Congratulations, Seniors!September 29, 2014
Congratulations to all seniors who received their caps and gowns over the weekend! The rites of Cap and Gown Weekend are among Trinity’s most cherished traditions. Achieving senior status and the right to wear academic regalia signifies great intellectual achievement. Congratulations!
During the Courtyard Sing on Sunday, the officers of the new Green Class of 2018 received the class banner to the cheers of the seniors — another great Trinity tradition!Read comments (0) Add Comment
CONSTITUTION DAY: Justice Denied in Ferguson, MissouriSeptember 17, 2014
Today is Constitution Day, the 227th Anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States at the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. If you think politics was more genteel and harmonious back then, go back to History class — or do some reading about the bitter arguments and unsavory compromises forged by the men (yes, all white men back then) who we call the “Founding Fathers.” (Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis is a good summary of the bold egos and serious disputes around the founding of our nation.)
A product crafted through months of contentious compromise, the Constitution was far from perfect from the very start. “We, the People of the United States” really meant white male property owners. The exclusion of women from full citizenship rights was not the worst of it (corrected through the passage of the 19th Amendment 133 years later). The most notorious flaw in the original Constitution was the “three-fifths compromise” that treated a slave as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of taking the census to apportion Congressional representation for the population of each state. That profound injustice — allowed because leaders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington could not bring themselves to do what they knew was the right thing to abolish slavery at the founding of this nation, in part because their own wealth depended on slavery — would not be corrected until the Reconstruction Amendments (13-14-15) after the Civil War.
But more than two centuries after the enactment of the Constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights that emanated from the first ten amendments to the original document, and the later amendments to correct the other injustices, “We, the People of the United States” remain in a state of frequent conflict, disagreement and outright hostility at times to the fundamental principles guaranteed in the Bill of Rights — the guarantee of justice, the blessings of liberty, freedom of speech and assembly, due process and equal protection of the laws, among other rights protected by the Constitution.
Racial justice, in particular, has proved vexing and elusive across the decades. In the 20th Century, major legal milestones like Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other laws and court rulings at the federal, state and local level all aimed to end race discrimination and to protect the rights of all people to equal justice and freedom without prejudice. Despite all of the years of laws, movements and widespread commitment to make justice a reality, justice is still denied on the basis of race in too many places in this nation.
The most recent notorious public controversy over racial justice took place in Ferguson, Missouri in August when a young black man, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. Mr. Brown was unarmed. Officer Wilson has disappeared and no investigation or indictment appears on the horizon. Was the shooting at all justified? Without Officer Wilson’s presence and testimony, it’s almost impossible to ascertain what exactly happened, but the appearance of an unjustified police shooting is overwhelming. Each passing day during which the responsible officer remains in hiding adds to the perception of grave injustice. While the killing of Michael Brown is the most serious moral and legal question at stake — due process and equal protection issues are all over this case — the subsequent police treatment of protesters and press at demonstrations that ensued also raise important legal and Constitutional issues.
I asked members of the Trinity community to offer their reflections on what happened in Ferguson. I am pleased to share some of the reflections here:
Robert M. Chappetta, a pre-OTA student in the School of Professional Studies, Class of 2017 writes:
“As a young white person in America today, I don’t worry about racism very much. In fact, I’m one of those people who for too long thought we were living in a “post-racial” society, and that claims of contemporary racism were merely paranoia. It is now clear to me that I was very wrong. What may confuse the issue for some is that, prescriptively, we do live in a society where everyone ought to be treated equally and afforded the same opportunities. Save pockets of proud self-proclaimed racists, most Americans agree that discrimination and prejudice are wrong. This is reflected in our laws! However, a descriptive account of modern American society does indicate that racism is thriving: case in point, Ferguson, MO. It’s time to stop pretending that we’re not racist. Policies must be reformed and refined to reflect this truth. First step, hold the police accountable for their actions. That they are given the benefit of the doubt both propagates and perpetuates pure racism.”
Patrice Sykes, a Communication major in the Class of 2018 writes:
“The most powerful legal solution for Ferguson is equality. The mistreatment, discrimination and racial profiling among other things have occurred for years in Ferguson; including a shooting of an unarmed teen, Michael Brown, in April of this year. Minorities are not treated fairly in this small town. Minorities are often pulled over for “investigation stops.” Investigation stops is a tactic used by the Ferguson police force to pull someone over that looks suspicious (“Policing the Worng Way”). Similar to the most recent event in Ferguson, an unnamed child was shot in the back several times by a police officer because he looked “suspect.” Even if the boy was a threat and if he had a physical weapon. The Ferguson police department is has a bias and accusatory structure against minorities. Whether the child was armed or unarmed, had never commitment a crime in his life; it doesn’t matter because the color of his skin already displays that he is guilty.
