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Friday, November 11, 2016

Raw cuts

Sports columnist Peter King writes a column called 10 Things I Think I think. I am borrowing his format as it is too early to form a cohesive opinion, post-election, but I want to get some random thoughts in writing. Trying to not make this political, actually.

First, I want to share a story from my friend and colleague Melissa Flowers. She is bi-racial and says her white mother has taken heat for supporting Donald Trump. People are accusing her of being racist. Now, you can have racist views even if you are a person of color. Melissa's mom married a black man in a time when mixed marriages were not common nor acceptable and she endured threats of violence as a result. To label, to generalize, and to dismiss others is unfair. Compassion, understanding, and humanity matter now more than ever.

1. I think a college campus is a great place to be during an election: This is the first time for many people to vote; it is where people should be having deep and challenging discussions; faculty experts can illuminate topics/issues with great skill, background, and authority; and finally there is a lot of support for those wanting to process outcomes and discuss with others.They call it rarefied air.

2. The scheduled conversation held on campus the afternoon after the election was really terrific. Thanks to some foresight, this was planned in advance regardless of the outcome (good call, Stacy Davidson). I would have napped and tweeted a picture there, but wanted to respect people's privacy. You would have seen people packed into a room in upstairs Coates. It was gritty and it was raw. Both supporters and opponents of the President-elect were were represented and students were really articulate, emotional, and very candid.

3. Why are people emotional? For many, their identity and worth has been invalidated. The status quo has been reinforced. Privileged, straight white men remain in power. The issue for many is that they are being excluded. People of color, of different cultures, and of different gender identities are scared. If people can't see that then they are visually-impaired (yep). I think we need to work harder than ever to show students every one of them matters. Unless they keep complaining about our food.

4. I think it is interesting to watch campuses across the nation respond as though this were a campus crisis such as a fire, a virus, and active shooter. List-servs are lighting up. Make no mistake, every campus is responding to the concerns and fear of students and employees. This shows that we are in a different place than we have ever been.

5.We didn't ship in a new population of voters this November. What this election did was bring into the light those who agree with the positions of the President-elect and/or who didn't find his style should eliminate him from contention. So while the election result seems like a validation for some - and that invalidation for others - it simply is the outcome. It could have gone the other way. The campaign exposed a big divide. We were going to have to deal with that anyways. Or maybe we wouldn't have. But it wasn't going away.

6. I get it when people worry about the future. Is the person with his hand on the button stable? Will his ego affect his decisions? As a person who denies climate change, will he ignore or reverse progress to save the planet? Does this election tip the Supreme Court toward conservative decisions for decades to come? Is this the end of the world as we know it?

7. Or, do we give him the benefit of the doubt? The current President was undercut from the day he was elected. Why not give this President a chance? Maybe the worst of his hateful rhetoric was simply rhetoric. Well, it could happen.

8. I think this has brought out the best in some of our campus leaders: Danny Anderson, Deneese Jones, Jamie Thompson, Ben Stevens, and students Brenna Hill and Nick Santulli to name a few.

9. I think sometimes the Tigers for Liberty are their own worst enemies. But I think they have a voice we need. They aren't in right field... Well, they actually are, but you know what I mean. Their guy did get elected. I know many of them and they are good people and they shouldn't take grief for their positions or for being excited that they get to see what can happen under the new President.

10. I think that prospective and current students should be nervous. What will happen to federal aid and access? How will this affect diversity on campuses? What will happen to Title IX as it has been interpreted and enforced by our current administration?

On campus, we are moving from processing emotions to processing information, with teach-ins being scheduled. The campaign and the election are not just the beginning. We will have lots to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. I can think of no better place to be.

What do you think you think? Please comment.


jj said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post

Trinity DAD said...

David, I really admire you for this important position you hold at Trinity, and for your witty and intentional communication style. Thank you for doing your best to help our students grow.

I am a strong believer that college campuses have not remained a place for free exchange of ideas, but instead a place of political correctness, censorship and flawed thinking. For example, the new definition of tolerance is really just a way to beat down someone who doesn't agree with another's position. Tolerance used to mean that we can disagree and have civil dialogue. Now, tolerance is a weak ethic that allows one person to call another evil names (i.e. racist, misogynist, sexist, climate-change denier, etc..) and feel justified/good about it. I'm guessing that you might agree with my statements above, and if so, my suggestion is to help students understand how this new definition of tolerance is causing them to be divided, and is not leaving room for them to discover new ideas. It's making them feel angry because they've been taught that there is only one way to think and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong; and not just wrong but "unredeemable" and "deplorable". No wonder they are so distraught and confused by the results of this election.

