“If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.”
As my second semester at SUNY Geneseo both physically and remotely comes to a close, I have been asked to “tell the story of your semester’s consideration of the risks and rewards of academic partnership” in relation to the courses’ epigraph above. My initial understanding of the quote above was that there is risk in trusting someone enough to strike a partnership. This concept served as the through line in INTD 105’s entire course.
In my own opinion the beginning weeks of the course were meant to establish a basis for dialogue and discussion. This included learning each other’s names, and learning how to have insightful and respectful discussion. This foundation, although in some ways tedious, was entirely necessary if we were to engage in an effective dialogue. Once many of the semantics were out of the way, my peers and I began reading Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bloodchild I would direct you to my essay So It Goes, Where Its Going No One Knows (linked below).This story served as a sort of fable that taught an important lesson about the risks of engaging in partnership, as well as provide the course epigraph above. This story would be the through line and foundation to the rest of the course.
Following these initial weeks we began discussing the various mission statements many Colleges and Universities state on their respective websites. When analyzing these sites we began cultivating the background needed to begin the next step in understanding academic partnership. This next step was learning what Geneseo provides in an academic partnership, and what it seeks to accomplish with its students. According to the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education (GLOBE) “The entire college community works together to develop socially responsible citizens with skills and values important to the pursuit of an enriched life and success in the world”. Initially I didn’t think anything of this, but now I realize that this hints at the lesson I would eventually take away from this course.
After reading through public statements from Geneseo and various other schools, our class shifted its attention examining the facility staff’s role in making sure Geneseo is able to provide students the education promised in the GLOBE we had examined. It was here that I gained a very real insight into the hard work that everyone at Geneseo does just to keep the school running. This allowed me to open my mind to something other than the usual faces I see, teachers and students, and begin to appreciate the people who often are overlooked yet play such an integral role in my education. Geneseo Locksmith Rick Canarvis said it best when he stated, “I also like the satisfaction that when I come to work, I have a part in the safety and security of the students that work here”. Canarvis is a perfect example of what Geneseo offers in its education: dedication, commitment, and care.
After our class had the opportunity to see what Geneseo offers to further its students’ education in terms of basic necessities, we then were able to have conversations with staff such as Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg. From what robbie described in their discussion with us, it seemed that a good part of their time is spent mediating conflicts that risk the well being of a student. Consent plays a huge role in this according to robbie. In their eyes if someone is forced into resolution, it will be ineffective. Both parties must consent to resolve the situation. To learn that consent is of robbie’s utmost importance was actually quite refreshing. I came from a background where if there was a conflict, my school would force you to resolve it, which only led to more bad blood.
Our class then had a discussion Dr. Joe Cope, Interim Associate Provost for Student Success; Professor of History. Joe noted that the syllabus allows a student to decide whether or not they wish to stay in the class. Joe called a syllabus a form of contract, which tied directly into our class’ discussion of social contracts. Joe argued that in order to have a student’s consent in a classroom environment a teacher must simply provide them with a clear and detailed syllabus. Through noting the existence of the “Add-drop” period Joe showed that no student is bound to a particular course.
A few days later our class talked with Dr. Sasha Eloi-Evans, Director of Multicultural Programs and Services at Geneseo. While talking with Sasha, she discussed where a social contract ends. The social contract in Sasha’s opinion bends only to the life of another. If someone needs food but can afford it, Sasha will put the contract aside and make sure that person is given aid in some form or another. Again, Sasha’s response shows Geneso isn’t simply an institution but a community of people, and although there are contractual restraints, they will do what they can to service the student’s needs.
After all of this enlightening information on the true nature of Geneseo’s staff my view of the course epigraph began to change. My understanding shifted from simply recognizing it as a warning of the risks of academic partnership, to realising the rewards of it. I am not sure if this was Geneseo’s intention in establishing this course, but Geneseo proved to me that although there are great risks in becoming a partner in social contract, there are also many rewards. These rewards are well maintained facilities, understanding mediators, advisors, and engaging teachers. These rewards come from the work of people like Rick Canarvis, robbie routenberg, Joe Cope, Sasha Eloi-Evans, and my professor Beth McCoy. By examining many of the services that Geneseo provides, I was able to see that Geneseo does its best to live up to its mission from the GLOBE. “The entire college community works together to develop socially responsible citizens with skills and values important to the pursuit of an enriched life and success in the world”. Through the tireless work of Geneseo staff, Geneseo is able to live up to the goal it sets forth in GLOBE.
In the “so what?” of my first essay in INTD 105 I stated: “I must decide for myself whether or not an academic partnership is worth the risk it may cause… for myself, the answer to this question can only be obtained through experience and time, but hopefully this course can help me come closer to the answer to this question. Is the risk worth the reward?” This course allowed me a small insight into the many things Geneseo does to make the risk of academic partnership worth the reward. After learning about so much that the school does to not simply be an institution but a community, I have determined that for myself the risk is worth the reward. I can recognize Geneseo as a community, an ecosystem working in harmony. Initially I did not understand why this course was necessary. Now, however, I can see that this course gave me a greater understanding of the nature of my own academic partnership.