“Because of the bias physical notations of the police department, it’s hard to form a solution. For one the police department should be diverse. The police department should represent the population of Ferguson not a certain percent of it; even in the sense of relation through familiar cultures. Some people may find it easier to talk to a minority cop than a white one. Due to the negative perceptions and actions from the white cops in this area some minorities are scared of the police. Aren’t the police there to instill protection and not fear?
“The issues in Ferguson reflect the flaws of a small town. In other populous areas would this behavior be tolerated? Small towns are known preserving traditional rules —even spiteful ones—like discrimination. The legacy of civil rights is being denied in Ferguson. The minorities are being out cast and not be treated as equal. The minorities in Ferguson are on the lowest hierarchy and I’m not sure if there is any changing the stubborn mindset of the police department because the law enforcement are set in their ways. The public statement they send out offering condolences and “ the [great] disappoint” they have in the justice system seems staged. The solutions to this issue are in the police department’s hands. Is the law enforcement willing to change? Would the county have made efforts to change if the discrimination issue were not in the public eye?”
Shari Jackson-Small wrote this in 2008, and feels it still is relevant to the questions posed on this Constitution Day:
From Alabama to Obama
“Clearly the man was outraged. His face was red and he spat when he spoke. His hand, holding the cigar shook spasmodically. “Who do you think you are, walking right alongside a little white girl like that in this town?” he roared. “N_____, you better learn your place!” He jabbed his burning cigar into the chest of the brown-skinned six-year old where it sizzled for a few seconds through cloth and against flesh.
“The year was 1965. The place was Ft. McClellan, Alabama. The burned child was me. The “little white girl” was my light-skinned sister.
“I am now a 48-year old resident of this nation’s capitol with children of my own who cannot imagine such a society. They cannot fathom their skin color being of any less value than that of their Caucasian counterparts, many of whom are quite vocal about the ugliness of racism that shames some of them today. As an educator, I have shared details of the incident with various classes and groups (Black and White) that were studying the negative impact of racial disparity and exclusion, and without exception, each and every individual in the audience appeared visibly shocked; sometimes even angry. And yet, racism, along with its ugly step-sisters discrimination and bigotry, is still very much alive and well, thank you very much; even here in the nation’s capitol. The only real change between the sixties and now is that the pool of the discriminated has increased exponentially with the inclusion of other ethnic populations that have arrived in this country for the very same purposes as the Pilgrims and their current day ancestors who proudly continue to perpetuate the ugly (not to mention untrue!) notion of racial superiority. The irony is staggering.”
What are your thoughts? If you want to join this conversation please add a comment by clicking the link for the comment box below, or send your reflections to me at email@example.comRead comments (0) Add Comment
War Without EndSeptember 11, 2014
13 years later, we’re still fighting the war against terrorism, with no real end in sight. Today, September 11, we remember once again the horror, sorrow and losses of that terrible day. Yesterday, September 10, another U.S. President vowed once again to eradicate the terrorists. Who actually believes that this will be the last time we’ll hear a U.S. president take that vow?
13 years and one day ago, on September 10, 2001, most of us had never heard of Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. We had vague ideas about bad things happening far, far away at the hands of terrorists who immolated themselves while blowing up markets, restaurants and buses thousands of miles away in places most of us would never occupy. Too bad, we might say as we turned to the morning comics, but it could never happen here.
13 years ago, on September 11, 2001, it did happen here. Even now, those images of planes flying into the twin towers are almost impossible to see. On the 4th floor of Main we watched as smoke rose from the Pentagon. I remember standing in the middle of Social Hall that morning as students, faculty and staff streamed in and crowded around the television — only 13 years ago, we did not have the ubiquitous smartphones, tablets and pervasive wifi access to the internet. We had one television in Social Hall and the entire Trinity community crowded in to watch. Rumors of bombings all over Washington shook the crowd. “What will we do? Where will we go? How will we be safe?” students were asking. I did not have a clue. The Trinity community managed through that moment with as much grace and common sense as we could muster, and by the end of the day everyone on campus made it home safely. That was not true for about a dozen members of our extended Trinity family, relatives and friends who perished at the World Trade Center or Pentagon or on the planes. We remember them especially today.
