Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sentimental about my affidavit of same-sex domestic partnership

affidavit of same-sex domestic partnership

I'm filling out this affidavit of same-sex domestic partnership so the university will recognize my same-sex relationship. Some people might view this as just beginning-of-the-year paperwork, but to a gay graduate student in a state with a constitutional amendment prohibiting any union that resembles marriage - this might just be the closest thing to a marriage license I'll see any time in the near future.

In order to get my partner the benefits other graduate assistants' partners enjoy, we have to sign this in the presence of a notary, and it has to receive a notary seal. Other than our joint bank accounts, credit cards, and life insurance policies, this "formal sworn statement of fact" will become the only legal document joining us together.

Since 2004, Ohio has been one step ahead of gay relationships by putting a stop to anything resembling marriage. According to the Ohio Constitution:
"Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."
A year ago, the option of this affidavit through the university wasn't even available - so I guess I should feel grateful. But I don't feel grateful. I feel like I have to jump through hoops to legitimize my relationship.

You can look up a list of U.S. state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions by type on Wikipedia. Even if you're in an unfriendly state, it's worth checking with your specific university policy for partner benefits.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blogging my weekly reading reflections

Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter

I have a feeling my Educational Outcomes class and I are going to get along just fine! We are to reflect on the following questions in response to our weekly reading assignments. Why not blog about it! Seems like a perfect fit to me.
  1. In your own words, what is the author attempting to explain?
  2. In what ways do the author's ideas reflect or contradict my educational experience?
  3. In what ways do the author's ideas inform how I think about education?
  4. What are the implications of these ideas for higher education generally and for my own practice in student affairs? In other words, what different actions do they encourage?
  5. What questions remain for me?

Later on in the course, we'll be creating our own I-Plans (Outcomes Implementation Plans) in the form of a website or visual brochure - again, loving it!

Here is my first stab at blogging my reflective reading notes for this week. Unfortunately, one of my books is still on its way from Amazon, and as I am looking over the syllabus I realized that this week is the only week that I will require said book (which is scheduled to arrive the day after class). Awesome. Welp, here's a reflection of the other reading:

Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., Whitt, E. J., & Associates. (2005). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [Preface & Chapter 1]

In your own words, what is the author attempting to explain? 
The author explains the rationale for writing the book, suggested ways to use the material, and goes into greater detail about the Documenting Effective Educational Practice (DEEP) project, and the criteria used to select the 20 schools to highlight throughout the book. The author generates a list of institutional conditions that are important to student development, which summarizes the views of several previous works by other authors.

In what ways do the author's ideas reflect or contradict my educational experience?
The author places a great deal of importance on student engagement (well, because that's the title of the chapter). He states that "[w]hat students do in college counts more for what they learn and whether they will persist in college than who they are or even where they go to college" (Kuh, 2005, p. 8). At face value, this seems to contradict the whole rationale behind selecting a handful of colleges to highlight in the book. If the college matters less than what students do, why not write a book about what students do from a hundred colleges, rather than focusing on a cohort of 20.

However, as mentioned in the preface, the DEEP schools that are selected for the book are examples of colleges that have managed to beat the odds (or at least the predicted rates) for student graduation rates - so a more thorough case-study is beneficial to understand the campus activities in context.

In what ways do the author's ideas inform how I think about education?
I love the idea that there is no "blueprint" for student success. This is a major drawback because it makes things more complicated (wouldn't it be nice to simply have a recipe to follow). But it is also a benefit, because it means that whatever infrastructure you have in place, all is not lost. Whatever culture is currently present can be adapted and shifted in the right direction. It reminds me of a stew that has been over-seasoned one way or the other. All is not lost, you can still balance the spices accordingly to reach a desirable outcome. There is no "right answer" to a good stew.

What are the implications of these ideas for higher education generally and for my own practice in student affairs? In other words, what different actions do they encourage?
They encourage me to look at possible future employers as unique individuals, and resist the urge to compare universities to each other on concrete dimensions. Really, the outcomes are the important piece, and not necessarily the formula you used (or stumbled upon) to reach them - so I should keep that in mind when interviewing.

What questions remain for me?
This entire book seems to refer to the premiss of a study about a research project on DEEP schools. I would like some more background information on Documenting Effective Educational Practice and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). I'm sure they are valid and reliable measures, but since the entire book seems to use these quantitative scores as a jumping-off point, I still have questions about how these surveys themselves were developed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Elmhurst College (United Church of Christ) is an unlikely trailblazer for LGBT inclusion

lgbt college application

It seems religiously affiliated universities have reached a fork in the road, and they must choose to embark on a more inclusive, progressive philosophy; or turn-tail and run back to the 17th century. At least that was my impression after reading the following articles:

Where Trendy Is 17th Century is an interesting read about New Saint Andrews College embracing a Great Books curriculum, which includes a statement of faith that asserts a literal six 24-hour day creation of the Universe, that the Bible is infallible, is correct in all it addresses, and addresses everything (Everything? What does it say about Internet privacy policies?).

According to the article from Inside Higher Ed, feminists and skeptics at New Saint Andrews College "must offer to withdraw from college." This policy of believe what we believe or get the heck out is definitely an interesting approach to higher education. Not surprising, critical thinking does not appear in their objectives for students.

Thankfully, this article from The Friendly Atheist was able to provide new hope for religiously affiliated universities. It mentions a new intentionality for LGBT inclusion on admission applications at Elmhurst College in Illinois. The application includes the optional question: "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?"

The dean of admissions is quoted in a Chicago Sun Times article:
“Increasing diversity is part of our mission statement,” said Gary Rold, Elmhurst’s dean of admissions. “This is simply closing the loop, in many ways, of another group who has a very strong identity. It may not be race and religion but it’s an important part of who they are.”
The college is reportedly the first school to directly ask the question, rather than implying LGBT identity through questions about interest in LGBT topics.

