Monday, August 12, 2013
Just like our incoming class of 2017, this summer I took some time to read this year’s First Year Reading Initiative selection Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. The IC Library has compiled an outstanding, comprehensive guide to the book and its author, be sure to check that out even – especially! - if you are returning student.
Themes that run throughout the book include the many ideas of “home,” individuality, finding oneself, exile, community, culture, friendship, family, and connection. The main characters confront ways people and relationships can be layered, unexpected, and intertwined, and methods with which people deal with and address discomfort in themselves and others. The characters’ paths lead them toward leaving the familiar, striking out in new places with new situations and relationships until they become the new “normal,” and then returning once again to old places and at first experiencing shock and dissonance but then finding how quickly one can acclimate and become accustomed to the old familiar once again.
Without giving away too many of the plot twists and turns, Eilis, the main character, at one point struggles with keeping a rather significant secret from her mother, and struggles with what to say, and whether to say it. And she also believes if she does tell this secret, her mother may, instead of listening and communicating openly, somehow act as if she had never heard this news at all. A bit later, Eilis also wonders if she tells this secret to her friends, if they might just not believe her or end up completely confused because the details of her secret are something she believes are entirely outside of their understanding and experience.
Students interested in LGBT themes may find common, shared ground in many of the book’s metaphors and ideas. Those with interests in LGBT literature and the work of out LGBT authors may also find interviews with the author, and his other works, illuminating as well. This interview with Colm Toibin, including his thoughts on the closet, and being gay, focuses specially on these and other themes, while this review discusses another book. And, be sure to view him speak in his own words about being a gay writer.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
As the new academic year approaches, I, like many of our incoming class of 2016, have been reading the First Year Reading Initiative selection Ten Thousand Saints by IC faculty member Eleanor Henderson. Many themes and threads run through the book. Music, drugs, sex, spirituality, friendship, family, connection - are but a few. Students interested in LGBT themes, or in public health or history, or those intrigued by tattoos, will likely be drawn in to the story and its characters, too. So much ground is covered (literally and figuratively, for some of the characters), that even fans of the Mets or of singer Bob Seeger will find brief mentions of these within the layered design of the storyline. And those keenly attuned to aspects of equality and respect may briefly become concerned when a character uses an anti-gay invective within the first chapter. But readers who continue will find that this and other details serve to paint the picture of a particular time and place, one far removed from today's awareness of bullying and name-calling, one in which it is likely this type of language was much more common.
Finding one's way is an idea that comes up frequently for students here at IC. In this book, that's what many if not all of the characters are doing on various levels, too. Navigating relationships, ideas, passions. Grappling for understanding, forgiving, finding compassion. Wrestling with ways life, people, and relationships can be messy and complicated. And responding to the unexpected, both the good and the bad, in people, institutions, and society.
Just before the close of last semester, I had a conversation with a student about to embark upon a journey of sorts. It wasn't a journey about any of the specific themes of this book, in fact it was about something not really in the book at all. At the heart of this particular student's musings, though, was the theme of finding one's way. How do we find connection and community in a world from which we may at times feel profoundly disconnected? What does it mean when we may share particular beliefs or identities, but differ on what these mean? How does one reconcile deeply holding ideas within oneself that are seemingly at odds? We ended our talk that day this way, not unlike what some may take away from their reading of this book: I am on my path, you are on your path. We are all finding our way.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
It's Leap Day, that once a quadrennial day that helps our calendar stay on track. Out for Good has also been pondering all the little things - besides Leap Day - that help keep things on track. Among them:
- In this town there are two - count them, two! - campus-based LGBT Center directors. One here at IC, and one at Cornell. Just a few weeks ago, we two were in the same place at the same time (and no, this does not cause a tear in the space/time continuum, although that is very funny), facilitating a leadership retreat for a group of amazing students. How terrific to have a colleague so nearby! And with this also comes other opportunities not just for the two of us, but also for students. There are always things LGBT and non-LGBT related, taking place on both campuses, that any student can attend. We're always thinking about ways we can work together, things students might have in common, and unique opportunities that might be of interest to all students regardless of which Ithaca campus they call home.
- Campus community members that want to give each other room to grow, learn, and be themselves. In just the past two weeks I've watched as an outstanding student journalist has worked tirelessly to cover a story about a new program that makes our campus unique, the alumnae who were inspired to help create it, and one of the students who is accessing it. I've also had the privilege of working alongside IC students who volunteer their time to prepare income tax returns for working families in our community. They knowledgeably and skillfully provide a needed service that benefits the larger community. And I've been part of conversations in which current students connect with prospective students, answering questions and providing insight into what it's like to be an IC student.
