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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Doin' the Trinity Shuffle

Some of the crew following the 10-11 mile taco run.
One of the joys of my work is the annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge and Food Drive. You get to know students well when you log lots of miles together. Generally on our group runs we eschew music, but last month we mixed things up by doing an iPod Shuffle run. Literally, we shuffled our music gadgets at various points during the run. It was a nice way to break up the routine and to hear what others listen to when they run. We also have had a Hunger Run, Taco Run, and Halloween Hill Hell Run. (Please come support us on December 7 as we run through Trinity!)

I had some very good stuff, IMHO, on my iPod Shuffle. Below, Sarah Kate references the song "Sexy and Free" which I think is called "Domino," by Jessie J. It has been a long time since I would ever have claimed a song called "Sexy and Free." Like never. She did get through a little Springsteen, for which she receives extra credit. I also have to laugh that our students think "Call Me Maybe" is a classic. I just don't think a song from a 17-year-old could already be considered classic, but it kinda is. Finally, Simba is not on Facebook but he did report that hearing jazz on someone's iPod was troubling. This from the guy who never met an explicit lyric he didn't like...
So I asked everyone involved to post their thoughts on our Facebook group. Without further adieu:

The Dean
My Trinity Shuffle was SO fun. I first listened to Simba's music and was happy to hear a song by the Neon Dragons. It was followed by a song called "Selfie" which made me laugh but which I never hope to hear again. We shuffled again and I landed on Joseph's tunes and was generally pleased. Totally Joseph - a little predictable and a little quirky. Quite happy to hear a song by the Imagine Trees. Okay, I actually have that ID CD and it was settling to hear. Then a song came on by Gaslight Anthem. It was called Meet Me By the River's Edge and I guarantee that Joseph has no idea this is a Bruce Springsteen tribute song! Mostly though, Joe would have been very comfortable with 80's hair bands, modern REO Speedwagon, and maybe even Head East. I was prouder of my self than I should have been for announcing that Jared Leto was the led singer from 30 Seconds to Mars, also on Joe's phone. (And Joe, I was just kidding about getting my dog's poop on your phone. As far as you know.) Thanks for the tunes Big Joe!

Joe
My shuffle run was with Mikki's iPod. Not a big Nikki Minaj fan, but at least wasn't stuck with anaconda. Loved hearing some coldplay and empire of the sun though.

Mikki
My Trinity Shuffle was Katie's iPod, and I loved it. I really like the Red Hot Chili peppers, although after a silly mistake we realized it was on the wrong shuffle... once we changed it to her REAL workout mix I was listening to Flume and Madonna and other great pump up songs! I added them to my own workout mix. EVEN BETTER than this story though, was getting to listen to a few minutes of what KATIE had... ahem... Dean Tuttles' playlist!!! I'll let her tell you the entertaining details, though.

Katie
The iPod shuffle run was quite a hoot. I really enjoyed listening Call Me Maybe on Dean Tuttle's iPod shuffle. That song is a classic!!! I'm glad we have a Dean of Students that recognizes that. Galve's playlist was quality as well. Some dude named like Young Gangsta or something got me in a flow state for like the last couple miles so that was good. Young Gangsta is quite a talented guy. Overall very fun run!!!

Correction by Galve:
His name is Young Sinatra. Might as well be a G though, ya hear me?

Galve
For the iPod shuffle run, I'm always slightly nervous. Maybe that people won't like my music, or that maybe we will all get hit by a car crossing the street because we were listening to music instead of traffic. After a while and the nervousness passes, I relax and enjoy the run. I had Joseph's iPhone for a bit at the beginning, and he had some great workout tunes, some that I have to download myself. I also noted the possible danger of running with an iPhone in hand. For all those that run with electronic devices, it's safest to have it on your arm or in a pocket. In chance of the potential fall (unless you are skilled and have never tripped when running) you should have both hands free to break your fall, instead of breaking your phone and/or a possible bone. Also if you are running with dog poop, then you have less chance of getting it on your phone if it's on your arm or in your pocket. In final, there was no Taylor Swift played on any of the playlists I listened to, so I was able to completely enjoy the rest of the run.

