Friday Letter, September 28

Happy Friday. I hope all of you are having a wonderful end of week! We are fully into fall now, aren’t we? The shadows are longer, the nights are colder, my garden plants are slowing down.

A short letter today.

First, some cool news regarding scholarships. With a couple of very generous gifts from departmental alumni we will be able to endow the Denny Phillip’s Scholarship. The department has a very strong lineup of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students, and the roster of funding available continues to grow. How about a little plug here: if you don’t already give back to the department, this might be a good time to think about doing so. You can—as I and others of your colleagues do—have a small bit taken from your check each month (pre-tax!) and send it directly to a scholarship or fund that matters to you in the department or the university. Just a thought!

You will notice the halls are a bit emptier the end of this week. Eric is off to Cali to do some graduate recruiting, Evan to Michigan to talk about globalization. And a bunch of us supporting our friends in Boulder where they are hosting the Public Address Conference. In fact, I writing to you this morning from the Boulderado. Oldest hotel in Boulder. Apparently in days past rooms needed to be just big enough to house a bed.

Don’t forget, folks, that this year’s diversity symposium runs all next week. You already know the Elizabeth S is presenting. So too is Carolin. She is presenting on swastikas and nooses on college campuses on Wednesday at 10:15. I will be attending several events including some that are part of the Feminist Fight Club work on campus. Join us!

Join us on Friday evening, the 5th to celebrate Tom’s tenure with promotion to associate professor! Elizabeth W is hosting. Her address is 1901 Glenview Ct.  The Overlook neighborhood—southside of Harmony between Seneca and Taft Hill. Party is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Toast will be at 7.

I want to follow up on Elizabeth W’s email regarding the department climate survey. Please urge your undergraduate students to take the survey. We are serious about improving the education for our undergraduates. We will be able to best meet their needs—while keeping our goals in mind—if we have good data about those needs. Here is a part of Elizabeth’s email to you.

  1. How do students access the survey?

A:  Students should have received an email last week from me with the survey link.  The survey link is also available on their advising Canvas page.  (Note: If they do not have access to an advising Canvas page, they should contact their ASC.  This Canvas page should be their one stop shop for information about the major and important announcements are sent to this page.)

  1. What incentive do students have to complete the survey?

A:  Besides giving us information that will help us improve our community, students can also win a prize.  After completing the anonymous survey, students have the option to click on a link and enter a raffle to win one of ten $50 RamCash gift cards.

  1. By when must surveys be completed?

A:  The survey will be open thru October 5th.

A note about the October 26 Friday evening game on campus. Like the Dean’s office, we will close our office at 3:00 Friday afternoon. Late Friday classes are NOT canceled, but I would urge if you teach after 3:00 on Friday to find an alternate way to and from campus. Park off site and take the MAX, for example. Or, ride your bike. Let me know as soon as possible if this is going to be a problem.

That, my friends, is what I have for the day.

You know just about every day and week has hard moments to it. For me, the conversations around sexual assault these last days have been extraordinarily painful. I have been consistently reflecting on the ways white male privilege enables and protects the bad behavior of powerful men. I am reflecting, of course, on yesterday’s display of what Brian Ott and I have called the affective aesthetics of white rage in the hearings (perhaps we should call the afternoon portion the shoutings).

But I am thinking as well of the deeply inappropriate behavior some of you have shared with me about men in your classes. And I reflect as well on my own participation in this privilege. Sometimes the participation has been active and other times it has been that of a silent bystander. I am recommitted to examining my own actions, behaviors, and beliefs. I am a member of this semester’s Men Educate Yourself program on campus, for example. I have work to do.

I am hopeful that we are creating in our department an environment that is safe and welcoming. I also know we need to do more to ensure that each of us can flourish without fear of violence perpetrated against us simply because of our identity. I need to do more to ensure that I don’t perpetrate that violence myself.

Well, on that note, I wish you a safe and peaceful weekend.