#HonoringWebFolk with shoutouts and thanks

By Rachel Luna

Inspired by a grassroots effort from author and web expert Molly E. Holzschlag (@mollydotcom), today is “Unsung Leaders of the Web Day” as folks are invited to shout out messages of thanks.

Who are the unsung leaders of the web in your community?

  • Was there a digital ambassador who helped you get on board with web technology?
  • Do you have a great IT support team?
  • How about an awesome content manager?
  • Can you send a virtual high-five to your favorite bloggers?
  • Who is that person in your life you can always go to with web tech questions?
  • Who do you count on to be the innovator and push the envelope of the web?

Check out the #HonoringWebFolk hashtag on Twitter and add your own acknowledgements.  Perhaps you can extend the spirit of this movement beyond social media and take the time to show these folks how much you appreciate them with a hand-written thank you card or even a face-to-face conversation.

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#HonoringWebFolk with shoutouts and thanks

Student Storytelling

by Kristen Abell

This past semester at my institution, our marketing and communications division embarked on a project about which I have to admit I’m really excited. We are telling the university’s story through the words of our students. How are we doing this? I thought I’d share a little about our digital storytelling process for others who might be interested in doing something similar.

We started by scheduling a four-hour block (which turned into a six-hour block by the end of the day) in our student union on campus in which to recruit students and have them tell their stories. Each student filled out a two-page questionnaire asking them such things as how college has inspired them, what they admire most about the institution, etc. After filling out the questionnaire, students were whisked into a makeshift photography studio with our professional photographer. While they were being photographed in a variety of poses (we even had one student do some breakdancing for us) against a white background, they were also interviewed by our staff to get a richer story about who they were. Once they completed this photography session, they then went onto our second photography session with one of our graphic designers. These photos were more casual with the campus as our backdrop so that we could use them with various social media. Finally, students shot some short videos telling us about themselves, where they hoped to go after our institution and what they loved about the campus.

But this was merely the first step in our process. After getting all the data, so to speak, we then had to process it. Pictures were selected and edited, interviews were crafted into stories, and videos were edited. We then began the process of sharing all of our great student stories with the world.

First, a student Q and A was posted on our university website with pictures. This then got shared on Twitter and Facebook. After that, we posted several images and quotes to a Tumblr site, as well as Vine videos and Instagram shots. We have been using the hashtag #UMKCGoingPlaces to designate these posts.

Overall, the response has been very positive, although we hope to have more engagement with our posts as we continue to build on them. We are actually headed out to do our second round of storytelling today on our second campus. We’ve changed a few things – we scheduled students ahead of time and had them fill out their questionnaires and email them back this time – less handwriting interpreting for us. But I have to admit, I’m really pleased with how this project has turned out, and I look forward to seeing more students as we continue to hold these storytelling sessions. Almost as importantly, the rest of the staff with whom I work is equally excited – this project has been lots of fun for all of us, and it has been a great reminder to us of why we’re here.

How are you telling your students’ story?

Student Storytelling

Tone Policing in Student Affairs: A Case Study on #Ferguson Discussions

by Niki Messmore

In the hours and days following the decision of “no indictment” from the grand jury convened to hear the case of State of Missouri v Darren Wilson, folks in student affairs have struggled to find meaning alongside the rest of the world. Many folks within student affairs have utilized Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups related to the field to begin discussions, ask questions, and engage with one another.

Sometimes these discussions get tricky and result in less than positive feelings.

The Beginnings of a Case Study
The facebook group ‘Student Affairs Professional’ with over 13,000 members had an interesting batch of posts that led me to wonder what are the rules of engagement in regards to social justice discussions within the field.

Perhaps two hours after the “no indictment” decision from Ferguson on 11/24, one professional (the ‘original poster’ aka OP) posted a question (that I am summarizing) asked folks what they were expecting on their campuses and if they were afraid of riots and violence happening. This post we will call the ‘Original Thread’ aka OT.

Now…that question made me highly uncomfortable. I personally feel that the grand jury decision was in error and that Darren Wilson needs to go through a full criminal trial. To ask such a question so soon, when justice for a young black men was lost? It didn’t feel appropriate. Further, the question seemed awash in white fear because automatically connecting Ferguson to riots on our college campus? I feel that line of thought stems from systemic racism.

Within that comment thread, I posted a very balanced statement, gentle challenge, and added that I’m more worried about riots from sporting events than Ferguson on college campuses. Around 2-3 others posted a comment as well, most in the form of a pretty gentle challenge.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The post got deleted – which is perfectly understandable because the OP likely realized they made a mistake and probably did not want to be anyone’s after-school special as other group members used her post as a learning tool.

Then there were posts created calling out questions for why the OT was deleted. I posted my assumption from above. Then there were some folks engaging in what I would call ‘tone policing’.

