What Activism Looks Like on College Campuses

Activism looks different on college campuses for various reasons. For example, activism will be different on our campus versus the University of Kentucky’s campus because we are a private institution and they are public institution. Because we are a private campus, Transy’s administration has more control about what type of behavior, activities, and moreare allowed or not allowed on campus; in addition, they have more control about what disciplinary measures can be taken. This is one reason why activism on our campus looks different than another university, especially a public college like the University of Kentucky.

In the fall of 2014, lots of students at Oberlin protested after the killing of Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old African American boy who was shot by police because they suspected him for having a gun. Bautista, a student at Oberlin, claimed “a lot of [students] started suffering academically” because a great deal of protests happened off-campus, meaning that that students would have to travel great distances if they wanted to be a part of the movements (Heller). In the early 1970s, Oberlin modified its grading standards to accommodate activism around the Vietnams War and Kent State shootings (Heller). This type of accommodation resembles the type of change that I would like to see happen on our campus not only for the purpose of activism but also for students with mental illness and/or other disabilities. Students with disabilities need certain accommodations when it comes to academics, and it is important that their needs are met by the University and its staff.

Following this example of accommodations, Heller goes on to say explain that there exists a common belief held by some that “the new activists are naïve about the demands of the real world” (Heller). In other words, this means that some people believe that those who participate in these new forms of activism (i.e. demand for trigger warnings in college classrooms) are approaching problems incorrectly and demanding unrealistic outcomes. To some degree, I believe that this belief could be directed at our project as well; that is because there is a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about mental health and other disabilities. Because some people, including faculty/staff and administration, do not fully understand how mental health and other disabilities impact students’ academic performance, these same people might not be very receptive of our project/proposal(s).

In order to sell our project and goals as successfully as possible, there are some tactics that we can borrow or adapt from the cases that Heller mentions in her article “The New Activism of Liberal-Arts Colleges.” For instance, Heller mentions how in the nineteenth century, “Harvard professors taught a single, prescribed canon to a single, prescribed social circle,” but because so much more has been discovered since then and because we can—and should—adapt with the times, it is important that educate students with a new system that is the opposite of the old. The new way to teach our students should be one that focuses on the uniqueness of the campus and one that is tailored to fit each student’s needs so that they can succeed.

Collective Activism on College Campuses

I found the two texts that we read very compelling and I think that each provides a great deal of interesting insight about activism on college campuses around the United States. In the article “Collective Action on Campus Toward Student Development and Democratic Engagement,” Adrianna Kezar and Dan Maxey present lots of significant points about how the relationship between students and faculty/staff influence activism on college campuses. For example, the authors emphasize that this relationship is crucial because it impacts how students participate in activism, how students understand activism, and how students foster and sustain their activist efforts. They state that “activism is a vehicle for students’ learning…” because it gives them the opportunity to learn about the democratic process and the various layers of democracy (Kezar et al 32). Because activism plays a key role in students’ learning, it is important that they have mentors (aka faculty and staff) who can guide them and teach them about effective activism. According to Kezar and Maxey, the collaboration of students and faculty/staff is not only sifniciant but also effective; that is because faculty/staff have experience and insight on the campus’ environment and understand how students can actually make their voices heard.

I believe that Kezar and Maxey’s article relates to our project because it is definitely important that we form a strong relationship with our stakeholders, especially the faculty/staff stakeholders. Many of the faculty/staff stakeholders that we have mentioned (Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Dean Covert, Disabilities Services, etc.) have experience with making constructive changes on Tansy’s campus, especially with student life. When it comes to our project, it is important that we use our feedback from these stakeholders effectively so that we can ensure that the needs of students’ with disabilities are met. Those with authority, like Dean Covert, have experience with what works and what does not work in terms of implementing seminars or workshops. Since we would like to provide some sort of training or seminar for faculty so that they can better understand how to assist students with mental health issues, it is important that we understand what does or does not work, which is what these stakeholders have a great understanding of. For example, these stakeholders know what types of learning activities have worked best at Transy for various reasons. For that reason, it is important that we not only listen to their suggestions or concerns but also attempt to apply their recommendations to our project so that we can propose the most effective solutions. If we do not take their feedback into account, then we might not propose the best solution(s).

