Monday, August 31, 2009

RAPP at the First Year Summit

This October, UC is going to be host to the 7th Ohio First Year Summit. This event "is a one day symposium that draws a wide range of people and groups interested in envisioning the future of the first-year experience in higher education even as we celebrate its current status and impact."

At UC, our First Year Experience works diligently to help new students suceed. They provide many opportunities to first year students and connect them with upperclass students.

I'm excited to say that I've been selected as a presenter at the Summit. I'll be presenting the session "Self Awareness and Social Justice." After a few minutes on what RAPP is and does, we'll spend the session exploring the impact of RAPP and RAPP-like programs on students and how this might affect their development of self identity and feelings of connection to the campus at large.

I'm asking students who completed RAPP in their first-year give me some food for thought via a SurveyMonkey survey. If you have any other food for thought you'd like to share, please don't hesistate to contact me!

(pic - summit logo, taken from their website)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Challenging the Mythical Norm

Inspired by my enjoyment of searching Each One Teach One, I threw "Challenging the mythical norm" into the ol' Google search engine today. It didn't predict the phrase, which - combined with the lack of finding the actual phrase in full on other sites - makes me feel this is more of a "RAPP original." Y'know what? I like that.

Google pulled up 125,000 results for the phrase, but two things they were all just partial matches of the phrase. They brought up things by many of the great folks we use in RAPP, including Paolo Friere, Audre Lorde, and Patricia Hill Collins.

The first item that came up was actually ours! This advertisement - unused by us, to my knowledge - was designed by Diversity Education's go-to designere, Lisa Link, who has created countless gorgeous and thought-provoking images for DE events.

One thing we don't know about Challenging the Mythical Norm is when RAPP adopted it as one of our slogans. My uneducated guess is we got it from Patricia Hill Collins and found it very fitting for our work. I'd love if any who knows when and how we adopted it could share that with the rest of us!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"But, why are there two Ps?"

Good ideas keep coming back, apparently.
Case in point:
RAPP I spells RAPP

(pic - 1: just scanned in this morning, found it buried among some stuff in the office; 2: taken at Spring Retreat)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our New RAPP Facilitator

We had an amazing pool of candidates for the RAPP Facilitator position. This isn't just blowing sunshine, it's the truth - the decision was very difficult because all of our candidates were strong and capable of the position.

I'm excited to introduce our new RAPP Facilitator to the group!

Tara Bonistall will be facilitating the RAPP XXV Wednesday group. She comes from the University of Kentucky with degrees in Social Work and Psychology. She currently works in public affairs and volunteer coordination and has a background in education and community advocacy.

She blew us away in her interview with her deep understanding of RAPP values and principles and ability to connect them to a facilitator's work. She also demonstrated great understanding of social justice theories and issues and had an ability to discuss them in very down-to-earth ways. She also demonstrated an infectious passion for the program and understanding of how the process works and the facilitator's role in making it work.

Join us in welcoming our Tara to our facilitation team!

Returning to our team is Sarvani Prasad, who has a great past with RAPP and has done much for the program. She was a GA with Diversity Education at the end of the 2007-2008 school year, where she was pivotal to us receiving support from the Diversity Council. She then became the RAPP GA, where she facilitated the RAPP XXIV Sunday group and played a major role in the development of the current RAPP curriculum. She did all this while completing a JD and an MA in Women's Studies.

I'm greatly looking forward to the amazing RAPP year ahead with this great team!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Howdy from Yourself!

Toward the end of RAPP XXIV, we had members write letters to their future selves. They were written in spring and when I collected them I said I'd send them in August. Since that session, I see them every day in my office - they sit patiently in a pile, waiting for the time to come to mail them.

Today's the day! I dropped them in the mail this morning. If you were a RAPP XXIV member, keep your eye on your mailbox!
(pic - The mail pile. Will my desk feel lonely now?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Resource Spotlight: That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation

One of our new books in the RAPP resource library is That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore.

