- The primary stakeholders for our project on DPS would be Chief, the Deans, and the President. Past those I have mentioned, other people this effects would be the officers under Chief, other ranking officials at Transylvania University, and the Board of Trustees.
- The chain of command for our stakeholders goes from the individual DPS officers, who report to Chief Muravchick (one of the primary stakeholders), who works with Ashley Hinton-Moncer, who reports to the Dean, who reports to the President, who reports to the Board of Trustees. Chief has immediate power over his officers, but the Deans and President both have more power than him. If a policy is put in place by the President, ultimately everyone it effects must comply with that policy. With an issue as sizable as the one we are dealing with, the President will most likely be involved. Finally, the Board of Trustees has a lot of power, and they confer with and have power over President Carey, but they may not be majorly involved in policy change like what our group is looking for.
- I am fairly certain that most people who will become privy to the information we have will be shocked, and immediately want to change it. However, I think that it could be found offensive to Chief Muravchick and the officers he commands. Since the information is sensitive in nature, and some of it even incriminating, specific officers and potentially Chief could be offended and maybe even retaliate against the information we bring forward.
- One reservation the stakeholders may have against making the reforms is that it could require the firing and replacing of some employees. In addition, the potential resolutions to the problems, while necessary, will of course require money from an already limited budget, as well as time. One reason these issues weren’t dealt with in the past is that I don’t think all of them were brought to light, therefore not being able to be solved, as well as those involved not thinking that change needed to occur given the information that the they had.
- One concern I have about raising these issues is that especially Chief could be offended and not take the information we are presenting to him in a constructive way, but instead in a negative way. This could damage the positive relationship that I, as well as several other group members, have with Chief. It could shed a negative light on us while we still have 2 years left at Transylvania before graduation. Personally, I find it unnerving that one of the authority figures who guards my safety could think badly of me, and in turn make my life difficult at Transylvania for the next 2 years after this presentation.
- One risk that could be associated with our stakeholders’ involvements in changing this issue is the heat they could face because they haven’t caught, or resolved these problems before now. In addition, some of this material could make several of our stakeholders look very bad, which is a risk to them in itself.
- Yes, I am at risk by addressing these issues, as well as by interacting with some of the stakeholders surrounding the issue. I am at the most risk of meeting resistance from DPS officers and Chief, because some of the information we have gathered is incriminating and will make the officers and Chief look bad for the way they handled or managed certain situations. Since all of these people are authority figures in our school community, they could all resist and try to conceal the information we have brought to light because it makes them look bad. In addition, they could very well hold it against us for the next two years while we still attend Transylvania, and go out of their way to make our lives hard in any capacity that they can as I said before.
In Seas’s writing, she connects and pulls together various different people’s research and theories on cultural epidemics to make an argument that there are four related components that cause a cultural epidemic. She especially pulls from Gladwell’s work saying that “the four interrelated factors that contribute to an outbreak [are]: the virus, hosts, environment, and time” (Seas 55). Given this information, I have thought of some ways to connect this knowledge with ways our group could potentially conduct the meeting with our stakeholder, Chief Muravchick.
First, I will talk about the virus. According to Seas, “for an idea to become contagious… it must be infectious” and therefore, memorable (Seas 56). I think that our problem is made memorable or “sticky” (as Gladwell puts it) by some of the anecdotes that Oliver collected from Transylvania students, and I think that some of those could be addressed and mentioned in a non-threatening way to Chief during our meeting. We could possibly bring them up as “things we wanted to let him know were going on that were concerning the students on campus” or something to that effect. I believe that these personal stories leave a lasting impression and could be used to make our “virus” “sticky”.
The next subject brought up is the environment. Seas tells us that “environmental contexts help to define expectations of behavior… and can dramatically change the ways in which people process information and thus how they will act as a result” (Seas 59). There was an example of subway crimes in the 90’s that showed that when the subways were cleaned up (ie. removal of graffiti), that there was a huge drop in the crime that took place simply because of the change in the environment. I thought that maybe changing the environment for our meeting might be conducive to the change we are trying to establish. If we propose to meet in a place centered around students instead of DPS’s office, there’s a chance that Chief may be more willing to be accepting of our ideas based on the student-oriented environment we choose. It may also have the effect of taking the edge off of Chief’s superiority/power that he feels when sitting behind his desk in his office.
Thirdly, the hosts are a factor in a cultural epidemic. Seas says that “our peers are influenced not simply by how we share our opinions as much as they are by the fact that we hold those opinions at all” (Seas 62). Given this information, I think that if we communicate clearly that it is our opinion as a group, as well as the opinion of many of the student and faculty body, that the points we bring up in regards to the sensitivity of some DPS officers are important and need to be changed, that Chief will recognize the problem and be influenced because many of the people on campus feel that way.
Finally, while Seas doesn’t have a section dedicated to the time factor, she does say “we want to cultivate… a rhetorical ecology that continually moves toward tipping points, toward opportunities for change. Therefore… keep writing, keep communicating, and keep participating in the networks we are hoping to change” (Seas 64). I think that in order to fulfill this and continue the change in our Department of Public Safety, that we should hand off our ideas for change at the end of the semester to SGA, so that they may continue the push for change even after we are gone.
Here are my questions for Serenity:
- What type of trainings do DPS officers go through at the police department? Could you describe those trainings to us and the various components of them? How often does this training take place and are all officers in DPS required to attend it?
- Would LPD be in charge of giving DPS sensitivity training or would that be someone at Transylvania?