Over the course of the last 13 years, we’ve come to know the cast of characters all too well, the leaders of terrorist organizations with murderous intentions and deranged goals. We’ve heard presidents and politicians proclaim Shock and Awe, Mission Accomplished, Bring ‘em to Justice, etc. etc. etc. We’ve watched the flag-draped caskets of thousands of military service members arrive at Dover. A war to end madness may be madness, itself.
I wish I could feel confident about President Obama’s promise last night to “degrade and destroy” the terrorists in Syria. I wish we could stop hearing about “degrade and destroy” and all of the other words of war that, in the end, only serve to inflame the terrorists even more. Unlike conventional war, fought like some kind of sporting contests, where two sides go at it until one side gives up and surrenders or runs away, the war against terrorism is not against a clearly defined opponent in a nation-state, and what constitutes “winning” is an elusive notion. Terrorists are individuals who act much like viruses, and rather than eradicating the virus hostile actions can actually cause the disease to spread. Terrorists are everywhere, even here in the United States. We sometimes forget that one of the most appalling acts of terrorism occurred in Oklahoma City, committed by an American veteran, Timothy McVeigh.
On this September 11, perhaps the best thing we can do to honor those who died that day is to pray for peace, and then to use our advocacy to insist that our political leadership do more than promise to keep dropping bombs, which may be necessary but seems almost like a hopeless gesture in the face of evil. Our leaders cannot keep waging war without end. We must insist that they find a way to more lasting peace.Read comments (0) Add Comment
Voices of Trinity: Amazing Summer Experiences!September 8, 2014
I asked Trinity students to send me some essays on their summer internship experiences. Wow! Here are their amazing reports:
Senior Megan Tarr (above, left, with some of her summer camp friends), a Business major, has two exceptional experiences to report:
“This past summer I took part in a program called CISV (Children’s International Summer Village). This is a 100% volunteer based organization that teaches children the importance of building global friendships by learning about the world. I was a camp counselor for three 11 year old children from the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. We ventured to the Philippines, where 12 other countries from around the world learned and grew with us for one month. This experience taught me that no matter the age everyone can teach and everyone can learn. In helping these children learn about making friends, open minds, and positive attitudes they helped me see how much I have grown and learned about the world. For this I thank the friends and professors I have come to love at Trinity.
“In addition to an amazing summer travel experience, I also landed an internship in the Office of Web Communications at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In applying for this internship I used a writing sample from my senior seminar last semester. In this writing sample I explored the business structures of the company Duke Energy, while highlighting their relationship with the EPA. Immediately I thought of the push and pulled of information shared in my discussion style seminar, and the writing sample that emerged as a result.”
Junior Brittany Joyner, a Psychology major, has this amazing report:
“This summer, I was chosen to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in June held at the University of Maryland campus. I was honored to be among so many extraordinary and talented women who want to make a difference in the world. I was even more excited that I was going to be representing my college, Trinity Washington University. I was a bit nervous about attending a conference for the first time, especially since I was the only student from my college that was chosen to attend, but I had a blast! I was given the chance to meet some incredible women and share with them stories of struggle and success. While at the conference, I met members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an organization dedicated to advancing the equity of women. I also listened to powerful speeches from keynote speakers such as Hilary Clinton (daughter of former President Bill Clinton) and Deanna Zandt (media technologist and author). I attended a Graduate College Fair where I spoke to college representatives about my interest in career fields that include Psychology and Education. I also attended several workshops, one of my favorites being the This I Believe workshop which focused on the art of storytelling, how to use it as a tool to connect with others and enhance student organizations or corporate businesses. After attending the workshop, I realized the importance of storytelling, its impact on individuals and how it draws people closer together and decided to utilize the storytelling tool as a way to enhance my student organization, Women on a Mission. When I return to campus, I will be sure to use all of the knowledge and resources that I gained from the conference and share it with my Trinity sisters. I hope that next year more of my Trinity sisters will be able to attend the conference. I’m certain that all of the women could benefit from attending the event and will leave feeling inspired, motivated and empowered. I also hope to establish an AAUW chapter at Trinity so that my sisters can get involved in the advocacy for women’s rights.
