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Archive for the ‘Social-Justice’ tag

Welcome to my “living room”

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My blog is my living room.

I like to think of my blog as my virtual living room. It’s where I sit and ponder and engage with folks on a myriad of issues. Sometimes my posts on social justice issues have resulted in horrid comments being submitted to my site. I moderate all comments from first time commenters so that epithets, hate speech, aggressive hyperbole, and spam does not get to a published state. Recently while I was on vacation, an anonymous commenter left a number of comments on a few of my posts. I decided not to publish their comments because I didn’t want to engage with this person. People who comment without using their real name or email address are almost always visiting my site with mischievous intent. I deleted the comments and continued to enjoy my vacation. Unfortunately, this particular anonymous coward decided that their comments were so important to the world, and to my blog, that they tracked down my work phone number. I received the following email from one of our awesome student workers:

Just to give you a heads up I got a call today from an angry guy who was complaining about his comments being censured from your blog and that it was unethical. I took a message but I just wanted to let you know.

I spoke with the student who had to endure the phone call. I thanked her for being professional and I apologized to her. She should have never had to take that phone call. I was really upset that this had happened. I suppose that due to the nature of my writing that the potential for this has always been a possibility. I was so proud of my student for how she handled herself.

I have never had an official comments policy on my blog. I have never felt that it was necessary until now. Here goes: If you comment on my blog and I decide to delete or spam it, that is my choice. This site is “EricStoller.com.” It’s my virtual living room. I get to decide whether or not you get to hang out on the “couch.”

Photo credit: emdot

Written by Eric Stoller

August 29th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Blogging Student Affairs and Technology

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Inside Higher Ed - blogging about student affairs and technology - Eric Stoller

I am thrilled to announce that I’m going to be blogging about Student Affairs and Technology for Inside Higher Ed (IHE). As an avid reader of IHE, I am very excited to join the IHE blogging team. I think that my posts on student affairs + technology will complement Joshua Kim’s blog on Technology and Learning.

Recently, I held a contest via Twitter to name my new blog. The incentive — a $100 Amazon gift card — courtesy of Inside Higher Ed. Several folks came up with interesting/creative blog names. I think the #SAChat Community provided the majority of ideas. Student Affairs folks are uber creative.

Here are my 3 favorite submissions:

  • Jeff Jackson: The Stoller Strikes Back, Return of the Blogosphere, Student Affairs….I am Your Blogger
  • Zack Ford: Challenge and Tech Support
  • ACUHO-I (sent via DM): Binary Code of Conduct

Choosing a winner from these 3 has been extremely challenging. Star Wars references, Sanford, and an entire Association…how cool is that?!! After more than a week of deliberate (intentional ;-) ) deliberating I have decided that the winner of the gift card is:

eric-stoller-challenge-and-tech-support

Zack Ford’s submission made me laugh. It’s subtle….and I love subtlety. The obvious nod / homage to Nevitt Sanford warms the heart. Challenge and Support is one of my all-time favorite, and oft-used, student development theories.

It should be noted that Julie Larsen was correct…the official name of my new blog is going to be: Student Affairs and Technology. The name needed to be something that would be simple enough that any IHE reader would know exactly what it was about. The blog also needed to be search engine friendly…”Students Affairs + Technology” is simple and searchable.

Stay tuned for my first official post on Inside Higher Ed!

Honorable mention:

Julie P-Kirchmeier: Stoller: Resistance is Futile

Niki Rudolph: Epic Stoller

Justine Carpenter: Tech Tips for SAPs

Christopher Conzen: The Stoller Coaster

Clay Shirky + Status Quo + Patriarchy

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Clay Shirky needs to drop the status quo and subvert the dominant paradigm

A rant about Clay Shirky…well, not really a rant since I am not much of a ranter…a rebuttal perhaps?

When a member of a dominant group, in this case, a highly educated white guy, writes a “rant” on the reasons why a traditionally marginalized group (women) is not matching the status quo set forth by the dominant group, I take umbrage. Seemingly bereft of a critical awareness of systems of oppression, and the power structures that maintain privilege and patriarchy, Clay Shirky used his virtual pulpit to perpetuate status quo addled thinking.

