Multimodality in Motion: Disability & Kairotic Space

I got bogged down last week trying to get a webtext ready for submission, so this is a late contribution to my annotated bib series. I was so excited for this piece to come out in Kairos and find myself quoting it for one reason or another in almost everything I do.

This is by no means an in-depth summary of each author’s contribution but rather highlights of some of the ideas that I’ve continued to think about for my own practices: ethics, infrastructure, accommodations, and multimodal (in)hospitality.

"Multimodality in Motion: Disability & Kairotic Spaces" index page that features a yellow safety sign of a person being struck by lightning, lists author contributors, and offers two red buttons to move into the text. One reads "Access," and the other reads, "Enter."

“Multimodality in Motion” screenshot // How do we access (enter and engage with) texts?

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The motivation behind access, after all, is not simply that individuals can enter buildings, navigate websites, or get the class notes, for example, but that they can be part of the community. —Elizabeth Brewer

How can we create more accessible and inclusive communities (through our scholarship and through our classroom practices)? How do we design and maintain spaces that give access to students and ideas that have often been excluded?

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In this webtext, the authors explore what multimodal composition can gain from a DS perspective; specifically, how multimodal composing “normalizes and has been normalized by our understanding of the rhetorical triangle.” The central argument of the authors, then, is this: multimodal composition has been touted as a means of being more inclusive and enhancing access—in terms of production and consumptions—but it is undergirded by ableist assumptions about both the composer and the audience of multimodal texts.

In the introduction, Cynthia Selfe and Franny Howes call for instructors to be more cognizant of accessible practices, arguing, “For educators, it is ethically questionable to practice pedagogies and construct spaces that categorically exclude entire classes of people.” An ethics of accessibility, they argue, accounts for the material needs of both students and instructors of composition while also recognizing the need for composition curricula to be responsible for and respectful of difference. This ethic connects not only to our classroom practices—the activities we engage students in and the assignments we assign—but also to the texts that we produce and the literacies that we privilege. In order to engage in an ethics of accessibility, we must interrogate both how we theorize and enact both access and multimodality.

In “Space/Presence,” Margaret Price argues that access cannot be positioned as something that only affects a particular group and that we must critically examine how particular technologies enable and disable access. She also draws attention to kairotic spaces, “the less formal, often unnoticed areas of academe where knowledge is produced and power is exchanged,” in order to prompt us to think about how we may be marking particular student bodies as present/absent in different moments. That is, the technologies (& classroom practices) that we value and define as important for being present in these spaces necessarily marks as absent the bodies who do not or cannot access them. Price writes, “If infrastructures continue to be designed for normate bodyminds, non-normate bodyminds (those that are gendered, classed, raced, disabled in particular ways) will disappear as well.”

When infrastructures are accessible, however, they are often done so retroactively as accommodations.

In the section titled, “Reason,” Melanie Yergeau argues that discourses of access often overlap with discourses of accommodation. Specifically, she argues that our understandings of accommodation place blame on particular bodies and spaces rather than infrastructures and practices. She argues, “To accommodate is to retrofit; it is to assume normative bodies as default and to build spaces and infrastructures around those normative default bodies; it is to deal with deviant bodily and spatial conditions as they bubble out at the seams.” Though not ill-intentioned and certainly not uncommon, the production of inaccessible digital texts combined with retrofitted accommodations creates a dynamic that Yergeau refers to as “an us/them divide between the able-bodied savior-designers and the disabled victim-users.” That is, the production of inaccessible texts reproduces ableist assumptions about the normative default bodies that we imagine as our audiences.

And the process of retrofitting these inaccessible texts, Stephanie Kerschbaum reminds us in “Modality,” does nothing to improve or engage systemic cultures of access that inform the composition and production of digital texts. Indeed, Kerschbaum argues that we often reproduce “multimodal inhospitality,” which “occurs when the design and production of multimodal texts and environments persistently ignore access except as a retrofit.” This can be seen in multimodal texts that do not balance meaning across modes, that are inaccessible, and that cannot be manipulated by users. In these cases, she argues that multimodality becomes a problem rather than an asset and—echoing the larger arguments of the webtext—Kerschbaum urges us to reimagine how we can compose and represent information across multiple modes and be flexible to a diverse range of users and user needs.

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Yergeau, Melanie, Elizabeth Brewer, Stephanie Kerschbaum, Sushil Oswal, Margaret Price, Michael Salvo, Cynthia Selfe, and Franny Howes. “Multimodality in Motion: Disability and Kairotic Space.” Kairos 18.1 (2013). Web.

