I realize it has been a while since my last post (alright, so three years!), but now that I have a little more time on my hands (thanks to finally completing my doctorate!) I hope to start using this blog to write about topics and issues in student affairs and higher education. With the start of another year at Oglethorpe and the excitement, enthusiasm, and engagement of the students back on campus, I cannot help but think about what advice I could have used when I was just starting college some years ago. Well, no worries, because Hannah Brencher wrote A Love Letter to College Freshmen to provide such advice. Whether you are just starting college or you have already gone to college, this letter will speak to almost anyone. Enjoy!
If you want to be further inspired to write your own love letters, whether to college freshmen or strangers you may never meet, then watch Hannah Brencher give a TED Talk about founding The World Needs More Love Letters global organization. I hope it inspires others to write more letters!
This week, Vice President of Student
Affairs at Morehouse College, Dr. William Bynum announced a new dress code
policy particularly aimed at a small portion of Morehouse men. "We are
talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them
to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men," said Bynum.
According to CNN News: "To keep the
legendary Morehouse mystique alive, the all-male, historically black college
has banned high heels, handbags, tunics, tops and other feminine clothing [in
an effort to replicate the standards of Morehouse men.] Sagging jeans,
grills, do-rags and caps worn indoors aren't permitted on the Atlanta campus,
either." The punishment for noncompliance is class dismissal and repeated violations
may result in a possible suspension from the University. In doing so, Morehouse
not only censors student expression, but also discriminates against gay,
bisexual, same gender loving and/or transgender students who are seeking to
fully embrace their identity and dress in a way that is comfortable and fitting
of their gender identity and expression.
We encourage Morehouse to hold true
its mission to "redefine leadership by not worrying about attaining the highest
title or position, but about attaining skills such as compassion, civility,
integrity and even listening." Morehouse's Appropriate Attire Policy instead
places a chilling effect on the ability for students to express themselves
authentically. Furthermore, this policy reproduces and reinforces homophobia
and gender role stereotypes.
Morehouse College, with its rich
tradition and history, offers leadership among Historically Black Colleges and
Universities and higher education institutions across the nation. The
implementation of the Appropriate Attire Policy will likely have a negative
impact on important discussions about black male masculinity, and masculinity
in general, in communities of color. In doing so, Morehouse College
is complicit in the propagation of harmful attitudes and beliefs about what it
means to be a black male and makes invisible any alumni who may express or
identify as gay, bisexual, same gender loving and/or transgender.Continued institutionalized homophobia
thwarts effective identity development that may prevent students at Morehouse
from acknowledging and coming out in their sexuality and/or gender identity.
True authenticity exists at the
intersection of multiple identities, along which growth should be fostered. The
Consortium strongly supports initiatives that honor the spectrum of identities
and expressions through education and dialogue. We encourage the Morehouse
community to do the same.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
So, they are here. By they, I mean all of the freshmen at UGA. We moved in almost 6,000 students in the past couple of days. This is better known as Hunker Down with Housing. Having gone to a medium-sized public university, then working at a small-to-medium-sized private university, it was definitely a whole new ballpark seeing freshmen move-in at a large, flagship university. The campus was buzzing with parents, students, and staff getting everyone to where they needed to go and settled into their rooms. I also witnessed the full array of emotions from parents and students--from extremely proud and happy to extremely sad and crying. Move-in day at any college or university is just such an incredible experience to witness. Though the days were longer than normal and I definitely came home tired and with my feet hurting, I really enjoyed seeing such a large, organized, and well oiled machine that is known as move-in day here take place. I even got to get my picture taken with the school mascot, Hairy Dawg, and there is a photo to prove it. Check out the 2009 Hunker Down with Housing web album to see more photos. It was a fun-filled two days!