With this new information, Elmhurst College plans to embrace LGBT students by directing them to student services and groups, and even offering scholarships to aid in LGBT student recruitment. The word "intentional" comes to mind, and to me Elmhurst College is a shining beacon of progressive hope in the ranks of Christian colleges.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are alcohol-alternative events getting students out of the bars, or preaching to the choir?

alcohol alternative event evaluation results

This year, I'm putting three questions about alcohol use on all of our Late Night event evaluations in an attempt to answer the age-old question: Are we providing alternative events for students who would normally be drinking, or are we providing entertainment for students who don't drink?

We were able to purchase some pretty trendy incentives for under 50¢ each. Combined with an aggressive evaluation table, we were able to get the highest response (n=234) since I've been working here.

The three questions I added to our normal evaluation are:
  1. How many days in a typical week do you drink? (circle 0-7)
  2. How many days in a typical week do you get drunk? (circle 0-7)
  3. How many drinks did you have the last time you partied? (open response)
The questions are rather subjective (what do you mean by 'get drunk'?), but in previous research, subjective questions like these have strongly correlated with AUDIT scores - so we are able to get a rough snapshot of possible alcohol-related negative consequences in a single question rather than listing all 18 questions.

It's important to note that our evaluation table was staffed with student volunteers to try to make students feel more comfortable answering questions about their drinking behavior.

So what were the results? We appear to be preaching to the choir - at least at this Late Night event, which was on the very first night the first-year students were on campus. 69% of the respondents indicated that they drink 0 days in a typical week, 82% said they never get drunk in a typical week, and 49% said they had 0 drinks the last time they partied.

Of the students who filled out evaluations (which was a convenience sample of students in attendance at our event), 82% said they had 4 or fewer drinks the last time they partied. If we knock out the 49% who had 0 drinks at their last party, we get 33% of students having between 1-4 drinks. This is disproportionally high compared to our Fall 2010 NCHA data (random sample) which indicates that only 26.5% of the general student body consumed 1-4 drinks the last time they partied.

Looking at gender differences (female=67%, male=32%), the women drank more frequently (0.60 days/wk vs. 0.40 days/wk) and got drunk more frequently (0.27 days/wk vs. 0.22 days/wk) but had fewer drinks at their last party (2.20 vs. 3.11).

Overall, we appear to be attracting a disproportional number of abstainers and moderate drinkers to our Late Night event. So we might not be pulling students out of the bars, but we're providing entertainment and positive reinforcement for the students who are not heavy drinkers.

And there is something to be said for the 18% of student respondents who admitted to heavy drinking the last time they partied (5+ drinks in a single drinking event). If our sample were representative of the entire event attendance, it would mean we were able to host an alcohol-free night for around 300 at-risk users.

However, this event was the very first event of the year, which means a lot of these first-year students have yet to establish their "typical" college drinking behaviors. I want to continue asking these questions at our five remaining Late Night events to see what type of crowd we bring in.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson speech like a Prezi scribbled onto a whiteboard

My partner came across this YouTube video and said I might be interested in checking it out because it has "something to do with education." Little did I know it was a speech by Sir Ken Robinson, whom I had only just learned about after watching a keynote speech by Tom Krieglstein on Leveraging Social Media to Increase & Quantity Student Engagement, which was just posted online 5 days ago.


Let me just take a step back and admire how quickly influential events fall into place when you go out looking for them. So back to this YouTube video. It's my first Sir Ken Robinson experience, and it was definitely an eye-opening I-love-this-stuff ah-ha moment for me, so I just had to share...

The animation itself is breathtaking, like a Prezi scribbled onto a whiteboard. Amazing! It's made by RSA Animate, and their other videos are equally fascinating to watch.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How the one-week free printing "holiday" could backfire, and more free textbook doomsday predictions

You know how banks and big corporations hire hackers to help create network security systems by exploiting loopholes and then reporting on the problems? Well, consider this proof-of-concept post a warning. After all, if I'm able to figure this out at the ripe old age of 27, you bet the first-year students are already well aware of this trick.

Consider: The Technology Support Center announced a free printing "holiday" in campus computer labs. An email to the entire student-body included the following:

Information Technology Services (ITS) is pleased to announce that there will be a printing "holiday" for students on the main and Firelands campus from 6 a.m. Monday, August 22 through 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, August 27. During this time period students may print in any open lab without incurring a charge. The process to print will remain the same, however when the charge to print appears it will be calculated as zero.

The normal cost-per-page printing system is a result of the university's Print Responsibly program. "With Print Responsibly in place BGSU no longer owns any non-specialized printers, copiers, fax machines or scanners, and is no longer responsible for purchasing/replacing toner, or other materials or maintenance costs. A per page price is paid for printing/copying/faxing services" (source).

While Print Responsibly increases computer lab sustainability for the university, it normally puts some of the burden of printing costs on the students. However, during what I'm now referring to as Printapalooza, students will have unlimited free printing capabilities for an entire week! Since printing operations (and costs) are no longer handled by the university, I don't think the university will be footing the bill for the forthcoming printing free-for-all.

I asked ITS for clarification about whether there will be a page limit, and they replied via email: "This is unlimited printing for all students for the week. We hope that students will use it justly."

How will this be abused? I'm glad you asked...

Book scanning services have been cropping up due to an increased demand for digital print. Traditionally, book scanning services have been rather expensive. Recently, Hack College posted about a new service that scans 100 book pages for 1 dollar. This means you could convert your textbook into a printable PDF for a couple bucks - and then take advantage of the free printing "holiday" to print copies for you and your classmates.

What's the catch? Well, the cheapest scan option from 1DollarScan is what's called "destructive scanning" and means the binding will be cut to increase the scanning speed. So this means students will not be scanning their textbooks and returning them to the bookstore. However, there's nothing stopping them (other than copyright laws) from pooling their money for one book that can be turned into an unlimited number of digital copies, or printed for free during Printapalooza.

