Crazy semester: Completed!

This semester was intense. The Intro to Counseling and Child/Adolescent Psychopathology classes seemed to go well, the internship students generally had good experiences, Dr. Joe McFall and I got some research mostly done, and lots of little mini-dramas of the academic variety happened.

The greatest thing, however, was the White Picket Fence project. Well, the project is great, but the students. A completely great team of undergrads worked really hard on some excellent stuff

  • Exploring, through interviews, LGBTQ+ individuals’ perceptions of “fundamental unknowability” in potential romantic partners
  • Anonymous surveys with experimental manipulations to see the effects of belief in performative bisexuality on judgments of (and possibly tendencies toward) sexual aggression
  • Knowledge of, and attitudes about community resources available for LGBTQ+ victims of intimate partner violence

The projects were presented in three separate venues: The Society for Cross-Cultural Research conference in New Orleans, the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference, and Fredonia’s own Student Creativity and Research Exposition. They gave great presentations! Note: That’s much easier when the research is great in the first place, which it was.

Eventually I’ll get around to uploading the presentations…

Trigger warnings fail to divide along classic lines

I’m really fascinated lately by how the concept of “trigger warnings” has divided various North American communities–academics, political pundits, students, abuse victims, civil rights advocates, etc. Mostly I’m fascinated because the issue doesn’t divide cleanly along traditional battle lines like “left/right,” “progressive/conservative,” “male/female,” “individualist/collectivist,” etc.

There is now (2015, Fall) a compelling description of how this issue, arguably run amok, basically shut down one professor’s course. This piece is notable because it’s not the standard rant about hypersensitive students, written by people who have very little sociocultural vulnerability–it’s a narrative from a professor attempting to expose and celebrate minority sexuality in film, a prof who doubles as a rape crisis counselor, a professor (sadly, this seems relevant) who is female and an ethnic minority. Demands from a few (apparently highly fragile) students derailed what appears to have been a relevant, informative, iconoclastic, and edgy class. In other words, the things college should be about, in any “good liberal’s” fondest daydreams, were shut down by other liberals.

So it’s getting pretty interesting. It’s liberals against liberals up in here. Educators against educators. Students against students. I’ve got more pat phrases like that, but I’ll stop now.

Notably, not everyone is convinced that trigger warnings are destroying America. And my own experience, at a “public liberal arts” university in the Northeast/Midwest, has not included any “PC tyranny;” but, then again, I’m a middle-aged white male, so perhaps I’m not going to bear the brunt of this kind of thing even if it is happening around me. Some of my colleagues report increasing emotional fragility of students in regards to classroom content, but I have mainly noticed increased fragility in regards to reading between class periods and finding test questions based on lecture content that was not in the PowerPoint slides.

I was slightly surprised to find that AAUP has published an official statement about trigger warnings, calling them “infantilizing and anti-intellectual.” I don’t know that I’m comfortable going quite so far down that road, but I do recognize that the desire to protect the psychologically vulnerable can rub uncomfortably against other core values, particularly free speech.  Continue reading Trigger warnings fail to divide along classic lines

The Mars and Venus thing is stupid, but it’s not sexism

Last fall, my university had a tiny kerfuffle: a student working for the university’s social media team retweeted another student’s tweet. It’s been deleted, but it said,[university], where the weather is more confusing than the women.” Somebody cried foul, one thing led to another, and the President of the university issued a mea culpa about this event that “…quite simply shouldn’t have happened,” agreeing that the message was “sexist,” with “offensive implications,” and “hurtful.” As a result of this incident, the President has asked for “new policies on oversight of messages on the website and social media.”

I currently study men’s beliefs about women–particularly men’s beliefs that women are “fundamentally unknowable” (i.e., approximately as confusing as the weather), so this caught my eye when I (belatedly) found out about it.

TL;DR: I don’t think it was “sexist” in the way we usually use that term, and I think, from a logical point of view, the university administration overreacted. However, from a realpolitik perspective any university President in her right mind would have reacted the same way.

Continue reading The Mars and Venus thing is stupid, but it’s not sexism

Florida Governor Vetoes Funds for Rape Crisis Centers

His staff say nobody told them why there was any need for the funds. The people asking for the funds, on the other hand, gave a pretty believable account that they did, indeed, and very specifically, make the need clear. I’m inclined to believe the crisis center folks, of course.

Keep it classy, Florida.

Here’s the link.