- Who would be a potential stakeholder from LPD that we could keep in contact with/invite to our final presentation?
- Since DPS is a sector of LPD, would Transylvania or the LPD be the organization to pay for any training?
- Do you have any tips on the actual presentation of this subject to Chief for us, seeing is how it is a sensitive subject?
Some question I have for Teddy are:
- What are some of the activism projects you have worked on at Transylvania and elsewhere?
- What tactics did you use in order to bring about change?
- (Specifically for my group): Have you ever worked with Chief and/or Marc Mathews? If so, for what reason and what were the outcomes? Do you know any information that could be useful for our project on DPS (ie. chain of command or types of training they receive)?
There are many different ways that activism takes place on campuses across the United States and even abroad. There is protesting, marching, walkouts, strikes, writing letters just to name a few. I have done some research and looked at how activism takes place on a couple different campuses in the United States.
Mainly, I looked at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. This is a famous Ivy League University that seems to have a very racist past as many of the African American students on campus noticed. It seems as though the school promotes one of their most prominent University presidents, Woodrow Wilson’s, “racist legacy” by displaying his name and statues in his honor throughout campus (Wong and Green). For example, there is a cluster of dorms that goes by “Woodrow Wilson College” as well as the “Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs” on campus. A group of students held a 32 hour protest where they sat in the President’s office with a written set of demands pertaining to the legacy of Woodrow Wilson on the Princeton campus. As a result, only a few of the demands were met, but most of them, and all of the major demands were turned down by the Board of Trustees. There was a similar result in the other cases that I researched of most of the demands being turned down when students protested and marched. In all of these examples, the students told the administration exactly what they were doing wrong without appreciating what they were doing right, and in addition, they demanded a lot of serious change in a very short amount of time. In the end, as I saw in these examples, that usually doesn’t work.
Given the research above, I noticed that those methods seem to make the administration angry before the requested changes have even been heard, therefore, making the administration less likely to comply no matter what. If you look at the rules and regulations on how students are allowed to protest, many schools have policies that tell students that discussion and respectful suggestions for change are appreciated and therefore, more likely to bring about results. I think that as a group, we should avoid the type of protesting (while I understand it) that students at Princeton decided to do, and instead stick to a method more like what many school policies suggest. I think that we should appreciate all of the things that DPS does for us and make sure they know we aren’t attacking them with demands to be met, because they will just shut us out and not take our suggestions if we take that course of action. Instead, I think that if we have a pleasant presentation that assures DPS that we are simply trying to foster the relationship between students and DPS officers, that they will be much more likely to listen, which in turn, will get us what we want.
Works Cited Link:
In the reading today, “The Big Uneasy: What’s roiling the liberal arts campus” by Nathan Heller, the author interviews many different staff members and students at Oberlin College in Ohio. This college is known for being liberal and forward-thinking, however, according to many of the students there, the college isn’t as accepting as change as one might think. A group of African American students published a list of non-negotiable terms and hand-delivered it to the President who turned every single request down. In another example, there was a teacher, Robert Copeland, who taught a “History of the Western Theater” class, who spoke rather sharply to a student and didn’t realize how that could create an unsafe learning space for that student. These two instances have a similar theme behind them. I don’t think that either the President or the Professor realized what they were doing was wrong, or they didn’t believe that something needed to be changed. This brings me to a conclusion that Zakiya Acey, a student at Oberlin College, shared with the author in their interview that “the older generations have become desensitized”. I feel that many older people, who may have been forward-thinking in their time, haven’t realized that they no longer are up to date with our ever-changing and evolving society. Therefore, they never were sensitized to the current movements and beliefs that society holds today because it’s just not what they grew up in and around. This doesn’t excuse them, but it may be a reason for their behavior and lack of support for some of these issues.
This ties to my group’s issue that DPS needs to handle situations with students and staff in a more sensitive and careful manner since they come in contact with so many sensitive issues from such a variety of people on campus. As a group, we decided that one solution to our issue is for all of the DPS officers to go through reoccurring sensitivity training in order to know how to better deal with any situation they are given. This will hopefully cut down on the inappropriate handling of several types of situations that we received personal stories about from other Transylvania students. In addition, this will hopefully enlighten them to the issues and problems that we face that they may not currently recognize as important. With this solution, we are hoping that the Transylvania community will see DPS as a resource and not an enemy.
My pitch proposal is about DPS, specifically the way they interact with students on campus. The issue is how exactly some officers deal with students and interact with them. I have experience with the matter which is why I found it important personally. However, it is important to everyone because it effects each and every student at Transylvania University. The way that the officers interact with us is extremely important as to how we view the DPS officers. If a situation is ill-handled, one could potentially see DPS as an enemy of sorts, instead of a resource. For example, if an officer is rude or inappropriately deals with a situation, then the student involved could keep that bad image of the officer. Then, when he or she actually needs something or is in a dangerous position, he or she would be hesitant to say the least to contact DPS for help, which is bad for everyone. DPS should be looked at as an organization to go to when you need them, not one that you are afraid to go to because they intimidate and strong-arm students. In order to solve this issue, I would suggest some sort of training to show the officers better ways to handle certain situations. It is feasible to make progress on this issue before Mayterm is over because all that needs to be done is to convince an authority figure that the training is necessary. From there, the training could be completed before the beginning of the next school year. This project is really important and should be chosen because it effects every student at Transylvania as I said earlier, and it is directly correlated to all of our safety.