Culture Clash on Campus: an inter-religious/inter-spiritual discussion on drugs and partying.

Last week the Religion and Spiritual Life Office invited community members to talk about their experiences with alcohol and drugs as well as partying on a college campus. While partying can be an important part of college culture it often goes with drinking which while illegal the majority of campus, still happens, and plays an important role in creating friendships, bonding, and more. Often students who choose not to partake in these activities feel alienated and feel that they cannot participate in a big part of campus culture, due to respect for their spiritual and religious culture. This is the space in which this conversation took place. How does one negotiate the different cultural beliefs and expectations as a person of faith and a college student. The OMA asked a represenative from the Office of Religious Life to give their take on the conversation that took place last week. Here is what a representative had to say.

Diamond Henry, an intern at the Office of Religious life said this “On Wednesday, February 11, the Committee for Spiritual and Religious Life hosted a  inter-religious/inter-spiritual discussion on drugs and partying. It focused on how different religious or spiritual groups view Drugs, Alcohol and Partying.  During the conversation, we explored different Bible and Koran verses that covered the topic. We realized both were saying the same thing,  not that we shouldn’t  drink, party or do drugs, but that you should know your  limits.  The conversation was much less what the text said about drinking, and more about how we interpreted them and  how we put them  into practice. Our conversation included topics like how do we know our limits, when do you know you have gone too far, and how do we do these things without straying away from God and our beliefs. Next Month, Wednesday, March 18, the Committee of Spiritual and Religious Life  will also be hosting another discussion on  the question: ‘What Makes Me Spiritual and /or Religious?’” 

There will be more discussions on interfaith and inter spiritual topics happening throughout the semester.

-Cathy

OMA-ISSO Open House

Last Wednesday from 7-8pm in the Multicultural Center (MCC) we had a joint Office of Multicultural Affairs/ International Student Services Office open house with milk, cookies, coffee, and board games! It was great to see everyone who came out for the event, and we want to stress that the MCC is a place for all students. Come study, hang out, use the kitchen, this space is here for you!

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“Spare Parts”

What did you do over break? What was your highlight? What was something I did, you ask? This past break, I saw the movie “Spare Parts” featuring the awesome Latino comedian & actor Jorge Lopez. This is not your typical comedy or inspirational movie. Rather, it is a portrayal of the difficulties families of illegal immigrants have while living in the USA. If you haven’t seen the movie already, watch it!!! It is about how four young high school boys come together, despite their hardships, and compete against top-notch universities in an underwater robotics competition.

So the movie is about Latino illegal immigrants. “Why should I care?” you might wonder. You may, you may not. I am an immigrant from Mexico, and I was able to connect immensely with the movie. Maybe not with the hardships from being an illegal immigrant, but definitely with the underfunded high school, undervalued students, and with the culture that was presented in the movie. It was interesting for me to hear my aunt talk about how her kids, my cousins, did not have such a strong reaction to the movie as we did. Why? Because they are American-born. They did not experienced the journey of immigrating to the USA- legally or illegally. This definitely shows how some people might care and others won’t. However, it also shows how watching the movie can help you get just a little bit closer to these people’s experience. You may or may not get much out of it, but watching this movie might help you understand more about Latino culture, immigration issues, the Arizona high school system, and definitely about the feelings and concerns youth have while being illegal immigrants.

I have to admit, I am a movie fan. Even though most are inaccurate and exaggerated, movies do have some truth to it. “Spare Parts” definitely portrays truths from real people, real communities, and real issues.

Link to trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=myjar5KoqZA Spare Parts Movie

Unity Day in Pictures!!

Proof

On December 6, 2014, Haverford’s affinity groups and performing groups from neighboring colleges and universities got together for a day of celebration. More specifically, a day of celebrating our community’s diversity, culture, differences and overarching similarities.

The three hour event was held in Founder’s Hall where students and other community members got to enjoy food, music, interactive workshops led by affinity groups, and performances.

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Interactive Workshops included:

Haverford South Asian Society presents Henna & Hot Pockets (Samosas):

Community members had the opportunity to get beautiful Henna tattoos and enjoy delicious samosas and mango juice.

