Monthly Archives: August 2014

Events on Campus this Week for Safety Week

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You’ve probably heard that college students through the 1950s  and 60s lived in sex-segregated dorms (if not on entirely sex-segregated campuses), had dress codes and curfews, and partied with chaperones present.  Colleges thought of themselves as parents in absentia and watched out for their kids.

Those days are over and you now enjoy the freedom to wear your PJs to class, consort with coeds right in your own dorm room, and party yourself into oblivion on a Tuesday night without anyone over 22 watching.  Most of you wouldn’t trade the freedoms of today for the safety that came with the restrictions of yesteryear.  But it does mean that it’s up to you to learn more about safety on campus.

That’s why Appalachian sponsors Safety Week the first week of September–to remind you that here in your new campus community you are expected to follow the safety rules and regulations that keep yourself and those around you safe from harm.

Thinking about safety in your new environment can be overwhelming but let’s break it down to a few legit items of concern.

PERSONAL PROPERTY. You’ve probably heard that it’s possible that your bike, your car, your computer, you cell phone, your wallet, and your tablet could get stolen or broken into.  Although it’d be nice if we rid the world of any desire to steal your stuff, while we work on that please keep your stuff locked and/or with you at all times–and leave other people’s stuff alone, even if it’s unlocked or unattended.

FIRE.  You may have already had a fire drill in your dorm room and you know that it’s totally uncool to burn candles and stuff in your dorm.  The important thing is to think about what you can do to prevent disasters and take the rules and drills seriously because they save lives.  When I was in a basement bar during college the bouncers were letting in so many people that no one would have been able to get out the entrance if the bar caught fire.  Some safety person had taught me to locate the emergency exits in places like this and assess my safety.  I was glad I knew to do that and got out of there.

SEXUAL ASSAULT.  Although it’d be nice if we rid the world of anyone who’d attempt to sexually assault someone, while we work on that please consider taking a self-defense course.  These can be especially empowering for women because so many girls have learned that they are not strong or even entitled to be strong and mean when they need to be.  You can take free self-defense classes from the nationally known R.A.D. program.  Women who take self-defense report feeling stronger, better, and more effective in the world after taking these classes–whether or not they ever use the skills in self-defense.  Turns out speaking up for yourself helps you in all areas of life, not just if you need to fight off some dude who won’t take no for an answer.  See how to sign up for a self-defense class here.

Mountaineer Safe Ride offers safe and secure transportation for students during the evening hours. Don’t ever feel stuck–call Safe Ride.

INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE.  Appalachian also engages in the national Red Flag Campaign, designed to educate everyone about the signs of interpersonal violence and report those signs whether you are experiencing them or someone else is.  Like, did you know it’s a red flag that someone wants to be with you all the time and know where you are and who you’re with all the time?  Our culture may teach us that such things should feel “romantic.”  But that’s not romance, it’s a red flag.  Acting jealous and possessive? Not romance; red flag.

HIGH-RISK DRINKING. Of course we know you’d avoid a lot of problems if you would only follow the laws of society and not drink until you’re 21 or older, but since we have been unsuccessful urging you to follow the law, we do want to explain to you the trouble you can get into if you engage in high-risk drinking.  If you’re planning to drink while you’re at college, consider the impact it could have on your personal safety, your health, and academic progress–to name only a few–and then attend a workshop on high-risk drinking.

SUICIDE.  Nothing seems more tragic than a young person’s taking her or his own life when they actually have so much ahead of them.  If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, people are available 24/7 to help you through your struggles.

OTHER RISKS.  For other risks that could affect the entire campus, AppState-Alert, the university’s 24/7 emergency messaging system.

EVENTS FOR SAFETY WEEK.  Throughout Safety Week at Appalachian, interpersonal violence prevention training, suicide prevention training, and high-risk prevention training for faculty, staff, and students will be offered in Plemmons Student Union. Details here.

A lot of FYS students will be attending the annual Walk for Awareness on Sept. 2 at 9 p.m., which begins outdoors on Sanford Mall.  This is the 25th anniversary of the walk that began in 1989 following the abduction and murder of a university employee and the abduction and sexual assault of a university student.  While those women were attacked by a stranger, the far more common problem is that many women, and some men, are sexually assaulted by unarmed males they know or party with.  The Walk for Awareness events focus on these more common problems we face, and ask you to think not only about your own safety but the safety of those around you. Prior to the walk, the program “Why Walk? – A Survivor’s Story” will be presented in Room 114 Belk Library and Information Commons.

Information tents will be located on Sanford Mall for the annual Safety Festival Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The theme of the festival, “It’s Up to Me,” reflects the university’s continuing campaign to educate students, faculty, and staff about the importance of taking personal responsibility for making campus and the community a safe environment, as well as the responsibility to speak out when they witness the unsafe behavior of others. In case of severe weather, the event will be canceled.

During the evening of Sept. 3, campus representatives will visit off-campus student housing for “House Calls” and will distribute information about personal safety and campus resources. Find more information here.

Bottom line: Safety Week will likely bombard you with information about the dangers of living on your own here at Appalachian, but we aren’t trying to debilitate you with fear. There are things you can do to help keep yourself, and others, safe.  Learn more about them and do them.   Efforts are highlighted during Safety Week, but safety won’t end that week.  Appalachian Cares is an ongoing health and safety initiative and you can learn more about it here.  You might even want to become a peer educator and help others learn more about promoting health and safety.