What’s Tone Policing, Preciousss?*
Tone Policing: The act of shaming someone for responding in a manner that does not fit into proper polite society, particularly when it is a member of a marginalized population responding to a member of a privilege population. Tone policing occurs when a person is called out for a seemingly ‘harsh’ response.

Tone policing is harmful because (via: TooYoungfortheLivingDead.tumblr.com)
1. “Marginalized people often do not have the luxury of emotionally distancing themselves from discussions on their rights and experiences.”
2. “Tone policing is the ultimate derailing tactic. When you tone police, you automatically shift the focus of the conversation away from what you or someone else did that was wrong, and onto the other person and their reaction.”
3. “Tone policing assumes that the oppressive act is not an act of aggression, when it very much is. The person who was oppressed by the action, suddenly is no longer a victim, but is “victimizing” the other person by calling them out.”

 Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program: The Case Study
Now, within this second thread in Student Affairs Professionals on 11/25, there were some professionals tone policing. Some comments (without citations because while the comments are public I am not trying to bring attention to them – we are trying to understand symptoms of a systemic issue, not point fingers) include:

  1. “We are all educators and another educator asked a seemingly harmless question only to be criticized to the point of feeling like they had to remove a post?”
  2. “And what if the OP was a grad or a new pro asking advice looking for guidance and instead was given criticism to the point that they felt the need to stop the discourse and remove the post.”
  3. “We boast about being an open, friendly, and educational profession; yet we are quick to put another professional on the stake for something we see as alarming or uneducated. Were’s their teachable moment?”
  4. “Are there better ways the original question could have been asked? Sure. Could people have pointed that out differently? Absolutely.”
  5. “We need to allow questions to be asked or statements be made, and not shame people to not asking them or sharing their opinions, probably especially those that make us most uncomfortable, whether we find them right, wrong, or otherwise.”
  6. “But again – we are shaming the original poster into redacting her question. Why is it not okay for her to feel supported…and challenged- in a civil way? If we need to think about the broader subject, great. I get it. I agree. But nobody should feel bad enough about a question (which was certainly asked without malice and minus a lack of concern) to delete it rather than learn from those who should be peers.”

This was all extremely disheartening to read, especially when I had participated in the OT and read all the comments except the last one before it was deleted. The gentle challenges of the commenters to the OP were very civil. In no way at all did the commenters need to rephrase how they were made. In fact, due to the perceived racial identity of the OT and most of the commenters, I read the tone policing comments as something that contributed to oppression (unintentional or not). When people respond to your questions or comments in a way that you read as hostile, it is best to remember these tips for dealing.

Why are we so quick to rally around those with privilege?
Truly, I understand that it can be difficult for people with privilege to seek understanding of systems of oppression (hello, I have a ton of privileges). It’s not easy to be vulnerable and ask questions. It is equally not easy to be from a marginalized group when your privileged questions create harmful impacts.

We grow best in discomfort. Gaining an understanding in social justice is not easy. It can be painful to peel back the layers of our ignorance as we work past feelings of guilt, shame, and denial. But we need to hold people accountable for their questions when needed because that will help them learn. As writer Ngọc Loan Trần proposed, let’s call in people from our community to a higher level of understanding.

At the end of the day, don’t expect conversations on social issues to be just rainbows and puppies. It’s going to be messy – and that’s a good thing.

Have you ever experienced or witnessed tone policing? Share your thoughts in the comments or with me on Twitter @NikiMessmore.

 

PS: If you want to discuss the current events of Ferguson, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and the accompanying movements, ACPA is having a community conversation on Dec 9th at 4:30pm EST.

*even serious topics get a Lord of the Rings joke, because I’m cool like that

Tone Policing in Student Affairs: A Case Study on #Ferguson Discussions

Why Student Affairs Professionals Should Care About #GamerGate

By Kathryn Magura

**Warning: this blog post contains content of a violent nature that may unintentionally trigger someone. Please read on with caution.**

 

I am not a gamer. I do not go online and play video games with other people. Why then would I purport to get involved with an issue called #GamerGate?

Well, for starters, women are being threatened with horrendous crimes because they have chosen to speak out against #GamerGate. Yes, you read that correctly. Women – a growing population in the gaming world – are being threatened with specific threats of violence like gang rape when they choose to speak out against the sexism in gaming. If you are not aware, there is quite a bit of overt sexism in the gaming world. Everything from female characters who are sexualized to bullying women out of the community, it is truly an ugly world to be a part of if you are a woman. That said, some women still choose to partake simply because they love to game. Something they have every right to continue doing.