Free printing and textbooks in PDF form sound like a risky combination to me, and it's concerning that no printing limits have been set. Is the free printing "holiday" going to backfire? I guess we'll find out on Monday.

Continue reading for more doomsday predictions...

If book scanning services are only $6 for 600 page textbooks, what is going to stop students from uploading PDF textbooks to bootleg websites, making expensive books available for free. Could this be the tip of the iceberg that sinks the textbook industry? I think there are a lot of parallels between hypothetical digital textbook download websites, and the rise of bootleg mp3 music files that proliferated when I was an undergrad in the early 2000's.

Could it happen? One survey suggests that it's already happening. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) published the results of a study titled Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education. The study found that "More than 40% of survey respondents said they bought a textbook from a pirate website, or know others who have. In addition, many respondents reported copying their friends' textbooks" (source).

The BISG also found that photocopying course materials and illegal downloading of course content is on the rise among college students. In fact, they report that illegal photocopying of content doubled (from 20% to 40%) since Fall 2010.

When you put a tool like free printing in the hands of students who are more and more likely to illegally photocopy or download textbooks, along with no limitations other than hoping students will "use it justly," I think the temptation to illegally print entire books for free is just too great.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to set your silicone ion sport watch bracelet thing

As I mentioned in my previous post, these trendy incentives can be purchased in bulk for less than 50¢ per unit, and they were a big hit at our late-night event in the Student Rec Center. However, because we bought them wholesale, we got them in a box that looked like it was straight off the boat from China with no instructions for how to set them! After much tinkering and Googling, I thought I'd post the instructions here in case anyone out there is trying to locate that information.

cheap silicone ion sport watch bracelet

Instructions for setting your silicone ion sport watch bracelet thing:
  1. Press A button twice (until month appears in top display).
  2. Month figure will appear. Press M button as many times as needed to adjust to correct month.
  3. Press A button to set month.
  4. Date figure will appear. Press M button as many times as needed to adjust to correct date.
  5. Press A button to set date.
  6. Hour figure will appear. Press M button as many times as needed to adjust to correct hour (A and P indicate AM and PM).
  7. Press A button to set hour.
  8. Minute figure will appear. Press M button as many times as needed to adjust to correct minute.
  9. Press A button to set minute.
  10. The word "sports" should be blinking when time is running correctly.
Viewing options: Press M once to view the date. Press M twice to view the seconds. To return to Time, press M.

cheap silicone ion sport watch bracelet

I've found that a mechanical pencil is the perfect pointy object to use when setting the device. Paper clips stab right through the silicone button, and pens don't always press down far enough.

cheap silicone ion sport watch bracelet

I hope this helps! If you have any other ideas for cheap, trendy incentives you can post them in the comments section. Good luck on your assessments!

Bonus data! Using the right incentive to survey alcohol use with student evaluations

campus event evaluations with alcohol questions

I knew our late-night event would draw a large crowd of first-year students (because they are the only ones moved-in on campus so far), so I wanted to add some survey questions about alcohol quantity and frequency usage in addition to our regular evaluation questions. We also wanted to get a more attractive incentive for the evaluation table, because compared to all the other freebies we were giving out, stickers wouldn't get much attention.

wholesale silicone ion sports watch

We normally give out temporary tattoos, stickers, or candy as an incentive at our evaluation table. This time, however, we got some trendy silicone sport watches. These incentives look very impressive - some companies are selling them for $21.99 each, pretending they are infused with negative ions to give you extra balance and strength (don't get me started) - but they're actually around $0.39 to $0.48 per unit depending on the quantity, if you buy wholesale. Just Google "silicone sport watch" and see what comes up.

The evaluation was a great success, and we got a stack of responses (I'm guessing around 250, but I haven't counted yet).

stack of evaluations

What's even more exciting, students actually filled out the alcohol quantity and frequency questions! This means we have "bonus" survey data on the first night these students were on campus. When we ask the same questions on future evaluations, we can compare trends. We'll also be able to answer the age-old question: Are we providing alternative events for students who would normally be drinking, or are we providing entertainment for students who don't drink?

I intentionally included a subjective question: "How many days in a typical week do you get drunk?" that I got from an interesting study called "Single Question about Drunkenness to Detect College Students at Risk for Injury" in the journal of Academic Emergency Medicine. Although this question is subjective, it positively correlates with typical measures of alcohol-related negative consequences. Basically, it's a quick and dirty approach when you just don't have room for the entire AUDIT survey.

I'm excited to get into the office on Monday to really dig into this data. Exciting start to the year!

Intel's "Museum of Me" is a fun way to render your recent Facebook activity

museum of me

I found this on open thinking, and thought I would give it a try. It's called the Museum of Me, and all you have to do is link the application to your Facebook info so it can pull recent and relevant data to put into your museum (and what a trendy looking museum it is!)

museum of me

Not all of the images were museum-quality, but I guess that's my own fault, right? It seems to pull from more recent data, because everything I saw in my museum was from this year, and I have a lot more content online than what was shown. They even gave me little virtual tourists!

museum of me

So give it a try, it's an enjoyable 3 minute tour set to music and it doesn't spam you with FarmVille requests!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Captain Condom: I can't believe I get to wear this to work!

Tomorrow night is our first late-night program of the year. To help raise awareness about sexual health, and our Condom Sense program, I will be interacting with hundreds of students while dressed like this...

captain condom costume

The top, belt, and cape are from an out-of-the-bag costume that is sold in most Halloween stores, and usually seasonally in Walmart. These pre-packaged costumes never look as good as they do in the picture (the hat is very cheap).

At some point, I think we lost the pants - which is kind of a big deal. I decided to get some snazzy white tights and red football socks covering slippers. The red Speedo is mine, from my undergrad diving career.

