Another school year begins

In 24 hours, I’ll be nearing the end of my first day of Fall Semester 2015. Goodness, I hope it goes well. I’ve been dreading this semester for many reasons. Not the least of which is the current political climate and how I fear it will enter my classes. After all, I’m teaching public speaking and those speaking in public today are… well… They’re a mess.

Here’s my feeble wish for this semester.

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Sororities and the College-Aged Woman

The following recruitment video from the University of Alabama chapter of Alpha Phi has received quite the backlash. Criticism of the video led Alpha Phi to remove all social media accounts. I couldn’t help but think of the local Alpha Phi women, at the University of Missouri. This week is recruitment at Mizzou and there are over 1800 women trying to decide if they want to join a house, and if so, which one? Alpha Phi, in addition to introducing themselves to these women, have to combat the fact that the country thinks ‘they’ are vapid and banal.

And then there’s this very similar video from Delta Gamma. “Get Hooked” is their suggestion. Nope. I’d swim far, far away.

And finally here’s one from Chi Omega at the University of Nebraska. “To be womanly always and discouraged never” is a much better aspiration than getting hooked or blowing glitter in the wind. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the latter.

Symbols Matter

When I think of all of the concepts I teach (or try to), there is one that is the clear ‘winner’ because of its difficulty in achieving student acceptance and understanding: Privilege. Sure, students aren’t always quick to pick up the building blocks of semiotics or how arguments are formally made, but privilege beats them all. How do you help a white, straight, Christian male understand that he has always had a societal privilege when he grew up poor? When his parents were abusive? A lot of the time, there is an anger about other elements in his life that blind him to understanding that privilege doesn’t mean “absence of all trouble or strife.” How do you explain to the white, straight, Christian female that she has privilege? How do you explain that when she says, “I don’t see color. I love everyone.” that she does, in fact, see color? That she benefits from a system that privileges her life over that of her non-straight, non-Christian, non-white neighbors? When she mentions that her Black neighbors are nice even though they don’t really talk, but she loves them anyway, she’s seeing the color she wants everyone (including herself) to believe she’s not affected by.

A recent change on Facebook, may be one of the best tools to emerge to help teach students about privilege.

How We Changed the Facebook Friends Icon