Presentation Feedback

When presenting, it became apparent that we need a more formal structure of organization with our thoughts in order to prevent glossing over important issues that we want to be sure get the attention they need.  Hannah presented an idea about changing the credit process to allow students to choose three quarter credit classes to complete the .75 Lifetime Fitness requirement; we too have thought about ways to offer alternative credits, however, for the purposes of this conversation and the longevity of this project, we feel it may not be as realistic at this point and instad want to focus on ways to improve the existing structure.  Additionally, while discussing our research on peer and aspirant schools, it was addressed that some schools have a “P.E.” requirement instead of a “Lifetime Fitness” requirement, and the distinction between the two may be important to do further research on because Dr. Abraham may insist that Lifetime is supposed to be more than just a physical education requirement and that it is therefore not comparable to other schools.

Caroline brought up how there are inconsistency with syllabi for the same class taught by different professors in classes like Contemporary Math and Intro to Soc., which we had not looked at.  After discussing with the class though, we determined that because Lifetime is a required class that every single student must take to graduate, it is held to a more baseline standard to ensure that all students get the same information out of it.  When some students are receiving 6 weeks on nutrition and other students receiving half of that, there are clear inconsistencies with what students are taking away from the class. This was a good point that we need to be able to address should it come up with Dr. Abraham.

 

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Group Workshop

From our meeting with Alicia, our project received constructive feedback on ways to organize and present our information.  We decided to incorporate a brief meeting agenda to better organize our action and also provide Dr. Abraham with an overview of our meeting for reference later.  A brief fact sheet will also be incorporated in the agenda, illustrating survey results as well as selected student testimonies.

We also discussed how we will need to be prepared to present in a couple different scenarios; if we are presenting to just Dr. Abraham or if Dr. Hanaki /other faculty attend. In order to obtain quantitative data specific to Transy, we discussed conducting a second, brief survey that asks yes/ no questions instead of short answer as the first survey was.

In terms of presentation, we agreed that we should phrase our conversation as an issue of accountability, supporting the program and wanting to see it get better.  The only media we will use will be our meeting agenda/fact sheet as a physical handout.

From here, we will continue researching comparable programs at other schools, as well as create another brief survey.  After that data is collected, we will create the meeting agenda/ fact sheet handout to use for the presentation.

 

Questions for Teddy

  1. How do you keep from getting discouraged when some activism projects are less successful than others?
  2. Do you think millennials are performing a different type of activism than generations past?  In what ways?

Student Activism on Other Campuses

It seems in the past few years, student activism on college campuses has gone through a renaissance of sorts. In past decades, students have been heavily involved in civil rights and anti-war protests and demonstrations on college campuses.  In recent years, students have protested administrations unresponsive to student needs, racism on campuses, and issues surrounding sexual assault.  Social media has aided tremendously in student organizing and action.  For example, as in one of the articles I read researching, the students of Florida State University used the hashtag, #slashthrasher to gain awareness and support for the campaign against their potential new president’s candidacy.  Similarly, the Black Lives Matter movement originated on college campuses, and is trending on social media in the form f a hashtag.

While I don’t think the issue of lifetime fitness requires the same amount of media attention on campus, I believe there are certainly issues that do, for example, the lack of full time professors in many departments, and the faculty wage gap.  In my research it is clear that there are many different scales of activism that can be performed, and many different avenue to achieve the desired results, depending on the issue at hand.  We can learn from the less successful movements at other campuses, like demanding a long list of non-negotiable components to be met, which is just simply not effective.  I think the route we are taking, to have an open conversation about the issue at hand with the stakeholders who have the power to change it, is the best initial method for our specific issue.  It says that we are willing to collaborate and negotiate with the administration, on behalf of the well being of all students.

Response to Heller

I found this article incredibly informational and fascinating.  It’s inspiring to see that there are other students across the country at campuses making changes they are passionate about.  Knowing that many student demonstrations and protests have been successful is encouraging to students like myself, who have a lot of passion for change and activism, but are unsure of how to go about making those changes in the most effective manner.  It is simultaneously comforting and frustrating to see that other students at different schools have similar problems with faculty sensitivity and administrative transparency as I can see even on my own campus.

It was insightful to see the way the article broke down various attempts of organizing and activism by college students, showing how some were more successful than others, and why that may have been, especially concerning the effectiveness of nonnegotiable demands and interacting with responses by the administration. One part I found particularly applicable to making change on college campuses was, “A president’s job is to push past contradictions, while an activist’s duty is to call them out.”, illustrating the premise of difficulty often incurred when students engage the administration in creating change.

The way the article incorporates activism in the context of the liberal arts is especially relatable to our campus, this class, and my project.  I don’t believe our issue concerning the institution of lifetime fitness will elicit as much outrage and negative response as some of the protests presented in the Heller anecdotes,  seeing as we are not trying to change anything institutionally- just demanding that the school hold itself accountable for fostering an academic curriculum that corresponds with liberal arts values.  Those values including open mindedness, understanding of experiences other than your own, and personal investigation in the quest for knowledge.