I hope the costume gets a big reaction out of the students! I think it will be a memorable way for people to learn about condoms - and hopefully I can pose for some photos at the event!

A little sod fixes anything: Cutting it kinda close!

sod in front of the residence hall
Photo by Skyler Rogers

Students move into our new residence halls TOMORROW morning, and the sod is going in today. Talk about cutting it close! The new grass brings everything together - the building wouldn't look "finished" without it.

While the landscaping is looking good, we are still scrambling behind the scenes to get ready for our Late Night @ the REC event tomorrow night from 10pm to 1am. Today we picked up about 40 cases of soda and water, and I'm going back into the building after hours to assemble the rear-projection screen for the Xbox Kinect (that we have written permission to use).

After that, the only thing left to do will be to finish my Captain Condom costume. We already have the generic costume store version of "captain condom" but somehow lost the pants over the years. If any costume could get away with no pants, I think Captain Condom would be a candidate! But, for the sake of our dress code, I bought different colors of tights and soccer socks to see which combination looks best.

Yeah, I take my Wellness Cosplay seriously! I'm sure I'll blog about it later.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seth MacFarlane and Neil deGrasse Tyson working on the same project, sounds promising!

This post on The Rogues Gallery informed me of news from earlier this month: That Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (NOVA scienceNOW) are both on-board for a Cosmos revival, "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey."

Also contributing to the new 13-part series is Ann Druyan, a collaborator on the original Cosmos mini-series, and former host Carl Sagan's widow.

Because educational programming is outside his typical portfolio, MacFarlane considers himself the "least essential person" on the project, but as Evan Bernstein correctly points out, MacFarlane's role stems from his clout with Fox, which is the network set to broadcast the new project in 2013. Neil deGrasse Tyson will host the show, but will provide more input than a mere talking-head considering his PhD in Astrophysics.

There's no mistaking that MacFarlane gets it, however, as evident by his quotes in the New York Times:
“We’re obsessed with angels and vampires and whatnot,” Mr. MacFarlane, 37, said in a telephone interview, “when there are many more exciting and very real and much more spectacular things to be excited about, that are right in our own planetary backyard.” (source)
I just hope they don't screw it up! I have high expectations, especially since Seth MacFarlane is a member of what I consider the atheist media Triforce comprised of himself, Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park), and Ricky Gervais (The Office). Blast those atheists and their incredibly successful television programming!

I was going to make an "atheist media Triforce + Neil" but it just doesn't look right. Don't mess with the Legend of Zelda. Sorry Neil!

Twitter list of job postings in higher education

twitter list of higher education jobs

There are several good Twitter accounts to follow for frequent job postings, but why not follow them all at once?

The Bowling Green Student Development Association (@BGSDAonline) has compiled a list of the best higher education and student affairs job posting Twitter accounts.

Another great resource is the student affairs job announcement / job search hashtag #SAjobs. So what are you waiting for? Go get that job!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Embed Instagram feed into Blogger, finally!

embed instagram into blogger blog with badgeplz to get instagram for blogger

I've been looking far and wide for a way to use Instagram for Blogger, or a gadget that would embed my Instagram feed into my blogspot blog. I was super jealous when Google searches only turned up Wordpress plugins! Finally, I found a site called BadgePlz which offers a variety of tools for embedding photostreams.

Visit the BadgePlz Instagram tool to get started.

It's very easy to use, and embeds the final product as an iframe. You have complete control over the number of columns and rows, as well as the background color. The thumbnail size appears to be fixed, but you will probably figure out a format that fits your Blogger blog!

In Blogger, simply click "Add A Gadget" then select new "HTML/Javascript" then copy and paste the iframe code given to you by BadgePlz.

I've been looking for something to put in the footer of my blog, and my Instagram feed is a fun compliment to my "About Me" section! Enjoy!

Student Athletes in Transition: Avoiding Post-Retirement Identity Difficulties

student athletes in transition avoiding post-retirement identity difficultues

This post can either be used as a handout or an outline for a presentation on the topic of avoiding post-retirement identity difficulties during student athlete transitions. (It wasn't intended to be an academic paper, which is why my citations are very brief and not properly formatted).

I created this handout while I was in the M.S. Sport Behavior and Performance program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. At the time, I was recognizing signs of post-retirement identify difficulties in myself, and researching this topic really helped me grasp what I was going through.

Personal Description Activity

Activity: Describe yourself in a list of 25 things. You only have a few minutes so write the first things that come to mind.


After you have completed the activity, look at the first 5 items. Although you were not instructed to list the items in order of importance, the items you listed first are most likely the ones that you consider the most important or descriptive—because they were easiest to come up with. Example: you probably won’t see “I like apples” in the #1 spot, but “I’m a football player” seems more important to list first.

What is Identity?

Identity is defined as a multidimensional view of oneself that is enduring and dynamic, which means our identity is both stable and changing at the same time. How can this be? How we view ourselves is made up of a number of dimensions (like the things you listed in the activity), that have a fairly stable order of importance. However, the importance of each item can also be affected by other factors.

Stable and Changing: Think of your identity at practice, the most important dimension at that time is probably your role as an athlete. However, when you are taking an exam, your most important role is (or should be) your identity as a student. Both of these smaller parts make up how you view yourself as a whole—your identity.

Identity Narrowing

When one dimension of your identity takes priority over the others for a long period of time, it can become dominant or preferred. This can happen when the dominant dimension (athletic identity for example) takes control in other daily situations. Where you live, when you eat, when you sleep, who your friends are—pieces of who you are that become associated with athletics can make your athlete identity dominant.

Identity Narrowing can be a good thing because it helps strengthen the dominant identity which can lead to increased motivation and focus, a more appropriate schedule for daily activities, improved goal setting, and group cohesion on an athletic team.

