Presentation Feedback

One of the things noted was that the space is being considered for other purposes. We believe that we have an effective rejoinder to each of these other possible uses. Overall, we can make a fairly effective argument that each of the other uses, having been recognized as a priority, has attendant plans to fulfill those needs.

Take the need for more study space. Not only does the renovation of Haupt into Carpenter include plans to create study spaces on each floor, ensuring a long-term abundance of spaces in which to study and work on academics, there are two common areas in each of the new dorms which have become large study spaces (for example, there are usually an impressive number of medical diagrams on the dry-erase-board-wall in Bassett). In other words, as students move into the new dorms, and their use becomes more regular and established, the common areas will begin to take on the load for study spaces, and in the long term Haupt/Carpenter will augment the study space available on academic side (in the Library).

The second possible need is for increased ResLife office space. While this is certainly a valid concern, we do not believe that the Thomson Lobby space is currently structured in a way conducive to office space. Creating offices will likely require partitioning, installing doors, possibly altering the lighting scheme, and so on. Not only would this require time and effort, it would require money. Our proposal, we believe, has the benefit of coming in more cheaply for the university. Additionally, we believe that, should push come to shove, the currently unused basements of the new dorms are far easier to transform into office space.

When it comes to bike storage, we believe that the need would be better suited by building a lean-to, a gazebo, or a shed around the existing outside storage. This is not to say that there isn’t a bike storage need, but merely that this would be an inefficient use of the Thomson Lobby space, which we will argue can be far more efficiently and attractively used in virtually any other way.

Also another point of feedback that our group received was the confusion that we might be trying to compete with the function of the Campus Center. While this was not our intention to be in contention with the CC, we recognized where we could tighten up and be more clear in our argument/presentation that would strengthen our aims if our frame was more in the light of being in conjunction and not replacing the Campus Center. So we plan to make this point more clear in our proposal and definitely in our presentation. (Possibly even point to the fact that if Forrer Renovations do happen in the near future there will be this established space for student activity.)

Lastly, there was a critique made on the use of some of our language specifically around the word ‘displaced’. We were already going back and forth on some other words and the ideas of sounding too passive aggressive. With the word displaced, we were attempting to mean that students have kind of had to re-learn, understand, and construct the new spaces of campus with different meanings. There is this loss of connecting with others in the spaces on Residential side because there has been a turbulence or instability in the physical space. But that is kind of confusing.  So this was something that we were struggling with but will go back to the drawing board for.

Advertisements

Workshop Feedback

Some of the feedback and additional ideas that we received from the workshop were:

  • Student input: We were asked the question of whether or not we had considered polling our fellow students about their thoughts on the Thomson space. I know that this was briefly mention in our discussion amongst our group members but we felt that the greater hurdle was in convincing the administration to let us change the space. There would be value in getting other student’s perspectives to increase the amplitude of the issue (more specifically pointing to the voices of complaint and not a general complaint). However we were hesitant to reach out, especially this late in the process. On one hand it would not hurt to try but also would that confuse the structure/angle of our argument more. Also what format and platform would we use to get student ideas but not create a false sense of hope?

 

  • Frame of Argument: Our writing center staffer asked the simple question of how we intended to frame the argument which should evoke an easy answer at this point which we had but I personally wondered if we might need to tweak it just a little bit. Also this was a good exercise of really stating more clearly the direction in which we are arguing from. From our informal meetings with various stakeholders, we concluded that our argument is not necessarily an argument for community, as we had thought it might be, but more of a reminder that the attention to details and intentional thought of a space are important for community. We want to argue strongly from the point of the students’ need for a stable dedicated community space that is an extension of the outdoor space of back circle. We want to persuade our Stakeholder not to make it another study space, bike storage, etc by emphasizing their fear that was discussed with us. That fear being of the possible isolation that comes with suite style living. So in appealing to administrators we are going to finesse the existing language of community in a reminder of the connotated assumptions and spirit of Transy’s campus that extends beyond academics. We also are drawing on the previous instances of renovated community spaces such as Alumni Plaza which were overwhelmingly major successes.

 

  • Tips for Proposal Format: While one of our group members has some experience in writing short grant proposals, we asked the for pointers on what should all be included in a proposal style document. We have come to the agreement that we will need a more formal piece of documentation to leave with our stakeholder in order for that person to not only have a reference but also then be able to take it on up through the chain. Our writing staffer had not exactly written a proposal document but had done something similar to it which was most closely described as an advocate letter. However what was suggested most simply was that our proposal would need to include: overview, background/ problem, solution(s), budget, and layout.