Articulating Betweenity

I had to follow up Deaf Subjects with “Articulating Betweenity” because it has been so crucial to my thinking since I read it in my last semester of coursework for a literacy class. If you want to check out the webtext, this is the link.

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Though only briefly mentioned in this article, I’m drawn to Brueggemann’s articulation of the “coming over” narrative: “a narrative of the deaf girl learning how to make connections between herself and others (her audiences) by turning what might have been construed as a loss (her deaf mispronunciation) into performative gains.” This narrative flips the traditional narrative that positions disability as something that must be overcome in order for an individual to succeed. Here, the movement from disabled to “normal” is reimagined as a movement from disabled to differently or dis/abled. Integral to this movement is the crux of the article: betweenity.

Betweenity, for Brueggemann, is the construction of an identity that toggles—for example, between deaf and hearing, personal and academic. To be between is to be relational—that is, constructing an idea that is in relation to something or someone else. To describe this relation, Brueggemann calls on Bamberg and “relational positioning,” wherein narratives are constructed based on how the narrator positions herself in relation to “others” in the literacy narrative. In terms of the flipped overcoming narrative, this critical self-awareness is important because Brueggemann doesn’t position herself in relation to a hearing audience in order to pass.

Instead, she argues for the benefits of deafness (e.g., increased awareness of how to communicate and the three-dimensional aspect of language that ASL offers) in relation to normative literate practices, ultimately arguing that hearing and captioning are themselves literate practices. After interviewing her son who captions videos for her, Brueggemann concludes that spoken words are “mere words and there is so much more that comes along with communication and ‘language’ that a captioner might consider.’” In calling for thinking of captioning as a literacy, she argues, “Captioning is a skill that we can apply our creative liberty to.”

This has been incredibly useful for me in thinking about how to incorporate accessible literate practices into our classrooms as critical, rhetorical acts. And Brueggemann’s article has raised a number of questions for me that have guided my dissertation project and recent conference presentations:

  • How can we avoid reinscribing overcoming narratives in our classrooms? How do we place value on particular kinds of writing and composing processes without also placing value on the particular bodies who produce them?
  • How can we incorporate practices that have traditionally only been positioned as accommodating (transcribing, captioning) as rhetorical, literate acts?

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Brueggemann, Brenda Jo. “Articulating Betweenity: Literacy, Language, Identity, and Technology in the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Collection.” Stories That Speak to Us: Exhibits from the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. Ed. H. Lewis Ulman, Scott Lloyd DeWitt, & Cynthia L. Selfe. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press, 2012. Web.

 

Deaf Subjects: Between Identities and Places

One of the categories for my annotated bib was Rhetorically Theorizing Disability, so next up is Brenda Brueggemann who rhetorically theorizes deafness. And because I was reading the book with particular attention to how she writes about technology, it contributes to some of the ideas discussed by Goggin & Newell and Ellis & Kent.

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Cover of Deaf Subjects

Deaf Subjects by Brenda Jo Brueggemann

Brueggemann positions Deaf Subjects as a commonplace book—a collection of different accounts of the betweenity of the modern deaf subject. As she notes, d/Deaf people constantly occupy space between hearing/not hearing, English/ASL, speaking/signing, Disability Studies/Deaf Studies. This book, then, attempts to make rhetorical meaning out of the cracks of this betweenity, focusing on the power of ASL, the importance of deaf literature, and the ideology imbued in visual material that attempts to characterize deaf identity.

I am most interested in her exploration of writing as a technology and how, particularly through digital media, we narrate d/Deaf lives. She writes, “These technologies now, more often than not, move deaf lives into the mainstream (where they are “heard” by more hearing people) while also helping convey deaf lives to other deaf lives; thus, these technologies are in effect, the between space” (6). In order to interrogate this, we must explore the rhetorical differences of “deaf’ and “Deaf” and the rhetorical impact of these distinctions on d/Deaf identities.