Sarah Kate
The iPod shuffle run was pretty great. I really enjoyed listening to Young Sinatra and Dean and Ravo on Galve's playlist, especially the song "Walkin Around" by Dean and Ravo. I also got to hear Dean Tuttle's playlist, my favorites being "Call Me Maybe" and "Sexy and Free". I also got to jam out to some Bruce Springsteen as well. Overall a super fun run!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Yik Yak Yuk

Let's be clear about this. People have been crude and rude forever. I mean, just watch Game of Thrones. The internet has simply changed the nature of boorish and hostile behavior. Just read any comments section on any post to witness the pattern of trolls stirring up trouble, counter-arguing, policing grammar, and getting all charged up over nothing. It is like Disney. It's mostly make believe.

When JuicyCampus came on the scene people were outraged. Indeed, bullying and other horrible things have happened as a result of the internet and social media. That site was shut down because of the resulting harassment and personal attacks on students. But other sites have replaced it. Currently Facebook's Trinity Confessions and Overheard at Trinity pages are making way for a new site called Yik Yak.

This is a location-based app that allows people who are in proximity to one another to post anonymously. It has some advantages to it, in that posts are pretty fleeting (as new posts come in, old ones drop off). People can up-vote or down-vote posts as well as reply. If a post is down-voted five times it disappears. Generally people cannot be identified by name.

As far as these things go, Yik Yak isn't the worst. Generally, people want to invite others to have sex, bemoan having a cuddle buddy, or try to be witty. Popular posts often start with "When..." as in, "When you are at a party and they run out of beer..." 

Obviously I check out Yik Yak from time-to-time. I think it is important to know what is out there that is engaging some of our students. If you are on the app you can search for other schools to see what is being said. Most reasonable people will immediately wonder how it works... for people on an anonymous site to ask for sexual favors, because it makes zero sense. But that hasn't stopped the masses. 

My biggest issue with the app is that while I have only posted once or twice, my posts have been down-voted into oblivion. One of them was of the "When..." kind, which I clearly had not thought through. Here is another example. Because of our proximity to SAC and Incarnate Word, it is difficult to sometimes discern the higher education institution of origin. The posts are co-mingled. I am often hoping the worst of the posts are not from Trinity. So my post was simply this: "If the source is not otherwise obvious, why not use #Trinity or #UIW?" This was a very productive suggestion. But boom. Off. Like, immediately.

I told my wife about this on our way to a movie that night. And we did not have a fight about it that she won. But she said that I shouldn't "play in the students' sandbox." I was not playing in their sandbox. I just wanted to understand it. She said students could sniff out a grown-up in a second. So, I was voted down by the students and my wife - who told me not to take it personally. And yet "Just applied to be Wacka Flacka's blunt roller. Wish me luck" is trending up with 35 affirmative votes as I write this. What a stupid sandbox.

But I had a plan, which was to post this: "This is the Dean, and I thought my post about using a hash

I no longer become angry or get all high and mighty about these sites. The arguments for or against are always the same. But here are some observations gleaned over the years:

1. Most of what is out there is trashy: sexual, fecal, and anti-social. It is like a Student Affairs meeting.
2. Most of the things are posted to elicit responses.
tag to specify the campus being cited was a great idea!" Then someone would have posted: "Is this Dean Tuttle from TU or Dean Moore from UIW?" To which my response would have been: "Exactly!" That would have been my throw down the mic moment on Yik Yak. But my wife, who is NOT the boss of me, wouldn't let me post any more. And she IS my cuddle buddy after all.
3. Most of the responses are meant to elicit reactions.
4. Many of the things posted on anonymous social media sites are not true, are exaggerated, or unverifiable.
5. If the electronic mob follows it, then people will engage with it. If you don't like it... Ignore it. Rock beats scissors, mob beats reason.
6. You can't permanently stop these sites unless they are literally criminal. It emboldens people and they find other channels to migrate to anyways.
7. It will pass. It always does, because it eventually becomes boring. And then a new platform arises. And then it passes.
8. Even if someone posts as a female, it is probably a male.
9. This is like a sport for bored people or those taking a break from work and study.
10. Sometimes grown-ups, or even deans, get sucked into these things.