Response to Seas

I found that this insight and history of Rhetoric to be quite similar to some of the changes that I have briefly learned about in Anthropological theory. The way in which what is called the “actor-network theory” was described to me is not that much different from what is happening in this turn in theory of language. From my previous understanding, this network theory on its surface is largely wrapped in the language used because the metaphors and descriptions of cultural and the social shift from very anthropomorphic centered ideas to the inclusion of nonhuman objects, such as animals, viruses, or even particles. While it seems on the surface this theory simple changes the language of its explanation to capitalize or appeal to a new and more ‘sexy’ train of theory (which seems to favor scientific ideas hence the use of words like “ecology”), the network theory really complicates the idea of the social interactions. Therefore this is also reflected in reference to the rhetoric used. The social or rhetoric can no longer just simply consist of humans, the language, and other humans but also the interplay of all of that and the environment or opportunity alignment. All of these things messily speaking back and forth, up and down, and side to side. One of the examples that was discussed in my theory course was that of the ocean. From my understanding, this turn in theory can be understood as a change from simply a look at the fish, other fish, and the water that they inhabit but also going further to dissect the water which is also inclusive of microbes that also affect the environment as well as interactions between the other parts of the ocean. This is what I think of when I think of both the social and cultural application but also now the rhetorical use.

In relation to my project, I think that this articles emphasis on the importance of consideration of an expanse of factors when attempting to persuade our contacts in seeing our issue as a problem that needs to be fixed and hopefully by our proposed ideas. I really was reminded of the precarious use of words and the impact that can be made for better or for worse. I was particularly reminded of our use of “community” and how we have tried to make sure that we not just throw it around as the buzz word it has come to be on this campus but revitalize and renew the meaning behind that word. So I liked how the author uses the quote of “stickiness” (56) in reference to the presentation of ideas and language that surrounds it because that is something that is obvious but also so crucial. This also combined with the author’s emphasis on the fact and admittance of the messiness or uncertainty that rhetoric occurs in was very enlightening. It tells me that while there is a hope that you can attempt to prepare for all the right conditions there is also a chance that those conditions have already moved on (59-60). This is kind of disheartening but also in ending the article the author talks about “tipping points” in which rhetoric is used as the tool to plant the seed, steps toward, and movements part of a series of movements that get to the eventual point of changes.

Questions for Serenity

  • If you had to make a “how-to guide,” what would be the approaches and strategies that you would include to being successful in activist and projects of change?
  • In working with students, can you explain instances where they might have gone wrong in their approaches with administration? Where could they have improved in?
  • What are the most appealing approaches that you have seen sitting on the administrative side? What strategies and topics are the most appealing? Does the way a particular argument is shaped help persuade more than another?
  • What style of meeting or display is the most approachable (none abrasive) but retains the image of “you mean business” and is productive when advocating ideas of change?
  • As an administrator both in your previous job as dean and your current role, in what ways does your approach to change or the pulling of support differ from changes from the bottom? In what ways are they the same?

Progress Report

Definition:

  1. Revitalize Thompson Lobby.

Our theoretical research has uncovered a framework which we believe emphasizes that the physical spaces where people gather are vital to creating a sense of community. From this dissertation (which includes an excellent literature review that makes our job much easier):

“Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, Whitt and Associates (1991) posit that the campus physical environment contributes to student learning, personal development, and engagement. After a mixed methods investigation of student engagement practices, policies, and 16 outcomes at 14 exemplary colleges, they asserted that the role of physical space cannot be overlooked. Kuh et al. stated, “Interaction among community members is fostered by the availability of indoor and outdoor spaces where people can come together without much effort. Institutions should consider whether their campuses have adequate places that encourage spontaneous, informal interactions among students” (p. 309). These academic and social interactions define the college experience and can serve as developmental milestones in the life of the student.”

In short, creating a more opening, inviting space on campus is an absolutely vital first step in building a sense of community on campus.

  1. Revive ‘What Matters to Me and Why’ talk series.

The central role of shared experiences in forming group identities and a sense of community is a practical cliche–even in the field of international relations, scholars like Carl Tinney have built whole theories of state formation on this premise. This is also borne out on our campus; the Greek communities are notable for their (pardon the pun) sense of fraternité with each other, while the independents (whom as Donovan and Hannah have noted) lack a similar sense of community. The difference–frequent to the point of monotonous and endless Greek events–is not coincidental.