“I spent the remainder of my summer working as an intern for the United Planning Organization Youth Services Division. I was offered an opportunity to be employed as an Assistant Program Director for a youth summer program sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund called Freedom Schools. With this opportunity I was able to explore my teaching interests by assisting in the classroom, organizing educational activities, communicating with parents and working with children with ADHD, ADD and other learning/behavioral disorders. I was also able to enhance my leadership skills by helping my director run the facility and display my creativity by planning and decorating for events.
“The Freedom Schools program is deeply rooted in the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964 which promoted the educating of African-American voters and eventually led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act Bill of 1965. I assisted in teaching the kids at the program about the importance of voting so that they could understand how it affects their future. I also accompanied the children on a field trip to the U.S. Supreme Court Building, where they hosted their second “Lets Read! Let’s Move!” event created by First Lady Michelle Obama. The children listened to a book entitled “Marshall The Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the Supreme Court” which was read by a few of our nations officials including, Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Supreme Court Marshal Pamela Talkin and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell. In return, the children promoted a National Day of Social Action where the children presented a showcase about the importance of voting for early childhood education resources and their parents filled out pledge to vote forms.
“At the end of the summer program, I hosted a Finale Showcase which was a compilation of the students’ talents and knowledge. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to serve and cater to the needs of children in struggling urban communities, while working for an organization that has such a deep, historical purpose. This experience opened my eyes up to the importance of early childhood education and the need for more great teachers to guide and educate our youth. It also helped me recognize my personal capabilities as a leader and a teacher. I am so proud of myself and all that I’ve gained—effective tactics for working with children with learning/behavioral disorders, a strong sense of self and a great deal of patience. I’m also proud of all the children I encountered in the program and all that they’ve learned and retained at such a young age. They give me hope that they will be the voices of change in the future!
“Everything I experienced this summer directly aligned to my involvement on Trinity’s campus. This summer helped me to appreciate new endeavors and reminded me that everything is a learning experience and that there is always room for growth. I am determined to return to Trinity this semester eager to learn, lead, inspire and grow!”
Senior Kelly M. Poole writes about her internship at Washingtonian Magazine:
“This summer I have been interning in Advertising and Marketing with Washingtonian Magazine. I’ve been lucky enough to assist in business plans and event planning for the magazine’s biggest event of the year “Best of Washington” which was held at the National Building Museum and had an Alice in Wonderland theme. I’ve always wanted to work for a magazine so this internship has been a dream come true. Attending Cathy Merrill Williams’ intern talk was also very enlightening as to how the magazine has evolved over time with her at the helm. I’ve been networking and making it a priority to represent Trinity in the best ways possible.”
If you have an interesting internship or other educational/professional experience you’d like to share with the Trinity community on my blog, send your essay to me at firstname.lastname@example.org Photos are welcome but please send them as jpeg attachments. Thanks!
See my blog on the Huffington Post “Perfect v. Good: Higher Ed Reform Edition”
Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrezRead comments (0) Add Comment
Promoting Respect and Freedom from Sexual ViolenceSeptember 1, 2014
I have sent this message to the Trinity Community on email, but it’s so important that I want to reinforce the message by posting it on my Trinity blog:
As we start the new academic year, I call upon all members of the Trinity community to work together to help ensure that Trinity is a model for respecting the dignity of all people, maintaining a campus free from violence of any sort, particularly sexual misconduct and sexual assault, and harassment in any form. As a university with long and deep moral roots in the Catholic faith tradition and Gospel teachings on social justice, we have a moral mission to uphold the dignity of human life. As a college founded in reaction to historic discrimination against women, and still emphasizing women’s education and empowerment, we are especially concerned about upholding the rights of women. Today, we welcome men in many programs and all faith traditions into the Trinity community, and we call upon everyone to express affirmative support for the fundamental imperative to respect the dignity of each person here.
From that perspective, I am writing this message as part of legally required annual notification to the campus community about our policies and procedures on sexual assault and harassment. Trinity complies with all laws on student safety and protection, including the Campus Safety Act known as the Clery Act, Title IX in all of its parts including those governing sexual harassment and violence, the Violence Against Women Act, and other federal and local laws on this topic.
We should not need the law to tell us what is right, but the law is necessary because in too many places in our society, including on too many college campuses, violence and degradation run rampant, particularly violence against women. Trinity must be a strong moral example to counter these conditions.
