Spring Growth

An epigraph is defined as “a short quotation at the beginning of a book or chapter that is intended to suggest its theme”. The epigraph for INTD 105 is a quote from the short story we studied, Boodchild by Octavia Butler. It reads: “If we are not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner”. Within the context of “Bloodchild”, Gan is explaining the need for trust within their relationship. In my opinion, it is a very well-chosen apigraph for the Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership. This quote has meant a lot to me this semester, as it opened my eyes to the risks and rewards of engaging in Geneseo’s academic and social communities. If one student fails to do their part, it can hinder the learning of those around them. On the other hand, if all students do what is expected of them,  there is room for tremendous learning as a person and as a student body. 

This spring semester, I took more general education courses than a typical biology major. I honestly had no idea what to expect from the semester. I expected a more holistic education style and one that was not so based on numbers and definitive answers. I honestly saw this as a risk to my education, I was scared of falling behind in my major. In all honesty, I believe that it was the best decision I could have made for my education. Major reward, Gan. I have decided that I enjoy classes based in humanities and writing more than I do in science. This semester has caused me to change my major. This would not have happened if I hadn’t taken the “risk” I saw this as before, which in turn became a huge reward. 

What caused me to make this change? I would say that it was largely my experience in this class. While writing the paper on the Heating and Facilities Services especially, I realized that many of the interactions on campus can and should be handled and viewed in a different light. That sounds like a very bad thing to say, but I believe that a lot of people on campus take advantage of the work of the staff that does this work for the benefit of the students. The staff and the work they do for us on a continuous basis is not as recognized as it really should be. This paper changed my mindset completely. Interpersonal relationships are the main thing that creates the world around us, not science and not numbers. In complete transparency, I have worked harder on the relationships I have with the people in my life since constructing that essay. I am very thankful I had the chance to have that mindset change. 

Another aspect of this course that struck me was the conversation with Sasha Eloi-Evans, who is the director of Multicultural Programs and Services at Geneseo. At one point, Dr. Eloi-Evans talked about social contracts, which are defined as “an implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits”. We are all apart of a social contract, and it more or less defines our role in the community we are in. To connect back to my revelation with the relationship between students and Geneseo campus staff, the social contract would expect each of us to do our job to keep the campus running smoothly. Dr. Eloi-Evans brought up an example of a student not being able to eat because of a lack of money, and she was able to “bend” the contract so she could make sure the student was getting what they needed. This is significant to me, as it shows that social contracts are what you make of them. For example, as stated previously the social contract in Geneseo is that students do their academic work and the staff does their work around campus. That is just the basics of what the real relationship is, and we are not confined to the social contract. 

Dr. Eloi-Evans’ conversation really pertained to my growth this semester. The conversation with her catapulted my already-changing viewpoint on relationships between others. We are not confined to our roles in life, and you also don’t know what is going on behind closed doors if you are not told. I really have gained perspective this semester on the importance of relationships with others, and it made me realize that someone is always there to lend a hand. I am proud of my change and I am extremely proud that I have taken this change and implemented it into my daily life. I believe it had made me a more kind and understanding person. 

This coincides with Geneseo’s GLOBE outlook that students should be able to “gain practice in the ability to reflect upon changes in learning and outlook overtime” because I have changed and I have been prompted to reflect on those changes. I still may struggle sometimes with impatience or misunderstandings, but I have the ability now to reassess the situation and realize that I do not know the full story of someone else. This semester has been a reward of academic partnership with SUNY Geneseo, as it has allowed to open my mind to others and change my outlook on the relationship I engage in on a day-to-day basis.

The Backbone

Geneseo is very adamant on the importance of integrative learning, and the university has many resources to help students use this. Integrative learning is important to higher education, as it connects the classroom knowledge not only between courses, but also to real life experiences that students have. According to the AAC&U, “ integrative experiences often occur as learners address real-world problems … to require multiple areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and benefiting from multiple perspectives. Integrative and applied learning also involves internal changes in the learner.” Integrative learning is important, in my opinion, as it allows student to fully grasp a concept by using prior knowledge and experience, literature, and other coursework. This paper in particular allows me to use integrative learning, as I am connecting resources such as Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, the Geneseo Heating and Facilities resource pages, and my personal experience at Geneseo. Personally, I find the relationship between the students of SUNY Geneseo and the staff of the facilities services to be similar to the relationship between TLics and Terrans in “Bloodchild”.

The facilities services is integral part of the Geneseo campus community. According to the video found on Facilities Services page, “the department of facilities services plays a significant role that advances SUNY Geneseo’s mission by providing quality maintenance services across campus infrastructure to ensure that the college runs smoothly”. This is an important aspect to academic partnership with the college, as the institution places a large role on this department to allow students to rest assured knowing the buildings and facilities they use daily are clean and sanitary. The students of Geneseo are allotted the tranquility of this, knowing that their first priorities are academic studies, and not having to worry about cleaning their own facilities. For example, students do not have to worry about tables in study areas being dirty, as they are regularly wiped and sanitized. 

The Geneseo Heating plant is also an integral part of life on campus. According to the heating plant website, the responsibilities of the heating plant are as follows: the management of the heating plant and the Campus Satellite Boiler system, energy consumption and conservation, and utility distribution. Also on the webpage, I learned there is staff working 24/7 thats works to maintain the buildings on campus that are used daily. I believe that this is a reward of partnership with Geneseo, as they have a full staff at all times to make sure the campus is properly maintained. This staff is composed of highly trained personnel, so they are very knowledgeable about the subjects the staff deals with everyday. Another aspect of the heating plant is the large smokestack, which is located right behind the Union, a building that most students use very often. I have always noticed the building, but I had no idea what its function was until it was brought about in this course. To me that speaks volumes about the relationship between the students and staff of Geneseo, which I will later discuss. 

Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” describes an alien planet where humans, known as Terrans, have escaped to. The other creatures of this world, Tlics, use the Terrans as hosts to bear their young for them since they are unable to themselves. The story focuses on the relationship between Gan and T’Gatoi. T’Gatoi is set in an agreement with Gan’s mother to use Gan as a host to birth her children, but after Gan accidentally witnesses a birthing process, which was horrific to him, causing him to “vomit until there was nothing left to bring up”. While outside, he comes across his brother Qui who tells Gan of his experience watching a different birthing process that ended badly.  Gan then ends up agreeing to T’Gatoi again, to save his sister from having to do it “and to keep [T’Gatoi] for [himself]”. 

I see a similar relationship roles between the students and facilities staff at Geneseo and between the terran and Tlic in Butler’s “Bloodchild”. The relationship between the Terran and Tlic in “Bloodchild” can be viewed as one sided, with the Terran giving and the Tlic receiving, since the Terran never truly benefited from bearing the Tlic children. The Tlic viewed Terran as objects for their use, and “wanted more of [them] available.” Gan states that Terran are “necessities, status symbols”, which goes to show the reader that the Tlic are under the impression they are higher status of Terran. In no way am I implying that the students of Geneseo view the facilities department staff as objects or less than. The point that I see similar between the two relationships is the disregarding of people that do necessity services for you. The Tlic, as stated before, view the Terran as means to birth their children and not much else. They disregard what the Terran do for them,because it is their “job” in society. Before given the topic in this course, I will admit that I have overlooked the work that the Geneseo staff does for the students, and the fact that there are many more people in our campus community than students, professors, and administrators. The staff that makes sure our beautiful campus remains beautiful and continues to run often get overlooked, and I believe that could be their risk in partnership with the college. Much like the Tlic, the students of Geneseo would not be able to live on campus without these staff, as they are in charge of not only keeping the academic buildings, but the residences as well, cleaning and providing necessities such as hot water. This point is similar to “Bloodchild”, because if the Terran were not there, the Tlic would have not have a safe way to bear their children. 

In conclusion, the relationship between the Tlic and Terran share similarities as the relationship between student at Geneseo and the staff of the department of facilities and the heating plant, as they both can be argues to be one-sided. In my opinion, the work of the staff is a reward for the students of academic partnership with the college, as they see to the campus buildings and ensure that every aspect is safe for students. Yet, the staff may see it as a “risk”,as they often go immensely under-appreciated and undervalued. While writing this paper, I have realized how integrative learning is extremely beneficial to traditional academics. If I had not been a part of this relationship I have written about, I would not have been able to write this paper. Moreover, I would not have had the “internal changes” cited from the AAC&U. Through the experience of this, I have taken more into thought the work of the facilities department staff and will make sure that they are no longer overlooked by myself and those around me. The department of facilities services and the staff of the heating plant are the backbone of SUNY Geneseo.

The Risks of Partnership in an Academic Setting

Madeline Hare

            When confronted with the course epigraph, I was confused on the message that I was supposed to extract from it. Upon further reflection, I believe that I have decided what it means to me. The course epigraph reads: “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner” from Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”.  To me, this is a message that in partnership, there are risks and rewards involved. The risk in the partnership is making sure there is balance between what each partner gives and takes from the other. The risk here is the if one party does not, it is no longer a partnership, but yet becomes a parasitic relationship or a dictatorship.

            One discussion of this in the class brought forward the idea that we, as college students, are essentially in a partnership with the institution we chose to attend. In exchange for our money, we are expected to be housed (if we so chose), fed, educated, and returned home as scholars with degrees to help us gain our dream jobs, right? That would make the students dependent on the institution, which some could view as an inferior position. Relating this back to the epigraph, if one side of the partnership is unequal that would cause an imbalance. In this case, students are dependent on the institution to provide for them, giving the school a significant amount of power over the students. Another risk recognized in class is that this path is not always the way things could play out upon graduating from college. There is always the possibility to get a job that never required a higher education, causing the degree one obtained to be useless. This is a risk, especially considering the fact that many students these days struggle to pay for their education. In this example, the risk could be wasting time and money. 

            But what are other partnerships we partake in within our college community? Another example could be the relationship between professor and student. To the eye it can seems as though that is a parasitic relationship, the student taking the information with nothing in return to the professor, but that is not what the true partnership is. You are able to find the equal exchange in this partnership. The professor provides the students with information and study resources, and in return the students supply the professor with discussion that has the opportunity to expand wisdom for the professor by providing viewpoints they have never recognized themselves. Yet, everyone knows someone that has had a “bad professor”, and that is exactly the risk here. I know I personally have and have taught an entire semester of chemistry to myself. This is another example of an unequal partnership, that it may not work. In this case, the professor had the power over the student, making it resemble a dictatorship as the professor could be the cause of the student’s failure. 

            One last example of academic partnership I’d like to touch on is the partnership between peers. This is one of the most common, and arguably one of the most important relationships formed on a college campus. There are also many different natures of this relationship, such as classmates, roommates, and friends. When classmates, we expect each other to do the work to be able to contribute to and collaborate with the class. When this expectation is not met, it can stall the learning process for other students, as they are not able to contribute as they should. This becomes parasitic, as these students can begin to take the stances of classmates and treat them as their own.  The partnership with roommates is a lot different when it comes to how personal the relationship can be. When living with someone, most likely there will be agreements about what is and is not allowed to happen with the room. When these agreements are broken, the betrayal becomes a lot more personal, as it is the place that you live. The risk here is no longer feeling comfortable in the living space, and/or ruining the relationship with your roommate. This may not seem like an academic partnership but being in an environment where you are not comfortable alongside someone you are not comfortable can severely hinder performance in school. 

            Personally, I know that my biggest risk when coming to college is the partnership between my peers and I, as I like to spend my free time socializing. With that there is a different kind of risk, rejection. It can be extremely hard for people in a new setting to put themselves out there and meet new people due to the fear of rejection and judgement. Another risk that I touched on earlier that I personally worry about is eventually entering a career that I never needed a degree for. I am worried about this because I will have wasted time, money, and effort that I could have put towards other opportunities. The time and effort are important as I could have used those to develop and advance within my career earlier, and we all know that saving money is a huge dictation in just about everybody’s life in this day and age. My goal from here on out is to be aware of the relationships in my life and make sure they are equal in terms of giving and receiving to each partner. 

            To conclude, my understanding of the epigraph is that the risk in partnerships is the potential imbalance of power. To fix this, make sure that each party included in the partnership is giving and receiving at the same pace to create a balance. This epigraph applies to many partnerships within the campus community, and is now a very important thing for me to be aware of.