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SAGA - Drag Makeup Tutorial:    

Talented makeup artists demonstrated on willing volunteers techniques to create fierce and fabulous facial makeup masterpieces.

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JSU - Havdalah workshop:  

Community members learned how to make besamim, or spice bags, which are used in a ceremony to end the Sabbath.

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SOA – Voting under Jim Crow:    

What was it like to vote during Jim Crow as a person of color? Community members had the opportunity to try the literacy test given to people before they voted during Jim Crow in Louisiana and saw if they meet the standards to vote [Pastries symbolized the right to vote].

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Diabolo playing with HASA:  

Otherwise known as Chinese yo-yo, the diabolo is a traditional Chinese toy as well as a form of cultural performance, sport, and art.

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ISA – Tasty Bites:

Food from all around the world – Turkish baklava, Chinese dumplings, French Baguette and cheese, Greek dolma, and many more.

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The Women*s Center Does Self Care:  

Take one and leave it–write down a pledge/note of encouragement of self-care and give it to the pile, and take someone else’s for yourself. There was also a laptop with a Google form for sharing pledges/notes with the community if participants felt inspired to.

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PERFORMANCES!!

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Yalah Bryn Mawr

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Rince na Mawr

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The Outskirts

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Penn Chinese Dance Group

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Ford S-Chords

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UPenn Yalla

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African Dance Troupe UPenn

And to make the event official OFFICIAL, we had a Unity Day cake:)

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Haverford Blackout Board

Some of you have probably seen the Blackout Board in the lobby of the DC. There has recently been a lot of buzz going around campus about the Board and there was even a Clerk article on the Board. I think it is particularly sad to see how the campus has responded to the Board and how the Black Student League has been accused of not fostering a productive conversation on Race. According to BSL, the board was meant to give a space for students to voice their opinion on their very important event Blackout which was meant to bring attention to the lack of awareness or conversation about the countless acts of racial violence in the US like cases ranging from Rodney King to Trayvon Martin to recently Michael Brown. The board has been taking as an impediment to a conversation on Race on Campus, when the board was a place for people to anonymously comment on a event that rose awareness of racial issues in the country as a whole and also race on campus. BSL has been targeted by people for creating tension and a unproductive conversation when the board has just highlighted a tension and lack of conversation that has already existed on Campus. BSL held both a open forum before and after Blackout that only had around twelve people that attended yet the anonymous board has had over 70 responses. The board seems to be the way in which the community has taken to talk about Race and has successfully brought a conversation about race on campus from the response to the board. Since I have been at Haverford, the board has created the largest conversation about race across multiple groups more than any other event I have seen so far. I think the board reflects the uncomfort on campus about addressing the reality of race relations on Campus. The fact that an anonymous board is the way in which a conversation about race has been started points to this uncomfort. I agree with many that obviously there are many comments that aren’t constructive on the board but that happens on any anonymous online space but at least many people have had the opportunity to voice their actual opinions. I think its about time that we actually have a real and constructive conversation about race on Campus that stretches to more of the student body. The administration has recently put an emphasis on these issues by the creation of the diversity task force and I think its time for the student body to really address the issue of race relations on campus instead of continuing to believe that Haverford can exist outside the pervasive racist structures that plague our nation.

Just some thoughts,

Rafael Moreno ‘17
OMA Intern

“All” Lives Matter

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A man rests after a Ferguson protest in Oakland

A man rests after a Ferguson protest in Oakland

I recently became aware of the “All Lives Matter” posters/hash-tags/comments that have become a counter-campaign against “Black Lives Matter.” When I first saw posters of “All Lives Matter” I was confused as to what the message for this was. Were they trying to say ‘yeah Black people are getting killed but others as well’ or trying to take a colorblind approach and referring to Mike Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths as a ‘person’s death’ and not a ‘Black persons death’? Although, of course they were people, the importance of BLACK Lives Matter is to highlight how Black people, primarily young men, are systematically targeted, brutalized, and killed by the hands of police. Most of the people that have died from police causes have been Black men. ALL Lives Matter fails to recognize the importance of highlighting this as racial issue. Mike Brown, Eric Garner and the countless other Black men that were unjustly murdered were people. Yes I get that. Pointing out the obvious and building momentum of this only serves to dismiss how racial discrimination and brutalities exist in the U.S. Taking a colorblind approach only pardons and allows these things to happen without truly understanding what is really going on. I think that people’s urge to say that race no longer exists and is no longer a part of U.S. domestic relations and structures are short-sided. Even when people are in solidarity of the recent movements but say “All Lives Matter” it undermines the reasons of why so many people of color and allies are angry, mad, frustrated (insert all distressed and fed-up feelings) of the recent deaths. America own up to your history and present reality.

