Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Just what we need. I've written a couple times over the years about the posters the vandalism is satirizing, and recently, about Kegs and Eggs. If the vandals had printed up flyers and tacked them on bulletin boards, I would laugh and say "very clever" (even though I understand the reasons for canceling Fountain Day and have never really been a fan of it). But spray painting a bunch of columns on the podium? That just brings more negative publicity to the university (it gave the TU an excuse to link to all the bad articles they published over the past month), and makes students look like disrepectful jerks.

There is a strange vibe on campus this semester. What is driving it? Bad publicity? Cancellation of Fountain Day and that weird student protesting? Long, hard winter? State budget cuts for SUNY? Price of gas? Struggling economy creating fears of entering job market? Japanese earthquake and tsunami? Middle East unrest and Libya?

I mentioned it in class yesterday. I've had some feedback that there are students who are not comfortable sharing in discussion this semester, in both of the upper division on campus sections. The tone is different in each class, but it is kind of a common thread. I changed the online discussion component this semester quite significantly, and I wonder if that has had an impact. It is quite a bit more intense. I generally perceive that as a good thing, but if it inhibits some students then I have to do something to change the atmosphere.

Then, a student committed suicide in a dorm on Saturday, that's the second freshman this semester to take that action. I was giving out numbers to contact for help. (I didn't do this in my upper division classes after the first incident in February, although I did in the lower division class since there are so many freshmen in it, but the feeling right now is that even students who did not know the person may be affected.) I don't know that the unsettled atmosphere I sense had anything to do with it, probably not. The pressure of school work, perhaps grades lower than expected, homesickness, a broken heart or other personal issues are more common causes, I suspect.

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