Bernstein describes That's Revolting! as "a queer intervention in the culture wars." It's includes essays, articles, and musings of three dozen leading writers and activists, as Bernstein calls them "gay liberation rabble-rousers, counterculture demons, fringe artistes, renegade academics, the dispossessed, the obsessed and various other enemy combatants."

Working in a program in a way that I'm in many ways institutionalizing a radical concept, I think this book will provide much food for thought. Particularly, it will challenge us to think in new ways about how we approach enacting the collective action part of our mission in fighting oppression.

The work also seems to provide much fodder for discussion on identity politics around sexuality, gender, and gender expression. It challenges folks to explore community priorities - what message do we send when attainment of a heteronormative processes steeped in sexist structures is considered key? What values do we have within our actions and how do we show them?

This promises to be an interesting - and digestible, with dozens of essays in three main sections - read. Stop by if you'd like to check it out!

(pic - copied from Bernstein's website)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Each One Teach One

With all the interviews happening around our office this day, our personal definitions of different RAPP mottos are being discussed all over the place. The motto that has resonate most with me over the years is our original motto: Each One Teach One.
Between RAPP applicants, Facilitator candidates, and RAPPers talking about our meanings, I'm continually impressed by how much we can get out of those four words.
I decided to take a few minutes to dig around on-line and see who else uses this phrase. It's turning out to be a fun adventure.
First, when I typed "each o" into the Google search box, it completed the phrase fully as its first option. Wow! Apparently this is popular. The general Google search pulled up 24,500,000 results - then it froze up my Explorer (as it often does). The Google engine through the Dell homepage (which doesn't freeze up) pulled in 18,200,000 results.
Many groups that are working to fight injustice and build connections between people use Each One Teach One as a motto or name. Unsurprisingly, these are often educational groups. There's a Facebook and a MySpace user each with the name. Washington University in St. Louis's community service office bears the name. The one that surprised me, though, was the punk album.
I'd love to hear from you all what Each One Teach One means to you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

RAPP 2.0

Considering how RAPP has evolved over the years, it's more likely we should be call RAPP 25.0. One of the more recent evolutions is our attempt to embrace Web 2.0. It's been touted as necessary as a program working with today's students. I think it funny (in a good way) that a program that is so low-tech in its functioning is working hard to be high-tech in its promotion.

With recruitment pulling into full swing as summer fades away, I want to reflect a bit on how we can use the web to connect with potential RAPP members. Mainly, I'm thinking about how we harness the web as a word-of-mouth tool.

*Messaging listservs. RAPP runs its own listservs for current groups and active RAPPORT members. Most people I know are on several and I belong to at least a half-dozen of UC listservs alone - through which I keep up-to-date on activities and issues around campus. Just as we learn about other things through these groups, others can learn about us through theirs. I'll be sending messages about RAPP to a dozen listservs this fall - send some to yours!

*Promote our videos - or make your own! You can see the RAPP videos made so far at our YouTube channel. Feel free to post them to your own blogs, Facebook profiles, and whatever else. Want to share about your RAPP experience? Make a video and pass it on to us - we'll help promote it!

*Fan us on Facebook; Share our blog. I'm trying to keep these fresh by updating 4-5 times each week about what's going on in the RAPP world. Check us out and encourage others to do the same. Participate in discussions on the RAPP fan page. Keep your eye on our calendar and spread the word about our events.

*Check out our website. The RAPP website through UC gets updated far less frequently than the blog and fan page, so it's a repository for much more static information. It goes over the basics of how to get involved and has a very cursory (but growing) overview of our history. It's a great place to send people who are interested in learning more about RAPP or want to learn how to apply.

(pic - Always high-tech: Kerry W working away at his computer in 1995)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Power of Talking

For our second year, we're digging into the data on how applicants found out about RAPP. For our second year (so far), it's word-of-mouth and information tables that are our most effective recruitment tools.

