how can faculty support students? January 25, 2012Posted by Julie Sze in protests, students.
On-line and in person after Nov. 18th, a number of faculty thought it was important that this website be called “UC faculty supporting students.” This concept is broad and in future posts, I hope others will share ideas about how to support students. For me, the interest in supporting students has many roots- intellectual and personal (these are in the last paragraph of the post, if you are interested).
As David’s post yesterday shows, semantics and word choices matter. This website is about “supporting” students. Much of the discourse is “about” students. Of course, I’m well aware that there is a broad range of student feeling about the issues of privatization and Occupy UCD.
That said, today’s post shares concrete suggestions from a few students on how faculty can support them. The first comes via Anne-Marie Litak, an English major, who shares (with permission) thoughts put forth by a fellow student involved in the Occupation of UC Davis, who says that one way to support students, is to literally stand alongside them in the frontlines of protest, as in this UC Riverside faculty member did at protests last and this week at the UC Regents meeting, where they were met with batons and hit with projectiles.
“Teach us to learn. Empower us to think critically. Type in bold font at the top of your syllabus, “I do not know everything! – This class is a slice of a potential reality that I have to share.” There are many ways of knowing “truth” in this world. Our responsibility is to create knowledge that is disseminated to the rest of the world; this puts us in a position of privilege to articulate our understanding of reality in a way that is inclusive of other possibilities. Keep us questioning everything that you teach us.
If you recognize that you do not know everything, you will leave space to further your own education. Every class is an opportunity to expand your understanding of the facts that you present. We have a lot to teach! I also recognize that very few teachers actually understand what is going on at the university. Please take the time to research articles written by UC professors who are critically analyzing how the system is robbing not only the students, but also the faculty and staff.
Protest in solidarity with us. In the coming months, UC Davis will be the site of many direct actions. We ask that you formally recognize our struggle not only in your words, but in your physical response. Do not hold classes when we call for strikes. Stand with us when we occupy buildings. Write letters of support to the administration and alumni. Take care of your students. Take care of yourselves.
This is not a protest, this is an occupation. We are not going anywhere.”
Here are some more ideas I collected (anonymously and posted with permission) from my class yesterday.
- I would like for there to be real solidarity between students and faculty. I would like to have real relationships based on mutual respect, mutual love of knowledge and a mutual struggle to use knowledge to transform the world. I want a university that is a real community, not a corporate machine that employs the word community to assuage doubt over an agenda of privatization. I want students, faculty and staff to be people, not commodities
- Faculty can help support students by using their power in the school hierarchy to continue to convey the message. By students and faculty standing together and agreeing on the issues at hand, they can better display to those making decisions and holding power that the school as a whole is not ok with the decisions being sent down from above. Students are enduring so many struggles financially both in terms of tuition and life expenses and faculty are probably enduring similar struggles. By standing in solidarity together, the messages of the students and who are working so hard to get a degree can be heard by those who hold those important decisions in their hands
- Last quarter, I really enjoyed the teach-ins on the quad. I thought that was a great way to unite students and professors. Students were there to learn what is not being taught. I would like there to be a free space for teach ins on campus.
- I feel that faculty should compose more helpful resources on writing, learning how to read dense academic articles in the mathematics, sciences and other disciplines. Many students who come into the university lack skills that are necessary to succeed at university level course work. I would also like to see more retention within minority communities. On college campus, I have seen lots of students be dismissed from school because they lacked skills necessary to succeed in college.
- My faculty doesn’t have to do anything for me. It is my fellow students that need to wake up! Find that most of my peers are trained to perceive their campus life very narrowly- we approach our education very individualistically, feeling that we must ensure our own success before investing time in the community’s. To me, this is a troubling train of thought that must be abandoned. THIS is our education- experiences in a community ready for action, energetic with opinions that need to be listened to.