On the other hand, think of investing in the dominant identity as putting all your eggs in one basket. Focusing on your identity as an athlete can help you during sports, but it may be athletes who identify strongly with the athlete role in particular who experience post-retirement identity difficulties.

What are Post-Retirement Identity Difficulties?

Post-Retirement Identity Difficulties are problems that arise after a transition (in this case retirement from competitive athletics) because of the loss of a major portion of identity. This loss may be expressed as an emotional, cognitive, or behavioral change.

Identify Difficulties Following a Transition

Emotional Cognitive Behavioral
Depression Unable to focus Alcohol or drug abuse
Feeling anxious Unable to make decisions Anti-social behavior
Feeling isolated Denial Eating disorders
Frustration Loss of confidence Trouble sleeping
Can't seem to get things done

Pearson and Petitpas (1990) predicted that transitions would be more difficult for athletes who:

  • exclusively based identity on athletics.
  • have a gap between level of aspiration and ability.
  • are inexperienced with transitions.
  • have limited ability to adapt due to emotional or behavioral deficits.
  • lack supportive relationships.
  • lack resources to cope with the transition.

This means that athletes with an exclusively dominant athletic identity, who are inexperienced with making decisions during a transition, and lack support or resources either from friends or members of the athletic department, may show more signs of difficulty adapting to their transition out of athletics.

The transition is also more difficult for athletes forced to retire early, or when the decision is out of their control—such as when the athlete is cut from the team, injured, or is ineligible. These transitions are usually more abrupt and leave the athlete less time to progress through the stages of transition.

Stages of Transition

Every athlete goes through the retirement transition after the completion of their athletic career—it is a time marked by a significant decrease in the amount of time spent competing in a particular sport, a decrease in the level of competition, or a time when the athlete stops being an athlete all-together.

Hopson and Adams’s (1977) process model addresses emotional and self-esteem reactions that go along with the transition. Stages can be thought of as a downward spiral followed by an upward climb in self-esteem and emotional reactions.

Each stage is marked by an emotional task that must be completed before moving on to the next level.

Emotional Tasks (Hopson and Adams, 1977)

Emotional response
Shock and Immobilization
End of career, involuntary transitions are more disruptive.
Feeling overwhelmed or shocked

Minimization and Denial
Desire to make the transition feel less important or deny the truth to minimize negative feelings.

Frustration, depression, anxiety, denial
Self-Doubt / Depression
Former athlete will begin to doubt their ability to provide for themselves.

Sadness, fear of the future, anger, loss of self-esteem
Letting Go
Individual reaches a critical point of acceptance of the event and begins to look to the future.

Let go of negative emotions, begin upward climb
Testing Options
A time to explore new options. A burst of energy and adopt a new way of looking at things.

A sense of moving forward, excitement and exploration
Search for Meaning
Reflect on the “rollercoaster of emotions” in the previous stages. Active participation in changing thoughts, behaviors, feelings.

Make sense of what has happened and attach new meaning to their experiences.
Integration and renewal, exploration brings new ways of behaving and thinking.
Individuals are well adjusted and have learned new skills for coping with future transitions

Take-Away Message

The more you know about the retirement transition from competitive athletics, the more prepared you will be to face the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral challenges. Here are some additional tips for dealing with the transition:

Become a Life-Long Athlete – Just because you are no longer competing for your college team doesn’t mean you have to stop playing sports all together. Participating in a club or community sports program is a great way to stay healthy and to meet people with similar interests.

Know your Support Network – No one is planning on having a difficult transition, but just incase it’s tougher than you thought—know who you can go to for guidance: coaches, peers, counselors, academic coordinators, career development personnel.

Transferable Skills – Apply your competitive identity to other aspects of your life such as your career or job search. You’ve learned a lot more from playing sports than just the game itself.

Does authenticity require snarkiness?

eric stoller and jeff lail

The title of this post comes from an #SAlive question during the episode from April 21, 2011 on Professionalism and Social Media. I found the episode extremely relevant, because I am still working out the tone of my new blog and have dramatically increased the frequency of my tweets during the past month or so.

There are a lot of personal opinions on the topic of professionalism and social media. I won't attempt to summarize the entire issue (@EricStoller and @jefflail host a fabulous discussion of the topic in this hour long video).

Back to the title, does authenticity require snarkiness? In the video, Jeff advised that "If that's who you are, just be who you are." Overall, I really enjoyed this video, probably because it confirmed my current beliefs (and who doesn't like being validated?). I try to use my Twitter account, blog, and Facebook profile in a culturally competent way. As long as I utilize my culturally competent lens while using social media, there shouldn't be any problems. Now this does leave a little room for mistakes, or things taken out of context. But overall, I think of myself as a good person, so my authentic tweets should have no problem portraying that.

So if you're in the mood for a little snarkiness, have at it! Use the lens of a student affairs practitioner to inform your content, and there shouldn't be any problems.

Of all professions, I think people who work in student affairs would naturally produce less offensive, more inclusive content without ANY list of Twitter Do's and Dont's - so what are we so worried about?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ideas for an alcohol talk with a college athletic team during Fall Semester

alcohol talk for athletes

I was recently asked for some ideas for a pre-season alcohol / responsibility talk with an intercollegiate athletic team. I thought I'd share what I wrote in that email with the interwebs in case someone out there is looking for that same information...

For a talk with a college athletic team, I would emphasize how they should watch out for each other like a family. They should also respect each other if they choose not to drink. A divided team runs the risk of splitting social activities into the group of drinkers and group of non-drinkers.

Also, emphasize how the seniors and captains should be role models. On teams with a drinking culture, the seniors and captains usually drink the MOST which is counter-intuitive - but this also shows how they have the ability to influence team behavior. Even if members choose to drink during the season, see if they are willing to have weekly alcohol-free activities (like Movie Night every Friday). This will not only increase their bonding and communication, but will at least take one night of drinking out of the equation.