Brueggemann raises questions about labeling some technologies “assistive” that echo the concerns of Goggin & Newell (2003) and are echoed later by Ellis & Kent (2011). She asks, “[W]hy are such devices, when used to aid the deafened ear, commonly referred to as ‘assistive’ or ‘adaptive’ technologies when, after all, technology/ies are—by the very nature of the definition of the term—assistive and adaptive to begin with?” (17). Aside from perhaps the obvious, that this labeling seeks to position particular users as disabled and in need of particular technologies, Brueggemann is more interested in how Deaf Studies can address these issues. She is interested in the rhetorical relationships that shape and emerge from our identities and technologies. Such a focus, she argues, would investigate “the shape and substance of purpose, intention, motivation, and communication” that technology has in refiguring what Rachel McKee calls “the Deaf Gaze” and changing the assumption of deaf people as “people of the eyes” (18).

Brueggemann’s interest in technology is rhetorically grounded in understanding how particular technologies position d/Deaf subjects in particular contexts for different purposes. Although she doesn’t position technology as an inherently good thing for d/Deaf users, she does imagine significant rhetorical potential for the wedding of digital media, rhetoric, and deafness in the future. Specifically, she calls for three key things that continue to rethink the rhetorical constructions of d/Deaf identity.

  1. First, she calls for an increased production of documentary film and digital media that narrate deaf lives (95). Here, she is careful not to dismiss user-created digital media and acknowledges the importance of YouTube videos, for example, as important means of identity construction, but she also argues for more professionally produced media that highlight the importance of taking deaf lives seriously.
  1. Second, and related, she calls for the collective integration of deaf narratives rather than individual efforts.
  1. And finally, she calls for “the development of community and school/university-based workshops that bring deaf and hard-of-hearing people together to work on manuscripts ad documentaries about their lives and to collectively learn the crafts of biography, autobiography, and documentary” (96).

These three calls work together to imagine writing—and here “writing” is understood more broadly as composing across media—deaf narratives that are professional, collaborative efforts across community and institutional initiatives.

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Brueggemann, Brenda Jo. Deaf Subjects: Between Identities and Places. New York: New York UP, 2009. Print.

 

Disability and New Media

To follow-up Goggin & Newell, the next installment of annotated bib posts is Disability and New Media. For a useful review, check out this piece by Laura Howard for Disability Studies Quarterly.

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Cover of Disability & New Media

Disability and New Media by Katie Ellis & Mike Kent

This book offers a crucial cultural exploration of how disability (and disability studies) informs and is complicated by web 2.0 environments—a markedly different contribution than a technical approach to web accessibility that other new media and disability texts have offered. Building from Digital Disability, Ellis and Kent take as their exigence Berners-Lee’s call for accessibility, which they argue has been cast aside with rapid increases in complicated graphics and texts and the sheer volume of user-generated content that does not account for web standards (2).

At the heart of this book is a familiar concern for those in internet/new media studies: the reproduction of social inequity within the digital realm. The authors fear that the historical prejudices and exclusions of the disabled are reproduced by our digital technologies. Ellis and Kent take up social theory of disability in order to identify ableist practices and technologies and, more importantly, to offer possibilities for how we can productively eliminate ableist technologies (4). Broken into three parts, the book explores Universal Design (UD), the history of communication technologies and social networks, and how accessibility can be at the forefront of future digital design. Ultimately, “This book questions the rhetoric that digital technologies are an automatic source of liberation and inclusion of people with disability, and demonstrates that disability is socially created and reproduced in digital technologies” (7).

Part Two, “How Did We Get Here?” is the most useful for considering how our technologies and our perceptions and prejudices of disability have developed over time. In exploring the history of web accessibility, the authors argue, “Even in cultural and media studies of the digital divide, disability is rarely foregrounded as a case study” (77). That is, even though folks have explored how particular groups have gained (or been denied) material access to the web, accessibility has largely been overlooked. The authors also note that the rhetoric of Web 2.0 suggests a space that is open to everyone, which will make it even more collaborative; however, this is something that can’t happen if we don’t address accessibility issues or, more largely, recognize disability as socially constructed (77).

Ellis and Kent echo this when they argue that assistive technologies are stigmatized and that the disabled are seen as dependent on and helpless without those technologies in ways that able-bodied technology users are not (81). Assistive technologies are situated within a technological deterministic framework that positions disability as a deficit that a particular technology can help fix or cure, framing disability within a medical model of individual deficit (82). More specifically, “The deficit model of disability sees adaptive technologies as part of a rehabilitative discourse that assumes the relationship between the individual and user is one of dependence whereby experts without personal experience of disability dictate technological forms of cure and care” (84). The alternative that Ellis and Kent posit is not a retrofit that makes accommodations for particular users—which can exclude other users and position these accommodations as “special”—but to create accessible digital spaces from the start, folding in elements of UD into our web design.