Why Barbie Why? Barbie as a Computer Scientist Fail

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Barbie Computer Engineer-embed

The nice part about being at Haverford is that I really feel empowered as a woman. Bryn Mawr’s right next door and there are many strong empowered smart women who serve as inspirations in the classroom and as staff members. While I wish there were more women of color to relate to and who might be better able to understand the different waters I have to navigate as a Latina, there are women in high powered positions so I feel capable of climbing up ladders and breaking glass ceilings.

For those who are not as fortunate to have great women to look up to, Mattel has created a Barbie to serve as an inspiration. This would be great if the book that accompanied it didn’t have some major flaws that actually make women look more like a joke in the STEM fields. The Daily Dot summarized it this way,

“The problematic part is that, as far as I can tell, the steps for becoming a computer engineer if you’re Barbie are:

  1. Design a videogame.
  2. Get a boy to code it for you.
  3. Accidentally infect your computer with a virus.
  4. Get a boy to fix it for you.
  5. Take all the credit for these things yourself.
    What she is really saying is that girls can't code and that girls in computer science are only good for doing the easier"art work.

    What she is really saying is that girls can’t code and that girls in computer science are only good for doing the easier”art work.

     

     

    In their efforts to encourage women Mattel really just furthered the stereotype of women just mooching off men in science. In the field of Computer Science as well as other STEMs there is a dearth of women in the field making it more difficult for women to get involved, let alone find a role model to encourage them and to get advice from. The number of women of color participating in STEM fields is even lower.

Luckily, some women decided to correct the mistake. Here are a few snippets from the remixed version.

http://caseyfiesler.com/2014/11/18/barbie-remixed-i-really-can-be-a-computer-engineer/

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My favorite was the little nudge to breaking the stereotype of the hyper-masculine black male. Sadly Mattel missed many opportunities to help feminism and to show what life as a woman in the sciences is really like. Mattel did issue an apology according to GeekWire  but it wasn’t well received.

I invite you to look at the discussions and the points made. One friend, a female engennering masters student found the doll encouraging as she used it to help her recruit other women into the computer science field since they could not imagine themselves coding or building circuits. I personally felt that the book was done in poor taste and undermined the struggle women in the sciences face. Is something better than nothing as we try to encourage women to pursue STEM?

What are microaggressions?

This semester through my work with the OMA I’ve been creating some faculty trainings on issues of race in the classroom. What I’ve mostly been focused on in making these trainings is defining the idea of the microaggression, explaining why they’re dangerous and harmful, and most importantly offering suggestions on how to move forward. This blog post will focus on the definition and I’ll elaborate on the others in future posts.

Microaggression (n): a verbal, behavioral, or textual act indicative of broader systematic assumptions whose subtext communicates a disrespectful, negative, or offensive message regardless of the intention of the actor.

This is a working definition I have come up with that I think holds a number of really important pieces. I think that if people know about microaggressions at all, they falsely assume that all microaggressions are verbal.  How many images have you seen in college viewbooks that have in them a “token” person of color? I would argue that this is a microaggression, though it is nonverbal without a clear actor, because it contributes to the tokenization of people of color in higher education which is disrespectful because it does not acknowledging the wholeness of the individual in the photograph.

I think that another important part of the definition is the fact that the intention of the act doesn’t matter at all to how the microaggression is perceived. Microaggressions are bigger than the individual. They’re not isolated incidents, they’re a part of a system that does include individuals, but also includes histories, texts, systems of law or government etc. In this way, words and actions are given a power that any individual person would not wield without the network and memory behind the words.