Shirky argues that women should stop caring, be more arrogant, and act more like men do when it comes to securing career “opportunities.” Women are framed as being less skilled in the art of being jerks than men. Being a jerk, according to Shirky’s bizarro world view, is a good thing. In other words, women should be arrogant jerks in order to succeed. How twisted is that? What about changing systems so that no one has to be a jerk in order to succeed? Why settle for the current state of affairs? Mr. Shirky’s argument only thrives if we believe that things cannot be changed. The system, and the “rules” that currently govern it, need to be rewritten.

Shirky attempts to draw parallels to the movement amongst men to be more like women. According to Shirky, we “encourage men to be better listeners and more sensitive partners, to take more account of others’ feelings and to let out our own feelings more.” So according to Shirky, being an arrogant jerk holds the same value as listening, sensitivity and empathy. I disagree. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Adopting traditional patriarchal values (being aggressive / a “jerk”), from which sexism flows out of, is no where near the same as values (listening, sensitivity, empathy) that are about creating goodwill / creating community.

What if being a better listener, being more sensitive, and being empathetic were grounds for career success / opportunities?

Photo by Duncan

Written by Eric Stoller

May 19th, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Leading from the middle

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One of my mentors has a leadership philosophy framed around leading from the middle. The concept, while very simple, is ultra complex. If you take a position that is on one end of a spectrum, you alienate those who are on the other end. How do you reach those who you disagree with if you are already miles apart? Leading from the middle means that you don’t get to take sides. It means that you are not going to be seen in a positive light by a lot of folks.

The recent legislative happenings in Arizona are a great example of the strains of what it takes to lead from the middle. Am I upset about everything that is going on in Arizona right now? You bet I am. I am saddened and angry. A lot of people seem to be forgetting what it means to be human. Humanity and dignity are being swiftly stripped away from marginalized populations in Arizona. Is it about racism? I think so. It’s about xenophobia, discrimination and power. Overall, those who are in charge of making laws in Arizona are doing horrible things right now.

How does this relate to leading from the middle? The protests that have been taking place in and outside of Arizona make a lot of people feel good. It makes me feel good to know that movements of people are joining together to fight for justice. However, I doubt that the lawmakers in Arizona are listening. I doubt that those who agree with the new laws are listening. Listening, in the sense that you are really processing, takes an awareness and openness that is lacking right now. Activism is important. Movements need to happen, but I wonder how we move forward when we seem to move backwards so much. How do we lead and live in the middle when things are so polarized right now….

Written by Eric Stoller

May 13th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Furloughs and Privilege

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Furlough days at Oregon State University plus privilege by Robert P Garrett

It was almost two weeks ago when the Oregon State University faculty senate voted for furloughs for all faculty (grant-supported salary is exempt) in 2010. It should be noted that the Oregon State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors “came out in support of furloughs provided that a number of important principles be included in the resolution.” I agree with the OSU AAUP’s suggestions. The top income tiers for furloughs need to be modified so that people who make more than $14,000 per month take more furlough days. If you make $168,000 pre-tax, I think you can handle a bit more of a cut. If you can’t make ends meet, then perhaps you should hire me to manage your finances.

Speaking of privilege…OSU Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, Robert P. Garrett, decided that the best way to address the furlough situation was to attack Oregon State’s multicultural support programs via a letter in the Corvallis Gazette-Times. According to “Bobby,” OSU’s programs that support underrepresented and/or historically marginalized groups represent a redundant financial burden on our predominantly white campus. In summary, a white male professor on a mostly white campus says that there are just too many campus groups that support women, people of color, and LGBT folks. I wonder how many groups/organizations/offices at OSU are made up of a majority of straight white men. Anecdotally, I would offer that there are a lot…more in fact, than the “redundant” orgs of which Robert writes.

Here are few of the choicest bits from Robert P. Garrett’s letter with a few added thoughts from yours truly:

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Women’s College Basketball & ESPN

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ESPN Womens Basketball Mens Basketball Sexism Gender

If you hover over the “All Sports” link on ESPN and click the “College Basketball” link, you are taken to ESPN’s coverage of Men’s College Basketball.

The link to “Women’s Basketball” takes you to ESPN’s coverage of Women’s College Basketball.