To that end, the (re)creation of the ‘What Matters to Me and Why’ talk series is a quintessential community-building event. Through the explicit sharing and reinforcing of communal values– like an emphasis on living a ‘good life’ (in Aristotelian vocabulary) to a commitment to openness, diversity, and inclusion, to a continuing emphasis through example on the importance of educating the whole person in the liberal arts tradition, this talk series is an excellent choice of event series on which to begin building a sense of community.

Target Stakeholders: Michael Covert, Dean of Students and Diane Fout, Campus Center Manager (Facilities Management is also her jurisdiction)

  • Diane Fout is a stakeholder because she is in charge of the facilities on campus according to Kevin Fisher, and therefore any changes done to communal spaces are going to be through her. She has her own budget and a significant deal of autonomy, therefore she may be able to have the funding, desire, and ability to change the Thomson Lobby space. If any concerns are brought up that she is unaware of, Dean Covert most likely has the answer.
  • The reason Dean Covert is a stakeholder is because he is in charge of student life, and therefore, he holds the most administrative privileges when it comes to community building ideas. With his approval, obtained through meetings and presentations, we can secure funding for this event and potentially in the future.

Strategies: Dean’s approval is needed–can be obtained through meeting/stakeholder presentation where we ask him to sign off on plan & begin to explore securing funding for those parts of the plan which require it.

Create logical argument that community on campus can and should be prioritized in multiple ways than it is already.

  • Use of budget
  • Sources cited that show why community is important
    • How proxemics and event organization are interrelated and magnified with each other’s use.
  • The WMTMAW series used as an opening of a renovated space to conclude school year/May Term.
  • Represents an event idea that can bring people together because of differences, and that is something sorely lacking due to the superfluous amount of organizations and events built upon similarities.

Materials:

Next Steps Immediate: Gather information on design principles conducive to creating community. Set up meeting proper with Covert.

Next Steps Overall: Prepare detailed plans (floor plan, event schedule and possible commitments from speakers, tentative budget).

Questions: [We’ll need to fill this in with whatever they ask us tomorrow].

Concerns: We very much are just having a meeting and then leaving town for the summer. This is, generally speaking, not great for the odds of creating follow-through.

Questions for Teddy

  • What is your definition of activism? What are the varying degrees and ways that activism can be enacted and participated in?
  • What drew you to your major? (If I remember correctly, it was Art and Activism or Social Change/Political Action through Art)
  • How do you define the use of art in activism? What medias are used and Why? What are the strategies of those (and yourself) when deliberatively using art? What art the benefits of using art in activism? Why do you think art is used (most appealing, striking…)? Why is art important?
  • In what ways have you used your art for activism? What are the successful moments and the not so successful? What determines success of the endeavor?
  • What is your experience on this campus with creating change? (Project One? Administration? Other Students?)
  • How are steps towards changes and voicing of issues on campus sustained in momentum? What ways have you found most successful?
  •  What has been the most challenging for you personally in your projects for change and process of finding issues and doing something about them? What has been the most rewarding?

Other Campus Strategies

When I think about other campuses and the ways in which they enact their activism, the first instances that come to mind are those larger demonstration that are highlighted in the media at the larger universities. I think of the larger stand outside buildings with signs or organize marches. Those are the ones that are not only most appealing but it feels as if they are what we picture when we think activism. The anger directed in visible and tangible ways. But that is what is easiest to chant and yell I feel like in some ways. Its harder to do more of the deliberative side of activism I think. It is through protests that we hope to yell our opinion but in some cases instead of opening up dialogue we shut down some of those avenues.

But when I think about the ways that some of my friends have shared with me from other campuses, I forget sometimes about the more hidden ways in which activism and engagement can be achieved. I know that many of my friends (at larger campuses) really are tenacious in their involvement and voice in their Student Government Boards. The idea being focused largely  first on the way in which students groups and organizations can encourage each other to come up with solutions to address issues on campus.

Also I think one of the major parts of activism on other campuses is the platform of social media. It is in the snippets of pictures and phrases that students have come to be aware about issues that start off seemingly small but develop into larger movements as others even beyond the issue being one that is not only cared about by the student body but being picked up in momentum as others recognize and stand with them.

