Taking a Risk for Growth

In the syllabus, INTD-105 students were given the epigraph “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” This epigraph is a quote from Octavia Butler’s story, “Bloodchild”. In this story, Butler writes about the partnership between two different creatures that live together, the Tlic and the Terrans. Specifically, Butler tells the story of the Terrans, Gan and his family, and the Tlic, T’Gatoi.

Throughout the story, Gan watches T’Gatoi help another Terran, Lomas, go through a gruesome birth, “Paler worms oozed to visibility in Lomas’s flesh. I closed my eyes. It was worse than finding something dead, rotting, and filled with tiny animal grubs.” (Butler 16) Gan knew that he was expected to bear T’Gatoi’s children, but after watching this birth, Gan soon came to the conclusion that he would rather die than go through the birthing process, “I don’t want to be a host animal…Not even yours.”(Butler 24) After arguing with T’Gatoi, Gan eventually comes to the realization that he would rather go through the birthing process himself rather than his sister. While agreeing to give birth to T’Gatoi’s children, Gan considers the risks he is taking in agreeing to give birth and wants to ensure a fair partnership between him and T’Gatoi. Gan says “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” (Butler 26)  When Gan said this he meant that if T’Gatoi really saw him as a partner, like she said, and not just a host animal, then she would have to deal with the risk of allowing his family to have an illegal gun. Having risks, like a gun, in a partnership ensures trust and fairness with one another. This gun is seen as a major risk to T’Gatoi because any family member could easily kill her. However, Gan is also taking many risks in the partnership between him and T’Gatoi, such as the risks that come with giving birth. 

 At the beginning of the semester, when I read the epigraph for this course, “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.”, I was immediately confused about what this meant about the course. However, soon after I dove into “Bloodchild”, other course materials, and class discussions, I began to understand how this epigraph really does form a throughline for the conversations we’ve engaged in this semester. The risks that come with the partnership between Gan and T’Gatoi are very similar to not only the risks associated with the academic partnerships we have discussed in this course through forums but also the risks and potential rewards that come with the partnership between Dr. McCoy and her INTD-105 students. 

Throughout this course, we have discussed the many different risks and rewards that come with academic partnership specifically. For example, one major topic we discussed is a college or university’s code of conduct that both students and school faculty and staff are expected to follow. After reading the rules and regulations SUNY Geneseo students, faculty, and staff are expected to follow, I became aware of the fact that the set of rules are in place to ensure safety throughout the community, and if these rules are not followed by the community, many risks could occur. For example, Article IV, section 3 of the Student Code of Conduct, states that the “possession, use, or storing on campus of firearms” (SUNY Geneseo) is prohibited. This means that SUNY Geneseo does not allow any type of firearm to be present on campus because of the danger that could come along with such actions. When SUNY Geneseo sets in place such rules they are taking a risk in hoping that the Geneseo students, faculty, and staff will follow these rules so that safety through the community is ensured. This discussion is a great example of how the epigraph given to students created a throughline of risks and rewards throughout class discussions. Like the Geneseo community, T’Gatoi takes a big risk in her trust that Gan and his family will not use their gun to harm her. This is a huge risk, but a risk that needs to be in place to ensure fairness between Gan and T’Gatoi.

In addition to the throughline of risks and rewards the epigraph has created for class discussions, the students of INTD-105 and Dr. McCoy have a similar throughline as risks and rewards come with our academic partnership as well. INTD-105 is a self-assessed course, which is a big risk Beth has taken. In the course syllabus, when discussing self-assessed assignments, Beth states “…I had been moving steadily away from linking feedback for growth to stress-producing grades that end up inevitably becoming the focus instead of the learning that is one of the first words in Geneseo’s Mission Statement.” (McCoy) Beth wants a greater reward for her students, learning and growing from work, rather than student’s focus being on the grade they receive from their assignment. Beth takes the risk of self-assessed assignments, in hopes that we will learn from the feedback she provides. Again, the epigraph sets up a great throughline of risks and rewards for this aspect of the class as it is very similar to the risks associated with Gan and T’Gatoi’s partnership. The students of INTD-105 could easily dismiss the greater reward that can be achieved when work is self-assessed and just give themselves a good grade without thought, just like Gan can dismiss the risk T’Gatoi takes in allowing his family to keep a gun.

Overall, I strongly believe that the epigraph “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.”,  formed a throughline for the conversations INTD-105 students have taken part in. This throughline of risks and rewards is evident in class discussions, materials, and the basic structure of the course itself. Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education, GLOBE, has the main goal for Geneseo students to be able to “… reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.”(GLOBE), and in INTD-105 we have gained this ability. Reflecting on this course, given the epigraph, has been great practice for GLOBE’s goal for students of self-reflection. Since reflecting on how the epigraph has created a throughline for the class, I’ve been able to look back on all that we have learned and how I’ve grown as a student through the course. 

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