Last year I was pretty much run off of Overheard at Trinity when I simply joined to retrieve memes of me for a blog post. Geesh. I have learned my lesson. I may check out Yik Yak from time-to-time, to, er, be effective at my job... But I won't be playing any more. Too much sand.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Logos and Tigers and Brands, oh my

As Trinity University continues to develop its brand, the University has recently revealed a new spirit logo. This one replaces the tiger on the TU symbol that has become popular with our athletic teams. Unfortunately the latter can't be trademarked because it kind of already is - by the Detroit Tigers baseball team. Though really, how many ways can a tiger menacingly crawl around a "T."

Logos are tricky because they are used in different ways. At Trinity we want some consistency, but we have the official seal for the more high brow uses, such as on diplomas. We have the tower logo for the more day-to-day business uses. And we have the Trinity over Texas football helmet and the aforementioned tiger spirit logos, old and new.

But maybe it is time we reconsider the tiger altogether. I am sure it would be blasphemy because the tiger has a long Trinity tradition and the alliteration works. But it really isn't THAT unique, or for that matter, descriptive. After all, we are in an athletic conference with the Tigers of Colorado College and former conference Tigers included DePauw and Sewanee. And there is LSU, Clemson, Missouri...

Names matter, especially to alumni. Southwestern considered changing away from Southwestern because well, it isn't really Southwestern. That discussion did not go well. Texas State used to be Southwest Texas State but changed that, maybe because of the confusion with Southwestern. But Southwest Texas State was once called SWTS Normal school, so name changes seem normal to them. No one would ever suggest that Trinity change its name, though its roots and religious under and overtones cause some confusion related to its identity.

But I think mascots can be more easily changed. The Incarnate Word Crusaders became the Cardinals, the Marquette Warriors became the Golden Eagles, the Syracuse Orangemen simply became the Orange, and the Washington Redskins... Oh. Bad example. To me, the best mascots reflect time and place. New Orleans Jazz was good. Utah Jazz, not so good. My Milwaukee Brewers, in the land of beer and brats is perfect. Other good names include Bucks (deer hunting), Trailblazers, Steelers, Longhorns, Spurs, Padres, and Yankees. Note that none of those are birds or random animals. So I propose we consider changing the name Tigers to something that is more Trinity.

10. TU TTLES
Hmmm, that just seems TOO obvious. But the logo would be cool.

9. Trinity Onesies
As in Number One in the West since the West was One.

8. The Feral Cats
This is the only animal entry, but given the popularity of the Trinity cats and the fine work of the CAT Alliance, it does deserve consideration. And we can say we will neuter the opposition - but at least we will feed them.

7. The Trinity Taco Tacos
We are hot! And how easy is the cheer "Go Tacos Go!"

6. The Primarily Undergraduate Liberal Arts and Sciences Residential Institution with Professional and Pre-Professional Programs TIGERS
We seem fond of that...

5. The Grissoms
Beloved English teacher, famous Dean of 30 years, straight-talking, quick-witted, sharp-tongued, extremely brilliant, organized, pet-loving, polarizing, and hilarious East Texas Girl... We get her and love her. She is we. That's all that matters.

4. The Trinity Quarry Rockers
How tough is that. Even though, technically we just live and work on an old quarry, dammit, we are still Quarry Tough!

3. The Trinity Towers
We tower over the city, the competition, the, well, everything...

2. Trinity Ampersands
This is the perfect tie-in to our marketing campaign. Our students are athletes & engineers; actors & senators... And when it comes to athletics we will win & pummel & route & destroy. And most importantly, we can call the Stand Band the AmperStand Band.

1. TRINITyONIONS
Yes, that's right. The Onions! A play on the word "Trinitonian." You can't cut us! We make the opposition cry. We have many layers. We're bad man. We're really bad. Go Onions Go. Slice 'em up, Dive 'em up, Peel 'em back, GO!