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-campus-unrest-20151118-story.html

Response to “The Big Uneasy”

I found that Heller brought well rounded look at the atmosphere surrounding the small liberal arts campus of Oberlin. It highlighted the struggle of not only the students but also the professors and administration struggle in understanding the campus’s changing climate. It looks at the activism and different movements affects on students and their efforts and the professor in trying to best address but also reconcile with their own ideologies of what activism and curriculum look like. I found it quite interesting the way in which Heller describes this shift of generations (from the sixties to present). He sees this (our, my) current generation as one that he calls the Firebrand Generation as oppose to the previous one being that of Builders. I found this to be comforting but also concerning. It was as if I could get behind the calls for greater action but I could also see how at times destructive that this mind set could be. I feel with the students when he describes them and at times they describe themselves as “tired” and frustrated with the situation that demands seem as if it is the only way to go. But then demands, as the president said, were not conducive of dialogue or opening to negotiation that could be steps up from the beginning point of remaining the same. However as the author express growing up in a climate in which we have been told lies about the reality of world and finally meet a piece of that reality shakes us but also causes us to what more “authenticity” and bluntly addressing of the issue as it is not as it has been coddled to seem. The need for change becomes needed, pervasive, and immediate. However I know that the way in which that call for change is packaged, the language becomes very important so that your message is heard and opens avenues as the last person described in the article, “doesn’t stop after I graduate” but it continues on in ones life but I would like to think on campus.
I think the connect that I can make to my issue is remembering that dialogue is important! Although the ideas that we are purposing don’t necessarily have load connotation, there is room to alienate those who feel that their efforts could be being attacked in our call of addressing the issue of campus spaces. We really don’t want to do that. So as we are and have been contacting people in different positions and different points of contact, I would like to think that we are approaching with voice of questions and concern and curiosity of what are ideas that have been put forth and how can we contribute.

Web of Stakeholders

Some of the key stakeholders:

(Most Immediate Contact: As these positions I believe would be most accessible to us being lower in the chain of command but more open to listening to our ideas on the smaller level of change)

  • Diane Fout, Campus Center Director
    • Actively working to make the CC a more inviting place, which we have to be mindful in the way we handle acknowledging her efforts but also in working with her to move them forward.
    • Some concerns that she may be up about our project is the point of university plans to eventually renovate Forrer in the near future. So spending lots of money now on things that may not fit the revamped design would be a waste.
  • Michelle Thompson, VP of Campus Engagement
    • This issue is essentially her job description of facilitating community amongst student life so I think that she would be on board but again we have to be careful in the way we approach the efforts already made with student run organizations.
    • Her concern would be student participation of mobilizing other student groups
  • Hannah Piechowski, ResLife Director
    • She should be behind the ideas of making the residential side of campus more of a welcoming space and home to students.
  • Ashley Hill, Director of Student Well Being
    • A very enthusiastic position holder, I believe that Ashley would be in support of our ideas in the name of bettering student wellbeing however not clear as to what exactly her role would be in helping to achieve our goals.

(Higher in Chain: May run into some bureaucratic tape and tied hands. While they can possible get into progress the larger project ideas, they may logistical be unable to do so)

  • Holly Shielley, VP Dean of Students
  • Micheal Covert, Dean of Students
    • These two just have the most to logistically think about in implementing anything for the more drastic part of this project. It will be the most difficult because some cases they will not be able to do much.
    • These people will most likely make the argument that the Campus Center as is is good enough.
    • Although I am wonder if plans for renovation of the CARE house is
  • Admissions?
    • I think that the idea of renovation would appeal to them as way of boosting enrollment and also retention but again not sure if this is within their jurisdiction.
  • Office of Development/Financial Office
    • They are going to be the hardest to argue as they are looking at the numbers game of money and how much anything is going to cost in the long run.
    • I think for them we are going to have to definitely argue hard for a cost-benefit relation where benefits outweigh costs.
  • Seamus Carey, President

Issue Defined

What exactly is the issue? (Elisa Green)

In the wake of the university’s campus renovations and expansion, we recognize the continued problem of community, especially on the residential campus side. We find issue in the way that the creation of community has been handled both as a spirit to be fostered and a physical space to inhabit. The spaces that we feel to be most underused are the campus center and the “safe space” (located in the CARE House). Imagine with me, the many times you have walked through the campus center only to find it empty on many occasions. Now also imagine with me the little lonely building of the CARE House that sit on 4th street before you make it to the apartments. It holds (for those of you that have not been there) rooms with boring white walls and minimal additions. Everything exudes a dingy, cold, and waste-land like feel to it. You walk through these spaces and ask yourself: this is where one builds community, this is suppose to be welcoming and inviting? It is in these spaces that we envision that campus community has so much potential to grow and become a thriving space of community.

