The Importance of trust

Since the beginning of our time in INTD 105 we’ve sought to understand the interactions and elements that make up a good academic partnership. I believe trust’s importance in any relationship can’t be understated, this includes academic partnerships like those formed by students and their universities. I believe a good example of what happens when this trust is breached is shown in the situation described by Drew Harwell in his article “Colleges are turning students’ phones into surveillance machines, tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands”. Harwell’s article is focused on the subject of schools tracking their students via their cell phones. Harwell’s article identifies the service in question as SpotterEDU; SpotterEDU is a tracking service developed by Rick Carter, a former basketball coach, as a way to track the attendance of student-athletes. The service functions by using an array of short-range Bluetooth phone sensors and campus Wi-Fi networks and is currently being used by several universities to track student’s class attendance, their time in common spaces, time in their room, etc. Harwell writes how the school’s then use this data to develop personal “risk scores”, which schools can then use to arrange real-world interventions.

A common sentiment expressed throughout Harwell’s article is a general discontent with schools that have implemented this system for several reasons. First off there is a lot of concern that forcing students to participate in the SpotterEDU service is an invasion of privacy. This is expressed in a quote from Harwell’s article “‘We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?’ said Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, which recently began logging the attendance of students connected to the campus’ Wi-Fi network”. The question of whether adults should be tracked is raised several other times throughout the article. Another Concern expressed in Harwell’s article is that the SpotterEDU service is inhibiting student success. Those in favor of the service may dispute this claim saying that it is increasing the motivation of students which is expressed in Harwell’s article when he writes “Rubin, the Syracuse professor, said once-thin classes now boast more than 90 percent attendance.” However, this increase in the ability to track attendance is overshadowed by the distraction it creates for students and professors in the classroom. This is shown in a statement given by a student-athlete in Harwell’s article “a freshman athlete at Temple University who asked to speak anonymously to avoid team punishment, said the SpotterEDU app has become a nightmare, marking him absent when he’s sitting in class and marking him late when he’s on time.” The Freshman later commented in the article that they’d missed out on early lectures while fumbling with the app in an effort to be marked present while being berated by frustrated professors. I believe this incident demonstrates the necessity of trust in forming a successful academic partnership.  The final major concern raised in the article is that the increased surveillance placed upon students is stunting their growth as independent adults. This is encapsulated by a quote by Joanna Grama, an information security consultant and higher-education specialist, that was included in Harwell’s article that states “At what point in time do we start crippling a whole generation of adults, human beings, who have been so tracked and told what to do all the time that they don’t know how to fend for themselves?” she said. “Is that cruel? Or is that kind?” This presents a very real possibility that colleges are harming students’ ability to become independent adults as a result of their lack of trust in a student’s ability to self-motivate.  I believe this article by Drew Harwell demonstrates the Importance of trust in maintaining a healthy academic partnership.

I believe this relates to our class reading of Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, on account of how the relationship between characters Gan and T’Gatoi is heavily influenced by their trust in each other. Throughout the progression of the story their relationship is constantly evolving as a result of their trust in one another. In the beginning Gan and T’Gatoi appear to be fairly close; This is demonstrated by when Butler writes “T’Gatoi and my mother had been friends, all my mother’s life, and T’Gatoi was not interested in being honored in the house she considered her second-home”.(Butler 4) This Shows that T’Gatoi is very close to Gan’s family and views herself as a part of the family. The close relationship between T’Gatoi and Gan is also expressed when In Bloodchild, Gan says “I’m told I was first caged within T’Gatoi’s many limbs only three minutes after my birth. A few days later I was given my first taste of egg. I tell Terrans that when they ask whether I was ever afraid of her.” (Butler 8) Here Gan explains how T’Gatoi has been in his life since the beginning, so he has never been afraid of her. I Believe this shows a fairly large degree of trust.

 However, their relationship is complicated later in the book when Gan learns the more gruesome reality of the task he’s being groomed for. This causes Gan to develop some distrust of T’Gatoi subsequently harming their relationship. This shift in Gan’s views are shown In Bloodchild, when he states “I had been told all my life that this was a good and necessary thing Tlic and Terran did together—a kind of birth. I had believed it until now. I knew birth was painful and bloody, no matter what. But this was something else, something worse.” (Butler 16-17) Here Gan witnesses the harsh reality of the task he is being guided towards by T’Gatoi. Shortly after this Gan is also affected by a statement his brother makes “I saw them eat a man”. (Butler 20) Here Gan’s brother tells Gan how he witnessed a Tlic sacrifice their Terran companion so they didn’t lose their grubs inside him. This distresses Gan triggering what appears to be an existential crisis during which he argues with his older brother whether the process has any greater meaning than Tlic just using Terran to reproduce.

These events heavily affect Gan’s relationship with T’Gatoi; this is shown when Butler writes “‘I don’t want to be a host animal,’ I said ‘Not even yours,’”(Butler 24) at this point Gan refused to be impregnated by T’Gatoi as a result of what he had learned in the last events. However, Before T’Gatoi can replace Gan with his sister as her child-bearer, Gan recants his statement and asks to be used because he didn’t want to hide behind his sister. Gan then accepts T’Gatoi’s egg and then explains how he was afraid of what he saw. This leads to an important conversation between Gan and T’Gatoi “‘Terrans should be protected from seeing.’ I didn’t like the sound of that—and I doubted that it was possible. ‘Not protected,’ I said ‘Shown. Shown when we’re young kids, and shown more than once…’”. This conversation leads to the revelation that for a relationship to be successful, there must be trust. This is demonstrated by this situation because Gan won’t accept the egg until he has all the information and completely understands what he’s in for. He also advocates for being treated as an adult by requesting that the birthing process be more comprehensively taught so others can make an educated decision. I believe this also relates to developing academic partnerships because for students to be successful they must be trusted by their institutions to self-motivate and self-govern. I believe if institutions don’t give students this respect, they wouldn’t be preparing their students for employment.  

I believe that Gan’s development throughout the book “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler can teach us about developing healthy relationships. I Believe that it also demonstrates why trust is an important factor in academic partnerships. This is why I believe that if students are to be successful, their intuitions need to treat students like adults rather than kids that need to be watched.

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