Cass Dykeman, Counseling Professor at the College of Education, is getting out there to help the community.
He says: “I was a volunteer at the Covid Vaccine Clinic this morning at Reser Stadium. I thought it might be great to show CoEd personnel at work to aid the vaccination effort. A lot of my family is involved with health care and I wanted to do something too. So when the call went out for volunteers to help with the vaccine clinic this morning at Reser Stadium I signed up to ferry people that needed assistance getting from the parking lot to Gate C via one of OSU’s golf carts since I am approved for driving with the motor pool. It was cold but it felt great to help out in any way I could. The clinic was extremely well run and I would encourage any of my CoEd colleagues to volunteer too!”
The college held the first Diversity and Inclusion Forum in January as part of our commitment to the Call to Action statement : “Holding anti-oppressive conversations and training for faculty and staff that focus on specific identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, Disability, national origin, etc.)”
A short recap of some key takeaways from our first forum along with a few resources shared in the meeting:
How to apologize and focus on impact (instead of intent)
Considering a shift away from “calling people out” to “calling people in” (NYT Article below)
Importance of learning how to pronounce people’s names (or trying to correctly pronounce people’s names)
Common coping strategies used by students when responding to incidents related to race (resource from University of Illinois Racial Microaggressions Project)
What can we do as a college to encourage/enable our students to use empowering, constructive coping strategies? (connection to work done in our college committees)
Approaches to take with our colleagues and students when we find ourselves in these uncomfortable situations
Normalizing the behavior of asking others to hold us accountable/modeling the behavior of acknowledging our own mistakes in these situations in our roles as instructors and advisors
In this blog post, Allison List writes about how her Brave Space idea came to life with the combined efforts of her Counseling program colleagues and professionals at other Oregon universities.
I sat to write this blog post on 1/6/21, the day our Capitol was attacked. There is so much irony in writing about the experience of our Brave Space initiative colliding on the day’s events. As I began to construct my thoughts while also watching the day continue to unfold, I pivoted from this blog to writing statements to my students and colleagues communicating concern for yet another trauma resulting from white supremacy. I want to be clear, there is no getting around this term anymore and there is no getting around the argument that white supremacy is the underlying reason why I am writing this blog post in the first place. White supremacy is the exact reason why we strive to create safe and brave spaces for students to discuss their experiences away from groups at large. Sure, there is safety in smaller numbers and it is no doubt easier to be vulnerable in a smaller group, but the groups and structures in which our students find themselves in at large do not provide safety to discuss experiences that fall outside of what our society has deemed normative. What’s important about the term “normative” is that it dangerously creates structures that build upon a narrative that racial injustices and inequalities are the status quo; where we accept such acts great and small as normal. Each new event of racialized crimes and actions that strive to keep the dominant narrative alive and well, while all unique, also play a repeated theme and reflect how we feel and have felt about race in America. In my opinon, it is crucial that we provide the space to discuss the differences in narratives, and the pain that is associated with the dismissal of experiences held by many of our students and collegues.
A little less than six months ago I joined a team of colleagues in a series of on-going meetings called, “Call to Action” within the College of Education that addressed the current state of racial affairs across the country. Throughout our meetings of discussing civil unrest and reckoning, a pandemic was swirling with no end in sight and wildfires were sweeping across California and Oregon. While I had carried my own burdens from COVID, I was still able to leave my home and not be ridiculed for being associated with the virus. Despite social distancing, I could feel safe in my own skin in my neighborhood and community because no matter where I go, I can move freely. My home was not under direct threats from wildfires. To my core, I could still feel a sense of safety amidst the various swirls of chaos, and to hold that level of privilege, as beneficial as it is, is just as equally undeserved. As I sat in my own reckoning with this particular experience, there was only one obvious answer in addressing my experience and the intense suffering of those around me: advocacy.
Later that day, a little idea sprouted about holding virtual safe spaces designed for students and faculty to process how they were experiencing the world and it was pitched to my department. We quickly went from a single person idea to a team of three. That team of three strengthened the original pitch and together formed a greater alliance that extended to our Counselor Educator colleagues beyond our Corvallis backyard and across the state of Oregon. Those efforts grew our team to nine, spanning across five organizations/institutions. Our team of nine held what we called, “Brave Spaces,” which were online groups designed to support those who were suffering in our communities and foster a sense of connection. Across the last eight weeks of the fall term, 13 Brave Spaces were held for 17 graduate students in Oregon institutions, some of which attended multiple sessions. This effort was not about contracts and work loads. We gave our time because we believed in the cause and we wanted to support where we could.