- A local area awash in natural beauty. Lakes, waterfalls, trails, and more, all literally steps from your door. Fun facts and trivia take on a unique and quirky spin here, too.
- And so much more.
In this leap year, consider taking a leap - what things have you been meaning to do, but haven't yet found the time? What helps keep you on track - friends, fun, studying, volunteering? This year has one extra day - be sure to use it to stay on track, whatever that means to you.
Friday, January 20, 2012
A little more than a year ago, a student came by my office with an idea. She had just attended a professional conference in her academic field of study, speech-language pathology. At the conference, she went to a session highlighting a specialized service in her discipline that was being offered elsewhere. She thought it would be a great addition to her academic program here, as well as provide a needed resource.
Another student in the program had also attended the session, and met with the Program Director of the Ewing Speech and Hearing Clinic here at Ithaca College. The two students were very interested and very passionate about the possibilities, and encouraged a series of meetings that led to a unique collaboration - a new service that will launch this semester!
The Voice and Communication Modification Program for People in the Transgender Community is a collaboration between the Sir Alexander Ewing Speech and Hearing Clinic at Ithaca College, the LGBT Center at Ithaca College, and Planned Parenthood. This program will focus on developing voice, articulation, language, non-verbal communication, self perception, and voice related quality of life, and is open to both male to female and female to male transgender people.
The new program will provide a strong resource to the community by providing the most current treatment methods in the area of transgender communication, as well as provide experiential learning opportunities to graduate students who are obtaining their Master of Science degree in the area of Speech-Language Pathology at IC.
The group is offered at no charge for IC students, faculty and staff, and to family of staff and faculty. Community members that do not fit into the above categories will pay a nominal fee. Please contact the Ewing Clinic at 607-274-3714 for more information. Additional info is available, as well as the program brochure.
If you or someone you know may be interested in this service, please encourage them to contact the Ewing Clinic for more information.
Friday, October 14, 2011
It's finally here - the 10th Anniversary of the LGBT Center and Fall Splash/LGBT and Allied Alumni Reunion is taking place right now! Please join us as we celebrate all LGBT and Allied alumni, and the ten years of the campus LGBT Center. You can browse a complete schedule of LGBTA-themed events, and learn a bit more about the LGBT Center and our four LGBT-themed student organizations, or access the complete schedule of all Fall Splash/Alumni Weekend events.
Our kick off event with alumna Janet Green in commemoration of National Coming Out Day took place last night, and there are five additional events that will take place from now throughout the weekend.
Celebrate along with us, either on campus or from afar, by sending some festive LGBTA-themed e-postcards, viewing or listening to our incredibly talented students who have created LGBTA-themed videos and music, or connecting with us via Facebook.
This will be a great opportunity for current students to meet and network with LGBT and allied alumni, and for alumni to learn more about the center and its work, our award-winning status as one of the most welcoming campuses for LGBT students in the nation, and our current LGBTA-themed student organizations and other offerings and accomplishments.
If you're an alumnus, things may have changed a bit since you were here as a student. I have heard from alumni spanning decades, and the experiences and campus environment for LGBTA students has varied over the years. The LGBT Center is but a small part of the long and very rich history of LGBT and allied students at Ithaca College. With the help of some wonderful folks at the Library and the Ithacan, we have been able to find references to an LGBT-themed student group on campus consistently all the way back to 1979. (It's the student organization currently called Prism, but it has had several names over the years including Gala and BiGayLa, among others). And just a few weeks ago, a researcher in our college Office of Institutional Advancement contacted me when she discovered a document from 1971 that detailed a meeting of 11 students who were interested in establishing an IC chapter of the Gay Liberation Front. These are all vital, but sometimes lost (or temporarily lost) pieces of history, and the LGBT Center wants to collect them so our current students can have a sense of this important history and the role of LGBT and allied students throughout the years.
I invite you to share your recollections and experiences of all things LGBT and Allied during your time as a student at IC. If you're joining us in person, there will be several ways for you to share your stories throughout the weekend. If you can't be with us this week, I invite you to share your stories right here using the comments function. And whether you visit IC this week or not, consider creating a short video and sharing it - upload it to YouTube and share the link via the comments section on this post.
Some suggested questions to consider might be:
- How did your time at IC contribute to the person you are today?
- Tell a story about your time at IC through the lens of LGBTA work/identity/community/climate. This might be something specific about a student organization, class, professor, or initiative.
- Share a fond reflection of IC
- If you were magically transported back, what one thing would you love to do or experience again at IC?
LGBT and Allied Alumni Reunion and the tenth anniversary of the LGBT Center....It's always been inside of you, you, you. And now it's time to let it through-ough-ough. Connect with us in person or online, and be a part of our future.