Additionally, I noted in your blog that you said the current President Obama faced heavy opposition from the beginning. But you must remember that this President when elected said "elections have consequences" and then proceeded to, in his first ten days, invalidate a policy that disallowed government-funded NGOs to perform international abortions. He then continued in his first 100 days and beyond to poke his finger in the eyes of conservatives. Don't you think he deserved the push-back he got? I expect Trump to act the same and yes, I expect he will get push-back as well. My point is that President Obama's actions prompted the response from conservatives; some might say it was about his race - it was about his behavior.

I am also hearing from other sources about student anxiety around the country and I wonder if the election outcome had been different, would the amount of coddling and sympathy be the same for the conservative students? I doubt it and we all know why.

Again, I'm grateful for your service to Trinity and to our students; my hope is that we can teach our young people to think for themselves and not be afraid of someone else's ideas. They should be taught to look for evidence and not just take others' ideas as gospel. Thanks for having the blog David and for allowing us to comment.

David Tuttle said...

Thanks jj!

David Tuttle said...

Trinity DAD,

Thanks for reading me and for your nice words!

I think I need to be careful because really, I want to inform people about the climate on campus as well as the issues, to facilitate sharing ideas, and to make it about the students and the process they are going through. And of course about me in an odd way. So I want to say as little as possible. But I do want to respond and illuminate the issues.

I think much of the old dialogue came very much from a traditional western perspective: Straight, white, male, and wealthy. I think that old perspective and the idea of privilege are being challenged and sometimes it is very personal for those wanting to be validated. People who feel oppressed are going to push back.

I think there were many who wanted to see President Obama fail because of his race and because he challenged the status quo.

And I agree and think if the election had gone differently there would not have been the coddling you describe. To many, the election was like a back-to-school special when you know at the end the bully will get his. When the bully didn't, in this case, it was an unexpected result. People of color, people of different genders, people of different cultures and faiths - they have a lot to process now. If the election went the other way, people in privilege would still have their privilege.

I think I would love to have a cup of coffee with you and discuss more should your visit schedule ever permit ( Thank you for the civil and thoughtful response!

Trinity Dad #2 said...

In support of Trinity Dad, your points are dead on and while we appreciate discourse I didn't read the blog you responded to as neutral but rather further expression of opinion on why others are wrong. This is unfortunately not surprising and thus the reason for the coddling on many college campuses. Life will bring many twists and turns and in many cases they don't fall your way, teach that and grow the responsibility to respect outcomes. That includes campus leadership.

Trinity Dad #2

David Tuttle said...

Looks like I'm going to need a bigger coffee budget...

Trinity Mom said...

Well written, Mr. Tuttle & Trinity Dads. I am a Trinity Mom. Now I believe EVERYONE has a right to their own opinion and the FREEDOM to express their point-of-view. However, as the blog stated, “Why not give this President a chance?” And “Compassion, understanding, and humanity matter now more than ever.”

I awoke last Wednesday morning not knowing who was elected OUR president. Honestly, I was surprised that Donald Trump won…...and I voted for him! All I knew was that whoever was elected, I would pray for him/her and our nation; and that is what I am doing. My motto is, “Prayer not Protest!” Please note that I am not proselytizing. Support the USA, however, you do best. However, I am Catholic, and “That’s how I roll!”

The Constitution of the United States of America begins with “We the People…” I believe the PEOPLE, not the leaders make the difference. So, without sounding preachy….. STOP PROTESTING AND START DOING!!! In the words of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made,or how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” Thank you

Calma said...

Good luck, Dean Tuttle, with your coffee budget, and thank you for your honest and, what I found, objective messages. It is an interesting time we are going through and let's hope for the best. All we can hope for is that college campuses start a wave of balanced and tolerant exchange of opinions that would transcend to the rest of the country/world.

That's a much bigger task you and your colleagues have on your hands. And you thought coffee budget was going to be a problem!

Trinity DAD said...

Thank you all for the additional commentary and opinions. David, I see your point using the "bully" analogy. Trump does talk like a bully and I for one would like to see that behavior stop; I'm not sure it will. I can empathize better with some student's distraught feelings; seeing the "bully" come out on top was unnerving for young people. Maybe those students can be taught that the other side has also felt "bullied" and "oppressed" for decades by both political parties (especially & recently by the blue party) and they suddenly felt protected and validated because it was like their big brother was protecting them on the playground (even so in a crass and vulgar manner).

Our country is far from perfect and I suspect there are countries where young people feel less "oppressed" on all sides. But I do know there are many many countries (can I say most?) that treat their people with much less respect, fairness, dignity, freedom, financial benefits and most of all, opportunity. I still think we have the best mix of all the important stuff. I'm not sure that millennials can see how lucky they are to be in the good old USA.

Thanks Calma for reinforcing the idea that a "tolerant exchange of ideas", using the real definition of "tolerant", is needed. I couldn't agree more.

David, if I'm in town I'll treat at that great coffee & breakfast shop at Pearl and embarrass my kid, who spends too much time & money there.... Have a great Holiday Season!