A New Year

To kick off the new academic year, The Rostrum asked students what their goals were for themselves in and out of school. We also had the opportunity to sit down with last Summer’s Orientation Team Leaders to revisit what it’s like to come to college for the first time. Finally, we interviewed Chris Mead, Assistant Professor in the Honors College, about what it’s like starting out in a career in higher education.

The Rostrum: Senior Insights

With the academic year winding down, The Rostrum wanted to ask some senior students what they will remember from their time at the U and what advice they have for current and future students. So we invited graduating English majors, Kylee Ehmann, Kevin Priest, and Tricia Foster, to come on The Rostrum on the eve of finals to reflect on their undergraduate degrees and their best and worst experiences earning it.

The Rostrum: The Other Side of Counseling

“Midway through fall semester of her junior year, MacKenzie Bray was tired—bone-shatteringly tired—of feeling like she was going to die. Her heart was racing, and she was sweating and shaking uncontrollably. It felt like a heart attack. And it wasn’t the first time. In fact, it was happening daily, and medical doctors couldn’t find a physical cause.” -http://continuum.utah.edu/features/when-bright-minds-turn-dark

In the second part of a look at mental health and counseling on campus, The Rostrum sat down with MacKenzie Bray, a senior Health Promotion and Education major, and discussed how the U’s Counseling Center helped her understand and combat her panic disorder. We also talk about the stigma that still exists for students with mental illnesses and how it affects their academic pursuits and success.

Counseling on Campus

“The purpose of the University Counseling Center (UCC) is to facilitate and support the educational mission of the University of Utah. We provide developmental, preventive, and therapeutic services and programs that promote the intellectual, emotional, cultural, and social development of students, staff, and faculty[…] We advocate a philosophy of acceptance, compassion, and support for those we serve, as well as for each other. We aspire to respect cultural, individual and role differences as we continually work toward creating a safe and affirming climate for individuals of all ages, cultures, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, languages, mental and physical abilities, national origins, races, religions, sexual orientations, sizes and socioeconomic statuses.” -http://counselingcenter.utah.edu/about/index.php

This is the part of the mission statement of the University of Utah’s Counseling Center and represents the goals of this campus resource. As part of “Mental Health Awareness Week” at the University of Utah, The Rostrum spoke to Lauren Weitzman, Director of the Counseling Center, and discussed how this organization embodies its mission statement and provides support to those who need it through its many preventative and therapeutic programs.

Professor Jack Newell

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Jack Newell received his undergraduate degree while attending Deep Springs College in California and Ohio State University. He went on to earn his Master of Arts at Duke University in American and European history, and his Ph.D. at Ohio State in the history and philosophy of European and American universities. He taught at Clemson University, Deep Springs College, and the University of New Hampshire before taking up a position at the University of Utah in 1974.

While Jack Newell is Professor Emeritus at the University of Utah and President Emeritus of Deep Springs College in California, he still teaches social ethics and educational leadership philosophy at the University of Utah’s Honor College. A favorite of many of his students due to his intelligence, warmth, and general enthusiasm for education, Jack is one of the University of Utah’s most distinguished professors. Newell’s accolades include the Joseph Katz Award for the Advancement of Liberal Learning (1994), the Deep Springs Medal for exemplary service to humanity (2009), and recipient of the Distinguished Honors Professor Award at the University of Utah, along with many others.

In this interview with Newell, he discusses his experiences in academia, the changes to how we view higher education today, and how that affects student’s experiences at the University of Utah and around the world.

Reacting to the Past

“Reacting to the Past (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas.” —(https://reacting.barnard.edu/about)

Professor Ann Engar, an award winning teacher in the Honors Intellectual Tradition Program, is the University of Utah’s authority on these games that are an intersection of history, debate, policy-making, and role-playing. She explained the nature of these games, their use in a collegiate setting, and how they can bring classes together as peers and colleagues.

Professor Engar is also creating her own game set in the Diet of Worms in 1521, that centers on the conviction and punishment of Martin Luther for his teachings against the Catholic Church. She is authoring this game alongside Daniel Shaw of Colorado College and Michael Mackey of the Community College of Denver.

Creating Change and Conflict 2016

Going to Creating Change 2016, an LGBTQ+ leadership and organization event, I expected a rainbow-hued peace festival where we come together to bang out the last kinks in the social justice movement. And while there were plenty of rainbows (and many, many interesting hairdos) the message of the LGBTTQQIAAP “community” was a muddled one.

In every corner of the conference, a different call for change rang out. Racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, Islamophobia, sex-negativity, capitalism, white-privilege, cis-privilege, the prison-industrial complex, police brutality, rape culture; each problem was brought forward to be drowned out by a dozen others. And while the general position on these issues was harmonious, the solutions and the precedence of a particular issue was a contentious topic between conference members from the first day of the conference.

The leadership of the conference itself was not above scrutiny. From their questionable invitation to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to their Israeli focused breakout session, to the course affectionately named “Getting to Know Your Popo” the leadership of the conference seemed deaf to the possible friction that these situations would cause within the conference for those opposed to these groups and their treatment of racial and sexual minorities. Although the leadership was wise enough to cancel their invitation to ICE before the conference, the other two sessions were both subject to stout protestation and, in the case of the Israeli session, ended in police and hotel management becoming involved.

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Hey hey! Ho Ho! Pinkwashing has got to go!…”

2, 4, 6, 8! Israel is an apartheid state!…

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!…”  -From the Israeli session protesters

Black folks! Take up space at this conference! Do not  let yourselves be small!” -Group who took to the stage after the “Racial Justice Institute” in protest of the earlier, aggressive actions of a white man during a breakout session

   “Consent is mandatory, a process, active, informed, educated, communicated, mutual, sober, voluntary, guilt free, unambiguous, enthusiastic! Yes, yes, don’t stop, oh god, RIGHT THERE!” -Speech on consent in “Practicing Kink: Let’s Get Visual” workshop session

We have nothing to lose but our chains! Ashe!.. We out!”  -”Getting to Know Your Popo” protesters

But how could it be any different? The basis of a community is the assumption of shared experience, shared ideals, and shared goals, but for the LGBTQIA+ community the reality of individuals runs the gamut of human experience. The life of a well to do white gay man could not be more different than that of a poor, trans POC. And as certain parts of the queer community become more and more accepted into mainstream society this disparity only becomes more pronounced.

So how is progress to go forward with the focus of its members pulled in infinite different directions? How are the warriors of social justice to combat the multi-headed hydra of injustice, for which every victory seems to expose only more issues? The answer came to me in the form of tall, beautiful, black lesbian woman with an affectionate laugh and an easy smile.

She told me if I took anything away from the conference, it should be this. While some come here to hook up, to bicker, or just to check a box in “minority awareness,” the movement was real. She stated that even if the fight isn’t yours personally, you must be ready to give your time, support, and aid because when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. From there the movement is better positioned to take on the fight you care about. The issue is not if we can overcome these injustices in our society, it is whether or not we can stand together to do so.

So whether you are a part of the queer community, some other minority, or simply a college kid not ready to spend most of your life in debt, the fight is for you. 
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