Presentation Feedback

From our presentation, our main feedback was to include a main point of why Dean Cairo was our target audience. Since a lot of our project is directly related to Ashley Hinton-Moncer and the work she does on campus, it may seem more logical to discuss our topic with her, however, as we touched on yesterday, Dean Cairo has a large role in what we are wanting to change as leadership in the faculty and the head of course evaluations.

A way for us to solve this issue of confusion will be to lead in with why we chose to meet with him as one of our initial points. Not only will this prevent any confusion on his end, it will also allow us to establish some grounds for reasoning throughout the presentation, aka how he can help us.

Other things from our presentation we received feedback on was a tendency to gloss over a few of our points, which led to some confusion at points in the presentation. While we can probably chalk this up to nerves, a way to prevent this will be sticking to our agenda more closely, and reviewing things with ourselves fully before going in to our meeting. In addition, since our “presentation” will be a 2 on 1 conversation where Dean Cairo has a copy of the agenda as well, it is likely that he will ask us if we forget to touch on something as heavily as we need to. This will help keep the meeting as cohesive as possible.

In general, these were our biggest pieces of feedback. We feel confident about our meeting, and with these pieces of advice we think it will be even stronger.


Writing Center Feedback

Our meeting with Alicia went really well and we feel as if the feedback we received will help us to further develop our project. In our meeting we were able to work through the materials we’ve already constructed, which allowed us to reflect on the progress we’ve made and where we need to go from here. We’ve done a lot in a short time, and sometimes this can feel as if nothing has happened, however, having this check in meeting allowed us to see exactly how far we’ve come.

Our main concerns going into our meeting with Dean Cairo, and essentially our completion of the project, is how to present our materials and research most effectively. In bringing this up with Alicia, she helped us to construct a rough outline of how the flow of our meeting should be:

  1. Begin with student testimonies on our issue; as this is what sparked our project in general, starting here will give Dean Cairo an idea of where we are coming from. Furthermore, presenting the full issue up front will allow us to take the rest of the meeting to demonstrate how these concerns can be addressed.
  2. Present information regarding the research on retraumatization and content warnings that will be collected. This directly follows up to the student testimonies, while connecting the issue to a larger social narrative. This will help to ground our project in something larger than campus life, and validate our concerns with this social problems.
  3. Finish with presentation of the changes we would like to see implemented on campus. After presenting the issue and validity of the issue being addressed, sharing what we think will help alleviate these issues on our campus is the next logical step. This will be the majority of our conversation, as we cover changes to training that are being made to address this issue, and changes that can be made to syllabi and evaluations in order to reflect this further. We hope to keep this portion conversational, so that Dean Cairo knows his opinions and feedback are welcome, as he is an important ally in this project.

In addition, we discussed what materials would be effective to present to Dean Cairo during and at the completion of our meeting. These include:

  1. A bulleted outline/agenda for the meeting to leave with him at the end so that he can reflect on what we discussed, as well as have a reminder
  2. A “fact sheet” regarding the research that will be presented during the meeting so that there is a visual reminder that he can refer back to
  3. Copies of our testimonies, changes to syllabi, and evaluation materials, again, for reflection and reminder.

We feel that this feedback will really help us to further structure our project as we move into the last week of “gruntwork” before our meeting with Dean Cairo. From this, we feel much more prepared and are confident in what we need to do moving forward.


Ecological Implications of Rhetoric

Kristen Seas’s article, “Writing Ecologies, Rhetorical Epidemics” lays out a discussion of the ecological and epidemiological frames that rhetoric exists in. This displays the ideas, generally, of how one’s rhetorical goal and situation is both shaped by and shapes the environment that the message is being sent through. The effectiveness of a message and how it is spread are also directly correlated to the ecology of the situation. Seas is putting forth that the art of rhetoric alone cannot be the sole manner of convincing others to join a cause. Rather, a rhetoric that is ecologically involved and appropriate is the route that will bring about a societal shift. While the idea used to exist that rhetoric and rhetoric alone was capable of persuasion, Seas’s discussion points towards an integration of the social with the rhetorical in order to incite a shift.