On second thought, Tigers works too...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

High and Mighty

I blame Colorado mostly. Nearly any conversation with a student or a parent regarding our drug policy and state drug laws eventually includes a reference to Rocky Mountain High. It has become the "my friends don't have a curfew!" of marijuana discussions.

I don't want to confuse any portions of this post with the facts. Nearly all of the facts related to marijuana can be disputed. Students on college campuses everywhere have done great research to de-bunk any claims of harm that comes from smoking weed. I think if some studied their course work with as much passion as they researched marijuana we would be a far smarter nation.

So here are some things I will stay away from arguing: Marijuana may or may not be addictive. It may or may not have long-term health risks. Its legalization may or may not benefit or hurt Central American producers and distributors and drug kingpins. Everyone may or may not do it. Smoking pot may or may not increase the popularity of potato chip nachos at Mabee Hall. Getting high may be considered trendy, funny, cool, hip, and natural. Smoking pot may shrink ones testicle's and it may sap one of energy and drive.  Pot is or isn't a gateway drug. It may or may not be true that those from privileged white backgrounds are jailed far less than impoverished black men with few options to get ahead in the ghettos and educational systems they were born into. (Okay, I am pretty sure that one is true.)

Most universities are required by law to enforce drug policies or risk losing financial aid. One day that may change. At Trinity we don't allow 21-year-olds to have hard liquor on campus even if they may have it legally off-campus. This is to deter binge-drinking, not that it is particularly effective. So if and when Texas legalizes marijuana I still wouldn't want it permitted on campus.

Mercifully, here is my sure to be unpopular hypothesis: College campuses are no places for drugs, including marijuana. I have my reasons.

1. I believe two primary things about college. First, colleges are places of higher learning. We have communities of scholars and we espouse that we are building global citizens for a better world. A quarter of the population makes it to college and far less graduate. It is a rare and special privilege. Students nationwide will eventually cure cancer, find ways to distribute clean water to all peoples, and hopefully one day cancel the Big Bang Theory from network television.

Second, I believe for traditional age students that college is a safe place to make mistakes and grow from them. It is dynamic and fun and students are meeting others from different backgrounds, having late-night conversations over pizza and cereal, and are finding out who they are and their place in the world.

Somehow along the way, and I blame movies mostly, and some people like me who partied hard in college, we have defined college culture as "work hard/play hard," with playing hard being binge drinking and smoking dope. That all may have flown when I was paying hundreds of dollars for tuition. That is less the case today. When I do parental notifications related to drug offenses usually the parent and the dean are aligned on one thing: With what it costs to go to college, students may need to choose between their education and their entertainment. I suspect too that our students are far more comfortable lighting up in their campus dorm rooms than their bedrooms in Houston.

2. I don't really care if people get high. It is kind of their business. I know guns don't kill people, people do. I know that some people drink too much and are predisposed or simply become alcoholics. I know some students get addicted to video games and Yik Yak. And some students get addicted to pot. Several students have left our own campus in the last two years as a direct consequence of their drug use (not because of policy violations either). I guess it is their fault. But smoking isn't as harmless as it seems and it has real-life negative consequences for some of our students. There are an estimated 1,800 alcohol-related college deaths annually. It seems we are okay with that (except probably for the friends and families of those 1,800 students I would think). Choices and consequences... Marijuana has far fewer short-term negative consequences than alcohol, so it seems benign to most students. But there are costs. Are we okay with that too?

Many students are on medication that doesn't mix well with alcohol and drugs. And many students find that smoking pot numbs their pain and is the only way to feel good. It is called self-medicating. And if it becomes the only way to feel normal or better it can be a problem.

3. I actually hate myself for saying this, but I just don't like the drug culture. Admittedly, when I was growing up it was impressed upon me that tripping on acid would result in horrible things like trying to fly from atop a tall building, running naked through the streets, death, becoming a drug dealer, or over-focusing on the fact that the background in most Flintstones clips repeats.