Furthermore, the other text that we read is written by Nathan Heller for The New Yorker. Heller’s article is titled “The New Activism of Liberal-Arts Colleges,” and he illustrates how current events spark students to react on their campuses. From cultural appropriation to police brutality, Heller explains what the new activism looks like: protests, letters filled with grievances and demands for help/change, op-ed pieces, etc. What is important about this article is that it highlights multiple types of activism; Heller presents these different types of activism as well as highlights how students are seeking change. I believe that this article reflects what we’re doing in our class because each group has a different issue that they are addressing and different ways they are trying to find solutions for these issues. How Shelby and I might analyze our issue and present it to our stakeholders might be extremely different than how other groups do so. With that in mind, I believe it is important for Shelby and I to keep in mind that certain tactics might be better suited for our project in hopes that we meet our end goal.

Ultimately, what I learned from these two texts is that the relationships that exist between students and faculty/staff are incredibly crucial because they help students generate and sustain positive results based on their efforts. In addition, it is important to recognize what types of activism are best suited for certain situations, issues, etc.

Stakeholder Investigation

For our project, we have decided that there are two types of stakeholders: administrators/faculty/staff and students. Shelby and I have established a list of specific administrators, staff, or faculty members that we have considered reaching out to; for the time being, this includes Erinn Foglesong, counselors, Ashley Hill, Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Dr. Todorova, various professors (in order to include different perspectives on this issue), and possibly the Disabilities Service. When we consider the various administrators, staff, and faculty members, it is important to note that some have more authority than others in terms of initiating certain changes. For instance, the administrators, such as particular deans, have the ability to establish mandatory seminars or workshops that faculty must attend as well as how often faculty must attend them. On the other hand, Erinn Foglesong and the rest of the Student Wellbeing office have a great deal experience (individually and combined) leading seminars that are related to mental health as well as Title IX which impacts mental health; for that reason, perhaps they would be best suited for actually leading a seminar or a workshop, unless the administration would rather recruit another professional who is not affiliated with Transy.

Furthermore, from what Shelby has explained to me, Dr. Todorova is very supportive of our project after Shelby spoke with her. Dr. Todorova expressed that she would love to help students with disabilities, but she says that does not have a lot of background knowledge about how to do so properly and effectively. Because of that, I think Dr. Todorova’s statements prove how important our project is. From what I have experienced, it seems that many professors at Transy genuinely care and want to assist students with disabilities, but they simply are not aware how they can do so. There is a lack of understanding, which further inhibits students with disabilities. Based on my personal experiences with Erinn Foglesong, the counselors, and Ashley Hill, I believe that they would all be very supportive of our project and goal to establish workshops and seminars on campus. As far as administration is concerned, I personally believe that it might be a bit more difficult to illustrate why this project and our goals are so important; however, if we provide lots of research as well as have the support of multiple students and various faculty and staff then perhaps

In regards to the second party, which we have identified as students, we have considered creating an anonymous survey to receive feedback from Transy students, Teddy Salazar, Shelby’s friend Bradlee, a friend of mine (if they are willing), and any other way that we could include the student body’s input. I believe that the specific students we have considered reaching out to would be incredibly supportive of our project because they can offer personal experiences. Creating an anonymous survey, although difficult, would give students the chance to express their concerns, past experiences, and more without feeling as though there might be consequences from expressing their grievances. Compared to faculty/staff and the administration, students do not have as much authority and capability of enacting positive change; however, if enough students express concern and enough students support our project, then we, as students, could really have a greater impact than we might think. Not to mention, if we have strong support from faculty and staff, then that would definitely help as well. A risk that could arise for this specific group of stakeholders is if the administration (or perhaps faculty/staff too) are not considerate, transparent, etc. This type of response could be really hurtful to students who really need the help and need a postive response to this issue.