Stakeholders

We have identified that our stakeholders will include the following:

  • Lifetime Fitness Instructors
  • Ashley Hill- The Director of Student Wellbeing
  • Dean Covert- Dean of Students
  • Dean Bryan- Dean of University/ Vice President of Academic Affairs
  • Dr. Cairo- Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
  • Erin Foglesong- Administrative Assistant/ Health and Wellness Health Educator
  • Holly Sheilley- Vice President for Enrollment and Student Life
  • Parvis Zartoshty- Executive Assistant to the VP of Enrollment and Student Life
  • Nick Reuss- Head Athletic Trainer
  • Amber Morgan- Disability Coordinator

The hierarchies are divided into three tiers, with Dean Bryan, Dean Cairo, and the lifetime instructors at the top, Holly Sheilley,  Parvis, and Nick Reuss in the middle tier, and Dean Covert, Ashley Hill, Amber Morgan, and Erin Foglesong on the bottom tier, because they are the most accessible to students.

I know many students have tried to get out of taking the class altogether for the same reasons we are concerned with, which may lead to a defensive reaction from the administration when we approach this topic.  I’m sure the lifetimes instructors feel as though they are already doing a fine job, so criticism may not go over well.

My biggest fear is that the administration will not consider our issues legitimate, or concerning enough to do anything about it.  I think they may not fully understand why the current class structure is not adequate, especially because none of them have sat through a semester of lifetime fitness.

Our instructors risk their credibility with the realization that major changes need to be made because students are not getting the desired outcomes from the course.

I am at risk of upsetting the administration with my concerns, and that reflecting on me as a student.  Some of our stakeholders hold a lot of power on campus, and upsetting them would not turn out favorably for any student or faculty member.

Issue Definition

While there are several issues with the lifetime fitness course requirement, we can boil it down to that the class is not producing the intended results of teaching students about their own health from a liberal arts perspective.

 

Ways to fix it:

  • Provide instructors with training on sex/gender issues and terminology
  • Revise physical component of class
  • Approach delicate topics with sensitivity
  • Provide beck center orientation

Technically, all students are affected by this, since all students are required to take it to graduate.  Especially student athletes who must add on to their already strenuous exercise load, students who are not familiar with exercising, students who have anxiety disorders that may keep them from being comfortable working out in front of their peers, students who would fall into the “overweight” and “obese” categorizations that are performed in class because of the stigmatization that is taught alongside it, students with negative body image as well as those who may have suffered from eating disorders, as there is a whole component of class dedicated to “nutrition”  including a class project which requires students to count their calories.

Stakeholders:

-Lifetime fitness instructors

-Ashley Hill

-Dean Covert

-Erin Foglesong

Pitch Topic

The issue that I would like to bring attention to is the Lifetime Fitness class requirement for students to complete before graduating from Transylvania.  The class is not accessible to students of different physical abilities, the majority of the class is founded on weight loss and management as a means of “health”, and the physical component of the class is not practical for all students.  The course teaches one specific model of “health”: a specific body type that should be achieved, a specific calorie count that should guide a diet including specific foods, and a specific level of physical strength that should be performed.  In reality, “health” is something unique to each individual, and something everyone achieves, experiences, and defines differently.  Teaching students that there is only one way to be healthy is damaging and often leads to more destructive and unhealthy behaviors.  Also, health is much more than just physical.  There are mental, emotional, social, environmental, educational, and financial factors that can affect a person’s access to, and ability to achieve “health” that the class does not consider justly.  Instead, the class takes a very fat-phobic approach to justifying it’s physical aspects, going very in depth on how being “overweight” can affect a person’s health and overall livelihood, but giving no thought to how being underweight can be just as, if not more harmful in some cases.  Additionally, there is a required 45 minutes of physical exercise twice a week, which is impractical on many levels.  Student athletes, who are still required to take the class, must participate in these required workouts while also attending multiple mandatory conditioning sessions, practices, and games per week as required by their sport. On the other end, there are students who may have never even entered a gym before, and are still expected to perform alongside those who are well seasoned.

I propose that the class is brought up to the same caliber as the other classes taught at Transy.  I realize it is unrealistic to attempt to eliminate the requirement altogether, and I do see some potential value in such a class. However, the way it is structured now, Lifetime does not at all consider a liberal arts approach to its teaching.  By proposing a revised, more accessible course outlook, the class could better achieve the intended results, which is producing students with a better understanding of what health means to them, and how they can achieve it.  By the end of this term, we could raise awareness of student concern and provide alternative course topics and requirements that better suit our students.  If students don’t want to be subjected to a heinous Lifetime experience as I was, they should join me in my efforts to make sure no one else is either.