I just think it is weird. We are not the Trinity Tokers. Our dorms should not smell like incense and pot. We are not head shops. And no campus wants drug dealers packing heat roaming the residence halls. (Ironically, students who buy and distribute for their friends don't consider themselves dealers - just good friends.) I don't like the word "weed" or the term "high." I don't like cute little posters, shirts, or hats about marijuana. I don't like grinders, scales, rolling papers, and towels under the door and people calling each other dude. It just seems beneath people. I also have met many students who just are bad at drugs. They are not pot-heads. They are pretending to be pot-heads, much like I thought I was the Marlboro man in college. I don't know that I was fooling anyone and neither are many of our students.

In short, despite the perception in my own mind of being somewhat cool, I am just an old fart. I hate that.

To summarize:
I don't really care if people want to smoke pot as long as they take it off campus. I don't really care that it is illegal or not, except I think poor people are dying in drug wars so people of privilege can get high once in awhile. I don't like that drugs short-circuit the lives and educations of some of our students. I don't like that as a society we have somehow connected college to drugs and binge-drinking. I never could really get into the Grateful Dead, but I tried.

I love our students who smoke pot as much as the ones who don't. I just don't like pot. For me it is less legal, ethical and moral than it is practical. To that end, my guess is the way most campuses will better enforce drug policies is to go smoke-free. We are headed that way at Trinity and it has nothing to do with pot. It isn't an end-run. But it may be the best way to make our colleges, with their high costs and aspirations, more of what  they should be. And for the students who want to still get high - they can still find a way. They just shouldn't do it here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Petty Coates

Call it like it is: Dean has OCD!
 After 25 years of marriage my wife and I took a vacation together for a week in September. It was our first substantial trip away from kids and work -- and without visiting people -- since our honeymoon. While we both generally unplugged, I couldn't help but check the on-line Trinitonian and was aghast to see the lead article was about the posters no longer being displayed in the Coates atrium.It seems, well... petty. Understand, I am a huge supporter of our student press and the quality product they consistently create.

The article makes me look like a micro-manager who makes unilateral decisions based on personal preference. Despite that being true in this case, I rarely work that way. It also could lead people to think I was dodging the Trinitonian and letting my staff answer for me. In fact, I was at the beach.

In some ways, I don't mind this. Dealing with alcohol, suicide attempts, and sexual assault, I welcome something as petty as this as a distraction. I am befuddled that this was the lead story. I am perplexed that with the increased vibrancy in the building that this is what got the attention. (The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive!) Finally, I want to make it clear that Jamie Thompson and Becka Bovio disagreed with me on this decision but were good soldiers in how they portrayed the issue to the public through this article. A faculty member wrote a letter to the editor this week decrying the decision. So, I feel like I should clarify some things about this.

1. There have only been banners hanging in the Coates windows for the last five years or so. This was done to make the building seem more student-friendly. It needed it, because the building hadn't been refurbished in 25 years. It was stale and drab. It featured mailboxes in its prime location. So the banners and Nacho Hour made sense to bring it to life. Somehow for 60 some years the University functioned without banners there and it will be fine again.

2. The best way to make the University Center student-friendly was to change it to be a destination for students. That has been the result of the changes, all of which were reviewed multiple times, and given the nod by the Student Government Association. This banner decision is not a snub to students, as claimed. Indeed, I have proposed renaming the building the Coates Student Center to give it a sense of belonging to the students. The building is newly vibrant and alive, and THAT sends the most important message. Note too that we have Lazy Boy recliners and special "switch" sofas upstairs that are solely for student comfort and rest. There are multiple configurations for leisure, study, privacy, and socializing (with a few more pieces due mid-October).

Circa 1987 - A historical reference.
3. One of the most impressive features of the building has been the bank of Southern-facing windows. Cutting that in half with ratty, outdated banners interfered with that. I never liked them, to be honest. Now, as it had been for eons, students can feel like they are outside while actually being in the comfort of a really nice setting.

4. The building is showing well, as they say. I have been to many student centers and many are newer and nicer than ours. But we didn't need a full, expensive renovation, we needed some upgrades. The new furniture is in school colors and the spirit logo is featured in four places, including on the media-scape. A lot of resources and thought were put into this. The banners looked cruddy. It would be like losing weight, getting a tan, buying new clothes, and NOT washing your hair.