One part of the article that stood out to me especially was related to the discussion on Everett Rogers’s ideas as utilized in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Gladwell’s piece focuses on that moment of shift in a society, and what forces widespread change, or as he refers to them “cultural epidemics,” to occur. One of the ideas that is brought into conversation with these cultural epidemics is the concept of different groups that ideas must shift through before being adopted by society overall. These five groups, in order of the “process,” are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The earlier groups in this succession are seen as “revolutionary” and interested in making change, while the others adopt these changes after they become more socially integrated by the other groups.

These different groups connect, for me, in a more abstract way to the “Us vs. Them” mentality that many of us have adopted, as pointed out by Serenity. I feel that many of us in the class would feel as though we are innovators or early adopters in regards to the different issues that we are tackling through our projects. In some ways, I feel that many of us would also place our stakeholders, or other members of the administrative side of campus, nowhere on this list of groups. However, I think that this piece presents an important outlook of the process of change making in any situation. While we may feel that some groups will never be reached, such as members of the faculty who do not understand the importance of creating an accommodating space for survivors in regards to Aaron and I’s project, they might just exist in a later part of the spectrum of these groups. It’s important for us to keep this in perspective as we move forward, and understand that change may not occur at the speed we want it to, but that does not mean we are at a loss for reaching everyone we want to.

Questions for Serenity

  • From an administrative standpoint, how do you feel that Transy supports or stifles students’ activism?
  • What were some of the biggest obstacles, in your experience, to creating change on our campus?
  • Do you feel that Transy’s climate is accomodating to activism?
  • From your experience, are the students on our campus, overall, willing to engage in activism or support the endeavors of their peers?
  • What could create an atmosphere more conducive to civic engagement on our campus?

Group Research Blog

Through discussion as well as realization for what would be most effective, we’ve decided to focus our action project on the faculty side of education and awareness for our issue. While we find addressing both student and faculty to be important, given the time frame and framework of this course, we felt that working to increase faculty awareness would have a better impact. With that being said, our issue to be addressed is the sensitivity and awareness of faculty for survivors of sexual assault on our campus. Currently, some students do not find curriculum accessible when it lacks content warnings regarding particularly sensitive material that could be retraumatizing. We are advocating for expansive sensitivity/Title IX training, a form of evaluation for students to voice their experiences on this, and integrating content warnings into classroom activities. We understand that faculty choose to include sensitive materials for very real and valid reasons, and we do not think these should be abolished, however, accomodating survivors through a means of a “heads up” about this material could make a great impact. The evaluation, in turn, would allow a measure of accountability, as well as a way to find more ways to improve.

The target stakeholder that we have identified is Dean Cairo. As the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dean Cairo holds a hierarchical position over the faculty. In addition, we chose him over Dean Bryan due to accessibility and his frequent interactions with students. Dean Cairo has responsibility over faculty and students, which puts him in a position that could understand both sides of this issue. Secondary stakeholders we have addressed are Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Katzarska-Miller as Chair of the IRB, and Dr. Packard, as a member of the subcommittee for Faculty & Staff Involvement on the Coalition on Violence Prevention. We have contacted these different individuals to set up meetings, and are excited about the prospects.

As far as the materials and strategies we plan to implement for our action project, we’re currently framing them based on our different stakeholders as we move forward. Our idea is to take resources that we gain from these different individuals and combine them for our culminating meeting with Dean Cairo. With Dr. Katzarska-Miller, we are trying to implement our evaluation for the end of each semester through the IRB, so she could assist in the development of this as we plan to present the material to Dean Cairo. In addition, she can provide us with different resources regarding research on the matter. After meeting with Ashley Hinton-Moncer, we plan to review the training materials for faculty that she presents and analyze them further on our own, as well as with her, in order to then present these materials. We have also considered inviting her to our meeting with Dean Cairo, if all parties feel it is appropriate. We hope to get information regarding what the subcommittee on Faculty & Staff Involvement are already discussing and planning from Dr. Packard, as to combine our efforts in a strengthening way. Ultimately, we want to present different background research that we have been gathering regarding other universities’ practices, as well as guides for potential change in our final stakeholder meeting.