Info tables have slowed down for the moment - new student orientation is over for the summer and our campus is somewhat empty until Welcome Week. We'll hit over a dozen welcome events with information tables and applications.

In the meantime, word-of-mouth will continue to be our big focus. We're offering some reward for folks who help with this (see previous post).

There are things we can do to help the conversation happen, rather than just waiting for openings to happen. Here are a few ways to help spark conversation where you can spread the word about RAPP (we'll look at electronic word-of-mouth later):

  • Wear your RAPP t-shirt. The acronym and logo alone have started conversations for me. I can't begin to count how many times the quotes have sparked discussions.
  • Get and wear a RAPP button. Learn more about that HERE.
  • Get a RAPP flyer/postcard/poster and put it up. Hang it in your office, bedroom, home - wherever you hang out with people and talk about life.
  • Don't wait for it to come up. If you know students who like challenges, who like talking, who like learning about new things, who are looking to make friends, who are looking for new activities, who want to become leaders and/or activists - in other words, folks who might like RAPP - get in touch with them and tell them about RAPP and why you thought of them.
  • Share your success stories. If you've found a way of bringing up RAPP or getting people excited about it, let us know! Post it in the comments here, on our Facebook page, or email me and I'll spread the word.

A big thank you to everyone who's already working hard helping us get the next great group in!

(pic - from RAPP XXIV spring retreat, taken by Mia)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teaching Ones Outside of RAPP

I feel like the summer is wrapping up because RAPP is getting back into the swing of things with facilitating workshops! RAPP and Diversity Education offer a wide variety of workshops and trainings on many topics to the University and local community. I'm always excited to take on a new topic and give it our social justice and experiential learning spin.

Last Thursday, Un and I spent the day with student leaders at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. We worked with students from residence life, the Student Activities Board, hall government, student government, and the National Residence Hall Honorary. They were a great group and we enjoyed exploring with them ideas of leadership, communication styles, and the importance of a diverse team.

Today I'll be back in my old stomping grounds of UC's Resident Education and Development. I'll be working with their residence coordinators and graduate students on hall government issues. This team is one I greatly appreciate being connected with because of their diligence in demonstrating their core values, including multiculturalism and communication.

RAPP and Diversity Education have been working the past year developing peer education programs with RAPPORT. We're available to facilitate workshops with student groups, offices, community groups, and more. To schedule a workshop, simply contact me.

(pic - taken from the Thomas More homepage)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Resource Spotlight: My Gender Workbook and Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

RAPP and Diversity Education maintain a growing resource library of books, DVDs and magazines. These are kept in our offices and are available to sign out on loan. Occasionally I'll highlight some of our available resources on this blog.

This summer we got two great books to further our resources on gender issues. Both explore issues of sexism and cissexism. Both were written by folks who've been through Cincinnati presenting lectures.

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity was written by Julia Serano. She describes her first full-length book as "a collection of personal essays that debunk many of the myths and misconceptions that people have about trans women, as well as the subject of gender in general."

My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein is an interactive book (seriously, it's a workbook) that serves as a guide not only for developing great awareness of the construct of gender in our society but also as a guide for living with or without a gender. The activities can help you gain personal insight - and are fun!
Stop by the offices to check out these and other great resources!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Leadership for All

Each year, the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development and the Omicron Kappa Delta honorary host a leadership retreat for incoming new students. This overnight event is called Camp Bearcat and is a great way for students to start their life as an emerging student leader at UC. Whether a student has previous leadership experience or not, Camp Bearcat is a great place to learn key leadership skills, network with other emerging leaders, and get introduced to student activities at UC.
The retreat is held at Camp Joy and lodging, food, materials, and transportation are provided for 60 students (first applied, first served basis).
Students must pay $25 to participate.
I checked in with Terri Hurdle, one of the people organizing Camp Bearcat, about the cost because of a value I picked up in my years in residence life: Any time I attach a cost to an activity, I create a class barrier. For many students, $25 is a managable cost for such a great opportunity. For some, it's an overwhelming amount and the opportunity may be lost.
Terri assured me there are ways in place to minimize the barrier and she said that any student for whom the fee means they can't participate should contact her - we'll find a way to make attendance possible.
I'd recommend this retreat for any first year student interested in getting involved on campus. Click HERE for an application.
(pic - Camp Bearcat logo, stolen from the application)

Friday, August 7, 2009


All the photos are from RAPP XXIV. The quotes come from the end-of-year memory books we made.