Outside of helping with Hunker Down, I also attended Graduate Orientation. This was the orientation for the entire Graduate School, so there were over 900 students in attendance. I do not remember if in my masters program if I had to attend a Graduate Orientation, but I enjoyed getting to hear from the different Deans about the Graduate School, research, health insurance, and library services. They even had the Mayor of Athens there to welcome us, so that was a nice touch. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the live band they had playing Salsa music when we entered the ballroom for the orientation. After the orientation, they had another room set up with tables from different offices that we could visit and receive free stuff--from pens to maps to even reusable grocey bags. I always love free stuff! So, now I have one orientation down and a couple more to go. We have our Department of Education Orientation on Friday and then in a couple more weeks we have a weekend College Student Affairs Administration Doctoral Program Retreat. I am really looking forward to having a retreat with everyone in my doctoral program because it will really give me the opportunity to get to know folks and learn even more about the program and processing through it. I did notice in our schedule of the retreat that we have icebreaks with eachother and the faculty and I could not help but think how only in the student affairs program would we do icebreaks with our faculty. It makes me happy!
Outside of working and orientation activities, I have been slowly but surely getting myself ready for classes and the start of my research. Over the past few years, I have collected a fair amount of articles and publications that were just stacked in piles and left to sort through at another point and time. Well, that time had come and I had to make some sense out of the choas before classes started and I needed them quickly and easily for research projects and papers. I started by divided all of the articles, publications, and handouts based on subject matter--from Technology to LGBT. Then, I created labels on the computer, printed them off, and made folders (or multiple folders) for each subject. After I had all of my research materials sorted into folders, I wondered how I could easily and quickly locate these. I immediately thought, "is there a computer program out there that organizes articles?" And, guess what? There is! There actually are quite a few programs out there that help with organizing your research, but two that UGA uses are Endnote and Refworks. I tried out both and am still undecided which I like the best, but I know that one of them will be what I use to help create bibliographies and keep track of all of my articles. Even though I feel one step closer to being more effecient and organized with my research, this project was something I chose to do, rather than had to do. I figured I would get organized first, before starting on all of the reading I need to do for class. That is right--class has not even started yet and a couple of my professors have e-mailed us articles and documents to read for the first day of class next Wednesday. At least now, when I do sit down and go through all of the materials for class, I will have a fast, easy way of documenting what I read through an article database. Over the next week, I have to get started on reading... and get back into the zone. It's almost here, or, really, has it not already begun?
In just three weeks, I will have started my doctoral program and I am
sitting here tonight asking the question, "are we there yet?" This
summer has moved by fast some days and slow others. I think when you
are looking forward to something as much as I am looking forward to
starting my program, it can begin to fill like it is so far away, when
in fact it is just around the corner. This past month, I moved from
North Carolina to Georgia, bought furniture for the first time
(everything from a couch to a bed to bar stools), started my new job
(or, rather, assistantship), and started building a new network of
colleagues and friends here. In many ways, this transition parallels
that of being a freshmen in college all over again and, in other ways,
it reminds me of when I moved far away from my home state of Arkansas
to North Carolina for my first professional job. My past has prepared
me for this, but it has still been a very challenging, stressful, and
I have met three of the other five fulltime
doctoral students in my cohort. The other two have still yet to
arrive, but should be in the next couple of weeks. The four of us who
are here have already started acting as a support network as we
navigate the new tarrian of being doctoral students, opposed to
professional staff members or masters students. I enjoy their support,
their stories, and their guidence as we embark together on this
journey. At our profession's national convention this past year, I
attended a session about a college student affairs doctoral program
cohort who has a year and a half into their program. The program
detailed research they had done on their cohort using Schlossberg's theory of transition. The process for transitioning includes moving in, moving through, and moving out. The presenters explained their process of moving in and moving through
while looking at the four S's framework to detail their process, which
include situation, self, support, and strategies. As of now, our
cohort is moving in and facing anticipated, unanticipated, and
noevents as we make this transition. Some of these include expenses of
moving, learning a new area and campus, meeting new people, and moving
away from friends and family. For me, it has been helpful to reflect
on my past experiences that have prepared and help me in my current
state of getting used to a new area, a new school, and a new set of
people. I feel ready for this and confident in my decision to pursue
this degree fulltime, but the reality of this choice is still
challenging at times regardless of how much I prepared myself for this
or how excited I am.
I was speaking with a recent graduate from the masters program that I
am about to start my doctorate in and she mentioned how our department
had moved from being ranked sixth to third in the nation for our
specialty. Of course, I had to verify this for myself and was overly
ecstatic to see it is true.
How exciting is that? It just amazes me that I seriously got into such
a well established, known, and ranked program. Let's just hope I can
now live up to the expectation!