Although other disability studies and rhetoric and composition scholars have problematized UD as a neoliberal fix, Ellis and Kent push UD not to emphasize it as a sweeping solution but as a means to begin creating more accessible technologies and digital spaces. The authors highlight closed captioning as a prime example of accessible technology that was not widespread until it became regulated by law, contrasting this with the inaccessibility of Netflix. Because Netflix is not legally required to provide closed captions, it has been a slow and difficult process—studded with user petitions—to make it an accessible service. Here, we can see the value of UD as a set of principles that could have made Netflix accessible from the beginning rather than necessitating a time-intensive retrofit, the fruits of which we can now access through the Netflix mobile app.

This flexible, mobile access is—as the authors argue—what will ultimately help create more accessible technologies because mobile access emphasizes accessibility as a universal goal for all technology users, not only for the disabled (146).

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Ellis, Katie, and Mike Kent. Disability and New Media. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

Digital Disability: The Social Construction of Disability in New Media

Next up in the annotated bib installment: Digital Disability.

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Cover image of Digital Disability

Digital Disability by Gerard Goggin & Christopher Newell

Digital Disability is frequently cited as an initial and influential exploration of how disability shapes and is shaped by new media and communication technologies. Goggin and Newell take a social constructionist approach to disability and new media, positioning their book as an attempt “to cast a critical gaze upon the very technologies that are supposed to provide the solution to disability—and show how new media technologies actually build in disability” (xv). They question assistive technologies that are often touted as tools to overcome disability and instead argue for the development of technologies that embrace, rather than erase, disability by inviting the disabled to co-develop and produce new media.

“Part One: Technologies of Disability” explores how disability is shaped by the development and normalization of particular technologies by able-bodied creators. Something that has also been critiqued by rhetoric and composition scholars, Goggin and Newell critique “new” media, arguing that the “new” label makes particular technologies more attractive and seemingly more necessary; essentially, they critique a positivist view that technology is inherently better. They write, “The idea that technology is autonomous conceals the political and social contradictions and conflict associated with traditional and mobile telephones, the computer, the Internet, digital broadcasting and other digital technologies—especially in relation to how disability is constructed with these technologies” (9).

This concealment is paralleled by the normalization of particular bodies and technologies, which is explored in Chapter Two, “Disability in Its Social Context.” Here, Goggin and Newell use the cochlear implant to argue that technology is political, tied to particular cultural values, and excludes the knowledge and life experiences of particular users: “Deaf people in various countries see themselves as disabled by a hearing culture that uses an oral approach, rather than inherently having a deficit. An excellent example of the clash of cultures is found in the cochlear implant, which is shown to be inherently ethical from the perspective of the hearing world, but unethical and destructive of culture from the perspective of the Deaf community” (xvi). This example shows how particular people and technologies are constructed as disabled or as assistive, reinforcing the critique that those who have historically been legitimized or authorized as knowledgeable are those in power: the able-bodied (19).

In Chapter Seven, “Cultures of Disability,” Goggin and Newell note that discussions of the interactivity of online spaces positions disabled users as capable of being more active and achieving fuller participation when in fact this framing creates new and different ways to marginalize and erase disability (130). Framing technology as interactive positions disability as a “deficit to be overcome, redressed, or made invisible” (131) by new media spaces that “equalize” user experience. Though the authors critique disablist values within new media spaces, they also focus on the cultural production of new media by disabled users, questioning whether the Internet removes disability or creates new dimensions of and possibilities for disability (131). Specifically, creation of and interaction within online communities reinforces disability culture and creates new cultural spaces for disabled users (132).

Finally, Chapter Eight, “Rewiring Disability” focuses on how we can make new media spaces and communicative technologies more inclusive, accessible, and truly equitable. Goggin and Newell are wary of inclusion for the way it assimilates and often normalizes the disabled rather than critically engaging with disability (149), and they are also hesitant to embrace Universal Design (UD) because its practice often identifies abstract needs rather than working with disabled users and identifying real, material needs (150). They ask, “Certainly, universal design is worthy of aiming for, but whose account of universal design will win the day?” (150). This question is particularly resonant in current critiques of UD as a neoliberalist cure to inaccessibility.

Ultimately, Goggin and Newell critique the idea of a technology that can “supersede or overcome or do away with disability” (153), arguing that we must critically interrogate our values in order to create technologies that are inclusive to, respectful of, and co-developed by disabled users.

