made my fair share of both. I suspect I’ll do the same in the future 😉
I always ask students to keep in touch if they’ve graduated. Let me know where you land… where life takes you. If you start a business or a family (or both), I’d love to hear about it. If you are at OSU still (or for a visit), let’s meet up for coffee.