Tell them how long alcohol can stay in their system the day after drinking, and can have a huge impact on their muscle recovery - so every time they drink after a workout, they are throwing away hours in the gym or on the field! Paint the picture that excessive drinking is what teams do when they aren't serious about their sport. Challenge them to rise above what the typical college social scene might include, because they aren't typical college students. They have elite status, they are here for a reason, and they are better than that.

The easiest way to change drinking habits is to not develop them in the first place, so they should start in with alcohol-free group activities right away when the school year starts. Individual choices become the team's business, especially on team sports. They should get on each others' cases about things they are not OK with, and it shouldn't be the coach's job to regulate their choices. The team is a family and a machine that only works as well as its weakest member.

This is the kind of stuff I would talk about, hope this helps! Go ahead and challenge them. They are likely competitive individuals, and will be very optimistic about taking the sport seriously right at the start of the year - so try to sustain that optimism!

Drunk support is a new twist on bystander intervention for alcohol prevention

party lifeguard at a college drinking party

I just finished reading the article "Drunk Support" on Inside Higher Ed, and I was intrigued by this new term and its implications for tweaking our existing alcohol prevention programs. The term "drunk support" was coined by Thomas Vander Ven, an Ohio University associate professor of sociology, and refers to the social aspect of the college drinking scene in which students might coerce each other to drink more in one instance, and later offer help or assistance in the form of water, an escort home, or even emergency assistance.

I haven't read Mr. Vander Ven's book, but from the description in the article it sounds like this is a silver lining to drinking circles with strong social influences. On one hand, they might be egging each other on, and on the other they are more willing or likely to assist during a crisis.

I might have to pick up a copy of the book so I don't continue putting words in his mouth, but I'll continue this post for the sake of finishing my thoughts.

The article continues by describing a variety of bystander intervention programs that seem to be quite effective beyond the traditional social norming or educational poster campaigns that are more commonplace. The programs listed include the Red Watch Band program, the Quaker Bouncers, and the Green Team.

The Haverford Quaker Bouncers, in addition to being trained in bystander intervention techniques, are actually paid $10.25 an hour to monitor parties in teams of two. Likewise, Dartmouth's Green Team members are paid $44.00 per night to monitor parties.

This is a fairly bold move, and hey if you've got the funding why not give it a try! My only concern would be intentionally placing students at parties they wouldn't otherwise attend. Maybe I'm just being overly cautious, but training students to be more safety-consious in their everyday life is one thing. But having them attend raucous parties as paid lifeguards seems risky somehow. I suppose since they're the sober ones, they have less to worry about.

The quotes in the article were very positive, and anecdotes in the comments were also very telling. It sounds like students understand that these party monitors are not paid snitches, and are there for their benefit.

Jeff Millman, the creator of both the Quaker Bouncers and Green Team, is now president of his own start-up company SOTEER that "creates and supports a professionally-trained, non-threatening peer monitoring system for parties and acts as a liaison between students and college administrators" (source).

Friday, August 12, 2011

What is the longest acronym in Higher Education and Student Affairs?

the white whale of large acronyms

We often joke about the alphabet soup of acronyms floating around higher education and student affairs, but what is the longest acronym? I'm starting my hunt for the longest acronym in student affairs, and I need your help! I have supplied a few candidates below, but I have my eye on the elusive White Whale of all acronyms. I know it's out there somewhere!

Here's what I've come up with so far:

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - Centre EuropĂ©en pour l’Enseignement SupĂ©rieur (European Centre for Higher Education)

Honoring, Urging, and Empowering Same Gender Loving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Students of Color

American College Personnel Association Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals

Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk

If you know of a longer acronym or abbreviation that is actually used (I want proof) post a comment below with the acronym, what it stands for, and if possible provide a link to the page where it is used.

Agnostic atheism presentation for multi-faith student group

I was invited to speak to a multi-faith student group this past year about what atheists believe, so I figured I'd put my presentation online in case anyone is looking for more information on a detailed understanding of what people who identify as "agnostic" and "atheist" actually believe.

It's kinda funny, when I was approached to give the talk I was asked if I "knew anything about that, or would be able to speak on that topic" rather than "are you an atheist?" I know that's the culturally competent way to phrase the question, it just made me smile.

There is an important distinction between a position of belief, and a position of knowledge - which is why the term agnostic atheist more accurately describes my views.

Check out the presentation to learn more about the implications of these terms, along with a few helpful slides about "Myths and Misconceptions."

Subjectivity may not freely reign

This video is the first of a 16-part series narrated by the late Carl Sagan and produced as a tribute by Callum Sutherland. Sagan's voice is magical, and the vintage quality of the audio recording is nostalgic while bringing a sense of history.

There are a lot of misconceptions about atheism, and people often assume that we don't believe in ANYTHING. Where can the concept of hope exist when the world seems so confined to a physical existence?

While I don't have "faith" that there are things bigger than myself, I still believe in a universe that is massively mysterious and fascinating. This video, and others in the series, are a perfect example of where my sense of awe comes from. My mind is blown, and I struggle to grasp the vastness of the universe and my insignificant role in the cosmos - yet I am proud to acknowledge that I am in fact a piece of the universe, I am made from the universe, and that my story is part of the larger story.

Every word in this video is so concise, so painstakingly selected to carry the precise meaning that was intended. Religious views aside, I think the transcript itself, as a written work, is magnificent.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drinking culture Prezi presentation for RA Diversity Day adds some unexpected wellness

Drinking culture and the beliefs your students bring to campus

On Wednesday, I presented a Prezi titled Drinking Culture and the Beliefs Your Students Bring to Campus to a group of RA's for RA Diversity Day. I know, normally we don't get to sneak alcohol education into diversity training - but this went over rather well! The entire thing took an hour and 15 minutes. I took the lead, and was followed with sections presented by our Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist at the Counseling Center, and our Director of Wellness.