Here’s the whole quotation, which is one of my favorites:

In different accents and voices, we are ceaselessly promised that technology will deliver us from disability. Yet we would suggest not only that technology will never deliver society from the reality of disability, but that disability continues to be constructed through such technology. We can never supersede or overcome or do away with disability. (153)

Boom.

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Goggin, Gerard, and Christopher Newell. Digital Disability: The Social Construction of Disability in New Media. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 2003. Print.

Disability Rhetoric

I realized today that I have lots of notes from the annotated bibliography component of my comprehensive exams that I never posted here, so I thought I’d post some this week. I try to offer a general sense of any text I read in these posts (argument, methodology), but I also pay particular attention to how these texts relate to my dissertation project and rhetorics of overcoming. Because it’s such an excellent text and I’m a huge fan of Jay and his work, I thought I’d start with Disability Rhetoric. 

If you missed it when the book came out, Jay gave a rad interview for Critical Margins. And thought it’s all good, this is my favorite quote: “I don’t just ‘accommodate’ disability and diversity but I expect it, make it an asset, welcome it. If there is anything that needs to be overcome in education, it is normativity.”

If you’d like a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the book, check out this review Elizabeth Brewer wrote for Disability Studies Quarterly

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Image of Disability Rhetoric

Disability Rhetoric by Jay Dolmage

Disability Rhetoric is the first book-length theoretical treatment of rhetorical history through a disability studies lens, blending rhetorical analysis with historiography in order to demonstrate not only how communication has historically been embodied but also to illustrate how bodily difference is deeply rhetorical. In the book, Dolmage defines rhetoric as “the strategic study of the circulation of power through communication” (3), arguing that the body’s role in shaping rhetoric has never been wholly or accurately understood. To create a fuller understanding of embodiment’s role in rhetorical history, then, Dolmage argues for a “critical alliance” between rhetoric and disability studies, claiming, “Rhetoric needs disability studies as a reminder to pay critical and careful attention to the body. Disability studies needs rhetoric to better understand and negotiate the ways that discourse represents and impacts the experience of disability” (3).

Disability is used rhetorically to describe and devalue non-normative bodies, and Dolmage’s goal is to focus attention to the many ways the body has been rhetorically contested, has contributed to meaning-making, and has been both denied and denigrated. To centralize the rhetoric’s ties to embodiment, he adds “the circulation of discourse through the body” to his definition of rhetoric as the circulation of power through communication, and highlights métis—“the rhetorical concept of cunning and adaptive intelligence” (5)—as a method for recognizing the embodied, divergent nature of rhetoric. Characterized by backward and sideways, rather than forward, movement, métis becomes a framework for rhetorical history and the historian, who Dolmage argues is responsible for layering meaning, highlighting contested narratives, and offering multiple and divergent meanings (6). That is, he argues for a métis historiography that, like the extraordinary body, is divergent, flawed, in need of others for assistance and perspectives (8).

His book, in fact, is an attempt to enact such a retelling—not to smooth and perfect history but rather to preserve its gaps and inconsistencies because, ultimately, “Disability historiography cannot be a normative mission; disability history should move like disability itself, understandable and unique because of its imperfections, suspect of any normative impulse” (11). Dolmage notes that rhetorical history has often been shaped like the idealized human body. He aims to create a rhetorical history that more fairly and fully represents bodily differences by deconstructing the function of norms and ideals as categories that structure our rhetorical understandings of the body, exploring some of the cultural myths and stereotypes that inform our understandings of disability, and critically examining social constructions of disability.

For my own interests in how we privilege particular types of writing (and writing bodies) and the different myths we circulate that represent disability, I’m interested in the discussion of normativity. In Chapter One, “Disability Studies of Rhetoric,” Dolmage explores the rhetorical history of normativity, which combines the logics of both disablism and ableism. Disablism is comprised of assumptions and practices that negatively construct the value and material realities of the disabled, while ableism is comprised of systemic assumptions and practices that positively value compulsory able-bodiedness (22). Normate—a phrase coined by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson that has gained currency in disability studies—is then used to reference “the privileged subject position of the supposedly (or temporarily) able-bodied individual and the culture that valorizes this position” (22). The normate is the normative body, and Dolmage extends this body and normative value to rhetorical history. He writes, “[T]he bodily ideal is the foundational metaphor for proper speech and writing. … Ideal bodies produce ideal communication, and rhetoric polices nonideal bodies, or else betrays them” (24). This argument is crucial for considering who has historically been positioned as able to speak to and claim rhetorical agency.