Successful Communication with Your Instructors

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guy talking realAs a new student on the Appalachian State campus, you’ve surely been told that attending class regularly and keeping up with homework are important strategies for success in college. But communicating with your instructors is another important success element.  Here you’ll find tips to communicate your academic needs appropriately and effectively.

Who are your teachers at Appalachian?  Professors are members of the faculty who have earned their doctoral (or terminal) degrees in their fields and who, in addition to teaching courses, engage in research and/or creative activities that contribute to the growth of knowledge in their fields.  They may also be writing grant proposals, supervising graduate students, and serving their profession.  You call those with their doctoral degrees Dr.” or “Prof.,” not “Mr. or “Ms.”  If you’re ever unsure how to address one of your college teachers, though, just ask them!  Instructors more often teach part-time and without the research and professional service responsibilities of tenure-line professors.  Sometimes these instructors have their doctorates, and sometimes they have a certain minimum number of graduate hours in the field they’re teaching.

Getting to know your instructors is important, but always be prudent, professional, and realistic as you get to know your college teachers.  Establish professional relationships with your instructors–you may very well need to ask them for a letter of recommendation in a few years.

Communicating in class is crucial, and doing so starts with arriving to class on time and being attentive.  It’s distracting to the instructor, and to everyone, when students walk in late, fall asleep, or keep checking their mobile devices.  Voicing disagreements can be done in a way that is respectful and conveys your desire to learn and process ideas.  Questioning is appropriate when there is something you don’t understand.  But don’t take valuable class time by asking questions that have been answered on your syllabus.  Use class time for concerns that no one but the instructor can help you with.  If the question is particularly involved, it might be best to see the instructor in her/his office hours.  Asking the instructor questions immediately before and after class is not the best way to communicate because you will not likely get your instructor’s full attention.  Emailing can be more convenient for you than stopping in at office hours, but before you use email to communicate with your instructor be sure this is the instructor’s preference.  Never email the instructor to ask ” did I miss anything on the day I was absent?” or request notes from a class you missed.  Your instructor is not paid to give individual tutorial sessions.  Further, the instructor owns the copyright to her/his lecture materials and as such has the right not to share them with you.   Should you run into your instructor outside of the class or campus setting, understand that this is not the ideal time to ask her/him questions about class.  Saying hello is polite, of course–and so is remembering that your instructor has other work responsibilities and a personal life.

Presenting your work professionally is also important in college.  Have your work done as instructed and submitted as instructed by the date and time it is due. Don’t come to class saying your paper isn’t printed because you ran out of money on your App Card, or come in asking your teacher for a stapler (when, let’s face it, you can make that handy-dandy little piece of technology your own for less than $6).  Always keep a copy of the work you hand in so that if you want to refer to it or it gets lost you will have it. If you are asked to email a paper to the instructor, cc yourself so that you have a date- and time-stamped copy of your submission.

Negotiating assignments and grades might be necessary at times, and is only appropriate if you approach this delicate matter with maturity and professionalism.  If you feel that you’d gain more from a modification of the instructor’s assignment, propose an alternative with a justification well before the due date. Your instructor might appreciate your proactive approach; but you should also be prepared for the instructor’s rejection of your request.  Even if you are ill or faced an emergency, it’s your responsibility to contact your instructor to request arrangements get made.  If you think there’s been an error in grading, let your instructor know.  If you are unsure why you received a particular grade on an assignment, you can request that the instructor provide you with more feedback. Asking during office hours or giving the instructor a week or two to provide you with more written comments is appropriate. If you feel that you were not given credit for a part of an assignment, the best way to get your instructor to consider seriously regrading your work is to provide a written statement that outlines what (and where and how) you said/did that was incorrectly evaluated. Marching into your instructor’s office demanding a grade change will not help your case.  Rather, your needs will best be served when you put your request and rationale in writing and kindly ask your instructor to consider your request.  If your instructor finds that your work was graded appropriately, find out how to improve.  If you are not open to learning more, it will only produce skepticism about why you brought your work in for a re-evaluation in the first place.  Likewise, don’t go to your instructor telling her/him that you “need” a certain grade or that you “can’t fail” the course lest you lose your scholarship, financial aid, or suchlike. Remember, you’re ultimately responsible for your performance in any college course.  If you are having a problem understanding the material, see your instructor immediately.  You should also utilize the many on-campus resources for students, from the library to the writing center to counseling services.

Giving your instructors feedback is an important role you have throughout the semester. If you are having a problem understanding the material or with the structure of the course, approach your instructor immediately and explain what you’re willing to do to help solve the problem. If your difficulties have not been resolved by talking professionally with your instructor, several individuals on campus can help you: a supervising faculty member; a departmental academic advisor; and the department chair.  You’ll also have the opportunity to fill out a formal course evaluation at the end of the semester.  Specific comments about what did or did not work in the class are always more helpful than curt remarks such as, “Get a new teacher.”  Finally, you can always provide positive feedback about excellent teaching. Each year, Appalachian honors a number of outstanding instructors, and you can nominate a great instructor for such awards online at: http://teachingawards.appstate.edu/bog-excellence-teaching-awards