Our next steps are mostly to meet with all of our stakeholders and have these discussions in order to move forward. We feel that we are in a good place right now, as we have most of these meetings already set up and occurring over the next few days. We hope to gain additional resources from these meetings in order to back up our project. In addition, we will continue research about our issue in order to best support our arguments and endeavors. We plan on looking more into the Center for Teaching & Learning realm of things, and potentially reaching out to Dr. Fortner to address ways to implement these resources through the grant Transy received.

Our first concern currently is with the evaluation component of our project, and how we can create something that is sustained. We feel that those in power might be misunderstanding what we want this to look like, and promoting the idea of us doing a more individualized research project. We hope to bridge these gaps, and show the need for a university sponsored evaluation of this issue. Another concern we have lies with proving how this is an issue in the first place for our campus. Content warnings have at times been seen as “unnecessary” to the academic experience, with the ideas of a genuine reaction to the material being promoted. We are having a hard time gathering research as to why these warnings are necessary, and though we have strong personal feelings, we want to present this issue in the most informed manner.

Questions for Teddy

  • In one of our readings, the author stated that colleges have long promoted civic mindedness/engagement–and thus activism–as a goal for universities. Do you feel as if Transy supports this?
  • How do you feel that art fits into the realm of activism? It’s clearly a really impactful medium–how is it perceived by the outside community compared to demonstrations or protests?
  • One of our readings said that “If colleges and universities are invested in cultivating social responsibility and civic mindedness, then a transformation in institutional culture is needed.” How do you feel about this?
  • How do people on our campus contribute to “collective action?” Do you feel as if this is a thread at Transy?

Campus Activism: The Importance of Educating

So far in our term, we’ve discussed college campus activism on a pretty broad scale, bringing in specific focus on Oberlin via Heller’s article in The New Yorker, as well as Transylvania through our own personal experiences. When thinking of campus activism, I personally think of the hey day of college grassroots movements related to Berkeley and other universities during the 60s. These student protests involved policing and were often viewed as more radical from the outside in. Protesters from these times are filled with stories, such as our own Dr. Tim Soulis who loves recounting his days as a campus activist, and sharing anecdotes such as the time he was teargassed.

The conclusion we seem to have came to from our discussions in class so far is that campus activism just isn’t as radical as it used to be. Of course, we are coming to that conclusion based on our own experiences and surroundings at Transy, and what we have seen and observed in our time as students. The only demonstration I can remember occurring in the time that I have been on campus was in regards to administration’s reaction to alumna Tracy Clayton’s Buzzfeed article regarding campus racism in Winter of 2015. Students of color held a peaceful demonstration to show they felt “swept under the rug” by administration and their reactions to the piece.

While we don’t seem to have a quantity of outward protesting on our campus, I do feel that students participate in activism through more informal and unorganized outlets. This is different than other universities in our nation that are “fighting the good fight” and standing out strongly for what they believe in. According to USA today in the article “Is this the golden age of college student activism?” students are more and more engaged in activism that generations before. This article points to UC Berkeley, Kent State, Ball State, and University of New Mexico as campuses where activism is surging and the student body is mobilized. These campuses host protests regarding alt right speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulous coming to campus, sexual assault awareness, campus economics, and Native American rights and presence on campus.

One student quoted in this piece, Tiayrra Curtis from the University of New Mexico, explains her feelings about activism, stating:

“We’re constantly the educators on these issues, but we’re also the students. We work to teach the students, the faculty and the administration about our issues. But that’s the case with most student activist groups on campuses, I think – we always have to strive to educate more people and make issues of any kind known and resolved in that way.”

This quote and the sentiment attached to it really brought forth an idea in my mind about the role of educational activism. Spreading awareness and enlightenment towards certain issues can be a major point of change-making, and it should not be viewed lightly. This really reiterates the way I see my role as an activist. Even if I, or other Transy students, can’t be on the front lines of a protest, we can do our part to educate those around us in a form of everyday activism that, to me, can have a major social impact over time.