While it is always nice to have data to help us understand the experience in a different way, this project was never about the numbers. This project was about humanity and connection. This project has allowed us to flex our positions of power and privilege to step up and do something.
In my experience across the past two decades in education, advocacy work has been lonely. I often feel like I was and often am swimming upstream alone. Colleagues that I thought were like minded and on board, quickly dwindled when the work got hard, controversial or it meant giving something up of their own. To see the efforts in which we came together as clinicians and counselor educators across the state will forever make me feel less lonely. Our team of nine, will forever have my utmost respect and admiration for giving when their tanks were no doubt empty or close to. Our team made a difference in a student’s life when they reported feeling unsure whether they mattered or belonged. THAT moment of giving will be something that I will consider a success and a spark of inspiration on the days where I feel like we are going nowhere or can’t influence any type of change. Our Brave Space team will be connected through this work as colleagues and allies. I would like to thank each and every one of them for the help and support to get this project up off the ground. I would like to especially thank Arien Muzacz and Kok-Mun Ng for their ideas, support and willingness to keep trudging on with full plates. Without the two of them, we wouldn’t have been able to see the potential and lines of support that existed outside of our little backyard, and without all of you, none of this would have taken place. With that I say, we continue to push on and center our work on challenging the status quo and provide safety and connection in our community.
We would like to recognize the following people for their time, energy and contributions to the project:
Gloria Crisp grew up in Houston, Texas, with parents who told their daughter in no uncertain terms that she would go to college. But it had to be a community college, she said, and Gloria had to get a scholarship to attend.
“So I did just that: I found a community college that gave me a scholarship – for dance, because I was a dancer,” says Crisp. “I didn’t even consider any other options, because I didn’t have any mentors helping me.”
Although her mother had never gone to college, she was her daughter’s primary mentor as Crisp embarked on her higher-education journey. Crisp attended several different community colleges around Houston, selecting class times that fit her work schedule as she juggled multiple jobs to pay for college.
Crisp earned a bachelor’s degree in business, assuming she would open a dance studio. Later, thinking maybe she wanted to be a school psychologist, she obtained a master’s in psychology. Ultimately, Crisp completed a doctorate in educational leadership and has been a professor of education for 14 years, the last five at Oregon State University, where she is chair of the Adult and Higher Education programs.
It wasn’t until Crisp was well into graduate school, however, that she became interested in learning about the value of mentors – people who could help illuminate the complex path through academia and career choices.
“Like most community college students and first-generation students, I really struggled to find my way, to find the resources and survive in the academy,” she says.
This lack of mentorship is why Crisp’s research has focused on the impact of mentorship on undergraduate student success.
She developed a mentor survey, the College Student Mentoring Scale, which is used at institutions worldwide to evaluate the effectiveness of mentoring programs. Her research shows that mentoring matters for student success, and students need more than just a single mentor.
Students need different kinds of support, including emotional and psychological support, Crisp says. For some faculty mentors, this might not be their strength, so it is critical that students have access to staff and peer mentors, as well.
Her research has also shown that mentorship needs change over time. What is critical as a freshman transitioning into college is different from what’s needed as a senior prepares to transition out of college and into a career.
Crisp describes ideal mentoring as “fluid and complex” with multiple individuals at multiple points in time providing different types of support that add up to success.
“It’s a mentoring network, really, that students need,” she says. “It’s messy and complicated, but that’s why I like studying mentoring.”
Crisp was recently honored with the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Award for Mentoring. “It’s really an honor to receive that award, because it says you’re contributing to the development of researchers and scholars in your field,” she says. “And that’s really my passion, what I deeply care about: developing the best in my colleagues and students.”
At this event, President Alexander announced the creation of the President’s Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff Affairs to be co-chaired by Terrance Harris, the director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, and our very own, Dr. Tenisha Tevis, an Assistant Professor in Adult and Higher Education at the College of Education.
Dr. Tevis is also the 2021 recipient of the Frances Dancy Hooks Award which recognizes Oregon State students, staff or faculty who exemplify Frances Dancy Hooks’ work: building bridges across cultures, showing courage in promoting diversity, and proudly “Walking the Talk.”