-Miriam

Looking ahead to the CHAS Black and Latino Males Conference, November 14-16

It’s been a busy and generative semester (indeed, before the semester even began, we had an intensive week with 20 extraordinary members of the class of ’18 who took part in the Tri-Co Social Justice Institute with students from Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore – you can learn more about the program at www.haverford.edu/oma/tri-co/):  September saw the visit of Lani Guinier to the Tri-Co community as part of the the Cooper Series marking the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education series, the week-long (Ir)Reverance symposium with artists, scholars, and activists in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God while October started off with a gathering of women of color alumnae, hosted by Haverford House fellow Marla Dominguez ’14 and closed with a community-wide conversation about the reverberations of the events in Ferguson organized by OMA intern Tobi Alliyu ’16 in collaboration with Walter Sullivan, the Director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

The issues that were articulated at the Ferguson conversation — most particularly, concerns around the ways in which men of color bear the brunt of particular social injustices, and the possibilities for changing the structures and dynamics that create these injustices — will be front and center in conversations and workshops that will be taking place at the Consortium for High Achievement and Success (CHAS) Black and Latino Males conference that Haverford will be hosting November 14-16.

The entire community is invited to the keynote talk that Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, nationally-renown President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, whose work on access and opportunity in the STEM fields for students from underrepresented communities led to creation of the Meyerhoff Program that in turn became an inspiration for Haverford’s Chesick Scholars program.

Dr. Hrabowski will be introduced by President Dan Weiss at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 15 in Founders Great Hall. Check out Dr. Hrabowski’s TED talk on “The Four Pillars of College Success in the Sciences” : http://www.ted.com/talks/freeman_hrabowski_4_pillars_of_college_success_in_science

Playing in the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox (or, the future of Modest Open Online Communities….)

I’ve been spending a significant part of this summer in conversation with educators in places ranging from Watsonville, California to Livonia, Michigan to Belle Fourche, South Dakota to Springdale, Arkansas, courtesy of the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox, what I’m thinking of as a Modest Open Online Community (in contradistinction to the much-ballyhooed Massive Open Online Courses)  that is bringing together 67 teachers and tech specialists who are exploring the challenges and opportunities of working with new media forms and new technologies in classrooms.

The connective tissue of this community is the National Writing Project, and I found my point of entry into the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox through an invitation circulated through the Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP), a community of teachers of writing in Northern California to whom I’m eternally indebted for being an extraordinary source of support and inspiration as I was building my practice as a teacher. The BAWP spirit and ethos can be found in the Bi-Co community in the Teaching and Learning Institute, about which you can learn more here: www.brynmawr.edu/tli/)

In the first two weeks of class, I’ve been learning about how teachers in under-resourced elementary students are working to ensure that their students can get the tech access that gives them the tools that can support their processes of inquiry; I’ve been privy to in-depth discussions about the utility and the drawbacks of different virtual platforms for course work that takes place outside of the classroom; I’ve benefited from hearing experienced educators speak frankly about the successes and failures they’ve experienced in their own practice when using new media forms —  all of which is feeding into the work that I’m putting into the creation of the syllabus for the course that I’ll be teaching this fall in tandem with Ken Koltun-Fromm, a professor in the Religion department at Haverford in which we are thinking about how the generative tension between image and text that we find in graphic narratives can be explored and animated in new media forms.

As the title suggest, the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox is affording participants the opportunity to try out new technological tools in a context that encourages experimentation and play, where you have folks around you offering suggestions, cheering you on, and helping you dust yourself off when you fall face first. Many of the people taking part in the course know one another from Dakota Writing Project workshops, or from other sites such as BAWP, so there is an already-constituted collegiality into which new folks are being invited, and the organizers have created a structure in which smaller groups of about a dozen convene in weekly on-line chats in which we are able to respond to one another’s ideas and questions in real time.

Thus while most of the educational press is focused on the future of Massive Open Online Courses, methinks that it would be well worth to shine some light on what I’m thinking of as Modest Open Online Communities which show the radical potential inherent in building an intellectual community focused on a circle of 60 or a dozen — reminded here of Margaret Mead’s quotation “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”