5. Despite what people may claim, advertising events and getting people to pay attention is really a challenge and the banners were simply part of the noise. There are banners in Mabee, daily announcements in LeeRoy, the online calendar, class newsletters, the Trinitonian, table tents, and the now outdated Facebook groups. We could offer personal invitations and that still won't get people's attention. Let's not over-state the importance of these banners.

My faculty colleague posits that this is about education versus appearance and education lost. I disagree. It is much less sinister than that. It is about a Dean who made a decision to have a place that is student friendly, warm, accessible, and yes, neat and nice. Our students deserve it. Maybe I am just being petty. But I don't think I'm the only one.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Anatomy of a Lecture

Edward Lee Elmore and Diana Holt sign books for our students. (Russell Guerrero)
Diana Holt addressed a large, primarily first-year-student audience on Wednesday night after the first day of classes. She brought with her Edward Lee Elmore, the man who she and her team helped free after him serving 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. This was part of the Reading TUgether program, featuring the book Anatomy of Injustice by Raymond Bonner. Reading TUgether was started by former Student Affairs VP Felicia Lee years ago. It had been a collaboration with Academic Affairs until this year when Student Affairs bowed out as co-sponsor of the program, with its classroom emphasis on first year seminars, an annotated bibliography, and more. Dammit. This was the best one yet, and I wish we had waited a year to cut ties. Dr. Sheryl Tynes in Academic Affairs, and her committee, selected this book and organized this program. Hats off to them. So what made this a good lecture. Let me enumerate the ways:

1. The topic
We offer a great many lectures on campus each year, with about four major ones with broad appeal. The Reading TUgether, Maverick, and MLK lectures offer variety. The other lectures are funded for primarily for political speakers (see number 3).

This lecture particularly resonated because of how personal it was. As one of my staff members pointed out, we often have the author, not the subject. The death penalty, is, unfortunately, timeless. People can only imagine the injustice of being locked up and mistreated for 30 years when innocent. Ms. Holt related a story, in this case, about a guard accelerating a dental procedure on an un-medicated Mr. Elmore, pulling out nearly all of his teeth to get it over with. The story is filled with prejudice, bias, bigotry and cruelty. It is about one case, one victim, one man, but it could be about so many others. Ms. Holt pointed out that 47 of Mr. Elmore's death-row friends were killed.

2. The introduction
Sara Miller, senior from Albuquerque, was chosen to introduce the speaker. Our president is bright and witty and I enjoy his introductions. He is confident enough to step aside for this lecture and the MLK lecture and allow for a student introduction. Dr. Tynes could have done the intro as well. But learning permeates everything we do. So when Sara stepped up to the microphone it just seemed right. Then, she started to speak. Professional and personal, she described how reading the book turned her plans to practice non-criminal law to the opposite: She has a new passion. She and Ms. Holt hugged as they had already bonded over dinner. Afterwards, Sara wrapped things up with equally touching and eloquent remarks. She even gave the two guests books about San Antonio to commemorate their visit.

3. The speaker
We have had incredible speakers with great name recognition. The one speaker that I heard was the best (one of the few I missed) was Ken Burns of documentary fame. Michael Moore was a hit as well and I missed that one too. I did see Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Norman Schwartzkopf, Tony Blair, Mario Cuomo, Desmond Tutu, William Proxmire, George H.W. Bush, John Glenn and more (as opposed to Moore).

For many, you would have no idea where they were, save for the Trinity seal hanging in the background. It is a pet peeve of mine that this day in age a well-paid speaker couldn't look up the Trinitonian on line and make some joke about a current campus issue, or acknowledge with specificity our academic ranking and reputation.

Elmore, Tuttle, and Holt (Guerrero)
So many speakers come here with canned remarks that they deliver for big dollars at gigs around the country. I loved Woodward and Bernstein last year because they seemed unscripted. They shuffled papers, discussed their intentions (which were unrealistic given the girth of their material), and seemed to be winging it at times. They were disheveled, though well-dressed. Of course they are journalists, so they were focused on their content more than themselves.

