Accessibility and discussion

UMD’s general policies can be found at this link. The text below is a supplement to these policies and describes the principles I aim to follow in creating our classroom space.

Accessibility
I aspire to the principles of universal design, which state that maximizing accessibility for participants with disabilities improves learning environments for everyone. I try to minimize barriers posed by course structures and materials, and I will do my best to work with any student who requires specific accommodations for a disability even if it is not formally documented. Please let me know about any access needs as soon as you can, even if you aren’t sure how accommodations will work in the context of this class; I will work with you to figure out the best way of doing things. I promise to keep any details you share with me in confidence.

A note on discussion
Classes like this one, where we talk about identity and oppression, require us to be especially mindful of the ways in which we speak to and about one another. We’ll spend time in class figuring out what assumptions we make and where they come from, and our discussions will raise many questions about race, class, gender, disability, politics, religion, and other issues. You should expect to feel uncomfortable sometimes – that is part of the learning process. Your job as a student is to sit with that discomfort long enough to understand what it might mean. The classroom should be a space where you can express your thoughts as they develop; explore your responses to readings and assignments; be honest about what you do and don’t know; and take the time to understand the context of texts and ideas before passing judgment on them. We will have to work together to make the classroom a space where all voices, perspectives, and learning processes are respected, and where we can discuss sexist, homophobic, racist, and ableist language without using it against members of our community. Sometimes things won’t go as well as we might hope, and we’ll have to talk about how to make our classroom more hospitable to open discussion. If you have concerns about the way class conversations are going, please come to office hours, email me, or speak to me after class.

A note on content
As part of our exploration of speculative social justice, we are likely to read and view media that includes discussions and depictions of many kinds of violence and trauma, including racism, homophobia, sexism, sexual assault, medical trauma, and ableism. This material is both necessary to confront and potentially very upsetting. The syllabus includes content notes that signal when we will be encountering particular kinds of violence in our readings. Though I cannot guarantee these are fully comprehensive, I hope they will allow you to prepare yourself appropriately as you engage these texts. If you require more detailed information about potential psychological triggers in our course material, please let me know and I will provide these to the best of my ability. If readings or discussions become difficult, you are always free to step out of the classroom with no questions asked; if you are worried about engaging with particular issues ahead of time, please speak to me. If you experience strong reactions to anything we cover in the course and are uncertain what to make of them, I encourage you to talk about it with a counselor (see “Basic Needs Resources” section below).

Resources for further exploration
If the subject matter of this course excites your interest and you want to explore it further, I encourage you to look into elective courses in Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies. The Department of Women’s Studies also hosts and co-sponsors a variety of events throughout the year, from our Social Justice Hangouts to Undergraduate Research Days, and more. To keep up with the latest events on and off campus, departmental updates and deadlines, and scholarship, award, and internship announcements please sign up for the weekly email at ter.ps/WMSTenews and visit wmst.umd.edu/events or subscribe to our Google Calendar at ter.ps/WMSTcalUG.

If you are interested in becoming a Women’s Studies major or in adding a certificate or minor in Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies or Black Women’s Studies, please contact Gwen Warman, at wmst@umd.edu to make an advising appointment. The LGBT Equity Center is located in 2218 Marie Mount Hall and may also be a useful resource.

Basic Needs and Resources
It is not easy to focus on learning when you are struggling to make ends meet or to stay safe. If you are facing difficulties, please don’t hesitate to let me know so that I can help with resources and/or accommodations. Some of the resources below may be useful:

Campus Pantry: Alleviates food insecurity and provides a safe space to distribute emergency food to current UMD students. The Campus Pantry is located in the Health Center, Heilsa Room 0143 (Ground Floor), and is open each Friday during the semester from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Individual appointments are also available. Contact 301.314.8054 or campuspantry@umd.edu. More information is available at http://campuspantry.umd.edu/.

Student Crisis Fund: For students who have an unexpected critical situation and need immediate financial support. Students will be asked for basic information to describe their circumstances of the emergency need and what other sources of funds are available. For more information, visit http://www.crisisfund.umd.edu/gethelp.html

Counseling & Mental Health Services:
Counseling Center: Shoemaker Building, 301.314.7651, www.counseling.umd.edu

Mental Health Service (University Health Center): Campus Drive, 301.314.8106, http://www.health.umd.edu/mentalhealth/services

University Chaplains: University Chapel, 301.314.9866, http://thestamp.umd.edu/engagement/memorial_chapel/chaplains

CARE to Stop Violence
Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence provides free, confidential advocacy and therapy services to primary and secondary survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, while simultaneously empowering the campus community to prevent violence through educational presentations, events, and outreach activities. Contact (301) 314-2222, uhc-care@umd.edu, or in an emergency, the 24-hour crisis cell line at (301) 741-3442. For more information see https://health.umd.edu/CARE

Mandated reporting
As a UMD faculty member, I am a mandated reporter for Title IX, as described in the university policy quotation below.

Faculty, academic advisors, instructors and teaching assistants employed at UMD are required to notify the Title IX Officer when they become aware of any type of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship abuse, domestic or dating violence and stalking, including such conduct occurring via email, texting, and other electronic means. The reporting obligation applies no matter where the conduct occurred, and applies to disclosures in written assignments.

In practice, what this means is that if you make a disclosure of this kind, I will speak with you privately to determine whether a report should be made. A report to the Title IX office means that someone from that office will follow up with you and explain your options; it does not require you to take any further action. Confidential resources such as CARE (contact details above) offer help and support without mandated reporting.

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