Many of us are struggling to adapt to a news cycle that, these days, regularly delivers disturbing and even horrifying news. Many of our students are struggling, too. They may have personal connections or reactions to a variety of things being talked about in the media:
- ongoing gun violence, and especially the recent attack against Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue and the recent attack against African-Americans in a supermarket in Kentucky;
- the federal government seeking to officially define gender in a way that denies the existence of transgender people;
- the fatalities and destruction caused by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence;
- the ongoing stories and revelations of the #MeToo movement, particularly surrounding the recent Supreme Court nomination process;
- attacks on journalists;
- the severity of the federal government’s policies toward immigrants;
- the contentious upcoming elections;
- and a lot more.
In other words, the stress you’re seeing on your students may be rooted in much more than midterms. The news may be leaving them distracted, anxious, upset, angry, eager to discuss the complexities of these issues, frightened, and/or even retraumatized, if the things they’re hearing about remind them of traumatic experiences they’ve had. And they’ll be carrying those things into the classroom.
At CNDLS we strongly believe in actualizing the University’s commitment to cura personalis, or care for the whole-student inside the classroom, because we know that students bring their whole selves—everything they’ve gone through, everything they’re experiencing—wherever they go. What that means is going to vary from course to course, but faculty will be much more prepared to thoughtfully and sensitively support students who enter those same classrooms if they have strategies for how to handle the intense emotions students may be experiencing, and perhaps the issues they’re wrestling with.
That’s why we’re hosting a workshop on how to have difficult discussions in the classroom on Monday, November 12th, from 10:00-11:30 am. This workshop will be in the Social Room of the Healey Family Student Center and all Georgetown faculty and staff are welcome. Please RSVP here if you’re planning to attend.
We’ve also developed a set of resources on our Responding to Critical Events webpages. On these pages you’ll find information about supporting our students when sexual assault is in the news, and in the wake of gun violence, and in the aftermath of racist incidents like the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, along with a page of teaching strategies for a variety of difficult situations and more general resources for people looking to teach inclusively. Finally, there’s a page listing ways that CNDLS can support you through these challenging teaching situations. Please call on us, either through that page or via email if we can help—we’re committed to making this a campus a place where students, faculty, and staff can grow and thrive no matter what’s in the news.