Still Dropping Knowledge

This year we did something we at first thought was cleverly original - we created memory books at the end of the RAPP year for every RAPPer to keep. I later found out this has been done before with at least one RAPP group (and was excited to know that the member still had hers).

I was digging through them today as part of a project I was working on. There are so many great comments on the RAPP experience, the frustrations we faced in the group, the challenges we overcame together, and what we left with. Buried among it was this nugget that I'm still smiling at:

RAPP gives the opportunity to really slap the status quo in the face by being an ally to the oppressed.

I really liked that image for some reason! The writer then went on to express that this was a capability that they'd never known they had, that they thought their "help wasn't wanted because of [their] privilege."

Considering that one of the take-aways we try to convey through RAPP is that we all experience oppression while also perpetuating it, I'm excited to know that someone was empowered to recognize their strength in fighting oppression specifically through the ways they are privileged.

(pic - the memory books of RAPP XXIV)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs...

Something old is new again in our usual summer push for recruitment: We've brought back the above poster design. Digging through some older papers, I found a poster the the above design. I really like what it conveys, so we've re-adopted it.

I know nothing much about origin of the head-with-globe-inside logo, the "challenging the mythical norm" tagline, or the "Take the Challenge - Change Your World" slogan. We use the former two in our work and are reviving the last.

Where did they come from? Who designed them? What meaning did they intend to convey? Answers to these would be useful.

The logo has been used on RAPP t-shirts since RAPP XXI. We tout "Challenging the Mythical Norm" as one of our key mottos in advertising adn informational texts.

Now, with the contact and deadline information updated, we've spread this old-but-new image around campus on flyers and campus TVs.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stop by for a Read

Un from Diversity Education and I have spent some time making sure our resource library has some timely materials in it. We've got some new books and films, but more on that later.

We've renewed several of our magazine subscriptions and are ordering a few more. These are available any time for reading in the office or for loan. If you stop by the RAPP/Diversity Education Office (669 Steger Student Life Center, UC Main Campus) and the lights are off, be sure to stop by our suite next door (671 Steger).

Some of the magazines to stop by for:
The Advocate
Cincinnati Magazine
Diversity Edge
Diversity, Inc.
The Queer Canon
Mother Jones
The New Yorker
Utne Reader
Winds of Change

In an effort to utilize campus resources, I'm also working on compiling a list of resources available at other campus offices. More on that later, too!

(Pic - Mei of RAPP XXIII checking out resource books at the Worldfest Green Lounge)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting to Know RAPP XXV

RAPP interviews are where we get to know the individuals who want to be a part of RAPP and develop a composite of the interests, identities, strengths, and needs of the upcoming group. They also give the candidates an opportunity to ask questions about RAPP and find out if we're something they want to commit to for the year.

Now in my third year of interviews, I still enjoy them! It's interesting to learn about the candidates and find out what questions and concerns they have about RAPP. We've spent the last two summers updating our interview process. We've got new applications, new questions, and better prepared interviewers.

This summer we're offering interviews before the quarter begins. Last week, we held our first three interviews for RAPP XXV! Even with school (mostly) out for the summer, we have several RAPPORT students who are volunteering their time to help with interviews.
(pic - Christie (right) was a superstar with RAPP XXIV interviews, Nicole (center) has already jumped in and been a huge help with the RAPP XXV interviews already)