Later in the book, Dolmage asks, “Who owns and what constructs—what owns and who constructs—the disabled body?” (93). And although he is introducing a critique of social constructionism here, this question has important connections to the classroom and how our school systems and curricula control and construct disability.

In his conclusion, Dolmage reinforces métis as a model for change and critique, recursivity and invention and asks, “What if these were our central educational values (instead of accumulation, retention, comprehension, compliance reproduction)?” (289). There are echoes here of McRuer’s critique of the corporate university and standardized (i.e., compulsory heterosexual and able-bodied) composition. Specifically, Dolmage insists that taking a disability rhetoric seriously in our composition classrooms involves creating a space where we value embodied knowledge and meaning making, respect differences, and even desire bodily differences in order to engage students in ways that don’t reinforce the norm (290).

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Dolmage, Jay Timothy. Disability Rhetoric. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2013. Print.

Support Systems

This is a “duh” statement, but there’s been a lot of talk recently about sexual assault, domestic abuse, violence against women. With so many high-profile cases, they’re nearly impossible topics to avoid. This is a conversation that we need to have—a conversation that lots of individuals, lots of organizations, lots of institutions need to discuss, listen to, and address. And I love that people seem to be genuinely interested in engaging with this discourse. It has, however, brought more of the dissenters to my radar.

A small example: I was in Michigan last week. One afternoon as I was walking my dog, a group of three guys circled around us. One said, “Hey cutie.” I smiled quickly, said “hi,” kept walking. As I walked past, the same guy asked me my name. When I didn’t respond and instead crossed the street, I heard, “Hey man, do you want me to choke you out?” I shared this on Twitter and awoke the next morning to some quality responses from trolls decrying women for not being thankful for men who are just trying to “appreciate beauty.”

I’m rarely in a position where I have to engage with—or even just read the perspectives of—misogynists. I have a strong feminist support group in both my physical & social environments. And I need that.

I attended an 800-student, all-women’s college as an undergraduate, which significantly shaped the way I see the world. I’ve attended two institutions since my time at Hollins, and I haven’t connected with either university in the same way. That could just be the nature of experiencing a campus as an undergraduate versus a graduate student instructor. But I think it also depends on the campus climates. When I visited Hollins as a senior in high school, I remember staring at the decorated t-shirts strung along clotheslines across the quad. They were raising awareness for sexual assault. I attended Take Back the Night events every year. Many of my friends volunteered for the Coalition against Sexual Assault. I comforted friends who had been sexually assaulted, and they comforted me. I often think about those invaluable experiences and the fact that I knew—at any moment—I could ask for advice, silent understanding, a hug, long-term support.

I’ve missed that community in the last two institutions I’ve attended. And today, for the first time, I regained some of that. Although I love my program—and have been so well supported within my own graduate networks—I haven’t felt much connection to Syracuse as a larger student community.

Today, students organized #rallyforconsent. In early June, after students were gone for the summer, the administration announced the closing of the Advocacy Center, which provided sexual assault resources and support to college students. The AC services have been redirected to the Counseling Center, but this decision—both the decision itself and the way it was delivered with no community impact—was immediately met with outcry. There was a petition. There were Buzzfeed articles. And there was organizing.

Today was a culmination of these efforts, and, depending on which news source you read, close to 100 students and faculty gathered in front of Hendrick’s chapel to make their demands (from the rally’s Facebook group):

  • The prompt creation of a standalone center for advocacy and education on campus
  • No more decisions about us without us! Student input and participation now!

Particularly as I listened to organizers read student comments from the change.org petition about the importance of the AC to their Syracuse experience, I felt connected to this community in a way that I haven’t before.

I’m applying to jobs for the next couple months, and as I think through what kind of academic community I hope to join—to contribute to as a teacher and researcher and department/university citizen—I realize I want to join a community that cares about the well being of their students. Really cares. Being part of an academic community that privileges social justice, ethical labor practices, and the needs of its students is important. Knowing that I’m supported both as a faculty member and as a whole person is important. Knowing that my students are supported as people is important.

I’ve heard lots of people talking about what it means to be a balanced academic. For me, that means ensuring I have a strong intellectual support system that motivates & encourages me, nourishes me, and pushes me to advocate for better resources & support for others.