Women who speak out against #GamerGate face a real threat of being doxxed (which is internet speak for when personally identifying information like address, age, Social Security Number is published) and thusly sent into hiding. Felicia Day, a famous gamer and actress finally spoke out against #GamerGate, and within minutes was doxxed. Men who speak out do not face the same doxxing threats. Why?  This is wrong, and the only way to stop it is to draw more attention to the issue.

For some more context about this issue, those who are pro #GamerGate claim that the issue is about media ethics in gaming. When I first tweeted about #GamerGate:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 8.22.37 PM

I received quite a few responses from people who defended #GamerGate under the belief that they were defending the need for more ethics in gaming. While I believe these people wholeheartedly believe this version of #GamerGate, they are also incredibly naive to ignore what has happened to the women who speak out against #GamerGate. These atrocities are happening to women only, not the men who also speak out. How is this an issue of gaming ethics??

Newsweek sought out to answer the question of what the root issue of #GamerGate is, and concluded that #GamerGate is about harassing women more than gaming ethics. In 2014 we have blatant sexism running rampant without consequence. THIS IS NOT OK.

So why should Student Affairs professionals care about #GamerGate? Besides the fact that we have women being harassed and threatened, there is a deeper issue at play here. Many of these gamers who are threatening women and sharing their private information are our students. They are our residents on campus. They are the students in our first year seminar classes. They are the students who attend our events (or not).

We have students on our campuses who think it is ok to publish personal information about a woman, or even threaten to rape her, simply because she disagrees with him. This is not ok. We need to reach out to these students and help them see the true value in other human beings. This is not a game. This is reality, and people are getting hurt. The threat is real, and we owe it to these gamers to encourage them to see the difference.

Why Student Affairs Professionals Should Care About #GamerGate

Using Tech to Reflect

By Josie Ahlquist

“It is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”

― Carl Sandburg

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your old Facebook posts or Instagram pictures?  Reading an old blog or watching a video from years ago?

Before social media I used to scrapbook religiously, at minimum two full books per year.  I wanted to remember.  If used positively, tools such as social media can serve as a scrapbook into your past.

Recently my husband and I celebrated an anniversary, pulling up our honeymoon photos we shared on Facebook.  A flood of memories rushed back as we laughed and reflected.  No scrapbook, just a quick scroll online.  As part of my dissertation I had focus groups with 40 college student leaders.  Many of them also spoke about the enjoyment they had on looking back through social media, a way of tracking events and celebrations.

One social media tool that aids in this reflection is called Timehop.   As noted from their website, Timehop is “A time capsule of you.”  Everyday you get this ‘time capsule’, with anything you posted that day on social media for the last 5-7 years.  You can send these Timehop posts to friends to re-spark the moment that was one shared online.  The next best thing about it, it’s free!

As you look at your personal and professional growth, how can you use technology tools to reflect?  Such as scrolling through your Twitter feed, reviewing photos taken on iPhoto, or pulling up an old paper you wrote in college.   What about for our students?  As noted in my focus groups, students enjoy looking back online.  As student affairs educators, social media reflection can be applied to training and development activities in various settings.

Just looking and thinking about the past isn’t the full process in reflection.  One should take this further, such as journaling or small group dialogue.  Even here technology can aid.  From private online journals like DayOne  and Evernote http://www.evernote.com or group communication tools like Google Hangouts or Skype, tech can be supplemented.  Strategic activities can challenge us to think about Carl Sandburg’s statement, “Who am I, Where have I been, and where I am going.” 

Using Tech to Reflect

The “Future Student Affairs Grad Students” Facebook Community

By Niki Messmore

The process for selecting a graduate program in student affairs is changing. The platform for this change: Future Student Affairs Grad Students (FSAGS), a public Facebook group that boasts 4,093 members as of Oct 21, 2014.

Several years in the making, there are 13 administrators who monitor the page. Members include prospective students, currently enrolled graduate students, recent graduates who joined the group during their graduate program search, and current faculty members. It is a highly active group with 55 posts in the last 7 days.

No longer are students exploring programs through just their personal contacts, but now they have the opportunity to explore programs from around the country with a simple post.

I’ve been observing and participating in the group for around the last two years and it is interesting to consider what impacts it may be creating. Here are a few brief thoughts that require further exploration and discussion:

Observed Benefits

  1. There is an online community for individuals who want to enter student affairs
  2. A variety of schools are represented; top-ranked, regional campus, counseling focus, administrative focus, etc
  3. Great opportunity for current graduate students to take ownership of their experience and engage in mentoring activities with prospective students
  4. Information on #SAgrad programs is notoriously difficult to find (NASPA’s website is ok but not easily accessible). Prospective students can easily inquire about almost any program and almost every post has at least one (or twenty) responses.
  5. The group is accumulating a wealth of user-generated resources, such as database on program assistantships (70 positions/schools & counting) and information on graduate programs.