I started with a hook: Some interesting alcohol facts about traditional beverages from Egypt and Kenya. I got my information from the 2004 WHO report on alcohol, which is quite a hefty document!

I talked about different minimum drinking ages in different countries, which led into a discussion of countries where alcohol is forbidden (for citizens) with a reference to Sharia customs. I think this religious component was really interesting, and mirrored it later by talking about the Mormon "Word of Wisdom" which also explicitly prohibits alcohol.

The quilt activity in the middle was probably the RAs' favorite part. We had them each draw pictures or words that represent the direct and indirect influences of their own family or community. We had some pretty creative quilt squares! The students really enjoyed sharing with each other, which drove home the point that everyone brings different experiences and influences with them to campus.

Drinking culture and the beliefs your students bring to campus

It took me forever to find vector world maps to use on Prezi. Then I found out Prezi supplies a vector world map template presentation that was way better than the maps I found, and I felt silly. So make life easy, and just re-use the Vector Maps in Prezi template.

What I learned: Don't reinvent the wheel, especially when the wheel is a vector map.

The checkout is the last checkpoint [comic]

Since my post about Finish Line supplying ping pong balls for "Shoe Pong," I was made aware of a display of College Essentials in Target, and I've been thinking more about the role of the cashier as the last arbiter leading up to risky decisions (especially risky decisions involving large quantities of alcohol and alcohol, um, accessories).

It reminded me of teenagers buying large amounts of toilet paper and eggs, and the cashier all but calling their parents in an attempt to stop them. Why is there not a similar protest in an attempt to avoid potentially destructive situations later in life?

cashier at checkout with student buying beer or toilet paper

I labeled this post [comic] because I'm thinking about making more of these Photoshop college collages. Ooooh, zippy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Huge building wrap / poster on side of residence hall definitely gets your attention

huge residence hall marketing poster

This past week, a handful of huge building wraps / posters (not quite sure what to call them) went up on some of our residence halls. There are about 6-8 of these huge posters in all, each with different marketing photos and slogans.

huge residence hall banner on side of buildingAt first I was a bit taken aback by the billboard-sized vinyl photos plastering the walls of these halls.

After seeing them for a few days, they've grown on me. Now I'm realizing that they definitely add a certain NEWness to the buildings, especially since construction was completed on some legitimately new residence halls down the street.

I'm hoping this is a Fall Semester thing and not a permanent installation, however. I compare them to landscaping with annual flowers - they're here to spice things up temporarily.

What I learned: Don't be too hasty to sign up as a marketing model, you might end up 30 feet tall on the side of a building!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Written permission from Xbox to let students play games at campus event

I'm writing this post to hopefully help future student affairs graduate assistants and professionals avoid the run-around while planning a campus event that includes allowing students to play Xbox games.

Allow me to summarize this week-long process...

Our department recently purchased an Xbox 360 with Kinect because we planned to have the game set up for our alcohol-alternative Late Night events in the Student Rec Center. The Xbox 360 with Kinect motion sensing camera is a great system that promotes physical activity. It's a lot of fun and a great way to attract students over to an information table!

Because the Kinect requires the players to get up and move in front of the screen, we couldn't use a typical projector because the students would be blocking the image. I heard a rumor that IMS rented rear-projection screens, so we submitted a request.

Denied! They told us we needed written permission from Microsoft in order to play Xbox in public at our event. I knew things like movies required a license to show in public, but I didn't know video games were subject to the same rules.

I called Xbox Support, and the customer service rep told me that there was no reason I couldn't set up an Xbox in our Rec Center for students to play at the event. I asked him if I could get that in writing, and he put me on hold to check with his manager.

20 minutes later, the answer was "No." In fact, the answer had changed from it being "no problem" to play the console in public, to being a violation of the terms of service - which specify that the console is for personal use only.

I checked with our Office of Campus Activities, because I knew they had set up video games for students to play at previous events. They told me that video game rights are essentially the same as movie screening rights. In the same way that you can't publicly screen a movie without purchasing the viewing rights, you couldn't publicly use a video game either. The problem is that unlike the film industry that issues temporary licenses for public showings, there is no temporary-license-equivalent in the video game world. In the past, student organizations had gotten away with it by playing out-of-print games, which removes the event from the legal challenge of infringing on market share.

Oh heck! So what can I do? I called Xbox Support a second time, and explained my predicament. They directed me to email and see what they could do. I blindly sent a "To whom it may concern" email and waited... Nothing.

Four days later, I sent another e-mail to This time, I got an auto-reply that directed me to the website The site is a sponsorship request form were you can formally request that Xbox station a booth at your event or provide funding. Well that's not really what I needed. I just needed permission to play the console we already have - but I could tell I was getting warmer!

written permission from xbox event license process

I submitted a request, filled out all the info, and ended my event description with "We already have an Xbox, we just want permission to play it."

written permission from xbox event license process

Two days later, I received an email from Wunderman3, the agency responsible for Xbox sponsorships. I was told: "Since this is something informal, we don’t require you to receive any permissions to have Xbox at your event." Good enough for me! [PRINT]


Written permission from Xbox to let students play games at college campus event

What I learned: Campus-wide events for 2000+ students are considered "informal," which makes my life easier!

@EricTeske That was extremely helpful, Eric. Nice job! Thanks for putting it out there.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

nicely done. Too many ignore obtaining rights RT @ericteske: permission from Xbox to play games at campus event #sachatless than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

@mikesevery @ericteske Agreed - I've never heard another schools obtain rights to use xbox. They just use it.less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

Reasons to prohibit concealed weapons on college campuses

college guns campus carry

In response to the article Activists and Politicians Discuss the Right to Carry Concealed Weapons on College Campuses posted on The Chronicle, I thought I would summarize the top reasons for prohibiting concealed campus carry.