The problem as we see it comes from two angles: that being our problem with the physical atmosphere of the spaces and the lack of continual active community creation happening within these spaces. So basically the physical space and the actual action/events of community. We believe that these things go hand and hand. The creation of community, such as the finding of commonalities and recognition but also value of diversity in all forms, requires not only the comfortable space(s) for expression but also events that bring out those avenues. We believe this is important because we have major problems of social divisions (i.e. greek and indy), inclusion, and diversity. This leads to feelings of isolation that damage the community that Transylvania University claims to have and foster. But it also causes ‘community’ to a only a word paid in lip-service and not action. And what we need is action.

It is in communal spaces, from the student perspective, that we engage with our fellow peers in a different way than on academic side of campus. It is where we feel most at home and build relations with our fellow residents in more intimate ways that should be a continuation of the liberal arts spirit. But how can residents make these meaningful connections if there is nothing drawing them to these communal spaces? We believe that there should be an emphasis on community outside of academics and especially outside of the isolation of individual dorm rooms. If our community space were more welcoming and students flocked to these spaces it would put the university into a better light and be a more authentic selling point for PR in drawing more students to the university. It would also, we imagine, help to promote higher retention rates as students are making more intimate connections that tie them to the university beyond simply academic value.

We also recognize the problem being not only with Administration and staff who determine the design of campus spaces but also amongst our fellow students in mobilizing to want to build community with others. But again going back to the earlier point, these two issues are linked in a combination of events and aesthetics of space that contribute to the overall atmosphere. That is why our goal is creating an atmosphere through events and spaces to encourage community.

What could help? (Tristan Reynolds)

If the problem at Transy is atomization and alienation, then the solution is the antithesis: community. So, to solve the problem, we will attempt to foster a sense of community, focused on the Campus Center. While we recognize that obviously, you cannot force the creation of a community, we do believe that you can create conditions in which a community is more likely to flourish. Our proposed solutions, we believe, will create those conditions.

We want to start with the physical space itself. Currently, the Campus Center looks quite grim, grey, and not exactly inviting. However, some simple redecorating, the moving of furniture and changing the general style of the space will, we believe, go a long way towards making it a friendlier place for student activities. (We will have to make some investigation into the literature on how interior design effects the mood of a space). We want also to make a particular note that any new additions to the Campus Center, ideally, should emphasize the diversity and inclusion message that we believe is vital to creating and sustaining a community. To borrow an idea from our classmate Megan Graft, our ideal world would include prominent displays and art celebrating significant figures in the social justice tradition of Transy (the first female professors, the first racially integrated class, and so on).

This is not, however, sufficient in and of itself. The difference between a space and a community is the presence of people. To that end, the second component of our solution would be a revival of the popular lecture/seminar/talk series ¨What Matters to Me and Why.¨ The series was consistently well-attended by a wide swath of campus, and was a notable forum for the discussion of the tough questions and the human issues that lay at the heart of community building. We believe that reviving the series, and placing it in the Campus Center, is a valuable first step towards regularly bringing a diverse set of students into a community space. We further believe that bringing them into the space under the umbrella of a shared and regular experience will itself engender a sense of community among Transy students.  

Who are the Stakeholders? (Hunter Overstreet)

A community takes many people to foster, and therefore there are several positions on campus that are dedicated to producing this community for the students. The group most affected are the students. Regardless of housing location or organization affiliation, every student is involved in being a healthy part of a cohesive community or harmed when the engagement is weaker. We see different issues being perpetuated when a community is not as connected, such as divides existing between students (Greek/Indy), issues of inclusion, and individuals feeling isolated. We have had students voice concerns about the connectedness of community in many facets, and community engagement strengthening is one solution that we believe can alleviate these concerns.

There are several stakeholders already working on providing the opportunities that already exist for students. At the highest command is Dean Covert, who is dean of student life. He holds a stake in this situation because he’s in charge of the parts of administration like Residence Life, Counseling Center (I think?), the Campus Center, and campus engagement. These facets include Hannah Piechowski and Kevin Fisher, who are in charge of residence life. Ashley & Ashley are receptive to providing a more cultivating campus because it is part of their mission in the counseling center. Diane Fout is in charge of the campus center, so she is assuredly a stakeholder, as is Michelle Thompson, whose position on campus is Campus and Community engagement. All of these people serve as a primary resource who can address the concerns we have of community engagement/community strengthening.