ESPN is placing one gender (Men) over another (Women) by placing Men’s Basketball as the normative or neutral “College Basketball”. It’s a not so subtle difference…

Google engages in this gender-preferential activity too…a search for “Texas basketball“* lists the most recent score for the men’s Texas Longhorns basketball team. You have to search for “Women’s Texas basketball” to get information on the women’s team.

Title IX may have increased funding and the number of teams in women’s collegiate athletics. However, the above examples illustrate that men’s collegiate sports are still quite overtly at the “center” of mainstream media. “Women’s basketball” is seen as outside the norm and “basketball” as the domain of men.

It’s also important to note that gender, a fluid social construct, as Dave Zirin and Sherry Wolf write, needs to be discussed at great length in the context of all sports.

*Please note that this is in no way limited to searches for Texas..unfortunately, this seems widespread for Google search queries.

Written by Eric Stoller

November 29th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Homophobia at the University of North Texas

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Rainbow flag

University of North Texas students, voting in an online referendum, have rejected the possibility of same-sex couples running for homecoming court in 2010.

The measure was defeated, 58 percent to 42 percent, after a record number of ballots for a student government election were cast in last week’s referendum.

Although most Student Government Association elections have garnered 4 percent or less of the student body vote, 13.5 percent, or 4,895 of the 36,206 students enrolled at UNT, cast ballots in the referendum.

That means that 2,839 students at the University of North Texas voted to uphold heterosexism and maintain homophobia. It also means that 2,056 students at the University of North Texas voted against the homophobic and heterosexist majority.

I hope that this referendum is reversed. However, I do not expect the University of North Texas to be listed in the The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students: A Comprehensive Guide to Colleges and Universities with the Best Programs, Services, and Student Organizations for LGBT Students.

Written by Eric Stoller

November 28th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Google adds auto-captioning to YouTube

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Google does not always create accessible products (GoogleWave). However, sometimes they do a good job of increasing the accessibility of an existing service. I hope that Vimeo gets the message that accessibility is important.

In the first major step toward making millions of videos on YouTube accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people, Google unveiled new technologies that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site.

[Google] combined their automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with the YouTube caption system to offer automatic captions, or auto-caps for short. Auto-caps use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to automatically generate captions for video.

Tim Wise and Historical Memory

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Tim Wise on white folks and historical memory:

There is none so dangerous as the white American who waxes nostalgic about what he or she likes to call “the good old days.” Or, alternately, those “simpler” times, or the era of so-called “innocence” remembered from their childhoods, memorialized in a Norman Rockwell painting, or via televised re-runs of the Cleaver family, or Opie Taylor casting a line down at the ol’ fishin’ hole.

None so dangerous because such persons, through their lamentations about having lost the nation they so fondly remember, disregard as if they were a mere annoyance, unworthy of consideration, the lived experiences of millions of their fellow countrymen and women: peoples of color for whom so many of those days were anything but good, far from simple, and part of an era that can only be thought of as innocent by a people utterly inured to suffering, wholly incapable of even defining innocence, let alone identifying it, and unable, for reasons of their own racial narcissism, to stare truth in the face. In this case, the truth that their recollections are the very definition of selective memory. Perhaps worse, delusion itself.

Written by Eric Stoller

October 22nd, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Vimeo and closed captioning

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Vimeo is not accessible for users with hearing impairments

Yesterday’s post on Vimeo, YouTube, accessibility and closed captioning was read, and commented on, by Blake Whitman, Director of Community at Vimeo. Please note that I do not have any ill will towards Vimeo. They make neat things. I just wish that they made them accessible…which really means that their “things” aren’t as neat as they could be.

According to Blake:

I thought I would respond here as I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding our intentions. We care a great deal about closed captioning and we fully intend to provide such support as soon as we can assign developers to the project. While YouTube has large staff and ample resources, we are a small and dedicated team that works tirelessly to meet all of our users’ needs. We did not mean to offend you or anyone else who would like to see CC support on Vimeo, and we will develop a closed captioning system as soon as we are able to. We apologize for the wait.

Blake was responding to my comment on the lack of captioning technology for Vimeo videos. My comment was driven by a comment that Blake left on the Vimeo forums:

[Captioning] is a very big project and not something that can just happen overnight. We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offering CC support.

My question to Blake and the folks at Vimeo is how can you “care a great deal about closed captioning” while not actually actively supporting its development?

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