Issue Definition/Investigation

  • The problem is a lack of understanding and assistance for disabled students.
  • This problem is important because it affects many students on campus.
    • We have a mental health crisis on campus: the counseling center is overbooked, suicide crises are becoming more common, and students are losing aid due to bad grades and having to leave school. Students could have so many simple accommodations if professors knew about the simple changes they could make that would have a great effect.
    • Transy is trying to diversify, and this is impossible if our classes aren’t accessible to all students, including those of us who are disabled.
    • Impoverished students already face a very tough college experience. Many have to work both on and off campus to afford groceries and other necessities. Going through official disabilities services requires doctor appointments, which aren’t accessible to those who have to take time off work, pay for appointments, or drive to the doctor.
    • Even students who are being treated and accessing still have to have accommodations, even when they are on medicine and/or receiving counseling. For instance, a student might miss class frequently because of their mental health so it’s very important that they receive extensions on assignments and further assistance.
  • There are different ways that this problem can be fixed; potential solutions are:
    • Annual faculty seminar
    • Booklet
    • Group for disabled students
    • Refer to these tumblr posts x and x. We both made posts on tumblr, explains to our followers what our project is about and asked if any disabled individuals would be willing to share their experiences (anonymous or not) so that we could get a better understanding of students’ wellbeing and how it is being responded to by professors.
  • There are two parties that we have identified as stakeholders, which are:
    • Administrators/Faculty/Staff: Erinn Foglesong, counselors, Ashley Hill, Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Dr. Todorova, possibly Disabilities Services, different professors
    • Students: Teddy, Bradlee (a friend of Shelby’s), a friend of BayLeigh’s, an anonymous survey, etc.

Pitch Proposal

There is a lack of transparency between students and administration/DPS; this has generated a lack of trust as well as contributed to a significant sense of unease and fear for safety among students. Because there is little communication, transparency, and trust that exists between these parties, I believe that it is crucial to find a way to establish a bridge between all parties and find a way to ease students’ worries. I think it is important that students’ concerns are not only addressed by listened to, taken seriously by, and respected by administration/DPS. In addition, it is important that students get responses from administration and DPS about their concerns as well as how they want to help ease students’ concerns and work towards solutions.

I am not sure how many changes can be made or how many serious and significant changes could be made in May Term, but I believe that important steps in the right direction can definitely be made. For example, a forum/workshop/meeting of sorts could be arranged where prominent leaders of student organizations could meet with administrators (such as Dean Bryan, Dean Covert, Chief) in order to relay the concerns that their members have about safety. By having representatives attend the meeting, there is the possibility that it will be a less chaotic meeting. That is because there will not be such a large number of students trying stand their ground and be heard; plus, it will give the administrators a chance to thoroughly listen to students’ concerns and grievances and ask questions. Following this joint meeting between both parties, perhaps the administrators could meet separately to discuss the concerns that were brough forth and discuss great solutions to these problems.

I know many students feel unsafe on campus for a variety reasons (e.g. various forms of assault, untimely T-Alerts, etc.). For that reason, I think other members of the class should want to propose other ways that we can bridge the gap between students and the administration/DPS in order to establish solutions to these concerns.

Internship: Final Reflection

The time has finally come. My time at Lexington Community Radio is ending, and I have thoroughly enjoyed interning there not only this semester but last semester as well. The past several months has been full of powerful learning experiences, including moments in which I have assisted with community outreach. To begin, Lexington Community Radio is a Low Power FM radio station that is the home to 95.7FM El Pulso Latino and WLXU 93.9FM that is located in the STEAM Academy; their goal is to empower community voices as well as support projects and organizations that focus on bettering the lives within the community. 95.7FM El Pulso Latino consists of Spanish programming and shows that are hosted by Latino community members. A main goal of El Pulso is to provide news, education, music, art, culture, and so much to the Lexington community. El Pulso is incredibly important because it provides significant and noteworthy information to the Latino community in Spanish. For many members of the Latino community, it is very important that they have resources available to them in Spanish, which is why El Pulso is so amazing.

Serving as an intern at Lexington Community Radio this semester has been a wonderful opportunity. I have had the chance to connect with local business and sponsors for marketing and outreach opportunities on behalf of LCR. Furthermore, I have represented the station at publicity events, like Night Market with staff members. From delivering informative flyers about LCR to representing LCR in the community, it has been a fun and rewarding experience interacting with the Lexington community while simultaneously serving Lexington Community Radio. In addition, I have also obtained vital skills that will assist me in the future; for example, this semester I have become proficient in using Audacity program by editing 95.7FM El Pulso Latino show and sharing via SoundCloud. Over the course of this school year, I have improved translation skills by communicating with Spanish-speakers at the station and off-site events, creating PSAs in Spanish, and listening to podcasts of El Pulso 95.7 shows. Not only that, I have also recorded PSAs in English; I have recorded PSAs in English about the station itself as well as PSAs in both languages about events at the Lexington Theater. Additionally, I have occasionally managed LCR’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts in order to keep the public updated about changes within the station as well as important news and events.