Where do I begin with Ms. Holt? She started her talk by describing her wonderful experience as the guest of the campus and Dr. Tynes. She kicked off her slides showing a photo of the "first person to sexually abuse" her as a child, and a corresponding picture of her from around that time. She was honest and vulnerable from the start. She kept turning around to see the slides and then refocusing on the audience giving her talk more the feel of a conversation than a speech. But her preparation was stellar as she hit the main points without becoming awash in all the details. In addition, she was clearly, as she was described in the book, someone who was passionate, still bent on justice (she isn't done yet), and blunt. I think at one point she referenced fat white men, for example. No offense taken. She was funny as she dropped names much like a celebrity she met recently, and as she described being asked by Reese Witherspoon if she could play her in a movie.

Finally, Ms. Holt showed great sensitivity and compassion in her treatment of the victim, Dorothy Edwards, and the victim's daughter, Carolyn Edwards Lee, who she now calls a friend.

4. The guest
This could be included with the "speaker" section above, to be fair to other lecturers. But Mr. Elmore deserves his own section. In the book he is assessed as mentally retarded or incompetent. Ms. Holt said the proper term is actually "intellectually deficient." After several references to him, she pulled him up on stage with her at the end to answer questions from her and the audience. He was clearly uncomfortable, stating he was "shy." He used the word "right" a lot as he answered questions, and he didn't go into a lot of depth. He seemed exactly as described in the book: kind, gentle, warm, docile, polite, happy, and genuine. His favorite ice cream flavor? "Any." This was the first time he traveled by air and he was excited to be here to see the Alamo.

The best part, though, was the inter-play between him and Ms. Holt. At times she seemed part parent, and almost condescending (in a way that can come only from familiarity) as she explained questions to him. At other times she was playful, talking about him being buff and ribbing him that he still owes a balance on her bill. She rubbed his back, came to tears when she related the dental story, and showed her genuine love for this man. After what he had been through, and what she had been through with him, she could treat him any way she wanted. She showed a clip of the judge's ruling that he was free and described it as the happiest/best moment of her life. He clearly loves her and appreciates her so much.

You can't can a talk like this. You just can't.

5. The audience
And finally, while there were several upper-class students in attendance, it seemed that nearly all of the first year students were there. They liked the book, and read it - an easy read given the subject matter. They wanted to hear from her. And they wanted to see Mr. Elmore. (When I got to meet him I told him I was so glad he was alive. "Me too," he said.)

At first I wasn't sure if they got her and understood Ms. Holt was pointed, ironic, sarcastic, and funny. Indeed, this class seems VERY sweet and polite. They got her all right. They were just captivated. When she opened it up for questions, there were no microphones up front as there usually are. I think that could have been an error. But it added to the informal atmosphere as finally one, then two, and then a flood of hands started to go up as she and Mr. Elmore answered questions.

I actually get some chills thinking about our students. They wanted to know how this injustice (not the microphones) could happen. They were shocked, angry, moved, and sad. They wanted to hear from Ms. Holt. And they really wanted to hear from Mr. Elmore. They wanted to know how he FELT. They cared about him. It is rare here, if not unprecedented, for students to not stream out during the Q&A. Barely a soul moved when Ms. Holt concluded her remarks and began calling on students.

In the book-signing line afterward, some waited for over an hour for signatures and photos. One student took a selfie with them, which Ms. Holt explained to Mr. Elmore. They kindly posed for pictures, accepted hugs, deferred praise, and thanked our students for their care.

In summary
What makes a lecture a good one: The topic, the speaker, the learning, a personal approach, accessibility for our students (no secret service for this one), and emotion.

I wish they could all be this way. There is a reason students leave during the question and answer portion at other talks. They don't feel a connection. And that is the reason they stayed for this one.

Thank you Dr. Tynes, Sara Miller, Diana Holt, Edward Lee Elmore, and the Class of 2018 and other students. You just showed us the anatomy of a perfect lecture.