First, it is important to dispel some of the straw-man arguments that typically get shot down by the pro-carry side (pun intended?). The straw-man arguments are flimsy, easily-rebutted arguments that are brought up for the purpose of being defeated during one-sided debates.

Typical straw-man rebuttals include "Not all students who carry guns are killers" and "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." These might be great points, but nobody was arguing that all students who carry guns are killers, and nobody was trying to convince you that guns alone kill people. So let's focus on the arguments the anti-carry side ARE making...

1.) Concealed weapons would detract from a healthy learning environment. Some students and faculty are likely to feel less safe on a campus with concealed weapons. Surely, many students already feel unsafe on college campuses, especially members of minority groups - so when the uneasiness of being a minority is compounded by the fact that anybody could be carrying a concealed handgun, the anxiety would increase. Students experiencing anxiety on a daily basis would suffer academically. This is a fact that is often overlooked by majority students who do not understand what it feels like to experience a small but constant social pressure.

2.) Concealed weapons would introduce more weapons to a college campus. In the rare event that students have a physical altercation, their options are typically limited to fights with whatever items they have on them - including books, backpacks, fists, shoes, etc. Introducing guns to the equation means that there are more (serious) options. Even if the owner of the gun does not intend to use it, the gun could be stolen, taken, dropped, or simply used to threaten. A counter argument to this is that students who are planning on getting into serious fights might already be carrying concealed weapons illegally.

3.) One of the most important anti-carry arguments comes from law enforcement, and states that having multiple gun carriers on campus might create situations with multiple shooters. In a hypothetical situation with a campus shooter, if other students drew their concealed weapons, it would make it extremely difficult for responding officers to know who poses a serious threat. This would increase the difficulty and response time for the officers to do their jobs.

Finally, I'll end with a counter argument to the pro-carry sentiment that carrying a concealed weapon somehow protects the carrier. In the event of a shooter, the pro-carry side envisions a student with a concealed weapon protecting him or herself with return fire. There are two major implications here: (1) If students are seeking to return fire, they're not doing the most important thing, which is getting the heck out of there! (2) It is impossible to anticipate the emotional state you will be in. From the article in The Chronicle, Colin Goddard said that "when the gunman burst into his classroom, shock prevented him from seeing the situation clearly." Shock could also prevent someone with a concealed weapon from responding appropriately.

The idea that a person with a concealed weapon is protecting themselves by returning fire is crazy to me! How could firing even more bullets on a college campus be doing any good? Guns don't kill people, but bullets flying through campus from an undefined number of reactive, untrained shooters might.

If you want even more reasons, check out Why Our Campuses are Safer Without Concealed Handguns.

In the end, it's difficult to say what the best policy is in terms of concealed carry. There are so few campuses that allow concealed carry, and dramatic shooter events are (fortunately) very rare, that we just don't have the data to back up many of the implications. We should be able to discuss the topic rationally, without resorting to ad hominem attacks on students who wish to carry concealed weapons, and without invoking easily defeated straw-man arguments.

What I learned: Pro-carry legislators have an uphill battle, but "the way things have always been" arguments don't hold up to scrutiny.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A double hidden minority: some thoughts on being a gay atheist so close to the job search

I started this blog for several reasons. First of all, I got in the blogging habit after creating a company blog for a competitive swimwear company. After that, I lost the majority of my virtual filter, and was compelled to make things public all the time.

Second, I blog to hone my interests and keep a record for myself. In the past, workout blogs have been very helpful for me to go back and look at my previous lifting routines. Blogs about my experiences in student affairs are equally beneficial because I can create a chronicle of my accomplishments and activities.

Finally, I blog so that others can find solutions to the problems that I've already faced: Whether it's looking for a better way to embed a Twitter post into a blog, or tips for identifying North American insects with Google searches.

On a deeper level, I had planned to share more personal experiences. I'm speaking in the past tense, because lately I've been second guessing myself when it comes to sharing personal tidbits with the JOB SEARCH only months away (officially).

"You shouldn't post anything about being an atheist so close to the job search," I would tell myself. "You might not want to mention the fact that you're gay and living with your partner," my inner voice would chime in.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize I have the privilege of choosing whether or not to share my minority status with the world. If I go in to an interview, I can (somewhat) convincingly portray myself as a heterosexual white male who may or may not be religious. If I blog about it, and my potential employer reads my blog, I remove all doubt that I'm a gay heathen.

Why should I hide these facts about myself? Graduate students of different races can't simply turn off their minority status by censoring themselves on Twitter. The more I think about it, the more I want to live my life out of the closet every day. I keep flashing back to my closeted high school years, and how important it was to control the spread of information when it came to my sexual identify. When I came out, I was liberated! Why go back in the closet now by censoring my (lack of) religious beliefs? Is it really that important to appear uncontroversial in a field that espouses open tolerance?

It might have something to do with the fact that atheists are rated as "least likely to share everyday Americans' vision of society" according to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota. On this measure of sharing the American vision of society, atheists ranked "below several other minority groups, including immigrants, gays and lesbians, conservative Christians, Jews and Muslims" (source). This is the source of my fear and anxiety.

So here's what I've decided. I'm not going to censor myself on Blogger or Twitter when it comes to my sexuality or my religious views. I hope that other grad students and student affairs professionals read my blog, and know that someone out there is living every day true to himself.

I will, however, follow the old adage to never bring up religion or politics in an interview. That's just plain good advice!

I'm interested to hear some advice from the #SAchat community about this! Am I being stupid? Shooting myself in the foot? Should I delete all my social media accounts before I interview and pretend they never existed?

What I learned: Say it out loud.

@EricTeske great blog post! Better to find a job where they like you for who you truly are.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

Great post. Be you, all of you! MT @ericteske:#saglbtq "some thoughts on being a gay atheist so close to the job search" than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply