Consent, Coercion and Beneficence

Throughout the past few classes we have been discussing several issues with the partnership between Gan and T’Gatoi in Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. We have contemplated the complexity of their partnership and the issue of consent. Our class discussion reminds me of what I am currently learning in my Behavioral Research Methods class. Currently in this class I am learning about the International Review Board, which is a group of people who determine whether a proposed scientific experiment is ethical and thus allow to be performed. There are several guidelines for this which include: respecting the rights of subjects, informed consent, no coercion, beneficence and justice. Specifically, the parts that I connected to our course are informed consent, coercion and beneficence.

They key in informed consent is the word informed. It is not enough in an experiment to have the participants signature agreeing to be a test subject. Rather, the experimenter needs to provide information about the entire experiment, which includes: what the participant will be doing, the purpose for the experiment, and not deceiving the subject about the experiment. In class we discussed consent with the agreement between Gan and T’Gatoi, the implantation. Some may say that Gan gave consent from the beginning. When Gan first nods to the situation he says “my sister instantly took a liking to [T’Gatoi] and wanted to be chosen, but my mother was just coming to terms with me and T’Gatoi liked the idea of choosing an infant… I’m told I was first caged with T’Gatoi only three minutes after my birth.” (8) He seemed to just accept the situation because it was how he was raised; it was the only way he knew. However, connecting to the informed consent criteria, this consent was not informed because Gan didn’t really understand the situation. Gan realizes this upon seeing Lomas give birth, after which he says; “I had been told all my life that this was a good and necessary thing Tilc 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. And I wasn’t ready to see it. Maybe I would never be.” (17) Gan’s opinion of his consent of the situation changed greatly after he is given more information about it.

I also see a connection with coercion. The IRB won’t allow an experiment if there is a large amount of coercion, which involves threatening or forcing someone to do something. Although technically one could argue that Gan is given the choice of having his sister be implanted instead of himself; in another sense Gan doesn’t really have a choice because he knows this is wrong. “I could make Xuan Hoa my shield. Would it be easier to know that red worms were growing in her flesh instead of mine?” (26) Gan and the other children in the preservation are not fully given a choice about this decision. This is an exchange that has been going on in the preserve for generations, it is a social “norm” now in a way, and the children do not fully understand that it doesn’t have to be this way. Gan, and the other Terran are coerced because there are consequences if they disobey. The Tilc are more powerful than the Terran so the Terran can not rebel in this situation without being suppressed. 

Beneficence also connects because it involves risks and rewards. In my Behavioral Research class, we discussed beneficence as the necessity that the benefits of the experiments must outweigh the costs. In other words, any harm or discomfort caused to animal or human participants must be justified by the amount of good the experiment is trying to do for the population.  There is a partnership between the experimenter and the experimentee and each has obligations to the other.  This connects to class because out whole class premise revolves around risks and rewards. In Bloodchild there is a partnership between the Terrans and the Tilc, specifically between T’Gatoi and Gan. As Gan puts it when he insists T’Gatoi allows him to keep the gun, “there is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.” This partnership has risks and rewards for both parties and ultimately by agreeing to the partnership each party believes that their rewards outweigh their risks in the situation.

Deciding the right choice to make

Making an important decision in life is something that everyone has to go through at some point in their lives. It could be something like choosing a school, choosing the right major to study, choosing a long time occupation, moving to a new country/place, getting married or even having a child. In Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, Gan, the main character, has to make a very difficult choice that for some people might not seem like a choice at all, but for me, he is choosing what to do, even if his ultimate decision is obvious to some of us.  Gan’s desicion relies on whether or not he wants to carry  T’Gatoi’s children, the Tlic.

He had been practically okay with this because he had known all his life that he would be the one to carry T’Gatoi’s Tlic. However, things changed when he saw everything that could go wrong if he got impregnated with the Tlics when he had to witness Lomas being ripped open, as he tells his brother in page 19: “I had … never seen a person cut open before.” After he experienced this, he was left with a lot of insecurities that made him doubt if he really wanted to end up like Lomas, in the worst case scenario. He knew his brother Qui did not want to do it because he had experienced something similar to him at a younger age, but his sister Hoa had always wanted it and T’Gatoi would choose her if he refused to accept it. Like he states in page 21: “No. Shed’d take Xuan Hoa. Hoa … wants it”, then he thought: “She wouldn’t if she had stayed to watch Lomas.” When he realized this, he immediately felt like it was his obligation to protect his sister from what he now knew was not like the diagrams he was shown when he was younger.

I faced the most important decision in my life so far when I was only 15 years old. I had to choose between staying with my mom in my home country, Cuba, or come to the United States of America to live with my almost stranger dad. Luckily, I was confronting this situation with my brother, who’s 2 years older than me. I had verely any memories of my dad since he and my mom got divorced when I was 4 years old and I rarely saw him back then. In Cuba, it was and still is very difficult to move out if the country. It was kind of a miracle that me and my brother, both underage, received the opportunity to do it because my dad who had got out because of a medical mission to Venezuela, migrated to the U.S. from there and then never came back, claimed us. Many people might say that we really had no choice, and I thought that too back then. But now that I think about it, I really did have a choice. I could have stayed with my mother, who raised me my whole life or I could actually have a bright future ahead of me in a new country. There was also the fact that I knew nothing in English and it was going to be an even greater challenge to learn a completely new language from scratch, but at the same time being bilingual is a great advantage to have in life. Those were the risks and rewards of my decision.

The decisions we make in life will not always be made lightly, like when Goa says: “Qui goaded me into deciding to do something. It didn’t turn out very well” on page 24 referring to the fight he and his brother had. There will be a lot of confrontations and a lot of doubts about what the right choice to make is, but we should answer this question in our minds first: Do we want to do it for ourselves or does it involve someone else we care about? In this case, Gan did it for both reasons because he wanted to protect his sister and at the same time he wanted to keep T’Gatoi for himself because deep within himself he knew that he loved them both. In my case, I came to the United States for myself and for my future, even though it hurt me to leave my mom, my family and my friends behind. Sometimes to make the right choice we have to risk a lot.

Finding the right answer to our problems is not easy, but taking into consideration what is at stake can lighten up a big portion of its waight and make it a little bit easier for us to decide.

When Gen Eds Go Wrong

In class, when we discussed the GLOBE, we also talked about the gen ed requirements and why they are in place. I believe that one of the biggest reasons for gen eds is to push us out of our comfort zone and force us to take classes that we would not otherwise take, and in doing so, get us to learn new skills and fulfill the 8 learning outcomes listed in the GLOBE: critical thinking; communication; quantitative, computational, and symbolic reasoning; informational and digital literacy; creativity and creative thinking; leadership and collaboration; diversity and pluralism; and global awareness and engagement. These are definitely valuable skills for us to learn, but we need to be careful that we do not place more value on some of these skills over others.

Continue reading “When Gen Eds Go Wrong”

The Skill of Confidence (theory from personal reflection)

Ever feel as though you are lesser? Like you would rather be alone then get dinner in a large group? Like you want to tell a story or joke but can’t due to the risk of embarrassment? To most people, it probably seems like a lame roast to call these symptoms. However, to many anxious teens and young adults, this is the revelation of low self esteem or even social anxiety, which can take over a person’s mind and fill it with depressing thoughts and notions of self-degradation. As a prominent carrier of low self esteem, the benefits of past reflective writing at Canisius High School encouraged me to pick up a pen and attempt each day to articulate what was going on in my head. This theoretical analysis details my strategy for overcoming this and as well includes the same wording that pulled me out of my imaginary social prison cell.

By beginning to engage in daily self assessment and reflection, I broadened the depth of my thoughts and have pieced together many different concepts and courses of action conducive to life improvement. My most recent theory breaks down the one skill that evades at least the 74% of the population who fear public speaking, Confidence (see statistic). Ah yes, the immeasurable and elusive character trait that makes everything work out in life. Still widely presumed to be God given or natural talent, confidence is coveted by those aware enough to realize they lack in that department. Now see, what I bring to the table is a logical approach to conquering the, “confidence barrier,”  as I just now have named it. Confidence is probably not genetic, my view upholds the claim that it is learned, just not like any other skill. My definition of confidence as a skill draws on the opportunity to gain total control over one’s confidence level. When put under a microscope, this particular skill is incredibly different then all others. It manifests itself as a sort of summary of ones current state of being. Confidence cannot be directly manipulated or faked and must reflect one’s reality.  Still, I think with practice, it can be mastered like any simple game or sport by improving on everything except confidence itself. Continue reading “The Skill of Confidence (theory from personal reflection)”

“Running in A Cage”

While reading our second section of Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, I came across a phrase that struck me. Gan and Qui were discussing the event that changed Qui’s perspective on Tlic. I am still unsure as to what the Tlic’s role is with the grubs and Terrans, but I get the idea that the Tlic’s choose a Terran as a host for the grubs, which may be part of the process of Tlic birth. Page 18 reveals that one of Terran’s roles in the partnership with Tlics is to create them in their bodies (that is a weird way to put it but that’s the most accurate way I can with the information so far). Anyway, Qui was telling Gan about a past incident he witnessed where the grubs ate a man (page 21). This scarred Qui, and is what lead to him attempting to run away so many times, as Gan pointed out. Qui responds by saying “Yeah. Stupid. Running in the Preserve. Running in a cage.”(page 21).  Continue reading ““Running in A Cage””

Why Blog?

After reading the syllabus for INTD 105 Risks and Rewards of an Academic Partnership and finding out there was 10 blog posts required, I was anxious. Writing blogs is completely new to many of us in the class, especially me.  There are many different types of blogs such as fashion blogs, food blogs… I have never been very interested in blogs or blogging, but I am very excited to learn as I go.  I have been putting off writing my first post for the exact reason that I mentioned above. I’ve never done it, but here I go! Who knows? Maybe I will want to start my own blog after.

As I’ve read some of my classmate’s blogs and other blogs, I believe a blog can be used as a form of expression.  As a blogger, one can write whatever, keeping a specific audience in mind before. In the class Syllabus, Dr. McCoy didn’t assign a length of how long a post should be. The only requirement was that we completed 10 blog post by the end of the semester. This allows us to write freely  and not worry about a set number of pages or words, but the quality of our work.

Connecting to the class title, a blog post has its own risk and rewards. A blog, being a very public form of media can be seen, as expressed by Dr. McCoy, by many people. Knowing our blogs can be seen by anyone and everyone is alarming for the future. Our future employers, colleagues, and anyone browsing the internet can view our blogs.  A risk of blogging would be exposing ourselves to criticism by outsiders.  But this risk can also be considered a reward because it allows us to learn from our writing and improve our blog posts.

This is the first step of my blogging journey throughout INTD 105 as I continue to grow as a beginning blogger.


The “Other” Theresa

It is common you walk into class on the first day of a new semester and see 20 faces, all unrecognizable. It is also quite common you walk out on the last day, still knowing none of the other students names. That is certainly not the case in Beth McCoy’s section of INTD 105.

Last semester, I did not have a single professor that was this eager to learn my name. This never bothered me, the fact that maybe two of my professors could match my name to my face, until this semester. One of my professors, who wanted to learn everyone’s name, would call attendance everyday. There happened to be another “Theresa” in the class who came before me alphabetically. Each day when the professor reached me, she would address me as the “other Theresa”. This would not have upset me if I were not also in Beth’s class, where she puts so much emphasis on making sure everyone feels like their own individual, whose voice is important.

You may have read my fellow classmates, John or Hannah’s posts, where they talk about how they appreciate Beth’s name games. What seemed useless to us all in the beginning is now making a breakthrough. We are all seeing changes in our discussion and we are recognizing each other’s thoughts and opinions. It is so nice to see a professor that wants to create a welcoming environment where we can not only learn, but more importantly, grow as individuals. 

Reflections, Relations, and Reality

After today’s class discussion, I thought back to my first month here at Geneseo. Over and over I’d been told to prepare for “the best four years of your life”, “meeting your lifelong best friends”, and the always unfortunate “hours of studying and stress”. And I can say, at least for the last statement, they weren’t joking around. In my first class of Calculus 2, after 20 minutes of introductions, there it appeared on the screen. Bold face. Font 48. “Chapter 1 Notes”. Within a period of 50 minutes, I managed to get more confused and overwhelmed than I’d ever been in my 18 years of life, wondering if there was a magical derivative algorithm to college life in general.

Flashing forward to the present, I can say that no one truly knows how to figure it out. Despite all the advice and warnings, there’s trial and error, phone calls to mom, and a few bad test grades along the way. But it has taught me one very important thing: college is much more than learning textbook knowledge, it’s about personal growth and acquisition of a purpose in life. I think this is what the statements in the GLOBE try to indirectly express. The learning outcomes, although explained vaguely, truly do mask the struggles AND joys in the journey I’ve endured so far. After rereading them, one particular outcome stuck with me: “Reflection: to reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.” It is impossible to put a more specific statement here, not only because every student’s time here will be different, but because it’s written to invite us to create an experience that we will actually enjoy reflecting upon. I hope others can find some beauty in this as well, rather than seeing yet another boring mission statement.

More Than Just a Student

John Madsen made a comment in his blog about not understanding the point of continuously going over our names in the first few classes. Like John, I felt this activity was redundant, and not the best use of time, but only at first.

During my academic career, I have been conditioned to think that teachers are more concerned with spending time focused on course curriculum than focusing time on learning about the student body. Continue reading “More Than Just a Student”

Call Me By My Name

At first, I found the exercise both foreign and unnecessary. Listening to each of my classmates names, tying these names to the corresponding faces, and committing it all to memory, would require an unfamiliar use of attention and labor. Any benefits of this exercise were seemingly inconsequential.

It was not until reading They Say I Say that I was more fully able to understand the value of knowing your classmates. Graff and Birkenstein describe an academic setting that is all too familiar: detached monologues with little reference to preceding comments. In previous discussion-based courses, I encountered a similar classroom dynamic. Sometimes, students would share entirely disconnected thoughts. More often, the comments would be connected but lack direct attribution, making it difficult for me to piece together the many responses. At the time, I found this discourse to be entirely sufficient. Only through re-analyzing my past experiences have I been able to find the insufficiency. Addressing classmates by name, directly engaging with their ideas, is achingly necessary.  

Although our section of INTD 105 has not yet engaged in a large amount of discussion (We are young, we are shy, we are tired), I can already see the ways in which our classroom is starting to address the failures of similar classrooms. Moving forward, I hope we can hone our discussion skills and carry them into the larger Geneseo community.