Saturday, April 18, 2009

No to concealed carry

Nothing like celebrating the 2-year anniversary of the mass murders on the Virginia Tech campus by passing a bill that allows students to carry concealed weapons on campus. Yes, the proud representatives in the Missouri state house voted 2-1 to give students 21 and older the right to carry guns to classrooms. We can hope that the state Senate will not support the bill, or that the governor will veto if it is does, but this is Missouri and common sense doesn't always reign in the state government.

Missourians are joined in this nonsense by their colleagues in Texas, who are considering a similar bill. This is especially ironic, for while Texas law specifically prohibits concealed carry on campus, it also includes a clause which allows an individual college/university to 'opt out' of the law and allow concealed carry.

According to a pro-concealed carry website, there are 24 states that expressly prohibit concealed carry on college campuses by persons with a valid concealed handgun license/permit. 15 "Right-to-Carry" states leave the decision of concealed carry on college campuses entirely to each college/university.

There are a good number of groups advocating for concealed carry: the NRA is the largest, of course, though there is also a group called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus... That group is organizing a "third national collegiate Empty Holster Protest during the week of April 20-24, 2009," where students, faculty, and staff can walk around with empty holsters they wish they had filled. It was nice of them to wait a few days for the anniversary of the Virginia Tech murders.

I am happy to note that I have never worked at a school that allowed concealed carry. I don't like the idea of my students carrying guns in the classroom, nor would I ever carry a weapon. I don't think I would ever want to be on a campus that allowed students to carry concealed weapons; I might actually not take a job for that reason. I hope that faculty at schools in Missouri and Texas will lobby their legislators to vote against these bills. They are scary and should not be passed.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Trying something new on

Okay, I am doing something I never do. I am making a decision that pleases no one but myself. I am ignoring a personal obligation (which involved 2 days of travel and no time or room to work) to do something that is good for me (staying home alone to write on 2 major projects with impending deadlines).

I normally try to juggle everything and make myself a little crazy. I hate to disappoint anyone.

The gf is being so supportive, I am moved by her generosity of spirit and once again pleased that she is my partner.

Contrary to how you might imagine I feel--strong, independent, feminist lesbian that I am--I am actually feeling embarrassed and a little like a bad person. I know that is crazy, so I am both feeling these emotions and telling myself that it is okay.

Who knows? If it goes okay, perhaps I will actually make decisions that are good for me more often.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Notes to students in my very large class

Okay, I need to start this rant with a qualified statement that I am enjoying the students in my large lecture class this semester. They seem interested in the topic, relatively committed to the purpose of learning, and they are a lively bunch. Yet, I can feel the creeping influence of spring fever rearing its ugly head. As a result, there are some things I wish I could say to these students.

1. I see you. Yes, I know you see me, up in the front of the room, but I see you, too. I see you sleeping, playing on the computer, reading for your next class, laughing with the girl next to you (hopefully not about my clothes or the way I talk)... I see it all. I often don't say anything. If it isn't bothering your classmates (you know, the ones who are trying to learn, despite your actions), I am gonna let it slide. I don't want to be the commandant of the classroom, if I can help it. That said, I also may come by and tell you to knock it off. After 12 weeks, I am kinda over it.

2. Class lasts 75 minutes. Not 60, not 70, but the whole 75 minutes. DO NOT pack up your stuff in the last 5-10 minutes and tap your foot, waiting anxiously for me or the guest speakers to finish. It is RUDE. At this point, I don't care if you really pay attention; I just want you to be patient and pretend to listen, even if you are bored.

3. I also see the people who use their clickers to sign in for attendance and then quickly sneak out the back. I am gonna mess that up by moving back the time for taking attendance to the middle or the end of class. I hate this game-playing, but if we are gonna play, I intend to win.

4. Be courteous and attentive to our guest speakers. They are taking time out of their lives, finding parking on campus, and making their way to our classroom. The least you can do is listen to what they have to say and ask them questions. They have a lot to offer to you, if you take the time to pay attention.

5. I actually have OFFICE HOURS. I know, it is hard to fathom. A professor sits in a room all by herself, thinking that interested students might just come by to talk. But if you have a concern or question, instead of emailing me or finding me on Facebook, just come by the office. I'd be happy to chat.

6. I know you are ready for the end of the semester. Just so you know, I am, too! But we have a few weeks left, and I am not ready to give up on teaching and learning. We have more interesting topics to discuss, and yes, they will be on the exam. So, I suggest you do as I am doing and try to buck up for the rest of the semester. I believe it will be worth your while. I will do my part and work to keep class engaging and interesting.

Well, that's it. Glad that is off my chest. Now that I have written it and read it over a couple times, I may need to say it out loud!