Being able to practice Spanish has really boosted my confidence, which is something that I have really been trying to do; I am still a bit shy when it comes to speaking Spanish, but I have really noticed some improvement in my Spanish skills—even if it might not be as noticeable to others. Everyday a variety of people walk into LCR, and I quickly realized how I would have to be flexible. Some of the people who come in to record shows work at local businesses, such as Lyric Theater and Kentucky Refugee Ministries; others are just everyday citizens. I had to adapt to every situation and learn how to interact with those who came in. I quickly learned that some people I could be very casual with, but with other people I recognized that it was more important to act more professionally. With that in mind, I sent several emails to DJs because it was my responsibility to upload their podcasts to LCR’s SoundCloud, which is something that my supervisor can attest to. I utilized the email etiquette that I have learned in college, especially in classes like Business Writing. Because I had never met these individuals and was acting on behalf of the station, I had to act very professional. Not to mention, I had to be very personable and professional when I delivered flyers to local businesses and organizations in Lexington.

After interning at LCR this school year, I got the chance to obtain an inside look at how they are serving the community. I strongly believe that LCR is fulfilling its goal to “empower the community by engaging listeners with local, timely, and relevant information and opinion that positively impact safety and quality of life in Lexington” (Lexington Community Radio). They are very involved within the Lexington community and are always trying to create new ideas about how they—and other organizations—can help the community. LCR is very passionate about keeping the Lexington updated, providing intriguing and unique shows, and including diverse individuals; as someone who has attended events (co)-hosted by LCR and spent hours at the station, I can attest that are achieving just that.

One of LCR’s greatest strengths is that include such fascinating and diverse DJs on the air. Whenever I am at the station, I interact with diverse individuals from the community. It is exciting to hear their stories and listen to their fascinating shows. Another strength is that they are very active within the community and finding ways to help Lexington’s citizens. They provide very important information about health, education, community events, and more on their stations for listeners, which is critical for people who really need these resources as well as all of Lexington’s citizens. Also, I think it is amazing that LCR is so active within the community. They host and co-sponsor great programs and events that help Lexington’s people as well as invite amazing people to be a part of shows, PSAs, ads, and more.

As I wrap up my time at the station, I am amazed by how this internship has shaped my academic career as well as prepared me for what is ahead post-graduation. If I could change anything at all about my experience, it would be that I could be more involved outside the station; I got to represent LCR at Night Market at October, and I really enjoyed being able to directly interact with the community and promote LCR. I expected to learn about what goes on behind the scenes at a radio station. For example, I learned that and more about what it takes to make a radio station operate efficiently. In the past, I never had experience with radio programming at all, which is why this internship has been so valuable. I learned how to edit podcasts, enhanced my Spanish skills, and improved my overall communication skills by interacting with diverse groups of people. And just like that my time at Lexington Community Radio this semester has ended; it has been a pleasure interning at this wonderful organization for the entire 2016-17 school year.

Internship: Week 11-12

Week 11: April 3-7, 2017

Week 12: April 10-15, 2017

On Lexington Community Radio’s SoundCloud, I finally finished updating all of the information about “Ciencia Sin Miedo.” For “Ciencia Sin Miedo” and “Becoming Lexington,” I also made picture using Canva; I noticed that some of the other shows had certain pictures as well that made their playlists stand out. For that reason, I decided to make pictures that I thought fit the theme of the two shows using Canva, which I have had a to of experience sing this year because it is what I use to make advertisements on the Student Activities Board social media accounts.

This week I also started editing a different show on SoundCloud that’s called “H.I.S.S. & H.E.R.S.” “H.I.S.S. & H.E.R.S.”  is a show by Hendrick Floyd, aka Shiesty Khrist, that consists of an hour of music that is ALL CASSETTES ONLY. Right now there are already four podcasts uploaded so I am listening to the uploaded podcasts so that I can come up with descriptions for each as well as find and list the air date of each episode. I also plan to upload the rest of the shows that have not been uploaded yet and add descriptions for those too.