Areas of Concern

  1. Group think can occur. Some posts (especially around Jan-March) cultivate a hive mind that student affairs as a field already has difficulty shaking.
  2. Unsure what the best course is for rules of engagement. There is a list of SA grad program information with current student contact names, but often prospective students don’t take time to look for the list and post general questions. They literally list 12 schools that they are interested in attending and asks “who goes here?”
    • While this is probably helpful for prospective students, it is time consuming for highly engaged folks who reply to multiple posts and – quite frankly – can be terribly annoying after a while.
  3. Who should be a member? Some prospective and current students post fairly personal thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc. Should assistantship providers and program faculty stay away from this group so the space is safe? Or do they have wisdom to provide?
  4. It can become, at times, a space that straddles the line between shameless self-promotion & helpful information
  5. There’s a reason why we can’t cite Wikipedia: crowd-sourced information isn’t always accurate. Some advice that is provided should probably, well, not.

Follow-up Questions

  1. Is FSAGS a community? The exchanges are often brief Q&A, so it is difficult to tell if authentic relationships are being built across social media. Will these connections last?
  2. Will this impact how SA grad programs market themselves? Should we be providing current students with more ‘marketing’-esque info since they have a more public opportunity to represent our programs? Already some personnel and students are using the group to share their marketing information, like visiting days and webinars.
  3. Are prospective students being authentic? From reviewing posts (quite a few ‘inspirational’ links about leadership), it appears that some may recognize they are being observed by individuals that could impact their opportunity for an assistantship…or is that just who they are?
  4. Will this even the playing ground for lesser-known or newer programs to market their degree and increase applications? Grad programs rate based on reputation. With easily accessible space provided, programs can really get their name out there.

Ultimately, it is a very cool corner of the internet. This group creates further exposure to student affairs, thus possibly increasing awareness to students who may not have considered a masters in higher education. Currently, the group is a wealth of information for navigating the grad school process and it may also increase accessibility for historically underrepresented populations – which is awesome!

Have you had any experiences with the group? Do you think this is a positive addition to the student affairs field? Please comment or tweet me at @NikiMessmore. I’ve been thinking on this group a lot and what it may mean – I would love to hear your perspectives!

The “Future Student Affairs Grad Students” Facebook Community

Follow Friday

By Rachel Luna

#FollowFriday is one of my favorite social media traditions because I’m always looking for ways to learn new things.  As Abigail Adams said, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”  In this spirit, I look for accounts to ensure my Twitter timeline will keep me connected with the goings-on in the world, pique my interest, and enhance my awareness around issues of social justice.  For this #FF post, I’m sharing a trio of such accounts:

 

NPR’s Code Switch, @NPRCodeSwitch

Twitter Bio:

“We tweet about race, ethnicity and culture, how these things play out in our lives, and how all of that is shifting. We did @TodayIn1963. Hang with us.”

Sample Tweets:

My Take:

Fans of intersectionality will enjoy this account, which features a series of bloggers who tackle race, ethnicity, and culture.  On any given week, posts can touch on music, research, literature, language, etc., all through the lens of race and ethnicity.  I particularly appreciate the way they engage with their followers, often posing open-ended questions, retweeting responses, and inviting suggestions for future stories. One “don’t miss” project from these folks is the innovative, robust history project @Todayin1963, which simulated live-tweet coverage of that dynamic year in US history.

 

Teaching Tolerance, @Tolerance_org

Twitter Bio:

“Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center [@splcenter], Teaching Tolerance provides educators with free educational materials.”

Sample Tweets:

My Take:

This account helps me remember that I am both an educator in my role as an #SAPro, and a student in my role as an engaged global citizen.  From their historical #OnThisDay tweets to suggested curricula for current events, Teaching Tolerance focuses on applied learning about diversity and inclusion. Although their materials are generally aimed at the K-12 classroom crowd, I find it a fun exercise to consider adapting and applying their resources to higher education and student affairs settings.

 

Race Forward, @RaceForward

Twitter Bio:

“We advance racial justice through research, media and practice. We publish @colorlines and present Facing Race. Formerly the Applied Research Center.”

Sample Tweets:

My Take:

This is a “challenge and support” account for me in that keeps me informed and also keeps me thinking.  In addition to providing useful news updates via their outlet @Colorlines (described as a “daily news site where race matters”), this account also hosts provocative Twitter chats like #LivesOfBlackMen and promotes social change initiatives like the “Drop the I-Word” campaign. These are also the people behind the Facing Race conference (described as “the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice”), which you can attend in person or lurk on the backchannel (#FacingRace14).

Your Turn

What accounts do you follow to stay up on current events, culture trends, and perspectives on social justice?  Share in the comments or tweet @RachelHLuna so others can follow, too!

 

Follow Friday