Each campus constituency has both rights and responsibilities to safeguard Trinity’s highest values for respect and safety for all:
For All Students in All Programs:
You have a right to be safe, free from fear of harassment or any kind of violence when you are on Trinity’s campus or participating in any program that Trinity sponsors. Trinity has policies and procedures that protect your rights. If you are the victim of sexual harassment or violence in any form, you can get help on our campus.
- Confidential Help: Contact Health Services (202-884-9615) (email@example.com) (confidentiality protected by law)
- Immediate Assistance: You may seek assistance with your dean or other staff member, and particularly the individuals listed below. Please note that the federal law requires reporting of criminal cases to these individuals may not be able to keep your case completely confidential, but they will do everything possible to protect your privacy and your rights:
- Security and Police Response: Trinity Department of Public Safety (202-884-9111) and Deputy Chief Kelvin Contee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You may find these policy statements on our website in these places:
Students also have the obligation to refrain from any acts of harassment or violence, and to act to prevent harassment or violence against other students through effective interventions and reporting. Trinity’s Honor System requires the active intervention of bystanders if you see someone committing an action that violates our community standards of trust, respect, honor and integrity. If you see something, say something — this is not only about outside crime but possible crime or offenses within our community.
You are also responsible for your guests. Visitors to our campus are governed by the same rules as everyone else. If your guest threatens or commits any act of violence against anyone here, that person will be banned and you may incur disciplinary action as well.
Trinity has ZERO TOLERANCE for any act of bullying, harassment or violence committed by one student against another, or against any other person. In addition to the policy statements listed above, students are on notice that violence of any form is prohibited by all of our student codes of conduct, as well as the Honor System. An act of violence, or the threat to commit violence, will result in your immediate separation from campus and likely dismissal from Trinity entirely.
Students must also note that threats, bullying, harassment or other misconduct on social media will incur the same penalties as if the acts occurred in real time on campus.
For All Faculty and Staff
You also have the right to be safe, treated with respect and free from the fear of harassment or violence on Trinity’s campus or in the discharge of your duties on Trinity’s behalf anywhere. Trinity’s policies protect you in the same way that they protect students. While the federal law in Title IX is specifically intended to protect students against crimes committed by other students or campus personnel, the spirit of that law is incorporated into our Harassment Policy and general rules protecting all employees from harm.
You do have special obligations under Title IX and the Clery Act. All campus personnel who are in a position to hear about possible sexual harassment or assaults against students have a specific legal obligation to report those cases, and we have an institutional obligation to ensure that you get training on these issues.
Please DO NOT try to handle any reports of sexual assault on your own. Please note that you may NOT promise confidentiality to a student. You should report the case immediately to one of the individuals listed above.
Given the very small community that we have at Trinity, all full-time faculty, executive and administrative personnel are “campus security authorities” for purposes of reporting and training under the law.
The training is offered on a regular basis through the Trinity Institute programs for personnel continuing education. Ms. Tracey Prince, Director of Human Resources, oversees the training program and provides frequent announcements about the sessions.
ALL VENDORS and VENDOR PERSONNEL have the same obligations under Trinity’s policies as all other personnel.
Sustaining a Culture of Respect and Safety
Campus sexual assault is an issue that is in the news quite a lot these days. Unfortunately, on too many campuses, the culture of disrespect and violence has festered. Whether the causes are too much alcohol, unregulated fraternities, big time sports and the entitlement that some perpetrators of crimes seem to feel, the fact remains that even one case is too many.
Here at Trinity, we work hard to maintain a climate of safety and culture of respect. While we are a “dry” campus, have no fraternities or sororities or other kinds of clubs that foster problems at other schools, we cannot be lulled into thinking that something bad could not happen here. Too often, we do see cases where anger turns to bullying, and sometimes fighting. We also sometimes encounter guests, particularly in the residence halls, who act in ways that are antithetical to our values and environment. We must be pro-active about observing and intervening in every instance in which someone needs help to step back from the potential of doing harm to another person and herself.
We will provide more programming through the academic year, and I welcome your input on strategies that Trinity can adopt to sustain and even improve our campus climate for respect, dignity and safety for all members of our community, visitors and guests.
Thank you for your full attention and complete cooperation with this message.
See my blog on the Huffington Post: “College Presidents Must Lead on Sexual Assault”
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